Lily Langtry's was located in the Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel and Convention Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. It was owned by Leon Altamose. Greg Thompson was the producer of the shows that usually consisted of ice skaters, beautiful women in feathers, singers and a comedienne. I was contracted under M&M Productions to handle Sales & Marketing for the theatre.
The first thing I did was to hire an actress to play Lily Langtry. She would dress in the period costume we had designed for her, traverse the hotel lobbies and convention areas with her parasol, flirt with the guests and entice them to attend that evening's performance. Her first day I had her costume crash our weekly board meeting, sit on Leon's lap and employ her English accent. She was a smash hit!
Greg Thompson and Mistinguette are two brilliant and prolific producers of entertainment. Mistinguette was a six foot gorgeous choreographer with nails a good three inches long. Both were consumate theatre people who knew what they wanted and generally got it out of their performers. At one point I had
eleven people selling Bus Groups that brought in millions to Lily Langtrys. It was truly a pleasure working with pros like these two.
In 1975 I had moved from Akron to Mansfield, Ohio to work at my Father's Holiday Inn and take theatre classes at Ohio State University Mansfield campus. The Holiday Inn looked nothing like the picture above. For years I had worked summers at the Holiday Inn as a night auditor, maintenance and pool boy, midnight breakfast cook and pretty much every job you can have in a hotel. I auditioned for the role of Buddy Baker in "Come Blow Your Horn" and performed it at the Ovalwood Hall Theatre on campus. I would revive the role in Cleveland five years later with Townsend Coleman at the Greenbriar Theatre.
I also was cast in a production of "Lovers and Other Strangers" at the Mansfield Playhouse. Millie Leverton, the director, said some very nice things about me in the program.
In Columbia , Maryland is the 18,000 seat outdoor amphitheatre Merriweather Post Pavilion. We had about 5,000 seats iin the pavilion and the rest in the lawn. When I was Promotions Director for Kaslan Productions, I was at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit with "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers". Joey Nederlander took a liking to me and had me interview for the Advertising Position with Wayne Nederlander. They worked a deal out with David Landay and Larry Kasha to steal me away (although I was to be able to do double duty and still be there on Broadway when we opened.) I got to work under Charlie Blum who was an amazing ad man (P.T. Barnum type) and I learned a great deal working with dozens of radio stations in Baltimore and D.C. and seven T.V. stations. I established "Live at 5" interviews shot on location from the Pavilion (D.C. TV station) and a delayed interview at 6pm for the Baltimore market.
Peter, Paul and Mary
Olivia Newton John
The Marshall Tucker Band
The Doobie Brothers
Crosby, Stills and Nash
Charlie Daniels Band
Blue Oyster Cult
Gary US Bonds
That was an incredible season! I think I got an average of 4 hours sleep a night.
Don Striebig, who was the General Manager of the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio (and who had booked Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from me in 1980) ended up being the General Manager of the Rahway Theatre (also known as the Union County Performing Arts Center). He called me up and my company, M&M Productions, did marketing materials for some of his shows including "Groucho" and "Up With People". Grand old theatre.
In 1988 as I was in my office or taking classes at Rutgers University and I had a rare moment to sit down and read the Bachman novels. These were novellas written under the name Richard Bachman but who really was Stephen King.
Although I enjoyed "The Running Man" which eventually became a
movie starring Arnold Schwartzenegger, my favorite of the four novellas was "Rage". It is a psychological thriller about a young man who shoots two teachers dead and holds a classroom hostage.
During the day I marketed M&M Productions and its shows and at night I began writing the adaptation to the stage.This wasn't my first Rodeo as I had written "King Arthur's Nephew" which I adapted from John Steinbecks "The Acts of King Arthur" which he modeled off of Thomas Mallory's "le Morte d' Arthur".
My company M&M Productions had the Marketing contract with Paul Sorvino's American Stage Company in Teaneck, New Jersey. Paul had done the audio cassette for Steven King's "Thinner". I met with Paul to set up a meeting with Stephen to produce the show at American Stage Company. We set up a dinner that I was eventually to pay for with Steven's literary agent (which will go unamed for various reasons) was a No Show! It was in New York at a restaurant located near the agents apartment and the Producers for ASC, Paul and various people attended.
When the agent was late by fifteen minutes I called his office but no answer. This was way before regular cell phone use. At 1/2 hour late I told everyone to order dinner and I went next door to talk with the doorman.
The doorman, Bill, was a regular guy and we hit it off. My second trip to see him, after an hour had gone by, I brought him a Michelob. He eventually called the apartment and even went to the apartment and knocked. No show. We finished dinner and left to go back to New Jersey.
The next day I got a call from Paul and he said that Stephen King had
called him apologizing for his agent. We got the rights for the show
but only under a provisional, educational contract. Paul was cooling on the
project so I approached Rutgers University and I directed it there.
After the show closed I was negotiating to try and take the show to Los Angeles when I got a cease and desist letter from Stephen King's agent. I thought it was odd as everyone had been so excited about the prospect of the show but then learned that Stephen was taking the book off the market and letting it go "out of print". This was due to the following:
Going out of print
The US editions of this collection and the novel Rage were allowed to go out of print by the author and publisher because of the Heath High School shooting - a school shooting incident involving Michael Carneal. The remaining three novels are still in print and are published as separate books.
Carneal had in his locker at the time a copy of Stephen King's novel Rage (first published in 1977 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman). After this shooting King requested his publisher to allow it to go out of print, fearing that it might inspire similar tragedies. Rage for a time continued to be available in the United Kingdom in The Bachman Books collection, although the collection now no longer contains Rage. King's other Bachman novels are available in the US in separate volumes.
St. James Bay Golf Resort had a small banquet facility that I built a stage for and would seat about 70 people comfortably. I directed several shows (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare abridged and later The Complete History of America abridged) and toured them there for several weekends. The casts loved it and we took a boat tour down the river and stayed in huge condos with plenty of room and 11' vaulted ceilings. This was touring in style and was a
great vacation for us.