By Isa Goldberg
Playing the assistant seems to be a great disguise for the accomplished producer, director, and actor, Michael Urie. Currently starring solo as Barbara Streisand’s helpmate in "Buyer and Cellar," Michael readily admits that he’s never met Streisand, but he also acknowledges confidently "she’s sent people to see my show who have spoken favorably about it." It’s a rare treat to see his comic and sensitive portrayal of the struggling young actor in a world created of fantasy – that is presumably the superstar’s fantasy. Or is it?
By now, Urie’s success has brought him his own group of acolytes, many of whom were there – at Tony’s DiNapoli Restaurant on August 8th – to celebrate his birthday along with the unveiling of his portrait. Among them "Ugly Betty" co-star Vanessa Williams, the narcissistic boss to Urie’s Marc St. James, fellow classical actor Alan Cumming, and on their heals a slew of Broadway favorites – Cuba Gooding Jr., Annaleigh Ashford and Shalita Grant, to mention a few. All lent their voices to a round of Happy Birthday.
Stunned by the size of the crowd, Valerie Smaldone, the evening’s host along with restaurateur Bruce Dimpflmaier, remarked that she hasn’t seen so many people at Tony’s since Ben Vereen’s portrait was unveiled. "We had to close the doors to keep people out," she sighed, imaging the towering song and dance man.
For Urie’s unveiling the frosting on the cake was white and sugary. The crowd sparkled with good cheer, the wine flowed, and the food – family style, Italian.
Photography: Nanette Shaw