No. 35: Randall Sharp (2007)
Sitting in the dark jewel of the Axis Theatre (once the Cafe Society, and later The Ridiculous Theatrical Company) the euphoria of its wonderful past is palpable. And Randall has utter reverence for that history—she kvells when telling about Zero Mostel performing right where she’s standing in the theatre, and she herself is a living part of New York history. She is the great, great granddaughter of the Brooklyn Bridge. She loves New York like family. She is an extraordinary playwright, and because of that, One Sheridan Square is still the most interesting cellar in the Village. I first started seeing Randy’s plays in about 1997, before she brought her theater to its current location. I had never seen anything quite like what she does with theater, and whenever I see one of her new works, I come out feeling the same way. She has something. It’s all her own, there’s no one with whom to compare her brilliant and unlikely mind.
From my Dear Readers letter for her Goodie:
“When her theater company, Axis, moved into the basement at One Sheridan Square, it had big shoes to fill. Because for years the address belonged Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Anyone who experienced Charles Ludlam and Everett Quinton doing The Mystery of Irma Vep on that stage will count it among their best moments lived. And that’s not all. From 1938 through the 40s, the very same theater was Café Society. Billie Holiday sang there. Its owner was an ex-shoe salesman named Barney Josephson who blew off the racial segregation laws and drew a mixed audience. Clare Booth Luce gave it the slogan, “The right place for the wrong people.” In renovating the rickety old theater, Randall erased all visible remnants of the Ridiculous, but an unmistakable aura remains. Sitting in the dark jewel of her modern theater, the euphoria of its wonderful past is palpable. Randall has utter reverence for that history—she kvells when telling about Zero Mostel performing right where she’s standing—she herself is a living part of New York history. She is the great, great granddaughter of the Brooklyn Bridge. She loves New York like family. She understands its capricious nature. She fits no description. She’s smart and a little mysterious. She’s all over whatever interests her like a cat at a mouse hole. Axis gives the best it’s got without any pretense. Thanks to that, One Sheridan Square is still the most interesting cellar in the Village. We count ourselves among the “wrong people” to be sure. We trust that you do, too.”
Photo of Randy holding George taken by Romy Ashby one morning outside the theatre, when George was sixteen.
Please order a copy of Randy’s Goodie, using the donate button on the Shop page of this web site. $5 buys one and pays the postage, as long as you are in the United States. If you aren’t, send me an email.