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Salute to McNally takes center stage at Westport Playhouse

Updated 7:33 pm, Sunday, September 30, 2012

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  • At the recent Westport Country Playhouse tribute to playwright Terrence McNally, right, were, from left:  Ann Sheffer, playhouse board of trustees member; Richard Thomas, co-host; Nathan Lane, guest, and Tyne Daly, co-host. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News contributed
    At the recent Westport Country Playhouse tribute to playwright Terrence McNally, right, were, from left: Ann Sheffer, playhouse board of trustees member; Richard Thomas, co-host; Nathan Lane, guest, and Tyne Daly, co-host. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally was honored by celebrities and fans at the Westport Country Playhouse's annual fundraising gala.

The event, dubbed "The Full McNally: A Celebration of the Writing and Works of Terrence McNally," took place before a full house on Sept. 24. Proceeds benefited the playhouse and its various programs.

McNally, winner of Tony Awards for his plays "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Master Class," as well as the books for the musicals "Ragtime" and "Kiss of the Spiderwoman," was presented a gift from Westport Country Playhouse. The presentation was made by playwright Chad Beguelin, who recently premiered his new play "Harbor" at the playhouse, and is a two-time Tony Award nominee for scripting the Broadway musical "The Wedding Singer."

McNally, as quoted in a playhouse release on the event, told the gathering: "Art can change people -- we just have to make it more available to young people."

A surprise guest was Nathan Lane, whose professional association with McNally includes roles in "The Lisbon Traviata" (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards), "Bad Habits," "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," "Love! Valour! Compassion!" (Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards), "Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams" (Drama Desk nomination), and the film version of "Frankie and Johnny."

On stage, Lane said of the playwright, "Terrence McNally is the love child of a wild party between the Lunts and Noel Coward!"

Hosting the Westport honors for McNally were actors Tyne Daly and Richard Thomas, each of whom has performed in McNally plays.

Taking the stage to perform music and scenes from McNally's works were: Malcolm Gets (Westport Country Playhouse's "Finian's Rainbow," Tony Award nominee for Broadway's "Amour"); John Glover (four McNally plays, including "Love! Valour! Compassion!" for which he won a Tony Award); Derek Klena ("Carrie," "Dogfight," television's "American Idol"); Marin Mazzie (Westport Country Playhouse's "The World Goes Round," Tony Award nominee for Broadway's "Ragtime"); Lindsay Mendez (Broadway's "Grease," 2011 revival of "Godspell"); Sean Palmer (Broadway's "The Little Mermaid," "Saturday Night Fever," "Fosse"), and Camille Zamora (opera, recital and concert performances).

The Gala Committee included Katia and John Friend and Carlyn and Robert Stonehill, co-chairmen; Karen Parrella, auction chairwomen; Marjorie Barnes, Emily Boothroyd, Ania Czekaj-Farber, Michele Flaster, Angela Graham, Kim Harizman, Beth Hayes, Joanna Heimbold, Irma Hilton, Carole Hochman, Jennifer Huisking, Darlene Krenz, Mary Ellen Marpe, Mark Osgood, Judy Phares, Marjorie Treisman and Judy Wetzel, committee members.