The following are what visitors to the ‘Bea Arthur in the Lime Light’ website wrote in and expressed their experiences after seeing Bea’s show. These stories ended up being the heart of the fansite. Some photos from these stories are available on the fan tour photos page.
Fan Tour Stories
I wanted to write a little feedback about the Governor’s State University Show, this past month. I of course attended the show and I am still on “cloud-9” from the whole experience. First of all, I have been wanting to see Bea Arthur live, since I saw the first episode of Maude, when I was a young boy. Then, when I was a bit older, her performance on the Golden Girls, just took my breath away. I believe I was the only 5th grader who had a weekly passion to watch Golden Girls, as opposed to my friends and classmates would watch the A-Team, or The Simpsons. Bea’s humor is certainly unique and her charm is unparalleled by no other. I cannot name many other celebrities who does what Bea Arthur does, and at her age. Yes its true, she did slip up once in her performance in Chicago, however, I have to give her credit, she did not falter once, not once, when the audio system was malfunctioning. She maintained her demeanor and continued with her stellar performance. She even had a moment to bring a bit of impromptu humor for the young girl who had to come out on stage and present Bea with a handheld microphone.
Throughout the performance I found myself hysterically laughing at ALL of her jokes. It was truly an unusual experience for me. I was either finding myself laughing uncontrollably, or I was on the verge of tears, due to the fact that I felt like a gitty-15-year-old-pubescent-girl swooning at a boy-band concert. It was indeed strange, I have met several notable celebrities in my life, but none have effected me the way Bea does.
There was a dark period in my life, where I was in turmoil with what I wanted to do. I found myself quitting a professional degree program to pursue something I was more happy with. However, there was a period of about 8 months, where I was out of school and jobless, and pretty much felt like a total looser. Believe it or not, I watched television twice a day during that time…8-9 AM and 10-11PM on Lifetime, just to watch Bea Arthur on Golden Girls. Watching her, was enough on certain days to make me feel better about myself, by giving me a few laughs. Fortunately, I have moved on in my career, but Bea made it a bit easier during tough times to be who I am.
I hope that God will allow Bea to continue bringing joy to our lives for as long as she is able to, but I am glad that I can now and forever say that I saw her live and the experience of it will remain with me forever. (PS: My cat, whose name is Bernice Frankel, watches Golden Girls with me every night!)
Andrew [Chicago, IL 2006]
My friends know me as “obsessed” with Bea Arthur. I can’t even explain why. My boyfriend even shares the same birthday with her. Clearly, I have issues. Obviously, I was excited for the show in University Park, IL. First, some background: I had seen her show at the Park West Theatre in Chicago in 2001. I had the great pleasure of meeting her after the show that day. I had the official 60th episode script of the of the “Golden Girls” handy and ready for her to sign. When I got the chance to talk to her, she grabbed the script out of my hand and said, “Where did you get this?” followed by “Oh, I remember this episode” (It was the episode where Rose writes the letter to Gorbachev). She flipped through it and then signed it. After hanging out a while, I soon realized that I was the last person standing in front of the trailor outside the theatre. She gave me that classic Bea look and uttered, “Did you want something?” I softly replied, “Could I please have a picture with you?” She said, “Come over here, honey.” I had the picture taken and it now hangs in my office. I’ll never forget it and I’ll never forget that show. I knew that her show at Governer’s State University would be the same script as the one I saw that day at the Park West. I was thrilled. My good friend joined me and we were merely three rows from the stage, right in front of her chair. Shortly after four o’clock, Bea emerged from the darkness decked in purple sequins, and the crowd reacted excitedly. (I love seeing her. I know that she is ancient and I know that shaking her hand is like touching death, but, I absolutely believe that she is one of the most talented, well-rounded, and generous individuals in show business. She is truly “old school,” and is great about catering to her fans). The show started perfectly: lamb recipe, a few songs, and the funny story about her first audition (“…aw, fuck it!”). However, Bea was not as sharp as she had been in prior shows. Perhaps, it was the fact that she had not performed it in a month. But, she messed up the lyrics on four songs. During “Pirate Jenny,” she stopped early on and asked Billy to restart the song. She tried again and forgot again. She had to ask a stagehand what the next lyric was. But, she was unable to hear him and decided to forget the song and move onto another. With other songs, she asked Billy to move ahead to another part and sometimes, she even replaced words. For example, in the song “It Never Was You,” Bea sung, “somebody’s nest” instead of “meadowlark’s nest.” Even during one of her stories, she had to ask Billy about a word that she normally used. She was discussing how she looked during a performance in her younger years and she stated that she “emoted…her _________heaved.” She couldn’t remember that she used the word “bottus.” When she asked Billy, he gave her the line, but she could not hear him. Even the audience was chiming in with the correct word. But, she went on without it. Honestly, all of her fumbles made me feel uncomfortable for her. But, I also have to say that the sound system at that awful theatre gave her problems, as well. A stagehand came out and handed her this huge microphone that covered half of her face and she sharply said, “What is this?” “What am I supposed to do with this?” “You mean you all can’t hear me without this?” I almost expected Bea to pound the crap out of that poor girl who brought her the microphone. Nevertheless, Bea’s remarks were returned with laughter from the audience and I must say, THAT is what I love about Bea Arthur. Despite all of the problems with the show, she played them off and turned them into a laugh for the crowd. At the conclusion, she described the audience as “delicious and permissive.” Of course we were. We love Bea no matter how she delivers her show. Personally, I could listen to her fantastic stories and wild profanity for hours. I left the show feeling content that I watched my favorite golden girl please the audience in the face of technical issues and memory lapses. I watched her walk off the stage, hand in hand with Billy, and I thought that it would probably be the last time I saw her. I was pleased and proud to be a fan of such a truly remarkable performer and person.
Nathan [Chicago, IL 2006]
For years, my partner and I have purposefully tried to restrict our exposure to the recording of Bea’s show until we could experience it in person. After months, on Sunday, March 19, 2006 at approximately 4:00 p.m., our wait was over. We retrieved our tickets from the Will Call window and made our way to the theatre. We saw that Governors State University allowed drinks in the auditorium and decided that it would be appropriate to grab a cocktail, and “have a drink with Bea”. Of course it didn’t dawn on us until after we sat down that we wouldn’t be able to clap with our drinks in hand, so we toasted Bea and slammed them! We had great seats just a few rows back slightly off center, but it looked like all the seats in the house were good. Bea took the stage shortly after 4:00 p.m. It took me at least ten minutes to pinch myself and realize that this was real; there she was, right in front of me, this was not TV. Once I snapped out of my shock, I realized how professional she was with her craft. She obviously had the script down pat, but was relaying it in such a manner that made her lines seem impromptu. During the first couple songs and stories the sound system kept acting up. This was frustrating for all. The audience eagerly wanted her to cut loose, and she seemed hesitant to bring it home because of the microphones restrictions. This was very unfortunate to have a performer of Bea Arthurâ€šs caliber compromised in such a way. However, Bea never lost focus; she stayed resolute and kept on with her performance. The stage crew got her a handheld microphone and despite the glitch the audience was still attentive to her every word. With the problem behind her, Bea was liberated to have fun with her show, which is what everybody in the house had come to see.
