Donna Murphy floated on stage in a purple gown and sang a million dollar version of Cole Porter’s “I Happen to Like New York.”
Brian Stokes Mitchell pitted the left and right sides of the house in a sing-along to George and Ira Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” from “Porgy and Bess.”
And Patti LuPone, looking deceptively angelic in white, gave the audience a medley. “Everything’s gonna be bright lights and lollipops,” she sang from Jule Styne’s “Gypsy.”
All of this and more celebrated the reopening of New York City Center after a $57 million renovation.
In the audience were Eric Mindich, chief executive and founder of Eton Park Capital Management LP, whose wife, Stacey, is a City Center board member; actress Isabella Rossellini; Indre Rockefeller, a dancer who works at Vogue and also a board member; and Fred Wilpon, majority owner of the Mets.
The proceedings last night felt familial. The chairman of the theater, Ray Lamontagne (no, not the musician from Maine, but a tall man with white hair) put his arm around the president and chief executive of City Center, Arlene Shuler. She said she was going to try not to cry.
Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, on stage to introduce a performance by members of his company, mentioned a detail of the renovation he appreciated: the expansion of the men’s bathrooms.
Sarah Jessica Parker introduced New York City Ballet dancers Ask La Cour and Wendy Whelan, who performed “After the Rain,” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.
Reflecting City Center’s range, there was a little bit of everything on the program.
Denyce Graves performed an aria from “Samson and Delilah.” Joshua Bell took out his violin for some of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and “West Side Story.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams went on about playing various roles in “Guys and Dolls” on his high-school stage in Middletown, New Jersey.
He then brought on two children who participate in City Center’s education programs.
“Are you nervous?” he said, “Remember what I told you.”
Williams had advised the girls to imagine the audience naked. It did the trick.
Afterwards buses took the performers and patrons to Cipriani 42nd Street for dinner -- and only one formal remark: The event raised $2 million, Lamontagne said.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)