By Anita L Balestino
All pictures are from fans private collections.
Do not use them on another site
of not only the fans who were present at
the benefit but also for those who were not able to attend.
*A note from the webmaster*
I was fortunate enough to be present for this performance and the Reception.
I'll never forget this special evening and the
wonderful time with my friends in LA
click on images for enlargement
photo credit ~ DebbieO
After spending Friday traveling to L.A. then meeting new friends and renewing relationships with old ones, the day of the Hamilton benefit finally arrived. In the morning, a large group of happy and excited Scott fans went to breakfast with Margaret and Rosie, but the remainder of the daytime hours went by in a blur for me. I tend to get a wee bit (read understatement) nervous just before meeting Scott even though this was my second opportunity. The first thing I remember with any clarity is going to the theater in the car with Francis, the intrepid driver, Donna and Kate. As we walked from our parking space a block or so away from the school, I glanced toward the top of the Hamilton parking lot from the sidewalk outside the fence and saw Scott! He wore black pants and a white shirt and was walking quickly toward the theater, carrying something bulky in his arms. Some of Scott's fans who had found the last spaces in the lot were standing close by as he hurried toward the theater door. I remember wishing so fervently that I could somehow transport myself up to where they were. But, as you know, the transporter doesn't always operate as it should, so I had to be content with a glimpse of him from far away. Still, just that glimpse of Mr. Bakula was enough to jump-start my heart, dry up my mouth and interrupt my breathing. Don't let anyone kid you. The quite physical impact of seeing Scott in person does not seem to disappear on repeated meetings!
You've Gotta Have Friends 2
After milling about in the lobby until the house doors opened, we filed into the theater and were seated - most of us in the first three center rows, no less. A sextet of singers, grouped on risers beside the orchestra pit, sang the opening song, 'You've Gotta Have Friends'. Then, in no particular order, the whole company came out onto the stage as if they were bound for some appointment. Scott looked sleek, stylish and incredibly handsome in black pants, a white opened collared shirt, a black vest and black jacket. He was juggling a gaggle of hatboxes and following a dazzling and haughty Chelsea, who wore a sensational orange satin pantsuit. Scott characterized the very picture of a rather harassed escort at the tail end of an overlong shopping trip. But he seemed to get sidetracked when he spied a lithe, leggy blonde dancer, Broadway star Sandahl Bergman, as she performed some sensual stretches downstage. Scott stopped beside her and slowly eyed her from head to toe with heightened attraction and a suggestive look of pleasure. But when Chelsea turned to view this little scene, she put two fingers to her lips and mimed a quite annoyed and forceful whistle to return her errant squire's attention to the task at hand. Scott then obediently followed her offstage with an absolutely priceless attitude that looked a bit sheepish and yet mischievously jaunty at the same time. The company then dispersed, headed to their separate destinations.
The order of the next sections might be a little confused because they weren't actually listed on the program. But I'll relate them as I think they happened and invite correction from someone with a better memory. Ron Dennis and Friends (the original cast from A Chorus Line) performed a rousing, dynamic number from that show. Just after the dancers accepted their applause, Scott sauntered casually onstage, holding a basketball in the palm of one hand. As he paused in front of the line of dancers, Scott transferred the basketball to Ron Dennis and fixed him with a sly look that seemed to either invite competition or imply a private joke. Without a word, Scott then strolled to the other side of the stage and exited into the wings while the audience reacted with slightly delayed laughter. Well, you see, Ron and friends had just performed the song 'Gimme the Ball'!
A few moments later, Scott returned to the stage in front of closed curtains and thanked the audience warmly for our support of the show and the musical theater curriculum at Hamilton Academy of Music. Praising the program at Hamilton, Scott observed with enthusiasm, "… the arts in public education, what a concept!" Of course, the audience expressed its unqualified agreement with a round of applause. Scott went on to recognize all the dedicated parents, teachers and administrators at the school and specifically Richard Schreier. But he did not forget to acknowledge the extraordinary students, some of whom travel two hours by bus each day to attend Hamilton and who eagerly accept the rigorous schedule of classes and training at the school. Finally, Scott once again thanked the audience for our patronage and invited us to enjoy the show.
Photo credit ~ BarbaraP
During another between-acts skit, Scott, sans his jacket, came onto the stage pushing a broom and whistling a phrase from the song that had just ended. As Scott blithely swept the area in front of the closed curtain, the mime entered from the wings, to all appearances, pulled onstage again by his dog. Reacting to the mime's appearance, Scott thumped his broom sharply on the boards, gave the man a decidedly unfriendly look of warning and made a quick move to the other side of the stage. But after a much-shortened reprise of their chess match, Scott seemed to experience a change of heart. With a shrug of his shoulders and a sort of reluctant acceptance, Scott declared philosophically, "Ah, what the heck! It's a benefit." At first, mime and invisible pet moved closer to the hapless Scott and his ill-used shoe but then suddenly stopped. Turning in the opposite direction and starting to walk away, the mime broke his silence and echoed, "Ah, what the heck! It's a benefit." Scott turned his head sharply toward the man and stared at him with an expression of open-mouthed astonishment. As the audience laughed heartily, both performers once again left the stage without another glance.
One of the people connected with the Hamilton Academy of Music mentioned that Scott volunteered to contribute more to the show than the musical number he was scheduled to perform with Chelsea. Since Enterprise had completed filming only several days before the benefit, he opted for additional vignettes spread throughout the program. It certainly appears as though Scott made these extra appearances especially for his fans, some of whom had come from so far away to see him. As many times as we hear or read about it, much more experience it, Scott's exceptionally considerate and generous nature never fails to overwhelm us and inspire a sense of wonder, gratitude - and pride - regarding this man.
As the program progressed, so many accomplished artists contributed their talents to make the show truly superb. The audience was treated to singers and musicians who made exciting, beautiful music; to virtuoso tap dancers who produced unbelievably complicated rhythms with their feet; to stellar ensembles that performed show-stopping numbers from musicals like Favorite Son and Pippin; even to a hilarious quartet that put a unique - perhaps unusual - gender-swapping twist on the sophisticated dancing style of Astaire and Rogers. Our thanks to these talented, unstinting performers and all who helped to make this show so enjoyable.
Quotes in the following section may be paraphrased since memory served as my only resource
Scott and Chelsea made their appearance just before the finale, performing 'When the Kids Get Married' from I Do! I Do! They came onstage while the stage lights were off, carrying opposite ends of a wooden chest. Even in that dim setting, Scott's bearing and gait made him look weary and disgruntled. As they put the chest down at center stage, the lights came up to reveal Scott and Chelsea wearing trouser pajamas printed in homey stripes. They looked thoroughly enchanting and only needed teddy bears to complete the effect.
Sitting down on the chest, Scott asked with more than a little annoyance, "Isn't her curfew supposed to be ten-thirty?" And Chelsea replied with conspicuous patience, "That was two years ago, honey." As Chelsea sat on the bench beside Scott, the couple talked about the complications of parenting and went on to contemplate the freedom they would have when the kids got married. "No more worrying about their safety or their grades," the pair imagined wistfully. "No more grinding out TV shows to support my family," Scott improvised with comic self-parody and a throaty growl that brought a burst of laughter from the audience. The dialogue led them into their song, each verse beginning with, 'When the kids get married,' and ending with, 'I hope they marry soon.'
In his rich, resonant, luscious baritone, Scott sang about spending a month in bed while he angled his position slightly on the chest, stretched his long legs out and crossed them at the ankles, then laid his torso back to lounge comfortably against Chelsea's side. Illustrating the lyrics, Scott patted the side of his hip to show the pocket where he'd keep his chocolates and pillowed his head familiarly on Chelsea's shoulder. In the course of the song, the pair jumped up excitedly from the bench when their plans for the future became more grandiose. Scott sang of taking a year or two off to read Tolstoy, and Chelsea handed him a huge volume from the chest. Chelsea sang of cruising to Tahiti and learning to do the 'hootchi-koo', complete with an alluring demonstration, while Scott accompanied on an imaginary drum and intoned a primitive sounding chant. Chelsea described giving a concert at Carnegie Hall in her best operatic soprano and ended her verse on a dramatic high note. As Scott watched Chelsea hit the note on the money, the expression on his face was so unintentionally but utterly charming. He seemed to encourage Chelsea along by subtly widening his eyes and lifting his eyebrows in the classic manner of a trained singer reaching for the top of the range. Scott's intently focused support for his lady's accomplishment made for a very appealing and meaningful moment.
The highpoint of the number came when Scott sang about playing his beloved saxophone and pulled the instrument out of the chest - much to Chelsea's dismay. In turn, Chelsea grew lyrical about her resolve to play the violin and produced a bow and fiddle from the box. Meanwhile Scott was muttering, "Not that! Anything but that!" Nonetheless, the couple began to play on their instruments the song they had been singing.
Chelsea moved her bow across the strings in a short introduction, and Scott followed with a couple of straggling notes on sax. But abruptly stopping the music, he complained to Chelsea, "That's a little fast," and directed, "Slower, darling." Once more Chelsea played the intro, and again Scott made a valiant attempt to produce the song from his sax. Just as before, Scott halted the duet and took exception to the speed, this time protesting fretfully to the musical director, Ben Lanzarone, " That's still fast. Come on, Ben! " Then, pronouncing the words a little louder, very precisely and with a definite edge to his voice, Scott repeated to Chelsea, "Slo-wer, Dar … ling!" Stretching out the endearment with pointed emphasis, he then adamantly stomped his foot three times on the stage to mark the tempo.
