For one magical night, patrons of the arts
in the Borough of Kings were able to rub elbows with royalty
from the Riviera.
Prior to the New York premiere of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo’s "Cinderella," gala-goers sipped cocktails in tents near the Brooklyn Academy of Music and drooled over luxury items on the silent auction tables while trying to nonchalantly catch glimpses of Monaco’s royal family, screened by a copse of potted trees at the rear of the tent.
Among the celebs who turned out for the black-tie extravaganza, a benefit for the ballet company and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, were their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Hanover (aka Princess Caroline and her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover) and His Serene Highness Hereditary Prince Albert. Deeply tanned actress-model Lauren Hutton and best-selling author Sandra Brown, injecting a dose of movie-star glamour in their glittering gowns, as well as cabaret sensation Bobby Short were spotted trading air kisses among the VIPs.
Choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot’s interpretation of the classic story calls for Cinderella’s mother to return to her after death as her glittering fairy godmother. The role of the fairy-mother was danced to exquisitely elfin perfection by Bernice Coppieters.
The child’s tale was made surprisingly adult with sexy costumes designed by Jerome Kaplan. Under Kaplan’s direction, Cinderella’s cruel step-siblings and stepmother wear coordinating corsets, garters and hoop skirts that come to intimidating points (which magically did not appear to inhibit their performance of Maillot’s refreshing blend of classical and contemporary ballet). In fact the evil step-mom’s wigs and purple costumes seemed an homage to both Cruella De Vil from "101 Dalmations" and Sour Grapes, the witch who menaces Strawberry Shortcake and her animated friends.
The evening blurred the lines of entertainment and reality, as the audience watched the fairytale about a bevy of lascivious maidens jockeying for the hand of the prince while sitting behind real princes and princesses.
The audience of arts patrons did bristle when asked to rise for the royal family’s entrance and at intermission when asked by ushers to keep to their seats until the royal family had exited from the theater. But BAM president Karen Brooks Hopkins warned the royals in her remarks preceding the performance that Brooklyn and Monaco are quite different municipalities, with Monaco taking the lead for best climate and Brooklyn winning points for our democratically elected, gregarious leader Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz - spotted at the post-show dinner.
The "Cinderella" ball was chaired by the Honorable Maguy Maccario-Doyle, Consul General of Monaco, and Nora Ann Wallace and Jack Nusbaum. Other VIPs in attendance were home repair guru Bob Vila, who’s working on a building in DUMBO these days, choreographers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown, as well as socialites Mrs. Randolph Hearst and Lynne Wyatt and City Councilmen David Yassky and James Davis.
The ball was open to all, with tickets beginning at $300 per couple. It raised $1.2 million for BAM and Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.
Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins sought refuge at BAM Rose Cinemas on April 30 from their recent storm of controversy. After Baseball Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey objected to the politically active thespians’ opposition to the war on Iraq, the 15th anniversary screening of "Bull Durham," in which Sarandon and Robbins starred with Kevin Costner, was moved from upstate Cooperstown to BAM.
The event was attended by the movie’s director Ron Shelton, and co-star Robert Wuhl, as well as Sandy the Seagull, the Brooklyn Cyclones’ mascot. The screening was a benefit for the Cooperstown Food Bank.
"We appreciate Brooklyn opening its doors to ’Bull Durham,’" said Robbins. "From Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Sandy Koufax to the Cyclones, Brooklyn’s glorious baseball heritage makes it a fitting place for the ’Bull Durham’ celebration."
Sarandon was also honored on May 5 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual gala tribute where Park Slope actor-director John Turturro paid tribute to the actress he directed in his film "Illuminata." Other celebs who turned out for the love fest were David Bowie, Tim Curry, Geena Davis, Harry Belafonte, screenwriter Gore Vidal (godfather of Sarandon’s daughter) and director Paul Schrader.
In fact the only scandal of the night seemed to be Sarandon’s chagrined reaction to the racy film clips from her formidable body of work - such as scenes from "Atlantic City" (1980) and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975) - that were shown to her three young children who were in the Avery Fisher Hall audience.
At the Mark Morris Dance Group benefit on March 25, gala-goers partied late into the night following the opening-night performance of the group’s Brooklyn Academy of Music season. Gala committee chairs Shelby Gans and Isaac Mizrahi did their part smooching attendees but co-chair, actress Isabella Rossellini, and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov were sorely missed no-shows.
Debbie Harry, "Law & Order" star Sam Waterston and actor Willem Dafoe all professed themselves fans of Morris’ innovative choreography, which that night included "Serenade," Morris’ solo performance incorporating castanets, a fan and a metal pipe, in a tribute to his late friend Lou Harrison.
"His work is so witty and there’s so much joy to it," said Harry. Waterston said it was "so easy" to support Morris’ work and added that he attends performances "whenever I get the chance."
While designer Mizrahi created his costume for "Serenade," Morris wore his own less formal ensemble - a sarong and sandals - to his gala.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz with wife Jamie Markowitz presented a proclamation to Morris amidst the gala hoopla.
Other VIPs in attendance included Wooster Group founder Elizabeth LeCompte, musician Ethan Iverson and Morris’ gorgeous dancers.
Actress Rosie Perez will emcee Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ "Voices of Harmony" gala benefit on May 12 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The event will honor arts patron and philanthropist Emily Hargroves Fisher. Tickets are $150-$500. For more information, call Lesley Berson at (718) 243-9447.