Waiting For Guffman

by Diane Grant

This season, Theatre Palisades produced Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, from the 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Stephen Dietz.

It has been produced many times and the cast, which loved the show, loved Stephen Dietz as well.

I was interested in him, too. According to Wikipedia, he has written 30 plays and adapted 11 others. “How do you do that?” I wondered. Where do you write, in your car? In the bath? While cooking? Running? When do you sleep and eat? Maybe, you don’t sleep. That’s it, you don’t sleep. You can eat and write with the other hand.

I thought, “I’d like to ask him.”

Well, one day, when I was manning the reservation line, a woman phoned and booked 4 tickets for Stephen Dietz. I alerted the producers!

How were we to handle this?

The first thing to do was to get a good house for the night. We’d serve wine and goodies before curtain and at intermission. We’d call the night something special – a celebration of the First Days Of Summer. Everyone got involved. One of the members phoned everyone on the membership list and email blasts were blasted.

When the night came, we were ready. Front of house was manned by a full staff, well prepared with a case of the best red and white (OK, the best red and white that a theater ever serves), abundant Goldfish crackers, nuts and cookies. The cast was animated and had prepared an after show feast for themselves and Mr. Dietz and his friends.

Mr. Dietz and his party arrived and the producer introduced herself to him.

He said, “I’m not a playwright.”

“Not a playwright?” said the producer.

“No, I’m a investment banker.”

“An investment banker?”

“Oh,” his wife said, laughing, “He does this all the time.”

The cast wasn’t told until after the show. Mr. Dietz did stay after to shake hands and say, “Hello,” but some of the cast felt had. And sad. Some even angry. I didn’t feel particularly popular having not asked when booking the reservation, “THE Steven Dietz?”

But the night was lots of fun. We truly did celebrate the first days of summer and brought in a huge audience, well cosseted, who saw a particularly lively performance.

THE Steven Dietz would have been pleased.

THE Steven Dietz
THE Steven Dietz

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