Legiters fete Albee with class

Norton plays host to stellar guest list

NEW YORK — The Signature Theatre Co. benefit honoring Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee and his Tony-winning producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann exuded class: elegant digs at the Essex House; discreet silent auction heavier on theater memorabilia than on baskets of cosmetics; and a quality guest list. Latter included Edward Norton (party host), Sally Field (wistful that she would have to postpone her stage career “until I’m finished raising my children — unless I can do more short runs like ‘The Goat’ “), Arthur Miller (summing up how America’s most distinguished political playwright feels about the state of the country in these parlous political times: “Terrible!”), “Dawson’s Creek” cutie James Van der Beek (thrilled to be going into previews Off Broadway with Lanford Wilson‘s “Rain Dance” and wondering whether he should get a place in New York after he marries the lady on his arm, Heather McComb, this summer), Mercedes Ruehl (previewing the tribute she would pay to Liz McCann: “I’m going to say, ‘Liz, it’s a cold world, kid — but it ain’t so bad when you’re Irish’ “), Wilson (the Signature’s playwright-of-the-season for 2003), Bill Irwin (his successor for 2004) and Signature alumni and well-wishers John Lithgow, Brian Murray, Romulus Linney, Marian Seldes, Salma Hayek and Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

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