Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WHY THEY CALL ME RICHWAH




Larry Shue

Back in the 70's, while the earth was cooling and you could really take a valium without an act of congress or getting arrested, I worked at the Harlequin Dinner Theatres in Rockville, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia.
One of my happiest times of my life: great shows, a full orchestra which was mine all mine and wonderful actors, not the least of which was Larry Shue. Brilliant actor, comedian and author, most notably of "The Foreigner" and "Winceslas Square"

Larry was truly a man of the theatre: actor, author, wit, raconteur, ladies man, - you name it, Larry was it. He told me a story one day backstage about himself, which will explain the name RICHWAH:

It seems that when Larry and a friend of his graduated from University, they planned to teach acting in Chicago. The funny part is that they decided they would teach their students to do everything wrong, so they wouldn't become competition for them, the teachers! And the main thing they were going to teach was to have the students "schwah" the end of every sentence they spoke. Such as Hamlet's soliloquy "To be or not to be" would be (in their method) "To be or not to be-WUH" or "Romeo, wherefore are thou?" would become "Romeo, wherefore are thou-WUH?" (Try it, yourself, and you will see how hysterical it is.) Walk up to a friend and say, "Hello-WUH" and you can't help but laugh.

Any way, we all thought this was very, very funny - and everyone in the theatre company started "schwah-ing" everything: such as "Hello-WUH", etc. Pam Bierly became Pamela-WUH (eventually Pamela-WUH Pythis-Smythe-WUH") Anyway, you get the idea.

And I became "Rich-WUH" or as pronounced today "Richwah" - and by certain very dear friends, just WAH. Endearing to me, strange to others, but there it is.

And it occurred to me that every time we do it, we remember Larry Shue. Larry died in a plane crash in 1985 while preparing the script of "The Foreigner" for a Disney Film that never got made.

We will never forget you, Larry. Ever.
 Love,
 RICHWAH