Last night, the stars were aligned in the Skirball Center auditorium as Broadway heavyweights arrived on the red carpet of the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation Gala for a night of song and dance celebrating Roberta Flack and the awarding of $57,500 in college scholarship money.
When Roberta Flack arrived in a shimmery black ensemble and big orange curls, she was immediately swarmed by an adoring entourage. Ms. Flack said she wasn’t expecting the award, but was keenly aware of the Venn diagram overlap of her work and Broadway. “Dance and singing are the two art forms that keep Broadway runnin’, you know? Some things just go together. Like pound cake and ice cream. Rice and gravy. Chicken and potato salad.”
Introducing Roberta Flack on stage was Adriane Lenox, Broadway actress and Flack’s personal friend, who made a crack at her own age. “Back in the last millennium, I had a scholarship. And that was very helpful to me. We should all be proud that tonight, we are collectively paying forward to the education of the next generation of artists.”
After the performances, the VIP guests made their way to the penthouse, where a view of the Empire State Building and 5th Avenue, alongside delicious finger foods, greeted them.
While we circled the man responsible for the evening’s talent, the famed dance teacher and executive director of NYCDA Joe Lanteri, we noticed Miss New York standing in her full regalia and speaking to doting fans about the responsibilities of wearing the crown. “I slept with it right by my bed and just woke up in the morning and put it on.”
Socialite photographer Rose Hartman rushed over to snap a picture of the beauty queen, but not before asking her to hide her liquor. “Would you not have a drink in your hand,” she cooed. “Was your mother thrilled? Did she take you out for a little pasta?”
The Observer chatted with celebrity blogger Tia Walker and wondered if she knew any of the Broadway stars. “There’s one guy. He’s really good-looking, he’s got dark hair. He came up and introduced himself. I forgot his name.”
“That’s him! I don’t know where he went, but he’s really cute!”
We mingled with the cast of In the Heights and asked Lin-Manuel Miranda about his myriad of new projects, including a musical based on the Bring It On franchise, an Adult Swim pilot about his rap troupe Freestyle Love Supreme, and a movie version of In the Heights, to begin production next summer.
And as if his workload wasn’t enough, Miranda is currently working with Tommy Kail on a new musical adaption of a book, but would not provide details.
“I’m not gonna tell you. It’s not ready for that,” Miranda grinned. But he did admit he’s been spending a lot of time with Mr. Kail. “I talk to Tommy more than I talk to my parents! But we’re working!”
Also working was Mr. Lanteri, who remained invisible behind a wall of admirers. As the room emptied out, he was still blowing kisses goodbye and promising, “We’ll talk! I’ll call you!”
Roberta Flack honored at the 2011 NYCDAF Gala
Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster, Roberta Flack, Joe Lanteri
Tia Walker and Joe Lanteri
Mario Singer, Robin Cofer, Barbara Regna, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Ramona Singer, Cassandra Seidenfeld Lyster, Tom Murro
Jeremiah James and Kaitlin Monte
Adriane Lenox and husband Zane Mark, who was once a synthesizer player in Roberta Flack's band
Gregory Speck and Mary McFadden