PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill—Audra Takes a Holiday

By Harry Haun
14 Apr 2014

Lonny Price
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Betsy Aiden, the Lady Bird to Bryan Cranston's LBJ in All The Way, laid a heavy theatrical fact out there: "Of the 21 plays that have opened this season, nine are new plays all written by white men, and, of the remaining 12, only two have been written by women—Lorraine Hansberry and Sophie Treadwell, both dead for 45 years."

Pam MacKinnon said she's next helming When We Were Young and Unafraid by Sarah Treem, for Manhattan Theatre Club, June 17 with Cherry Jones and Zoe Kazan.

Elizabeth Ashley, a pet player for producer Jeffrey Richards, is about to disappear in a couple of weeks into a sound booth to record John Lahr's epic tome on Tennessee Williams. And, chanteuse Lisa Carroll has produced a hip-hop holiday album with rapper Hasiv McNealy called "Rapping Up Christmas: Homies for the Holidays."

Working marrieds heading from theatre to television: John Ellison Conlee ("Boardwalk Empire") and Celia Keenan-Bolger ("Law and Order: SVU"). Robert Petkoff, the much-battled Hubert Humphrey of All The Way and his actress-wife Susan Wands still look as if they're in love. "We just had our 20th anniversary on Wednesday so, for actors, that's practically a record," said he. "Can you believe it? We got so lucky." All The Way is one of his few forays into straight plays. He was especially memorable in the 2004 revival of Fiddler on the Roof. "We got to do the cast album, and I remember at the time thinking, 'Oh, gosh. There'll be a generation of high school kids, who'll imitate me as Perchik when they do the show. Then I just heard there's going to be a 50th anniversary production, and I thought, 'Oh, no! My run is over! There's going to be some other new Perchik, and they're going to start imitating him--because, God knows, I was constantly imitating Richard Burton when I did Camelot in high school.' You imitate the person that you hear."

Randy Graff, who was Golde to Alfred Molina's Tevye in that particular Fiddler, was in attendance. Her most recent triumph was stealing The Act in one of those "reunion" songfests at 54 Below with an unknown Kander and Ebb ditty. "They told me it was six minutes and 45 seconds, and I had no idea about it," she said. "The first time I heard it was a demo, and Fred Ebb sang it. Everything I need to know about that song was in that demo." It was about how early sex abuse can lead later in life to excessively good manners—and it was dropped on the road for being "too dark."

Also: Sierra Boggess of the great Guys and Dolls at Carnegie Hall; Christine Quinn and Kim M. Catullo; The Bridges of Madison County composer Jason Robert Brown with wife Georgia Stitt; fashion legend Michael Kors; Victor Garber; Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich; director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall with producer-hubby Scott Landis; Gabriel Byrne; comic Freddie Roman; Christine Baranski of "The Good Wife"; Pablo Schreiber, taking a filming break for a night at the theatre; Reg Rogers; country singer Chely Wright and spouse Lauren Blitzer; Wicked/Godspell composer Stephen Schwartz; The Glass Menagerie's Brian J. Smith; Jeffrey Tambor; and, delightfully, Mothers and Sons' Bobby Steggert with mom.