Writers for ‘Anya’ Accepted Lillian Gish’s Voice – By Louis Calta (The New York Times Nov. 9, 1965)

LILLIAN GISH GETS FIRST STAGE SONG;

Writers for ‘Anya’ Accepted Her Voice, Says Star

By Louis Calta

The New York Times Nov. 9, 1965

“You better wait until you hear me before you use the word ‘sing,'”, Lillian Gish said yesterday. She confirmed a report that she will be heard in song on Broadway for the first time in her career. As the dowager empress of Russia in „Anya,” the musical version of the play “Anastasia,” opening here Nov. 29, Miss Gish will sing a  special number, „Little Hands.”

1965 Press Photo Lillian Gish - Little Hands
1965 Press Photo Lillian Gish – Little Hands

”George Abbott, the director, asked me.” she said. “I might be frightened in less professional hands than Mr. Abbott’s, but I’m excited instead.”

Miss Gish said she had not taken any voice lessons. “The time is too short and it might confuse me,” she explained. “I met Robert Wright and George Forrest, the show’s song writers. They heard me and·they said that it would be all right for me to do the song.

Miss Gish made her stage debut in Ohio when she was 5 years old, in a melodrama with Walter Huston as the young leading man.

She had always wanted to be in a musical, she said, and even went so far as to take voice lessons from Victor Maurell, a teacher of half a century ago, and from Margaret Carrington.

Sitting Composerlyricists Robert Wright and George Forrest- Standing Lillian Gish, director George Abbott, Constance Towers, and unidentified man during rehearsal for the stage production Anya
Sitting Composerlyricists Robert Wright and George Forrest- Standing Lillian Gish, director George Abbott, Constance Towers, and unidentified man during rehearsal for the stage production Anya

I was only 19 then, and I’m afraid I did not fully appreciate the opportunity,” Miss Gish said wistfully. „But I’m sure I got some good from it.”

Although biographical data usually list in Miss Gish’s birth date as 1896, the energetic star says that she is actually only 65 years old.

„When we were little,” she! said – referring to herself and her sister Dorothy -„we would say that we were older because of the laws prohibiting youngsters from appearing on the stage.”

„Anya,”which deals with the purported survival of a Russian princess of the Bolshevik massacre in 1917, teams Miss Gish with Constance Towers, Michael Kermoyan and lrra Petina.

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