Rain on opening night is a good omen, but rain at an opening night party is a mess . . . so providence has seen to it that the rain has ended just in time for the big bash at the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street (two blocks from Macy's).
The sound of champagne corks popping has replaced the "swish" of the guillotine's blade as revelers arrive in cloaks and capes.
Among the attendees: Dina Merrill, resplendent in a sapphire blue gown, Christopher Plummer in a velvet dinner jacket, Regis and Joy Philbin (she in a sexy black off-the-shoulder number), Al Hirschfeld, Neil Simon, Helen Hunt, Glenn Close in a stunning long brown coat over rust pants, Richard Kind from TV's "Spin City," Phyllis George, and NYC Police Chief Howard Safir and Sen. Al D'Amato. Christine Andreas, Terry Mann, and Douglas Sills arrived to a standing ovation and the pop of flash bulbs.
Inside the ballroom/theatre (built at the turn-of-the century) the decor is red, white and blue. Half the room is meant to represent France (with centerpieces of guillotines and carts) and the other half depicts England (rose-draped arbors), divided of course by the English Channel (white cloth sails over blue tablecloths). Onstage is a string trio -- to the sides are the buffet tables and bars.
Legendary agent Monty Silver, an early arrival, pronounced the performance "very exciting, a great success," while Broadway's Peter Neufeld described it as "an old-style 50s musical -- in the best sense of the word -- with beautiful ballads . . . Thank you, God!" Michael David of Dodger Productions and his wife, Betsy Friday, said they were truly enjoying "an opening night that wasn't ours." Their day had been a swirl of gala theatre-going, starting with the 10th Anniversary Reunion of "Into the Woods." They left the Sondheim show at intermission to go home and change into black tie for tonight, but returned just in time to hear Michael's favorite moment -- "No More" with Chip Zien and Tom Aldredge -- and then it was off to the Minskoff for "The Scarlet Pimpernel."
It's now close to midnight. The crowds are beginning to thin; the classical music has been replaced by loud rock. Taxis and limos await . . . and so do tomorrow's reviews.
-- By Rebecca Paller