The show was fantastic! Billy was the foundation of which her show was built. He not only played for her, but played up to her. His reactions and side comments were funny, and with him by her side her stories seemed that much more personal and intimate. He was a springboard for her fantastic mannerisms and pregnant pauses inspiring delightfully comic suspense. Their interaction reminded me of my grandparents the way they lovingly jab and bicker with each other. These two are not your ordinary grandparents though! My grandmother would never say “fuck”, “cock”, “twat”, or “douche bag”. Bea’s eyes flickered with life and her wise cracks were accentuated by Billy’s reactions and her gestures toward him. Though I was in a room with hundreds of people, she was able to convey her experiences just as if we were gossiping over coffee, one on one. The selections of songs and stories were perfect. It was so nice to hear her stories of her accomplishments and exchanges during her superb career. Her songs were equally appropriate. They were intimately personal for her, yet they were emotionally accessible for all. They were her stories, but I could relate with my own experiences and I found myself emotional during the touching “Where Do You Start” as well as the hilarious “If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sittinâ€š On It”. I would not be surprised if others felt the same, I know my partner, who is from India, was thrilled she said she likes Lamb curry. The performance worked both ways, her to us, us to her. There were people all around us signing along with every song, laughing before she finished each joke, even at a couple places she would get sidetracked and an audience member would yell up a cue, and she would laugh and pick up on it and go with it saying “hey yeah, your right”. This spontaneity personalized her show and made the experience that much more special. Even when she slyly said “shady pines”, a large part of the crowd spoke it with her. I believe my partner summed attending her show the best way. Afterward he said, “that was like great sex, followed by the best afterglow ever”. Bravo Bea, you’re the best!
I want to thank Kevin and his web site for keeping us informed of all of Bea’s activities and shows. Without him, keeping tabs on her would be much more difficult.
Andy [Chicago, IL 2006]
After the show running for several years, I finally got my chance to see Bea Arthur’s show “Just Between Friends” in University Park, IL on Sunday, March 19th, 2006! As Kevin knows, I have felt for quite sometime that this day would never come! I’m actually for Ontario, Canada and missed the show when Bea played here at the Elgin/Winter Garden for over two weeks! I’ve also purchased tickets for three separate Bea shows over the past year â€“ two of them were cancelled, and the other I unfortunately couldn’t make it to, so my ticket went to waste. But things looked up when I purchased a 5th row ticket to Bea’s Chicago area show, which was rescheduled from a previous date, due to illness.
After what seemed like quite an eternity, it was finally time to see Bea! We left rather early in the morning and made the almost 8 hour trek over to University Park, IL. Each hour seemed like forever, but sure enough, the hours did indeed pass by. We arrived in University Park around 2.00pm local time, and I picked up my ticket at the will call window. There is always that moment where you think something may have happened, and they don’t have the tickets, or that the show was cancelled – but that was just me being my neurotic self! We decided to go for lunch before the show, which would not only fill my empty stomach, but make that last little while go by even faster. I guess that’s what seems like the longest time â€“ those last few hours before the show! After lunch I returned back to the Center for the Performing Arts at the Governor’s State University, and found my seat! My seat was perfect, like I said â€“ 5th row, and just off to the side! I would have the perfect view of the stage, and of course, Bea!
The stage was filled with the familiar image of the piano with its vase of water, wing chair, and the small side table with its pitcher and glass of water. At approximately 4:10pm, Bea walked barefoot onto the stage, immediately sending chills down my spine, and giving me goose bumps! There are very few performers who can do that to me. The audience went into a thunderous applause, as Bea stood there taking it all in. She looked so beautiful, and is such an inspiration. Then her great accompanist on the piano, Billy Goldenberg made his way onto the stage. After telling Billy to “sit down,” Bea made her way into the lamb recipe, and I won’t go into the specifics, it’s been so many times before. While I knew quite a bit about the show, what she’d sing, etc., I was still taken by surprise at hysterically funny this woman is! She has lost none of her wit, and she defines perfect timing. Watching her was almost like an acting lesson on how to successfully deliver a comedic line. She’s a master at her craft. There was one point in the show, where Bea points into the audience and says a few lines, and she pointed right at me, and said her lines to me! I couldn’t believe it! The one and only Beatrice Arthur was making eye contact with me. Incredible. Bea forgot a couple lines of some songs, but used it to her advantage, and had the audience wrapped in the palm of her hand like only she can. There were also some audio problems, and Bea had to perform the second half with a microphone. She said, “I’ve never had to do this before! What the hell do it do with it?” Again, the audience was eating it all up!
As quickly as it began, it was all over! The audience gave Bea a much deserved standing ovation! People of all ages were standing for this brilliant performer of stage and screen, and there was much love in the room. Finally, after what felt like a “Bea Arthur” curse I had my chance to see her live and in person. It was worth every minute of the 16 hours of driving, and I’ll cherish those memories forever. I purchased an autographed copy of her CD for $20 which was being sold after the show. It was also signed by Billy. It was the perfect memento of the perfect day.
Neal [El Porto Theatre, Hollywood, CA, 2006]
Today’s matinee of Bea’s One Woman Show, was, in a word… devine! This was the 3rd time that I have seen the show. The first time was when the tour first started a few years back in Thousand Oaks, California, at The Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center. Then I saw it again 1 & 1/2 years at The El Portal Theatre in N Hollywood, CA… where I saw it today.
The El Portal Theatre was built as a Vaudeville House in the 20’s and then later turned into a movie theatre. The theatre went into disrepair after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and has since been restored to a legitimate theatre.
It was posted on line that the performances at The El Portal were being filmed for a dvd release. There were no cameras in the theatre today. Perhaps it was filmed earlier this week during the Thurs, Fri or Sat shows.
Conrad Bain, Bea’s co-star from “Maude,” was in the audience this afternoon – 4th row center.
As the lights went down, Bea walked out on stage to huge applause, introduces Billy Goldenberg, and the show begins. I have the cd of the show that came out a few years ago. Since the cd is edited for time constraits, it’s so nice to hear and see the show in it’s complete entirety.
It’s changed a bit from the 3 times that I’ve seen it. The first time in Thousand Oaks, there was no intermission. 1 & 1/2 years ago at The El Portal, there was an intermission. At this performance there was no intermission.
Since the Mae West story isn’t on the cd, it was nice to hear it again, and to see Bea imitate Mae West… looking up at her. Very, very funny. Perhaps the funniest part of the show is when she is saying that many people asked her why she would do a 1 woman show when there we so many parts out there for a woman her age! Ha,ha..
My favorite part of the show is the song that she sings about owning a 2nd hand furniture store. Hysterical!! Her “twist” on the words in the song is wonderful!
Her timing and delivery is impectable. When she tells of her stories and experiences, it’s as if she is telling them for the first time. She’s so excited to tell us, the audience, all the amazing people that she has met or worked with.
The moment she mentions Lotte Lenya from “The Three Penny Opera,” her eyes instantly well up with tears. It’s very obvious that Bea adored and respected that woman. Her memories of that show, bring her the most joy!
She also sang “If He Walked Into My Life Today” from “Mame.” Her performance was extraordinary! I’m sure she would have killed to have played the part of Mame Dennis in “Mame” instead of Vera Charles.
Her stories of her audition singing “Summer Time,” Jerome Robbins, Tony Curtis, “Maude,” Talluhlah Bankhead and others are so fresh and detailed in her memory, it’s as if it just happened.
Today’s performance was sold out. The theatre was selling “overflow” seating… the top section of the balcony had folding chairs to see the show.
A screaming, standing ovaition closed the show. The audience roared with laughter when she announced that she was NOT going to sing “I’m Still Here.” She closed the show with “The Man On The Moon” from “Mame.”
One thing that was so nice was that Bea completely shared the stage with her pianist Billy Goldenberg. She constantly spoke to him, acknowledged him and thanked him. Many artists don’t do that. Sure, they will thank them near the end of the show. But, he was featured CONSTANTLY! Which is a very nice thing for her to have done.
