Critic At Large... Ruta Lee
New York! New York!! ... And Then Some!!!
By Ruta Lee
Oct 26, 2008 - 1:06:14 PM
With great anticipation, I ran to the 23rd annual New York alumni "Night of Nostalgia" at Beverly Hills High School. It started at around 4 p.m. with all the ex-New Yorkers eating hot dogs, knishes, egg creams, etc. Then, after all the kibitzing, we went into the auditorium/theater for an amazing show. The masters of ceremony were Bud Freedman, Sal Richards and Freddie Roman, who wrangled the stars and performers in a humorous and delightful way... and when it comes to humor, I don't think I have ever laughed harder than I did that night. N.Y. humor always takes the prize!
Opening the show and messages from high-placed New Yorkers, the color guard was stirring in their presentation of the colors and Robbie Brit brought chills with his most beautiful rendition of "America the Beautiful." When it comes to music, Ed Ames brought the audience to their feet. Tony Orlando, a previous recipient, was absolutely wonderful in his performance and gave credit where it was due. New Yorker Garry Marshall always has good things to bring to an audience, as does our wonderful non-New Yorker Monty Hall and our darling Connie Stevens.
Mal Z. Lawrence, Sammy Shore, Stewie Stone and Renee Taylor were too funny for words... they had us gasping. Gordon Bennett and Lance Le Gault rounded out the evening with pizzazz and style, all of which honored two living legends, Jack Klugman and Jerry Stiller. Both of these gentlemen have brought color to our lives in many ways. It was so good to see and hear these wonderful entertainers in person rather than on the small screen.
The biggest bravo goes to the tireless and generous Lou and Fran Zigman, who put together an evening of love, laughter and theatrical history, year after year after year. They always snag a good team, (director) John Alexander, (lighting) Alan Schwartz, (sound) Steven White and (music) Artie Butler. I'm already looking forward to next year's show.