At the Dec. 6 "Ira Gershwin at 100: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" in New York, the late great lyricist won't be the only Gershwin marking an age milestone. His sister, Frances Gershwin Godowsky, will turn 90 on the same Dec. 6 and will be very much in attendance at the event, co-chairing the gala with Kitty Carlisle Hart (longtime Gershwin family friend) and Suki and Herman Sandler. That's right: Franny was born a decade--to the day--after Ira.
Two Tony winners from "Jerome Robbins' Broadway"--Debbie Shapiro Gravitte and Scott Wise--are last-minute additions to the program, along with David Garrison. Gravitte replaces the previously announced Christine Baranski. Wise and Garrison are Broadway-bound again--in "Dream" and "Faust," respectively.
In addition to those three, the star-steeped line-up for the evening runs from Karen with an A (Akers) to Karen with a Z (Ziemba) and includes alphabetically in between Ruth Brown, Vic Damone, Christine Ebersole, Jon Lovitz, Maureen McGovern, The New York Voices, Ron Raines, Chita Rivera and Dawn Upshaw.
Two close friends of the family will co-host the concert: Angie Dickinson and Michael York. Also contributing will Ira's next door neighbor (Rosemary Clooney), his former assistant (Michael Feinstein) and his only living collaborator (Burton Lane). Michael Smuin will direct and choreograph the affair which will feature the Smuin Ballets of San Francisco as well as the Carnegie Hall Theatre Orchestra. The program focuses on the lyricist's work with brother George Gershwin--and Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.
The show is the second written by David Ives to open in as many days. He adapted Dreams and Nightmares, the David Copperfield magic show bowing tonight (5) at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway. All this, and Ives is rehearsing a new play, The Red Address, which begins previews Dec. 10 at The Second Stage in New York. On March 7, 1997, "Ira Gershwin at 100: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" will be telecast nationally by PBS on its "Great Performances." Tomorrow's gala launches the 22-month "Carnegie Hall Gershwin Centennial Project," which will encompass a series of musical events, workshops and an exhibit in the Rose Museum which celebrates the birthday centennials of Ira and George Gershwin.
-- By Harry Haun