To answer your first question: yes, there was gazpacho. At the party, I mean. The opening-night party for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, held on Thursday at the Millennium Broadway hotel in midtown, just down the block from the Belasco. I've been secretly grateful for the past two months that David Yazbek, the lyricist/composer for the show, didn't include among his hook-graced score a number called "Gazpacho," but when it came to what was on the opening-night buffet table, well, the Spanish refreshment was inevitable.
I can't tell you whether the fiesta gazpacho was made according to the strict dictates of the recipe featured prominently as part of the production's stage design. I can tell you that it was snatched up by a lively opening-night crowd, including the maestro himself, Pedro Almodovar, who told me that he tried it but, rather enigmatically, not whether he enjoyed it. He expressed no coyness about the production's cast: "Wonderful!" he enthused. "Such great actors!"
As usual, some of those first-rate performers were nearly unrecognizable in their Sunday-best party attire: Julio Agustin, who had received the traditional Gypsy robe (a 60-year-old tradition among Broadway-musical chorus members) during a ceremony on the afternoon before opening, had been Samsonically shorn of the long tresses he sports as the musical's motorcycle-revving Ambite. "Wigs can be hot to wear," Agustin told me, "especially under the lights."
Another kind of hotness - the attractiveness kind - was on display with all the actors. The difference between looking at them at the party, where the men rocked spiffy dark suits (a shout-out to Justin Guarini's shimmering, Dolce-ish duds) and the women a lot of minis (a Fashion Police thumbs-up to Laura Benanti's silver-white number), was the difference between staring into a bright Madrid sun, circa 1988, and relaxing into a cool Manhattan shade, circa 2010. Even Catherine Zuber, the show's gifted costume designer, opted for classic black, replete with elbow-length gloves.
But as I circled the room, congratulating the titanically hard-working cast members (Danny Burstein, the show's taxi driver, wigless when in mufti; Rachel Bay Jones, Swing, whose solo CD, ShowFolk, I made a mental note to get; Brian Stokes Mitchell, bucking the dark-suit trend with the palest of purples) and saying hello to such theater-world luminaries as Nicholas Hytner and Bob Crowley (in town to direct and design a new production of Don Carlo at the Met), my eyes and my mind kept circling back to an effortlessly elegant woman who I swore was Julieta Serrano, sitting quietly at a table with a group of Spanish friends.
Julieta Serrano, for those of you who don't know your Almodovar, played Lucia in the 1988 film on which the new LCT production is based: on Broadway, Lucia is Patti LuPone, whose second-act number, "Invisible," was performed on opening night with even higher-wattage, true-star incandescence than usual. The morning after the party, however, I looked at Serrano's photos online and realized that I had been mistaken: it was not she. So completely had the opening-night performance put me in an Almodovarian world that I had begun seeing Lucias - and Pepas and Candelas - everywhere. That's enchantment.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.