FALLING APPLES AND RISING RENT: The Apple Doesn't Fall . . . , an antic about Alzheimer's fell--au contraire--fast on Broadway, lasting all of one performance at the Lyceum--but its opening (and closing) night party at Sardi's was hardly a wake. Marking (ever so brief) his bow as a Broadway director was Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy, and at his side bearing witness to that fact was faithful friend Gene Wilder.
After almost 30 years of being away from the stage (he was whisked away to the movies when kidnapped by Bonnie and Clyde in 1967), Wilder is returning--via London, playing the Nathan Lane role in Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor. And, yes, he says that he's perfectly willing to give Broadway another whirl IF a good role comes along.
CBS's 48 Hours deemed Lane's own return to Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum worthy of a segment and followed that a couple of weeks later with coverage of the roof-raising Rent arrival on Broadway. (It came with Pulitzer in tow--the second such prize ever presented posthumously; the other was for Long Day's Journey Into Night--a fourth for Eugene O'Neill, making him in death the playwright with the most Pulitzer Prizes).
Anthony Rapp, who has the first line in Rent, marked the opening by adding an extra sentence that brought a standing ovation: "We dedicate this performance, and all future performances of Rent, to our friend, Jonathan Larson."
Author Larson died of an aortic aneurysm on Jan. 15, 1996, hours after the last dress rehearsal of Rent and ten days before his 36th birthday. TEA FOR TWO: Beast and the Beast celebrated its second anniversary with a tea party for the kiddies. Mrs. Potts (Beth Fowler) poured, of course.
Bill Paxton took time out from promoting his Twister flick to attend the Broadway bow of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning "twister," Buried Child. The last person you'd expect to find at an opening of an Oscar Wilde antic did indeed show up: Charles Bronson, a friend of the producer (Bill Kenwright).
ALWAYS ON SUNDAY: Because A Midsummer Night's Dream was dark on Sunday evenings, Desmond Barrit and Alex Jennings were able to catch the openings of Big and A Delicate Balance. Both Brits are double Olivier Award-winners so they mixed well with the Tony winners welcoming Edward Albee's 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning Balance back to Broadway: Jane Alexander, Cherry Jones, Betty Buckley, Debra Monk, director Nicholas Hytner, composer William Finn. Its party was held at Tavern on the Green, which is represented--firefly-lighting and all--in a Big scene, but because that show revolves around a toy company, FAO Schwarz threw open its doors for first-nighters. Hours before the Big opening, the Shubert discovered it was 200 PLAYBILLs short, and an emergency call was placed to the home of the publisher, Philip S. Birch, who jumped in his car, picked up PLAYBILLs and delivered them personally the theatre before the curtain went up. "Philling the order," we call it.