At a snail's or rather at a beginner's pace, Chelsea dutifully played the intro again. Now Scott joined her in the song, bringing robust and energetic but cacophonous notes from the sax. He really made the most of this part, playing the instrument with eager, exuberant relish and conveying his character's complete faith that he could master the saxophone, despite the strange sounds coming from it. On the other hand, Chelsea fared a little better with her violin … but not much. A staunch trooper, she played on despite her partner's dissonant notes, scarcely reacting with an exasperated yet somehow long-suffering expression fixed to her face. At one point Chelsea reached over with her bow and tapped Scott gently on the head, perhaps as a little reprimand or a signal to cool it.
By the time the duet was over, the audience was howling with laughter. Then Scott and Chelsea sang the last verses of the song. They vowed to play for one and all in their excess leisure but added that if the kids didn't marry soon, the two of them would be 'the oldest act in vaudeville'. At this, Scott and Chelsea hunched over and affected an infirm, faltering gait to illustrate the point. When the piece ended, the audience showed its appreciation for the couple with continuous laughter and a huge round of applause.
It was such a delight to watch Scott and Chelsea perform together. Their strong, mellow voices blended so smoothly; their comedic timing complimented one another so flawlessly; and the chemistry between them not only glowed, but actually invested the material with added meaning. Even more irresistible was the fact that the two of them obviously had as much fun presenting the number as the audience had watching them. This little slice of musical theater is one we'll remember vividly for a long time to come. And it certainly inspires our hopes that we might someday see Scott and Chelsea do the entire show together. We offer heartfelt thanks to them both for a truly sparkling and outstanding performance.
For the finale, the original cast of A Chorus Line returned to present the exciting and flamboyant 'One' from that show. Vigorous applause greeted the combination of successive high kicks that ended this number, and then the entire company joined the dancers onstage. As the audience responded with a standing ovation, the costumed performers gathered in informal groups to talk and to congratulate each other. The audience was still clapping and the performers were still chatting when Scott, sporting his pajamas, took the similarly clad Chelsea by the hand and hurried into the wings. The show was over but these two unbelievably gracious and generous people didn't want to be late for yet another engagement with some eager, admiring fans.
Reception and Meet 'N Greet
After the show ended we all walked across the courtyard from the theater to the school, where a reception for performers and guests was arranged. A special classroom had been set aside for Scott to meet his fans with a hand-lettered sign over the door announcing. "Scott Bakula!" We gathered in the room - filled it to capacity really - and sat down at the student desks. After several minutes, Jay came into the room and said hello while we simultaneously welcomed him with a hearty round of applause. After informing us that Scott would be delayed for a couple of minutes because 'he had to put some stuff in the car,' Jay used the interval to find out how far we had traveled to attend the show and reception. As various people called out the names of their countries or states, Jay repeated them to accentuate the distant locations: England, Sweden, Australia, Vermont, New York...
Photo credit ~ AnnMc
Scott looked marvelously fit, youthful and strikingly handsome in black slacks, a high-buttoned black vest and white shirt with collar tucked into the vest and with several tantalizing buttons opened at the neck. Finishing off the outfit was a gorgeous black sport coat of soft wool, woven to produce a pattern of finely raised, textured strips that alternated with the smooth, compact base fabric. His short, neat hair, highlighted at the top and crown, was brushed forward in front and shone under the overhead lights with a soft, healthy luster.
Even though he just completed a dynamic, spirited performance and had recently finished the season's shooting of Enterprise, Scott appeared very relaxed and animated and communicated a sense of unreserved warmth toward us all. His smile of greeting radiated genuine friendliness. His vibrant features displayed eager anticipation for - real enjoyment in the occasion. Scott's leisurely manner clearly signaled his intent, or more correctly, his desire to stay as long as necessary to meet and talk with everyone. Once again, Scott made this event seem much more like a visit with friends than an autograph signing or photo opportunity with fans.
Scott was looking around the room, smiling at both the new and the familiar faces there, when Jay pointed out that Rosie was sitting a little behind him and toward the left. Scott replied, "I know. I saw Rosie! Every year, she's… the first person I see is Rosie." He was, of course, alluding to his private visit with Rosie in the still empty theater just before the start of last year's Hamilton benefit.
Then, as Jay began to list for Scott some of the distant countries and states from which his fans had traveled to see him, Frankie called out, 'Canada!' Scott's interest was immediately caught by the name of that country, and he inquired, "Where in Canada?" As soon as Scott heard the response to his question, he repeated it, "Alberta," in a way that conferred special significance on the city's name. Neither his face nor voice betrayed the slightest hint of humor when he quipped ironically, "Anybody up there play hockey any more this time of the year?" After the class reacted with laughter and a few groans, Scott added, "I shot a movie in Alberta, you know," referring to his beautiful film, Papa's Angels. Scott chatted with Frankie for a minute or two about her home city and then remarked, "That's pretty up there. You're lucky to live up there."
Now Scott turned toward Rosie on his left and said with easy and evident affection, "Hey you! Did you have fun?" Placing his hands on the arm rests of her chair, he leaned down and kissed her cheek gently. With a hint of mock regret in his voice, he lightly teased, "I'm sorry you couldn't get a good seat." The room erupted in surprised laughter for Rosie had been seated on the aisle in the first row, center section during the performance. Over the noise, Margaret called out, 'She had the best seat in the house!' And Scott repeated, "She had the best seat in the house! Not bad, huh?"
Photo credit ~ AnnMc
When the room quieted a little, Margaret told Scott that the purse was chock-full of coins of different kinds from the U.S. and all over the world and that it even included a thrupence. Jay inquired, "A what?" And Margaret repeated a thrupence. Accompanied by another burst of laughter, Jay interjected, "You've got to explain that to him." At first, Scott sighed deeply and turned a weary, disgusted look over his shoulder in Jay's direction. Only after Scott brought his attention back to the purse did he throw out an offhand rebuttal. "I know what it is." But Jay persisted, "Okay, what is it?" "It's three pences," Scott replied with a little prompting from Pippa. Now Scott elaborated, "It's more than a tuppence. A tuppence is… you remember that song in Mary Poppins?" After a significant pause, Jay answered with more than a little sarcasm, "Of course I do."
But Scott was really taken off guard and then it was his turn to laugh, when he found out that the cache was a contribution from his fans for the purpose of improving the lighting on Enterprise. "Oh, we're giving money for the lighters?" he questioned as amused disbelief lifted his inflection to a higher register. "It's a long story about the lighting on Enterprise this year," he added, obvious dissatisfaction gradually deepening and blunting his tone of voice. "And nobody's more unhappy about it than we are. And it's really not us. It's the broadcasters."
Of course Scott, always his inherently polite self, still expressed honest appreciation for the gift. "This is very nice. Thank you. I think this will buy…" He paused, stumped for a purchase to name, then changed course and said, "Who knows what this will buy?" 'A bulb,' one of the fans offered. "Gold?" Scott questioned, perplexed at what that had to do with the lighting of the show. 'A bulb. One bulb,' several people in the room called out. So he concluded, "I'll just carry a bulb around with me."
Scott took the card we had all signed, promised to open it later and started walking toward the teacher's desk to put it down. But Margaret called him back and held out a plastic bag for him to put the cache of coins into so that none of them would accidentally spill. So Scott turned back and reached out to put the gift purse into the plastic bag. But clearly, neither he nor Margaret expected the purse to be quite so heavy. For, almost as soon as Scott tried to put it into the plastic bag, the purse promptly dropped onto the floor with a flat clunk. Now Billie had predicted that just such a mishap might befall Scott so, of course, the room dissolved in laughter once again when the incident actually occurred.
After Scott retrieved the bag of coins, several people began to tell him of the difficulties they had getting satisfactory video reception of Enterprise. Scott explained that picture quality of the show was different for different locations around the country. "In fact," he continued, "Rick Berman was on vacation in Colorado and said it was the best picture he'd ever seen. I forget where he was. He was skiing and he turned it on and said, 'Oh my gosh, look how beautiful the show looks!' " As he quoted the executive producer, Scott opened his eyes wide in amazement to illustrate Berman's reaction. "So it all depends on where you are," Scott restated.
Photo credit ~ KarenS
He explained that the network initially thought the problem originated with the production of the show. But in fact technical aspects of filming Enterprise were substantially the same as they had been for Voyager, except that the new series is being made for HDTV. "So they went through this whole thing and decided that's not the problem," Scott concluded, "But it really is UPN… It's about UPN. I hate to say it. So write to UPN." However at that, his face brightened enthusiastically and his voice grew strong with upbeat confidence as he promised, "But when that DVD - the first year thing comes out, you'll be delighted." Naturally, Scott's fans responded with an expectant murmur to his pledge of superb picture quality on the disks. Then he heightened the anticipation by adding, "Oh, they're making the sound for surround-sound and doin' all this stuff. And they're really excited about it."
When others in the classroom made critical comments about the picture quality of the series, Scott again pointed out that UPN's signal was responsible for the less than optimal look of televised episodes of Enterprise. Once more, he emphasized that the picture quality really depends on the area where the signal is received. At that point, Scott's attitude became noticeably more serious and he admitted, "It kind of broke everybody's heart this year 'cause the guys worked so hard to light the show." As is his practice, Scott made certain to give heartfelt praise to the technical crew. "And they're good," he stressed. "They're very talented men and ladies. And… it's been the bane of our existence."
