Sunday, March 24, 2019

Jonathan Frid in MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL, 1971

In 1971, Jonathan Frid appeared in a stage production of T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral. Performed at Central Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, the play tells the story of assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. I stumbled over photos from the performance a few years ago, but really knew nothing about the show. Unlike television and cinema, stage productions are created to be enjoyed in the moment. Outside of the occasional newspaper notice, plays rarely leave any sign that they ever existed.

So, in my ignorance, I posted these photos (which you can see above) on the CHS Facebook page and got some wonderful responses from people who actually saw the play. Elena Nacanther, for example, said Frid was unable to attend the Dark Shadows wrap party on March 24, 1971 because of his commitments to Murder in the Cathedral.

I asked Elena to tell me more about her experiences with the play, and she kindly shared the following story and photos.

On Thursday January 28, 1971, Jonathan told Valerie and me about a play he was going to be in called, Murder in the Cathedral that was to be preformed at the Central Presbyterian Church on East 64th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan, and he wanted to know if we would like to work on publicity, ticket sales, ushering, etc. Of course we said we would love to, and so the adventure began.

A lot of talking went on until the big meeting on Thursday March 4, 1971 when we met Clyde Spooner, one of the ministers at the Church. That day, Nancy Brown, Jonathan's secretary as well as her boyfriend, Larry, were on hand to work with Clyde on how to proceed with how to publicize the play. After the discussion, it was decided that we would wait till we met with the producer, Bob Teuscher, the next day to finalize a plan of action.  From March 9th through March 15th, we worked feverishly on selling tickets, posting flyers, running lines, doing everything and anything to make the play a success. Jonathan also had strict rules about what we could wear when we were ushering. Dresses or skirts and blouses only - no pants!

Dress rehearsal was on Tuesday March 16, 1971, and we watched intently and were asked to critique. Wednesday March 17, 1971 was Opening Night and it was Sold Out!!!  Nerves ran high, but everything went beautifully, and Jonathan was very pleased with how we represented him.

Our parents came to the play on Saturday March 20, 1971, and we introduced them to Jonathan. My father in his wonderful fashion, said to Jonathan when he met him, "My daughter listens to you more than she does to me." Jonathan looked at me and rolled his eye because I had already warned him about my Dad - lol!

Wednesday March 24, 1971 was the last day of taping for Dark Shadows, and there was going to be a wrap party, but Jonathan had rehearsal for the play, so it was off to the Church instead! Valerie and I watched rehearsal, and afterward grabbed a bite to finalize what the agenda was for the last few days of the show.

Closing Night Saturday March 27, 1971 was wonderful. Standing Ovations all around! All that was left was a champagne toast in his dressing to cap off a successful run.


dfyf67 said...

Wonderful Story Elena, It's a treasure to know what took place before, during and after the production. What a marvelous experience and memory to share with us. Thank You, Cathy

Unknown said...

Thank you Elena, its so nice to hear about the wonderful times you shared working with JF. What a great adventure you had, and great pictures as well.

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