The Wonderful Wall At Westbury

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Luther Vandross’ signature on the magic wall

In the world of kitchens, the one that you’ll find backstage at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury is fairly standard. The 10-by-12-square foot room has sinks, cupboards, shelves, a stove and a prep table. What elevates it beyond being a mere place to slice, dice and chop are walls festooned with the signatures of enough famous names for it to be rightfully considered its own entertainment hall of fame.

NYCB Theatre at Westbury Marketing Director Dan Kellachan explains that it all started when the late Luther Vandross came to the back to express his gratitude for Chef Wendy Daly’s culinary wizardry.

“Luther Vandross was here in May 2002. And he basically came back to the kitchen to thank the chef for cooking for him. He wanted to know if he could sign the wall and that was the first signature,” Kellachan recalled. “A couple of months later, Diana Ross was in the building and did the same thing. She came in and was thanking the chef for the hospitality. All of a sudden, she sees Luther Vandross’ signature, signs her name and puts the heart around the two names. That’s how it started. And then of course, everyone started signing all around it.”

Before long, the one wall where this impromptu tradition began spread throughout the rest of the room. Walking around, you’ll see myriad signatures—Linda Ronstadt, Brian Wilson, Don Rickles, Regis Philbin, Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Steve Lawrence, Pat Cooper. Joan Rivers not only signed but added, “Always a pleasure.”

Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner threw a little humor in by signing off above the door frame with, “Bless those who pass beneath/Wish I still had my teeth.”

George Thorogood exclaimed in June 2004, “It was a stone gas!”

Garden City’s John Tesh gushed, “I came home. I’m coming back!! I love the Fair.”

A multitude of autographs are accompanied with huzzahs from numerous folks who sampled Daly’s food ranging from 2010 Last Comic Standing winner Felipe Esparza (“I love the vegan stuffed portobellos.”) and Hot Tuna’s Jack Casady (“What wonderful food. You have saved us. Thank you.”) to comedian Drew Carey signing his name and his 2005 weight of 244 pounds along with the message, “I’m fat enough. So thanks for nothing.”


To read a full feature on the history of Westbury Music Fair, see Westbury Music Fair: A Long Island Jewel Celebrates 60 Years.

For a look at Westbury Music Fair performers through the ages, see Magic Moments at Westbury Music Fair.

https://liweekly.wpengine.com/magic-moments-westbury-music-fair/

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