Here is the story of an unforgettable summer. Set in Plymouth, MA in the late seventies, Little Did I Know is the tale of a young man with an outsized dream – to refurbish a dilapidated but historic theater and produce a season's worth of vibrant musicals. A recent college graduate, he fills his cast and crew with people he has come to love and trust in his university life, and with others whose talents and personalities prove undeniable. Yet, while the productions drive his ambitions, a local woman drives his passions, and their romance is fateful, star-crossed, and ultimately more than either of them expected. Told with with, compassion, and the kind of insider's access to the theater that only someone like Mitchell Maxwell can provide, Little Did I Know is a novel about coming of age in the spotlight and embracing one's entire future in a single season.
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Mitchell Maxwell is an accomplished producer, director and 35-year veteran of the entertainment industry, known for his ability to spot the next theatrical innovation. He is the visionary producer behind the percussive theatricality of Stomp!, the rollicking Broadway revival of Damn Yankees featuring the legendary Jerry Lewis which was nominated for multiple Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Dinner with Friends.
Maxwell’s productions have been honored with nominations for ten Tony Awards, six Olivier Awards, 15 Outer Critics Circle Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards and three Obie Awards and have won in each category. In addition to Damn Yankees, Dinner with Friends, and Stomp! (currently celebrating its 16th smash year) he has produced the Broadway musicals Play On!, Bells are Ringing (also Tony-nominated for Best Revival of a Musical) and Brooklyn. He directed the critically acclaimed Angry Housewives on London’s West end and later off-Broadway, and produced the motion pictures and off-Broadway performances of Jeffrey and Key Exchange. Off-Broadway he produced Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, and David Mamet’s Oleanna and Once Around the Sun in total seven Broadway shows, more than 30 off-Broadway and regional productions, four national tours, three West End productions and six major motion pictures. He has directed in New York, London and regionally, built five entertainment companies, and has owned and operated three off-Broadway theaters.
Maxwell attended Tufts University, where he later served as an adjunct professor, and has been a guest lecturer at Columbia and New York universities.
I looked upon the faces of my friends and saw much passion. There was pride, fear, joy, and a great deal of angst. A palpable what now, what next?” danced in the air. Etched on the faces of many of my peers it was clear that their next steps had yet to be choreographed. Everyone squinted under a blazing, perfect mid-May New England sun. Eyes half-closed were a metaphor for the day: there was something special down the road, though none of us could see it clearly and more importantly, none of us knew how to get there.
It was all a sea of black square caps topped with silly tassels that hid the eyes of many classmates. If offered an unencumbered view of the mirror to the soul you’d see their thoughts racing like sand flowing through an hourglass. The joyous past four years of collegiate life were ending. It was our last chance, ripe and luscious, available for the taking. The clock was ticking all too quickly. In a moment, the music would play, and those silly caps would be thrown high into the cobalt sky. When they landed, the next chapter of our lives would begin. Yesterday I was kid. A breath from now . . . well, I guess I would be a grown-up.
The black caps peppered the blue sky like thousands of little antiaircraft guns looking to take down a bomber from above. Everything slowed enough to be captured on a camera. Amid the slow motion, I looked around at the faces of my friends. Each one promised a story I wanted to know. Some tales would be filled with triumph and others with despair. Some poked a toe into unknown waters, others prepared for a headfirst dive. Yet even the bravest looked rattled by the uncertainty of everything. Their caps hit the ground without a voice, offering a mere dull thud, if that. It made me both sad and angry.
We had grown up together and changed through myriad hairstyles and heartbreaks. We loved together, we lived together, and we shared more loony nights than days. Our experiences were infused with the urgency of having to live an entire lifetime within four college years. Don’t miss out” was our mantra, and we honored it completely.
Two months before this morning’s graduation, we had the cast party for the final musical we performed together. That night we had stayed up talking way past late. We had worked on numerous projects, all of which had become precious. They were equal to or, in my case, more important than our studies. We lounged on worn, faded furniture that carried the scent of old lust, stale beer, and lingering ganja that had made generations of students high, mixing into a concoction of frenzied promises. The student center was littered with empty Wild Turkey bourbon bottles and long-forgotten kegs that had been drained of their suds.
