Summer in Sagaponack with Jill Krementz

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Colson Whitehead photographed by Jill Krementz on August 1, 2019 in Sag Harbor.

We’ve been blessed to have two great evenings in nearby Sag Harbor: the first a reading by Colson Whitehead, sponsored by Canio’s Books, the legendary bookstore where Mr. Whitehead as a young boy — bookworm,  and resident — spent many hours of his childhood. 

In his new novel, Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes a strand of American history through the story of two young boys, Elwood and Turner struggling to survive after being  sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. The school — fictionalized but based on a real one, the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Northern Florida — is a grotesque chamber of horrors with a sadistic staff.  More than a hundred children died at the school between 1913 and 1960.

Colson Whitehead with his mother Mary Ann Whitehead and his 14-year-old daughter Maddie.
First thing Colson did was to photograph the audience, which included most of Sag Harbor.
The front row.
The event with Colson Whitehead was so crowded that even with standing room inside, due to fire laws, the overflow stood outside peering through the open windows.
Kathryn Szoka from Canio’s, who sponsored the evening.
Linda Asher and Mary Ann Whitehead.
The line stretched out to the lobby.
A selection of Colson’s previously published books were also on sale including The Underground Railroad, which won both the Pulitzer and The National Book Award. The book, “inspired by a post nap haze,” is being made into a movie.
L. to r.: Maria Escalante with a newly purchased signed copy; Mary Ann Whitehead and her granddaughter Maddie.
Colson will be speaking again on Tuesday, August 13th (7 p.m.) at Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. He’s not only a great speaker but his book, The Nickel Boys, is a masterpiece. 

I have only three words of advice:  GET THERE EARLY.

Sign in front of Sag Harbor’s Unitarian Universalist Meeting House where the reading was held. A message we should all heed.

In addition to Colson Whitehead, we got Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun at the Bay Street Theater.   One of the most beloved musicals of Broadway’s Golden Age, it is the story of sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her tempestuous romance with fellow sharpshooter Frank Butler featuring many of the vaudeville names of her day such as “Buffalo Bill” Cody. You’ll remember many of the songs: “Doin’ What Comes, Natur’lly,” “The Girl That I Marry,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,”  “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” and “Anything You Can Do.”

“Annie Get Your Gun” first opened on May 16, 1946 at the Imperial Theater, and ran for 1,147 performances. This revival is scheduled to move on to The Pasadena Playhouse.

I photographed Irving Berlin on November 8, 1974 in New York City. I photographed the opening of Mr. Berlin’s revival of Annie Get Your Gun at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater this past Saturday night (August 3, 2019).
Scott Schwartz, Artistic Director of the Bay Street Theater.
Clockwise from top left: Andy Einhorn, Music Supervisor. Mr. Einhorn previously did Broadway’s Carousel and Hello Dolly; Liza Bigger; Jamie deRoy.
L. to r.: Shawn Gough, Artistic Director (Decked out in Thom Browne); Will Ratz plays the role of Little Jake.
Valérie Thérèse Bart, costume designer of Annie Get Your Gun, with her husband, Rick Ho, who is a graphic designer.
Curtain Call.
Ted Hartley (Patron Sponsor) post performance after the audience has exited. Mr. Hartley, a long-time theater producer and the widower of Dina Merrill, is on a cane recovering from a hip replacement.
L. to r.: Matthew Saldivar (Frank Butler); Alexandra Socha (Annie Oakley).
L. to r.: Jonathan Joss plays Sitting Bull — an instance of brilliant casting  given that Mr. Joss is of Native American ancestry; Bob Salpeter with his wife Regina Weinreich who writes “Gossip Central,” an online column.
Jack Gindi, who is a playwright working on a new play Creek Meadow Bliss, and Danny Feldman, artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse where this production of Annie Get Your Gun is headed.

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here

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