PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Ann; A Big House for the Little Lady

By Harry Haun
08 Mar 2013

Larry Gatlin
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
When the subject of roots came up, Michael Hartman [Houston, TX], head of The Hartman Group publicizing Ann, mechanically broke into a jokey spiel: "Houston is the largest city in Texas, known for its oil production and importing. It is a hub for oil and an entry point to the United States for oil and oil products . . ."

Country-western singer-songwriter Larry Gatlin [Seminole, TX] — decked out in red, white and blue, plus a Texas flag for a knee patch — knew Richards from his years in the Texas capitol: "She was a great broad. I liked her a lot, and I knew her very well. We used to meet each other at the river. The town lake in Austin was my favorite place to run. We used to run about the same time every morning. I'd get up about 7:30, 8 o'clock every morning and go run the river, and the governor — Annie — would be down there. She was bright, strong, well spoken, funny as she could be."

Sharing Gatlin's patriotic color-scheme was Tony Lo Bianco, whose LaGuardia one-man show, The Little Flower, takes root March 22 at the DiCapo Opera Theatre.

Gloria Steinem said Richards was state treasurer when they originally met. "We did many events and benefits together — and I treasure one thing that can't be put in this production: She used to put on a little comedy routine, putting on a pig nose and imitating 'good ole boys.'" Iris Love, the socialite archeologist, remembers that Richards happened to be sporting that pig snout the first time they met.

"My folks were very excited that I was coming to this tonight — they loved Ann," said Hunter Ryan Herdlicka [Dallas, TX], who's debuting his club act March 25 at the swank 54 Below. It's called "You Make Me Feel So Young." He is every bit of 26.

His date, under the mink hat, the mink coat and the big sunglasses, turned out to be his co-star in the last Broadway go-around of A Little Night Music, Elaine Stritch.