PLAYBILL ON A HISTORIC NIGHT: The Phantom of the Opera; The Power of the Music of the Knight

By Harry Haun
28 Jan 2013

Sierra Boggess
Photo by Monica Simoes

Then, it was off to The New York Public Library, at Fifth and 42nd, for a proper celebration of a memorable night in the theatre. Wine and bubbly welcomed those who trekked the four long blocks in the cold, and a salmon puree with garnish was also available. A fuller feed awaited at opposite ends of the first-floor corridors.

The joint was moodily lit — some would say romantically lit, others would say barely lit. In any event, it made celebrity-spotting pretty much a catch-as-catch-can chore.

The massive marble staircase winding to the library's second story resembles the one where the cast assembles for Phantom's Act Two curtain-raiser, "Masquerade."

Milling around emitting atmosphere were a half-dozen six-foot-tall-and-then-some male models, decked out in costumes actually worn in the show in years gone by. When asked, they claimed to be Paris Opera footmen of the Phantom vintage.

La Chanze, with Norm Lewis, was singing the show's praises at the party: "After 25 years, it's still moving and beautiful." Before Prince of Broadway (Hal's next Broadway show), she will put together a concert of her own — "a celebration of the music of Diana Ross," she said.

Prince was ensconced with his guests — plus Phyllis Newman and Das Barbecü wordsmith Jim Luigs — at a drafty table near the entranceway. The post-show activity was so smoothly staged that people wondered if he had had a hand in it.

Hugh Panaro
photo by Monica Simoes

"I was just an actor — they pushed me around," he said. So is it back to "Frank Lippencott"? Prince laughed and stuck his thumb up. (In 1953, after assistant stage-managing Tickets, Please! and Call Me Madam, he was made stage manager of Wonderful Town — but it meant understudying Cris Alexander's "Frank Lippencott.")

He turned producer the following year with his next endeavor, The Pajama Game, and 60 years of Broadway euphoria followed. Next year, he expects to be on Broadway, "revuing" the fragments of his famous past via Prince of Broadway. He said he and his co-director, choreographer Susan Stroman, start rehearsals this fall with Linda Lavin, Richard Kind, Sierra Boggess, La Chanze and Shuler Hensley.

And he still hopes to find "a big stage" for his other Stroman collaboration, Paradise Found, which tested the theatrical waters in 2010 in London's tiny Menier Chocolate Factory. Adapted by Richard Nelson from Joseph Roth's novel, "The Tale of the 1002nd Night," it starred McMartin as the Shah of Persia, Hensley as a baron and Mandy Patinkin as a eunuch; the female leads were Kate Baldwin and Judy Kaye.