"Tonight brings back a lot of memories," said Michael Douglas as his wife, Oscar and Tony Award-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, handed him the Monte Cristo Award for his contributions to the theater Monday night in New York. The duo was the center of camera flashes at the Edison Ballroom in New York at the fund-raising gala for Waterford'sEugene O'Neill Theater Center.
Spreading "the arts are good business in Connecticut" message, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was the kickoff speaker in the tribute to Douglas. The actor, still dashing at 67, spent three summers at the O'Neill during the center's first years in 1966 to '68 and has been on its board of directors since 1980.
Malloy was buoyant when he heard that Quiara Alegría Hudes, who was an Aetna Voices playwright at Hartford Stage, won the Pulitzer Prize in drama Monday afternoon for "Water By the Spoonful," a play that was commissioned, developed and premiered at the theater. "I saw the play and liked it very much," he said during the reception. (The O'Neill can claim Hudes, too. She developed the two other parts of her trilogy — in which "Spoonful" is the center play — at the theater center.)
Malloy was hanging with former U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, now CEO and chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, who said jokingly that Hollywood was like the Senate in that he was surrounded by a "[expletive] egos." (Douglas would say later that Dodd's challenges in the Senate would pale with "trying to get seven studio heads to agree on anything.")
Also attending the event was a gracious-as-always Angela Lansbury, who starred in the revival of "A Little Night Music" last year with Zeta-Jones and is now on Broadway in "The Best Man," directed by former Hartford Stage artistic director Michael Wilson. Also attending was Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, actor Michael Cerveris (Broadway's "Evita"), producer Manny Azenberg, Universal Studios president and COO Ron Meyer and film director Joel Schumacher ("St. Elmo's Fire," "Batman Forever," Douglas' "Falling Down").
Playwright Theresa Rebeck, creator of TV's "Smash" and whose "Seminar" is a smash on Braadway, said she who will be one of eight playwrights at the O'Neill this summer, working on a new play. Charles S. Dutton, last seen on stage in Connecticut starring in "Death of a Salesman" at Yale Rep, said he is looking to return to the stage in a production of "Cabin in the Sky." Tony Award-nominee Coleman Domingo ("Scottsboro Boys," Long Wharf Theatre's "Coming Home") who played straight man to "Avenue Q"'s John Tartaglia and his puppet Rod in the entertainment part of the program, says he is jazzed about "Wild with Happy,"a play that he wrote which will be produced this fall at the Public Theater in New York.
At the end of the evening, Douglas reminisced about his days at the O'Neill, his friendship there with Danny DeVito (and Devito's first words to him: "Hey, you get high?"), and his affection for O'Neill founder George White and his wife Betsy ("who are the heart and soul of the center").
The Monte Cristo award is named for Eugene O'Neill's summer cottage in New London. Previous winners include: James Earl Jones, Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey, Neil Simon, Jason Robards, Jr., Edward Albee, August Wilson, Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, Karl Malden, Arthur and Barbara Gelb and Wendy Wasserstein.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times