All hail Sandy Hale!

By May 30, 2021 General

On May 30th 1926, our very own VIVA star Sandy Hale was born. Yes! 95 years old, and still working it. READ ON for some Sandy-only anecdotes.

As one of the original founders of VIVA, Sandy’s lively and mischievous self has graced our stages since the beginning. Click below for a slideshow of images from the years, then check out the Tales of Sandy from some of her admirers.

The Tales of Sandy

From Katherine Campbell:

Here is a little trip down memory lane for you….

What an adventure we have had since those early days of the 1990s when we worked together at the Senior Center! Entering into VIVA acting life with you has been wonder-full. Thank you for encouraging me. And speaking of wonderful…..

“It’s (been) A Wonderful LIfe” (2011), don’t you think? Even though you were an illusionary ghost on stage, you are quite real off stage. 

I daresay, you took me out of the mainstream to teach me how to “Swim(ming) Upstream” (2010) with your flamboyant flirtations, much to my horror as your “daughter”.  

You certainly are a “Wizard” in our mutual land “Of Oz” (2012) when you charmed all audiences with your adorable characterization of Toto.  

Once, we were “Relative Strangers” (2013), when on stage you forgot to bring me the tonic for my gin, and the line escaped you. Without missing a beat, you drank the gin and brought the house down! How could we be strangers after that?!  

And will we ever forget your portrayal of Madam Kingsley in “Dude, It’s Boulder!” (2013 & 2019) with that immortal dialogue: “Madam, are you french?” and your reply, licking your lips, “Only when I kiss!”  

While life inevitably brings “Love, Loss” but what is really important is “What We Wore” (2014), right? You showed me how one could seamlessly ad lib on stage without freezing up when you weren’t sure of the name of your character’s husband whom you had secret “liaisons” with in prison. You simply, in an ordinary way, turned to the other seated actors and asked, “Now what was his name?” and the show went on as smooth as silk.  

What fun you had playing Tallulah (2015) saying “dah-link” and trying to figure out how to make breakfast, dropping a real egg on the stage!  

Then you met up with “Alice in Wonderland”(2015) as the beguiling Cheshire Cat.  I can picture celebrating our mutual “Outrageous Fortune” (2016) in having all these great opportunities by traveling toward the Northern Lights, a long way to “Almost Maine” (2016), with the “Hope” of meeting “Ken”.  Alas!  He was already spoken for.  

But let’s not dwell on past sadnesses. Let’s celebrate in true “VIVA! VIVA!” (2017) fashion with remembering a medley of wonderful past short plays. I was particularly fond of “The Unicorn In the Garden” (2014 & 2017). You amazed me with your verve (and flexibility) jumping out of the couch in a surprise move, along with your sense of natural comedy.

Yes, Sandy, we could sit at “The Dining Room” (2018) table and reminisce all night long in utter enjoyment….

And, although it was not a VIVA production, I will treasure forever our close friendship in “The Laramie Project” (2018) where, despite the tragedy of a young man’s death, there was also room to laugh and enjoy each other’s company— as has always been true for us in life. 

Happy 95th Birthday!

From Sue Brightman:

During Covid, I encouraged Sandy to sign up for a Second City Chicago Improv class I’d been taking. It was an advanced class, and on Zoom. Doing advanced improv on Zoom is not for the faint of heart, but Sandy was game. 

First she zoomed into the wrong class (not her fault – it was Second City’s fault and happened to several others) so she arrived into our correct class, late, with gusto. We had already started, and in came Sandy. “Hi, is this where I’m supposed to be? Who are all of you?” 

Her smile, enthusiasm, and shock of grey hair was a welcome entry to this extraverted group. 

I told her she was in the right place, and shortly the teacher began assigning us scenes. Sandy was placed in a scene and ended up taking it on with half-improv skills and  half “Sandy-being-Sandy” skills. Everything she did was a hit. They loved her. I have never seen the class laugh that much – and not at her, but with her. She was workin’ it!

When she and I entered a scene, I tried to feed her all kinds of helpful info, as one is supposed to do: “Oh sis, I’m so glad you’re willing to enter this cave with me so I can get over my fear.” Sandy immediately responded, without a moment’s hesitation, “I’M NOT GOING IN THAT CAVE WITH YOU!!” The class erupted and I was taken aback, it was so quick and so clever. Right then she stole the show.

She made a name for herself that night with Second City Chicago improv in a class with one of Second City’s most renowned teachers.

Brava Sandy!

From Abby Wright:

I directed Sandy as Tallulah Bankhead for Neil Simon’s outrageous comedy, “Tallulah Finds Her Kitchen”. Talk about type-casting! She made her entrance swigging from a bottle of champagne, and by the end of the show she had littered the stage with a rubber chicken, boxes of frozen vegetables, and a shattered egg. 

I was backstage doing the sound effects, and when on the rare occasion that Sandy dropped a line, was there to prompt her. She somehow managed to make it look like of course her “assistant” would feed her lines from time to time. That’s what Tallulah was paying her for, for heaven’s sake.

The last performance fell on Sandy’s birthday, and at the curtain call we invited the audience to sing Happy Birthday to her. They did, of course. 

Backstage, the assembled cast members of the show (Short Takes) presented Sandy with a card signed by everyone. Sandy – who was about to head out on a date with an admirer – held the card to her chest and with great sincerity announced, “I will read the card later, if my bed is not too crowded.”