Nantucket Sleigh Ride had its opening night last night, so I will be brief. I will be brief not because the event was insubstantial (it was marvelous) but because opening-night parties are not the ideal places to elicit from actors their most engaging thoughts on the play. They have been working hard for weeks and have overcome their opening-night jitters to give their performances and now they want to sit down and consume some well-deserved food and drink.
Among the opening-night attendees were TV-familiar figures from the performing arts – Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald – as well as actors and directors who have made their marks both at Lincoln Center Theater and elsewhere: Steven Pasquale, Phillipa Soo, Marsha Mason, James Lapine, and Jack O’Brien, plus, of course, the Tony-winning writer and director of the evening’s main event: John Guare and Jerry Zaks.
I always chide myself for at a party being more interested in the food than in the décor but unless someone jumps out a giant cake why shouldn’t I be? (And if there is a jumper I’m still most interested in the flavor of the frosting.) At P.J. Clarke’s, the fare included the restaurant’s signature creamed spinach as well as salmon. I worried that salmon might be the only dish falling under the general rubric of seafood.
I worried because Nantucket Sleigh Ride makes multiple seafood references, especially to lobster, so how could they not be reflected at the party? I needn’t have fretted. Under the direction of LCT’s Manager of Special Events, Karin Schall, the planners made sure the menu was play-specific. Among the finger foods being passed by P.J. Clarke’s indulgent crew of servers were pizza and lobster rolls. The pizza topping was not reflective of the name of the parlor in Guare’s play, which is Seagull Pizza; gull topping probably appears on the menu in some secluded corner of Brooklyn but has not yet migrated to the Upper West Side.
As for the beverages related to the play, there were Cape Codder cocktails (vodka, cranberry juice, lime slice). What’s more, I saw some actors consuming vodka, and others sipping Coke, but only one who was consuming Irish whiskey. By the time I left the party this performer had imbibed more than one Irish and was telling an off-color story to assembled friends. I won’t share it here: as I said earlier, opening-night parties are not the best places to harvest actor remarks. Even in a social-media age, privacy is worth protecting.
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com