To say that April 24, 2013 at the Booth Theatre, Opening Night of Bette Midler's solo show, "I'll Eat You Last," (an imagined evening with legendary Hollywood agent, Sue Mengers; Barbra Streisand was one of her first clients), was an explosion of famous faces is an understatement :). When I found an available single ticket in the very last row of the mezzanine for the show's official opening, I grabbed it. I already had a ticket for the following Sunday's matinee, and was in NYC for other shows, so I scrambled to rearrange, and happily went people-watching for the evening :).
My fun was somewhat hindered by the [very!] dogged security personnel of course, but I tried to stay out of their way while gawking. It worked until a few minutes before the show when they aggressively herded everyone other than the Susan Sarandons of the world inside. And while I didn't get any photos in the theater, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor (while trying to appear completely blasé about it all) as I squeezed by Diane Von Furstenberg, Barry Diller, Mario Cantone, Barbara Walters, Harvey Weinstein, Marc Shaiman & Scott Whittman, Ron Meyer & his daughter, Carolina Herrera and most of the folks I saw arriving below.
Actor Martin Short greets Marlo Thomas, who arrived just behind him, and they posed together for the photographers
Ali McGraw, escorted by the show's playwright, John Logan (Tony-winner for "Red," and screenwriter for "Skyfall"). At the time, I didn't know that there's a fairly long, very intimate story about Ali and Steve McQueen in the show. It was a "breaking the fourth wall" moment listening to the story knowing she was sitting in the audience with us. (in the center photo, you can can glimpse Ron Meyer in the brown jacket and his daughter Jennifer with green bag)
Victor Garber greeting a friend at the first of two openings I saw him at that week ("Pippin" was the other; I wrote about that in my previous post).
Author Fran Lebowitz (left) and American composer Adam Guettel (right) facing the phalanx of paparazzi!
There was a reunion of sorts for several of those involved in the 2011 Broadway production of "The Normal Heart" (which starred Joe Mantello, the director of "I'll Eat You Last"):
Ellen Barkin and playwright/director George C. Wolfe
Actress Kelly Lynch and Mitch Glazer
Kinky Boots' writer Harvey Fierstein (also attended "Pippin" opening night the following evening)
I would have had a great photo of Susan Sarandon if she hadn't missed the entrance for the step and repeat, and headed directly into the theater just in front of me as I was also walking in. When they caught her, she turned right around into my face. Slightly too close to pull out the camera :). I will say that she is absolutely beautiful up close!
Bette Midler is such a huge personality on stage, that it was truly shocking to see how physically tiny she is in person! She took her time with everyone at the stage door and, when I mentioned that I could have listened to Sue's stories all night, she said that there were many more that didn't make it into the show...I can only imagine!
And no SUVs or limousines for the Divine Miss M :), her little hybrid awaited her outside the stage door.
By the way, the audience is greeted by this scrim before it rises to reveal an amazing recreation of Sue Mengers' Beverly Hills living room, and it was all deliciously true!
The sign says it all: "Join us".... when you see Pippin, you'll join this quirky, silly, charming, talented cast of performers on the journey to their corner of the sky known as Broadway. They'll make you gasp with delight, both on and off stage.
I loved meeting this cast. When I saw the show initially in Cambridge at A.R.T., my schedule didn't allow me to wait after to say thanks; so for many reasons, I'm happy that the entire cast transferred with the show to NYC...it was like seeing old friends, and I had the chance to let them know how much pleasure their performances brought me!
Diane Paulus, the visionary director of this revival. Although she didn't come down the line to sign, I was thrilled to see her. This is the fourth production of hers that I've seen, and I've been blown away each time by her creative, mind-bending approach to theater!
Patina Miller (Leading Player) was fun to interact with as she was signing. She was patient and personal with as many as possible, taking photos, signing and chatting. I had seen Patina at the Kennedy Center in "First You Dream," a Kander & Ebb revue and mentioned to her how much I enjoyed her performance then, and now. My experience is that it's satisfying for the actors when they hear that folks have seen other, more off-the-beaten track stage performances they've done.
Matthew James Thomas (Pippin) received a rousing cheer of welcome when he emerged from the stage door, and was especially kind and playful with the children waiting. All of the Pippin actors, including Matthew, were willing to take photos with fans, and as you can imagine, he was in high demand :).
Matthew was followed out by Terrence Mann (Pippin's father, the king), who was equally popular with those waiting. He was such fun; talking and joking with everyone. (Look below for photos of his real-life wife and costar, Charlotte d'Amboise.)
Erik Altemus (Lewis; understudy for Pippin) plays the part of Pippin's half-brother with just the right amount of goofy arrogance. I loved his chemistry with everyone on stage, and he was equally charming off stage!
Just a few of the amazing "Players," who do the tricks and stunts as part of the ensemble. Pippin's magic is due in very large part to the talent and charisma of every member of this ensemble.
Extra: Some photos of the Opening Night arrivals on April 25, 2013:
What an exciting evening to see the show!! The thrill of the entire audience was palpable, and that transferred to the actors and back again. It was a bonus to watch some of the opening night arrivals (although not always easy to see over the paparazzi and handlers :)), and see some legends. But the real star of the night was the show! :)
The original "Leading Player," Ben Vereen.
The trio above is Gypsy Snider, responsible for the circus elements; Chet Walker, the choreographer and original collaborator with Bob Fosse; and Diane Paulus, the director (Chet & Diane also pictured above and left)
Producer Fran Heissler (with a very elaborate necklace :)). I saw her several times outside and inside the theater and she was clearly having a wonderful night!!
Stage Door Tales
Every stage door has a story.