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The Party Chronicles: a First-Night Fete

The Scene: Sunday night at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood, at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Heidi Chronicles,” a new production of the Center Theatre Group and the Ahmanson Theatre. (The play, which one critic called “a chronicle of frayed feminism,” earned playwright Wendy Wasserstein a Tony Award, a Pulitzer Prize and seemingly every possible accolade except a World Series ring.) After the comedy-drama concluded, cast and guests went over to the Columbia Bar & Grill for an after party.

Who Was There: Wasserstein, director Daniel Sullivan, and cast members Amy Irving, Mark Harelik, Robert Curtis-Brown, Mimi Lieber, Elaine Hausman, Maggie Baird, Amy Ryan, and Michael Sandels, as well as Scott Bakula, Ed Begley Jr., Jim Bridges, Patrick Dempsey, Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, U.S. Rep. Mel Levine, Barry Levinson, Donna Mills, Cassandra Peterson, Priscilla Pointer (Amy Irving’s mother), Charles Nelson Reilly, Rob Stone and Joanne Worley.

Dress Code: On temperate Sunday evenings, when people have spent the weekend relaxing, apparently anything goes. Most people managed to put on suits and ties, but a few couldn’t give up the blue jeans they’d been wearing all day.

Fashion Statements: Director Sullivan wore a vintage “Students for Kennedy” button, while cast member Harelik topped off his yellow argyle socks with leather sandals.

Chow: Crab cakes, quesadillas , lox, carrot cake, brownies and fruit.

Noted: Like so many writers of her generation, Wasserstein has studded “The Heidi Chronicles” with plenty of ‘60s hits. Judging from the number of people in the audience who seemed to know all the words, the lyrics of Motown have become literary allusions for the thirtysomething crowd.

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Quoted: Wasserstein, whose down-to-earth persona is the antithesis of the stereotypical astringent Manhattan playwright, came into the party lugging a plastic shopping bag. “Inside is a basketful of different kinds of soaps. It’s a gift from the cast, and it’s very sweet and very dear,” she said. She’s working on a Heidi screenplay as well as a film script of Stephen McCauley’s novel of a few years back, “The Object of My Affection.”

Triumphs: The party featured an elaborate cake shaped like the stage, with representations of the set design. Closer examination revealed that the confection was a fake cake, and that the tiny figures were made out of some compound that looked like clay. Everything in the theater, apparently, is an illusion.

Glitches: The Columbia Bar & Grill is close to the Doolittle, but not close enough to walk in high heels and dress clothes--necessitating the use of valet parkers twice in one night. Maybe the theater could consider the use of shuttle buses from the theater to parties.


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