Well, that’s about it. I certainly hope that a dvd of the show comes out. The theatre was selling autographed cd’s of the show in the lobby.
Thanks for reading.
Jim [Alexandra, Virginia 2005 Show]
I had the pleasure of seeing Bea’s show last night at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC). I first saw the show at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC in October 2001 (before Broadway & the West End). On the afternoon of the 2001 show, the United States bombed Aftganastan. Bea came out and commented about about using comedy to make people laugh when they feel like crying. She said it was OK to laugh, but they could also OK to cry.
It’s been four years since I saw the show (but I do have the CD memorized). While I want to be honest and say that you can see that Bea has physically aged. One of the friends I was with commented that she looked like Betty Davis in her final years. Her voice is also losing its range. It’s cracking (as I saw on the Pamela Anderson Roast) and she’s speaking many of the notes she used to sing. But remember, the woman is 82 years old … and an incredible 82 years old.
The Birchereme is a supper club, generally hosting musicians. My seat was directly in front of the stage (and in front of Bea’s chair). I could have easily reached out and touched her! And how absolutely wonderful to see someone at her age carry a 90 minute, one woman show. The show has been tweaked since I first saw it. Last night I heard the Mae West story for the first time. She also told the Hal Linden story (which I also heard at the Warner), but it wasn’t in the CD. A new song was added and an old one was taken out. I’ve heard many people say that they wished she talked more about the TV years. I think the whole point was that the show was about Bea and that she’s far more than her TV roles. And she truly was Bea. And Bea at her finest. I hope I have the opporunity to see the show again.
Joshua [Mount Pleasant, Michigan]
so here’s the story,
dad and i went there. we had some time before the show so he hit the bar, and i waited on a bench for him to finish up (i’m a minor). so who should walk past but billy! so i run up to him and introduce myself. i then pull oot a picture of bea i had been keeping down my shirt so i wouldn’t have to fold it. (he didn’t seem freaked oot by this at all XD!) so i he signed it, and i asked if he could get bea to sign it too, and he said he would! and he told me to get it at the ticket office after the show.
so then we went to the show, which was great. bea did songs i hadn’t heard on the disc like “i like new york”, and told the elevator story which was great.
so i hit up the ticket office and it’s not there! to make a long story shorter, i make two trips around this casino praying that each place has it. i take one last trip up to the ticket office one more time and who should i see behind me but billy! he gives me the signed pic and asks me if i had a chance to met bea. i say “no, but this is really enough.” he then points out – “she’s right over there.” i’m like-*heart attack*
i can tell she’s tired but i really would appreciate a quick pic. she’s cool aboot it, and i drag billy into the shot too, (for he was the one that made everything happen-God bless him.) so bea’s all “girls in the middle!” and the security lady took the pic. so bea lands an elevator and two lovers come up and ask for pics.
they call oot, and run up there i snap the pic, and she’s gone. the lovers gave me their address and i send their pic to them. and here are pics they sent me from her show at the tampa bay performing arts center on 10-26-01.
John [Nyack, NY 2005 Show]
I saw Bea this past weekend in Nyack, and she was fabulous.
We arrived at the theatre at about 7:20pm. The waiting area was full of older people (canes, crutches, wheel chairs, and oxygen tanks, I kid you not!!). I felt a bit odd, as I am 28 and my partner is 27, so I told him that he was the youngest in the room! Also, a comment from a co-worker of mine kept echoing in my head, “I just don’t understand why a young man your age would be so interested in Bea Arthur!” She is too funny.
Anyway, closer to the show time, the waiting area began to fill. Thank God, in came a lot of younger people, and a lot of typical “Golden Girl” fans who also were most obviously friend of Dorothy 😉
The show was great. It really was the same as I had seen on Broadway, and also as is on the CD. She threw in a few differences, such as she sang a different song from Mame, not Bosom Buddies. She added a couple comments about Nyack. And a few other subtle differences that most people would not notice unless the were crazy enough to have the broadway CD loaded on their MP3 player 😉
It was great seeing the show and Bea live. Especially because you can sign (or in my case hum) along. You know what is coming, especially my favorite the Talula Bankhead story and the Gravy Laddle.
The show ended as on the CD, and she received an enthusiastic round of applause. I did bring flowers for her, but unfortunately she did not see me. I left them on the stage. I told the theatre manager, and he said he would make sure that she got them. He said that she wouldn’t have been able to see me at the bottom of the stage with all the bright lights shining at her. Too bad, I was hoping for a picture. I didn’t take one during the performance as they asked us not too. A few people did though.
Other than that, she seemed great, and was her usually cheerful self. She is doing those shows in Atlantic City in June, and I have been trying to decide if I want to go to that.
I hope you have a chance to go and see her.
Hello Kevin, I was just checking out your Bea Arthur web site. Great job by the way. It’s worth coming back to. Anyway, I read on the message board about a guy named Luca who lived in Amsterdam and had tickets to see Bea’s show on October 11th. So did I. I live in the Netherlands as well and I flew to London for two days just to see Bea’s show, but when I went to the theatre to pick up my tickets I found out it had been cancelled because she was taken ill. I don’t think I have to tell you how very disappointed I was. I love her work in Mame and I was lucky enough to have seen a couple of episodes of Maude that were re-run out here (I’m waiting for the dvd-release). And of course, Golden Girls was a huge hit in the Netherlands as it was anywhere around the world. When I found out she was doing a one woman show in New York I wanted very badly to go there but I had to settle for the cd instead. So I bought it when it was first released on Amazon (I LOVE fifty percent and Pirate Jenny by the way) and I’ve been waiting for her to come to London ever since so I could get an opportunity to see this incredible performer at work on the stage. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead of my impressions of her and her show I brought home a flyer and a poster. Anyway, I just really hope she’s feeling better now, because there’s nothing worse than being ill especially when you work in the theatre. You seem to be having regular contact with Bea so I was wondering if you would bring her my best wishes and admiration.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email and keep up the good work.
(in case you’re wondering, I’m 27)
I am a 26 year old boy from Belgium and went to see Bea’s show in London. Unfortunately my working schedule only allowed me to go on 18th October, the last day of the performances. When we received an email earlier that week that Bea had to cancel some shows due to illness, I totally freaked out!! Especially because we already had booked tickets once to go to see Bea…. last year in New York in the Booth Theatre (the last shows were cancelled then and we were so disappointed). So, when we got the news that Bea was coming to London I was so very happy, unbelievable.
When I started reading reviews from the show in London, I felt so very sorry for Bea!! In fact, having seen the show now, I can understand some of the critics… but I still loved it so very much! Only being in the same room with her was magical! And for me, being rather young for a Bea-fan, not knowing almost anyone or anything she talked about, still made it the best night of this year for me!! Still suffering her illness, it still was a great show and the public loved her! Of course, I can not compare with other shows off her but I loved it, in fact, if I would have had the opportunity to go see a second show I would not have doubted one second!! She is just magic. Unfortunately, being still sick she did not give autographs or take pictures with fans so for that I was sad, but very understanding! Get well soon Bea.
Working as a flight-attendant I can go see a lot of shows with superstars everywhere (I have seen Aretha Franklin last month in New York and it was so NOT worth the money) and I have to say that Bea really knocked me out!! She is no rock star like Tina Turner (who is Simply the Best I have ever seen!!) but for her age and with her thing going, I have so much respect for her! Unbelievable….
Michael D.’s story
My wife and I went to see Bea last night (Oct 17th) at the Savoy and did enjoy it very much. However I do have to say that I can see why she has received the reviews that she has from the UK critics.
