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What's New on the Rialto

I Love New York, Part 3

For those of you following this latest diatribe, I'm in New York and having a lot of fun, but Broadway has been a bit of trouble. And for those of you not reading the latest in my shenanigans on the Great White Way, last time we left off was with me grabbing a credit card from my company threatening to have a good time on Broadway, and I was warned not to spend over $300.00 for lunch.

I had travelled over 2,500 miles to see Kiss Me, Kate but it didn't happen. I depended on other people to get me tickets and I will never, ever do that again. They simply don't know how serious I take it, so I got stung when I was asked whether I should allow a scalper to sell me tickets for double the ticket price. No way. Immoral, in more ways than one.

So, I had to put plan "B" into action. First thing I did was call a few Press Agents to collect some favors. And it worked. Two on the aisle for Dame Edna, The Royal Tour for the matinee and another pair on the aisle for Chicago. It's who you know Possums!

But this time, instead of driving, I took the Long Island Railroad and what a joy that was! I got a cup of coffee to go and the New York Daily News to read on my journey. (The Times would never do at this hour as I can't comprehend what they're saying until 5 P.M. ... and, well the Post can be understood at any hour.) Anyhow, I enjoyed a leisurely hour and a half on the train into the city.

I had to meet Lady Kieta (yes, she's Royalty) for lunch. Not knowing where to dine in the theater-district I checked out our Restaurant Revue section and picked a place with three $$$, so I figured that would be good. And Cafe Pazzo Teatro was certainly a wise choice. I said to Lady Arlene, "Let's pig-out! It's on my company. I'm out for revenge."

We sat down at the table and immediately headed to the bar for a libation and a smoke. The waiter comes over and says cutely "What are you two up to?" We laughed and told him our itinerary. John served us wonderfully, and although, we couldn't get the bill up to $300.00, we did cause some damage. Only $115.00 but with a serious over-tipping situation. We laughed ourselves silly over the check and some serious after-lunch cordials.

Dame Edna was a scream. I mean, she's just a hoot. More of a hoot than my guest, who was New York's first female disc-jockey on radio in the early 1960's. After Dame Edna, we had to head over to Sardi's to say hello to Jose at the little bar downstairs.

After leaving Arlene, I had to dash over to Barrymore's to meet Bruce Memblatt, who I was going to have dinner with and also see another show. Now, you have to know Bruce to love him. He's just a great theatregoer and is tons of fun to be with. He's also got a sense of humor to die for. Bruce and I go way back on the Web and we love talkin' Broadway or Sondheim (he's an expert on Sondheim), or we also just trash anyone we can think of in the biz, all tongue in cheek, of course. (My God, we probably dished you!)

While having the proverbial great cheeseburgers at Barrymore's on 45th, I see Nancy Rosati is at another table and she's yakking with Nan Knighton. Nancy comes over to say hello, and I beg to meet Nan. She's wonderful and handles my gushing quite nice. I told her how much I love her song "Storybook" and and how I love Tom Andersen's version.

Off to see Chicago. Well, I've seen this show several hundred times (yes, hundreds) and I still had a ball. Oh, there were problems for sure, especially with a fistful of understudies going on. Marcia Lewis was out, Brent Barrett was out and so was Mary Sunshine. So I knew I was in for a bit of a mess ... and it was. I even slept through Mary Sunshine's number (I was tired), but Bruce said I didn't snore.

Still, when that orchestra struck up the band and Mamie Duncan-Gibbs made her entrance, it was thrilling. Gibbs is the consummate Velma Kelly, so professional in every performance, so downright Velma and so damn talented, she should be arrested. I've seen them all from Chita Rivera to Mamie, and Mamie is the best. She nails the role dead-on! Oh, I've said it before, she's sexy, saucy and sassy but my goodness, there's never, ever been a better Velma Kelly. Mamie is perfection, as Velma, on a Broadway stage.

Sandy Duncan phoned it in. I've seen her do better as Roxie, but tonight, she must have been bored, maybe because all the leads were out, I don't know. Even her finale was boring ... you know ... "And that's good, isn't it great, isn't it fun?" where she brought the house down to tears. Tonight, it was simply rhetoric. Oh well, maybe another night. But I don't want to leave the production without mentioning David Warren-Gibson. He's the blond guy in the chorus for the last 3 1/2 years, and he's still razor-sharp. So sexy, so energetic, and his dancing is to die for. Bravo David.

After the show, I asked Bruce if he'd like to go backstage. Of course he says "Yeah." So we go back to see Mamie in her dressing room and we schmooze and then we head over to Sandy's dressing room.I look at her ... "oh, my ... Peter Pan." Sandy laughs, and we talk about that show.

I tell her about "Nana" being a friend ... "Oh, yes. Jim ... whats-his-name ... wait, I'll get it, Yes, Jim Cook." And we laugh about the night the wires got crossed when the flying number got hung up (I told her about my short story called "Peter Pan Was Hung"). And we laughed about the poster hung in Barrymore's. (It shows Cathy Rigby as "Peter Pan" but they didn't have enough time for the photo shoot, so what they did was simply superimpose Rigby's face on Duncan's body for the Playbill and Program for Peter Pan in 1991. It's an insider's chuckle.) Anyhow, I love Sandy as Roxie and I told her so (based on a previous performance, obviously).

We left the Shubert Theater and dragged Mamie with us over to Barrymore's where we talked Broadway and dished a bit too. Bruce was too funny. He kept telling Mamie ... "Do Putting It Together when there's an opening." He's such a Sondhead! Mamie told us how she loved Stephanie Pope in Fosse and some other stuff. We saw Ernie Sabella and yelled out "Yo, Ernie!" I've got such "class."

Mamie is going on vacation on January 16th and I don't know what's to become of this very talented performer. Rumors have it that Sandy is extending beyond Jan. 16th to play with Bebe, but that's simply not true. Too big a payroll for the Weissler's to have Sandy AND Bebe if you ask me! One star at a time, please.

So, where does that leave Mamie Duncan-Gibbs? Oh, it leaves her to us ... we, who know a star when we see one!

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