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Topic: Johnny No-Trump

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AuthorTopic:   Johnny No-Trump
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posted: 1/22/2005 at 7:23:36 PM ET
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Today I bought a used book by Susan Jacobs, entitled "On Stage: The Making of a Broadway Play," (Knopf, 1972). It traces the background story of the production of "Johnny No-Trump," in which Bernadette made her Broadway debut in 1967.

Bernadette only had a supporting part, so she isn't mentioned that often by name, but I thought it might be interesting to post a few of the things said about her.

"Today for the first time, I met two other members of the cast: Bernadette Peters, nineteen years old with a baby-doll voice, granny glasses, and blonde ringlets gathered in a ribbon..."

"Aside from Johnny, the only other role cast by audition was Bettina. Even before Joe Hardy was hired as director, nineteen-year-old Bernadette Peters had been sent by her agent to read the part of Bettina for Richard Barr and Mary Mercier "They laughed a lot, so I guess they liked me," was Bernadette's impression. Later by a happy coincidence, Bernadette also auditioned for a replacement role in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." There Joe Hardy saw and liked her, and suggested to Barr that she would be right for Bettina. Barr had liked her at the earlier audition, and after a second reading Bernadette was given the part.
Although they were both only nineteen, Don Scardino and Bernadette Peters brought years of experience to their roles...Bernadette had first acted professionally at the age of nine. "I sang and I tap-danced," she says, "and I had a very low voice, which was pretty funny coming out of a kid. I didn't work much , though, because I wasn't a commercial-type child. I used to rebel at auditions. I'd see these kids sitting there, smiling great big phony grins, and I'd refuse to do it and just stand there like a dud."

"He [the director] told Bernadette Peters to pose like a model at her entrance. Then he demonstrated--bent his knee and thrust his torso forward like Twiggy. Bernadette broke up. She and Don Scardino were asked to "take over the stage" during their fight scene. Neither needed much urging. Right away Don hurdled the couch to grab Bernadette, and then she raced upstairs with Don at her heels. Her hair flew, and both of them were in stitches. "Should it turn into the fun we're having with it?" she asked. Joe hesitated. "Yes," he said, and they repeated the scene three times to "set it."

"Bernadette Peters's costume is a copy of a department store dress. Bernadette and Bill Ritman shopped for it together. The dress is turquoise with two little pockets, and a dark ribbon trim around the hem and down the long sleeves. But the tip-off to Bettina's personality is less her dress than her hairdo. Usually Bernadette gathers her blonde hair in ringlets at the back of her head; for the part, she has teased it into a high bouffant, all except for one silly curl cemented with an equally silly turquoise bow to the side of her face. As Bettina loses her composure during the fight with Johnny, the hairdo begins to fly. This was accidental at first, but has now become a nightly event."

Anyway, it's an interesting little book, only about a hundred pages. I just checked Amazon, and apparently it's not hard to find used copies.

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New York

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posted: 1/22/2005 at 11:46:27 PM ET
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Thanks so much Karen. Very interesting to read that sort of thing.

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New York, NY
posted: 1/23/2005 at 12:00:08 AM ET
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Yes, thanks so much Karen. Very interesting!

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northern VA
posted: 1/23/2005 at 12:03:01 PM ET
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Neat! Thanks so much. You're just bursting with tidbits this weekend!


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