Madonna shares new ‘Confessions’

“GEE, IT’S nice to get out of the house!” That’s what Madonna, wife and mother of two kids, said around 3:30 a.m. Saturday night at the Roxy. To say that Madonna is working hard to make her coming “Confessions on A Dance Floor” CD a hit, would be putting it mildly. She has sat for a dozen interviews, she has cantered down the streets of NYC on a horse with David Letterman. (Her first equine experience since that terrible fall in England.) And Saturday night, she put in a surprise appearance at the Roxy, the famous downtown disco where it began for M more than 20 years ago. The Roxy will close next year … The star materialized in front of several thousand screaming weekend party-ers. Wearing a blue dress that looked transparent under the strong lights, she carried a 12-inch vinyl record of “Confessions” to hand to the DJ. “I can’t believe I’m back here after all this time, with twelve inches” she said, deadpan. And then she danced and danced and danced. She pulled stunned and thrilled boys up from the floor and writhed like a teenager herself. (When her new songs “Sorry” and “Hung Up” blasted out, the place went crazy!) She lingered for hours after, chatting informally with everybody who approached. The star left at 4 a.m. looking fresh. Everybody, including Madonna herself said it was just like the good old days. For a few hours it was.

DON’T YOU LOVE farce? As passe as Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” may be in its sold-out production, that’s how au courant Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absurd Person Singular” remains in its current Manhattan Theatre Club revival at the beautifully refurbished Biltmore Theatre. It’s been many years since this Ayckbourn signature classic was first seen on Broadway, but the biting humor about the miseries of marriage, especially on three different Christmases, remains as hysterical today as on first viewing. And what a cast! Deborah Rush is outstanding and I loved Mireille Enos, who seems to find her career following in Sandy Dennis’ theatrical footsteps … If you like your theater to be original, innovative and fascinating, then get yourself to the Music Box where Joseph Brook’s musical “In My Life” just opened. This one-act musical isn’t truly satisfying. The music is groovy, the story is all about love, but with a slight physical deviation, and there’s a campy vision of the Supreme Being. The sets and costumes are wonderful and the cast is exceptional.

NEWSWEEK LAID on a Women and Leadership Conference at the New York Historical Society last week to coincide with the magazine’s issue on female power. Oprah was, of course, on the magazine’s cover. The symposium was Oprah-less, but she was the rare one who was missing. Here are just a few of the mighty I glimpsed — Lesley Stahl, Gayle King, Diana Taylor, Lally Weymouth, Joan Ganz Cooney, Tina Brown, Jane Rosenthal, Karen Duff, Sally Quinn and on and on. Onstage, Katie Couric moderated former Texas governor Ann Richards, Barnard’s president Judith Shapiro, “Six Feet Under’s” Lauren Ambrose and Deborah Wright, CEO of Carver Bancorp. Most irritating to the panel were questions about trying to “have it all” or young women giving up careers for motherhood. Young actress Ambrose described what she called “the tyranny of choices” and in the end it was perhaps decided that if you “can’t have it all” at least you could do what’s best for yourself. Otherwise, the event was replete with cliches. But it’s always fun to see dynamic women en masse. A second panel over lunch had Katie jawing with Ogilvy/Mather’s Shelly Lazarus, NASA’s Eileen Collins, Disney’s Anne Sweeney and A&E’s Abbe Raven.

EVERY YEAR I think the powers behind the Alzheimer’s Assn.’s Rita Hayworth Gala will run out of ideas. They never do! This year’s event on Nov. 1, at the Waldorf Astoria, will be called “Meet Me at the Stork Club” and Rita’s daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, is still running things. Somers Farkas is the gala chair and Allen Brill the strong right arm. Fur famous Dennis Basso and Metlife’s Robert H. Benmosche will be honored while Rolex ticks the time away. This should be a magical evening. Natalie Cole performs. Call (212) 843-1712. … Elizabeth Jennings will run in her first New York City Marathon to honor her late father, Peter, the titan of ABC News. Liz has a team aptly called “P.J.’s People” and they’ll be doing their darndest on Nov. 6 to raise money for lung cancer research and awareness. … Elaine’s played host last week to a book party for the ’50s movie idol Tab Hunter and the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s pre-event pouring prior to their Nov. 2 event at Cipriani 42 St. I hear Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, Liz Rohatyn, top cop Ray Kelly and the delightful Marian Heiskell showed up. … Denis Leary, the charismatic “Rescue Me” star, will host the Fifth Annual BASH for New York’s Bravest on Nov. 2 at Capitale. The Leary Firefighters Foundation sponsors the event and proceeds will go to uniformed fire departments affected by Hurricane Katrina. Call (212) 343-0240 … Sharon Stone joins Denise Rich on Nov. 14 for the Angel Ball, Rich’s annual benefit for the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research. Patti LaBelle, who lost her three sisters to breast cancer, will be honored for her efforts to battle the disease. Call (212) 254-6677.

Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com

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