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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Come and meet those dancing feet

A day that started at Jerusalem (Go – seriously!) ended here: Theatre 80 St. Marks on the Lower East Side. Well, sort of. I was walking by, and couldn’t help but smile at the sight of hoofer Ruby Keeler’s footprints in the cement. Just look at how my enormous foot (size ten, yep) has the power to dwarf even a Broadway giant! Or, at least, the footprint of a Broadway giant.

Also in front of the theatre are footprints and hand prints of Joan Blondell, Joan Crawford (…the hands that held those wire hangers!), Gloria Swanson, and…Dom DeLuise(?!) among others. Hmmm. You know me. Stumbling across things like this can mean only one thing: Google Party.

As a venue, Theatre 80 St. Marks – not unlike so many of us theatre people – has been reinvented again and again to survive the ever-changing times. It's been a speakeasy, a Jazz club, an Off-Broadway house (where You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown opened), and, in the 1970s and 80s, a movie house that screened classic films. It eventually re-opened as an Off-Broadway theatre, as the long-time home of the Pearl Theatre Company; today it hosts magic shows, fundraisers, and music and dance events. Read more about this intriguing NYC landmark here and here. I love, love, love discovering things like this.

But, back to those feet. From what I gather, the Keeler prints are from the period when the Theatre was operating as a movie house and Keeler was starring in the Broadway revival of No,No, Nannette. And to celebrate all this new found trivia: Writers, here is Keeler (with Lee Dixon) tapping on a gigantic typewriter in Ready, Willing and Able (1937). Fabulous!

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