By: Maryann Lopinto
March 24, 2022: After celebrating 46 years of creative music theatre THE ENCOMPASS NEW OPERA THEATRE presented their yearly gala, after an absence of two years because of the Pandemic, on Sunday night at The National Arts Club, This year they honored two theatre legends, Chita Rivera receiving the “Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in the Musical Theatre” and Danny Burstein, the “Sheldon Harnick Award for Creative Excellence”.
Some previous honorees have been Sheldon Harnick, Barbara Cook, Christine Eborsole, Jerry Herman, Estelle Parsons, Maury Yeston, John Kander, Charles Strouse, Joseph Stein, Lee Adams, Marvin Hamlish, Joel Grey, Mallby and Shire, Ahrens and Flaherty, and Bartlett Sher.
After a cocktail party and an elegant dinner, Nancy Rhodes, the Artistic DIrector put together an amazing show of Broadways best to honor these two honorees. The show was hosted by Midge Woolsey and a bevy of Broadways finest saluted these two, with many involved with both: Laura Benanti, Liz Callaway, George Dvorsky, Jesica Hecht, Oswaldo Iraheta, Bianca Marroquin, Karen Mason, Mary Beth Peil, John Riddle, Alexander Silber and Karen Ziemba. There were recollections from Joel Grey for Danny, and recollections from Nathan Lane about his experience in the Broadway Show in which he was cast as Chita Rivera son In Merlin. He had us laughing so hard we were in tears. Karen Mason who closed the show with “Colored Lights” read a note from Liza Minnelli for Chita. John Doyle who directed Chita in her last Broadway Show, “The Visit” presented the award to her.
It was a night to remember and my feet still haven’t touched the ground.