George Clooney, no. Antonio Banderas, no. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, yes! He arrived on stage at the Taper Theater to join wife Corina. She was Chairlady of the Center Theater Group’s Salon XIV, May 15, and she is also a longtime member along with group president Richard Kagan.
Corina V. welcomed the SRO audience to “On The Sunny Side Of The Street — Celebrating the Lyrics of Dorothy Fields.” She brought on the evening’s host, Michael Feinstein. He masterfully reminisced about the life and lyrics of Fields through the program in which he alternately narrated stories behind her songs (lyrics), played the music for which she created the words, introduced the voices of magnificent singers who left the audience hoping for more. One added gift was a duet by Feinstein and Marvin Hamlisch (alternating) on a concert grand and upright piano — music only — to which Dorothy would create the words. It was standing ovation time, as was the finale with all the performers returning to the stage (through the audience) for a final bow and community sing on “On The Sunny Side of the Street,” one of the many songs by Jimmy McHugh to which Fields wrote the memorable lyrics. Everyone left the theater singing one or more of her lyrics — like, “I Feel A Song Coming On,” or “A Fine Romance,” “I Won’t Dance” or “Don’t Blame Me.”
For a comedy turn, Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds duetted on “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” with Kagan playing piano on which the duo leaned. The serious performers included Debby Boone, Jean Louisa Kelly and Kevin Earley, the Shout Sister group, Michelle Duffy, Elizabeth Ward Land, and Amy Pretz, Ken Howard, Michele Lee, Vicki Lewis, B.J. Ward and Jubilant Sykes. The singing continued later in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion — it was Kagan’s 60th birthday. The “Happy Birthday” lyrics were not Dorothy Fields’.