Tomorrow is Christmas and, if I needed a refresher, I just watched the 1938 film “A Christmas Carol” based on the Charles Dickens short story. Sadly, this is our second ‘Covid Christmas’, which is why I’m hoping for a well-deserved happy holiday. Thatâs why Iâm keeping my fingers crossed. (Which could also explain the typos.)
For Paul Sand, friend and neighbor for thirty-five years, Christmas came early. Son of Ernest Sanchez, designer of aerospace tools, and Sonia Borodiansky, writer, Paul has been an actor, director, producer and playwright for decades. Recently, he received the perfect holiday gift from a longtime benefactor, enough money to fund a workshop to put on his latest play, “The Pilot Who Crashed the Party”, with the ambitious goal of take her to Broadway someday. .
Paul knows a thing or three about winning Broadway a Tony for Best Performance by a Starring Actor in “Paul Sill’s Story Theater”. Sand played 11 characters there, including a dog that critics say stole the show.
In person, I recently saw Paul’s weird understanding of dogs while we were chatting in the Shores library. We were talking about his new play and his remarkable career which included, at 17, studying mime in Paris under the tutelage of famous Marcel Marceau and, at 20, touring with mega-star Judy Garland.
Suddenly, in the hall, we heard two dogs growling about to fight. Paul volunteered to say he could mimic these noises and set out to do it. It looked so remarkably realistic that we were immediately visited by a handsome Samoyed named Sherlock and his owner named Peter. Sherlock barked as if searching for the right words and Paul barked so skillfully that Sherlock rushed forward to continue the “conversation”. Paul shrugged his shoulders, “I just wish I knew what I said.” “
Before I get to Paul’s play, I want to share his endearing story about Judy Garland soon to be touring the country by train with her talented cast that Paul was auditioning for. So young and nervous, after his audition Paul immediately walked down the alley and, for lack of a better word, fell ill. Suddenly he felt a soothing hand on his foreheadâ¦ Judy! Paul was very embarrassed, but Judy responded empathetically, “When we go on tour, you can use my bucket.” (Suffice it to say that Paul got the job!)
Another story of Paul’s many good fortunes during his youth is how he became a member of Marceau’s troupe. Recently graduated from high school, Paul flew to Paris without knowing anyone and not speaking French. He went to the “International Herald Tribune” hoping they would know how to contact Marceau. He meets the columnist Art Buchwald who will one day be syndicated in 500 newspapers. Growing up in foster homes, at 17 Buchwald enlisted in the Marines, became a fighter squadron sergeant, moved to Paris after the war, and had Marceau’s contact details on his Rolodex.
Given his easy charm and enthusiasm, Paul managed to become the only American in the company of Marceau. (Or maybe I should say he âmimedâ in his own way because his pantomime audition was a bullfighter on his first day on the job.)
As far as Paul’s dramatic writing goes, the initial piece he ever wrote “Louis From Work” was for legendary director / producer Jerome Robbins whose credits included West Side Story which won two Tonys and 10 Oscars! As was customary, Paul’s play, which is part of the âFestival of Two Worldsâ, was performed in an ancient village two hours from Rome and was a huge success. For his efforts, Paul received an award from Luchino Visconti, the much revered Italian filmmaker, director and screenwriter.
About âThe Pilot Who Crushed The Party,â Paul says cryptically, âFor me the title says it allâ¦ and then some. He said, however, that he had previously shared the piece with the late Gordon Davidson, famed artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, which has produced more than 300 pieces. Optimistically, Davidson told Paul, âThe theme of your play, everyone’s going through it and will be easily translated around the world,â Davidson predicted, âSomeday ‘Broadway.’
As he already has actors on board, Paul is looking for a space large enough for a play workshop. In order not to fully use up the Christmas present, an ideal space would be a low cost empty theater or an empty hangar at the airport.
As I have almost used up the 800 words allotted to me, my holiday wish for tomorrow comes down to the hopeful feelings of the very wise Tiny Tim, “Merry Christmas to all of us and God bless us everyone. . ” (Also, if you happen to have an empty hangar, please email Paul.)