Stage, screen and television star Neil Patrick Harris stopped off at the Hotel Pierre on Fifth Avenue last night for the Drama League's Musical Tribute to Broadway Honoring Neil Patrick Harris. A stellar cast of 42 co-workers and friends made the tribute highly entertaining and sometimes quirky through a streamlined 80 minutes. Harris — who said in his curtain-call speech that he had just finished filming "How I Met Your Mother," and that morning began music rehearsals for the upcoming Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch — elicited affection and good will from the cast and the banquet hall-full of supporters.
The evening began with introductory remarks from Marc Kudisch and Becky Ann Baker, who shared the stage with Harris in the 2004 Broadway production of Assassins. They were followed by filmed tributes from absent colleagues, including Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Victor Garber, Christina Hendricks and John Cameron Mitchell (author and originator of Hedwig). David Hyde Pierce — filmed on a massage table — earned laughs by sending what he called "a congratulatory massage." While the donors feasted on racks of lamb, auctioneers came in and raised funds to support the Drama League's programs. Michael Mayer, director of Spring Awakening and the upcoming Hedwig (and past recipient of a Drama League fellowship), stepped in to acknowledge the loss to the community of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The entertainment began with Zachary Levi, late of First Date, and dancers performing a rousing parody of Beauty and the Beast's "Be My Guest" called "Be My Host" (in a nod to Harris' ceaseless presence as awards show host). Next came Erin Davie, Paige Price and Chryssie Whitehead in the first of four Company numbers, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy." Norm Lewis stepped in to reprise "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" from Porgy and Bess, followed by Dan Finnerty singing a vocal version of the theme from "Doogie Howser, M.D." (here called "Doogie Howser, M.C."). Kate Jennings Grant, who appeared with Harris as replacement actors in the Broadway production of Proof, spoke about her unrequited crush on the actor and sang "With So Little to Be Sure Of" from Anyone Can Whistle.
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