Last night, Joel Grey celebrated his eightieth birthday at the Manderley bar at the McKittrick Hotel–the home of Sleep No More. Performers from that show presented Mr. Grey with a cake while wearing bedazzled Venetian masks, after which he performed “Wilkommen,” the song he’d made famous as the sinister Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.
Mr. Grey had performed two shows of Anything Goes that day, but showed no signs of flagging–when we asked him how he was managing to stay upright, he told us “I don’t have a choice.” The party had been organized by his PR team at O&M Co. While Mr. Grey is active at 80–he claimed to be interested in performing Chekhov once his commitment to Anything Goes ends–he avoids masses of fans, skipping the stage door. “I don’t go–I go off to the side. It’s too much. It’s not just about autographs. It’s about pictures and autographs.”
Mr. Grey caught the eye of the dapper young Book of Mormon Andrew Rannels, sitting at an adjacent table, and the two bantered lightly for a moment about Mr. Grey’s being interviewed. Returning his attention to The Observer, Mr. Grey said: “I would be nothing as a man or as an actor without so much help and love.”
Significantly after midnight, the actress Laura Osnes sang a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” dedicated to the actor who’d originated the part of the Wizard of Oz in Wicked. “Where are you, Joel Grey?” she asked. But he’d already gone home.
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