Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson, and the Possibilities of Spreading the Word

I drove to a house in Rockland County, New York, for the filming of a show for a cable channel. The episode concerned ghosts that were supposed to haunt the house. This is me with my double, which was going to be seen in the pool that my character drowned in.

 

haunting bb w double

 

The house turned out to have once belonged to Maxwell Anderson. I knew that when Anderson collaborated with Kurt Weill on a number of musicals, Weill and Lotte Lenya bought a house down the road from Anderson’s. The current owner of the Anderson house showed me where in the living room the piano had stood, which meant that Anderson and Weill probably worked right there on songs like “Lost in the Stars.”

 

maxwell anderson house

 

I’m an enormous admirer of Weill’s work, so the next time I ran into the episode’s director outside the house, I said, “This was Maxwell Anderson’s house, down the road from Kurt Weill, and this is where they worked together!”

The young woman—maybe 30 years old and, I had seen, a competent director of actors on this complicated day of shooting—looked at me with a blank look, so I went on, “Kurt Weill! Lost in the Stars? Lotte Lenya? Threepenny Opera? ‘Mack the Knife’? Bobby Darin?”

She obviously had never heard of any of what I was ranting about. I shrugged and let her get on with her work somewhere outdoors (two of the ghosts were of people who had drowned in the property’s creek and pool).

I was amazed that a young person in show business—even a branch at a distance from both Broadway and classical music—had such limited knowledge.

But wait, dear reader: there’s a Chapter Two.

Two years later I was performing in another episode of the same show. She was directing it, and the first time I ran into her, her face brightened hundreds of watts and she said, “Thank you! I love Kurt Weill’s music!”

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3 comments

  1. Ed Curtis · · Reply

    Didn’t that make you feel good? You are walking around and then, all of a sudden, a bolt of satisfaction comes out of nowhere and strikes you between the eyes! You must be very pleased to experience the reverberation of unheralded efforts to enlighten.

  2. I have just posted a Kurt Weill track (Surabaya Johnny sung by Dagmar Krause) on my http://www.artsoprovident.wordpress.com blog and it has directed me to your post. How wonderful to have gone to the house once owned by Maxwell Anderson and seeing where the piano stood! My husband is an actor but came in to it quite late (he is 80) he has a similar photo like that funny one of you with the dummy – Sol (England)

  3. The line forms on the right, babe.

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