By Harry Haun
27 Mar 2012
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Thirteen headliners stepped up to the plate to name "Their Favorite Things!" and batted out a show that raised $60K for the organization. If anything, this edition proved there's nothing like an older dame, with the evening's top honors going to the octogenarians on the bill—Polly Bergen, Marilyn Maye and Elaine Stritch.
Bergen spilled a little backstage dish from her saucer, recalling that her friendship with Newman goes back to First Impressions, the 1959 musical version of Pride and Prejudice in which they were sisters together. "We sorta hung out together because the other people were kinda funny and weird," she said cautiously. "Hermione Gingold played our mother, to give you an idea. She thought the show was about her—and, when she was through, it was."
For her favorite thing, Bergen sang Herman Hupfeld's big hit. No, not "When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba." No, not "He Plays Piano and He Plays by Ear." It was a little ditty he dashed off in 1931 for a show called Everybody's Welcome, and it was actually sung to a character named Polly. Now, it's the logo drum-roll for Warner Bros.—the eternal, abiding "As Time Goes By." Needless to add, it wore well on her easy, still-alluring alto. "Pretty good for a broad who's 81," she beamed later at the after-party at—where else?—John's Pizzeria in Times Square.
|photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
"I'm blessed," she admitted, "blessed with good health and blessed with my voice." She'll next lift it in song at Feinstein's at Loews Regency April 24-May 5. "It's my birthday month—I'll be 84 on April 10—and I'll sing what I want to."
Stritch, who marked her 87th last month, displayed no diminishing powers whatsoever, dueling through "You're Just in Love" with her young A Little Night Music co-star, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka. It's a number she learned understudying Ethel Merman, and doing on national tour, in Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam.
She explained that the day before the concert she was walking down Madison Avenue, acting out the number for a friend, when a cop came up to her and asked, "Is something troubling you?" But the moment was saved by a shop clerk, who raced out of Michael Kors and said, "I have a dress that will go with that number." It was a full-length, black-chic muumuu affair, with long slits at the sides that allowed a little shapely leg action, which she aggressively worked. Michael Kors wrote it off as a breast cancer donation.
Herdlicka performed the first number and, by way of an intro, recalled his big "Welcome to the Theatre" moment, at age nine, when his parents (who were in the audience) took him to his first show at the Dallas Music Hall—the national tour of Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing: "All the waiters, dressed in hunter green, form a single line downstage. Carol joins the line. Their arms go up. She lifts the side of her dress. The conductor gives the downbeat. And, my life is changed forever!"Continued...