At least once a week, as we catalog materials from the La MaMa Archives’ “Show Files,” we run across the name of a famous actor who appeared at La Mama early on– not just blockbuster actors like Billy Crystal or downtown stars like Andy Warhol (both of whom Suzanne Lipkin recently wrote about on this blog), but also people you don’t expect to appear in this kind of collection. This was the case with Michael Lee Aday, listed in a 1973 program by his more recognizable stage name: Meat Loaf.
The actor appeared in a relatively minor role as “William” in Paul Foster’s “Silver Queen”(which was staged at La Mama in April 1973). “Silver Queen” was a fast-paced, unabashedly theatrical tale, an “enjoyable country-Western musical with a rock beat” (according to Martin Oltarsh, writing in Show Business). The music, which was composed by John Braden, was “a wonderful grab bag of country, gospel, honky-tonk and ballad[s]” (Robb Baker, After Dark).
When I first began cataloging the object, I was unsure as to whether this was THE Meat Loaf, or someone else’s idea of a good stage name. But a little IMDB research revealed that this was indeed the famous singer. The “trivia section” of Meat Loaf’s IMDB bio notes that he “was starring Off-Off Broadway in Paul Foster and John Braden’s ‘Silver Queen’ at La Mama E.T.C. when he was offered the role of ‘Eddie’ in the American stage premiere of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’. He had to leave ‘Silver Queen’ a week before closing. His role was taken over by ‘Silver Queen’s’ director Robert Patrick, who had to wrap Meat Loaf’s costume’s trousers around him twice” (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001533/bio).
It’s amazing how many talented people have graced the La Mama stage over the years, and how many of those performances have been forgotten. Being part of the archival excavation team is fantastic… and even more so when you discover Meat Loaf!