Bobby Steggert in Yank!
Ladies and Gents,
First of all, an apology for letting my Twitter account lay fallow all week. I dropped my “smart” phone in a snow bank and it’s been on the blink ever since. Some wise soul told me to put the phone into a bowl of rice, but failed to specify that the rice ought not to be cooked and it turns out that steamed basmati does damaged electronics no favors, which I learned the hard way.
To make up for not “tweeting,” this week’s is an extra-long column. If your head isn’t spinning now, it will be by the time you finish reading!
The mobile phone debacle left me in desperate need of a little glamour, and boy did I find it at Tuesday’s opening of The Pride. As you all know, I’m a devoted fan of this slick, sexy and moving production. The only thing I like better than good theater is a good after party. We slipped into the cabanas at the Maritime Hotel just before 10pm, and found a phalanx of photographers snapping like crazy. When the hubbub died down and my pupils adjusted, I saw the legendary Joel Grey standing there looking downtown-chic (and about 20 years younger than I know he is). Joel and I had a spat in the late 70’s after an unfortunate typographical error in my write-up of his performance in The Grand Tour, but now I consider him a dear friend. As much as I adore and admire his talents as an actor, in recent years I’ve come to think of him primarily as a photographer—I own all three of his books. He (stage) whispered to me that he is getting ready to announce an exciting photography project, but couldn’t give me any details. I tried plying him with booze—the party featured two specialty cocktails named after the play’s two time periods: “The 1958” and “The 2008”—but, alas, he was teetotalling. We’ll have to await the official announcement. He had just flown in from a few months at his home in Venice (California). When I asked him how he was adjusting to the weather he told me, “New York is never cold because the people are so warm.” Hear, hear!
Soon after came the cast, to whom the night belonged: Hugh Dancy, Ben Whishaw, Andrea Riseborough and Adam James. Andrea was dressed head-to-toe in Tommy Hilfiger. “Why such a quintessentially American designer for such a quintessentially English gal?” I wanted to know. “When in Rome, darling!” went the answer. Andrea also provided an answer to Mr. Sondheim’s famous question, “Does anybody still wear a hat?” as both she and her lover, artist Joe Appel, arrived in the most dramatic chapeaux. Mr. Dancy arrived with the ravishing Claire Danes on his arm. Mr. Whishaw arrived stag, getting hopes up for many starstruck partygoers (myself included)! Adam arrived with an entire English-accented entourage! The only folks giddier than the cast were the boys behind MCC Theater, the company producing the play: Bernie Telsey, Robert LuPone, Will Cantler and Blake West. The foursome stayed in a close pack all night, either laughing heartily or checking their blackberries – which were apparently dry and in good working order.
And, just to prove that even a jaded old journalist like myself still occasionally gets star-struck, I nearly swooned when I saw Broadway funny-lady Jackie Hoffman walk in. Jackie once made me laugh so hard at Joe’s Pub that I passed an entire martini olive through my nose. That’ll clear your sinuses! She’s currently in rehearsals for The Addams Family as Grandmama, and early reports from those in-the-know are that she’s stealing the show. Naturally I wanted some dirt, but Jackie insisted that it’s a love-fest backstage and any reporter who says otherwise (you know who you are) is merely pulling at straws to fill column space (been there, done that)!
Also spotted among the first night crowd were Jon Robin Baitz, Julie Taymor, Andy Cohen (whose shirt, I’m fairly certain, was tear stained by the time he arrived at the party), Edie Falco, Josh Lucas, Piper Perabo, Steven Pasquale, Charles Busch, Lily Rabe, Jill Clayburgh, David Rabe and Off-Broadway’s favorite lovebirds: Our Town’s Jennifer Grace and James McMenamin,
The Pride left me craving more theatrical adventures so I spent the next night at Hair. I had avoided the original production like the plague, as I always found the free love movement a bit off-putting, and had no idea what to expect. Well, expect interaction with the cast and lots of it! I haven’t been groped by a group of such wild-eyed actors since the press junket for Easy Rider! And, surprise surprise, I loved every minute of it. I even allowed myself to get dragged onstage for the dance party. Had I known that it was being videotaped (in hi def no less) for the Hair website, I may have thought twice. But, I had a blast and, for better of for worse, you can now see me dancing onstage like a maniac at http://www.HairBroadway.com
On the way out of the theater, I met a group of beautiful young people who told me they are part of the “new” cast of Hair. Apparently the current cast is headed to London, and the Broadway show is getting a whole new “tribe.” I promised the eager cuties I’d be back to see their opening night (any excuse to get groped all over again)!
Après Hair I popped into Orso for a starter and a glass of prosecco. The room was abuzz with star wattage (as usual). Liz Smith waved from the best table in the house. Kathryn Altman was there and I told her I wrote about her in last week’s column. She said, “I know, everyone has been emailing it to me. I’ve gone viral!” In my day, going viral was something you’d see a doctor about. Now it’s something you brag about at Orso!
Tonight is the “marvelous party” for the opening night of John Standing “Performing Noel Coward” at the Café Carlyle. I’ve had an outfit made special for the occasion: a blazer and slacks made from the Union Jack. I just hope it doesn’t pull focus from the divine Mr. Standing. Oh, who am I kidding? I hope I pull at least a little focus!
Tomorrow night, another opening of another show: the much talked-about Yank! will bow in a church basement. A gay musical in a church basement! The after party, luckily, will be a chic gallery in Soho (who knew there were any galleries left in Soho?)! Yank!, as I’m sure all my well-read readers know, was featured today on page A1 of a little, tiny paper called The New York Times. An Off-Broadway musical on A1-- and they say arts coverage is shrinking!
Yet more theater on Friday as Our Town marks its one year anniversary. Usually on Friday’s I can be found at my table at Birdland eating the best fried chicken in town and checking out the Big Band, but my buddy Jean Doumanian invited me to Our Town as her guest, so of course I accepted! Oscar nominee Michael Shannon is taking over the role of the Stage Manager just in time for the celebration, and I hear he’s remarkable!
And, speaking of Oscar nominees, I finally made my predictions for the O&M Co. office pool. I always go with the biggest name in any category because star power rules in Hollywood.
I got the most charming invite to Joanne Carson’s poolside Oscar bash, but alas, I’ll be thousands of miles away in NYC. It’s probably for the best, though. Last time I went to one of Joanne’s parties, somebody handed me something that looked like a cigarette, and I spent the rest of the evening flirting with what turned out to be a deck chair.
To round out the week I’m having lunch at Michael’s with the legendary Harvey Fierstein right after his appearance on “The Today Show.” The last time Harvey did “The Today Show” it was Kathie Lee Gifford’s very first day. He serenaded her with that most wistful of showtunes, “Coney Island,” from A Catered Affair. Harvey and Kathie Lee always make event TV, so be sure to tune in! He’ll have much to discuss, as he’s been keeping busy wowing crowds from coast to coast as Tevye in the touring production of Fiddler on the Roof.
And speaking of event TV, Janeane Garofalo and Carol Kane will be popping by “Theater Talk” this week to chat about Love, Loss, and What I Wore. I know that the play will be the topic of the day, but it’s hard to keep Ms. Garofalo off of the hot button political issues of the day. I can’t wait to watch the sparks fly as she goes up against the world’s only conservative (self-proclaimed) theater queen Mike Riedel. Thank heavens Susan Haskins will be in-studio to mediate!
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!