Well, we caught The Color Purple on a very good day.
Yes, the Broadway Theatre was packed last night (Dec. 5) for a rousing and moving performance. But before that, the show came in a double winner at the 18th Annual Gypsy of the Year competition, the grand finale of a six week fund-raising effort for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The event itself is a lot of fun as the casts of 16 Broadway shows put together skits ranging from the silly to the sublime.
The cast of Beauty and the Beast, for instance, shot inside a little bit with a vision of a new Disney musical: a quite overdone and inappropriate Pocahontas: An Absolutely True Story. The Hairspray cast, including Diana DeGarmo, re-imagined I Can Hear the Bells as a gay love at first sight, with Tracy Turnblad eventually ripping open her blouse in a fruitless attempt to re-attract Link. And two guys from Spamalot did a news segment that skewered Broadway the way Jon Stewart skewers politicians.
But then, there were more thoughtful, moving sketches, including the cast of Rent giving the stage to a teen program the show has developed, and a number by the cast of the now-closed The Times they are A-Changin' that was one of those things I don't think I quite got, but I want to see again and again.
The Color Purple won the fund-raising award for the campaign that raised nearly $3 million overall, between Broadway, off-Broadway and touring productions. The show also won the talent competition among the 16 shows, thanks in no small part to Lebanon native JC Montgomery and Lexington native Eric L. Christian. They were part of the soulful When, Where, Why Will I Go?, which took top honors in the competition, whose judges included Jill Clayburgh and Cynthia Nixon. The presenters included Christine Ebersole and Martin Short (I still don't know whether I want to see Fame Becomes Me, Short's Broadway show).
Then, it was off to the theater for a 7 p.m. curtain. Backstage, Christian was leading a listening party for the just-released Dreamgirls movie soundtrack -- thumbs up for Jennifer Hudson, not so much for Jamie Foxx.
I think I will always think of the Cosmic Diner and The Color Purple together, as both Montgomery, and later Christian and Louisville native LaVon Fisher-Wilson took me to the restaurant around the block from the show. Good omelettes and garden salads. (The photo above of Montgomery, left, Fisher-Wilson and Christian was taken by Aaron Lee Fineman)
And just to prove that you don't have to go too far in this town to find another Kentucky connection, when I opened the program for Purple, I discovered that Linda Twine, right, is the show's music director. Twine has worked with UK Opera Theatre's Grand Night for Singing several times and has roots in Madison County. (BTW, the orchestra at Color Purple sounded really good.)
It was good to start the day opening The New York Times and seeing a big article on Georgetown and the Toyota factory.
Now, despite being in the City That Never Sleeps, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is Blonde day.