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Broadway at the China Club

The season is over. You've seen all the musicals and plays, but you really like musicals. So you go and see them a second and third time. You love the actors and can't enough of them, but how many times can you see Jekyll & Hyde or Titanic or a myriad of others?

Not to worry. Just in time for the summer doldrums is a wonderful innovation at The China Club on West 47th Street. Beginning this Sunday evening at 8, they are presenting a new show called The Broadway Series, which will feature stars from Broadway shows performing in an intimate setting. And this is not cabaret, but more Broadway, if you will.

Starting this Sunday, Christiane Noll (Talkin' Broadway's favorite musical actress), Rob Evan and Lauri Landry will kick off the new series at the restaurant/showroom.

Christiane, as many of you know, has been starring in Jekyll & Hyde, with a voice which is a gift from God. With her will be Rob Evan. Rob is performing the role(s) of Jekyll & Hyde in the Wednesday and Saturday matinees, and word is that his voice comes from the same source - God! Lauri Landry will also be joining them for this salute to Broadway. Lauri, in case you don't know, is simply knocking them dead nightly in The Scarlet Pimpernel.

You can enjoy this trio this Sunday for as little as twenty bucks, which is a bargain in my book. Or you can have dinner in the fine restaurant, and then see the show. It's Broadway performers the way you want to see them! And up close, too!

In the ensuing weeks, they will have David Shire, composer of Big, Loni Ackerman from Cats and Evita, Anna McNeely and Michelle Milardi of Beauty and the Beast, Leah Hocking of Jekyll & Hyde and Jim Stanek, fresh from his triumphant performance as "Hero" in the revival of Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Not impressed? How about a preview of Neil Berg's new musical, The Prince and the Pauper, featuring Danni Zolli of Jesus Christ Superstar fame? Or maybe Bobby Day from Smokey Joe's Cafe or Robert Cuccioli himself, from Jekyll & Hyde, or even Talkin' Broadway's favorite son, Brian D'Arcy James, from Titanic?!

It's all happening every Sunday evening at The China Club on West 47th Street at 8 P.M. Call 212-398-3800 for info and reservations. I hear the food is pretty good, so get there by 6 for dinner and show. Highly recommended and tell 'em V.J. sent ya. That and a buck-fifty will get you on the subway! Seriously, please do support the performers we love on Broadway. I couldn't think of a nicer way to meet Christiane and Brian -our favorite friends on Broadway!

Tidbits: A Tony Fantasy! Yes, I had a dream - perhaps a nightmare - but I have to share it with you. I dreamt that I was on the board of the Tony committee, and I declared that if the votes of a nominee came within 10 votes of each other that a tie would be declared! I mean with 752 (or more) submitted votes that would seem fair, n'est ce pas? Let's say the vote was 360 to 362 in a category; well, that hardly seems fair, so 10 is how my dream went. I'm always fair in my dreams.

Then, in this dream, three categories all fell within the 10 vote realm. I tossed and turned. Oh my God, Best Play within 5 votes, Best Musical within 10 and Best Actor in a Musical within 10. I began to sweat.

Oh God, if only that Chinese play folded a few days before, instead of announcing its closing notice a day after the Tony voters had to get their ballots in. Maybe Beauty Queen would have won Best Play - as it should have.

I dreamt I was at the Tony party of The Lion King, and they were giving embroidered hats with "Best Musical" only minutes after the awards show. This can't be. No one knows the outcome of the awards. Taymor got an award, but everyone knows she can't direct. A dozen directed The Lion King, but the puppets came at me for even thinking such a thing.

I moved from that party and went to the Tony Ball. Yikes! What's on my table but a bag of goodies which included a Lion King beach towel; a box of LU Chocolate wafers; a Tony Awards baseball cap; a tube of Camomocare under-eye creme; a Black and Decker snake light; a box of Lu Pim's cookies; a copy of the "Still Me" book by Christopher Reeve; a mini-maglite flashlight; a box of Bigelow herb tea - stay with me, this gets better - a box of Lindt chocolate truffles; a bottle of Clairol Daily Defense shampoo; a bottle of Clairol Daily Defense conditioner; a box of Gevalia coffee an assortment of greeting cards; a "Spotlight on Broadway" CD; a comedy/tragedy glass Christmas ornament; a bottle of Opium Pour Homme cologne; a disposable Kodak camera; a Johnson & Johnson first-aid packet - which I'm going to need soon. The punch line is coming, hang in there - a six-piece Clairol Herbal Essence gift set; a Random House Audiobook, "A Gracious Plenty"; a Playbill note pad and pencil; a Tony Awards notebook; an edible white chocolate picture of Broadway scene; a pack of Playbill Broadway Play "trading cards"; and a Playbill Broadway Cares/EFA pin.

Punchline? Compliments of Disney!

And then I see it, a number glowing on the ceiling ... 752. What the hell does that mean? It means Alan 239, Peter 197, Brian 230 and Doug 96. Add them up and you get 752, the number of votes submitted in the Best Actor in a Musical category. Oh God! Warn the Duke! I ran to the phone. I wanna talk to Garth. "Put Peter in the Best Supporting category, and you got two Tony's." Someone else answered and said, "I'm takin' Garth's calls. Yeah, I heard you, and listen to me -- Peter stays where he is, and Ragtime ain't winnin' no stinkin' Best Musical award, either. It's Garth's swan song and goodbye to bad rubbish!"

Phew! I panic! What to do? This is only a dream, right? I don't know what to do, and then I wake from the dream and I'm sitting inside Radio City Music Hall.

"And the winner of the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical is.... Alan Cumming."

It was then I knew that my call to talk to Garth was more than a dream. I'm a psychic, and I have to get an 800 number.

Nathan Lane: "The nominees for Best Musical are..."

And then I passed out.

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