June 29, 2013
My husband’s employer was the pre-party sponsor for the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Induction at The Center For The Performing Arts. This was a black-tie affair and I was looking forward to getting all fancy schmancy and having some fun. He invited one of his clients and we met him and his wife at a restaurant called DIVVY prior to the Gala. I was skeptical at first because I’ve been to a tapas restaurant downtown and didn’t care for it. But this place was amazing and I would definitely go back.
We walked over to the Palladium and the three of them enjoyed some of the complementary cocktails prior to taking our seats. The honorees tonight were: Jimmy Webb, Frank Sinatra, Rita Moreno & Liza Minnelli. They were all there and seated in one of the box seats (except for Sinatra, of course). Each honoree had a special guest that would introduce them and tell their backstory and that person stayed off stage. I didn’t look closely at the program prior to the show starting so I didn’t know who the introducers would be.
I’m not familiar with the first honoree, Jimmy Webb but he is a songwriter and some of the most famous songs he has written are; “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” Wichita Lineman,” and “Up, Up and Away.” He was introduce by Tom Wopat. Yep, Luke Duke was in the house. I guess Tom has also done some stuff on Broadway but none of us were impressed with his singing. And we all thought this was the most random person of the evening.
Next was Rita Moreno who is probably most famous for role as Anita in West Side Story. She was introduced by Jimmy Smits and a tribute song for her was performed by Jose’ Feliciano (of Feliz Navidad fame). We aren’t sure if he was smashed or what but he practically did a comedy routine before actually playing the guitar. He did a good job on the guitar though . She spoke after being presented her award and was AMAZING. She is 81 years old (or young) and had so much spunk. I hope to still be feisty like that when I’m in my 80s.
For Frank Sinatra, the orchestra played and a dance was performed to “That’s Life.” The female dancer did a great job and then a thank you video from Frank’s wife was played. Also the kid that won the 2012 Great American Songbook High School Vocal Academy & Competition (longest title ever) sang a Sinatra song. He’s only 16, from New York and did a great job. They say he could easily evolve into another Michael Buble’ but I don’t know about that.
Finally, it was Liza Minnelli’s turn. She was to be introduced and a song performed in her honor by Megan Hilty. Megan has played Glinda in Wicked on Broadway and most recently was on the TV show Smash but sadly because of weather related issues on the East Coast she could not get a flight to Indiana. I was absolutely CRUSHED to hear this news. She really was the main reason I was so fired up about attending this event. So Michael Feinstein (who is the brain child behind this whole Great American Songbook Initiative) sang the tribute. He & Liza are best buds and she even stayed at his house over the weekend. She then closed the show by performing New York New York. She did a good job but my husband swears she was tanked.
So the show is over and there are three after parties taking place. We were hoping that the inductees would be mingling among us commoners but the only one was Tom Wopat. That was disappointing. However, he practically stood right next to us so it was suggested that I offer to get him a drink. He said that he’d take a shot of Johnnie Walker Red. Well…the bar didn’t have that so we got a shot of the best they had, gave it to him, said “Welcome to Indiana” and then bolted out of that room faster than Luke Duke would have been able to slide across the hood of the General Lee. Oh my, that was a funny story that we told over and over all night long.
We sampled the food and most of the drinks in all the After Party Rooms and left for home around 11:00PM. Sadly I don’t have any pictures. We couldn’t take pictures during the show and I didn’t feel attractive in my little black dress. It was two sizes too big and I just felt like a big ol’ schlump. But I did have fun…even if my feet were killing me. I just don’t wear high heels like that anymore. I prefer my running shoes!