New York's Primary Stages company honored playwright Wendy Wasserstein at a benefit at the Penthouse on Fifth (on 5th Ave. And 14th St.) in New York.
The author of Uncommon Women And Others, The Sisters Rosensweig, The Heidi Chronicles and the upcoming An American Daughter, received the theatre's second annual "Commitment To New Plays Award." Terrence McNally got the premiere prize last year.
According to press representative Michael Cullen, who attended the benefit, speakers included Primary Stages president Sue Breger, artistic director Casey Childs, and actors Elizabeth Wilson, Roberta Wallach (The Model Apartment) and Betsy Carter. Although Betty Comden didn't show, Wendy Wasserstein did speak, amusingly, about the politics of art.
Wasserstein remembered being at a function where Newt Gingrich was also an invited guest. She engaged him in conversation, and, in defending his policies on the arts, told her, "Well, Arthur Murray didn't get a grant to write a play."
It was only later that Gingrich re-approached Wasserstein and told her that he'd goofed. He meant to say that Arthur Miller never got a playwriting grant." Wasserstein then corrected Gingrich yet again: "Arthur Miller didn't need a grant; he had the W.P.A."
Wasserstein also regaled the audience with memories of her fellow alumnus at Yale -- Richard Bey. She remembers the TV talk-show sleazemeister when he was doing even more scandalous, sensational and lurid material: they both did Shakespeare together at Yale.
Greg Edelman and Carolee Carmello performed selections from My Fair Lady, which is Wasserstein's favorite musical. Excerpts from the upcoming Off Broadway musical, Nightmare Alley, also were performed by its cast.
Betty Comden spoke at the benefit, where Barnard Hughes and Gerald Schoenfeld were among the guests.
-- By David Lefkowitz