Almost a year ago to the day, Lindsay Crouse rushed from the Gloucester Stage, where she was starring in the Tony Award-winning revival of Alan Ayckbourn's "Living Together," to her mother's house in Annisquam to join her mother and brother, writer Tim Crouse, in watching that year's prize for Best Revival of a Musical go to Tim's version of his late father's classic "Anything Goes."
"To celebrate, I hugged my mom. And I think there was even champagne involved," said Tim, whose Tony — the Broadway equivalent of a film Oscar — was but the latest triumph of this Gloucester branch of show business aristocrats.
Enormous talent, breeding and good fortune have given the Crouses success on stage and screen, small and large, since the 1920s.
Next Thursday, Academy-award-nominee Lindsay Crouse begins a run in the third of Ayckbourn's "Norman Conquest" trilogy, "Round and Round the Garden," at the Gloucester Stage through July 1.
Lindsay shares a house in Annisquam with her husband, Rick Blue, a television director and producer ("Scrubs"); mother, Anna, 96, lives across Washington Street on a Bennet N. Street estate. Brother Tim ("The Boys on the Bus") visits often from home in North Carolina, where he writes short stories, one of which recently won the prestigious O. Henry Award.
When together, their memories often drift to the antics in the summer home where Tim, 65, and Lindsay, 64, grew up, the big yellow house on the corner of Washington and Bennet, adjacent to where Anna Crouse, 96, and her caretakers now live. Father Russel Crouse, a newsman, actor and playwright, died in 1966. The family owned the house from 1948 until 1985 and still own a large abutting estate.
"It was an extraordinary upbringing," says Lindsay. "It was a working household, but also the age of grand dinner parties. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were there a lot, Ethel Merman, Mary Martin — then starring in 'Peter Pan' — would sing. Tim and I would sit on the staircase in our pajamas to listen."
"Oscar loved our tennis courts. He was good," adds Tim.
Growing up on Broadway, Lindsay and Tim saw hundreds of plays — the family also had a townhouse in New York — including Russel's works with longtime partner, Howard Lindsay. (Yes, Crouse named his daughter in homage to Howard.)
Lindsay first got to wear nylon stockings — garter belt and all — for the opening of "The Sound of Music" in 1960. The whole family spent lots of time backstage — "where everything is dark and people keep yelling watch out, don't trip" — as well as in front, "but not in the expensive seats," she reminisced. "They were for the money folk."
"Writers then — as now — weren't the best paid people in the theater," said Lindsay, "but they got some perks."
The Annisquam home was furnished with props from Pop's plays. Lindsay had her first tumble from a bike while riding the one from "Sound of Music" that her parents had said was too big for her.
"I hit the side of a garbage truck on Leonard Street," she says.
In 1934, Lindsay and Crouse were called in by the producer of Cole Porter's musical, "Anything Goes," to rewrite in 13 days the story by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton.
"Russel went down to Howard's house in Greenwich Village," recalled Anna Crouse, "and a neighbor had a terrible old beat-up spinet piano. Cole sat down and played the score. Russsel and Howard were both charmed, and they took the job."
For a 1987 revival, Tim, with John Weidman, updated the book and re-ordered the musical numbers, using Cole Porter songs from other Porter shows — a practice the composer often engaged in — like "You'd Be So Easy to Love." The 2011 Tony-winning revival of the 1987 Broadway rewrite is still running.
Lindsay and Crouse went on to pen, among others, "Life With Father," which holds the record for the longest running non-musical on Broadway (1939-47) and "State of the Union," which won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize.
Perhaps their greatest work was writing "The Sound of Music," which opened on Broadway in 1960 as a far different creature than the kitschy movie (For more on Lindsay and "The Sound of Music," see Talk of the Times in Saturday's Gloucester Daily Times.) .
The Crouses became close friends with Cole Porter, who was badly hurt in a horseback riding accident in 1937 and lived until his death in 1964 in the Waldorf Towers in Manhattan, where Russel and Anna often visited.
"He was very fond of my father, and my father of him," said Tim.
To Anna's eyes, "Cole was very strange. He had known Russel long before I knew him, and he was wonderfully polite and very generous," she recalled, "but you wouldn't get closeness with him as far as friendship. He knew you, but he didn't know you."
Anna is in failing health, and Lindsay said she has put her career mostly on hold over the past six years to care for her mother.
In addition to her work at the Gloucester Stage, she still appears in star turns on TVs biggies like "CSI," "Law & Order" and "Criminal Minds."
She was nominated for an Academy award for supporting actress for the acclaimed 1984 "Places in the Heart," which earned Sally Field an Oscar for the lead and has acted on stage in "Much Ado About Nothing," "The Belle of Amherst," Mamet's "Reunion" and Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming."
Yet she is also revered by moviegoers as the coach's wife in "Slap Shot," often called the funniest film about sports ever made, and the conscience-stricken nurse in "The Verdict," both with her pal, Paul Newman. The latter was scripted by her former husband, the great American playwright David Mamet.
One of the first feature roles for Lindsay, who graduated from Radcliffe in 1970, was the 1977 movie, "Between the Lines," about the Boston Phoenix. Other standouts of her more than 30 films include "Prince of the City," "Lemon Sky" and "House of Games," a cerebral thriller written and directed by Mamet, with whom she remains friendly, she said.
Married from 1977 to 1990, they have two daughters, Willa, a professional photographer, and Zosia, an actress, who was in "The Kids Are All Right," as well as cable's "Girls," "Parenthood" and "Mad Men."
When they aren't acting, writing, producing, directing or caring for family, Lindsay and her husband, Rick Blue, operate a Buddhist retreat at Windhover in Rockport.
Nancy Gaines is a regular Times correspondent and a veteran writer and editor of both Boston-based and national publications.