A few seasons ago Catherine Zeta-Jones won an Oscar for singing and dancing in “Chicago,” the movie. Some people thought it was a trick of editing.
Now, starring in Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” on Broadway, Mrs. Michael Douglas cements her place as a stage star. It was no trick. She’s the real thing.
Last night, the culmination of Trevor Nunn’s extraordinary two-and-a-half hour revival was CZ-J’s stunning rendition of “Send in the Clowns.” It’s perhaps Sondheim’s best known and maybe best ever song, and Zeta-Jones performance was spot on. From the first line of the song ‘ “Isn’t it rich/Aren’t we a pair?” ‘ it was clear she had “it.” The audience in the tiny Walter Kerr Theater ‘ which included Lauren Bacall, Hugh Jackman, Kathleen Turner, Nik Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Harvey Weinstein, and, of course, Michael Douglas ‘went wild.
(I like Hugh Jackman ‘‘he came upstairs to the mezzanine bar to get sodas for himself and wife Debra Lee at intermission ‘ and waited in line in a narrow space to do it.)
And the numerous charms of “A Little Night Music” don’t all belong to Zeta-Jones. Angela Lansbury has been doing a victory lap on Broadway this year, winning a Tony last spring for “Blithe Spirit.” She returns to Sondheim (remember, she was the original, award-winning Mrs. Lovett from “Sweeney Todd”) triumphantly in “Night Music” as the curmudgeonly grandmother and, of course, steals the show. (It’s not so easy; her character is in wheelchair.) The show also features two tremendous male leads: Alexander Hanson, from the London production, and Aaron Lazar, plus the strongest cast of singers on Broadway in featured roles.
Over at Tavern on the Green later ‘ at what may be the final theatre premiere party at the real Tavern thanks to the city and general greed ‘ Zeta-Jones made an entrance suitable for her new station as Queen of Broadway. As befitting a Queen, her rude publicist just about knocked my kidney stone out of place elbowing me out of the way. But CZ-J was charming as ever, accepting kudos and flowers from husband Michael Douglas. Sondheim ‘ without whom none of this is possible ‘ made a brief appearance before scooting out of the spotlight.
As for Oscar-winning actor/producer Douglas, he did tell me some good news: his very good movie, “Solitary Man,” has been picked up by Overture Films and will be released on May 2nd, two weeks after “Wall Street 2.” It’s going to be a Michael Douglas spring. In the meantime, it’s a CZ-J winter as Douglas’s wife is signed to “Night Music” through July. This means no family Christmas outing to Bermuda ‘ where Douglas’s mom is from and where he often vacations. “We’ll just stay here, and do a little skiing,” Michael told me. It doesn’t sound so bad!