This is intended to be the last entry chronicling my trip to NYC last week, but I love my work and enjoy sharing it, particularly when it is filled with exciting people and events. Last Saturday night I attended a small dinner party for about 25 people. The highlight of the evening was that incredibly talented Tony Award winning actress pictured above. If you don’t readily recognize her it is Christine Ebersole. The picture on the right is from her 2007 Tony winning performance as Edie Bouvier Beale in the hit musical Grey Gardens based on the cinema verity documentary of the same name . The picture to the left shows Christine in the center flanked by Scott Frankel, librettist, and Michael Korie, lyricist.
The dinner was held at the stunning new Alvin Ailey Studios with it’s floor to ceiling windows overlooking 9th Avenue. The studio was set up with small tables of 6 which made dinner conversation very easy. My dinner partner was Michael Korie and I enjoyed hearing his candid thoughts on writing. I was not only interested in his writing of Grey Gardens but also his opera Harvey Milk which had premiered at The San Francisco Opera.
Following dinner Michael Kerker of ASCAP moderated a panel with Doug Wright, Michael Korie, and Scott Frankel talking about how the Grey Gardens documentary inspired how and what they wrote for the musical version. They showed clips from the movie with Christine “morphing” into song. It was an amazing intimate evening. It reminded me very much of some backers’ auditions I had attended as a child with my father when writers such as Comden and Green and Jule Styne had played their way into the hearts of producers hopefully wanting to back their shows. In the this case no one was looking for backing and the show had already come and gone on Broadway sweeping in many notable awards before closing.
The following morning I made the brisk few block walk from my hotel to The Russian Tea Room. When was the last time I had the opportunity to brunch with 14 Broadway artists? There was so much talent and so many Tony and Drama Desk Award winners in that banquet room that it was an amazing embarrassment of riches. As I looked around the room I realized that 3 of those artists are part of our US Performing Arts faculty family and several more are going to join us in 2008. Wow!
The artists present were Lynn Ahrens (lyrcist), Danny Burstein (actor), Stephen Flaherty (composer), Michael Gorman (actor), Sandy Duncan (actor), Justin Greer (actor), Jonathan Hadley (actor), Dee Hoty (actor), Elmore James (actor), Baayork Lee (choreographer, director, actor), Rebecca Luker (actor), Dana Moore (actor), Lea Salonga (actor) and David Zippel (lyricist).
In addition to these extraordinary guests, many of whom would leave to join their casts for matinées and evening shows, there were 15 Kennedy Center Committee members and staff. The sole purpose was just to eat, mingle and talk about the business. I use the word passion a lot. There was so much passion for the arts in that room in palpitated.
Following lunch I went with a friend to see Danny Burstein in his Tony nominated performance of Adolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone. It was a most enjoyable afternoon at the theater. Danny is outstanding…and hysterically funny. It’s two hours of fun with no intermission.
The New York portion of my trip ended on a high with dinner at La Dolce Vita, a tiny little Italian restaurant in Soho with good friends Robert Pullen and Baayork Lee. I couldn’t ask for anything better.