HELLO AMERICA!—One could not ask for a better opening for the summer’s Hollywood entertainment season than that of “Lost Girl” starring the beautiful, talented Wanda Ray Willis who explodes on stage as one of the most beautiful, mysterious and talented ladies of our business, Dorothy Dandridge.
As a one woman show, Willis captures the subtle shadings of Dandridge which has never been observed before. Those of us who knew and worked with the late star understood her ambition, deep hunger for acceptance and love, so much so, she hooked up with men who only used her for their own needs or pleasure. When appearing with “Dottie” in Carmen Jones, directed by the ‘master’ Otto Preminger, it wasn’t the ‘Dorothy;’ we had all known prior to the filming of this picture; somehow, she had gotten lost along the way.
Even though I was just a fresh, nosy kid during that time, I sensed a tremendous need she had to please, to be loved and above all “accepted” as worthy of such an opportunity. In Wanda Ray Willis’ portrayal of the actress she successfully introduces many faces, shadows, the hungering needs of Dottie which has never been realized previously by an actress.
In my book, “Hollywood Through the Back Door” I mentioned how I finally was signed to do the role of character T-Bone by walking-in on a heavy sex scene involving Dorothy and Preminger. As a result, I was quickly signed to do the role I wanted so much. From that moment on, Dottie and I became even closer and following the completion of the film, we would often phone each other up and simply talk show biz or just gossip about all those we both knew. Even at that time, I enjoyed passing along bits and pieces about people in the theatre or those I knew or worked with in films. Dorothy ate it up.
When Dottie decided to marry again, it was to a guy that everyone was quite leery of, especially after having had a terrible experience with Preminger which resulted in an abortion as well, she was convinced that at last she had found the right man for her life and dreams. And again, because of her innate sense of true emotions, Wanda Willis gently painted the haunting cry of a woman who was so blinded for the need for someone to love and respect her for who she actually was, it drove her to the darkest area of her inner existence. Yes, she had been nominated for an Oscar for her performance in film “Carmen Jones,” but found it was not a panacea for her emotional needs. She was still that little girl begging for someone to say, “I love you” and genuinely mean it.
Watching Wanda Ray Willis portray Dorothy and sing many of the songs which depicted her life, her hunger for love and yes, the world she wanted to survive in is quite overwhelming. Somehow, she captures the flavor and taste of the lady I knew who wanted so much to laugh and sing like the rest of us but was, at times, just didn’t want to take a chance.
“Lonely Girl” is a show which should definitely be included on your schedule. It is beautifully written and produced by Leroy Richardson at the Vintage Hollywood Stage (323) 216-7528. Let’s support our theatre community!