Song and Dance Man: Alan Cumming, Parker Posey and Lily Rabe Fête Darren Criss’ Broadway Debut

  • Each year at December’s end, courtly New Yorkers retreat from the harsh limelight and recover from the taxing holiday season. With regular patrons retreating to various white-sand beaches across the globe, the city’s best hotels, boîtes and bars are left fallow, sadly waiting the return of their dedicated revelers. Then, come the second week in January, the cycle resets itself: the first gilt-edged event of the New Year is held with much fanfare and flourish, attracting recently returned cynosures (tanned and trim), visiting celebrities and bacchanalians returning like the swallows to Capistrano. Monday night, The Observer attended our first party since taking the tinsel and tree trimmings down.

    Stepping in from the cold, we were met with the Darby’s scarlet leather confidence. From the flapper-inspired chandeliers (dimmed to a prurient, prohibition-era wattage) to the jazz band on stage, the venue recalled the impassioned boom-times of our pre-Depression forefathers. And, while we were spared the fringed dresses and finger waves, guests acted the part. The open bar was flowing freely, and most everyone indulged in ardent spirits (resolutions be damned!).

    A potpourri crowd had gathered to support Darren Criss, the fresh-faced wunderkind of Glee fame, who has recently made his Broadway debut. Lily Rabe, Susan Sarandon (accompanied by her young beau, the pingpong mogul Jonathan Bricklin,) William Ivey Long, Rose Hemingway, the Book of Mormon’s Andrew Rannells and designer Chris Benz all turned out to show their support.

    Drinks in hand, various groups settled into the leather booths. With the Chinatown All-Stars trumpeting, drumming, contrabssing in the background, guests grazed a variety of delicacies, from Maine lobster rolls to caviar-coated fingerling potatoes.

    Looking dapper in a Calvin Klein suit, Mr. Criss explained that New York is starting to feel more and more like home. “I’m here almost every other week,” he said genially. “It’s not like ‘Welcome to New York.!’ This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.” The San Francisco native has begun a three-week stint as the lead in the hit Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. We asked what it was like following on the heels of Dan Radcliffe who previously played the role. “Dan has been nothing short of a gentleman and absolutely supportive of me,” he said. Do they have different approaches to the character? “We’re just different kinds of water. I don’t know what brand I would be or what brand he would be, but just two different kinds of water. Some people can tell the difference, some people don’t care,” he said, taking a large gulp of tea from a stainless steel mug.

    We then ran into film producer Celine Rattray, who was summoning summer (or perhaps a recent Caribbean jaunt) in open-toed platform shoes and a short Donna Karan dress. We asked Ms. Rattray if she had made any New Year’s resolutions to ring in 2012. “I made twelve,” she said, proudly avowing that she had kept all the resolutions (thus far), but one has proved more difficult than the rest. “Never lie to agents. I realize it’s very hard to do the work of a film producer and never lie,” she said, but pledged to maintain her commitment, as long as humanly possible.

    Before long, the band cast their instruments aside, and Mr. Criss himself took the stage, guitar in hand. Although he implored the crowd to keep chatting, silence soon set over the Eighteenth amendment-era scene. Mr. Criss first sang “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, drawing the audience’s eyebrows ever higher in an adoring, nostalgic swoon. We were standing at the bar behind Vogue mascot Hamish Bowles, and from the backwards wiggle of his lobes we could discern his smile. Mr. Criss flaunted his range, performing five songs from jazz to pop to theater soundtrack, earning a rousing applause from his friends and supporters.

    While some guests took their leave after Mr. Criss finished, many remained firmly planted in their booths, drinking, nibbling and laughing loudly as the jazz band took the stage once more. We noticed Ann Dexter Jones, that indefatigable doyenne of all things social, sitting with friends at a table. She invited us to sit down with her and we asked what she had planned for the upcoming calendar year.

    “I’m clearning out my address book,” she told us. “I’ll make excuses for my dysfunctional friends, but I’m no longer making excuses for my very dysfunctional friends.” As for her television habits, Ms. Dexter Jones proclaimed herself an avid Glee fan. “I love glee…. I love talent,” she said. Reality shows have little appeal, however. “I’m not big on reality shows, because my life is a reality show, right? All our lives are reality shows,” she said. Soon, a friend stopped at the table to say goodbye. She inquired if he was single and promptly encouraged The Observer to dance with him. We demurred.

    Near Ms. Dexter Jones’ table, Alan Cumming and Parker Posey sat with friends in a practically impenetrable booth. As guests began to clear and their coterie thinned, we spoke to Ms. Posey. The actress admitted that she had never seen Glee, and that she prefers Intervention. “I like watching people save themselves,” she said, with her particular, semi-sarcastic throaty tone.

    We moved on to Mr. Cumming who explained that he had four discrete objectives for the new year. First, to visit more museums and art galleries. Second, Mr. Cumming has decided to become a vegan, inspired evidently by Mike Tyson. “I was a vegetarian for years and then saw he was the new poster boy for veganism apparently. And I thought, Well if he can do it…” Third, he said, “I’m going to try to get my assistant to try and arrange for me to have conversational Spanish classes,” he reported. “And what’s the other one,” he said, struggling to remember the final resolution. “There was something else, veganism, museums, Spanish, and… meditation. I want to do meditation,” he said finally. Quite holistic, that list!

    As for our own resolution, it was dashed. Having vowed to abstain from caviar for moral reasons (the poor roe!), we nevertheless indulged at the Darby. We left the party feeling guilty but satiated for the first time since the ball dropped. Cheers to a fulfilling, resolution-busting 2012.

     

Comments

  1. Gqsmoothsax says:

    Great write-up Elise.  Thank you for mentioning the band…