Two benefits this week featured a back stage glimpse into how theater is made: on Sunday night, Stanley Tucci, along with Anne Tatlock, was honored at the Plaza Hotel, at the New York Stage and Film Winter Gala for his contribution to theater. Fitting, the presentation included performances: Li-Manuel Miranda and Anika Noni Rose sang from Miranda's work in progress, The Hamilton Mixtape. Peter Gallagher sang Cole Porter's "I Happen to Like New York." Guests for this event which focused on the organization's important work in developing and nurturing young theater artists included Patricia Clarkson, Steve Buscemi, Oren Moverman, Jon Tenney, and Oliver Platt who presented the award to Stanley Tucci. While the new Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened this week, with Tucci reprising his role as Caesar Flickerman, he was looking forward to directing theater as he did most recently in Lend Me A Tenor on Broadway.
The next night for the New 42nd Street Gala, Michael D. Eisner was celebrated for his contribution to the cleaning up of the formerly smut ridden Times Square. At the New Victory Theater, performers from The Lion King waving kites paid tribute, singing and dancing in the historic building. Much was made of this gorgeous edifice with cherubs adorning its domed roof as a former triple X porn palace--that is before Eisner's tenure at Disney. Julie Taymor acknowledged Eisner's significant role in the creation of her legendary musical, now the highest grossing show on Broadway, ever, and its home across the street at the New Amsterdam. A risk taker, he said yes to her, giving her the creative space to make that unique theatrical experience in her vision. Alan Menken sang from his Beauty and the Beast. Heather Headley, Ashley Brown, Josh Strickland and Alton Fitzgerald White, The Lion King's Mufasa, sang. After a great show, guests were escorted across 42 Street by young ushers, participants in one of the New Victory Theater Education Programs, to the stage of the New Amsterdam for dinner among a colorful array of hanging puppets.
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