First of all let me say that we are both fans of Bea. My wife, who is American, knows her from her TV performances and some of her stage and my personal fandom comes solely from her performances on Golden Girls. While it is true that the majority of people who attend her shows are already fans of her, critics review the show for the mass population of the London Theatre going public and I have to admit the show doesn’t really hit the grade for non fans of Bea who don’t really have a much of a knowledge about her.
In fairness to her, Bea clearly wasn’t fully recovered. We traveled 3 hours last week to get to London to be told the show was cancelled, we returned yesterday with a rebooked hotel pleased to find she was back on stage. Unfortunately the cold, flu or infection clearly took its toll, something which didn’t particularly harm her singing, but was quite obviously annoying her as she constantly had tissue in hand. In my opinion the critics were right that although the show was tried and tested it could have really done with being slightly re written for a UK audience. Many of the people Bea was reminiscing about were not that well known here in the UK and that added to the fact that the audience was by no means full meant that at times the applause was not that overwhelming. While it appears that Bea clearly does not want to solely be known for Golden Girls I do think avoiding the topic almost altogether is a real shame. It was clear what most of the audience knew her from, just from the one point when she “re-inacted” Dorothy warning her mother with the words “Shady Pines”. This short moment was the closest Bea got to a standing ovation all night. The audience was by no means full and I noticed several extra spaces in a few rows after the interval.
I enjoyed the first half very much, it even included a wonderful impromptu performance of Land of Hope and Glory from Billy after Bea had to leave the stage to have her microphone fixed (It had been having problems throughout the first few songs). Nevertheless without wishing to offend anyone here the second half was clearly very much aimed at the Gay presence within the audience and some of the very obvious connotations or mentions (such as the Canadians allowing single sex marriages) were met with an embarrassing couple of cheers from a couple of people at the back, the majority of the audience stayed silent throughout much of this and the show in my opinion suffered for it.
Overall I enjoyed the show and felt slightly sorry for Bea throughout it. She wasn’t ready to comeback and suffered throughout, despite remaining extremely professional and gaining much respect from myself and many people in the audience in the process. Because of this much of the supposed memories and relaxed chat seemed very staged and it was quite clear she was in auto pilot and was looking forward to the end. This was confirmed when my wife and myself quickly went to the stage door along with a few other members of the audience only to be told 1/2 hour later by Billy Goldenberg that she had in fact already left via another route because she didn’t feel like seeing anyone.
I just want to make it clear that while it is true that some aspects may well have passed by the funny bone of many a UK audience, in my opinion this wasn’t the only reason the show has not been that much of a success critically. My personal opinion of Bea has also changed – I now appreciate her talent and character so much more! I do feel I got to meet the actual person that she is and came away with some good memories as did my wife who enjoyed the show also. I just feel that with a little bit of tweaking and perhaps not such a heavy schedule it could have done her a lot more justice, especially for those who don’t love her already.
I was amazed to discover your wonderful Web site dedicated to my icon Bea Arthur. When she came to South Africa recently, I went to see her three times. After the first time, I knew that I was hooked . I simply became addicted to her performance and had to return again and again. It still wasn’t enough.
The show had a suave and sophisticated edge to it, and I loved the intimate, simple feel of the set. A chair, a piano…and dear old Billy. They all gelled perfectly with Ms Arthur. At times it felt like she was performing for a group of friends in her own lounge. What a show, what a lady, what a night! I’ll always remember each riveting performance.
What a night, what another night. I went twice, sat in the third row and well, what can I say. It was everything I expected and more. Ms Arthur is a consummate performer, I knew she would be funny and witty and acerbic, but wow was I blown away by the intensity of her performance, especially the serious stuff. She is the ultimate torch song singer and her delivery of “Pirate Jenny” was awesome. I loved the changed that she made to the show from the Broadway disc, an example being the replacement of “Bosom Buddies” with “If He walked Into My Life”. The later was so moving and heart wrenching that I could feel the audience holding their breathes! Also a treat were the few jokes and anecdotes that were not on the disc. The story of Mae West and a few other throw away lines that were brilliant. To top it all, I waited back stage, and spoke to her. She was an absolute lady, friendly and warm. I requested that I take a photo (mainly for your benefit) and she not only obliged, but suggested that we take two encase the first does not come out. Now being a seasoned STAR fucker, I have waited beside many stage doors and never have I met such a lady. Viva Bea!!!
As soon as I caught wind that Bea was appearing in Toronto this passed November…..I knew nothing short of dying would keep me me from making the trip from Tennessee to Toronto to see her. I hadn’t learned of her US tour the previous year till after the fact so this would probably be my last opportunity to see the divine “Ms. B”, after she was nearing 80. We made the trip by car if you’ll believe it….having spent a few days with friends in NYC for Thanksgiving….we drove up to Niagara Falls and experienced the falls with a heavy snowfall…it was awesome!!
We got into Toronto all siked for the show but managed to take in the local sights the day prior like the Casa Loma as well as the shops along the famous Yonge St . ( the longest damn street in the world if you ask me !!! ) We hailed a cab, yet again in a heavy snowfall, an hour before the show and arrived at the famous Elgin & Winter Garden Theater just in time for the show…..there was definitely an electricity in the audience……made up of mostly gay couples and eccentric older men and women.
I had already knew what to expect having already gotten a copy of the CD of the show weeks prior but it didn’t matter…..she walked out with no great introduction and the audience went wild…..there stood this women who had been a large strand in the fabric of all our lives……before us in her ever demanding presence !!
As far as I was concerned, she could have just stood there all night blowing her nose not saying a word and it would have still been magic to us……poor Bea was suffering from a nasty cold. The show was filled with some great story telling….and classic old song gems……….there was a few stories that didn’t appear on the CD ….so they were pleasant surprises.
I would have loved to have waited the freezing cold to catch her exiting the theater that night but I am getting older and the need to scream for a celebrities all too brief attention has long passed……I may have walked away with no pictures or Signed programs but I did get to keep some wonderful memories of seeing one of the greatest living legends of Theater & Television …..what a night!!
I first met Bea in July of 2001 while she was traveling with her one woman show at that time called “And Then There’s Bea” it was in Columbus Ohio and after her show i went backstage thanks to the help of a very nice usherette She was so very kind and friendly asking me and my cousin who i took with me how the ride was and how we liked the show I was afraid at that time to ask her for a picture but after seeing the camera she said do you guys want a picture sure no trouble at all. I then went on to see her in Indiana, New York, and most recently in Canada. Before the show in Canada i had spoke to Bea’s people about doing an interview with her so after the show when i went into meet her again after being buzzed up by Billy Goldenberg himself because Bea was not doing autographs that night, she said she it felt like she already knew me and she was very gracious and took another picture with me and my cousin Since then i have spoken with her on the phone and conducted the interview and I find her to be one of the kindest most talented ladies on the planet In the words of Leslie Nielsen who I have recently interviewed she is just a professional talent she can act she can sing and she can probably play an instrument. Bea is the best.
Unfortunately i did not get the privilege to meet the awesome, wonderful Ms.Bea Arthur.
But here is my review anyway.
Bea’ s show was hilarious! She looked wonderful, but her ankle was hurt 9from falling into the orchestra pit)
Bea hit every note in her songs and the laughter was frequent. Her language and stories were gut busting. Bea certainly can tell a joke.
I loved her ‘Nuns story’ joke. About the nun who gets in the car (a man) and the cab driver tells the nun about how he always wanted oral sex performed by a nun!
and the cab driver pulls over to the side of the road and introduces himself as John(i believe that was his name) and the nun says ‘ oh by the way, my names Dave and I am going to a costume party!”
