Broadway's Brits Tea-Off for the Holidays

News   Broadway's Brits Tea-Off for the Holidays The British are coming! The British are coming -- to tea, anyway.
left: Michael Gambon, Nicky Henson, and Jim Dale; right: Dominic Hawksley and Fiona Shaw
left: Michael Gambon, Nicky Henson, and Jim Dale; right: Dominic Hawksley and Fiona Shaw Photo by Photo credit: Starla Smith

The British are coming! The British are coming -- to tea, anyway.

A little repast was laid Thursday (Dec. 19) at the Player Club in Manhattan for Brits about town, stranded on Broadway, starving off thoughts of ye olde London Christmas.

It was Nicky Henson's idea to issue a call to countrymen toiling in New York's theatrical vineyards for a spot of tea at the club -- but the execution was Michael Allinson's, president of The Players and Henson's dour dad in An Ideal Husband. . Title player James Warwick seconded the motion, and then Stephanie Beacham -- along with that of certain key supporting players (Cheryl Gaysunas, Dominic Hawksley, Holly Cate and Rufus Collins) -- chimed in as well.

Think of the fellowship! Think of the food! Think of the photo op!

To keep this from being a single-show indulgence, invitations were extended to other attractions, and the following were duly represented: Sunset Boulevard (Elaine Paige), The Importance of Being Earnest (Daniel Gerroll), The Waste Land (Fiona Shaw), Skylight (Michael Gambon -- "Another week to go!"), the "Barnum" who's the "Candide"-to-be (Jim Dale), The School for Scandal (Simon Jones), The Lost Manhattan (Patrick Tull). The lone no-show : The Rehearsal, although David Threlfall did accept the invitation.

Brits among the theatrical press also attended: Observer critic John Heilpern, freelance photographer Aubrey Reuben and a pair of theatrical correspondents: Ian Katz from The Guardian of London and James Bone from The Times of London.

The lone celebrity Yank in attendance has made a nice living for herself impersonating Brits. Currently, Madeleine Potter is married to An Ideal Husband. She was born in Washington DC but was brought up in the British school system. To make matters more complicated: "I have an Irish passport," she said.

The youngest Brit attending the tea was 6-month-old Toby Gerroll, who arrived with his brother and two sisters, and actor-parents (mom is Patricia Kalember). It was his first trip to The Players Club, and some of the seasoned thespians in the room instinctively sensed the loss of limelight.

-- By Harry Haun

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