April 19, 2005: Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Where do you start?
(I don’t know, so I’ll just dive in!) After finding out, from another Bea fan, Zack, that Bea Arthur would be appearing in Mount Pleasant in April of this year, I knew I couldn’t pass it up this time. It had been four years since I last saw Bea’s show when she was in Chicago. Enough time had passed and it would be fun again to see Bea and be reminded of parts of the show that I have forgotten about or that were not on the CD, as well as, any additions. I usually go to Michigan in April anyway, so there really was no reason not to go! In addition to all of those excuses, I could also visit with college friends that I haven’t seen in years who live nearby. A win, win, win situation. But, of course, I wanted to visit one other ‘friend’, Bea herself. So, I prepared.
When my college friend, Paula, and I arrived at the venue we walked around the outside of the stage area and started scoping out where the stage door would possibly be. This is a must for all people to do when attending a performance. We then realized we had an hour to spare, so we focused our priority on alcohol. On my way to the bar, I passed a few people saying my name. To my surprise, they said they recognized me from the website, how fun! (I forgot that I announced to the world that I would be there at this point).
After our drinks, we headed into the seating area. I was really pleased with how packed the space was and furthermore, the space was quite large! We then found our seats and I soon met Zack, who I knew would be at the show. After, chatting with him some, I sat down to soon find out that the person behind me also had visited the website and recognized me. It started to feel like a Bea Arthur convention! I love chatting with Bea fans in person, so much better than email only, though I do enjoy that too. Anyhow, the people we set across were also fans of Bea and had a great appreciation of her for who she is, not just from the Golden Girls, as most people only know Bea. I always love the dynamics of the diversity of the audience at a Bea Arthur show. Then the lights went down and the show began just the way it always has… with a leg of lamb!
During the show, I jotted down notes so I could compare them with the notes I took at the performances 4 years ago. Most of the show was the same, but I was really excited to have finally heard Bea sing the song about her ‘happening to like New York’, which was since added to the show when I last saw it. I believe the song was added after 9/11. The other thing I noticed about her performance, was there were even longer famous pauses and some new yells and grunts from Bea at appropriate places in her dialog that you can’t help but laugh out loud at. The interaction between Bea and Billy was more intense, showing that they still are enjoying each other’s company on stage. Finally, something unexpected happened. The drinks had caught up with both Paula and me and we were forced to get up just before the end of the show to use the restroom. Glad we did, for we would have never been able to make it back if we waited any longer. I had to make note of this event because at the time it was THE most important thing for us 🙂
After Bea took her bow and walked off the stage, the adrenaline started to flow into me, for I had a mission to execute now. A few others and I stayed back while everyone headed out of the venue. Soon, more Bea fans started to hold back and congregate in the same area I was at. Again, I was delighted to have met even more fans and got to chat with them some. I wanted to chat more, but simultaneously I was fighting with the security people who were trying to push us out. I had to then make it clear, that I had previously written a few letters to Bea and her personal assistant about being able to see her after the show. I had received a letter back that I should wait at the stage door, for my name was on the list. However, when I told this to the security people, they couldn’t have cared less and told me and the rest of us to move on out. At that point, I didn’t know what to do, so we started to head out extremely slowly where I began chatting again with other Bea fans when suddenly someone yelled, “who is Kevin?” As I approached the man, I finally saw my name on a piece of paper with the number 2 next to it. Following a confirmation that I would be able to come backstage with my guest, there was some confusion. He asked me who was with me and I said that I had Paula with me as the guest, but the other people around were all fans of Bea. However, being that there was a number 2 next to my name, only Paula and I were given the passes. I felt horrible that Bea wasn’t doing a general meet and greet and that I had to leave the other fans behind. I only hope that they understand, for I put in over a month’s worth of work, let alone five years on this website, to get to this opportunity.
