A crowd on Broadway for Lansbury on Parker
It had all the aspects of a royal event but was much more fun than any of those Buckingham Palace gatherings ever seem to be. On Sunday night, Angela Lansbury officially set her feet back on a Broadway stage at the Schoenfeld Theatre for a one-time-only concert reading of witty Dorothy Parker musings, all to benefit a pet Lansbury enthusiasm, the Acting Company. And she was greeted not unlike Dolly Levi returning to the Harmonia Gardens. The Schoenfeld roof was nearly raised by the applause at Lansbury's entrance. (It didn't hurt that she looked like a million bucks, to boot.) The Broadway community definitely was reclaiming the four-time Tony winner after her long sabbatical doing television and other West Coast activities. The greeting she received, I suspect, also was a way of acknowledging the news that she will be back on the boards in May at the Music Box Theatre in Terrence McNally's new play "Deuce." As for the night of Parkerisms, titled "This Is on Me …," the Acting Company had every reason to be proud of the whole enterprise; the event was sold out, with heavy action outside the house on West 45th as dozens were trying to find tickets to buy. For those lucky enough to be inside, Lansbury and company — which included Harriet Harris, Boyd Gaines, Lisa Banes and Lynn Collins — were a collective delight, delivering a generous sampling of Parker monologues, one-liners, Algonquin put-downs, critical barbs, even dialogue that the esteemed Ms. Parker wrote for 1937's "A Star Is Born," which illustrated her legendary wit. (How Parker, who died in 1967, would hate our era, when the kind of acerbic wit that was her forte has virtually disappeared from the landscape, replaced by exaggerated, teenage-level slapstick.) Congratulations also go to Tom Fontana, who did the Parker adaptations; Warner Shook, who directed it; and everyone else involved. … Meanwhile, the toast of the town, in addition to La Lansbury, is Christine Ebersole, with "Grey Gardens" at the Walter Kerr now firmly launched, which brought a second love letter from New York Times critic Ben Brantley. When "Gardens" premiered off-Broadway in March, he wrote, "Ms. Ebersole's performance is one of the most gorgeous ever to grace a musical." For the bumped-up-to-Broadway version, which opened Thursday, he added, "Watching (her) performance is the best argument I can think of for the survival of the American musical." … Someone else who knocked out the critics was Lorenzo Lamas, in his cabaret debut last week at Feinstein's at the Regency. He can sing, and how, with strong pipes and an effortless, Hugh Jackman kind of charm. This should open a whole new career for L.L., who ends his run Saturday, then heads back to more "The Young and the Restless" tapings in Los Angeles. … Ready for ho-ho-hoing or not, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical" starts a seasonal nine-week run Wednesday at the Hilton, the show's first holiday run in New York but an annual event for the past eight years at the Old Globe in San Diego. … One day later, the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes begins kicking up its heels at the mammoth Radio City Music Hall, running this year to Dec. 30. … Also on Thursday, the revival of "Les Miserables" storms into the Broadhurst, less than four years after its original 16-year Broadway run.