He joined the company in Des Moines, Iowa.
Dolly was "mid-career" for Armott.
He had been with several ballet companies and Camelot prior to that.
When he joined the company, it was right after the company had left Chicago with Eve Arden, and Carol had rejoined the cast after filming Thoroughly Modern Millie.
He loved working with Carol Channing.
"I thought she was just marvelous."
He did go on to say she was a little "odd" off stage at the time.
Her eating habits are well known in most theater circles! She was eating "reindeer meat and having strange delicacies sent in from Finland." On Monday night, no matter what city they were in, Carol and Charles (Lowe) would rent a movie theatre for the cast and crew to go see the latest movies. Armott's thoughts on this production was that it was a wonderful production. This is the company that went to the White House to entertain Lyndon Johnson. Armott remembers that Gower was very pleased with the dancing in that company.
Armott would spend the next three years with various companies of Dolly!
On May 3rd, 1967, Variety reported Miss Raye plans to make a return visit to "Vietnam next fall — "singing, nursing, clowning, whatever they want me to do" in Hello, Dolly!
Armott would end up joining that company. The dance captain from the New York company hired Arnott for that. Sondra Lee, who originated the role of Minnie Faye on Broadway, was also in that company.
Sondra was very close with Martha and stayed an extra three weeks after the show was over. Arnott said that Martha was not as popular as you might think, with the military brass, however, because she would keep the service men up all night. Drugs and poppers were prevalent at those all night parties and those men would be "nasty" the next day. She was fabulous on stage but rather selfish off stage. Audiences, however, loved her. At the end of the show when Horace would say "Wonderful woman!", she would get a standing ovation EVERY time. Armott said he cried every night at that moment.
After leaving the Vietnam company, Armott went into the Dorothy Lamour company.
He stayed with that until that closed. He also appeared in a dinner theatre production that starred Anne Russell.
Armott tells me that his whole life was about being on the road at that time. Prior to Dolly, he was part of the Royal Ballet. He had spent six months in residence in London and other than that, they were on the road every two years. He loved being on the road. He slept on the bus, got off, and did a show. He doesn't have anything against being on the road. It was a way of life for him. He is sorry to hear about those actors/dancers who are afraid to go on the road because of a fear of missing opportunities here in New York.
Being on the road, there isn't much time for "down town". Dorothy's tour, especially, was mostly one and two night stints. With Carol's company, there would be one pick-up rehearsal with Terry every week. He would go to a movie once in a while in the afternoon and he very rarely did that. He considers him a great sight seer and when possible, would take advantage of that. He would go to museums and that sort of thing.
|David Burns and Carol Channing (Original company)|
Lucia Victor, Gower Champion's assistant, directed every production of Dolly that Armott did (including his one stint in summer stock). Armott tells me that Lucia had a great sense of humor. That is the one aspect he appreciated the most. He had actually met her sometime before when she was in Kansas City with the Mary Martin company. He was in Kansas City doing an opera. Interestingly enough, they were actually calling him in New York because he had auditioned for that company. He says he is a terrible auditioner. He was down to the final two they needed and he didn't make it. Gower had decided against him. Lucia felt that he COULD do it. A guy was fired from the Kansas City production because he came across as too "effeminate" on stage. Lucia thought Armott would be the perfect replacement. She was surprised to run into him on the street in Kansas City after he had auditioned in New York City! That was the first time he "officially" met her.
All he remembers of his FIRST opening night was that he was very nervous. He knows he "wasn't perfect". Terry deMari, being the dance captain taught Armott for the first company. He didn't really work with Lucia until he was in rehearsals for the Vietnam company. He really felt that he was truly directed by Lucia when he did the summer stock production. She always respected Gower's contributions to Dolly! She would always say "Gower wanted this" or "Gower wanted that." She was always very positive. He doesn't remember her ever raising her voice. She was extremely quiet as far as he can remember.
|Terry deMari and Dorothy Lamour|
Once again, the whole of Vietnam are among his most cherished memories. He remembers one particular performance where the soldiers sat in the rain watching the performance. At the end of the performance when they stood, their laps were dry! It made the entire company cry to know that these guys sat there in the rain for them.
Once they were doing the show by the Cambodian border, all of their stage lights went out. At one moment, 15,000 flashlights came on. He says that is probably the highlight of his entire career.
I asked for his thoughts on all the Dollys he has seen outside of his own productions. He was in awe of Carol Channing (he saw her early on in it's original production). He started out as a huge fan of Opera. Maria Callas was his idol. He would walk out of a Maria Callas feeling as if he were in "seventh heaven". He felt the same way after seeing Carol Channing. Coming out of the theater, he felt as if he had been in another world. "It was incredible." He said he could hardly remain in his seat during the Waiter's Gallop, it was so incredible.
|Dorothy Lamour and Company|
He had a great seat when he saw Ethel Merman do it and he loved it! "She was loud, she was brassy, and she wasn't Dolly!"
He didn't really enjoy the film that much. He doesn't know if having been in the show had any bearing on that. Several of the dancers of various companies were also the galloping waiters in the film.He doesn't feel that the film captured the "presence" of the stage production.
His thoughts on Jerry Herman is that he is a wonderful man. He met him the first time when they were appearing at the White House. There was one boy in the chorus who had gone to school with Jerry in Miami. Jerry had also seen this company when they were in Miami earlier.
Five or ten years ago, Arnott went to a Jerry Herman concert and went backstage to "re introduce" himself to Jerry and "Jerry was just charming". Jerry was eighteen years into living with AIDS and he talked about all the treatments he was going through.
The biggest change Arnott has seen in the theater since first doing Dolly! are ticket prices. Their salaries at the time were also very low. They were making $125.00 a week plus per diem. Technology has also become a major factor. Ghost, for example...Arnott doesn't care much for the music but the special effects are spectacular. Same thing with Spiderman. We've gotten away from true "book musicals." He enjoyed the "book" of Next to Normal but who can sing the songs? It's not singable.
|Anne Russell as Dolly Levi|
I want this to be a definitive account! Did any of you reading this appear in any of these productions? Do you know Arnott Mader? Do you have any pics? If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com.
Thank you Armott Mader for the gifts you have given and continue to give to the world!
Your devoted fan,
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RICHARD SKIPPER: AT LAST!ReVision Theatre and the City of Asbury Park couldn't have a better summer kickoff! After introducing ReVision Theatre to the great City of Asbury Park 5 years ago, Richard Skipper returns in "Richard Skipper: At Last". Richard is the perfect start to the musical summer of 2012 in Asbury Park. For more information visit www.revisiontheatre.org or call us at 732-455-3059. To purchase $15.00 General Admission tickets please visit http://revisiontheatre.tix.com.
This show is not to be missed! Musical Direction by: Rich Siegel
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!
Tomorrow's blog will be..YOU TELL ME! I'm open to suggestions!!
Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!
Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
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This Blog is dedicated to EVERYONE who has EVER had a connection with Hello, Dolly! on ANY Level!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!