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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “Funny Girl”

Penny Landau

Penny Landau, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPublicist, Producer, Writer, Editor at www.nitelifeexchange.com

Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to the pros in my business. There is an exceptional group of women who paved the way for my generation; Betty Lee Hunt & Maria Pucci, Berenice Weiler, Dorothy Olim, Madeline Gilford. These are the women I learned from, or tried to. I only hope that I can be as good at my job as they are at theirs.

What’s your favorite book/movie/line from a film?
Exodus, by Leon Uris, which sent me on my first journey to Israel. The other is To Kill A Mockingbird, both Harper Lee’s novel & the film. Nothing has ever touched me the way those words did. My other favorite film is Random Harvest. It’s probably the most romantic film on the planet & everybody knows that Greer Garson can do no wrong. The opening number with her in a kilt & tam as a British dance hall performer circa WWI, alone is worth the price of admission. Movie line? “First of all, your name’s not Eve Harrington!” & it ends with Mrs. Fiske.

What play or production changed your life?
Funny Girl. I’d never seen anything like Barbra Streisand on a Broadway stage before. I was 16 & absolutely mesmerized & saw the show ten or twelve times. Well, in those days, standing room was $2.50 & a seat was $6.75…do the math.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Returning to Israel one more time & appreciating it in ways that I didn’t when I was younger.

What is your best escape?
Paradise? Hawaii. Mental Health Days? Atlantic City. I love the boardwalk & the beach. My mother told me that it was her mother’s favorite place to go & that was during the “Boardwalk Empire” days. It must have been glorious!

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
I’m a total SciFi junkie, obsessed with quantum physics, time-travel & the space/time continuum. Yup, I’m an egghead geek! And in my heart, still a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. They’ll be back; nobody can live in LA forever.

Penny Landau saw her first Broadway show, West Side Story, when she was 9 years old. Since then, she’s performed, stage managed, directed, teched, taught & for the past 28 years, run her own PR firm, Maya PR. MA: Brooklyn College/Theatre History; PhD: Bowling Green University/American Theatre History & Directing.

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Edie Cowan

Edie Cowan, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDirector / Choreographer / Actor
New York, New York USA

What play or production changed your life?
When I was eight, my parents took me to see a production of Oklahoma – I was smitten. I especially remember a dancer in the show who wore a straw hat with ribbons down her back. I had a hat just like it and assumed she was a child like me. At one point in the show, she fell down. She picked herself up right away and continued dancing. I’d been taking dance lessons, and the thought came to me…some day I could be a dancer in a Broadway show.

I kept that thought to myself, until one day, on my way home from college, I noticed a building from the bus window. It was the Long Island Institute of Music and Dance. I asked my dad if I could take a few classes there – he agreed and before long I was taking several classes a week.

One day, I announced to my parents my decision to drop out of college and become a dancer. My father said “over my dead body” but suggested I could major in dance at a university. Three years later, I graduated from Butler University and began auditioning for shows. I got my first job, dancing in the ensemble of the original Broadway production of Funny Girl.

Jump forward several years. I went to see the Broadway revival of Oklahoma. There was that same dancer, wearing the straw hat with ribbons and darned if she didn’t fall down again. I realized she wasn’t a child at all and that moment had been choreographed.

Several years after that, the great Agnes DeMille was being honored by the SDC with the Mr. Abbott award. I was asked to be one of the speakers at the gala. I related this story with Ms. DeMille sitting not ten feet away from me. I ended by thanking her for inspiring me to become a dancer and then a choreographer. She touched her heart and opened her hands toward me.

Seeing that show changed my life, and wonder of wonders, I actually got to tell Ms. DeMille and thank her. What a feeling!!!

Edie Cowan has had an extensive career in the theatre from performing in the original casts of three Broadway shows, playing featured roles in three national tours, to choreographing the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors. She’s directed and choreographed at many regional theatres and internationally under the auspices of the State Department.

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