Last night I finally saw Die Mommie Die, which is about to kick the bucket after a happy life at New World Stages. I'd never seen the movie before, but I found its stage adaptation to be a completely satisfying tribute to the camp and glamour of Old Hollywood. Fun, fun. And Charles Busch is quite an artist. Every syllable of every word he speaks and each inflection seems brilliantly inspired by a different iconic Movie Queen of yesteryear. It's as though Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Gloria Swanson are all living under his Dior skirt. (How horrifying.)
But the real show began (for me, at least) backstage after the curtain came down. I was brought back to meet Charles and was suddenly overwhelmed by the company I was in. There in one tiny room were Barbara Cook, Harvey Evans (from the original West Side Story) and ME! I mean, we are talking true Broadway Royalty here! And Barbara and Harvey have done pretty well for themselves too! Also in the mix was Alison Fraser of the upcoming Gypsy revival with Patti LuPing-Pong.
The conversation eventually lead to Charles's many costume changes in the show, which alone garnered a few ovations from the audience. When asked if she'd ever kept any of her costumes over the years, Ms. Cook denied, but almost immediately launched into a bit of gossip (to which I was privy) about fellow celebs and their post-closing clothing rituals. (A word of caution: If you're gonna dish, beware of nearby blogging "spoons". They might run away with something.) Apparently it's in Glenn Close's contract to retain a few choice wardrobe pieces once a show she's working on has finished. (So don't be surprised if you run into Glenn at the A&P wearing her Act One Finale from Sunset Blvd.) Some stars however don't have time for silly contractual requests and simply help themselves to whatever they like at the end of a run. Now, I would never want to jeopardize the precious trust between myself and my new pal Barbara Cook, so I will most certainly not reveal any names here today. You'll all just have to wait for them to publish my personal memoirs...(To be written and released just as soon as I do something.)
Finally, our little backstage banter had come to an end. I autographed a Playbill and handed it to Barbara Cook. She handed it back to me, and we said our farewells. Although, none of us went anywhere before Barb had wrapped the twenty-eighth and final scarf around her precious instrument. Once her face was no longer visible, she and Harvey disappeared up 51st Street, and I was off to Joe Allen's for dinner with my friend Jim Caruso. There I was introduced to Rebecca Luker (the most adorable and lovely woman ever) and her husband Danny Burstein (ALDOLFO! from The Drowsy Chaperone, as I will always remember him fondly). All of a sudden, in walked the one-and-only Joel Grey. I could NOT believe it; they sat him at the table I wanted. Oh well. I didn't let on to my disappointment. I gave Joel an affectionate nod, welcoming him. He did not respond. Just minutes later, I looked up and who did I see headed in my direction but the legendary Lauren Bacall - or Betty, as she's referred to by her closest friends. (I call her Lauren Bacall.) She came so close, for a moment I thought she was gonna take my order. She did not. She was instead seated with her family at a table across from ours. It was really some dinner! I was right at home surrounded by such A-Listers, and I could sense they felt the same. Although I didn't want to leave all my new friends, it ultimately came time, so we paid the bill (I think). I blew a few kisses to Lauren Bacall. She did not catch them, and we made our exit.
Back on the old N Train home to Astoria, I was terribly disappointed and offended to find the usual assemblage. Not one celebrity. I had absolutely nothing to say to any of them.
I can't live like this.