Now to Scott's right, an outburst of laughter from Jay and some of the people near him interrupted this explanation. Scott quieted the disturbance in a very considerate way, turning toward Jay and asking, "You alright?" Scott had been holding the pouch of coins against his chest with both hands. Now he lifted it in Jay's direction and said, "I'd offer to let you hold this, but it might break your arm." But Jay retorted, "I'm not the one who dropped the bag." Scott sounded almost contrite as he said, "I know. I broke the bag." Naturally, that little interchange brought out another volley of laughter from the group.
Following this bit of give-and-take teasing between Scott and Jay over the dropped bag of coins, Scott offered his unmistakably honest regret for any problems with the UPN signal. "So, you know, I apologize about that. And we're trying. They're trying everything. They were trying to deal with the satellite on Mount Wilson and it's been… " At that moment, Jo spoke up and once again asked Scott to clarify if we should write to UPN and not to Paramount about this issue. Scott replied, "No, the Paramount feed is beautiful. It leaves Paramount and it's gorgeous." Some other fans then told him that the picture quality was great in their area of the country and they had no problem with the lighting. He readily agreed with them, "It all depends on where you are." Margaret offered, 'In the country we get a gorgeous signal.' Scott ended the discussion on a humorous note and concluded in a tone of finality, " Well… we should all move!"
It was both touching and extraordinary to discover just how much personal responsibility Scott feels not just for his own performance but for the overall quality of the series as well. He made an exceptional effort to explain the issues affecting picture clarity of the series and to reassure everyone that vigorous attempts are being made to solve the problem. We witnessed first hand this talented, perceptive and conscientious professional's commitment to creating a worthy project and to ensuring that his audience thoroughly enjoys the resulting production. Scott's thorough description of the issues that affect picture quality of the show and his simple, straightforward apology to his fans gave rise to another realization beside how much he cares about his work: the first feedback Scott received that night about his new series was a complaint. In retrospect, that feels like a very regrettable circumstance. Thankfully, Scott gave us lots of other opportunities that night to tell him how much we all enjoy the show and how captivated we are by his characterization of Archer.
During a short lull in the discussion, Scott began to express his appreciation for everyone's support for this benefit performance at Hamilton. "You all are so great to come. I just can't thank you…" But he was interrupted with some more comments about the television signal from UPN. So, being Scott, he naturally stopped and gave his full attention to the person who was speaking to him.
However, at this point Jay interjected to ask how it was that we had been able to see or hear Scott singing the National Anthem at the L.A. Kings Hockey game. Many voices told Jay about the live broadcast of the game over the Internet on the NHL radio site. And others reported that Kate had video taped it from Fox Sports in Detroit. A trace of amazement in his question, Jay asked, "You guys have video?"
Photo credit ~ KarenS
Along with his fans who were answering in the resounding affirmative, Scott said, "I have a copy of it." Then Jay, his reproachful tone only half in jest, turned to Scott and demanded, "How do you have a copy?" Scott replied, "The guys downloaded it at work." Now, he adopted a scornful but resigned attitude and filled in the details. "At work they put it up on all the screens on the bridge. And everybody stopped, and they all applauded," Scott said of the cast and crew of Enterprise. "Anthony [Montgomery} almost left the planet - he was so excited."
Many people in the room also offered enthusiastic praise for Scott's performance of the Anthem. And Jay remarked, " I heard he sounded great." So although he was still slightly taken aback by the resourcefulness of Scott's fans, Jay asked if someone could make sure he got a copy of the tape. (He should know better than to underestimate our determination when it comes to tracking down audio/visual recordings of Scott's work.)
In response to Jay's request, Scott exclaimed in a deliberately injured sounding tone, "I'll get it for you! I swear I have it!" But Jay was already involved in another conversation. Then Scott looked around the classroom and inquired, "Now who are the English folks?" When the ladies from Britain indicated their presence, Scott continued, "Cause my Englishman on the crew even thought it was pretty good. And he doesn't know anthems from…" At that he shrugged and left the comparison blank. "He liked it. He liked it," Scott added. " "Good on you, " he mimicked, quoting Dominic Keating.
Jay went on to explain that he couldn't hear Scott sing the anthem even though he was with him that night. As Scott repeatedly shook his head in exasperated disbelief at the incident, Jay related that someone had called him on the cellphone to ask him how Scott sounded - while Scott was singing. But Scott pointed to the humorous side of the situation by saying, "Thank goodness there wasn't a camera on him right then. It would have been embarrassing to see him on camera."
Jay again grumbled about not being able to hear Scott because of the guy on the phone asking him to describe how Scott sounded. So, Janey volunteered to email the file to Jay. But Scott immediately protested, "You can't email a song, can you?" When the class assured him that you certainly could email a Wav file, Scott shook his head in dismay, held up one hand like a signal of aversion and muttered, "All right, I give up. I don't know how to do it, and I never will." Then once more, almost to himself, he repeated "I don't know how to do it, and I never will." Needless to say, his mystification over the ways of computer technology was thoroughly charming.
In the course of explaining that she lived in Detroit and therefore was able to tape Scott singing the anthem on a live broadcast of the Wings vs Kings hockey game, Kate reminded Scott that she had gone to high school with him. Scott did a dumbfounded double take, then refocused a vague, perplexed look on Kate and asked, "Did you really?" Kate merely held up an old yearbook in response. As recognition cleared the doubt from his features, Scott replied without a trace of uncertainty, "That's the yearbook! That's the one! That's the color!" But Kate restored his confusion with what sounded like a cryptic non sequitur when she told Scott to 'think Fiddler.'
Photo credit ~ DebbieO
Clearly baffled by her remark, Scott echoed in a dubious tone "Think Fiddler?" So Kate brought the book and several pictures from their high school production of Fiddler on the Roof to Scott. As he first saw the pictures from the play, his expression betrayed a blend of amazement, nostalgia and the barest trace of discomfort. His startled exclamation traveled upward in pitch and became slightly reedy at the end, "Oh my gosh!" After the two alums talked privately for a moment, Kate held up a picture of Scott performing the lead role in Fiddler. Perhaps only a little disconcerted by the sight of himself at seventeen or so, Scott responded with a quick grin and his customary good humor. "Look at me," he exclaimed. Then saturating his words with irony and tucking his tongue firmly in his cheek, he observed, "I just was such a great Tevye!" As he said this, Scott rolled his eyes upward and shook his head to indicate mocking disparagement and to give the lie to his words.
At that moment, someone sitting close to Scott (perhaps Jo) must have quietly asked him if he would perform the role again at some time. But Scott's reply was clearly audible. "In Orlando? Doing Fiddler?" he asked, the second question even more incredulous than the first. Scott breezily tossed out a response to his own question and quipped, "They would laugh me out of the state, I think, if I came down there doing Fiddler."
Possibly, Scott was pointing up the difference in the level of credence between an audience for a high school performance in the mid west and the more demanding one for a professional production of Fiddler On the Roof, particularly in Florida for an actor without ethnic compatibility for the character of Tevye. But with this amusing and self-effacing remark, Scott once again revealed those innately modest aspects of himself that have become so familiar and so admirable.
He truly seemed not to comprehend - to honestly dismiss - his own extraordinary talent for portraying a character with total authenticity. In his expressive features and eloquent eyes, through his evocative stance, attitude and movements, with his precisely controlled, flexible voice to produce the perfect inflection, dialect or song, Scott has the singular ability to reveal his character's veritable soul. Certainly, based on the dazzling segment of "If I Were A Rich Man" that he performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Scott really would make ' such a great Tevye'.
To keep things moving, Jay suggested that we might begin getting autographs. Scott readily agreed. With energy and good cheer, he made himself available for whatever his fans wanted, "Sure! Do you guys want to talk? Do you want me to sign stuff? What do you want to do?" Almost immediately, people started asking Scott questions. One young man, who looked to be about fourteen or fifteen years old, asked Scott how he got started in the business. Perhaps because Scott wasn't sure if the question referred to his own experiences, he inquired, "How I started out?" When the young man said yes, Scott answered, "I started out in a rock and roll band, and, you know, it grew from there. And I sang in my church choir, actually. And it all… I just happened to be in the right church with the right people… and all of a sudden we were doing theater." (Scott was alluding to the church productions of Amahl And the Night Visitor and Godspell in which he starred.) Here, Kate held up a different picture and called out, 'Exhibit B!' With audible fondness in his voice for the memory, Scott acknowledged her graciously, "Exhibit B. Godspell. Thank you!" Then Scott concluded, "And that's how it happened.
But I grew up in St. Louis. And, you know it wasn't an option… it wasn't something that I thought would ever be a job." Now the boy asked Scott if he had driven out to Los Angeles, and Scott clarified, "I went to New York. I jumped on a plane and went to New York… for the first time."
Photo credit ~ AnnMc
The lad's curiosity about Scott beginnings in the business evidently satisfied, he switched topics and told Scott about an acting workshop that he attended every week. Scott responded with a vigorous "Yes…" that sounded as much like a hearty endorsement of the boy's interest in acting as it did a prompt for him to continue speaking. Then the young guy revealed that his teacher had worked with Scott on a Quantum Leap episode and asked if Scott remembered Cynthia Bain. For a moment Scott tried to recall the name. But when the young man mentioned a 'blind piano' episode, Scott - and all of his long time fans - immediately connected the actress to Blind Faith. "Oh sure! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" Scott exclaimed eagerly. Then as his face reflected surprise at the coincidence but also registered an affectionate smile at the memory, he asked, "She's you're teacher?" The fellow answered 'Yes!'
