Things were quite airy last night thanks to director Keith Merrill‘s staged reading of Star Quality, using the original script of Noel Coward’s very last play, at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium.
My dazzling schedule permitted me to see the first half, which was wispy and rather talky–not one of Noel’s finest–but was filled with his wonderfully satirical bitchery, the cast bringing fun to the story of a primadonna actress (Bebe Neuwirth) who tortures her director (Brian Murray), her assistant (Alison Fraser), and just about everyone else in sight.
Neuwirth shimmered as Lorraine Barrie, the grand diva who vetoes costars, shows up late for rehearsal, wheezes and gasps in lieu of acting, demands that her leading man watch his elbow, and screams about the dress designer, even though it’s the very one she handpicked.
And she does all of this while desperately wanting to be loved by everyone–especially the young male playwright, for whom she does her finest acting of all as she descends to embarrassing levels of heavy flirtation.
How Noel Coward knew about Sharon Stone I can’t figure!