Every day is opening night.


Ladies and gents,

I adore children. I never had any of my own, but I generally find them delightful (in small doses). But no one loves children more than Rosie O’Donnell. Her charity, Rosie’s Theater Kids, is a reflection of her love of little ones with her undying passion for the theater. It provides musical theater education programs for New York City public school students, who otherwise wouldn’t be afforded such an experience.

I attended the organization’s annual gala on Monday night. The evening boasted two honorees: Jordan Roth and Cyndi Lauper. These two are forever linked by Kinky Boots, for which Lauper provided the music and Roth provided the theater. This link didn’t go unnoticed by artist Patrick Ganino, who was hard art work during cocktail hour creating an original oil portrait of the two luminaries, their smiling faces obscured by a giant red kinky boot. Later in the evening, the portrait would be auctioned off.

A bidding war would ensue. The artist would agree to create a second version to settle the bidding war. The paintings would be sold for $15,000 each. The event was a family affair for Rosie, who managed to get her attention shy son, Parker, to walk the red carpet with her. It was also a family affair for Jordan, who arrived with husband Richie Jackson, along with his proud parents and grandmother. The room was packed with the likes of Emanuel Azenberg, B.D. Wong, author Tim Federle (who I heard some wag describe as “the tweens’ answer to Jodi Picoult”), Rosie’s longtime publicist Cindy Berger, “The View” producer Brian Balthazar, Nicolle Wallace, Thomas Schumacher, Jerry Mitchell, Tommy Tune, Liz Smith, Darren Bagert, Jacob Bernstein, and Sherie Rene Scott.

While organizers at most galas scramble to come up with a line-up of starry performers, Rosie’s Theater Kids keeps the focus squarely on its titular “kids.” The very children who have benefitted from the program are invited to perform. The results were as rousing as they were moving. Rosie hosted with a mix of family-oriented stand-up material and heart-string-tugging anecdotes. Jordan and Cyndi took to the stage to accept their honors, each with remarks that were, at turns, sweet and funny. It was a truly enjoyable experience from top to bottom. Even the food was good, though it was upstaged by the giant centerpieces filled to the brim with candy. Patrons took to dumping it out, broken-piñata-style, all over their tables. Richie Jackson was particular delighted by the inclusion of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews – a favorite childhood treat.

Speaking of worthy non-profits, you know what Sundance does vis-à-vis the film world, but did you know they’ve been just as devoted to developing great theater works
for just as long? Their influence in the theater world might be lesser known, but it’s no less impactful. They were responsible for incubating some of the best reviewed
musicals in recent memory, including last year’s Tony Award winning Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, as well as the Broadway-bound critics’ darling Fun Home. If you love the theater (and if you are reading this column, I assume you must), you should become intimately familiar with them. Here are two upcoming opportunities to do just that: “Sundance … Sings!” is an evening of music by an array of composers and lyricists whose work the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab has nurtured over the last decade (including Scott Frankel, Adam Guettel, Lisa Kron, Michael John LaChiusa, Steven Lutvak, Bill Finn, Heidi Rodewald, Duncan Sheik, Stew, Jeanine Tesori, and more), as directed by Leigh Silverman with musical direction by Chris Fenwick. It’s taking place on Monday, September 29 at 8:00 p.m. at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street). Visit SymphonySpace.org for tickets. Or attend the “Work-in-Progress Reading” of The Madwoman in the Volvo at 92Y (Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street) on Friday, October 10 at 8:15 p.m. (92y.org for tickets). Sundance is developing Sandra Tsing Loh’s hilarious new memoir of the same title into a one-woman show, and this will be its first public outing.

Tidbits from around town…

Spotted Jonathan Groff, along with his “Looking” co-stars, at a recent screening of Pride in San Francisco.

Saw Sting and Trudie Styler in deep conversation at Bar Centrale.

Witnessed 80’s hit maker Pat Benatar grooving the music of 70’s hitmaker Carole King at Beautiful.

Overheard Matthew Broderick joking about the malleability of iPhone 6, dubbing the scandal “Bendghazi.”

Caught Lesley Stahl scolding It’s Only a Play star Rupert Grint about his smoking habit at Joe Allen. Grint insisted he was “trying to cut down.” His assistant seemed

Congratulations to Broadway producers Ken Davenport (It’s Only a Play) and David Stone (Wicked), on their recent weddings. They are both enjoying the best wedding
present a producer could ever ask for: hit shows on Broadway.

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