I want to Talk about a magical and sentimental journey. Crystal Cruise’s recent “Panama Discovery Theme Cruise, a Film and Theatre Festival,” was a tribute to Doris Day, celebrating her 90th birthday and her amazing (It’s Magic) life and career. It was such a privilege to be a Theme Lecturer, to share my bizarre and bountiful show biz experience that led to working with Doris… and the evolution of our animal activism.
It’s the People!
What made this trip so extraordinary? The ship, Crystal’s Symphony, is majestic; the food, beyond superb; the cozy stateroom (I had a bathtub!); the destinations, exotic. But it was the people that overwhelmingly won my heart. Where to begin?
The officers and crew, the staff, the entertainers, and the passengers! Yes, all of them. We became like family and many new, dear friends for life, unexpectedly entered our fortunate world. (Ahh, Table 37.) Let my memory haphazardly rhapsodize…
A Toluca Lake resident, Dr. Drew Casper, was the glue that held the Doris Day Theme together. If only Doris could have seen his lectures and introductions to the many D Day films shown on the trip. Drew, the first holder of the Alma and Alfred Hitchcock Chair in American Film at USC, was appropriately spellbinding! And like Hitchcock’s birds, this extraordinary historian swooped through his audience and intensely pecked fascinating Doris Day data into our sensibilities. With love and expertise, we learned the inside out, behind the scenes, and why the world was enchanted by Doris and her films.
Laura Osnes, Broadway’s stunning and shining star, modeled a Doris Day original gown for Greg Schreiner’s delightful theme lecture, “Out of the Closet and into the DAY.” Greg, a great pianist, has a famed collection of costumes and he is the creator of the costume and song revue, “Hollywood Revisited.” Laura was thrilled to wear the legendary dress. Forgive me for saying “adorable” too often, but she and her husband Nate are sparkle dust personified. Before Broadway beckoned, they met as understudies in a local musical, and when both leads banged into each other, Laura and Nate took over, had their first kiss on stage, and discovered love. Romantic! Then she won the TV contest for the starring role in the Grease revival and hasn’t stopped working since. As Cinderella, Laura allowed all of Broadway to fall in love with her, as we and all of the passengers did as Cruise mates.
Paul McFarland, the genial Cruise Director, somehow managed to be everywhere at once, introducing every show and lecture, and making sure that all the necessary equipment was ready for the ceaseless opportunities offered to entertain and inform the guests. Paul hosted an informational (and fun) shipboard morning TV show, and the five o’clock funnies in the early evening. Tall and stately, and full of precision and wit, Paul is the right man in the right job. I only wish I could have told him in person.
Dale Gonyea is a breathtaking pianist and a uniquely hysterical performer, playing and singing along with a slide show, providing commentary on the ports that we visited. Original, brilliant and sweet, Dale Gonyea is from our hood and may be “Coming Soon To A Piano Near You.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg, so a follow up column is in the wings. But I must give a low bow to Table 37…
A combination of passengers and lecturers wove into this home base, this joyful table. Birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated and every night was happiness. An endless series of gifts and glitz were bestowed by our caretaker and glamour maker William Squire. You will hear more about Gary Sullivan, Marjorie and Stu, Lea and Mary and Richard. And Susan Stein, the Fashion Queen of Palm Springs. And Greg Loren and Kelly Lester who brought Doris Day to life in song and story.
I have to stop, you’ll have to wait for new treasure of a friend, Jeff Calhoun!!! And the classes for knitting, bridge, Spanish, digital film making, fitness ad infinitum. And the Magic Castle connection… I’m putting my fingers in a drawer because there is so much more.