Melissa Morgan, a red-headed farm beauty from Ohio with a perfect array of freckles on her nose, drew my eyes to the denim cutoffs that hung provocatively on her perfect butt. She was bleary eyed and happy like the rest of us. She leaned over to me and planted a long, lingering kiss on my lips. I had always wondered what it would be like to kiss her. Although I had been successful with women, I never thought I had a chance with Melissa. We had admired each other from a distance, and on this particular night the wait proved to be well worth it.
She looked into my surprised eyes and said, I’ll never forget these shows, Sam. They were the most fun I ever had.” Then she said good night to the group and walked slowly onto the dance floor, floating effortlessly away. It was the perfect exit for a woman who kept men awake at night with unfulfilled desire.
JB, one of my closet friends and in many ways my theatrical muse, sat across from me watching the evening fade into daylight. She had the look of a lost little girl searching for something to break away from the melancholy of the night’s last curtain call, or somehow find a way to never let it go.
JB was an ugly duckling on the verge of discovering that she truly was a swan. She had made these shows happen. Tirelessly and unselfishly, she had urged us all to take up the challenge and sing out. She allowed me to find my voice not one that sang actual notes but one that gave me the courage to lead. One I didn’t know I owned. Then one day I woke up embracing what I wanted my life to be about. JB was a great and supportive friend, believing in me as I gained the confidence and desire to frolic in a playground that might lead to a career in the arts. She sat still and quiet for several minutes, her eyes practically glazed over. She took a long drag on a Lucky Strike, stared as if through me, and suddenly asked with a giggle, How many girls did you kiss tonight?”
Are you asking how many I kissed, or how many kissed me? I could give you the combined number if you like.”
I guess the later would suffice.”
If I tell you, you’ll hate me forever.”
Come on. I have some perverse need to know.”
Okay,” I said slowly. Remember, though, that this is simply kissing, and we all know that tonight is like going to a kissing booth without having to pay the dollar.”
Yes, I recognize the unique nature of this evening.”
I waited a beat and then confessed, More than ten and less than five hundred.”
She laughed. You are absolutely disgusting.” She paused. You never kissed me. Even after all these years.”
I was saving the best for last.”
Caught up in the moment, I leaped from my chair into her arms and kissed her like I was off to war. She lay still in my embrace as if she was being ravaged. She then rolled over, took a deep, sated breath and said, I need a cigarette.”
Only a handful of us remained now that the late hour had become early dawn. My best friend, Secunda, who had acted confidently, brilliantly in many of our shows lamented, Now what do we do? This ride can’t just end. Figure something out, Sammy.”
Yeah, we need to keep that torch burning,” Secunda’s younger brother James added. He had been part of the journey, building great sets, solving problems only he knew existed, and always remaining sane. He lit a killer joint and passed it around the group as if it were a peace pipe, a pact to hold on to the dreams that pulsed through our veins.
Elliot, another friend, pressed the point. Sammy, it’s the bicentennial. Add something to the party.” He grinned as if he had said something profound.
I have,” I said, smiling with drunken mischievousness.
Well?” Elliot continued, shouting as much as gobs of bourbon and fatigue would allow. What are you gonna do? Win a theater in a poker game? Make out with some heiress? We are done here in two months!”
I held a finger to my lips and gave a long, slurred, Shush. Believing is part of figuring it all out. It’s part of the plan. If you don’t sign up for the plan, there is no plan.”
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Book Description Prospecta Press 2011-09-27, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. First Edition. 1935212575 New Condition. Ships Immediately. Bookseller Inventory # Z1935212575ZN
Book Description Prospecta Press, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1935212575
Book Description Prospecta Press, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111935212575
Book Description Easton Studio Pr, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. first edition edition. 336 pages. 9.00x6.00x1.00 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 1935212575