HOLLYWOOD — A word of advice to organizers of legit galas: If you want to get the crowd on its feet, get Tony Kushner.
The voluble playwright didn’t quite stick to the theme of Monday’s event at the Ahmanson, “All About Gordon,” but he did manage to make clear his gratitude to outgoing Center Theater Group artistic director/producer Gordon Davidson, in between Bush bashing and NEA naysaying. “Some debts are unpayable,” he said. “I owe you one such debt, Gordon, and so does the American theater.”
Show hosts Sidney Poitier and Jane Kaczmarek emphasized Davidson’s celebration of diversity in his four decades at CTG, and Edward James Olmos appeared in his zoot suit to laud Davidson for championing Luis Valdez‘s play, which, he said, “changed forever what was once the Great White Way.”
Davidson looked on from a box with his family as John Lithgow and Carol Burnett praised his social conscience, then Carl Reiner, Megan Mullally and Garry Marshall listed the shows that didn’t work (“What about ‘Moby Dick — Rehearsed’? Who talked you into that?”). And Brock Peters, Angela Bassett and Lou Gossett Jr. read from August Wilson‘s plays, many first staged at CTG.