THE CLOSING NIGHT audience of “Company” heard Raul Esparza praise composer Stephen Sondheim, the show, which he called “a masterpiece,” and his castmates — he even brought the understudies onstage. He said, “People ask ‘what happened to Broadway’? But I think we are heading for another Golden Age. And when we talk about it, we’ll say we were lucky to be there.” He added, “I have always been ambivalent about being an actor, a silly profession where you put on other people’s clothes and pretend to be somebody else.”
WE FANS of the Fete de Swifty to benefit the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York had a lesson in good citizenship and building for a “green” future when we dropped downtown to inspect the Riverhouse on Rockefeller Park. This is the brainchild of developer Chris Daly’s Sheldrake Organization and it is located just north of the Irish Hunger Memorial. The views of New York Harbor and the Hudson River from Mr. Daly’s glass and 100% “green” building are simply beautiful. This co-op is already half sold but there are still a few one-bedrooms up for grabs around $800,000. And more luxurious space as well. One side of Daly’s renting office is a paean of praise to popular magazines. He has put up on a wall every publication that has devoted its cover to the environment. Daly has just given the Mayor’s Fund a $50,000 gift to help establish more housing and services for victims of domestic violence. The Oct. 2 fete may soon sell out. … The New York Landmarks Conservancy will be naming Gerald Schoenfeld a “Living Landmark” come Oct. 30 at Cipriani 42 Street. He will join with Lauren Bacall, Oscar de la Renta, Jessye Norman, John Whitehead and Mica Ertegan. Peter Duchin and I will be playing, singing and escorting them to their coronations.
THE DVD of “A Little Night Music”–we told you it was on its way — has finally arrived. It is as charming and as flawed as I remember it from the brief theatrical run in 1978. When Elizabeth Taylor and Len Cariou go into their final passionate embrace, I recall that the sophisticated, jaded audience at the posh NYC premiere burst into applause. (Later, after taking her bows, Elizabeth dined at Ginger Man and partied till the wee hours with Halston at Studio 54. Those were the days, my friends.) Ah, and here’s some back story. During the production of “A Little Night Music” Elizabeth got word that Richard Burton, her two-time ex-husband had married tall, blonde Suzy Hunt. My sources told me she was beyond distraught, “hysterical” in fact. Because despite everything, she expected they would eventually reconcile. This trauma might account for her inability to stop noshing. Yet within days she was announcing her own engagement to former Navy Secretary John Warner, declaring she loved him “100%” and looked forward to a comfortable life away from showbiz as the wife of a gentleman farmer. But it was not to be. Warner revealed himself as ambitious for a political career. Elizabeth, somewhat to her surprise, was suddenly on the campaign trail, shaking hands, kissing babies, hosting lunches, making speeches and winning Warner the Senate seat he holds to this day. Just as she revitalized Mike Todd’s career and turned Burton into a superstar, Elizabeth gave more than she got from her relationship. Elizabeth found, after Warner took office, not coherence but boredom. She freed herself from inertia on Broadway with “The Little Foxes.” That Tony-nominated triumph ended her marriage.
THIS HAS been an extremely sad week for friends and fans of the very great Beverly Sills. Here was a smart, I’ll even say brilliant woman, endowed with both the common touch and with otherworldly gifts of singing, acting and comedy. Her operatic career, which should have been even more world-renowned, was somewhat marred by an attitude on the part of some at the Metropolitan Opera that she wasn’t quite good enough. In the end, everyone realized that she was. But it was too little, too late. In the end, Bev did more for the Met than it ever did for her. She was the person who brought opera to the public. After she retired from singing, Bev went on to advise on all the best boards, sitting next to the most successful men in America. She provided inspiration and displayed professional acumen to her colleagues at Lincoln Center. She was one of this city’s premier citizens. But she never had the peace and happiness we all wished her to have. Goodbye, Bev. You were the greatest.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)