The day began with the BCEFA flea market, which was a blast - perfect weather for hanging out in Shubert Alley. I worked our table for an hour and a half with a really fun group of people. Events like this are always fun because you run into people you haven't seen in ages, and this time was no different - I ran into my old partner-in-crime Amber and persuaded her to buy one of my knit flowers. Thanks Amber!
The matinee was the usual except we were all loopy because it had already been a long day and it wasn't over yet! After the show I grabbed a couple of slices of pizza with the stagehands (narrowly avoiding a nasty Yankee/Mets argument) and helped to set up the theatre for the benefit. I was assigned to the "VIP room" which was about as glamourous as a high school gym, since it's our rehearsal hall. Nobody seemed to mind. We had fantastic food catered from a restaurant around the corner and the cute chef kept running platters over throughout the evening.
I was officially supposed to be helping out with wardrobe as needed but since most folks arrived ready to go on stage, my duties were fairly minimal. I mostly helped people get around this maze of a theatre. And since the VIP room was right around the corner from one of the entrances to the house I was a able to slip in and out and watch most of the show!
And - Oh. My. God. What a show. Indescribable. It started out with remarks from four Broadway actors who were directly affected by Katrina - as in, some of their families are currently in shelters and living off FEMA money. I spoke to one of them, an actress I've worked with before, and expressed my relief that at least her family was safe. Her response? They're really not safe at all. They lost everything and the situation is still really grim. Food and water are still issues in some places, which is why she wanted to make this appearance - to spread the word and make sure people really know what's going on, and that aid will be needed for a long, long time to come.
I can't even give you a highlight of the show. Liza Minelli and Ben Vereen singing together? Bernadette Peters making me cry with "No One Is Alone"? The cast of "All Shook Up" performing on what turned out to be the day of their last show? The cast of "Spelling Bee" and their hilarious "interpretive dance" about the Bush administration's reaction to the crisis? Liza again, looking amazing in white, taking the stage with one of her signature songs - "New York, New York" - then inviting the entire cast (including the backstage volunteers) onstage for the finale?
It was all awesome.
Some of my favorite moments from the VIP room:
- Bebe Neuwirth chatting with David Hyde Pierce - hey, it's Lilith and Niles!
- Bryan Batt demonstrating the difference between a New Orleans curtsy and a Texas Dip.
- Bill Irwin, just being awesome.
It was incredible. I can't believe we pulled it off in three weeks.