I took a field trip a few Saturdays ago — hopped into my PT Cruiser, picked up my coworker, Mala, and headed from Queens to Staten Island. For those readers unfamiliar with the five boroughs of New York, Staten Island is the one that’s the biggest pain to get to. That’s because it’s an island, and Manhattan residents (who also live on an island, of course) have to take a ferry to get to it. I drove across the magnificent Verrazano Bridge.So we’re in the car, on our way to a one-night-only performance of My Big Gay Italian Wedding at the St. George Theatre, listening intently to my GPS for directions. The “red carpet” part of the festivities were to start at 6:30, and as I drive sort of slow, I gave myself plenty of time to get there. We arrived at 6, which left oh-so-much extra time. We hunted for the PR contact, who told us that the celebrities — some ONE LIFE TO LIVE actors were expected, as well as some REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY — would be in the back of the lobby, where there would be photo opportunities for the press, along with a quieter place to talk to the actors.
There was a most elegant group of drag queens standing outside the theater — and they were far better-dressed than I was!
The St. George Theatre is resplendent: It is covered in gold, and was built in the 1920s. It had been recently restored, and has become a major entertainment venue for Staten Island. (In fact, the singing Divas of Daytime are performing there in October.) It opened in 1929 as a movie palace. It’s quite grand; the lobby is spectacular, in hues of red and gold.
After we got our tickets, we waited in front of the theater to watch everyone arrive. Scott Evans (Oliver, OLTL) dashed out of a van to head, we supposed, to a dressing room backstage. I introduced myself to him (we had met several times, but I never assume that the actor will remember me), and he seemed genuinely touched that we were there.
Then we headed to the back of the lobby and waited. There wasn’t a big rush of stars, but OLTL’s head writer, Ron Carlivati, was there, and he’s always fun to talk to. Of course, there’s a part of me that wants to say, “Okay, Ron, tell me everything that’s happening through 2010,” but I didn’t want to put him on the spot. We did gush about the soap, because it’s been great.
Then Scott appeared and mingled with everyone pre-performance. He showed no nerves about his upcoming stage appearance, although he winced a little when I told him that it was practically a full house. We also had the opportunity to talk to the charming and delightful Lisa Evans, Scott’s mom (who has been portraying Oliver’s mother, Barbara). I told her I was from Wayland, Mass., because she lives in the neighboring town of Sudbury. Such details do much to foster a bond. She told us lots of “when Scott was little” stories, which I am sure Scott would have hated. Apparently, he played little Patrick to his mother’s Mame in the musical of the same name. (Believe me, we begged for photos. She has my card. Lisa, are you listening?)
My Big Gay Italian Wedding was a delight. Anthony Wilkinson, the show’s writer and lead, is also a member of OLTL’s directing team. I saw many familiar behind-the-scenes OLTL names in the program. During the intermission, we briefly spoke to Brett Claywell (Kyle) and Tika Sumpter (Layla). They had taken a cab to Staten Island (Wonder how much that fare was?). And I spotted Kathy Brier (ex-Marcie) from afar.
Scott was great onstage; he even sang, which adds yet another singer to the current OLTL roster. It was well worth the journey, the bridge toll and the time. And the production raised money for the Lustgarten Foundation of Pancreatic Cancer Research, so there were winners all around!