Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Opening Night in New York.

Joan Copeland, Arthur Miller's sister.
She got to knew Marilyn very well.
It is fun to be a part of an opening night in New York. It's also a lot of work.

My job was to greet people in the lobby and take photos. (I like having a task during things like this.)

So different from The Last Session opening in London, where The Big Party is not done. (In fact, what I do remember was the rather dignified -- but fun! -- gathering in the small bar area, just cast and crew members and their families. Oh, but how excited we all were! Then Rob Harris and Darren Day said some very nice things about me. I said nice things about him (and the rest of the cast) and that was it. Quiet, Lovely. Dignified. Like a church service. It was memorable and meaningful.)

But there is also something to be said for a star-studded gala at Sardi's, where the music is playing and everyone is celebrating in party fashion. A perfect venue for a true Broadway "Character Man."

We were on the second floor of historic Sardi's, overlooking 44th street. Big Windows. Streets filled with people getting out of the other shows. An ocean of humanity out on the street. It's so alive!

But earlier, we were down on 30th street at the tiny theater. I was greeting people in the lobby.

Sondra Lee, a dancer for Jerome Robbins who played Tiger Lily in the original Mary Martin Peter Pan.
Legendary dancer and director Marge Champion.
Broadway star and TV game show celeb, Anita Gillette.
The show is just so beautiful. (People were crying out loud after laughing their butts off. Do you remember the comedienne, Marilyn Michaels? She was sitting down front in a folding chair and was so taken, she would exclaim out loud with laughter or sobs. It was great!)

And Broadway star (and Aussie) Tony Sheldon, legendary dancer and director/choreographer Marge Champion, and Sandra Lee, who has a great life story and was in the original Peter Pan with Mary Martin. 92 and 94, and smarter than you'll ever be in your life.

Tony Sheldon, Jim Brochu, Character Man Director Robert Bartley.
And Brian Stokes Mitchell, the most nicest human being on earth who is also the most talented. We love watching him on the old Pyramids with Dick Clark. He's so good at playing the game. That's one of the disappointments of the current Pyramid, aside from the fact that I thought the contestant on one show was the celebrity.

Jim is in tears listening to Brian Stokes Mitchell's praise.
But it was also a tribute to Robert Bartley, who directed a young team in a small space to Broadway level work and to Don Myers, who stage manages everyone like a family. They all put their whole hearts and soul and time and effort into it to get every moment just right.

Carl Haan, the musical director, was thrilled when he saw "Marian Colby," Jennifer Bassey from "All My Children."

Carl Haan, Jim Brochu, Jennifer Bassey.
Producer Peter Napolitano with members of the
creative crew plus friends. 
Also celebrating was the excellent young team who put their whole hearts into it, and many hours of hard labor, doing whatever needed to be done. No one makes any real money from a gig like this, so we all pitched in and the "Mickey and Judy Putting On A Show" aspect made it that much more joyful and emotionally fulfilling.

It's an honestly beautiful show and the production design is just enough. No one wanted to overwhelm the story or the performer, not that any object (or human) could upstage Jim Brochu.

There are lots more of these photos at Playbill.com, so enjoy!

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