Class act of the legit award givers, New Dramatists hosted a tribute to Arthur Miller at its spring luncheon on Thursday at the Marriott Marquis. Playwrights Nilo Cruz and Kia Corthron, among others, were also honored.
No one loves theater people like other theater people, but when it came to ND’s annual Introduction of the Celebrities ritual, it was TV’s Joyce Randolph of “The Honeymooners” fame who drew the biggest ovation, including a big “Wow!” from presenter Sandy Duncan.
As for the tribute itself, Michael Mayer (“A View From the Bridge”) struck a touching note when he had Miller sign the director’s childhood copy of “Death of a Salesman.” In an especially effective sequence of film and TV clips, Frederic March, Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman and Brian Dennehy each took his turn at playing Willy Loman.
“There was no Off Broadway theater and there were no prizes,” Miller said of his first days in the theater. “You arrived fully formed. You were on Broadway or you weren’t.”
He then reminded everyone that his “Death of a Salesman” opened in 1949 at the Morosco Theater, torn down to make way for the Marriott Marquis.
“It had the best acoustics,” he said of the theater. “And now we have lunch here.”
He praised New Dramatists for the its commitment to emerging playwrights. As for the org’s tribute, he remarked, “It gives me a sense of continuity. I take no pleasure in being the last of a species.”