When I heard that Sony was releasing a CD of John Gielgud’s Ages Of Man, it put me in a storytelling mood.
I first met Sir John when he arrived in New York City with the cast of Sheridan’s “The School For scandal” which he directed and co-starred with Sir Ralph Richardson. Everyone in the company was so affable and I discovered that Sir John, as director, set the tone.
“Scandal” played Detroit, Toronto, and Boston prior to a limited, sold-out engagement on Broadway. Following that, they travelled to Washington, D.C. where, on opening, they played before President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy and Vice President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson.
This was to be the first of three productions for which I would be associated with the knighted actor. The previous year, Broadway producer Alexander H. Cohen had engaged me to be the press representative on all of his shows. Three years out of the Army, with only two years working in the theatre, I was practically a novice, but Sir John made it comfortable.
Before he was to undertake directing Richard Burton in “Hamlet,” Sir John agreed to perform a limited engagement of his widely acclaimed “Ages Of Man.”
After the third performance, Alex Cohen said, “David, where were you during the performance?” I responded, “Fourth row on the aisle. I’m going to watch every performance.” Alex must have mentioned my enthusiasm to Sir John because, the next night, he said to me, “I will have a stool placed in the wings for you to watch and management can sell that seat you’ve been occupying.”
I had the unique experience, witnessing from the wings, of Sir John preparing and then executing his brilliance in “Ages Of Man.”