I loved that joke. I wanted to meet Bea soooooo bad… but i had to leave right after the show for an engagement.
So bad for me!
Billy Goldenberg was superb at the piano.
When Bea left the stage for her curtain call, every one gave her an ovation (of COURSE!) and when she said ‘ this time I am not going to sing I am still here!”
i never wanted her to leave! I wanted to stay and talk with her forever, if i would have had the chance believe you me i would have! LOL!
Robert and Jon’s story [Australia]
hi kevin, robbie told me me to send you this re bea in sydney last week hen we went to the nida theatre at kensington to see the bea arthur show started off very funny the lamb recipe story was very funny and the pia zadora in the “diary of anne frank” story was very funny she sangs bits of 17 songs “What Can You Get a Nudist for Her Birthday?” without a break for an hour and half. i could have listened all night bruno had met billy goldenburg the night before while volunteering at the “grand ball” and asked us to come backstage at bea show the next night. i thought he was pretty good on stage as well a little big like a edna everage madge clone lots of eye rolling next time i will look up on google the rest of the performers and ended the show with “Man on the Moon” from Mame. so we waited backstage after the show with a lone usherette guarding the door . she said she had seen the show 6 times but most of the references went over her head. she was also uncomfortable about terrorists I told her it is highly unlikely that terrorists would pick the bea arthur in kensington to gas everybody. and then she said did i see the stalker? i said yes. there was a youngish bald man in the front row trying to throw a letter on the stage asking bea out then he jumped on the stage and tried to get through that way . and apparently he had been stalking her in the us. anyway usherette left her post and went and saw billy who was wiping brown slap off his mug who had worked on duel and change of habit and queen of the stardust ballroom which they are putting on in london with maureen stapledon again, he also did “duel” and “change of habit” with mary tyler moore isn’t that wacky so we chatted about that for a while then he said do you want to see bea i said sure. so we went in and she was by herself and had changed out of the sparkly black stage number into a white cotton shirt. i thought she looked really good she was very thin and still had the remains of a very good facelift and then bruno said he had tried to get an autograph at the ball the night before… then we said we liked the show etc and she said thank you i said it”s funny you were talking about charles pierce in the show as i brought along a picture of you and him ” i gave her the picture and she said “i look like a fucking witch” i made no response as i thought it was rhetorical. then she said i still missed him know and had i seen his shows i said no just some docos and torch song trilogy. then just just chitchatted about the choice of songs for the show and what a minx billy is. then i wound it up because she and prefaced with a “we are running late for dinner bit of business” i said i liked you closing with the “moon is a lady” number that always cracked me up. why didn’t you talk about mame the movie. bea said what and leaned forward [i remembered ko, nucio and lyn all said her hearing is a bit off] so i said louder but not shouting
NO I MEANT MAME THE MOVIE WITH LUCILLE BALL. then i felt a chill as she stared at me that black eye stare from the golden girls and said “i hate that movie”. so bruno and i just thanked her and billy for the show and exited. they were really both charming and didn’t try and boot us out at all. anyway it was a blast i laughed myself sick outside the theatre we walked by the stalker still waiting on the pavement.
okay about that stalker front row second seat extreme left from the audience side. he kept trying to flick a letter onto the stage when she was doing the man in moon number, i don’t think her or billy actually saw the letter as they were walking into the curtains when it landed. then about 30 secs later the stalker jumped up and ran in the curtains but i think he had left it too late as he came back again and left the theatre. then the lone usherette who was defending the stage door with her torch said ‘this guy was american and he had followed previous bea show i think in the states before and that he was still lurking around’ she of course was correct because half an hour later when we had come out of the dressing rooms onto the pavement he was still outside the front entrance, about 5 ft 7 nondescript maybe 30 ish and balding.
I went to her show on September 9, 2001. She was appearing in Indy both Saturday and Sunday, but I only went on Sunday. I arrived at the stage door hours before the show. I went inside, and they offered no help whatsoever. They told me to talk to the security guards. I walked over there. This black guy (obviously not a Bea fan) wasn’t any help either. He said that she wasn’t there yet, but would be arriving. My sister and I had to go out to lunch with our grandmother, so we couldn’t really stay and wait two hours (LOL). I had the clock ready to give to Bea if she were to show up. I was also well equipped with 8×10 glossies (2) of The Golden Girls and a blue Sharpie. He told me that he would put the clock in her dressing room.
We came back later, and I gave the guy the clock. I also was going to tip the guy for doing it (it only seemed reasonable; if he were going to help me, I should pay… some people are motivated by money??) He said, “Put that away [the money]!!” I thought it was sort of rude, and I apologized. I was so pissed because I thought I had made the security guard mad. He would be of less help (if that’s possible) if he were hostile towards me.
I put a note on the clock with my address and a short message about how much I would like to see her outside the theatre. I forgot to mention that the security guard did say that Bea was seeing no one and that she hadn’t signed for ANY ONE. This sort of discouraged me, but I kept optimistic.
I watched the show, it was very funny, and, then, it was over. I rushed to the door. We were going out a different exit. It was one that went through the back stage. I was behind my 74 year old grandma going down the stairway. My sister was way ahead of the rest of us. She is also a Bea fan. All of the sudden, Bea walked by us, and I was shocked. She didn’t acknowledge anyone. I thought this was rude, but I kept in mind that this was because she was sick. I hurried down the steps, and I asked one of the security guards I had talked to earlier. He told me, “The exits that way.” I thought, “What a jerk!” The people that work at these venues have no class whatsoever.
As I was exiting, I saw Bea walking down that hallway. That is an image that I will never forget. It was just like one of those goals that you can’t grasp, but you want it so badly.
I went outside, and I was at the front of the line. The guards kept saying, “She’s come” into their walkie talkies. A large line of people was starting to grow behind ( <- keyword) me. They all had their programs to sign, but I had 8x10s of her. By the way these people were talking about my photos, you would think that they had never seen an 8×10 before.
The car drove up. It drove away. It drove up again. Repeat. I didn’t know what was going on. Then, Billy walked out. Stupid me should have talked to him about seeing Bea, but you don’t think of those things when you are there. He got in the car. Then I heard them talking about picking Bea up at a different exit.
The worst happened next: it started raining. Well, raining doesn’t quite explain it. It started POURING!!! I had never seen it pour like it did. My 8x10s got drenched. The inks on them started to smear (I couldn’t understand why; they were AGFA photos). The rain was splashing from the pavement onto me. I was soaked. I looked like I had going swimming in my clothes. It is indescribable. You would have to have been there to understand completely. I knew that there was no way that Bea was going to come out and sign in this weather. We had to run to the car, and I was, of course, a little depressed.
The only thing I can find positive: If Bea would have come out and ignored me, it would have left a bad impression on me, and it would have crushed me.
It would have made me never watch The Golden Girls or Maude again. I would just have been too hurt if she were to ignore me. I might have seen a side of Bea that I wouldn’t want to experience. Maybe it started pouring so I wouldn’t see her. God works in mysterious ways.
That’s my entire Bea Arthur story. I am sorry, but since it is so long, I don’t have time to go back and edit it and correct any errors. I am sure you understand.
I hope you have enjoyed my novel. LOL
I went to NY with 3 of my friends, Greta who is my neighbor, lives across the street from me. She is a Spanish teacher. Her two friends who are also teachers, Maria teaches Spanish also and Elfie who teaches English. They all teach at high schools. It was an experience for them too. They know me and have said over and over again how much I look like Bea.
