Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New York as Theatre

Peeking into Central Park from Central Park West and 74th Street. 12:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011. Partly sunny, partly overcast, yesterday in New York, with temperatures in the low 70s and humidity in the high 80s.

Last night at the Plaza in the Grand Ballroom, The American Theatre Wing celebrated its 2011 Gala, honoring Sir Howard Stringer, the CEO of Sony, and paying tribute to the late Douglas Leeds, a former president of the Wing and a dear friend not only to the organization but to many.

Doug served on the board and many capacities of the Wing for twenty-one years. He was president between 2004 and 2008. That face you see in the picture is one of a cheerful man, a friend to many, a love to many especially his wife Anki. He came to an untimely end, age 63, of cancer, last May 9th.
Anki and Doug Leeds, taken last year. Doug, a former president of The American Theatre Wing, was last night's In Memoriam at its Gala. The honoree of last night's American Theatre Wing 2011 at the Plaza, Sir Howard Stringer, long time supporter of the Wing and CEO of Sony.
In last night’s program Sondra Gilman, who was Chairman of the American Theatre Wing board when Doug was president, said of the man:

“We’ve heard the statement ‘He was a beautiful person’ but after I knew and worked with Doug over many years, I understood exactly what it meant. Doug took every day of his life with gratitude. He gave everything he had to what he loved: his family, his work and, of course, to theatre and the Wing."

“He never wasted his time with unkindness, but led an existence based on intelligence, creativity, optimism, generosity and, not to be forgotten, humor and fun. An incredible combination. An unforgettable man.”

The evening, after the guests had taken their seats for dinner in the ballroom, opened with Ted Chapin and Marva Smalls, both members of the ATW board talking about their much missed friend. Then Erin Mackey and Colin Donnell sang Cole Porter’s “De-Lovely,” accompanied by Jim Lowe on the piano.

Ms. Smalls announced that this was the Wing’s most successful gala, raising a half million dollars for its programs. The American Theatre Wing, which has been in existence for more than 70 years, and is the creator of the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards, now focuses on programs and activities to help students, audiences and members of the theatrical community.

Sir Howard Stringer has been a longtime member of the Board. Before he went to work for Sony, he had been for more than 30 years, a producer, journalist and executive of CBS. In 1999, he was honored with a Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

Last night’s program, fittingly, had a lot of Broadway entertainment besides Mr. Donnell and Ms. Mackay. James Naughton performed Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” as well as a parody of their “Thou Swell” that was written for Sir Howard. Breandon Victor Dixon sang Sondheim’s “Being Alive.” Elaine Paige sang “With One Look.” Jennifer Hudson performed also, and Angela Lansbury presented Sir Howard with his award.
Ted Chapin remembering Doug Leeds who died last May 9th and is missed by many. Colin Donnell from the cast of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" singing in duet "It's De-Lovely" for the guests at the Plaza.
Erin Mackey singing the "DeLovely" duet with Colin Donnell. The duo finishing the song.
View of the ballroom during the performance of Donnell and Mackey.
Mayor Bloomberg dispatched Heather Hitchens to proclaim American Theatre Wing Day in honor of Sir Howard Stringer. Among the guests were Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Judith Light, Lucie Arnaz, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, Jane and Morley Safer, Jim Dale, William Ivey Long, Susan Fales-Hill, Jim and Margo Nederlander, Chappy and Melissa Morris, Susan Patricoff, Mario Buatta.

When I left the Plaza after the party last night, because the traffic was heavy, I decided to walk for awhile before catching a cab home. So I crossed over 59th Street to Madison and up the avenue. I find that no matter the time of year, the windows of the shops along Madison Avenue at night are always interesting. I took some pictures of them.
The Pulitzer Fountain in front of the Plaza last night about 10 pm.
Two of the windows from "Corine's World" (Corine Roitfeld, former editor of Paris Vogue).
Inside the Donna Karan store on Madison and 66th with portraits of Marisa Berenson and her daughter Starlite. The glitz and gilt at Dolce and Gabbana.
Multimedia D&G.
Pratesi's idea of comfortable and chic bedroom with just enough zen and tea to assure the most comfortable sleep.
The nightly residents set up for sleeping on the steps of St. James Episcopal on 71st and Madison.
Garb for the climbers among us in the Polo store next door to the church.
A display of porcelain in the window of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli's Treillage on 73rd and Lex.
Special Notice: A week from Thursday, October 6th, inMotion, an organization that has been providing free legal services to low-income, underserved and abused women in New York City, is hosting a special fund-raising event: Story by Story--Climbing to End Domestic Violence at 1411 Broadway (between 39th and 40th Street).

The event is a unique and fun way to make a difference (and get some always much needed exercise): 42 stories, 756 steps mean this is an exciting challenge for the climbers--but one they can take on after work, and complete in under one hour.
All climbs end on the building's rooftop, where photos will be taken in front of the beautiful New York City backdrop.

Climber registration will end on Wednesday, October 5th at 9:00 am.
It's a lot more invigorating than a trip to the gym, and after the climb, there's a great party with drinks, snacks and music.

There are also Different Levels of Participation, such as:

Climbers can choose to do part of the route, or do the entire 42 floors. Ambitious types are invited to raise the stakes on the challenge: they can double the route or carry weights during their climb. Climbers can climb alone or form a team. 

"Virtual climbers" are also welcome--climbers who wish to fundraise but choose not to climb. 

Because climbing is more fun with friends, people are encouraged to form teams. On www.storybystory.org they provide plenty of fundraising tips that make participation easy. There is no registration fee to join the climb and only a fundraising goal of $100 per climber.

About inMotion: inMotion provides free legal services to low-income, underserved and abused women in New York City.

Working primarily in the fields of matrimonial, family and immigration law, inMotion aims to supply women in need with competent legal representation, regardless of their ability to pay.

With a lean staff and a modest budget, inMotion mobilizes support from thousands of volunteers and donors, making a real and measurable impact on the lives of women. You can help too. And have a nice evening in New York with friends old and new, on October 6th.

It's very easy to get involved: All you have to do is go to their website www.storybystory.org to sign up.

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