I was invited to be a judge for the first heat of this New York Musical Theatre Festival competition along with casting director Michael Cassara, ASCAP's Director of Musical Theatre Michael Kerker and composer Ryan Scott Oliver.
The evening was compered by one of the most exciting young Broadway talents on the scene, star of DOGFIGHT and GODSPELL Lindsay Mendez
We heard ten talented kids singing theatre songs from Maltby & Shire, Bricusse & Newley, Sondheim, Bock & Harnick and Adam Guettel. Tomorrow night another ten will compete (Celia Keenan-Bolger will be in my judge's chair), four will be chosen from each heat and a Grand Final winner chosen from the final eight on October 12th. The winner will perform a solo concert produced by NYMF and Sh-K-Boom Records. I should enter myself!
Tonight's winners were Adam Kaplan
and Joel Dommel. And I discovered that the following night our brilliant Aussie friend Alexis Fishman made it through to the Grand Final as well. YAYYYYYYYYYY!
Our dear friend (and tt's surrogate son) Rick Lau is passing through NYC on his way home to Hong Kong after playing a short season in Santa Monica with the play I CHING. I managed to catch him after he'd seen a matinee at the Roundabout and before the evening performance of ONCE and dragged him off to the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square.
After this hot chocolate he'll be on a marshmallow high for quite some time.
Next day Rick strolled the High Line and found someone tt would surely love to meet
One of the Broadway musical's favourite ingenues from the 1960s walked us down memory lane tonight and proved she is better than ever with her sensational show at Birdland directed by Barry Kleinbort (one must assume he's also responsible for some of the terrifically funny comedy material as well) and sensitive musical direction by Paul Greenwood.
Ms. Gillette's considerable vocal range remains in fine form and her youthful brassy chest tones are actually warmer so it was thrilling to hear her recreate her Sally Bowles from CABARET with "Don't Tell Mama" (she was a Broadway replacement in 1967) and, a highlight of the evening, a stunning "Mira" from CARNIVAL (Gillette replaced Anna Maria Alberghetti, or as one of Gillette's Baltimore relatives referred to her at the time, Betty Spaghetti). We also heard how she was Dainty June's understudy in GYPSY and thanks to Ethel Merman kept the job until she was eight months pregnant; we heard the original opening number from THE GAY LIFE until the song...and Gillette's entire role...were cut out of town; her solos from ALL AMERICAN ("Nightlife"), MR. PRESIDENT ("The Secret Service") and JIMMY ("Oh, Gee!"); a marvellous Irving Berlin tribute made up of "How Deep is the Ocean" and "Remember"; a very funny routine about having to sing "Yesterdays" at lyricist Otto Harbach's funeral and lamenting that she was a young girl singing a song written for an elderly woman ("Is Kitty Carlisle off in Rome? Celeste Holm unable to leave her home?"); and a knockout finale which made me regret I never saw her as Lucie Arnaz's final replacement in THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG, "I Still Believe in Love".
The room was packed with celebrity supporters cheering lustily including former co-stars Julie Wilson and Tony Roberts, Sheldon Harnick & Margery Gray, K.T. Sullivan, Klea Blackhurst, Harvey Evans, Steven Brinberg, Joe Sirola and Len Cariou.
Julie Wilson with A.G.
A.G. and Tony Roberts
I was seated alone up the back until P.R. whiz Richard Hillman rescued me from Siberia and put me at his table with heavenly "Broadway Beat" host Richard Ridge.
Harvey Evans & Richard Ridge
Mr. H even introduced me to Anita after the show and had our photo taken together. A perfect end to a spectacular evening.
My favourite event of the year! But this time (my third) I wasn't just a big spender, I took an active part.
I was assisting on the DANCERS OVER 40 table so we were setting up our wares bright and early at 8.30 a.m. This year we had a prime position in Shubert Alley outside the stage door of the Booth Theatre.
With Larry Merritt (PIPPIN, APPLAUSE, NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP) and Karin Baker (COCO, 42nd STREET)
and Mary Lou Barber (CATS, A CHORUS LINE, SOPHISTICATED LADIES)
It was a very chilly morning and the official opening wasn't until 10 but we were already doing brisk business by 9.30.
The gallant Marcus Galante (L) lent me a denim jacket to stave off pneumonia.
At 11.30 a.m. I moved into the Shubert Theatre with cast members from MAMMA MIA, BRING IT ON, JERSEY BOYS, ONCE & NEWSIES to start signing posters and doing publicity pics.
You always think these historic theatres are going to be huge but from the stage they're really intimate.
And of course the Shubert has such special significance.
Then it was time to join the Autograph table. People paid $30 to get everyone's autograph at the table. The line up of celebs changes hourly. That's Patrick Page (ex-Green Goblin in SPIDER MAN and currently De Guiche in CYRANO) looking down the lens.
With Tony Award winning Best Actor in a Musical for ONCE, Steve Kazee
Talented new star of NEWSIES Cory Cott interviews Steve Kazee.
Cory Cott & Tyne Daly
Judy Kaye & Will Swenson
Phyllis Newman & Karen Olivo
Charles Busch & Donna Murphy
Then it was time to check in at the Live auction where thousands of dollars were changing hands at an alarming speed.
People will pay a hefty sum for items such as a bear dressed as Mama Rose in GYPSY. Opening night tickets for the LES MIZ movie premiere went for $32,000!!!
I was enlisted to help flog a beautiful painting by Brian Strumwasser of my former alter ego Ms. Bernadette Basinger
And I'm thrilled to say the lovely Elaine bought her for $775!
Will Swenson was his usual respectful self.
Matt Ryan, a surprise visitor from London, asks me what I REALLY thought of END OF THE RAINBOW.