It was with some nervous anticipation that I arrived at the Holiday Inn
in Hartford, Conneticut on the afternoon of Saturday 2 May ... and then
discovered that my room had an interconnecting door that led directly to
Dick and Linda Straub's room!
So Dick and I finally met after a long time of writing emails to each
other. Best of all, he'd remembered to bring along 'Dick's famous
bloody mary mix', along with the limes and ice cubes ....! I've been
hearing about this drink for a long time and he knew how much I wanted
to try it. (Delicious, by the way!)
Then it was on to Nulli's restaurant, just down the road from the
theatre, for a 5.30pm pre-theatre dinner. It was great to meet up with
Cohen fans who had travelled a long way to be together for 'Came So Far
For Beauty'. As always, Cohen fans just seems to connect so easily, and
because of the newsgroup there is a sense of already knowing everyone.
Present were April, Vicki, Dick, Geoff, Karen et moi, some with
partners, some with families, some on their own.
It was a shame that Chris Chalifonx(sp) had to cancel - but we used his
place at the head of the table for Leonard's photo, so we could feel
Leonard was with us in spirit if not in person (shame!)
It was a great opportunity for us all to swap "Lennie" stories and to
get to know each other.
It was wonderful to receive the gifts that Mr Cohen had sent to Dick -
The Order of the Unified Heart pins! And Dick and Linda had made
beautiful certificates to go with these, as well as souvenir programmes
for 'Came So Far For Beauty'.
From the restaurant, we made our way to the theatre, where we were met
by Clark Bowlen and Kathy Keena, the producer and director of the play.
And what a play! From the opening bars of the overture, to the first
lines of 'Came So Far For Beauty' to the last song, "Dance Me To the End
of Love" ..... we were all totally swept along by this talented
After the play, I think it fair to say that the Cohenites were on a
high. I don't think we had really expected this play to pick up the
spirit of Leonard Cohen so well. We hadn't expected such a polished,
professional performance. If I could have been in the States another
week I would have seen the play again .... ah, but all good things come
to an end!
It was time to return to the Holiday Inn, to party, to chat. We had
already invited Clark and any members of the cast to come along to join
in our evening, so it was especially good to find that they were ALL
They were a fantastic crowd. I know I wasn't the only one who loved
talking to them all, finding out how they saw Leonard in the light of
this play and what books and music they had listened to for their
background information. (For some, this was their first experience of
In the bar, Dick and Linda had set up their video equipment to show
'interesting' Cohen videos, along with Geoff Gompers' cds and boom box.
I'd like to thank Dick and Linda and Geoff and Donna for generously
offering to pay for the rounds of drinks, and the nibbles for the
Another highlight of the evening was the auctioning of the one remaining
Cohen-autographed shirt, from the Lincoln meeting a month earlier. It
went for a record $150! And again, the money will go to the War Child
I was also able to take a few orders for my 'Quotable' chiffon scarves,
and sold the only one I had with me. Coincidentally, the quote on my
scarf was "Came so far for beauty ......" and "Come forth from the cloud
of unknowing ......" (Anyone interested in Cohen or other quotes can
get more info from me at my email address!)
We were each given "Came So Far For Beauty" posters, which made nice
mementoes of a wonderful evening.
By the end of the evening there was a frenzy of autograph swapping - we
from the cast and the cast from us!! It was amusing to hear that some
of the cast had been nervous of performing in front of us 'experts'!
Unfortunately, the bar closed at midnight but the talking went on into
the early hours of Sunday morning .... as did the drinking .....
I'm sure all the Cohen fans (and their patient partners) will want to
join me in sending thanks to Clark and Kathy, and to the musicians,
Steve, Deborah and Curtis, to the cast - Melinda, Lori, Jeri-Ann, Andi,
Eddy, James - and Herman and Paul, who did a wonderful job of portraying
the old and the young Leonard Cohen, and to everyone who came along and
made the evening so wonderful.
Click here for more info on the Came So Far For Beauty play