President Bill Clinton appeared on the stage of a Broadway theatre for the second time this year , taking in a special performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum June 30 that helped raise $1.5 million for the Democratic National Committee.
Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were guests of honor at the special performance, which featured some apropos ad-libbing by star Whoopi Goldberg.
During the "Comedy Tonight" scene, which she often interrupts to comically berate latecomers, Goldberg told one tardy arrival, "Any other night we would have waited for you, but we got the Prez."
Referring to the fact that West 44th Street was closed to traffic and access to the St. James Theatre was restricted, Goldberg asked, "You get caught in traffic?"
When the patron replied, "It's the president's fault," Goldberg replied, "I ain't touching that one." During the scene in which Goldberg accidentally gulps down Hysterium's passion potion and says "Kiss me, somebody, kiss me," Goldberg blew a kiss to Clinton.
Afterward, Clinton and Gore mounted the stage to shake hands with the cast. Clinton focused on the toga-clad actors, hugging Goldberg, but leaving Gore with the task of keep a straight face while greeting the scantily-clad maidens from the House of Marcus Lycus.
Clinton gave a speech noting "Someone told me the last time anything like this was done was for [President Dwight D.] Eisenhower in 1955. The others don't know what they missed."
Afterward, while Gore was speaking, Clinton directed the three Proteans to do a silent Macarena behind the vice president's back, a reference to a joke Gore's been using at speaking engagements.
The D.N.C. bought out the entire 1623-seat theatre for the 1962 Stephen Sondheim/ Larry Gelbart/ Burt Shevelove musical. Attendees reportedly paid $125 to $25,000 for tickets, though the D.N.C. reportedly set aside 120 tickets for the Boys and Girls Club of New York and the East Side Settlement House.
There were no reported embarassing moments for Clinton, as had occured at Chicago when the chorus girls moaned "We want Billy" in the intro to "All I Care About Is Love." The New York Times reported that Ernie Sabella was slightly concerned about his line "I have to go to the Senate this morning; I'm blackmailing one of the senators," but the line got only a titter.
-- This accounts was compiled from various press sources and attendees