Anyway, we went in by bus and went right to the area of the Booth theatre. Took some pictures of me which I will send to you outside under the posters of Bea. People on the other side of the street were stopped in their tracks watching us. It was bananas. LOL I went over the the side of the main entrance to the Booth theatre looking for the stage door as I am walking over to that area, some lady with her mother in a wheel chair is looking for a security guard to help her get her mother into the theatre. Her mother is looking at me and pointing the daughter asked me if I was Bea. I said no. LOL We located the back stage door and I went in…..this is BEFORE the show. (My girlfriends got online in the meantime). Soon as I went in the door there is a small office where there was a guy behind a desk, I proceeded to ask him if I could see Bea after the show. He told me Bea does NOT see anyone after the show. I told him I wrote her a note last w eek asking permission but that did not do any good either. I really did write her a note, included my home phone number so maybe I would get a message before saturday March 9th that it was okay for me to go backstage. So since I did not get anywhere with this guy I proceeded to go online to get into the theatre, it was about 1:40PM. My friends had already gotten inside. While I am waiting online for the show, people were looking at me, one guy came up to me and said “if anyone asks if you are Bea, tell them you are a Bea wanna be”. I get to the ticket person, give my ticket and find my friends standing in a corner by the steps going to the mezzanine area. Greta tells me when they were online and she yelled over to me while I was going to the back door that they would meet me inside, some lady said to her “is that Bea Arthur”? She said no that is my girlfriend. LOL
Ok, so now the 4 of us proceed upstairs. Again…..people are “looking” at me. It was bananas. We get our seats, second row, great view, show was nice, enjoyed seeing Bea soooooo much.
Now the show is over….we all go outside, right over to the back stage door. There is a Lincoln Town car there waiting for Bea to come out. I was standing right in front of the front passenger door. I think the driver was outside at one point and I asked him if I could see Bea, he could not do anything. All of sudden…BILLY comes out….people applauded I got his picture and he walked directly towards me and Greta looking to pass us. I got him right in front of me, Great was holding his hand she said. I begged, pleaded, begged, pleaded to see Bea for a minute, a second, anything. I said to Billy……remember Jessica from Minneapolis, he shook his head yes. Then all of a sudden he said ok, we walked towards the back stage door and all I remember is he walked me into the hall there were about 4 or 5 people in that little hall (all waiting for Bea to come down) he said to them this is Jessica from Minneapolis it is okay take her to SEE BEA. So this guy said follow me. We started going up this narrow stairwell and he said you are Jessica from Minneapolis, I said NO I am Josie from New Jersey. I kept saying “I don’t believe this”. We reach the top of the stairs and now we walk a long narrow hall. He calls out Bea, her dressing room is at the end of the hall. Then she appeared. I was shaking. He said Bea this is Josie from New Jersey……she said Oh yes (I think that is what she said). I had a button of the Golden Girls with Me as her on my coat. I will send you a copy.
I told her it was a dream come true for me to meet her and she said she was glad to hear that. I asked her if I could take a picture with her and she said certainly. I gave the camera to the guy that brought me up to meet her and she put her arm around me and he took the picture. I thanked her for meeting me and went right back down stairs. When I opened the door facing the crowd they all started applauding. I really felt like BEA. I kept SCREAMING that I just took a picture with BEA ARTHUR. People were taking pictures of ME. Some lady went up to my girlfriend and told her she would sent me the pictures she took, if she had an address, so Greta gave her my address, she also lives in New Jersey. Anyway back to my story. People asked me if she was “nice”…I said yes. Finally the door opens and out comes BEA. People applauded she was so amazed at the crowd she put her right hand over her mouth. I caught that picture. She wa lked directly towards me and got in the car in the front seat. The window was dark I could not take another picture. The car took off and people again were coming up to me asking me about my encounter with Bea backstage. People kept remarking how much I look like her.
My friends were so excited for me….this was some experience.
Now I get home and sunday morning I run to Wal mart to have the pictures developed. Go pick them up and the picture of me and Bea is black, you can just about see the outline of my head and the light from her dressing table.
I have the urge to “write” to Billy Goldenberg, thank him for giving me the opportunity to meet Bea and tell him that the picture that I so very much wanted did not come out. Maybe before the show ends if he would arrange for me to meet her again, I would make the trip all the way into NY just to have a picture of me with her. However with my luck he won’t answer me either.
Bea on Broadway 01.29.2002
Just got back from seeing Ms. Arthur’s matinee show today – she was fabulous as always. It was nice walking up the street and seeing her picture on the marquee – I remember watching Maude religiously 25 or so years ago and never ever thought I would ever get to see her in person. To me going to her shows proved to be an emotional experience.
The show was still an hour and one half, even though she added a few things since I saw it last. She sang a song about New York and spoke some more about Angela Lansbury. The whole orchestra section was filled and was very receptive to her. You could feel the love pouring back and forth between her and the audience. At the end she did two curtain calls both times to standing ovations. Even though she was not feeling well, said she was getting over a very heavy chest cold, she still looked and sounded great. Being in the first row I did make eye contact with her a couple of times.
I arrived at the theater a little before 12:45 and as I was standing there a limo arrived and out popped Bea! There were a few of us there and she did sign one autograph but was running late and went inside – she walked past me and smiled. She was not in her stage makeup at that point but she still looked good! She did leave by the stage door at the end of the show, but did not sign autographs as she was going back to the hotel to rest before her evening performance. She did stop, however to talk with a fan who was in a wheelchair – which turned out be an emotional experience. Again she walked right by me and as there was a few of us there, we clapped for her and she acknowledged us.
The next time I go (Feb 10) it will be a Sunday matinee with no show that evening or on Monday, so maybe she will sign autographs. The other two times I go are on Saturday nights which might be a little harder to get to her. I am not too concerned about getting another autograph since I have two already; what I really want to do is to tell her how much her characters (especially Maude) influenced me while I was growing up!
Am glad I went as it was a nice mid-week break since spending that hour or so with her is like being back with an old friend – she is such a great lady!
Another Bill who met Bea at her Indianapolis show wrote this:
First, let me say I enjoy your site…very informative and fun at the same time.
I attended the Indianapolis show back in September, and it was wonderful. I’ve been a fan of Bea Arthur for so long. I’m 25, so I’m not familiar with anything before Maude, and even that I saw via reruns as a child, but it was still nonetheless excellent entertainment.
The very day I found out she was performing here in Indianapolis, I bought my tickets, I was determined to see her live…no matter what. Then I read in a local nightlife paper that she was also hosting a charity show afterwards. Well, when I called they weren’t selling advance tickets anymore and I just figured it wasn’t meant to be.
The show was wonderful. Even though I was unfamiliar with most of the numbers from her earlier years, I still found them very entertaining and almost considered them “new material” after watching the Golden Girls up to 3 times a day (love that Lifetime!) for the last 10+ years! She looked great, sounded great and seemed to be really enjoying herself up on stage…definitely looked like she felt at home. I don’t think I stopped smiling through the whole performance…except to laugh til I cried.
As my partner and I were leaving the show I just had a feeling, that I HAD to at least try to go to the charity thing. Just before we turned that one turn too many I told him to turn back and find an ATM…”we’re gonna meet Bea!”
Here is where I must disagree with my fellow admirers from Indy who wrote to you earlier.
It was a small room, a small crowd and a very small beverage selection…but still a somewhat intimate setting. Ms Arthur entered the room and started making her rounds. She stopped many times to talk to fans who all claimed to be her biggest and most loyal. When she passed us, I heard her mumble to her friend “let’s get up to the bar” (little did she know what DIDN’T lie ahead). She was being mobbed a bit and asked if anyone else wanted to get into a particular group shot and I said “I do!” and jumped in behind her.
