Disclosure: For those of you that come here looking to drool over the food…sorry. I know, four days in NYC and no food shots? That was not the focus of the weekend. We did have a great meal and visit with Jennifer and Quinn McHenry at Nizza. Check out the Nizza website and Jennifer’s blog Bake or Break.
Now, let’s talk about Broadway Legends. The Public Theatre in NYC has an annual fundraising gala. This year they wanted the music of famed composer Marvin Hamlisch to be the focus of their gala. They decided there was no way to remember Marvin without honoring the original cast of A Chorus Line…the show that changed the structure of Broadway musicals and gave The Public the springboard to become what it is today. Not only did they invite the original cast but they paid all their expenses.
We got to our room and my favorite Broadway star was welcomed by flowers and champagne from our dear friends Tommy and Scott.
Speaking of legends…We started our day Saturday catching up with Lee Roy Reams. Every time we visit with Lee Roy I get more history from the eight years Brandt performed in 42nd Street. And, we also get all the current Broadway “behind the scene” news!!!
Other originals arrived Saturday. We gathered at Connie Wong’s (Baayork Lee) apartment on Central Park West. The true stories and tall tales began. Only Baayork knew exactly how the show was being staged. She said that no one would have to do anything they were uncomfortable doing…remember the age range is now early sixties to mid-seventies. Over the course of the evening they all swore they were just going to pose and prop…no dancing!!!
Sunday morning they gathered where it all began.
…lots of hugs and kisses as some of them hadn’t seen each other since 1976.
They posed on the steps out front…
they posed in The Newman where folks like Jackie O, Liza and Walter Cronkite sat on the steps of the stage just to see “a workshop”…
…and they posed in the rehearsal hall.
Yes, these are the same individuals that were going to prop and pose…and they did. Then…they gathered around the piano with not the first sign of sheet music and sounded as if they were warming up for opening night. Gradually, they moved to “the line” like ducks to water. Baayork shared director Ted Sperling’s vision for honoring the original cast as individuals, then showcasing young rising stars from Elliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and finally letting the most recent ACL touring company do the high kicks. After that all bets were off…hip replacements, back surgery, rotator cuff…nothing seemed to hinder them from stepping back into their iconic roles…and giving each other lots of direction!!!
Sunday evening we went to The Delacourt Theatre in Central Park for the first rehearsal on set. They adapted the set of Much Ado About Nothing for the gala.
They were all in spectacular form…and look who is center stage!!!
Then, Monday night the big show…and what a star-studded show it was!!!
The $1000 a seat event began with dinner in the park.
Courtesy of Joseph Marzullo/Playbill
Brian Stokes Mitchell covered the Zach role simultaneously emceeing the event.
Photos courtesy of Joseph Marzullo/Playbill
Celebrities from stage, small screen and big screen made it to the “step and repeat” for all the press to oggle over. Photographer Joseph Marzullo covered the event. Check out more of his magic at Playbill.com.
And, finally what everyone had waited for…
The show was put together to highlight Marvin’s music and that it did. No costumes, no sets…only “the line”. We heard behind the scene stories from unexpected sources…wives and significant others, friends and assistants and re-nowned designers and conductors. We saw ACL in a new light and once again re-lived the deep emotions it evokes. While the artist’s that sang their hearts out were all stars in their own right it was the music that really took the star turn…until we heard the opening vamp of “ONE”. Then each original cast member was introduced by name and came out to take their own individual bow. My eyes, again fill with tears as I type this. The audience immediately rose to their feet as if they were in the presence of royalty, deity or the POTUS. This was the singular moment where the title Broadway Legend became very real. Four of the original cast are deceased and their names were certainly mentioned numerous times. Six were not able or did not attend but sixteen of the original cast from arguably the greatest American Musical were catapulted into Legend status by past and current professional peers, celebrities from all walks of life and those of us who are honored to share love and life with them.
The performance was electrifying.
And, the original’s came out last for the Star Bow…more FABULOUS than words can express.
The house was electric and a good time doesn’t begin to describe the experience had by ALL.