Saturday, May 7, 2022

Everything's Happenin' in Jersey

It's been a week. This Wednesday was the reading of my play The Love Songs of Brooklynites at Vivid Stage in Summit, New Jersey, and I'm happy to report that it went extremely well.

Laura Ekstrand directed the reading, which featured Christopher Young as Chuck and Emaline Williams as Abbie. Both of the actors were very funny in their roles. We had a talkback afterward, and I have lots of ideas for rewrites.

Unfortunately, while I was getting ready to take the train out to Summit, I found out that my good friend Herb Moskovitz had been put on a ventilator and wasn't expected to make it. I had heard that he was in the hospital, but didn't realize things were quite so bad.

Herb lived in Philadelphia, but used to come to New York all the time, where we would frequently see theatre together. I remember going to Irish Rep with him to see a production of Around the World in 80 Days, and going with him to the Off-Broadway production Irena's Vow, as well as to see numerous plays based on the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe, one of Herb's favorite writers.

Initially, I met Herb through the Dickens Fellowship, so I will always associate him with Charles Dickens, but he loved quite a number of writers. In 2019, I drove down with a friend of mine from New Jersey to attend a marathon reading of Moby-Dick in Philadelphia, but Herb couldn't attend, as he was scheduled to give a talk to the P.G. Wodehouse Society. He always managed to keep busy.

Yesterday, I had plans to see another friend, Cindy Ryan, appear in a production of Mr. Burns by the Studio Players in Montclair, New Jersey. Cindy also knew Herb through the Dickens Fellowship. A number of years ago, the Friends of Dickens New York held a mock trial of John Jasper to see if he really was the murderer in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Cindy's husband Jeff played the defendant, and I presided as judge. We called Herb as witness, and he appeared as the character of Durdles.

Here's a photo of the cast. The tall man in the back is Herb. (He generally towered over everybody.) I'm writing in the past tense, because I received word Friday morning that Herb had passed. I still went to the show that night. (Herb probably would have wanted it that way.) I didn't get a chance to say hello to Cindy afterward, but I did run into Jeff and their daughter Sylvia (the little girl in this photo, who is now a teenager).

Well, Herb will be dearly missed. He was a great actor, a great scenic designer, and a great man.