Ladies and gents,
Being back in Los Angeles is always wistful; I have so much history there. Being back in Los Angeles with Andrew Lloyd Webber is nothing short of mind-blowing. Think of the, no pun intended, memories! The American Premiere of Evita at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (I attended third preview, and was sobbing so uncontrollably when the curtain came down that two ushers had to put me in a wheelchair to get me out of the building). The Phantom of the Opera playing all those years at the Ahmanson (for a year or two in the early nineties, it seemed to be where all of my second dates took place — and if they didn’t walk out humming, there would be no third date). And, of course, I can’t help thinking about the now long gone Shubert Theatre there, which played host to Cats, the first national company of Evita, and — of course — the American Premiere of Sunset Boulevard. Is there anything so quintessentially Angelino as Sunset Boulevard? How an Englishman was able to conjure the mood of the city so perfectly is a mystery — I half expect him to sound like a valley girl every time he opens his mouth!
Well, that Englishman was in town to attend the opening of School of Rock at the Pantages, and I tagged along for fun.
I ran into American Theatre Wing President Heather Hitchens at the opening, who came out to support her partner in do-gooding (Andrew donating a sizable chunk to the Wing to seed a grant-giving program, dubbed the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative, which provides theater education resources for underserved kids). I also saw Craig Zaden and Neil Meron, fresh off the mega-success of “Jesus Christ Superstar: Live” on NBC.
Next month, Andrew will be honored with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, doled out by both Hitchens’s Wing and The Broadway League, headed up by its President Charlotte St. Martin and its new chair, Tom Schumacher.
And just to make this web(ber) even more intricately woven, I also attended the first preview of Soft Power, written by the Wing’s chair, David Henry Hwang, with Jeanine Tesori. Its next stop is just up the coast at the Curran in San Francisco. It’s fabulous and fascinating, so keep it on your radar!
Los Angeles is a heady place for me — its spirit seems unchanging and yet so many of my favorite places have faded into history. I find myself missing Chasens, City Restaurant on LeBrea, the A&M Records lot, and Imperial Gardens on Sunset Strip. All gone. As is Tower Records, for that matter. And the chance of a Dorothy McGuire sighting, which seems most heartbreaking of all.
But, just as I was at my most maudlin, out come those pint-sized rockers in School of Rock to remind me that the future is even brighter than the past, and for everything that fades away, something new is coming into focus.
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted Andrew Lloyd Webber and Heather Hitchens, along with Hitchens’s husband, Felix Cisneros, having breakfast together at Canters over what sounded like a wide-reaching conversation about the state of arts education in America and abroad.
Saw Naomi Watts walking solo by the Flatiron Building and then, hours later, dining at Mr. Chow in Tribeca. Is she stalking me or am I stalking her?
Overheard comedian Jacqueline Novak waxing poetic about the Garry Shandling doc on HBO. “Isn’t it, like, six hours?” “You write one column a week, Scoop. You have the time!” Good point, my dear.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!