David Dow Bentley III new editor of The Lambs’ Script

By Peggie MillerPerforming arts columnist

Updated: 10.25.09- Conroe COURIER

You know what they say about cream rising? Would the following narrative be an example?

Only five years ago local theatre critic DAVID DOW BENTLEY, III, (known as Dow to his friends) of The Woodlands, was inducted into The Lambs, America’s oldest professional theatre club. This year he rose to the position of editor of the club’s periodical called The Lambs’ Script, in publication since 1932.

“When I was a junior at Westchester’s Peekskill High School,” Bentley said, recalling an early brush with the arts, “a sophomore named Irene Cooksey caught my eye. After class one day, I followed her into the auditorium where she was auditioning for the spring play. The English teacher in charge needed a reader and surprised me by thrusting a script into my unsuspecting hands.” Following this, Dow went on to roles in “Rebel without a Cause,” “Pygmalion,” and more — enough to be voted “Best Actor” in the yearbook.

After that he went off to the University of Texas to major in history and take elective drama courses. He returned to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts during 1966-67, and eventually earned a master’s degree in education at Brooklyn College. 

Bentley entered a career teaching sixth graders and directing school musicals, despite not being a trained musician. He coupled this career with deep involvement in national units of teachers’ federations.

Later, after early retirement, Bentley wrote some reviews for the Peekskill Herald, bought a condominium in The Woodlands, and was on hand for the 1998 inaugural production of Bizet’s “Carmen” on the new multimedia stage at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. He submitted a review that was accepted by Houston Community Newspapers; thus began a satisfying relationship for the free lancer.

A few weeks ago Dow gave me a copy of his first publication as The Lambs’ Script editor and I found it fascinating, spending an unexpected two hours poring over the contents. Although I recognized few of the names, I felt that I knew them all a little by the time I finished.

The Lambs’ membership is by invitation only and once excluded women. Its charitable arm, The Lambs Foundation, supports the Actors’ Fund that maintains homes for theatre retirees, similar associations, and other charities.

Bentley’s sponsor was Wayne Coleman, a member of The Lambs’ board of directors. They met at Sardi’s bar in New York while Dow awaited the arrival of a Texas friend.

Early history of The Lambs in America is that it took its cue from a London group that met informally in the home of essayist and poet Charles Lamb and his sister Mary. Its official beginning was in 1869, although arts aficionados had met at the Lambs’ home for years. Membership was composed of London’s show business enthusiasts and literati. Two of the members at that time were William Wordsworth and Charles Lamb’s lifelong friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The club took the motto “May the Lambs Flourish,” and so it did for 10 years, dispersing around 1879.

Charles Lamb never married and speculation has it that this partly was due to his obligation to his mentally unstable sister who stabbed their mother to death, then wove in and out of mental institutions during their lifetimes, although she, too, was a writer and collaborated with Charles on a children’s book.

But be that as it may, the club honoring them has remained alive and well in New York, although it went through dark financial times decades ago when it reluctantly sold its landmark building on 44th Street and relocated to 3 West 51st Street.

During more that 130 years of existence The Lambs have boasted among their 6,000 members, greats such as the Barrymores, George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, Abe Vigoda and innumerable luminaries.

One of the Lambs’ important functions is its “Gambols,” frolicsome plays, musicals and variety shows produced to entertain members. One important show first performed there was “Stalag 17,” that went on to national success. Another was “Mark Twain Tonight.”

A current connection to Charles Lamb is the best seller “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows. One plot line involves finding a book with a signature on the fly leaf referring to Lamb’s compositions titled “Selected Essays of Elia.” Lamb also is referenced throughout the novel. Yet, today, nobody has discovered why Lamb credits the name “Elia” for his two volumes of essays.

David Dow Bentley, III, splits his time between his condominium in a “pinewood forest in The Woodlands” and his longtime New York apartment on Rockaway Beach. There also is a huge family clan in Peekskill and Rhode Island that stretches all the way to the edges of its Christmas photo.

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About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the Lambs Club, he is also editor of The Lambs' Script. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic@earthlink.net.
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6 Responses to David Dow Bentley III new editor of The Lambs’ Script

  1. Bruno Bagala says:

    Congratulations to “Dow” Well earned new title and all around friend and genius with his thoughts and comments.

  2. George Bentley says:

    Congratulation

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Paulie Mcdade says:

    that was great “Juice Plus+, the Worlds Most Thoroughly Researched Whole Food Product.” 17 Vine Ripened Fruits, Vegetables and Grains, in a capsule. Paulie http://www.pauliemcdadejuiceplus.com 281-224-4560

  4. Well it’s about time somebody reviewed YOU! Fans like me are crazy about this missive. Thanks Dow, for all you do for the arts and Peggie for shining the spotlight on Dow! – Kelli Estes

  5. Dear Mr. Bentleyl: I enjoyed reading about your career and your position as editor of The Lambs’ Script I became aware of you some weeks ago and sent you some information about myself as an introduction. and to acquaint you with myself and my career. I have started JPM PRODUCTIONS and am producing my own one-man musical performances, the being last February 12th, Philadelphia’s Tiffany Restaurant’s Banquet Rooms which was not only sold out, but oversold as well! My next engagement is a return engagement there on April 30th, while I am negotiating with other venues in Florida, North jersey and the Philadelphia/South jersey areas. My goal with this new venture is to play performing arts centers .JPM PRODUCTIONS will also be filming a one-act, two character script I wrote in the near future. You can visit me at http://www.johnprimerano.com to get a comprehensive look at my career and see me In performance on youtube at JOHN PRIMERANO PERFORMANCES if you would so desire. I am a member of SAG/AFTRA as well as a Lifetime member of the AFM. Once again, it was a pleasure reading about you.
    Very truly yours,
    Singer-pianist-songwriter, JOHNPRIMERANO (Entertainer, Actor and Author)
    .

  6. Rebhun, Herbert says:

    Great article about your Lamb’s Club membership Great knowing you.

    Herb

    ________________________________

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