|Vintage postcard showing Lüchow's dining room|
Famous visitors regularly held court at Lüchow's, enjoying sauerbraten and Wiener schnitzel, among them iconic actress Lillian Russell; Diamond Jim Brady, who eventually had an entire private dining room created in his honor; composer Victor Herbert and his associates founded ASCAP, the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers, at a corner table; in later years, musical greats like Oscar Hammerstein were regulars at the eatery, and Gus Kahn wrote the song "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" over bratwurst and cabbage. Even Teddy Roosevelt raised a stein of beer or two amidst the fashionable New Yorkers at Lüchow's.
|Lüchow's facade in the 1930s|
What does all this do to inform the world of "Hello, Dolly!" and my character of Rudolph? Well, a lot! Rudolph brings to the world of the Harmonia Gardens the only flourish of authentic German style and color; he is, in a way, an embodiment of homage to Lüchow's. Also, learning about 14th Street and the lively scene of music, good food and entertainment that it once was gives me a sense of the world that surrounds the Harmonia Gardens, and just how special it might be for patrons to spend an evening within its walls--and how devoted its staff would be to favorite guests like Dolly Levi. Knowing that Lüchow's waitstaff was famous for efficiency and expertise helps me and the other waiters in our imaginary restaurant summon up an air of pride and finesse that certainly will make our performances sparkle with energy and period charm. For more about Lüchow's, I recommend this wonderful blog post, which gives more of its colorful history and fun info. Gut Essen!