The Drama of it all

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Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith rush into The Pierre for the Drama League annual gala in 2004. Photo: JH.

Monday, June 17, 2019. Another beautiful late Spring weekend in New York with lots of Sun, temps in 70s and some rains coming in late at night to wash the greenery, the flowers, the sidewalks and the roads. Summer is less than a week away, and in my neighborhood the weekenders have already begun to abandon the Big Town — at least on weekends — for their summer retreats. Heavenly for those of us remaining.

Today we’re running another one of our look-backs. JH, in tidying up the place has come across a number of postings over the years that are fun to see again. Frankly since our launch in the year 2000, we’ve published more than 5000 Diaries and tens of thousands of Party Pictures as well as more than 3000 Guest Diaries from here, from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Texas, Chicago, St. Louis, Palm Beach, and our beloved, the late Liz Smith. 

Today we’re publishing a Diary from fifteen years ago (with photos by JH), a Drama League Gala that fascinated both of us in retrospect. It’s an excellent reminder of the times (that have been a-changing as you’ve no doubt noticed), and the people and the changes that life and our allegiances brings to all of us, as you will notice.

DPC arrives in his Bentley (!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004. Last night at 7:30, a brand new chauffeur driven black Bentley sedan provided by Visual Therapy, LA-NY luxury lifestyle consultants, pulled up in front of my apartment house. I got in and we were off to The Pierre where the Drama League was holding its annual gala benefit where they were honoring Broadway’s newest royal couple, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.

The annual Drama League evening is a big valentine box of chocolates for theatergoers, musical fans and starry-eyed New Yorkers everywhere. Black tie. This year’s Honorary Chair was Jerry Orbach who was honored last year. This year’s co-chairs were Debbie Bancroft, Marisa Berenson, April Gow, Jeanne Lawrence, Elizabeth Stribling. CeCe Black was Board Benefit Chair. I could name two dozen others, all those vice-chairs, chairs emeriti, the benefit committee, because these men and women provide the thousands of concealed hours of dedication to getting this show up every year.

Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.

Banderas and Griffith were seated at the center table before the stage along with Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Orbach and friends. Ms. Griffith, tall and narrow, ample-chested, bare-shouldered (with that very noticeable “Antonio” tattooed at the top of her right arm) looks like a movie star.

And Mr. Banderas, her honey for whom she remains starry-eyed over all these years later (often caressing/massaging his shoulder), looks like a movie star in the alluring style of Marcello Mastroianni. It’s a fascinating visual phenomenon. I was reminded of seeing Taylor and Burton when they were the toast of New York, and wherever they went, they gave you a taste of that thing we call Hollywood.

Elizabeth Stribling, Jeanne Lawrence, Chita Rivera, April Gow, Debbie Bancroft, and CeCe Black.

Right after the main course, on came the show with the cast of Nine, including the deliciously wise and wily Chita Rivera, Brent Barrett, Karen Ziemba, Christine Ebersol singing the hilarious “To Keep My Love Alive,” the last song Rodgers and Hart wrote together; Howard McGillin, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Eugene Fleming, Jessica Leigh Brown, Laura Benanti, Stephanie Bast, Sara Gettelfinger, Deidre Goodwin, Jacqueline Henvy, Linda Mugleston, Tonya Pinkins, Saundra Santiago, Myra Lucretia Taylor, and Kathy Voytko.

A sensational evening. Although when it was over and I was back out on East 61st Street under the Pierre’s marquee, and the Bentley, alas, was long gone, and it was yellow cab time once again. That’s Show Business, baby.

Melanie and Antonio with an adoring fan.
Antonio greeting fans.
Karen Ziemba and Christine Ebersol.
Jerry and Elaine Orbach.
Wilbur Ross and Hilary Geary.
John Loeb and Sharon Handler.
April Gow, Elizabeth Stribling, Jeanne Lawrence, Cece Black, Patricia Follert, and Debbie Bancroft.
Ted Sayer and Betty Sargent.
Eugene Fleming, Andrea McCardle, Brent Barrett, and friend.
Jeanne Lawrence, Burl Stiff, and CeCe Black.
Eleanora and Michael Kennedy.
Ann Jurdem, April Gow, and Sophie Hunter.
Coco Kopelman.
Marisa Brown and friend.
Jeanne Lawrence and Colin Lively with a friend.
Enid Nemy and Mario Buatta.

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