Robert Pohly, founder of Samlyn Capital, said he’s so new to the Lincoln Center Theater’s board that he’s only been to one meeting.
Donald Drapkin, founder of Casablanca Capital, said he’s been a board member for more than 20 years and has lost count of the times he’s chaired the theater’s gala, as he did again last night, helping to raise $1.25 million.
“You’re asking people for favors -- it’s all right as long as I do it every other year,” Drapkin joked, searching the room for his co-chairman and girlfriend, Sue Hostetler, editor of Art Basel Miami Beach Magazine.
“They have sold so many tables and so many tickets,” said Andre Bishop, Lincoln Center Theater’s artistic director, in what he promised was the only speech of the night. “Clearly, they have solicited and cajoled and threatened and blackmailed, and God knows what else they’ve done to get their many friends to support us.”
Drapkin said he tells his friends that 5,000 children visit Lincoln Center Theater every year, through its education department. He also reminds them that “what makes New York great is its cultural life.”
The gala celebrated born-and-bred New Yorker Moss Hart, whose success as a playwright and director took him from a tenement in the Bronx to a duplex apartment at 1185 Park Avenue. The theme ties into the current production in LCT’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, “Act One,” based on Hart’s 1959 autobiography, adapted by James Lapine, who also directs. Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) is a star.
The gala performance was something different: “Act Two,” assembling actors from previous LCT productions to perform songs, sketches, and scenes from musicals Hart worked on with George S. Kaufman, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, and Lerner and Loewe.
Hart’s children with Kitty Carlisle Hart opened the evening, recollecting their parents’ entertaining. Guests gathered around the Steinway Grand holding “champagne flutes and cognac snifters,” said Catherine Hart.
“We would dress up in our special pajamas,” said Christopher Hart. “Joan Crawford once gave me a bottle of her special vodka, 150 proof.”
Then the music, comedy and political satire began from a set capturing the spirit of the Hart duplex.
Victoria Clark, who won a Tony Award for the LCT production of “Light in the Piazza,” played a saucy Lou Hoover on her way out of the White House, portrait of George Washington in tow. Byron Jennings -- one of the witches in the LCT production of “Macbeth” -- was cast as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, hearing out a young couple (Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale), who tell Roosevelt that they can’t get married until he balances the budget. He buys them ice cream.
Stephen Colbert, set to take over David Letterman’s late-night slot on CBS next year, read Hart’s “Advice to Breathless Thespians.” The graduation speech covered how to enter Sardi’s after success or failure, as well as which roles guarantee success (the girl or the boy or “Our Town,” and any part in Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters”).
O’Hara, on a night off from starring in “The Bridges of Madison County,” did a perfect impression of Julie Andrews describing what it was like to be directed by Hart in “My Fair Lady.’” Montego Glover had a solo on “Harlem on My Mind” from “As Thousands Cheer.” And for the benefit of those on Wall Street in the audience, an amiable character sang “You Can’t Take It With You.”
Afterward at Avery Fisher Hall, Eric Mindich, chief executive officer of Eton Park Capital Management and president of the board, and Tom Hill hosted “You Can’t Take It With You” tables, priced at $50,000 on the invitation. Drapkin and board members Marlene Hess and Brooke Neidich bought $75,000 tables, under the moniker “A Star Is Born.” Pohly was at a $25,000 “Once In a Lifetime” table, a contribution level that board member Kewsong Lee, of Carlyle Group LP, who was not present, also made.
The decor indicated none of these distinctions. All guests sat at tables covered in green cloth, with bouquets of purple and green flowers. On the menu were kale salad, pesto-rubbed hanger steak, and chocolate sea-salt caramel tart.
Guests included Tom Tuft and Richard Gormley, both of Lazard Ltd., and playwright Marsha Norman.
Bernard Gersten, who for 28 years served as executive producer at LCT, sat with his wife, Cora Cahan, as they celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. They were married on the stage of the Public Theater and had Greek and klezmer bands at their reception, Cahan said.
Drapkin praised Hill, a vice chairman at Blackstone Group and the chairman of the Lincoln Center Theater board, for helping LCT get through construction of a rooftop expansion, providing a theater for new work dubbed LCT3.
“It’s all about the team here,” said Hill, naming Bishop and Resident Director Bart Sher. “They’re talent scouts. The reason we put up LCT3 is to capture new talent. We want to be in the food chain. It’s like venture capital: we want to find the next Google.”
Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones” brought back one of the tighter-knit, refreshingly innocent couples on the series: the young mother Gilly -- who revealed she can pluck feathers and attempt to flirt at the same time -- and her fierce protector Sam.
Tonight, Hannah Murray, who plays Gilly, begins a run on the London stage as the title character in the French play “Martine,” set after World War I.
“I play a peasant girl who falls in love with a returning soldier who’s very upper-class,” Murray said of the Finborough Theatre production, performed in a translation by John Fowles. “It’s about unrequited love.”
On the red carpet for “Game of Thrones” last month in New York, she shared ideas for where to dine in London: Ceviche, for Peruvian street food, and Spuntino, “because it makes me feel like I’m in Brooklyn, with lots of small plates and comfort food. It’s where you go to get mac and cheese.”
As for after the play, “There’s a really weird basement bar called The New Evaristo Club -- I wonder if they have an alcohol license,” Murray said. “You go through an unmarked door and down to the basement. It’s a very cool, slightly weird stuck-in-the-50s kind of place.”