Suddenly, last spring -- in the last days of Tony eligibility -- Broadway broke into 1996-vintage song. Y'know: new musicals. Remember them?
Richard Maltby & David Shire chipped in 18 Big songs; Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk brought in 26 (via Daryl Waters, Zane Mark and Ann Duquesnay); and the legacy of the late Jonathan Larson -- 32 tunes, wall-to-walling Rent -- lingers on, much like melodies after the song has ended.
All marked their Broadway moorings with splashy bashes about town in (to say the least!) disparate locales.
Big, logically, laid siege to FAO Schwarz toy emporium since it's set largely in a toy company (and Schwarz has a Big slice). Hot dog stands and toy demonstrators were sprinkled among the merchandise, and waiters wandered about in black tuxes and red sneakers serving Valerie Harper, Desmond Barrit, Debra Monk, Jace Alexander, Liz Callaway. Party-pooping first-nighters included Roger Ebert, Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford, Ricki Lake, Jerry Orbach, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, E.L. Doctorow, George Hearn.
Among the Funk revelers: the newly Oscared Susan Saradon, the already-Oscared Whoopi Goldberg and Tony winners like Tony Kushner, Laurence Fishburne, B.D. Wong, August Wilson. Opening-nighters partied at the former site of Song of Singapore, Irving Place, which thankfully had the roof down tight for the Reading of the Brantley (an over-the-top rave from The Times' Ben). Big Ben struck again with a Rent rant. Its premiere and party (splashed high, wide and handsome at the Sky Rink Chelsea Place) were a-twitter and a-twinkle with Patrick Swayze, Michelle Pfeiffer, George Clooney, Regis Philbin, Sigourney Weaver, Leonard DiCaprio, Barbara Walters with David Geffen, Christie Brinkley, Isaac Mizrahi , Isabella Rossellini, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Chazz Palminteri, Jane Alexander.
The ghost of Joe Papp was also probably present, proud two of his Public appointees -- Rent's Michael Greif and Funk's George C. Wolfe -- are turning ('em) out so well. Wayne S. Kabak told me that the day before his Rent opened on Broadway was the sixth anniversary of the end of Papp's A Chorus Line.