A live studio audience was delighted by actress Debbie Reynolds at the Norman Murray Center. (Oliver Yu)
At the Norman P. Murray Community Center in Mission Viejo, people waited on Saturday morning, Jan. 15, to be members of a live audience. They were there to see the legendary Debbie Reynolds who would be the guest at a broadcast of a new radio show.
The guests shared anecdotal tales. One woman had an original VHS copy of “Singing in the Rain” signed by actor Gene Kelly, and wanted it signed by Reynolds as well. Another woman told her friend how her mother had been a cheerleader with Reynolds more than half a century ago.
Everyone in attendance had their own unique reason to be there, but ultimately they were all there for one thing, to see the great actress, singer and dancer Debbie Reynolds. The curious audience members were given cards to jot down potential questions for Reynolds for discussion.
The doors opened and the crowd filed into the auditorium where Saddleback College’s radio station KSBR’s Gary Bergeson and Kelly Bennett prepared for their broadcast of “Breakfast with Gary and Kelly” on 88.5FM.
The morning opened with plenty of jokes, the on-air cooking of apple blintzes by Tom Rill, and Dave Leckness, the mayor of Mission Viejo, throwing two frozen toaster waffles into the audience.
Several minutes before showtime, Reynolds appeared on stage accidentally, as a photographer had asked for some pictures of her with the crowd before the show started, and Reynolds allegedly walked right out of the room and onto the stage. The crowd noticed instantly and was on their feet applauding Reynolds as the photographers took advantage of the error. She briefly slipped backstage before reappearing for the opening of the segment of “Breakfast with Gary and Kelly.”
The show opened with Reynolds giving information about her career. She admitted to being 78, and that 64 of those glorious years have been spent in show business. She currently spends 42 weeks on the road doing a one-woman show. On the evening of Jan. 22, Reynolds put on her one-woman show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Her most recent major performance was the west-end show, “Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous.”
During the show, Gary held up the stack of question cards and Reynolds was happy to oblige answers.
Lorraine from Mission Viejo asked which leading man was the best kisser. Reynolds’ immediate response was, “All of them!” but eventually she narrowed it down to Frank Sinatra as the best.
Reynolds talked about her talents, including singing, dancing, acting, and impersonations. She then gave flawless impersonations of Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand, much to the amusement of the crowd. She spoke about how her career started, her learning to dance, and her family.
“My family, they’re all normal. They aren’t like me,” Reynolds said, as the crowd roared with laughter.
At the end of the show the crowd gave a standing ovation, and her fans eagerly rushed the stage. Reynolds was a good sport, obliging her fans, chatting and taking photos with them.
Mayor Dave Leckness called the show “invigorating.” He was happy to see KSBR involving the community, and was excited for more events like this one coming from the station. He encouraged Terry Wedel, the director of KSBR’s operations, and the staff to make these events more regular.
“Breakfast with Gary and Kelly” is a regular production of KSBR, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The station intends to do a monthly production with notables from the music and entertainment industries. Their next big show will be Feb. 5, with legendary guitarist David Becker as the on-air guest.