What's New on the Rialto
We're 20 Years old... Warn the Duke!
by John Gillespie
20 years ago today, January 29, 1997, Mark Bakalor flipped the switch and Talkin' Broadway (TalkinBroadway.com) went live on the World Wide Web. There are so many memories that I will always cherish.
In The Beginning
I, of course, knew nothing about designing a website. But, through the Tony Forum, I met Mark Bakalor, a young college student who was a true whiz at web and graphic design. We went into contract and he took my ideas for the site and magically made those ideas into a visual paradise for me.
One thing I did not want was a message board, but Mark and his brother had other ideas and created a message board as part of Talkin' Broadway. I warned about the problems of the Tony Forum, but Mark assured me that he would monitor Talkin' Broadway's forum 24/7 ... and so I gave the go-ahead. I gave it the name All That Chat because of my love of the musical Chicago. All That Chat debuted five days later on February 3, 1997. So, really, Mark Bakalor and I created Talkin' BroadwayI could not have done it without him.
I suppose I have three best theatre memories of the last 20 years. The first is when we got a writeup in the New York Times. I read it and thought we have arrived.
The second was when Gerard Alessandrini, in Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab, included a song parody of "All That Jazz" titled "All That Chat" (available on YouTube.com)
As you might expect, my first really favorite moment in the last 20 years was a showa big Broadway musical. They said Broadway was dead, that famous invalid, but it had been dying since the 1960s. Still, she survives and will not give up her dying breath. And during the period of the last 20 years, one of the greatest musicals ever, with perfect music and lyrics, was written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty: Ragtime. It was to open the new Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Broadway in December 1997.
I was so taken with it I could not wait for the Broadway opening. I flew to Las Angeles to catch Brian Stokes Mitchell and La Chanze from the front row, front mezzanine. Lights went down and that opening number left me in awe, with my jaw wide open. )
Ah, so many memories in the last 20 years. And Ann, Mike and I are still discussing what will happen to Talkin' Broadway and All That Chat after we are gone. The only thing we know for sure is when we get to meet our maker, we'll still be talkin' Broadway!
This Rialto is my final column. I dedicate it to John Mitchell, aka The Cosmic Anchovy.
V.J. (John Gillespie)