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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Saturday, December 1

ABT's Mural

Last Thursday evening we attended a dinner at the Arizona Broadway Theatre commemorating the unveiling of a giant mural in the lobby. It was a 14 x 84 foot depiction of Broadway in the 1930’s, including the New York skyscrapers, all the main theaters of the day, and 50 women and 50 men who were celebrities of that era from Broadway to the Silver Screen. What a classy affair.

We arrived at 5:30, were greeted at the door by a woman handing out nametags and giving us our assigned seats at one of the fifteen tables set up in the lobby. Near the front entrance was a 1931 tan and ivory Duessenberg sedan convertible that had to be worth several hundred thousand dollars, maybe more. Classy. Just inside the entrance was a jazz trio playing Broadway hits of the past. Classy. We went in and ordered cocktails at the bar and munched on hors d’oeuvres before sitting down at our table. The entire second floor lobby wall was shrouded in a cloth covering the mural, which only a few people besides the artist had ever seen. The meal was scheduled for 6:15 to be followed by presentations by one of the theater owners and the artist, explaining how the mural project came to be and how much time the actual painting required. We had more hors d’oeuvres—shrimp cocktail, tiny meatballs, coconut shrimp, spring rolls. We met our table companions, Larry and Jenny, Ken and Karen. We had another cocktail and conversed. Then we were served our salads, with ABT’s homebaked hard rolls and cornbread muffins. And then a meal that would rival any meal at any of the best restaurants in Scottsdale or Phoenix—salmon topped with sundried tomatoes and capers in a cream sauce, beef medallion in a red wine Bordelaise sauce, potato cake, and baby carrots and asparagus, that followed by a dessert of fruit tart and coffee. Whew! But a very classy meal.

After the opening presentation, we were served glasses of champagne, classy, for a toast to the artist, Penelope Klaphake, and then the mural was disclosed. Mrs. Klaphake told us that from start to finish, it took her nearly a decade to complete the mural--all the research of Broadway at that time, a preliminary smaller painting, and then the mural itself, one section at a time. We could only imagine what impression it would make on future audiences entering the lobby. We had a wonderful time at a wonderful venue for theater in the West Valley. Now we no longer have to spend an hour on the road to go to the Gammage Theatre in Mesa. All in all, it was a very classy evening.

Here’s what this season’s lineup of shows awaits us. We’ve already seen Oklahoma, but we have the rest to follow. I’m especially looking forward to Sondheim’s Into the Woods, what I consider one of the best musicals ever produced.

Here are a few closeups of some sections of the mural. Mrs.Klaphake explained that at forst she sketched NYC skyscrapers and Broadway theaters. The idea for adding 100 people—including the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter, Noel Coward and Gypsy Rose Lee--came later. I'm not sure who that is hanging out the window of Erlanger's, but I'm pretty sure the lady in the skimpy outfit is Gypsy Rose Lee. And the fellow at the piano is Duke Ellington. Mrs. Klaphake told us that the baby in the foreground is Carol Burnett, who wasn't born until 1933, but the artist felt that she just had to be included in the mural.
Any ideas as to who are the two ladies doing the high step? I'm guessing the one on the right is Carmen Miranda with all the fruit on her head. But what about the blond on the left?
There must be quite a story about the two ladies fighting in front of the car. I'd like to hear it. Mrs. Klaphake told us that she’s working on a book featuring a story about each person she painted, and information on the buildings too. She said it will take about three years to complete the book, which will also include images of the mural.

Anyone living anywhere in the Valley of the Sun who hasn't yet discovered this dinner theater doesn't know what he's missing. He's missing a very classy evening on the town.

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