The venue was gorgeous, inside of an old bank building. It's similar to Cipriani's on 42nd St. It was rescheduled from October 30th due to Hurricane Sandy, and just about everyone who was originally scheduled to attend were able to join us, over 500 people.
The event was a huge success, raising over one million dollars to support the programs of ArchCare, who provide care for the frail and elderly of the diocese in nursing homes, hospitals, daycare centers and in-home.
This is a book and Broadway blog, so you may wonder how this ties in here. First, I was seated next to one of the most successful authors of all-time, Mary Higgins Clark and her wonderful husband John Conheeney.
Ms. Clark is a lively dinner companion. We chatted about the book she is just finishing up, featuring a Vietnam vet who returns home, can't adjust to life back home and leaves his wife and two young daughters, ending up living on the streets for twenty years. His daughters grow up and get involved in a mystery. It sounds very intriguing, I know I'll be looking for it next year.
She was very animated talking about her book, and she told me that she writes every day, seven days a week, because she does not write fast and she writes at least one book a year. Her formula must work, because every single one of her 42(!) suspense novels has made the best seller list.
The one thing she loves more than writing is her family. She spoke so lovingly about her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews; her face lit up as she told me about them and their plans for Thanksgiving.
She is a very lovely woman, dressed elegantly, a perfect lady. Her jewelry was classic and complemented her so well. I so enjoyed our conversation, and she is a big supporter of ArchCare and the Catholic Church.
|Mary Higgins Clark|
The only time we stopped talking was to enjoy a performance by Broadway star Norm Lewis. Lewis, who was nominated for a Tony this year for his astonishing performance as Porgy in Porgy and Bess wowed the crowd with his rendition of God Bless America. His powerful and smooth voice gave me goosebumps. (TV viewers may recognize him as Olivia Pope's ex-boyfriend in Scandal)
He returned to stage to sing three songs. He began with the classic, You Can't Take That Away From Me, one of my favorites. His next song was a tribute to one of his favorite crooners, Andy Williams, as he sang Moon River so beautifully. His last song was a Sondheim classic that perfectly fit the theme of the evening, You Are Not Alone, from Into the Woods. I think I like his version as much as Bernadette Peters, and that is saying something.
I got to meet Mr. Lewis, and he was so gracious. I told him that I'm looking forward to seeing him perform the Coalhouse Walker Jr. role in the concert version of Ragtime at Lincoln Center next February. He even invited me backstage! You know I'm taking him up on that.
|Norm Lewis signing at the ArchCare gala|
It was a lovely, successful evening and we are very grateful for the support of all involved.