|Religious sky. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.|
|Tuesday, November 13, 2012. Sunny, fair weather here in New York. With rain predicted and temps dropping into the low 50s.
It was a typically busy night on the Social Calendar. Fair weather, easy to get a cab. I went down to Archivia just before closing to pick up another copy of Tom Mankiewicz’
My Life As A Mankiewicz.
Mank, as he was known to his good friends (or “Tom” or “Tommy”) talks to you. He tells his story to you. I was halfway through the book before I realized that this champion screenwriter/director does great dialogue, and in this case it’s done to you, the reader.
I was giving it as an early Christmas present to my friend Philip Carlson whom I was seeing last night at the ENCORES! Gala at City Center. Philip and I met in the mid-60s when we were both cast in a de Ghelderode play “Christopher Columbus” off-off-off Broadway at the Judson Memorial Church in Brooklyn Heights.
My only memory of it was meeting Philip. I wasn’t very good and managed to conveniently forget the whole experience. However it was one of those instant friendships with me and Philip. He went on to a career with a very successful off-Broadway play “Until The Monkey Comes” and then signed a contract with Universal and moved to Hollywood with his first wife Patty, who was also an actress. He later quit acting and became an agent. He loves the business. It’s been his business, his whole life. I went on to the brokerage business, and then the schmatte business, and finally my own brand of Hollywood as a writer, etc.
Last night at the newly refurbished New York City Center they held the “20 Years of Encores! A Gala Celebration starring Raul Esparza and Kelli O’Hara and featuring Sarah Uriarte Berry, Walter Bobbie, Victoria Clark, Rob Fisher, Christopher Fitzgerald, Debbie Gravitte, Joel Grey, Jared Grimes, Judy Kaye, Rebecca Luker, Rob McClure, Megan Sikora, Ryan Silverman, Daniel J. Watts with Adam Alexander, Sam Bolen Christine DiGiallonardo Daniela DiGiallonardo, Nadia DiGiallornardo, Leslie Donna Fesner, Miles Johnson, Michael Marecotete, Martin Sola, J. D Webster.
Tyne Daley was on the bill but she was home sick in bed with a high fever. She was missed. BUT, it was a wonderful evening (90 minutes) of non-stop song and dance with some of the greatest performers on Broadway today.
They performed songs from all the revival shows that Encores! has produced in the past 20 years. It’s first how was “Fiorello!” by Harnick and Bock about Fiorello LaGuardia, the Mayor of New York in the 1940s. Mayor LaGuardia was almost a folk hero in his own time, and definitely thereafter. In 1943 he designated the theater, which was originally the Shriners Auditorium on 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, into the City Center Theater.
|It was the first municipal venture into theatre and the charter called for plays, musicals, ballets, symphonies, etc. to be performed at an affordable ticket price. Since then it has become the home of the New York Ballet, the New York City Opera, the New York City Symphony and many other cultural ventures including Encores!
There are still a lot of New Yorkers who don’t know about Encores! They’re missing some great musical theatre. Its season runs between January and April. They produce for musical revivals which run for four days – Thursday through Sunday. And chocked full of great Broadway talent.
I’ve been lucky to attend several in the past few years. The orchestra is on the stage behind the performers. There are no sets and everything is done with “script in hand” (except when it isn’t – it’s device to explain the lack of sets). But you see it all and you’re treated to the genius of the creators of all of these great Broadway musicals. Over the decades of the 20th century there have been so many hit shows that it’s a big catalogue to choose from.
|The 2013 season which begins January 30, 2013 begins with a re-revival of “Fiorello!” followed by “It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SUPERMAN!” and Rodgers and Hart’s “On Your Toes.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the show, you’ll get why it was a hit. Check it out here.
The evening honored Stephanie and Fred Shuman with the 2012 Fiorello H. LaGuardia Award recipients. The Shumans, who are great enthusiasts of American musical theatre created a Fund For Encores! that supports the productions. The gala co-chairs were Patricia and Jesse Robert Lovejoy, Stacey and Eric Mindich and Robin and Frederic Seegal. Gala Vice Chairs were Bobbie and Lew Frankfort, Perry and Marty Granoff Monica and Raymond A. Lamontagne, Diane and Joseph Steinberg, Judy and Fred Wilpon, Lisa and Richard Witten. Senator Schumer was Honorary Chair. Encores! Artistic Director is Jack Viertel, with the Encores Orchestra, musical director Rob Berman; directed by Marc Bruni.
|The performance began a little after seven and ran ninety minutes without an intermission. I have expected the finale to be leading up to an intermission because I could have stayed for a second act.
Fifty-fifth Street between Seventh and Fifth Avenues has several great restaurants (including Michael’s and Circo). Phil and I stopped in for some din some after-theatre talk at Alain Ducasse's Benoit.
Leaving the restaurant I walked a couple blocks up Fifth Avenue because I wanted to get a shot of the Harry Winston building which is already decked out for the Holiday Season ...
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