Frank Langella, Bryan Cranston Spoof Oscars at Theatre GalaBy
30 Rock’s Krakowski sings Annie; Baldwin champions playwrights
Lazard’s Tuft pleased as Barack, Malia Obama see ‘The Price’
Alec Baldwin didn’t do his impression of President Trump at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s gala Monday, leaving the impersonation to his fellow “30 Rock” star Jane Krakowski, who showed up on the stage of the Waldorf-Astoria as the iconic orphan Annie -- complete with red dress, curly wig and cute dog -- singing “Tomorrow.”
The number was more or less the anthem of a feel-good evening marking the completion of a $50 million capital campaign. The title of the gala was “Act II: Setting the Stage for the Roundabout’s Future.” Katheryn Patterson and Thomas Kempner, Regis and Johs Worsoe, and Jeanne and Tom Hagerty were among the leading gala supporters.
Trump references permeated last year’s gala entertainment. This year’s program carefully steered clear, though there was some enthusiastic off-stage chatter about a former president taking in the Roundabout’s revival of Arthur Miller’s “The Price” on Friday night.
“I was very flattered President Obama decided to see ‘The Price,’” said Lazard’s Tom Tuft, chairman of the Roundabout, who was at that performance, where Obama was joined by his daughter Malia. The revival “of great classics is one of our most important mandates. It was gratifying to all of us.”
As for the play itself: “The themes of the play resonate with many of the contemporary political issues,” Tuft said.
“The Price,” first presented in 1968, stars Danny DeVito, Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht. It’s about two brothers in mid-life reckoning with the paths they took after their father lost his money in the Great Depression.
Ruffalo has the line about his father’s belief in “the system.” DeVito, who plays a furniture appraiser, has one about the unreliability of the federal government. Hecht’s Esther, at one point, baldly exclaims, “I want money!” The characters each offer a different way of dealing with ambition, education, family bonds and the difficulties of starting over.
Another current Roundabout production, “On the Exhale,” by Martin Zimmerman, takes on the subject of American gun violence in a one-woman show starring Marin Ireland.
But however socially relevant the work presented may be, the gala didn’t highlight that aspect of the Roundabout’s mission.
Baldwin, at the lectern, was focused on the Roundabout’s commitment to young playwrights, and was joined by one of them, Steven Levenson, author of “Dear Evan Hansen” and “If I Forget.” Krakowski’s “Annie” turn nodded to the Roundabout’s mandate to revive musicals. At one point, students in the Roundabout’s education programs filled the balconies, as a video played about these programs helping children come into their own.
If the evening did have a topical obsession, it wasn’t Trump. It was the gaffe closing the Academy Awards, when Best Picture was incorrectly presented to “La La Land” before being awarded to “Moonlight.”
Bryan Cranston, on stage to present an award to Frank Langella, paused and put down what he was reading. “It doesn’t really matter what people write on those little cards,” he said.
Langella got into it right away as he accepted his award. “Oh, wait a minute, Bryan, it says Warren Beatty. Faye, Faye Dunaway, are you out there? Somebody give her a pair of glasses. Between the two of them they were 150 years old and they couldn’t read the little card.”
He then riffed on every Oscar acceptance speech ever -- “I doubt there is an actor who has dreamed of this moment less than I have” -- before delivering a very emotional, self-aware speech about being a working actor. He noted his first role in New York gave him a salary of $95 a week, and his most recent, in “The Father,” a salary of $981.84 a week -- “by my calculations, approximately a $16 per year raise over the course of the last 55 years.”
As for the cost of running the Roundabout, patrons helped during the live auction. Dinner with the cast of “The Price” went for $100,000 each, to two separate bidders.