“BEFORE I GAZE AT YOU”
Ladies and gents,
If you do what I do for a living, you’re likely to receive more invitations than you know what to do with. If each week had a dozen nights, I still wouldn’t have the time to make appearances at all the various openings, events, parties, conferences, performances, shindigs, soirées, weddings, and bar mitzvahs that I get asked to attend. But when the Royal Family requests your presence at the Palace, you put everything else aside and go.
And, so, on Thursday afternoon I headed up to Lotte New York Palace on Madison Avenue to meet the cast of DIANA: A True Musical Story. (What Palace and what Royal Family did you think I meant?) This kind of event – formally: a “sneak preview,” informally: a “dog and pony show” – is not unusual, but something about the subject matter and the surroundings instilled a sense of awe in even the most jaded in the crowd of invited attendees.
The event was hosted by none other than Imogen Lloyd-Webber, scion of Lord Andrew and television’s reigning royal expert. The room was bathed in white roses, the favorite of the Princess of Wales herself. The refreshments were, appropriately, of the high tea persuasion. Producer extraordinaire Beth Williams introduced the presentation.
Jeanna de Waal, who somehow manages to embody Diana with all of the grace and vulnerability required for the impossible task, performed a number called “Underestimated” that evoked a handful of gasps and one very audible sob from the audience. Just to add a little extra sizzle, composer (and Bon Jovi member) David Bryan accompanied de Waal on the piano.
After the performance, de Waal and her castmates — Roe Hartrampf (“Prince Charles”), Erin Davie (“Camilla Parker Bowles”), and two-time Tony Award® winner Judy Kaye (“Queen Elizabeth”) – faced a media scrum so rabid they gave the British tabloids a run for their money. Also on-hand to charm the press were members from the A-list creative team, including Tony Award-winning book writer and lyricist Joe DiPietro, the aforementioned (and also Tony-winning) composer David Bryan, Tony Award-winning director Christopher Ashley, Olivier Award®-winning choreographer Kelly Devine, and six-time Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long (whose costumes, mark my words, will be the toast of the town).
After knocking out somewhere in the ballpark of 30 interviews, Kaye kicked off her shoes and relaxed. I asked her if she was already tired of the publicity. “Honey, we’ve got a show to sell,” she shot back. And before I knew it, she was up and doing one more one-on-one.
Tidbits from around town…
Saw People Magazine topper Dan Wakeford sipping respectably on soda water and lime at Goodman’s Bar at the Bergdorf Goodman men’s store.
Overheard Meredith Vieira raving about the Newbery Honor-winning children’s book Scary Stories for Young Foxes.
Spotted Joe Jonas looking buff and relaxed at the San Vicente Bungalows just two days before his big Grammy performance.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!