Next he talked about the talented actors in his group and a special workshop presentation they did every summer. Further, the boy commented that if Scott wanted to come to the program, he would be very welcome. Even while Scott's fans were laughing at the not-so-subtle appeal, Scott treated the request with the attention and gravity it deserved and asked, "When is your show?" The young man answered that the show would be held in the summer but that he wasn’t sure yet exactly when. However, he did state that a lot of people had come to the production last year and had really enjoyed it. So Scott tried to gain a little more information and asked, "Where did you do it?" The fellow replied, 'In our workshop class.',
Since Scott wasn't able to learn any specific facts about the show, he simply made an encouraging comment, "Cool!" Then he gave the boy another chance to get those pertinent facts about his show presented. "Well, you know what? If you'll write that information down or get Jay's phone number, and then you can call him when you know when the date is. Because I don't know where I'll be, or if I'm around, or when I'm shooting, or any of that stuff. And you don't know when you're doing your thing." Still, Scott gave the kid reason to hope as he stressed with buoyant optimism in his voice, "But you never know!" Finally Scott said to the boy, "But please tell Cynthia hello… from a lot of people here. That was a very popular episode and she was great in it. And… that's cool! Good for you!"
The young guy replied, 'She says only nice things about you.' And Scott countered as if startled, "Only nice things?" So the fellow quipped, 'She keeps the other stuff to herself.' Initially Scott responded, "Okay," in a tone that sounded almost content with the answer. But after a flawlessly gauged pause, and as the laughter in the room grew, Scott bellowed with feigned indignation, "Alright! I'm not coming to see your workshop!"
The respect Scott accorded this young man and the care he took to answer the boy's questions thoughtfully and without the least hint of condescension made lasting impressions on those who witnessed the encounter and only served to burnish Scott's already shining reputation as a true gentle-man. Next, Billie asked Scott where Chelsea might be and added that we would like to see her. Above the chatter in the room, Scott responded, "Where's Chelsea? She's out running around with two of our children… somewhere. I don't know where." In his characteristically cordial, obliging manner, Scott assured Billie, "But, she'd be happy to come in and talk." At that everyone joined in with Billie to reaffirm that we would love to see and talk with Chelsea.
Photo credit ~ KarenS
Then Scott turned his mocking humor on himself and pretended to confess, " I didn't want her… you know, I like to hog everybody." He pretended to show us how he had dissuaded Chelsea from coming, " 'Oh no! They don't want to talk to you. I'm sorry.' " [aside, with his arm held rigidly in front of him and his hand pressed to an invisible back] Didn't you see me pushing her down the hall?" Then he cupped a hand to his mouth and raised his voice as if he was shouting down that hall, "'They're in room 24!' [aside] She's down there waiting." Amid a tumult of laughter from the fans and with what looked very much like eager pleasure on his part, Scott asked someone to find Chelsea and invite her to join us.
While we were on the subject of Chelsea, Nancy told Scott that she really enjoyed Chelsea's appreciation for his saxophone playing in the musical number the couple had just brought off so flawlessly. Instead of a reply, Scott made an animated appeal for our compliments on his sax performance, "Wasn't it good?" Another outburst of hilarity followed that remark. But again Nancy stated that Chelsea's reaction was good. Scott nodded his head and began to agree, "Yes, she was g… " but was interrupted by other voices praising Chelsea skills on the violin. "She played the violin, yes. Yes, she played the vio… " Scott conceded. But then his voice rose higher and assumed the tone of a little boy seeking validation, as he demanded, "I played the sax too! Hello!" But he had to counter both a critical comparison between his and Chelsea's proficiency on their instruments and the laughter that nearly drowned out his rebuttal by insisting in a highly offended tone, "I played notes!"
When someone next inquired how many days he had actually practiced playing the instrument, Scott tossed off a throwaway line with mock defensiveness. "How many days did I work on it? I had a lesson." That unexpected, deadpan answer brought even louder merriment from the group. But Scott urged, "Come on! That was pretty good for a lesson." As some fans chimed in to support his claim, he elaborated, "It was! I actually was getting so good I had to try and, you know, make it…”, This time Scott was drowned out by a chorus of very skeptical groans. But then, he suddenly widened his eyes in mock surprise and turned his head toward a specific remark he heard amid the general outcry.
With a trace of dry indignation in his voice, Scott demanded," Who said that? 'Oh Yeah,' " and mimicked the comment in a way that made doubting him seem irrational. And now, his tone deepened and vibrated with a pretense of wounded pride as he repeated, "…oh yeah!" But such is Scott's gift for comic acting that sometimes we didn't know if he was deliberately provoking our laughter at his saxophone skills or was actually hurt by it.
Now, Scott's voice softened with a hint of deflated confidence and his expression grew pensive as he quoted a critique he received after his performance with Chelsea. "Cody said I was… he said, 'Your saxophone playing was really terrible.' " But, waiting only a beat for the uncertain giggles to subside, Scott related his own response in a flat, discouraged tone, "Thank you, my eleven year old son." Again, the entire room began to laugh loudly but this time with empathy. "That's the first thing he said to me," Scott reported, a parent's lenient chuckle in his words but perhaps just a trace of injured feelings beneath them. 'It was supposed to be [bad],' someone called out in defense of the performance. Scott picked up on this commentary and agreed with eager animation, "I had to tell him that! But he didn't… he just said, 'Dad you were really terrible.' "
Now Scott made what, at first, sounded like a rationalization. But the wide-eyed awe in his expression and his emphatic nods of approval illustrated his true esteem for the musicians he was about to mention. "There had been some really good saxophone players in front of me. In case you've noticed." Here everyone in the room called out accolades for the outstanding jazz saxophonists in the show, while Scott shook his head slowly and marveled at the memory of their performances. His response to a fan's question showed Scott's obvious respect for the musicians, " No, no, no. I apologized to them left and right all night long. I said, 'look, I'm not putting down the sax. I'm not… You guys are good and please ignore what I do.' " Another voice championed Scott's playing and might have said, 'It added to the comedy.'[MJ very kindly corrected my faulty hearing and told me that it was her voice coming to Scott's defense. What she actually said was, "It takes talent to play badly."] In a manner that suggested her words were balm to his wounded dignity, Scott replied, "It does! Thank you very much. Thank you. Please go tell my son."
Photo credit ~ KarenS
Next, a woman who introduced herself as an actor and professor of theater told Scott, "I don't actually know your whole history but I love your work." In response, he returned a very quiet, unassuming, "Thank you." Almost talking over his reply, the educator said she wanted to know about Scott's training and background and asked if he would consider coming to a college and speaking to students. Scott took a deep breath and replied, "You know, I get asked to do that a lot. And it's a hard thing for me to get away to do. You know, I'm doing so little of that these days."
In an unmistakable attempt to soften the refusal, his voice and manner made clear his respect for her request and his regret at having to decline. Then Scott went on to say that he developed an approach to acting that has worked best for him over the years but that he never practiced one particular technique. Adding that he was very hesitant to tell others - especially young people - what methods to adopt, Scott demurred with true modesty, "And really, to be quite honest, I'm not a great person to talk about acting, because I'm not a Meisner graduate or a Stella Adler. I do kind of my own thing. And I always encourage people to find whatever works for them. And I very seldom push what I do. I'm not sure I could really articulate what I do. So I usually kind of shy away from that."
Although Scott had a principled reason behind his reluctance to tout his own acting style, he took time to expound a bit on those misgivings. Using gentle but perceptive humor, he described how he sometimes laughs when he watches actors talk about acting. "When I see all the… What's that show that has all the…", Many fans called out the title of the program he was trying to remember. "Inside the Actor's Studio," Scott repeated and then confessed with almost bashful reservation, "It kind of always makes me laugh a little bit…" That statement elicited quite a few giggles from people in the room so Scott went on to explain, "…but in a good way. I mean it's just funny to see Bruce Willis and people sitting around talking about, you know, their acting styles because… I worked with Bruce."
Scott almost succeeded in stifling a chuckle on that last statement, then paused a moment while the laughter grew and people in the room followed his good-natured ribbing. His tone light, affable, and amusing, Scott joked, "His acting style is, 'That sucks. I hate that. Rewrite that.' But he's a great guy, and it makes me laugh." As the uproarious response to his little parody died down, Scott repeated with candor and emphasis, "So I always encourage everybody to just find out whatever they can… what works for you, you know, what's real for you and pursue that."
Now Scott did disclose a bit about the technique that renders his performances so moving, credible and honest. "I do this very kind of organic thing which is not really representative of any particular style." Here the actress/teacher broke in to ask Scott where he had learned this method. "Well, I took a lot of different acting classes, but basically it's just something that I kind of developed from when I was a kid." Now Scott recounted an incident from very early in his career and gave an inadvertent hint that he puts criticism to constructive use. "I'm not sure what I was doing on stage when I was young. I remember doing a show once and the choreographer said, 'You don't even know how to walk on the stage.' And I'd done a bunch of stuff by then so I thought, 'Oh no! I've been terrible for a long time.' " Scott took an unerringly timed pause as he told this humbling tale on himself, then continued in earnest again. "But, you know, I just have always kind of gone by what felt right to me, organically, and that's a very hard thing to talk about."
With complete honesty not to mention uncommon courtesy, Scott even forewarned the professor that, under special circumstances, he could possibly put aside his customary reserve. "I'm not saying someday you might not read that I've gone to KU or something - as an Alma Mater kind of thing. But generally I shy away from that. Just because, when people are involved in a class and they're learning a specific technique, or at a college with certain teachers, I don't really feel comfortable going in and messing with that. 'Cause I really respect what everybody's path is." In answering this question, Scott's remarkable combination of personal integrity, modesty and confidence not only revealed his utter lack of pretension but also his esteem for the distinctiveness of each individual's creative process.
Photo credit ~ BarbaraP
But after a little pause, his tone of voice rose and grew just slightly unsteady as he admitted, "I may cry a little bit, but I…" Faltering as if unable to continue, he now cried out with much more volume and frustrated energy, "They lost!" His voice broke mournfully and a stricken look twisted his face as the words exploded out of him. Then, to the accompaniment of scattered chuckles, Scott carried the folded shirt over to the teacher's desk, put it down gently and placed both hands palm down on top of it. "I'm alright. I know what it is," he said bravely.
Dropping his head in an attitude of dejection, he pretended to sniff back tears of regret and vented a soft doleful moan, "Oh, hoh, hoh!" As the sound of surprised laughter nearly overpowered his lament, he continued piteously, "I'm trying to explain this to my children. It's been a rough year for them. I forgot to tell my son that the Rams might lose the Superbowl."
At this, Nancy called out, 'Yeah Patriots!' Struck speechless, Scott turned to stare at her in open-mouthed shock. Again, hilarious laughter followed his pantomime. "Alright, I'm not answering your question now," he finally responded in a crushed tone that was devoid of any heat. But then pretending indignation and a hint of antagonism, he objected to Nancy, "No, you didn't tell me. You should wear your colors on the front!" Reticence kept me from telling Scott that I live twenty minutes from the U of Maryland campus, home of the NCAA champion, Terrapins, who eliminated Kansas from the semi-final round. But I'll shamefacedly admit that my loyalties were seriously torn between rooting for the Terps and Scott's Jayhawks during that game.
Next Karen asked Scott how long it had taken him to learn the banjo before filming the movie Papa's Angels. With total candor and not a trace of hesitation, Scott answered, "Well, I didn't play it. I faked it." Karen voiced the wonder and approval the whole group felt when she responded, 'That was some of the best darn faking I've ever seen.' As is his custom, Scott began to redirect the praise, "Well I had a great [teacher]… I had this guy… " Then he started over again and explained in more detail, "That kind of banjo, you know, for my money is impossible to play because it's all with the thumb and two fingers."
Admiration warming his voice, Scott went on, "And they play all that stuff with just… they don't pick with all the fingers." At that, Scott held one hand up like he was fingering the fret board of a banjo and the other hand low as if plunking the strings with his thumb and center fingers "It's called frailing. And the guy that taught me how to do it, I mean, he was just phenomenal. But that is a lifetime of understanding."
Now Scott's enthusiasm for his teacher's knowledge and expertise became not merely obvious but contagious. "And it was very cool. Because, he had an eighteen or nineteen year old son who came out while I was there. And he had his banjo strapped around his neck, and that was their thing. He had thirty banjos. And he had a banjo cover… there's a name for it…" Scott hesitated for several moments, trying to recall the precise term. When at last he remembered the word, his face brightened and the energy of victory over forgetfulness strengthened his voice. " …Skin," he emphasized, "from the Civil War that had two guys' names signed on it - a banjo that had been carried into battle 'cause they carried a lot of music with them."
Now Scott described the process that enabled him to portray Grins Jenkins' command of the banjo with such remarkable realism. " So he was like a real aficionado of it. And after one lesson, I realized that it was going to be [impossible]. But I played with him. I videotaped him playing. And I sat in Alberta in front of the TV set playing every night when I got home, you know, for a couple of hours to try and just do it service. Because I was so… because we made a conscious choice to play that kind of banjo and not… because the picking - that Earl Scruggs kind of banjo [picking]…" Here, Scott interrupted himself with a brief bit of self satire and muttered, " Gosh, I know so much!" Then he quickly concluded, "but that came into vogue in the forties and it wasn't correct for this. So I wanted to do the correct thing."
Comments and applause from many in the group assured Scott that he achieved his aspirations for the film and congratulated him for the beautiful and moving production, Papa's Angels. As a bright, gratified smile lit his face, he quietly agreed, "It was a good movie, wasn't it?"
Video courtesy of BarbaraP
Screen capture ~ Mia Cara
Scott honored and inspired us all by relating that account of his plans and preparations for shooting this film. The story provided us with a transparent window into the depth of Scott's commitment to his projects, his conscientious regard for authentic details and his unflagging dedication to performances that represent nothing less than his best work. And as we know, Scott's hard work yielded stunning success in Papa's Angels. He created such a seamless illusion of playing the banjo that most fans were astonished to discover Scott wasn't actually playing the instrument. His fingers seemed to caress the strings and his face looked transported by the sweetness of the music when Grins played and sang to his wife. In contrast, Grins pounded and punished the instrument with his rage and grief after her death, as the swell of mourning coursed through his fingers like a roar of protest and he pushed the tempo faster and still faster. But with diligent practice, with his musician's ear and sense of timing and with his actor's unique gift for wordlessly portraying complex emotions, Scott made those scenes tender, breathtaking, powerful and tragically real.
Next, Margaret spoke up to praise Scott's skillful portrayal of the regional dialect in Papa's Angels. He responded with spirited, almost surprised pleasure, as if this important aspect of the role turned out even better than he had hoped for, "The accent was good! The accent was good. I had some really good sources." Someone then commended his co-star Cynthia Nixon's portrayal of Sharon in the film. Always quick to share acclaim, Scott asked,"Wasn't Cynthia Nixon like… knock your socks off! She was great! She came in and as soon as she put that wig on, it was like, you know… " Here, he slowly shook his head to show his appreciation for her marvelous performance, then held his hands up like he was framing her in a movie camera and swept them out to the sides to indicate perfection. Now drawing an implied contrast to Ms. Nixon's sophisticated characterization on her TV series, Scott added, "once she covered that red hair up"
Now another fan broke in with a question everyone was eager to have Scott answer. Since CBS hadn't re-aired Papa's Angels, when might the video and DVD of the film be released? In a dubious, speculative way, Scott replied "I don't know. They're supposed to air it again. We have some kind of a deal where they'll air it again. I don't know when." He turned to his fans to orient himself in regard to the time frame and asked, "This was the first year after it right? But I think it's… so I think it'll be next year." Now his voice deepened and his tone and manner became almost dismissive, "They got into all this talk that I, you know, I should know as the producer. But there's only so much you can learn, and I just said 'okay.' He nodded his head compliantly and made the 'okay' sound a little ingenuous and simple, as if uttered by an innocent who would agree with whatever was proposed to him. (Despite this funny characterization, I have a suspicion that Scott handles himself quite well in matters pertaining to business.) He finished by affirming his confidence in his two co-producers, "But Marian and Ann know all that stuff in great detail."
Scott has appeared in and produced several projects since Papa's Angels, as well as promoted, debuted and completed filming the first season of Enterprise while continuing to make his family first priority. It would be nearly impossible to keep every contract detail at his fingertips at any given moment. Just the same, Scott seemed slightly embarrassed at not having the requested information about a movie that he co-produced. Unquestionably, he not only holds himself accountable for his performances and his projects but for meeting the expectations of his fans as well.
Changing topics now with an easy little segue, Scott remarked, "And speaking of movies that… I produced… " He took a small strategic pause, then uttered the last two words with a hint of pride that seemed not only out of character but also a little uncomfortable for him. But he quickly made light of himself with a bit of satire, "…and bragging for a second, What Girls Learn, do you know it won a… " While some people voiced their admiration for this very special movie in which Scott functioned as both co-producer and lead male actor, others urged Scott to reveal the good news concerning the film. "We just won a Parent's Choice," he said, a note of clear yet unpretentious satisfaction in his statement. The gathering of fans broke into resounding applause at this news. But, in a manner that promised something better to come, Scott held up a hand to check that applause and emphasized, "Oh no… a gold medal!" Now, with a composed, understated air of achievement in his attitude and voice, he pointed out, "Showtime's never won a gold medal before… so that was pretty great."
Amidst the sound of more clapping and calls of congratulations for this much-deserved honor, Scott went on to admit, "We were disappointed in the Emmy things. We thought we were gonna get about four or five of those." But then Scott gave us a fascinating glimpse into the principle by which he evaluates his own work. "But that movie… you know, ideally, you make the movies and they stand by themselves and not by how many awards were attached to them. But, you know, both of those movies I'm really proud of." Just as he did when praising Cynthia Nixon's performance, Scott now warmly recognized the work of Elizabeth Perkins, Alison Pill and Tamara Hope. "Great performances! Great women in that movie, man! Those girls - all those girls were [excellent]." At this point, Scott was interrupted by more comments from the fans saluting What Girls Learn. It was obvious that Scott felt an entirely appropriate sense of fulfillment for producing both of these outstanding films. But it was also obvious that he felt as much genuine, unstinting pride and pleasure in his co-stars' achievements as he did in his own.