After walking up on the stage and moving around the maze of curtains, Paula and I were introduced to Ms. Arthur. Though excited, I was not as nervous or tongue-tied as before when I met her. Bea then said to me, “So you are the guy with the really long name” and Paula replied, “it’s a weird name, we used to call him Buttstealer in school”. Right then and there I knew I was off to a good start! *sigh* Anyway, we chatted for a bit about how Bea did receive my long letter (which I really tried to keep short) and how I knew her personal assistant. Being that I explained what I have done on the website over the past five years in the letter, I felt there was no reason to repeat myself now knowing for certain that she did get the letter and the pictures that I sent to her of both meetings her and when another Bea friend of my, Jessica, got together on her 80th birthdays and when through each other’s scrapbooks. Billy, then came into the room and we shook his hand and greeted each other as well. He is always such a delight to see and meet. Anyhow, all I asked for in the letter was to simply say ‘hi’ and felt that I got more than that, so when I felt it was time to go, I asked for a picture with her which she gracefully accepted. After taking a photo with me and then Paula, Bea turned to Paula and said, “I got something for you!”, “do you live around here?” Paula said that she did and Bea got up and went over to the dressing room mirror where she grabbed the vase of flowers that were sitting on the piano during the performance and gave them to Paula. Paula started to cry as Bea explained that she hated to waste the flowers, as she couldn’t bring them with her on her soon trip back to her next destination. We then left the dressing room and headed back out to the stage where the security people were eager to get us out. I reached into my pocket to get my cell phone out to check the time and the security guard asked, “ok, what did you forget that you need to go back”. I was happy to say that I was completely satisfied with my visit and was not trying to get anything more.
Now, the mission was accomplished and I was completely happy with how everything turned out. I did wish I could have gotten a photo with Billy, but when I was in Bea’s dressing room, I got tunnel vision and didn’t notice that he slipped back out before I noticed. Also, in hindsight, I wish I got a group photo of all of Bea fans that were waiting around after the show. That would have been perfect for this website! However, I assumed that everyone was told to leave after I went backstage and that still upsets me some. So, a note to those people:: It was nice meeting you all, and would have loved to talk with you more. I tried to get you all to see Bea, but they weren’t having any of it. Many people think that I’m bosom buddies with Bea, but I’m not… I’m just a fan.
While waiting in the casino for another friend to join us for dinner, I did get to chat with 3 other fans of Bea and that was a lot of fun. Paula was in her glory, carrying around the vase of flowers and I was trying to come down from the excitement. It was definitely another memory that I will never forget and talk about for years. So, thank you, Bea, thank you Dan, and thank you, Zack, for I couldn’t have been able to pull this off without you! I’m not going to lay back and continue working on this website and enjoy hearing from other Bea fans who get the same honor as I did in the following months and years. Four years ago I would have never guessed that I would have another chance to see Bea, let alone meet her again. I now look forward to the next four-plus years!
…while Bea was in Chicago, May 21st through May 31st, 2001
From the news section:
05.21.2001 – Today was the day I have dreamt about for years. The day that I finally met Bea Arthur. I have been 10 feet off the ground ever since. The pictures below were taken at our local gay bar here in Chicago, Sidetracks. Left, is Bea and Me, and to the right is Bea and my boyfriend Matthew. I was fortunate to be tipped off earlier that day, that Bea would be making an unannounced appearance at Sidetracks. My heart was pounding from then to when Bea pulled up in a white Lincoln Town Car outside of the bar. After talking to some people from Jam Theatricals, who were organizing the show, I was confirmed that she would be appearing and that I would be able to talk to her. I was also fortunate to be sitting just a few feet from where she was sitting and could watch her throughout the night like a hawk. After waiting patiently for the right moment, I was introduced to Ms. Bea Arthur. After talking with her for a few intense minutes, I introduced Matthew to her, and they talked for a few additional minutes. I then asked her if we could get a picture with her. At the moment she agreed on the digital camera that Matthew had ready, shut off automatically because it wasn’t being used for a bit. So, Matthew had to turn it back on, which took a few moments. Bea then turned to me and said, “if he doesn’t take the picture soon, I’m going to prune”, then after a few more moments of Matthew frantically turning back on the camera, Bea reached her hand out and yelled, “Take the fucking picture”, and at that very moment the picture took. She started laughing because it captured her in the prime Maude moment.
Bea was so amazing, so sweet, and so approachable, which surprises people, thinking that she is like Maude in real life. But, she isn’t. I will be making a separate web page that will be capturing Matthew and me meeting Bea and her show while she is here in Chicago. I will write about the words exchanged between Bea and me, about the Christmas card that I re-gave her, and about this website. I will be seeing the show 3 times, therefore, I will be able to give a moment-by-moment review of her show. Also, I have been collecting anything newspaper clippings from the Chicago area for the next two weeks. I will be collaborating on it all in one website presentation. So check back in a few weeks!
05.23.2001 – Just wanted to write a quick little blurb about her opening performance here in Chicago last night. Again, I will be making a complete page wrapping up all the events while Bea was in Chicago within two weeks. I just wanted to express how wonderful she was in her show. Better than a strict autobiography of Bea, she shared all the people, performances, and songs that were dear to her throughout her life. She explained that she wanted everyone to feel like they were at her home for a visit. To sit down and have a visit with Bea! And that’s how she made everyone feel.
It is a must-see show… do not miss it for anything! So, check back in a few weeks, after her show wraps up here in Chicago, for an exclusive sub-website of ‘And Then There’s Bea in Chicago’!
05.26.2001 – Interesting thing happened here in Chicago on the radio! From the Chicago Sun Time: Actress Bea “The Golden Girls” Arthur just got censored? Arthur, who is in town for a few weeks for her one-woman show, “. . . And Then There’s Bea,” encountered an unexpected radio flap. Sneed is told that Bea recorded her own radio spots for the show, but WGN radio wouldn’t air it because they think it’s too lewd. Calls to WGN were not returned.
Also, thanks to my friend Jessica for pointing this out to me… Bea’s show has an official website! How could I have missed this 🙂 www.andthentheresbea.com [no longer valid] has her up-to-date tour schedule, radio spots, video clips, and much more! I was delighted to see this site listed in the links section as well!! Thanks again for letting me know Jessica!!.
Also, thanks to my friend Jessica for pointing this out to me… Bea’s show has an official website! How could I have missed this 🙂 www.andthentheresbea.com [no longer existing] has her up-to-date tour schedule, radio spots, video clips, and much more! I was delighted to see this site listed in the links section as well!! Thanks again for letting me know Jessica!
05.25.2001 – Thanks to Jam Theatrical’s, Jeffrey, I was hooked up with free, front rows, seats last night. It was awesome to see Bea so up close again. This time I could really see her facial expressions and feel the songs that she sang from her heart. But, three will be a charm, when I see her again next Thursday for her closing night performance. Again, the show was unbelievable and just as entertaining. This time I took a notepad and jotted down everything, minute by minute. But during the show, I decided not to post this on my site. It wouldn’t be fair to people who haven’t seen the show yet, as well as Bea herself. It’s a must-see show, therefore… go, Go, GO, and see it for yourself. Period. If you have to fly halfway around the world, it will be worth it. I promise that. I will continue to work on a ‘And then there’s Bea in Chicago’ subsite, with more local articles, pictures, and personal experiences. But, again, will not be posting a minute-by-minute review.
I want to thank everyone who has emailed me. It’s been overwhelming, to say the least. It’s been great to hear all your own personal stories, as well as, how passionately you feel toward Ms. Arthur. I try to get back to all of you, but forgive me if I’m a little slow. I also try to answer your questions as best to my knowledge, but please remember, I am not Bea, nor do I work for Bea (yet 🙂 so please be realistic with your questions! Thanks.
06.01.2001 – 3 is a charm! Last night was Bea’s last night in Chicago. It was also the 3rd time that I saw her show here… and I still haven’t had enough! I felt it was the best show out of the three that I saw. The audience was extremely receptive. After the show, a few of us ran to the side of the building where Ms. Arthur’s dressing trailer was. Everyone starts singing the theme to Golden Girls. She opened the door and stuck her head out and thanked everyone for coming. Then she asked that everyone sing it again, which she loved. She then signed people’s show brochures and was very pleasant.
I then got a tip from a friend earlier that day that she was making another unannounced appearance at a local gay cabaret bar called Voltaire here in Chicago. So, after seeing Bea at her trailer, we hopped into a cab and bolted down to the bar. Sure enough, she came in. Though she was very tired she sat with everyone else and watched the cabaret show. After a few drinks, she and Billy got up and sang one song to everyone. She sang ‘Some People’ that she also covers in her show. It was wonderful… absolutely wonderful.
Today I’m sad to know that Bea is no longer in Chicago. It was a wonderful 10 days. I collected many pictures and articles from the newspapers and anything else that I could find. I can’t wait to see Bea and Billy soon… possibly in New York next spring, or some other city that she is touring sooner! We love you Bea…