On Monday 11/16/2015 I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at the York Theater Company's Annual Gala. They present the Oscar Hammerstein Lifetime Achievement Award to an honoree. This year they honored the great Dame Angela Lansbury. And although, I was working the event I had the great opportunity to see many legends of Broadway perform, honoring this great force of art, and a great personal hero of mine. The evening was hosted by Victor Garber, and featured performances by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marilyn Maye, The Yale Whiffinpoofs, Alan Menken, and none other than the original Sweeney Todd, Len Cariou. It was truly a magical evening. To cap it all off, James Earl Jones took the stage and spoke of his great friendship with Angela Lansbury, and how he loved working with her, and then presented her with the Oscar Hammerstein Lifetime Achievement Award.
I couldn't believe my luck! I was in a room with so many greats, many of who performed, and I was the lucky duck who got to be there for free! Granted, I helped out with the live auction, and again at the end of the evening, when I manned the elevator down to the first floor. This second job was not required, I was taking charge of a situation and providing a service in return for the amazing event that I was blessed enough to be at. Not long after I took up my post, none other than James Earl Jones came to take the elevator down. I held it for him, he turned, and addressed me, in his booming bass, with "Thank you." It took everything I had to be cool as a cucumber and reply, "You're welcome, sir." I have to say, it's one thing to hear Mr. Jones' voice enveloping you across a room through a microphone. It is another thing all together when he turns and uses it solely on you.
I thought my night, and almost every dream I could ever have, had come true. And then not 10 minutes later, the great Dame herself came to use the elevator. She, unfortunately for her, had to wait a bit longer than Mr. Jones to take the elevator down, but during this time, I seized my opportunity. After all, I had spoken to Mr. Jones with grace and aplomb. I turned to Dame Lansbury, and wished her a happy birthday. After all, that was the theme for the evening. She had turned 90 in the previous month, and all the performers sang "Happy Birthday" at the end of the night after she received her award. She smiled, so graciously, and thanked me.
I'm still pinching myself trying to make sure that this actually happened! I met Mufasa and Mrs. Potts, or if you prefer, Darth Vader and Mrs. Lovett. I spoke with them briefly, and if Jerry Herman is right, "It Only Takes a Moment" my life has been changed. It was an honor to meet them. It was my joy to be in their presence. And as this year gets closer, and closer to it's closing, I am sure this means in large that bigger, and better things are headed my way if I only have the guts, and grace to seize the moment.
London Griffith is an Alaskan born, Montana raised, Southern influenced, New York Actress. She occasionally writes about her life and experiences of being on the verge ...