Video courtesy of HeleneK & BarbaraP
Screen capture ~ Mia Cara
Inevitably, someone wanted to know if Scott could share any information about his plans for summer hiatus. He replied decisively and without hesitation, "Summer plans at this moment are nothing!" Many voices called out wholehearted support for Scott's plans to relax and spend time with his family and urged him enthusiastically, 'Enjoy!' But then he modified his statement just a little with an intriguing hint. "There are a couple of things that, you know, are in the possible works, and you all will… always know almost before I." Scott stressed the 'always' in way that made the word sound like something predestined. At the same time he give in to a knowing smile and shook his head in an air of amazement, obviously still astonished by the determination and resourcefulness of his fans when it comes to following his projects. Along those lines, someone remarked appreciatively, 'Jay has been so good.' Scott immediately picked up on the thought and agreed "I know." Then adding a perfectly timed and totally straight-faced quip he pretended to marvel at Jay, "He's changed… a lot!" Of course everyone responded with an outburst of surprised laughter at this good-natured ribbing. And Scott turned toward Jay to observe his reaction, which consisted merely of a silent look of complete bewilderment at the remark.
Quite a little time had passed since Scott invited Chelsea to join us and still she hadn't arrived. So now, Scott grew entirely serious and, quietly but with a hint of anxious anticipation, asked Jay, "Is Chelsea comin' down?" Jay's chuckling reply sounded not only amused but a little incredulous at Scott's impatience. "She said she was! She's right down the hall," Jay assured Scott. Now, Scott turned around, stepped just outside the classroom door and beckoned to Chelsea himself. While Scott's attention was focused on finding her, Jay observed with his own very dry quip, "I've changed? Look who's talking."
At that moment, Nancy took the opportunity to tease Jay in return and called out, 'What have you said lately about Scott's New York accents that make him talk to you that way?' Simultaneously, Scott returned and started to reply, "He loved my New York accent… " while Jay clowned, "Excuse me? What, what?" Nancy skewered Jay a little more, saying, 'You've been known to comment about his New York accents in the past.' Once again, Scott tried to get his statement heard above the chatter and said more distinctly, "He loved my New York accent!" Still, he couldn't make himself heard. Yet again, but this time in a lower, more composed tone, Scott said, "He loved my New York accent in What Girls Learn." Almost immediately Jay agreed, "His accent was excellent." But then Jay paused for a second and asked a very pointed question, "You want to know why?" Naturally, everyone laughed loudly when Nancy responded, 'You taught him?' and Jay indicated a smug, 'yes.' In response, Scott winced but grinned broadly at the same time, shook his head in denial and scratched the back of his neck in a gesture of self-conscious bewilderment. Then he enlarged on the joke and agreed with extravagant and therefore questionable innocence, "He read the whole script and put it on tape for me." As Scott nodded his head and softly insisted, "He did. He did," Jay finally offered his wholehearted endorsement, "No. His accent, actually, was great." Scott waited a moment as a lot of voices proclaimed agreement with Jay's opinion. But now, sounding very pleased with himself for putting his friend on the spot, Scott admitted with a not-quite disguised smile in his voice, "And yes, he has been critical of my accents in the past. Then he powered up his stage voice and announced theatrically, "Still and yet we remain friends!"
Now both Scott and Jay began to hold simultaneous conversations with separate groups of fans. On one side of the room, Scott talked with Margaret about Ghost of A Chance recently airing on French TV with dialogue dubbed in French. And on the other side, Jay joked with Nancy and friends about spiders, computer technology and sundry other things. When Scott's chat with Margaret came to an end, one member of the class asked him what it had been like to work with Dean again on the Enterprise episode, Detained. Scott echoed the question, 'How was it?" Then as affection warmed and deepened his voice and his face glowed with pleasure at the memory, he answered, "So great! So great!" Scott began to elaborate, "We had so much fun. We laughed… " But then he found himself nearly drowned out by the discussion on the other side of the room. So turning to face Jay and drawing a perfect parallel to the earlier banter about accents, Scott improvised an irate, strident Bronx dialect and nearly shouted, "Ahm dooin' the tawkin' heah!" Of course, his hilarious little parody didn't merely silence the competing chatter, it also produced another outburst of boisterous laughter from everyone present.
Photo credit ~ AnnMc
Pausing here for a moment, Scott lowered his eyes and seemed to be absorbed by memories of performing beside Dean that came from both the immediate and more distant past. "So anyway … but it was so great! We had a ball." Scott couldn't have provided any more sincere proof of how much he loved working with Dean again than the wish he next expressed. "And hopefully he'll come back. He didn't die or anything. They kept him alive, so... And, I don't know if you've seen any previews for it or anything… " Many people answered that no previews for the episode had yet been broadcast. But Scott expressed his own awed reaction to Dean's role in Detained through words, intonation and manner, "…But he's just… he's great." Then Margaret did tell Scott that she was beginning to see press releases for the episode. "Oh good! Good," he said. "Cause we did some press while he was there. Who'd we do? We did E! and… " here he had to turn to Jay for a little help with the names of the entertainment news shows, "…Extra! So they'll be around." Now with genuine pleasure, affection - and very few words - Scott described how it felt to be reunited with Dean on a set. Evidently, the chemistry and rhythm of working together clicked right back into place again as if no interval of years separated the end of Quantum Leap and the filming of Detained. "But, anyway, Dean's doing great and it was really fun… it was really fun." Here, Scott paused and allowed himself a private smile that seemed as nostalgic as it was fond. "It had been too long. But it was like, you know," here, Scott flicked his hand up and snapped his fingers briskly as he said, "old hat again."
Photo credit ~ AnnMc
Just then, one woman asked Scott a question about taking pictures. Scott cupped his hand around his ear and focused an attentive, inquiring look on the fan as he tried to hear her request over the noise of people talking and getting into line. Catching only a portion of her question, he asked, "A picture of what?" Scott listened closely as the woman repeated her question, then pointed to his chest and asked, "Of Chelsea and me?" But Scott's response to the woman's 'yes,' was to shrug his shoulders and extend his arms out to the sides with his open hands turned upward in a gesture of bewildered concern. And his consent sounded a little impatient as he fretted, "Yeah, if she ever gets here!" Still, when the newcomers reached the front of the line, Scott welcomed each of them with special warmth while Jay guided them toward Scott and took pictures. Jay was obliging and kind, taking as many pictures as people requested and operating all of their different cameras capably. He and Scott worked together with the smooth efficiency of long practice to accommodate everyone present and assure that their pictures with Scott were memorable.
Photo credit ~ AnnMc
Just after people began to meet with Scott individually, Chelsea joined us in the classroom. When Scott saw her, he threw both hands into the air and let out a greeting that sounded like both an exclamation of relief and a sigh of rewarded but long-taxed patience, "Ahh!" Of course, everyone in the room welcomed Chelsea with a big round of applause. Since Scott was obviously as anxious to see Chelsea as we were, he asked what had kept her. She replied, "I was talking to our friends." But then she immediately corrected herself and specified, "…our other friends." Sensitive and considerate of our feelings, Chelsea wanted to make sure that her remark wasn't misinterpreted by any of the fans but would, instead, indicate her friendly regard for us as well. And bless her heart, she stayed in that room and obliged a parallel que of fans who wanted to talk with her, ask for her autograph and take pictures with her. Chelsea was so gracious and open with everyone who approached her. She talked with various people about how she and the children were adjusting to the routine of a weekly series and about the excellent work being done by Bonny Gibson and the other members of the McCready Charitable Trust (including Chelsea's own mother, Barbara Botfield).
Responding to the many compliments she received for her joint performance with Scott that evening, Chelsea commented that they both had so much fun performing 'When the Kids Get Married.' She even mentioned that the two of them discussed how much they would like to appear together in the full production of I Do! I Do! Chelsea, this beautiful, cordial and thoughtful lady, spent so much time after the benefit visiting and chatting in such a warm, welcoming way with fans. She didn't call conspicuous attention to herself in any way. But once Chelsea knew we wanted to include her, she made herself completely accessible to us with serene, unpretentious charm. It isn't difficult to see why Scott was so eager to have her accompany him.
Now near the end of the line of first-timers, Debbie and her daughter 'Tima (Fatima) waited to see Scott. They had pictures for him to sign as well as something special to give him. When Scott saw the little girl walk up to the desk, his eyes lit with pleasure and went directly to meet hers. "Hi!" he said in an enthusiastic yet gentle tone of voice which was clearly intended to set the little girl at ease and single her out for special attention. "What's your name?" Instinctively knowing how important it was to understand the little girl's name correctly, Scott bent down to the child's level and turned his ear toward her to hear her soft response. He repeated her name, then shook her hand with almost solemn courtesy. But showing the perennial concern of a parent, Scott remarked quietly, "It's kinda late, isn't it?" After 'Tima nodded timid agreement to his comment and won a conspiratory smile from Scott, he signed the pictures she and her Mom had brought and took particular care with the autographs, making sure to spell the little girl's name correctly and to write something special for her.
Then Debbie and her daughter gave Scott their present for him, which was nestled inside a pretty gift bag that looked like it might contain a bottle of wine. However, the bag actually held a bottle of - what else but - Canada Dry Ginger Ale! When Scott looked into the wrappings and saw this clever gift, he responded with surprise and real enjoyment. Leaning his head and upper body backward, he gave voice to that distinctive, wonderfully infectious triplet laugh of his.
