“Don’t worry, Paul has a plane,” Joanne Woodward told Angela Lansbury, whom the Westport Country Playhouse wants to honor at its annual gala on Sept.15. Angela will have just returned to L.A. from Ireland and is next skedded in Santa Monica for right knee replacement surgery (her second). The offer of Newman’s plane makes the round-trip travel possible for Angela who wants to be a part of the theater’s big fund-raiser, “Footlights and Film, A Celebration of the great Musicals from Stage and Screen.” The tribute to Angela will be presented by good friend Bernadette Peters.
Although Angela has never performed at the Playhouse, she says she has a soft spot in her heart for it, having rented a house in Westport when she made her B’way bow in “Hotel Paradiso” in 1957. Among those performing will be Laura Benanti, Raul Esparza, Steven Pasquale and others. Joanne, a Playhouse artistic director, and Paul Newman are honorary chairs. Stefanie and Bob Wright will be honored for their “incalculable contributions” to the Playhouse
Angela, who won a Drama Desk Award and Tony nomination for “Deuce” in the 2006-7 season, says, “It reminded me I can still do it.” She’s 82 and doesn’t discourage offers for a B’way return. “Try me,” she laughs. Meanwhile she’s in front of the cameras for an A.L.S. (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis — “Lou Gehrig’s disease”) fundraising film “to find a cure” and she will appear at their convention — her sister, Isolde, died of ALS, Angela’s initials are A.L.S. — “Angela Lansbury Shaw.”