Then it was time to go all out…I had to talk to her. Everyone was calling her Bea. I know that’s her name and she probably doesn’t mind…but it still seemed a bit rude to me. I finally managed to tap her shoulder and softly mutter out “Ms. Arthur, excuse me…Ms. Arthur…” to which she did respond.
I didn’t say I was her biggest fan, though I am right up there. I told her how wonderful the show was, better than I expected…truly wonderful. Then it hit me I was talking to her and I made a small gasp, I think. It really felt like she could tell I was nervous and very sincere. Then I told her it was wonderful to meet her, to which she replied it was wonderful to met me as well.
Then, some queen (sorry, but it truly is the best word to use…LOL) grabbed her attention and she turned away, but didn’t let go of my hand and I wasn’t sure if she was going to come back. After about a minute, I guess I gave up and gave a little squeeze and let go.
After that, someone offered to get her something to drink (again, almost hollering “Bea”) to which our favorite comedienne replied “…no, don’t bother…there’s nothing up there dear…” WONDERFUL! After that she left, probably about 15 minutes from when she first entered.
A great experience, I’m trying to see if I can get to one of the New York shows…I hope so. Once just wasn’t enough.
I hope this wasn’t too long winded. Just wanted to set the scene.
Thanks…and keep the site going, love it!
Bill and Brad’s story
sorry I have not gotten back to you sooner. this whole national crisis took me for a loop. Well, we went to Indy to see Bea. First of all they split our room up with the girls. We were supposed to have a nice suite, but some other people stayed longer than expected and we ended up with 2 rooms on opposite ends of the hotel. We went to the show. Had a buffet style meal in the egyptian rm at the murat. My partner Brad was having a smoke on the outside when Bea arrived via a black lincoln town car. She got out of the front seat. a guard walked her to the door……approximately 45 minutes to curtain. She didn’t say hi/boo to anyone. She arrived on stage——-standing ovation. She covered many things that our age catagory wasn’t able to relate to…..three penny opera—-the days when she first started out. No mention of Lucille Ball, Carrol O’Conner, Betty White……etc. She did mention Angie…………Langsbury. Many gay people were in the crowd with partners/friends. It was nice that she mentioned some gay items……including jokes. Immediately following she was to attend a benefit across the street for $25. My partner and my friend Dave made it over on time………..I had to wait for the girls to relieve themselves before we could get there. While running across the street I was not sure what entrance to use. I went one way and the girls the other. I got to the front desk of the building the event was in. I asked the gentleman…..where is the Bea Arthur event……..he said “Through that door”. I went to the door and it was locked. He said….”well just Knock”. which I did. Someone opened the door. It was a small room. Brad stood directly in front of where I came in. As I looked to the left……Ms. Arthur was making her way through a small crowd. Brad told me she just arrived as he arrived. She came in, said absolutely nothing to anyone. A few guys stood next to her and had some pics taken and she continued through the room. In the 3 minutes that transpired from Brad’s arrival to when I got there…..Bea made her way through without a word……and was gone before I even finished saying hi to Brad. That was it!!!! The girls arrived minutes later…not even getting a glance. Next day after breakfast at Le Peeps, we decided to run to the Murat for Beas arrival for the afternoon show. We just arrived and her car pulled up. We had to run to the front of the building. The big security guard yelled……”Stay there”……before we got across the front drive of the Murat. We walked through and Ms. Arthur got out of the Lincoln. As we tried to snap a couple pics she said…..”don’t take any pics…..I look a mess….not being made up”. We did snap a couple and she looked pretty good for 78. Attached are a couple of our trip. We never did get her to autograph any of the record albums we brought or anything. I will try to get them signed anyway……………hope to run into you soon in Chitown.
Bill and Brad
Dear all bea fans,
On July 26th 2001 I had the chance to attend Bea Arthur ‘s new show up in Nyack Ny . The show was great I loved it . But the best part of the night was that I got to meet Mrs. Arthur . After the show me and my dad waited by the stage door where Mrs. Arthur comes out. And then she come out and I went up to her and told her that I love to watch her on the Golden Girls and she said “oh God” and then I asked her to sign my show program and I asked her to also take some pictures with me and she said “sure ” . So we took the pictures and then I said thank you and I told her that I will se her next year in Ny City ,
I have wanted to meet Mrs Arthur for a long time and I finally got my chance . Mrs Arthur is a very nice lady and a great actress
I loved the show!
Andrew’s story on July 7th, 2001
OK now I know how you felt! I got to meet here! Oh where do I start. It was magical. Surreal. I’m on Cloud 9! First off the show kicked ass! I mean anybody who says it was OK or bad is out of there mind. I admit it is for her fans mainly but, she is brilliant, classy, funny, witty, passionate, heart wrenching, bawdy and down right legendary! She was right on target. And I loved her outfit. Blue shimmery jacket. I was able to get some articles and a photo of she and I. I even mentioned you.
So here is how it all happened. I did what you said. I scoped out the theatre. The people that worked there were unfriendly so it took a little extra work on my part to figure everything out.The stage door was hidden. And the dressing room was somehow even more impossible to get to. But, I saw a limo that I was sure was Bea’s. So Mike and I waited and followed the limo to the side ally. We though, “OK this is it! Its Bea’s limo. And it must be parked by the hidden stage door” We were set. Come hell or high water we would meet her! So, the limo driver gets out of the limo opens the door and guess what? Two older people get in it! How could this be? Well, we were totally disgusted. We were sure it was Be Arthur’s limo. How could this happen? Then as if an angel had heard our cry, out of nowhere comes BEA! It was like she just appeared(actually she came out the hidden stage door but, I like to think God made her appear!) The wind was blowing really bad but we stopped here and got a picture with here. We told her we had drove two hrs to see her on account that we were celebrating our anniversary. We told here that we were seeing the show that night and wed be in the front row. She grabbed our arms firmly and said in that voice,”Good, Good oh I hope you will like it”. We bid her farewell, and snapped a few more shots as she got into the Towncar with Nathan, her assistant. It had happened we met Bea Arthur. Mission Accomplished. You cant get any better than this….Or so we thought!
Mike and I proceeded to go check out the theatre and see where our seats were. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small older man coming down the escalator. I thought for a minute it was Billy Goldenberg but then could remember what he looked like. So I said oh fuck it! IM gonna take a chance here! I said Billy, is your name Billy? And he said, “Yes IM Billy.” So we got to talking and I told him how we just met Bea real quick in the alley. And how we were down there for our anniversary. So he invited us to come back after the show and visit with Bea in her dressing room privately! Can you believe it. How lucky. It was an act of GOD! Billy asked us back to see her privately! NO WAY!!!!!
So the show ends and we go back to see her. She is sitting in a chair and autographing a “Mame” album for another guys. We approach her and are introduced as friends of Billy’s. Mike tells her about the alley way picture we took with her earlier and her hair blowing in the wind. She says,” Why is it that people always want a picture of me when I look shitty” We all laughed and then proceeded to tell her we loved the show, we love her work she is awesome…blah blah. We then take the picture. We tell her all about how we are here for our anniversary and how we met in a bar and one of the first conversations we talked about was her. Well, she just loved that. She said in that sarcastic tone”Oh god you talked about me. Why?” But then she chuckled and signed two autographs and put “Bea Arthur Happy” I’m still trying to figure out if she means like, Be Happy or perhaps Happy Anniversary.” We talked a bit more about her bringing the show to NYC and we chatted with Billy about some music stuff. then I mentioned you Kevin and your web site. She didn’t remember you exactly “She said Oh God only knows he is probably a lovely person but, I met so many people and IM bad with timing.” Hell, I cant even program a VCR. I can get it to rewind and fast forward, My kids make fun of me for not knowing what a web site is but, it all just boggles my mind”. I’m thinking. She just rocks. Totally down to earth. A hip Mama! We wrapped it all up and we gave her a hug and told her good luck with the tour and that we hoped to see her on Broadway. All in all it was about a 10 min period we spent with her. It was an experience I will never ever forget. We also ended up getting to go out to brunch the next day with Billy. It happened that another couple that we befriended knew him very well, and they invited us, Bea was t come too but, she was ill with a cold! I was really hoping I could have said I had brunch with Bea Arthur but, my 10 min of heaven was plenty.
