“How did this all happen?”

In 1966 a clandestine theatre tradition was born known as the Spelvin Luncheon. These lunches, hosted by Playbill® editor Leo Lerman, became whispered about in theatre circles as a way for influencers in the industry and surrounding disciplines to get together with actors, writers, directors, designers, and other creatives and break bread, indulge in a glass of wine (or three), and share liberally their candid and honest views on art in an open air forum free from the prying eyes of the press or nosey marketers. Lerman would kick-off the merriment with a simple question, “How did this all happen?”

The golden years of the Spelvins saw such luminaries as Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Truman Capote, Edward Albee, Rex Harrison, Zero Mostel, Lynn Redgrave, Helen Hayes, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Jerry Orbach, Robert Goulet, Tom Stoppard, Dame Judi Dench, Patti LuPone, Lauren Bacall, Bernadette Peters, James Earl Jones, Lily Tomlin, Elaine Stritch, Tony Kushner, Idina Menzel, and many others holding court for a lucky few able to nab an invitation to one of these coveted, underground luncheons.

Today Playbill reinvents the Spelvin experience with the establishment of The Spelvin Society—a series of evenings in the grand tradition of the Spelvins: gathering good people together, breaking bread, seeing a show, and sharing thoughts over a glass of wine (or three).

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