April 23rd was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death & the Bard’s Birthday, so what could be more appropriate than to celebrate in Beverly Hills at the gorgeous new Wallis Theatre? Britweek kicked off their opening event by rounding up an elite group of 27 accomplished actors, performing passages from Shakespeare, directed & produced by Louis Fantasia.
Among the cast were Eric Braden, Judy Geeson, handsome Harry Hamlin (his B.H.wife sat next to me), Stacy Keach, and Joan Van Ark ,whose portrayal of Lady Macbeth was chilling. We also loved the standing applause Michael York (our favorite Shakespearean actor) received for his performance as Richard III. Adorable & amusing co-hosts of the event were Ioan Gruffudd & Joely Fisher. Her mom, Connie Stevens must be very proud!
There even was a beautiful ballet scene from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, performed by Jim Nowakowski & Isabella Seo; and Jeniffer Lee & Randy Guiaya sang Tonight,. from Bernstein’s Westside Story. Kudos to the Britweek Staff, their Sponsors, Patrons & Volunteers for making the 10th Anniversary of Britweek a rousing success.
The Gypsy Awards, which raises funds for The Professional Dancers Society, is one of my favorite events. It has a little bit of everything — dynamic dancers, scads of superstars (like Julie Andrews, Ann-Margaret & Dick Van Dyke), fabulous food, & lots of intimate charming chatter from the likes of President, Mitzi Gaynor & Joel Grey. This year, Paula Abdul (looking like a fairy princess) was the Honoree — joining such prior luminaries as Bob Mackie, Carl Reiner, Marie Osmond & Shirley MacLane.
Special Choreography Awards were presented to Kevin Carlisle (who worked with Barry Manilow for 18 years;) & Carl Jablonski (whose credits include The Academy Awards, Hello Dolly & the movie classic, Gigi. Among the guests was the Producer, Writer & Judge of So You Think You Can Dance —Nigel Lythoe, who was also at the Britweek Gala. This guy really gets around!
Kudos to Lee Hale, who presents the best videos of these dancing legends; and, of course, former dancer & philanthropist, Joni Berry who graciously underwrote the SRO event. Joni is also heavily involved in the upcoming SHARE Boomtown Gala on May 21st at the Beverly Hilton. For further info on this star-studded event where “dressy western attire” is required — please check out their Website. Hope to see you there!