Monday, July 25, 2016


The End of an Era

British Airways Concorde in flight in 2000

One of the technological marvels of the 1970s was the Concorde,
a supersonic transport (SST) built jointly by
the French firm Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation.

The plane flew at more than twice the speed of sound, and offered the fastest transatlantic flights in the history of commercial aviation.

Air France Flight 4590

The aircraft's 31-year history of safe flights, which began with the earliest incarnations of the design in 1969, came to an abrupt end on July 25, 2000.

Air France Flight 4590 caught fire on takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
It had rolled over a piece of debris that had fallen off of the DC-10 that had preceded it on the runway, shredding a tire. A large chunk of the tire struck the underside of the aircraft's left wing, which in turn caused a fuel tank rupture. The fuel ignited, causing
a cascading series of engine issues that eventually caused the aircraft to stall, then crash into a hotel in Gonesse. All 109 passengers and crew died, as did four employees of the Hotelissimo hotel into which the plane crashed.

All Concordes were grounded after the accident, and none returned to service until 2001. For a variety of reasons both Air France and British Airways ended their Concorde programs in 2003.

For people like me who marveled at the technology when it first appeared, it was a sad end to an era.

"Is that one of the incidents that made you afraid to fly?"

Who says I'm afraid to fly?

George Makes the Hall

In 1990, the year he won his third batting title
On July 25, 1999 George Brett was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, with
98.2 percent of the vote, at that time the fourth-highest total in the Hall's history.

He was joined by contemporaries Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount, both of whom had also retired after the 1993 season as George had. It was the first time the Hall had selected so many first-year eligible players since its initial induction of the First Five in 1936.

George played his entire 21-year career with my beloved Kansas City Royals, and is the franchise's only representative in the Hall of Fame. Given the realities of modern baseball, it seems highly unlikely that another player will ever enter the Hall as a Royal.

"It's nice that you got to be there for his last home game."

It was unforgettable...

Survival of the Fittest

From the wry comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of my earliest exposures to live theatre was a production of Ira Levin's Critic's Choice at my high school. I enjoyed it very much (not least because I had a huge crush on a girl who had a featured role), as I did the film version starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball when I saw it a couple of years later.

That early experience with a live theatre production that was about live theatre must have made quite an impression on me, as once I began directing plays myself I was always drawn to plays about putting on plays. During my career I directed Walter Kerr's Stardust (twice), John Patrick's Macbeth Did It (also twice), and several short plays along similar lines. These included Opening Night, a stage adaptation of a Cornelia Otis Skinner story, Tim Kelly's Victor Hugo - In Rehearsal, and the wild Christopher Durang one-act The Actor's Nightmare.

It should come as no surprise, then, that my all-time favorite musical is the 1980 classic 42nd Street, probably the quintessential musical-about-putting-on-a-musical. A few years earlier, while I was still in college, another musical about the backstage world of musicals burst onto the scene.

Lobby card after winning Tony Award
On July 25, 1975 A Chorus Line opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway. It would run for 6,137 performances, a record at the time, and garnered a dozen nominations for the Tony Awards, winning nine. It won Tonys for Best Musical and Best Original Score, and also received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, one of only nine musicals so honored in the 98-year history of the award.

Since its debut, there have been numerous subsequent productions, including an award-winning production in London's West End and a Tony-nominated revival on Broadway in 2006.

It also spawned a fairly dreadful 1985 film version, but I don't hold that against the folks who created the original, which deservedly remains a towering landmark in the history
of American musical theatre.

Today's send-off is the original 1975 cast performing the show's opening number,
"I Hope I Get It." Enjoy...

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