On B’way, the show goes on

GOOD MORNING:The show must go on. As B’way lights went on again Thursday night, audiences were greeted by welcome-back remarks before the curtains went up. F’rinstance, at the St. James, where “The Producers” has been breaking records, lead producer Rocco Landesman, prez of Jujamcyn Theaters, thanked audiences for their attendance; at the finale curtain, instead of the cast’s usual “Goodbye” song, they led the audience in “God Bless America” … At the Barrymore Theater before the start of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” Valerie Harper read these remarks by playwright Charles Busch and director Lynne Meadow: “It is such a privilege for us to perform for you tonight and to see you make a choice to come out, to laugh and most importantly to carry on and not be ruled by fear. Together we are all going to get through this and we are going to be OK. Thank you for joining us tonight and God bless America.” The cast had met in the afternoon to rehearse changes in Busch’s play. Some dialog, while comical in the context of the scenes, might still have offended. The lines previously included Michele Lee inquiring whether the play’s doorman, “Muhammed of Iraq,” was “some kind of fanatic.” Valerie’s edited lines to Michele were “Are you Mrs. Saddam Hussein?” and “Golda Meir was a terrorist?” As well as a line, “You really are some kind of terrorist” were changed to “some kind of shakedown artist.” But, remember this is a comedy. Lee, whose apartment looks out on the devastation of New York, admitted to me, “I really don’t feel like going back to work, but maybe this will be some relief for audiences.” She and son David had waited from 3:30 to 7:45 p.m. Wednesday to give blood to the Red Cross. Valerie and husband Tony Cacciotti had waited for hours at Roosevelt Hospital to donate, but were told to come back later … Thesp Al Sapienza, one of the (late) good guys of “The Sopranos,” was reticent to discuss with me how he’d helped rescue workers, but Valerie revealed he’d worked through till 4:30 a.m., loading body bags. He told her, “some weighed 200 pounds — some 35!”

NO LAUGHING MATTER, BUT: Most Las Vegas Strip shows were working, but late Thursday, Don Rickles was waiting to learn whether the Stardust wanted him to go on stage. As for other entertainers, “Mr. Warmth” reminded: “They don’t do humor. It’s not easy to do it at this time, but I’ll do it if makes someone feel better.” At 2 p.m. Thursday, there were already 500 reservations for his show … It was eerie in Vegas casinos earlier this week, reports Sherwood Schwartz, who has been a Vegas visitor since 1940 (!). He said, “I’d never seen anything like this before.” At Caesars he said there was not a single player at any crap table Tuesday or Wednesday — only the pit bosses and pit men. “Everyone was either trying to get out of town or in their room watching television.” The Schwartzes were unable to get a plane home, and the bus terminal was so packed “you couldn’t even get near it.” So he and two friends rented a limo to L.A. Back home Schwartz and son Lloyd, who is producing the upcoming “Brady Bunch in the White House,” were awaiting word from Fox TV on the start date — and whether changes were to be made in its final scene, which had some reference (although comedic, of course) to “bombing and blowing up the White House.”

WHILE “THE WEST WING”went back in production this week, Rob Lowe was in Santa Barbara Thursday, giving blood to the Red Cross and shooting a public service announcement for them … In Culver City, where she’s rehearsing for her first concerts to bow Sept. 20-21 in Puerto Rico, Jennifer Lopez said she’ll donate $25,000 to the American Red Cross … At St. Vincent’s hospital in N.Y., Kathleen Turner has been working to help victims of the bombings … Today at noon memorial services in the National Cathedral, Denyce Graves, starring in D.C.’s Washington Opera in “Tales Of Hoffman,” will sing “America the Beautiful” and “The Lord’s Prayer” … We were saddened to learn that Joan (Mrs. George) Axelrod died Thursday morning, having suffered a major heart attack. She and George had been married 47 years and have two children and five grandchildren. She was one of the most respected interior decorators. Services are private, at home … And a memorial service for Bud Robinson will be held Sunday noon at the Improv. His son, Danny R., senior VP of APA, will host the service for Bud, the so-well-liked dancer-turned-manager … At the 46th Thalians’ ball Oct. 13, a tribute to the late Jack Haley Jr. will be produced by his nephew, Barry Bregman … This horrendous week had at least one warming note: the Southern Calif. chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s dinner honoring Jim Gianopulos raised $3,250,000, chairman Tom Sherak happily announced at the Century Plaza Hotel last Monday night. It was indeed family night with Gianopulos’ mother, wife, brother and children on hand, as were Sherak’s wife Madelyn and daughter Melissa, with emotion-packed speeches, plus their other family members as well. Byron Allen emceed. Reba McEntire and the Bangles entertained. Rep. Henry Waxman received hefty applause for his remarks on the lack of administration’s support for stem cell research funds and prescription drugs. He and Jimmie Huega were also honored. Who knew what was to follow the next morning?

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