On the Aisle: January 1997
FOR WHOM THE SABELLA TOLLS: Nothing quite sends an opening-night party over the top into euphoria faster than to have the opus in question spotlighted on the front page of The New York Times. In modern theatrical times, this has occurred only twice' but Walter Bobbie was quick to detect the through-line: "A Sabella onstage/You get the front page."
The first time this happened, Bobbie played Nicely Nicely Johnson to Ernie Sabella's Harry the Horse in the last Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls; now, the second time, he has helmed the hot-to-trot, tres chic Chicago that toplines Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey, James Naughton, Marcia Lewis and a certain D. Sabella, who plays, in drag, the show's tabloid sob-sister. "In the whole musical-comedy canon, David knew that someday he would play this role," said Ernie. "He told me that seven years ago!"
So you'd better believe, when David made his Broadway debut in that part, his big brother was among the first-nighters (even if he practically had to throw in his Forum toga to get off for it)
A DOLLY-WORTHY ENTRANCE: Had Sardi's Eugenia Room only a staircase, Jerry Herman's entrance there to celebrate Showtune (his excellent autobiography, written with Marilyn Stassio) would have shamed the entrances of his Dolly and Mame.
It was wall-to-wall friends. He read some choice excerpts, punctuating them at the piano with his "Song on the Sand" from La Cage aux Folles and "I Won't Send Roses" from Mack and Mabel.
ANGELA IN AMERICA: Angela Lansbury, the star of Herman's newest musical ("Mrs. Santa Claus," on CBS-TV), got a Tiffany-caliber tribute at a benefit for the American Foundation for AIDS Research and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Her remarkable career flashed before her eyes on the Majestic stage in star-turns by Bea Arthur, Len Cariou, Nell Carter, Jane Connell, Barbara Cook, Tyne Daly, Davis Gaines, George Hearn, Jennifer Holliday, Jack Klugman and Karen Ziemba. The event was hosted by Nathan Lane, and the Lansbury lauders included Lauren Bacall and Phyllis Newman. Like the lady herself, the career is truly something to celebrate.
-- By Harry Haun