The pitch of his voice then climbed into tenor range and took on a helplessly amused tone, as he exclaimed, "Oh no!… Oh no!" He began to lift the bottle out of the gift bag and asked Debbie, "Did you hear what they did to me on the set?" Now Scott held the bottle up for display, and everyone in the room burst into spontaneous, noisy laughter. Nancy even called out, 'Does this mean you're going to sing… and dance, Scott?' While the tumult subsided, Scott made a wry grimace and shook his head from side to side, putting on an air of disgruntled resignation that did nothing to hide the amusement underneath.
Still, without missing a beat, Scott held the bottle prominently in front of his chest while almost simultaneously placing his arm around 'Tima's shoulders and nodding good-naturedly to Debbie who moved to his other side. The trio waited, motionless, for Jay to snap the picture. But instead, Jay kept teasing, "Scott, can you do that little move?" referring of course to that great little shoulder shimmy from the Canada Dry commercial.
Video courtesy of HeleneK & BarbaraP
Screen capture ~ Mia Cara
Scott raised his eyebrows in what might have been a protest or perhaps a warning and countered, "Not as well as you can. I'm still not practicing it." But Jay insisted, "Do that little move." At first, Scott laughed in response. But then, still waiting with his arm around 'Tima and the bottle held in front of him, he grew serious - even determined and said, "Shoot the… Take the picture!" However, Scott lightened the mood again at once and jokingly advised Jay, "Dance on your own time!" Jay had a little trouble getting Debbie's camera to work. So while he adjusted it, Scott asked Debbie, "Do you know that they made up bottles for the entire crew? You'll see me tell this story again, but I'll tell it now." With Debbie's help, Jay solved the problems with the camera and was finally ready to take the picture. So Scott postponed his story while Jay snapped two pictures of him with Debbie and 'Tima, and then launched into the anecdote.
"I was on the set and they said, 'Scott, Scott, will you go sit in your chair?' " Here Scott imitated the speaker, using a high-pitched and too-conspicuously innocent sounding tone. Then he continued in his normal voice, "I was in the Turbo Lift and I said, 'No!' " Scott bellowed the one-word response with an exaggerated air of annoyance and outright obstinacy. "It was April 1st, and I said, 'It's April Fool's Day, okay? I'm not fallin' for anything like that!' " Now he crinkled up his eyes, leaned back into an expansive, agreeable pose and used a cajoling, heartily reassuring tone to once more imitate the cast and crew members as they urged him,"'C'mon! Sit in your chair!' " Putting heavy emphasis on the refusal, Scott quoted his reply, "I said, 'I'm not sittin' in my chair!' So I come out of the turbo lift - it's about ten feet - and the music starts playing. And, again, on all the monitors on the bridge the commercial's playing." As he mentioned the monitors, Scott described a semi-circle with his hands to indicate the screens that surrounded him on the bridge. Then he arched his eyebrows dramatically and rolled his eyes upward to pretend an air of much tried patience, and continued, "And every cast and crew member has a bottle. And you can't buy bottles anymore." Demonstrating an imaginary sticker and its printed lines with his hands, Scott went on, "And they made up… they printed up labels of Canada Dry that said, 'Enterprise Canada Dry' on them. And they all sang and danced the… whole… song." He drew out the ensuing pause just long enough to give his next statement the added punch of surprise. And with a sharp forward body movement to punctuate the word, he affected an abrasive, resentful tone and thundered, "Twice!"
Although Scott pretended to be exasperated, the expression on his face betrayed wry good humor and his tone couldn't hide the smile in his voice. His little story made two things clear: Scott accepted the teasing with tolerance and good grace; he not only enjoys but, from what has been written, encourages those kinds of hi-jinks to relieve tension on the set. As Scott thanked Debbie and bid her goodbye, Jay tried to goad him into action by asking the fans, "Don't you want to see that little dance move?" But once more, Scott sidestepped the issue by concluding with just a trace of wistful finality, "It's been a long time." Then as 'Tima began to leave, Scott scooped the bottle up from the desk, held it close to his chest with both arms as if to protect it and warned in a joking tone, "Don't take my Canada Dry!" When the little girl smiled at his antics, Scott touched her small shoulder gently and said, "It was nice to meet you."
Video courtesy of HeleneK & BarbaraP
Screen capture ~ Mia Cara
In a more or less orderly que, everyone in the room proceeded up to the teacher's desk to meet individually with Scott. Even though there were so many of us waiting to see him and it was getting quite late, Scott welcomed each person who approached him with a genuinely warm-hearted smile. Talking and laughing for a unique, private moment, he gave each of us his complete, special attention, graciously signed whatever items we brought to him and then encircled each one's shoulder with his strong, steady arm for a close and smiling picture. His welcoming, companionable embrace imparted unreserved geniality and kindness toward all and prompted a relaxed, happy smile from each person in return. It felt somehow familiar and reassuring, in fact, comfortable to be tucked in against his side so amicably with his warm, firm hand on my shoulder and the soft, furrowed texture of his coat beneath my fingers. Such is the easy acceptance Scott extends that the experience seemed like taking a picture with a family member - well, I suppose I should qualify - a family member who is intelligent and amusing, extraordinarily handsome, talented and versatile yet so incredibly nice.
For me, one of the special highlights of the evening happened after Jay asked if he could interrupt the que so that Rosie could have her picture with Scott. It had been a long evening for Rosie, and Jay told us she was getting a little tired. Margaret brought Rosie across the room toward Scott. But since her head was involuntarily turned away from him, he stepped behind her chair and knelt down close to her on that side. Then he enclosed her gently with both arms, circling one arm around the back of her chair and holding her shoulder, bringing the other across her in front and resting his hand on her arm. With his head close to Rosie's, Scott gave her an easy smile and began to talk quietly only to her. All the while he held her eyes expressly with his own and patted her arm with warm affection. Rosie, of course, looked at Scott with that same expression of gladness and admiration that seems to overcome us all when we are close to him.
Although, as usual, Jay volunteered to be the photographer, Margaret wanted to take a picture of him with Scott and Rosie. After initially trying to convince Margaret to join her daughter and let him take the picture, Jay at last conceded and knelt on the other side of Rosie's chair. As he did, Scott commented, "Oh good! Get Jay in here too!" Then Scott took his hand from Rosie's shoulder and settled it across Jay's to draw him into the group. Jay leaned close to Rosie and placed his hand on her arm, just above Scott's own. As Margaret snapped the picture of the threesome, each of their faces radiated pure happiness. And Rosie's joyous expression not only lit up the room, but touched everyone's heart as well. For several moments afterwards, Jay and Margaret shared a few words and a laugh. But Scott stayed right where he was beside Rosie, talking privately to her, stroking her shoulder and patting her arm to communicate his fondness in the most direct way. Those people at the front of the room could barely hear Scott's soft voice thanking Rosie for coming and telling her to keep well. Finally as Scott stood up, he offered her a warm, friendly smile and dropped a gentle kiss on top of her head. Then Scott hugged Margaret, while Jay kissed Rosie goodbye. And, as Margaret took Rosie out the door, Scott waved and cautioned with sincere concern, "Get home safe." These simple, heartfelt instances of respect and affection between friends lifted the spirits of those involved and of everyone in the room who observed them.
Intermittently throughout the evening, Scott and Jay would engage in a bit of delightful running banter with each other. One of these instances occurred when Scott was greeting Ann McCabe, who had just come up to the desk. Jay began to tell those of us who were still in line that we could assure the professional quality of Enterprise pictures we purchased by looking for a silver hologram on the back of the print. However, while Jay was explaining this, Ann and Scott were waiting to have their picture taken. First Scott beckoned Jay with three fingers of one hand toward himself and Ann, both posed and waiting patiently for the photographer. Then Scott called out to Jay in a soft voice as if to discreetly recapture the focus of someone who has completely lost his direction, "Hey… hey, the work's over here." But after the smallest pause, he added with a disarming smile, "The stories are later." As Jay heard Scott's good-humored protest, he cut his explanation off short and returned his attention to picture taking. Of course, everyone within earshot of the two laughed at this funny exchange.
Another telling little interchange happened while Scott was signing some pictures that Barbara brought with her. She questioned whether Scott had received a copy of the one he was autographing at the moment. Jay nodded his head emphatically and said, "We did," to which Scott responded in a doubtful tone, "We do? Like that?" So Jay came around the desk for a closer look and confirmed, " Yes, we definitely have that." Speaking to Barbara now, Jay said, "I was just gonna say, you gave me that when you gave me the Diane Wertz article from Newsday." However, he made this admission just as Barbara began describing the exact same circumstance. At that, Scott looked up from putting his signature on the last of the pictures and, in a matter-of-course tone that suggested time-tested trust, made this observation about Jay, "He is good. If you ever doubted him, don't!"
At another point, Scott got a little animated - or perhaps juicy is closer to the mark - while he was signing a picture for Debbie and at the same time answering a question for someone else. "We solved that problem this year," Scott responded to the questioner who stood off to his side. Then turning back to the picture he'd been signing, he used the outside edge of his hand to lightly brush it off. At the same time, he quietly muttered words that sounded like a self-rebuke, "No… I'm spitting on her pictures." While Scott resumed autographing the picture, Jay had some fun at his friend's expense with a teasing reprimand, "That wasn't very nice." Now Scott stopped what he was doing and, still leaning over the desk, raised his head to aim an astute look up at Jay. Then, gesturing emphatically with the upturned hand that held the pen, Scott retorted, Yeah, but now you can like… you can take somebody's spit and sell it on eBay or something." Again, everyone who heard Scott's only-too-true comeback broke into laughter. Accompanied at first by Scott's nodding agreement, one fan called out, 'DNA! They can probably clone you from your spit.' Now it was Scott's turn to laugh at her comment. He began to respond, "That sounds like…" But Jay cut in and said with a mixture of laughter and horror, "Don't give anybody any ideas! We've got enough… stuff!" These funny snippets of reciprocal ribbing between Scott and Jay only seemed to point up the mutual respect and easy friendship, born of a long and loyal association, that the two men share.
