And more from our Liz: Broadway’s new “Anything Goes” is glorious and gorgeous
“FORTY IS the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age,” said Victor Hugo.
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I DROPPED into the fabulous Le Cirque last week to see a clutch of good-looking women in the upstairs room. They were hearing all about beauty in all its guises, including age, through a program co-sponsored by Literacy Partners and this great restaurant. Pausing only to wish Sirio Maccioni a happy birthday, I took the elevator instead of the stairs and landed next to two women I admire, Enid Nemy, once the fashion queen of the New York Times, and Joan Kron, another Times vet now affiliated with Allure.
The author speaking this day was Tracey Jackson, a screenwriter well-known for her film “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” She told us all about her latest book which has the somewhat confusing title: “Between A Rock and a Hot Place: Why 50 is Not the New 30.” (Maybe you already guessed that the author is somewhat disillusioned about growing older, and you’d be right.)
The creator of wowOwow.com, one Joni Evans, had been assigned the task of setting up a panel to challenge Tracey’s certainties. These consisted of the single-named Carmindy from the Learning Channel, where she is the “What Not to Wear” cosmetics guru. (She says that as they grow older, women should not wear dark lipsticks and too much makeup.)
There was also the impressive Valerie Monroe, a ten-year veteran with O magazine. The brilliant Ms. Monroe recalled when she felt she became invisible. The audience sighed.
Tracey pondered the reality that women are newly called upon not to turn into old crones, saying this is a fairly recent development. And it really is. Women, of course, have always hated growing older and “losing” their looks and sex appeal — but once upon a time it hardly mattered. Women had few options. They either ruled as princesses, queens or courtesans, were married off early like brood mares, or were carried off with other pillage — raped, enslaved and consigned to detestable chores after a certain age.
I am thinking of the fate of women especially described in Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror,” the story of European civilization in the Dark Ages at the time of the Black Death. Women were mostly property for rape and childbirth. So it’s only since the “enlightened” times of women’s suffrage that we have had the luxury of caring about beauty and fashion for the masses.
If you’d like to get in on one of Literacy’s lunches at Le Cirque, the next one features the controversial Erica Jong, sex goddess of yesteryear, who is coming out on June 1 with a new book, “Sugar In My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex.” Call 646-237-0105 if you want to get in on this.
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Last week I received the following note from one of my intrepid helpers, the redhead Diane Judge.
It’s a long time since I’ve written to you this way. But because of you, I get to enjoy so many wonderful moments in the theatre. Recently, the current gorgeous revival of “Anything Goes,” as directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, and starring the one and only, delectable Sutton Foster, who not only sings but dances as Reno Sweeney.
This glorious production of Cole Porter’s superb musical brings memories of my childhood across the Hudson. My mom was a theatre nut and though the Depression had us living in a cold-water flat complete with coal stoves, she managed to save enough to go to Broadway. So back in 1934, she saw the original “Anything Goes” starring the one and only Ethel Merman. (Many years later I would be a Broadway press agent on “Gypsy” with that cranky grand dame.)
Mom and Dad never stopped singing the incredible score. “I Get a Kick Out of You” — and “You’re the Top” had them kicking and jumping away. They would neck through “Easy To Love” and “It’s De-lovely.” Dance through “Anything Goes,” and then put me to bed with “Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye” and finally kiss me nighty-night with “All Through the Night.” So you can imagine when I was invited see a run-through of this current production why I had tears in my eyes throughout.
It was fascinating to hear Kathleen Marshall state that the current cast had not been born when “Anything Goes” first opened. But Joel Grey stood up and said “Not me.” Every one laughed. Joel co-stars with Sutton as Moon Face Martin and he, too is delightful. As a kid he dreamed of acting on Broadway and his dream came true back in 1968. The entire cast is great and the costumes are stunning and – well, hurry up and see for yourself that not too often does anything come to Broadway quite like this production of “Anything Goes.”
Your Gal Friday.