As soon as I get the film developed I will send the pics and the clippings to you! I’m sure this email is really long and has spelling and typing errors but I’m still in a daze! Please forgive me!
Well, I did get to meet her briefly in San Francisco.
Bea was making a personal appearance at A Different Light Book bookstore on Castro Street in San Francisco a few days before her show opened up here at the Alcazar Theatre.
I had already bought my ticket when I noticed something on the advertisement for her personal appearance. The appearance was supposed to be Bea judging a Golden Girls look-alike contest, then signing posters for people who had tickets to her show.
I’ve always liked Bea Arthur, and even fooled around a little making her the subject of a couple of art projects on the computer. One was a satirical movie poster for my idea of the perfect sequel to There’s Something About Mary – it would be There’s Something About Bea, with Ben Stiller falling for Bea after Mary dumps him.
I also made a fake dollar bill in Photoshop with Bea’s portrait in place of Washington.
Well, I’d done these years ago, but decided to print them out, frame the movie poster (8 1/2 by 11 inches) and print a couple of “Bea Bucks” and take them to her at the bookstore.
The place was packed. Tons of people. I could hardly see anything because of all the people, and Bea sat with Jan Wahl, a local news program person who does these film reviews and often complains about how there are no good roles for strong women – so she LOVED Bea since Bea is so gruff and forthright.
After the show, Bea had to wait for her car to come pick her up again. She was in the back of the store meeting with the staff, and there were still most of the crowd in the store wanting to meet her. I think she was a little scared the crowd hadn’t left. She looked out at all of them and said “What am I – fuckin’ Oprah Winfrey?”
Long story short, I got in line, gradually made my way up to her, and told her I’d been an admirer of hers for as long as I could remember (I’m 32) and she thanked me. I handed her the folder with the printed dollars and the movie poster in the frame. She opened the folder, and got her pen ready and said “What do you want me to write on this?” and I just sort of stammered out that I didn’t want anything, I’d made them for her. She looked closely at one and realized she was on the dollar bill and said “Well, I’ve never seen anything like this!”
She grabbed me around the neck with one arm and gave me a hug, then grabbed my hand and said thanks. She was really nice and very pretty and really strong.
I left, and got outside into the fresh air again, realizing I was sweating after being crammed into that hot little store.
Bea’s car pulled up and she made her way out and got inside with tons of people still standing around watching her.
It was then I realized that the only things she had brought out with her and her assistant or friend had brought was her purse, and the folder and framed picture. No one else had brought her anything, not even flowers.
I don’t know if she still has the movie poster or the Bea Bucks, but I’ll remember my one chance to meet her and the enjoyment I got when I saw her show later that week.
Steven Kyle Weller
San Francisco, CA
I saw that Bea was coming to San Francisco again at the beginning of 2006. So, I treated myself to her show as my 37th Birthday present to myself.
The show was amazing. Both Bea and Billy were relaxed, comfortable, and seemed to be genuinely enjoying the experience.
The theatre was beautiful and comfortable and I got a seat really close to the stage. Some guys even brought Bea huge bouquets of flowers to hand up to her at the end of the show.
Overall, it was the experience of a lifetime. Except for the old woman in front of me asking in a loud stage whisper to her elderly male companion “What’s with all the gays here?”
Oh, honey, Its Bea Arthur in San Francisco. The old lady was lucky the street outside wasn’t blocked off for a spontaneous gay parade. But, the rain wasn’t going to mix with the drag queens very well, so we all dashed for taxis after the show.
I hope Bea never retires from performing. What a great role model.
September 22nd, 2001
Kevin, it truly was my dream come true!!!!! And I have wanted to meet Bea for sooooo long now!
Oh, the whole thing was an experience I’ll never forget as long as I live!
I saw her on opening night in St. Louis on Friday and the show was just awesome, Bea was awesome.
I knew she would say something about the tragedy on September 11 and she sure did. In fact, it was the very first thing she talked about. As she was talking about it, she became extremely emotional and just about broke down crying and then said and I quote “LIFE HAS TO GO ON”. But she then cheered up and said “so please, if something strikes you funny, laugh and if you wanna cry, that’s ok too.” Just love her attitude!!
Then she went into her leg of lamb recipe as usual. It was my third time seeing her show, fourth time seeing her and I really think this was her very best show yet. I had absolutely no complaints. (I don’t understand why some people do.) Oh but Bea was so great and she looked absolutely beautiful. She’s so amazing.
Anyway, before the show even started, I was bugging this security guy about Bea and he told me that he’d seen her arrive before I got there and that she looked tired and she was not happy about being brought in a cab and not in a Lincoln Town Car (as she prefers.)
A few minutes later, I saw Bea’s wonderful pianist Billy Goldenberg who was walking down the back stairs out into the parking lot. I thought ok this is my big chance! So I went up to him and shook his hand and we talked for a few minutes.
He was without a doubt the nicest, sweetest guy in the world. Bea is right, he IS devine!!! I told him I’d seen Bea’s show twice in Chicago but that I hadn’t met her yet and it would be my dream come true. He was like “awww”! He said he would take me to meet Bea right now (before the show) but she doesn’t really like meeting people beforehand. But he said after the show, I would be his guest and he would take me in to meet Bea!!!! I’m thinking this guy is the best!! So my dreams finally came true. After the show I hung around the back waiting to get the ok from the security guy from Billy to let me in. We were then escorted in and then Billy showed me into to Bea’s dressing room. I just couldn’t believe it! I saw Bea….she looked beautiful. And I was thinking this has to be a dream!! Then after the group before us cleared out and it was just Bea, me, my mom, and Billy, I was introduced to the one and only BEA ARTHUR! Oh. Bea was so very sweet and so very gracious. She even complemented my mom in that voice of hers and said “you look more like her sister than her mom”! She couldn’t get over it! She thought we were sisters! Bea was so wonderful. I told her how much I loved the show and that I’d seen it twice before in Chicago and she said “oh the show has changed since then” then asked me “which did you like better?” I told her I liked this one the best which I really did. (She made ‘The Man In The Moon’ her final song.) I then asked her if I could get a picture with her and she didn’t mind at all. I then told her that I wished I had a program for her to sign but I forgot them at my seat. She seemed sorry for me that I didn’t have one and she was really trying hard to figure out where we could find one. Some nice man came in and handed her one and she signed it and she even….without me asking…..put four X’s on it and she told me they were little kisses. I’m tellin’ you this woman is the sweetest!!!! I talked with her a couple minutes more then I realized I just HAD to ask her for a hug. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind and she said something like “well, no!” She was really flattered. I could tell she really LOVED all the affection! And I was on cloud nine. I then said goodbye to her and I love you. And I don’t know how many times I told her “this is a dream come true.” IT WAS!!!! I felt soooooo lucky.
LONG LIVE BEA!