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My night at the star-studded S.T.A.G.E. benefit “To Broadway from Hollywood … with Love”

It was a week ago that I attended the annual S.T.A.G.E. show benefiting AIDS Project LA but waited to post my recap because these really nice photos from the star-studded show just became available yesterday.

This is always a first-rate show and this year was no exception with Florence Henderson, Sally Struthers, Carole Cook, Lea Thompson, David Engel, Nancy Dussault, Robert Morse, Mary Jo Catlett, Donna Theodore, Jason Graae, Sally Kellerman, Thea Gill and Scott Nevins, among others, performing Broadway tunes.

The absolute highlight for me was the appearance of 100-year-old Patricia Morison who was the lead in the original production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate.

Miss Morison performed So In Love from Kiss Me Kate then was presented with the S.T.A.G.E. Producers Award ‘for her compassion, commitment and generosity in the fight against AIDS.’

Then the entire company of the 31st annual S.T.A.G.E. event (it stands for Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event) took to the stage and sang Miss Morison Happy Birthday in one of the evening’s most special moments.

While I was well aware of the legendary talents of the likes of such established stage and TV stars as Miss Henderson and Miss Cook, I was so pleasantly surprised at how good Miss Thompson was performing The Girl in the Mirror and Mr. Nevins (The People’s Couch) was absolute dynamite doing Revolutionary Costume for Today from Grey Gardens.

There was also a fashion show that featured the likes of Greg Louganis, Craig Ramsay and Peter Marc Jacobson and, of course, Miss Edith Head! What? That famed costume designer died in 1982? Well you could’ve fooled me! She was really Susan Claassen as Miss Head but I have to confess to being unnerved when I saw her in the lobby of the Saban Theatre before the show. Spotted her out of the corner of my eye and whispered to a friend: ‘Edith head is dead right?’ We had a good laugh then I met Susan/Edith and had my photo taken with her after she gave me her fashion seal of approval.

Also before the show, I ran into hunky Days of Our Lives star Eric Marstolf who won a well-deserved Emmy last year for his performance as Brady Black on the soap. We chatted over cocktails at the VIP party and Eric told me he had just been called the day before to serve as the live auctioneer because the original choice, Charo, had an emergency and had to fly home to Hawaii.

Nothing against Charo but I’d prefer to Eric Martsolf any day!

A fun moment for me was being able to introduce Eric to Greg Louganis and his husband Johnny Chailloit-Louganis. Eric was truly excited to meet the Olympic legend and that was fun to see.

Anyway, congratulations to all involved in putting on this wonderful event which was staged and directed by David Galligan. The music direction and orchestrations were by Brad Ellis and the choreography by Lee Martino.

FILE UNDER: Benefits, Stage


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