This past Thursday, Junk opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. As people made their way afterwards into the nearby Tavern on the Green, where the celebratory party was held, they were met with ample signage of this Sunday’s New York City marathon, which ends at the same location.
It was hard not to imagine a parallel between what the Junk actors have gone through and what the runners will experience on Sunday. The actors, along with Doug Hughes, the director, as well as technicians, designers, and crew, have spent the past month in rehearsal by day and in performance by night. Ayad Akhtar, the playwright, has worked tirelessly to perfect the play’s story and its expression. And here, on a night so balmy that the prime party tables were outdoors, in the garden, the artists were enjoying some hard-earned leisure.
In theory, the party sustenance hewed to the play’s title and consisted of junk food: pizza and hamburger/sliders. But both were tasty – hardly, if I may be allowed a huff, the sort of thing one finds at high-cal emporia like McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. Guests who could be seen either at the performance or enjoying the festive fare included “Friends” veteran David Schwimmer, Tony-winning actor Cherry Jones, and Hamilton alumni Jonathan Groff and Philippa Soo. (Soo is married to Junk actor Steven Pasquale.) Other revelers included the writers Colson Whitehead, John Guare, and J.T. Rogers; the former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara; and the actors Josh Radnor, Aasif Mandvi, Jennifer Westfeldt, and Gretchen Mol.
Outside, I met, but regrettably did not catch the names of, two party guests who were planning to run the marathon on Sunday. One of them forewent the hamburgers and French fries, insisting that runners-in-training were advised to avoid fried food for a week before the endurance event. As for the other, I caught him scarfing down second and third helpings of the fare. (I wonder which of these athletes will cross the finish line first.) A woman called Sophie, who was standing next to the imbibing runner, was attired in bright-red dress topped with brilliant plumage. She told me she had worn her feathered hat on Halloween and that it had cost her so much that she just had to wear it again.
The award for most nattily attired guest, however, had to go to the playwright himself. He wore a beautifully cut jacket of Nehru length, but with an open collar. “I bought it in London,” Akhtar told me. I didn’t ask him where he had found his sneaker-like footwear. It, too, was elegant.
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com.