Arrive fashionably late. Bolt from a limo. Deadpan "for ready money only" when the paparazzi invites you to stop and smile. Sweep through the bistro door. Grab a Kir cocktail. Plop in a booth, sigh and pronounce: "What's good about the living theater is if you don't get it exactly right, they give you the chance to try again next time."
Tyne Daly is in town, and the doe-eyed star of "Gypsy," which is headed for Broadway, was reluctant to wax ecstatic about her opening night Tuesday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
"It was hard to feel the room (Segerstrom Hall)," she said at Birraporetti's, site of the post-performance bash. "But it was my first time. I'll know better tomorrow. I did take a tour of the theater today and saw there wasn't a bad seat in the house."
As Daly ("Mama Rose" in the show) chatted with good friend Stephanie Zimbalist, party guests rhapsodized about her performance.
"She had such intensity on stage," said Thomas Kendrick, president of the Center board. "She controlled the stage, built her character with the same intensity she builds Mary Beth Lacey on 'Cagney and Lacey.' "
"I loved Tyne," said Jeanette Lane Bradbury, who played Dainty June to Ethel Merman's Mama Rose when "Gypsy" opened on Broadway in 1959. "I thought she was incredible. She didn't act. She was . She knocked me out."
Bradbury, who lives in North Hollywood, confessed that she had few happy memories from her Great White Way days with Merman. "It was difficult. Merman was cold. When you acted with her, she looked at your forehead. She didn't relate. Her whole performance was totally centered around her . She didn't take anything from anybody, which is so different from Tyne, who lives off everybody and herself as well."
"Tyne has that role of being a lady-cop type, a dramatist," said Susan Strader, whose husband, Tim, is a vice chairman of the Center board. "But her comedic timing and her belt-it-out singing voice are fantastic!"
"I loved the show," said Tim Strader. "The first act was for the ladies. The second act (with scantily clad female strippers) was for the men!"
Going from a sweet-and-simple type to a svelte stripper "is difficult because it happens so quickly on stage, in front of everybody," said Crista Moore, who plays Gypsy Rose Lee in the production. "There's no time to prepare, think, or wind up to it. But that also makes the part exciting."
As guests and cast members heaped their plates with goodies such as pineapple pizza and chocolate cake embellished with roses (natch!), pianist Confrey Phillips entertained with selections from the show. "I played at the opening-night party for the movie 'Gypsy' when it premiered at the Odeon theater in London," Phillips recalled. "It was nice to meet Natalie Wood (who played Gypsy Rose Lee). I always fancied her, thought she was a marvelous, lovely looking lady."