“New York, New York”
Ladies and gents,
Though many of my longtime readers still think of me as a West Coast-based scribe, I have to say I now officially consider myself a New Yorker. How did I come to this realization? The feeling I was overtaken with, as I sat amongst a staggering 6,000 fellow audience members at the opening night of Radio City Music Hall’s New York Spring Spectacular, could only be described as one thing: hometown pride. This dazzling 90-minute love letter to the Big Apple takes viewers on a jazzed-up, amped-up, and revved-up tour of the city’s beloved landmarks, from Central Park to Grand Central Terminal to The Met, to the Public Library. It’s big, it’s breathless, and it looks expensive as hell. Though clearly custom built for tourists with disposable income and free time, those of us who live here might just get the most bang for our collective buck. Those of us who spend our days fighting onto subway cars, watching taxi meters click ever upward in traffic jams, and cramming all of our worldly possessions into 700 square feet of living space need more than anyone to be reminded of why we put up with all of it. The fact that my eyes welled with tears more than once during the show is a testament, not to any emotional investment in the storyline (which, admittedly, is thin), but rather an emotional investment in the idealized version of New York that it presents.
Of course, sometimes real life is even more glamorous than can be depicted onstage. Thus was the case at the first preview of The Visit, which culminated in a backstage champagne toast. A private moment for the company, I was the only reporter granted access to the occasion. Why the red carpet treatment for little old me, you want to know? Well, it just so happens that my step mother used to take music lessons from the great Abigail Montrose, who studied the clarinet with Pedro Julio Figueroa del Rivero. Through Abigail, my family became very close to Pedro and his wife, Katherine. Some of my earliest memories were of watching their daughter Delores, who would take the professional name Chita Rivera, perform. Needless to say, we go back. So Chita, along with book writer Terrence McNally, composer John Kander, director John Doyle, producer Tom Kirdahy, costumer Ann Hould-Ward, scenic designer Scott Pask, and the entire cast of The Visit, including Roger Rees, David Garrison, Rick Holmes, Jason Danieley, Mary Beth Peil, and Donna McKechnie (as Chita’s standby), assembled to celebrate the success of their first performance on Broadway. When there are that many luminaries in a company, who needs guests? McNally called it a “historic” occasion and assured us that even the late Fred Ebb was present “in spirit.” Chita told me that she was having the time of her life doing the show. I told her that her parents would be proud.
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted none other than Oprah herself putting the “O” in “standing ovation” at Kinky Boots. (I haven’t seen such an enthusiastic audience since she gave away hundreds of cars.)
Witnessed Joel Grey serenading Jane Pauley from the stage of the Bailey House gala, as he presented her with an award for her dedication to the organization. Visit http://www.BaileyHouse.org to learn more about this incredible organization.
Overheard Ben Stiller complaining about dealing with jetlag during the press tour for While We Were Young.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!