By Isa Goldberg
The New Dramatists 62nd Annual Spring Luncheon at the Marriott Marquis on Tuesday, May 17th was a star-studded, albeit understated affair. Everyone from Alec Baldwin to Ben Vereen was there to fete the honoree, Roger Berlind. Described by his colleagues as “a true gentleman of the theater,” “a courtly guy, a quietly humorous one,” Berlind’s Broadway track record spans nearly 35 years, 74 productions, and includes such award-winning shows as “Amadeus,” “Nine,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” and “Rock ‘n Roll.” This year alone he has produced “The Book of Mormon,” “Arcadia,” and “Jerusalem.”
Emily Mann, artistic director of the McCarter Theater where the Roger S. Berlind Theater is housed, recounted John Guare’s tale about driving with him from the Williamstown Theatre back to the city. “Roger wanted to be a song writer; he was far better than my songwriter in ‘House of Blue Leaves.” Mann reiterated Guare’s observation, adding, “He made a bundle in finance and became a Broadway producer.”
And in the words of New Dramatist Artistic Director, Todd London, “Mr. Dreamer. Mr. Moon in June.” It is apt praise for the producer, known to fly in the face of business sense to achieve impossible pursuits.
His praises were sung by Debra Monk and David Hyde Pierce with a number from the Kander and Ebb musical “Curtains,” which Berlind produced, and by Brian Stokes Mitchell with a song from Berlind’s favorite Cole Porter musical, “Kiss Me Kate.”