Anita Gillette Encores Her Revue Bio After All at Metropolitan Room
By: Ellis Nassour
Triple-threat Tony-nominated stage, screen and TV star Anita Gillette knows the show biz ropes. She’s been there, is still there, and doesn’t mind letting audiences in on some of the delish behind-the-scenes dish of her career in her dazzling bio revue After All.
After premiering the act at Birdland and taking it to London’s St. James Studio, she’s back by popular demand and encoring it at the Metropolitan Room December 9 and 10, and 16 and 17 – all performances at 7 P.M. The act is created and directed by Barry Kleinbort.
Gillette, celebrating over a half-century in show business, who recently co-starred with old friend Penny Fuller in Sin Twisters at 54 Below, is a Broadway "baby" with 14 musicals and plays notched in her belt. They include Neil Simon’s Chapter Two, which netted her the Tony nod; Bill and Patti Jacobs’ Jimmy, about NYC mayor Jimmy Walker; Woody Allen’s Don’t Drink the Water; Eddie Lawrence and Moose Charlap’s infamous one-night-only musical Kelly, directed and choreographed by Herbert Ross; Irving Berlin’s Mr. President, opposite Robert Ryan; Charles Strouse and Mel Brooks’ All-American, directed by Josh Logan with choreography by Danny Daniels; and, among numerous others, stepping into Anna Maria Alberghetti’s shoes in Bob Merrill and Michael Stewart’s Carnival, directed and choregraphed by Gower Champion, kicking quite a bit of critical sawdust up for her lost-waif portrayal.
Gillette been around the block a few times, "playing wives, moms, floozies, and mistresse," and the anecdotes flow fast and furious – such as tales of how The Merm, who she watched from the wings every performance, saved her job when she was cast in Gypsy, her Broadway debut; President LBJ’s accidently [she thinks] misplaced hands during a White House embrace; her cherished friendship with Berlin long after the short-lived Mr. President closed; and tales of her 45-plus appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson where she not only sang but was his foil in skits. Carnival producer David Merrick isn’t spared. But, as she often says, "I’m still here," as fans of TV’s 30 Rock and Modern Family know.
After All features Kander and Ebb, Rodgers and Hammerstein, songs from Mr. President and Carnival, and such American Songbook classics as Johnny Mercer and "Teach Me Tonight," Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach’s "Yesterdays," and Berlin’s poignant torch "How Deep is the Ocean?" There’s also the fun moment when she recalls playing the mistress in Moonstruck, opposite Vincent Gardenia, and singing Mississippi Delta bluesman Big Joe Williams’ "He May be Your Man (But He Comes to See Me Sometime)."
Gillette only recently discovered that Tennessee Williams was a fan, even though she’d never done one of his plays. In James Grissom’s book Follies of God, Williams was reminiscing about the Broadway casting of his plays: "I was talking about Carol Burnett and Martha Raye and Anita Gillette [to producer] Alan Schneider…[about how Gillette, in Carnival] played the part with little of the bravado one normally finds in such roles: She played the truth, and when she walked on that stage with a little piece of paper, littered with directions, she appeared utterly lost and utterly real, adrift. She was musically ideal, but she also happened to be real, so the musical meant a great deal more…[because] Miss Gillette had a portent about her."
After All at the Metropolitan Room carries a $25 and two-beverage minimum; and VIP Gold $115 (inclusive package with drinks and premium seating). Reserve by calling (212) 206-0440.