A COUPLE OF COME-AGAINS:
Tony Night '97 was a tale of two comebacks‹Titanic from its critical scuttling, Chicago from the shadow of A Chorus Line. It is interesting that the month Cats clawed in front of A Chorus Line to become Broadway's longest-running show was the very month that Chicago emerged the year's top Tony winner. Maybe this is the wisdom that comes with one-and-twenty.
In 1976, Chicago was the Kander & Ebb show at the 46th Street Theatre, contending in 11 categories and coming up with goose eggs; this year, Steel Pier is the Kander & Ebb show playing the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers), contending in 11 categories and coming up with bupkis. And the world goes 'round. Can't wait for the Steel Pier of 2018 A.D.! . . .
Bebe Neuwirth is right to worship Chita Rivera more than the rest of us: Chicago is the second time she won a Tony for a role Rivera perfected; Sweet Charity is the other. . . .
He may have seemed like the epitome of impeccable, picking up his Tony for Barrymore, but, by the time he had run the gantlet of spotlights and flashbulbs and reached the pressroom pressure-cooker, Christopher Plummer needed a plumber, schvitzing like the entire cast of Volcano. Jessica DeMayo, producer for radio's Casper Citron, rushed for paper towels and was waylaid by three credit-craving gofers on the same mission. . . .
The also-dehydrated Best Actress winner, Janet McTeer, followed, and her complete press conference consisted of "Can I please have a drink?" Then, she wandered off in search of one. . . .
Her playing partner in A Doll's House, Featured Actor winner Owen Teale, may be the first male in recorded human history to win anything for that play. The "partner" he thanked accepting his Tony sounded like Sylvester, but it was Sylvestra [Letouzel, the Italian actress]. Sorry, guys. . . .
Chicago's Tony tally was six, but there was a Chicago 7th, written in lemon juice. You can only see it through cellophane: Joel Grey, barred from the supporting ranks by a billing technicality. "In a career of highs and lows," he 'fessed up to the press, "this has to be one of the lowest." Performance-wise, he postscripted, it's one of the highest. You stand tall, Mr. Grey.
To celebrate Take-a-Satirist-to-Theatre Day, I took Gerard Alessandrini to The Life. Nobody else would. All these years he has been regaling the theatre community with outrageous ridicule in his hilarious Forbidden Broadway revues, he paid his own way. It kept his head clear and his stiletto clean, and, besides, the object of his perverse affections never suggested otherwise‹but maybe that'll change now that he's physically part of Broadway, operating out of the basement of Ellen's Stardust Diner at Broadway and 51st. That's close enough to Cats to get furballs. . . .
In lieu of free tickets, the theatre world has just showered Alessandrini with awards: a Drama Desk Award for Best Lyrics, the Drama League Award ("It was like winning the Sarah Siddons Award in All About Eve‹I went to a luncheon, and all of Broadway was there"), a special Lucille Lortel Award for body of work and a MAC Award for Best Musical Revue. . . .
Alessandrini's irreverent thoughts on the season just ended: Stale Pier; Robert Cuccioli in a hair-flipping Jekyll & Hyde duel/duet of "Anything You Can Do [I Can Do Better]"; Titanic's "Shall we all meet in the autumn?" lyric turns to "Shall we all meet at the bottom?" . . .
Titanic tunesmith Maury Yeston walked Alessandrini into the show himself and provided him with the score to get into the Forbidden Broadway update‹a grand gesture, coming after the show's critical drumming and before its Tony vindication. The only other cooperation he ever received came from Stephen Sondheim, who sent over sheet music of Into the Woods for him to transpose to Into the Words. . . .
Shubert prexy Phil Smith and benefit organizer Tricia Walsh pulled together a helluvah card for the seventh annual Manhattan Plaza AIDS Project Foundation fund-raiser, netting $48,000. Linda Eder headlined it the day she did her Jekyll & Hyde cast recording, visited David Letterman and played a Manhattan Theatre Club gala. And there she was again, among the 11th annual "Stars in the Alley" that drew 2,500 to Shubert Alley. Also twinkling 'n' shining: Karen Ziemba, Brian D'Arcy James, Dana Ivey, Bebe Neuwirth, Owen Teale, Jessica Hecht, Lillias White, Marcia Lewis.