Every day is opening night.

“All Things Bright and Beautiful”

Artist’s rendering of the soon-to-be-renamed Stephen Sondheim Theater


Ladies and Gents:

The only thing hotter than New York’s weather this past week was its cultural offerings!

80 Candles

This is the Year of Stephen Sondheim! (Then again, isn’t every year?)  “The Greatest There Ever Was” celebrated his 80th Birthday yesterday. To mark the occasion, a tribute concert was held at Avery Fisher Hall featuring just about every great interpreter of his notoriously unforgiving music. The surprise of the evening, for me, wasn’t the over-populated rendition of “Sunday” for the finale, nor was it the usually stoic Sondheim choking up during the curtain call. No, it was a shock to see just how much Sondheim music resonates with the youngsters. I was seated next to a young man, dressed to the nines, who couldn’t have been more than twenty years old. He was, as he put it, “queening out” during the entire show. He sobbed uncontrollably during Marin Mazzie’s rousing “Losing My Mind” and screamed until he was hoarse after Patti LuPone’s rather wild take on “The Ladies Who Lunch.” This dainty young thing proved that great art is, indeed, timeless.

As if all that wasn’t enough of a birthday treat, another gift (perhaps the greatest a theatrical can receive) was bestowed upon Sondheim. The storied Henry Miller’s Theater will be renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theater later this year. Bravo, Mr. Sondheim!

Last night (on Sondheim’s actual birthday), Elaine Stritch took the stage at the Café Carlyle for an encore performance of Elaine Stritch: At Home at the Carlyle Singin’ Sondheim…One Song at a Time. I asked Managing Director Erich Steinbock how they got Stritchie to fill in for regular Monday night star Woody Allen. He told me, “She felt obligated. The waiting list from her last engagement has over a thousand names on it. She has more stamina than most people half her age, and she loves to work. We’re thinking of asking her to work in the kitchen on her nights off.” Her set of Sondheim music is now a bona fide classic and her rendition of “Send in the Clowns” is up there with the very best interpretations. Do your best to get on the waiting list when she returns full time for two weeks beginning April 20!

And I can’t wait to see the Roundabout’s Sondheim on Sondheim! The cast (including Barbara Cook, Tom Wopat, and Vanessa Williams) is top rate, and I’m especially excited to hear that velvet-voiced Scotsman Euan Morton, who I’ve been a fan of ever since I saw him originate the role of Boy George in Taboo in London.

The Beat Goes On

On Wednesday I took a seat at my regular table at Birdland to catch drummer Lewis Nash’s set. My dear friend Nancy Wilson always said he was the best of the best, but I never thought I could distinguish good drumming from great drumming (I feel much the same way about single malt scotch and purebred dogs). Nash, though, makes his superiority crystal clear. I was delighted to see he has a female piano player who’s just as talented (and is the spitting image of L.A. style-maker Elisa B., who used to sell me all of my scarves). The crowd was so eclectic, it felt like the International Terminal at Newark!

The Green Inn

I must take a moment to rave about my new favorite restaurant. I know this isn’t wise, as getting a table is already near-impossible, but I can’t resist. Last week I mentioned brunching at Locanda Verde. This week I went back for dinner, and my mouth is literally watering as I type. I had the salted ricotta to start and it was transcendent (and large enough for the entire table to share, but I gobbled it all by myself). For my main I couldn’t resist the Spaghetti Friuliano (which I’m sorry to say involves smoked bacon). I know what you’re thinking: “But Scoop, were there any stars in the room?” My answer: “At Locanda Verde, the food is the star!”

The Cocktail Party

Saw the delightful Sam Waterston enjoying the heck out of the opening night performance of T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party at TACT/The Actors Company Theatre. There is nothing I love more than a period comedy, and Director/Co-Artistic Director Scott Alan Evans delivers! His fellow Co-Artistic Directors Cynthia Harris and Simon Jones turn out impeccable performances as Julia Shuttlethwaite and The Uninvited Guest, respectively.

Hell is a Place on Earth

I was celebrating the wonderful weekend weather by dining al fresco at Da Silvano when I noticed a group of familiar-looking, swarthy foreigners darting towards the Minetta Lane Theatre. Just as I was about to ask “how do I know you?” I noticed that one of them was holding a gigantic phallus. Instantly I realized it was none other than the famed Spanish theater troupe Yllana, who is bringing their fabulously phallic show 666 to the Minetta Lane later this month. They invited me to their opening, and I can’t wait!

“Me” for Moi?

I am desperately trying to snag tickets to see All About Me starring Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein. I’m a longtime friend and fan of Dame Edna’s and I adore everything she does. I know the prevailing wisdom is that Barry Humphries, the famed Australian comedian, plays Dame Edna but I’m not convinced. Edna has always been one of the kindest ladies in show biz to me, but Barry consistently snubs me whenever I see him. I prefer to think of them as two vastly different individuals, rather than as some sick Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario. Regardless, with Edna’s wit and Michael Feinstein’s voice, how could this show miss?

Tidbits from Around Town

Overheard David Alan Grier and rising theater mavens Jane Lucette Weiand and Louise Falvey laughing into the wee hours at Bar Centrale, chatting about how Hair’s “eParty” is “the best thing to happen to fans of embarrassing dance moves since ‘The Macarena.’”

Saw ridiculously leggy star of Come Fly Away Karine Plantadit stopping traffic while shopping on Fifth Avenue between shows on Saturday.

Caught Lucy Liu cooling down with an Arnold Palmer at the bar at Sardi’s before Saturday’s matinee.

Witnessed Dermatologist to the stars, Dr. Kurt Fineman, prematurely congratulating Michelle Obama on the passage of the President’s healthcare bill at intermission at Memphis.

As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours,