“Thank you for waiting,” said Shirley MacLaine as she left the stage to a standing ovation at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre on Tuesday night. She didn’t mean waiting for the end of the show. The opening of her musical revue, “Out There Tonight,” had been delayed four months when she tore the cartilage in her right knee.
“I need the kind of nourishment you get from an audience,” MacLaine said at the post-performance party in the Pantages’ Art Deco-goes-Baroque lobby. It’s the kind of dramatic theater the czars might have built for the Bolshoi.
“I need the truth of an audience,” she added. “Machines don’t give it to you. The camera doesn’t give it to you. It’s something you can only get from a live audience.”
Whatever it is, she got it performing for the 2,000-strong crowd, and then in personal compliments from the 200 guests invited for the buffet afterward. Among them were Olivia Newton-John, Bea Arthur, Brooke Adams, Roddy McDowall, Robert Blake, Barry Manilow, Robert Downey Jr. with Sarah Jessica Parker, AFI director Jean Firstenberg and Democratic activist Roz Wyman.
“She puts us all to shame,” said Esther Williams. “We’re all home with our grandchildren, and she’s out there performing. We’re sitting on our laurels while she’s out making new ones.”
Whoopi Goldberg said she was so impressed by the scene from “Gypsy” that she thought MacLaine should be touring with the musical. “If I had the money, I’d mount the show myself,” Goldberg said.
Besides reveling in the audience appreciation, MacLaine also spoke highly of the Pantages, which was built in the late 1920s when Hollywood Boulevard was a chic promenade. She called it “a great theater. You can feel the other people who’ve been in here.
“I’ve been in 40 movies and I’ve played 12 hookers,” she said. “Maybe that’s why I feel comfortable in this part of town.”
* STAGE REVIEW: It’s a self-congratulatory Shirley MacLaine at the Pantages, writes Don Shirley. F1