5 PM: Bonding

News   5 PM: Bonding
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Jim Newman and Debra Monk in Steel Pier
Jim Newman and Debra Monk in Steel Pier Photo by Photo credit: Joan Marcus

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Some walking, some biking, some dashing from taxis, one rollerblading, the cast of Steel Pier arrives at the Richard Rodgers Theatre for sign-in on opening night. The earlier rain seems to have cleared up and West 46th Street is beginning to dry.

Jim Newman, who plays the supporting role of Happy McGuire in the show, said the cast doesn't really need the run-through, and both director Scott Ellis and choreographer Susan Stroman know it. "It's more of a bonding thing," he said, "a way of saying, 'It's been great. Forget the press. We love this show regardless of what the critics may or may not say tonight. Have fun tonight, then off to Tavern on the Green.'"

Newman says the cast met Wednesday and Ellis made a rule: "No reviews in the theatre, whether they're good or bad. Don't even talk about them." Newman's love interest in the show, Debra Monk, reportedly hasn't read a review since she got a pan in Assassins, and Newman says he'll respect her on it.

This is Newman's first opening night on Broadway, and he is hosting his mother and sister in from their native Alabama. He visited the theatre early in the day -- via rollerblade -- to check their house seats, and passed out his gift to the cast -- a cassette recording of a rap he wrote packed with inside jokes about Steel Pier. He rented a recording studio and made a professional recording of it. "I know the plane is wack," he sings, making fun of the show's signature wing-walking number "Leave the World Behind," which had panicked the dancers the first time they did it, aloft, "Give [designer] Tony Walton a call!"

But he's pooped. The excitement of opening night finally caught up with him last night. "It was like Christmas Eve," he said. "I couldn't sleep. I kept thinking of things I had to do today."

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