You’ll forgive my tardiness, but I just got back from a fancy-ass gala benefit in Connecticut, and boy is my ass fancy! Badum ching. On Monday night, the Westport Country Playhouse hosted “Footlights and Film: A Celebration of Great Musicals from Stage and Screen”, hosted by Julia Roberts (who I understand has done some film work) and featuring performances by some of Broadway’s best. It was a fundraiser to support the Playhouse’s artistic programming. But more importantly, it was an opportunity for all the rich Connecticut alta cacas to get spiffed up, drink champagne and talk about each other. Tickets for the event (so I hear) were 600 dollars a head! Luckily, I've never had to pay for my head - I’ve always relied on the kindness of my famous friends, and went as a guest of my bestie, Tituss Burgess, who was among the list of performers. My buddy Frank and I arrived early and wound up at a cocktail reception on the front lawn. Did we ever feel schmancy!... Mingling with high society in our cute suits… I mean, we really thought we were just the queer’s ears! Our fierceness was quickly deflated, however, when some rich bitch in Leopard spots and her rich bitch friend in Zebra stripes charged toward us! We were just about to open fire, when they handed us their empty wine glasses and asked where the restrooms were. (I guess you can take the gays out of cater-waitering, but you can’t take the cater-waiter out of the gays. Oh well. Screw 'em!)
We eventually made our way into the theatre. James Earl Jones was seated in front of me; I asked that he please silence his cell phone before the show began. The woman seated next to me could have lit Connecticut with the rocks on her left hand alone, and her face had been pulled so far back that her chin was seated in the row behind us. She turned to me and immediately began spouting her credentials: “Myyyy husband is the Head of the Board of Directors of the Executive Committee on the Chair by the Sofa next to the Coffee Table of the President of the United States, one nation under God..” (or whatever the hell she said he was) “..What is your affiliation with this event,” she then asked me. I thought “a friend of one of the performers” sounded terribly unimpressive… so I just said, “Oprah.” I don’t know what I meant by it, and neither did she, but it seemed to do the trick.
The 6:30 show kicked off (promptly at 7:03) with a movie musical-themed medley by the entire cast which ended with a retardedly buh-rilliant rendition of “With One Look” by Tituss, who then escorted Julia Roberts to the stage - I kvelled! Julia began by humbly admitting, “I’m watching all of these incredibly talented people from the wings, and thinking to myself… ‘Well… I’m tall…’” She was adorable, and (needless to say) stunning. A few of the evening’s performances included Gavin Lee’s athletic take on “I Wanna Be a Producer”, a soaring “The Wizard and I” by Julia Murney, Kerry Butler’s rousing and breathless Hairspray medley, “Guido’s Song” from Nine by Raul Esparza, and a stunning duet of “If I Loved You” by the gorgeous Laura Benanti and her equally gorge husband Steven Pasquale, which by the end, had lovely Laura in tears… (possibly because she realized that Steven had been singing the entire song directly to me - Tough break, Laur.) Finally, Bernadette Peters came out! Lord in Heaven, I hope I look as good as she does when I’m Bernadette Peters. She sang “With So Little to be Sure Of” from Anyone Can Whistle as a tribute to the legendary Angela Lansbury, seated just below, who then took the stage (to a standing ovash, obvi) and sang “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You” from Sweeney! It was kind of breathtaking.
Following the show was a dinner and silent auction. We sat at a table with all of the night’s performers, and directly to our right sat Bernadette and Angela! This was my exact view as I ate dinner…
I mean, are you kidding me with this?? I wasn’t dealing with my life. I kept telling Kerry Butler and Julia Murney to SHUT UP so I could hear what BP was saying to AL! It was crazy! JoAnne Woodward, artistic director of the Playhouse, gave a lovely little speech, and even Ralph Lauren got up to say a few words! (Coincidentally, I was wearing Ralph’s underwear that night. But it’s not what you think.)
Anyway, it was really an unbelievable evening, and I’m thrilled to have been there. Luckily, I’ll always have the bit of leftover potato salad I swiped from Bernadette’s dinner plate to serve as a memento. (Who are you to judge me??)
L-R: Frank DiLella, Randy Rainbow, Angela Laaahnz-bree's head, Tituss Burgess