“DANIEL – you MUST come here and look at these WON-derful tinsel prints! Why look! There are more in the Flirtation Room as well. How MAHR-velous!”
I couldn’t help but want to fall into the character of a dramatic actress as we stepped across the threshold into Ten Chimneys, the home of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, perhaps the greatest star couple of the theater. Their home and life – the drama, the speculation, the utter and complete freedom of living as one has completely designed it – enveloped me. I wore my blue, cotton print sundress, my straw fedora with the blue and white striped band and my wedge sandals. Even if my idea of speaking in theatrical tones was discouraged, I could still imagine the part of a rising starlet or veteran stage actress.
Our tour began in the foyer of the main home where we were greeted by hand painted murals and artistically placed columns cut from wallpaper. The artistry of set and costume designer Claggett Wilson was evident in each room. Alfred’s handiwork shaped the house and Lynn’s style elements set the tone. The staircases pleaded for grand entrances and scheming exits as they darted in and out of the Flirtation Room and into the living room, dining room and library.
“Isn’t this all just SIM-ply divine?” We wandered through the upstairs bedrooms. I envisioned the possibility of late night dalliances and ruses devised behind closed doors as Dan speculated the wooden floors squeaked and hindered privacy.
We roamed the grounds, imaging the life lived there for 50 years and where each summer friends, actors, playwrights and characters would assemble and pool their creative juices. The possibility of so much drama off the proscenium stage.
Upon our conclusion of the voyeuristic view into the Lunt’s lives, we wandered through the grounds to the guest relations building and eventually onto the stage. Costumes, lights and props awaited us. As I moved him across the footlights, Dan reminded me he had performed in high school musicals and wasn’t especially keen on re-enacting them soon.
“But DANIEL, isn’t life so much more fun when we’re DOING rather than just WATCHING?”
“We can be bought, but we can’t be bored.” – Lynn Fontanne