Photo credit ~ KarenS
As it got later, then still later and the general reception was winding down, several other entertainers from the show ducked in to say goodbye to Scott and Chelsea. While Scott was leaning over the desk to sign Billie's picture, one of the men (who may have been virtuoso tap dancer Mark Mendonca - although this might not be accurate) tapped him on the back and unobtrusively spoke a few words close to his ear. Scott immediately turned around, and the two performers congratulated each other on the success of the show with a hearty hug. Scott quickly gave the man an enthusiastic thumbs-up, accompanied by a broad smile of approval, and repeated, "You were fantastic!" But mindful not to remain facing away from Billie for too long, Scott turned his attention right back to her as the performer quietly left. After the pictures were signed, Billie collected them and started to walk away from the desk. Scott put a purposely-gentle hand of restraint on her shoulder and began to remind her about the picture. His expression revealed distinct concern that she might overlook getting this keepsake of the evening. But at the same time Jay was saying, "Billie! They want me to take a picture of you. Scott, right here!" Undeterred by her reluctance, Scott had already turned Billie around to face Jay and placed his arm about her shoulders ready for the camera. He started to speak, "She doesn't want it but she's going to ta…" but suddenly turned his head toward Billie as she said something that made him laugh. Then he responded in a deep purportedly gruff, callous tone that flowed from him with comical emphasis and rhythm, "…but she's gonna get it anyway. C'mon!" Saying this, Scott pulled Billie closer to his side and held her shoulder in a more secure grasp, as if to prevent her from escaping their pose. Both Billie and Scott, along with everyone who saw this funny vignette, laughed happily as Jay took the picture.
Singer/actor Paul Kreppel and dancer Murphy Cross came in to talk to Scott just as another fan had given him items to autograph. Scott was pausing to take a drink of water when he caught sight of his fellow performers. His smile registered pleased surprise as he greeted them with a jaunty, "Hi Guys!" The two artists stood aside while Scott finished signing the woman's items and taking a picture with her. After the fan walked away, Scott kissed Murphy on the cheek, hugged her and said, "You guys did a great job! You did a great job!" Now Scott turned to Paul, who directed the evening's show, and the two men gave each other a long bear hug. All the while, Scott was extending his gratitude and praise to Paul, "Thanks for doing this. You did an awesome job… an awesome job!" Then, intoning the words like an announcement and lifting his arms in the air to invite a show of approval from the room, Scott urged, "They all loved the show!" With whoops, cheers and applause, Scott's fans expressed resounding appreciation for the show and its director. Scott waited while Paul acknowledged the ovation, then made sure to re-emphasize Kreppel's accomplishment. "You did it," Scott told him with obvious pride! At that, Paul faced Scott and held his hand up, palm forward. Scott slapped his own hand vigorously onto Kreppel's and clasped it in a firm grip. With genuinely warm regard for each other, the two men shook hands as brothers do, their arms linked instead of outstretched. And while their hands were still joined, Scott congratulated Paul again with a glancing swat on the shoulder. Then Paul left the classroom as Scott promised, "I'll talk to you."
Before they left for the evening, Eileen Graff and husband Ben Lanzarone came into the room to say goodbye to Scott and Chelsea. Eileen sang with the acappella group that opened the night's show and also performed a beautiful solo at the end of the first act. In addition, she co-produced last year's show with Ben, who also served as musical director for both benefits. Standing quietly next to Scott, Eileen waited until he finished autographing a man's Enterprise pictures. As Scott rose from leaning over the desk and saw Eileen, he moved toward her with noticeable affection. They kissed like good friends and embraced each other for a long moment of mutual recognition and esteem. When they moved apart, Eileen patted Scott's cheek fondly as he murmured, "Just amazing!" Scott raised his voice again so that everyone in the room could hear him recount the extent of this couple's generosity. With energy and admiration he declared, "Their daughter graduated! That's how great these people are!" As people in the room applauded the husband and wife, Scott wrapped Ben in a quick bear hug, then gripped the musician's shoulder and jostled it with grateful goodwill. After a bit of interaction with the fans, the couple made their way over to Chelsea to say goodbye and give her their love. And as they were leaving the room, Eileen turned back toward Scott's fans and said, "Thanks for coming, everybody."
The memorable thing about these three encounters between Scott and his co-performers was that none were the airy, superficial contact that casual show business acquaintances sometimes engage in. Rather, they were warm, sincere and appreciative acknowledgements from professionals who not only like and respect one another but who are working for a cherished common cause.
When it looked as though Scott had met with the last person in line, Jay scanned the room and called out to make certain no one had missed getting an autograph and picture with Scott. "Have we got everybody? We got everybody? And now we want Chelsea, right?" So Chelsea and Scott obliged us all, yet again, and came together at the front of the room so that we could take pictures of them. As they stood with their arms around each other's waists and pivoted by turns to face the right, center and left of the room, their smiles revealed actual enjoyment in the moment and undisguised pleasure in each other's company. Scott made a deliberate effort to slow the pace of their circuit, lingering instinctively in each position long enough for everyone to get a good picture. When he and Chelsea turned toward the left, Scott provided a funny little diversion to keep their expressions natural and relaxed by remarking lightheartedly, "Good, good, good… good, good! We're spinning this way." Jay quickly picked up on Scott's little director spoof and intoned, "We're turning… we're turning." Scott chuckled and embellished, "We're looking in the corner over here,", as they faced that direction. A fan prompted, 'We're smiling,' and both Jay and Scott echoed, "We're smiling… we're smiling!" At this point everyone, including the two models and all the photographers really were smiling and merry. Then Scott and Chelsea slowly turned back toward the other side of the room again to give fans still more opportunities for photos. In the midst of multiple flashes from cameras, someone joked that they needed a lazy susan for the occasion. Their faces brightened even more with good humor, and Chelsea called out, "A lazy susan, I like that idea!" It was now one in the morning. Unbelievably, Scott and Chelsea had spent two full, fantastic hours with their fans after performing in the variety benefit. They, along with Jay, gave new meaning to the phrase quality time and favored everyone present with an unforgettable evening.
Only after Scott again made certain that everyone had the chance to spend individual time with him and that all were satisfied with their photographs of him with Chelsea, did the couple release each other. Scott finally drained the bottle of water that was on the desk beside him in three long swallows. Then, nearly concealing the gesture, he flexed his shoulder and stretched out his arm a little to relieve what must have been muscle tension from all the writing. Everyone in the room applauded loudly for Scott, Chelsea and Jay and called out thanks to them for giving so much of their time. But Jay returned the gratitude and thanked all of the fans in turn. After Chelsea took a few steps closer to the door, she turned and inclined her head toward the entire group three times, each time to underscore a statement of gratitude, "Thanks for coming. Thank you so much! Thank you so much!" Meanwhile, Debbie's young daughter 'Tima made her way up to the desk and stood quietly and a little shyly beside it. Of course, Scott's attention went directly to her. He put his arm around her shoulders, looked gently down at her and quietly said goodbye in a tone that was meant only for her.
As some people began to file out the classroom door, Scott called out in a tone of unmistakable and unqualified sincerity, "Thank you all for being here. It was so great… so great!" Then, he followed Chelsea out into the hall and stood to one side of the door, obviously waiting for her to finish a conversation with someone there. Sylvia passed Scott on her way out and told him to have a good weekend. He returned her farewell wish but glanced around and included all the fans who were leaving the school. "I will! I will! You all too!" At that moment, Scott noticed and called everyone's attention to Richard Schreier, administrator of the musical theater program at Hamilton, who was ushering people to the side exit of the school. Scott's face and voice quite evidently reflected his respect, appreciation and friendship for Schreier as he directed, "Say thank you to Rich on the way out too. He's the guy!" Scott had to wait another moment or two because Chelsea had been engaged in conversation by some more fans. But then he prompted gently, "We're going… we're going…" Although Chelsea was more than an arm's length away, Scott stretched out his arm, took her hand with three of his fingers and persisted in a playful, cajoling voice, "We're going… I have the keys." After inching toward the exit door hand in hand, they finally reached it and Scott called out genially, "Goodbye, everybody. Bye, bye!"
Then Jay, Chelsea and Scott left the school building and walked into the parking lot toward their cars. The three of them had done everything possible to make the evening such an extraordinary one for everybody who was there. Indeed, each of us will treasure the memory of their generous gifts of time, talent, warmth and laughter, which they offered to one and all with such open hearts. During the course of the evening, we watched Scott and Chelsea demonstrate their remarkable artistry and chemistry in performance together. We experienced their similar and generous courtesy in receiving their fans and relating to them much more like friends. Now, it seemed entirely fitting to see Scott and Chelsea holding hands with so much affection as they strolled together into the soft spring night.
From all of your grateful fans, Thank you Scott and Chelsea