|Ladies and gents,
There are legends and then there’s Joni Mitchell. The Goddess of Folk. The Poetic Priestess of Profundity. The O.G. of the L.C. Well, the normally reclusive icon hailed a Big Yellow Taxi and rode to the Jacobs Theatre to catch the opening night of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous on Thursday night. It was, she told me, her first Broadway show, and she made a true star’s entrance — floating down the aisle just a moment before the house lights dimmed to cheers and applause. The personification of the musical moment that services as the show’s setting, Mitchell’s presence added an eerie air of verisimilitude to the proceedings. Eras collided. Time stood still. Other celebs in attendance included Clive Davis, Donald Fagen and Libby Titus, Jessie Mueller, Paul Rudd, Bryan Batt, Tommy Tune (his first Broadway opening since before the pandemic – ditto Cindy Adams), Christopher Wheeldon, Lynn Nottage, Kenny Leon, Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner, Irving Azoff, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Brenda Vaccaro, John Heilmann, Katy Tur and Penny Trumball (the real-life inspiration for the Penny Lane character).
The story, already familiar to legions of film fans who made the 2000 movie an instant classic, followings an aspiring music journalist as Rolling Stone Magazine embeds him on tour with an up-and-coming rock band. Along the way, he will make and lose friends, sacrifice innocence for wisdom, and break off the shackles of boyhood. The story mirrors one of my early stints as an ink-stained wretch, when I nabbed an assignment profiling “The Lucky Loos” — a British pop-rock band of the mid-1960’s. I spent three-weeks on the road with The Loos, until lead singer Billie Nunes (uncle of Rep. Devin Nunes) overheard me describing their sound to my editor as a “mix between a mid-level Rolling Stones cover band and fire alarm” and punched me in the back of my head. We were backstage at a County Fair mainstage about two hours outside of Omaha at the time, and I had to be airlifted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. They found nothing wrong with me, but because I was unable to recall the month and year, nor could I remember who the sitting president was, they kept me for observation for the next four days. I was so terrified of another run-in with Nunes that I ended up penning a five-thousand-word love letter to the band, predicting they would soon surpass The Beatles as the most important musical act of the era. It’s a prediction that eventually got me removed from the voting body of The Recording Academy — a ban still in effect to this very day.
Needless to say, there was a decent chance seeing Almost Famous on Broadway might have been, for me, a triggering experience. I’m thrilled to report I was in musical theater heaven from start-to-finish. I don’t remember the least time I had a more emotionally satisfying, aurally pleasing theater-going experience. It almost made me nostalgic for those heady days of yore — minus the physical assault!
Tidbits from around town…
Caught: Peter Krause leaving Tribeca Med Spa with a bloody face.
Overheard: Dennis Quaid ordering duck spring rolls at Quintana.
Spotted: Lorne Michaels early voting on the Upper West Side.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!