Only Make Believe

Ian and the gang. I look trashed, but I swear I'm not.
Most ladies wore evening gowns, but I showed up unshowered and in flip flops. Someone had given me a ticket to the Only Make Believe gala last-minute, so I was unprepared when I met colleagues at the event after running downtown to meet up with my former roommate Elke. (note, I usually shower before work and often wear shoes, but I was recovering from a St. Maarten toe injury. I don’t remember why I hadn’t showered).

Anyhow, Only Make Believe, founded by Dena Hammerstein, is an amazing organization that brings theatre to sick kids in hospitals. My company supports them each year, both financially and through the super-cool costumes we decorate for the children. Ian McKellen did a superior job hosting the event, with hilarious asides, recitations of Shakespeare as well as a thesaurus, singing and even dancing.

The event was packed with Broadway performances from Memphis, the Lion King and Hair (whose actors were super cute on stage and super gay at the after party), circus shows and satirical songs. My favorite number featured Broadway guru Seth Rudetsky, who offered a brief tutorial on how theatre works (for example, how dancers in the front row know how to (without looking) never block those in the back and what a “swing” is (poor souls who have to be the understudy for every dancer). He had a show in New York over the summer, Seth’s Broadway 101, which I would have loved to have seen.

But back to Ian McKellen. He told us a story about when he was knighted. Apparently, when you meet the queen she asks you two questions. His first: “Are you working?” His answer: “I’m with the Royal Shakespeare Company.” Next question: “Does anyone go the theatre anymore?” Answer: “?”

Back of Jude's head.An Only Make Believe board member, Jude Law (who I want to see in Hamlet), was in attendance and introduced a video featuring the children that OMB helps. Before the show, someone in my group (who I swear I don’t know) went up to him after he sat down and either took his photo or asked for a photo. She was far away from us so we didn’t hear the exchange, but she came back fuming saying he said something like, “Not now, darling, we’re in the theatre.” And then she got loud with him and said something like, “Don’t pull that British shit. I pay good money to the theatre.” !! So then our group of colleagues split up into Team Jude and Anti-Team Jude camps (I captained Team Jude because I thought she was being incredibly rude).

Then we went to the after-party at Sardi’s, where I tried to sweet-talk a clearly gay caricaturist in a beret into drawing a more flattering image of me than he might have otherwise. As he was drawing me, I thought the caricature looked pretty good and had plans to scan it here. But when I left the artist chair and got a real look I was horrified at my exaggerated face. Yes, yes it’s a caricature, but he made me look like a chipmunk with the mumps, so this picture is only on view at the back of my closet.

But more than the awesome OMB show, open bar and free spinach ravioli, what really impressed me that night was the OMB volunteers who were honored for their dedicated service to the organization. The winners are successful in every aspect of their lives, and busy almost every moment of the day with work and other obligations, but they consistently take the time to make significant contributions to Only Make Believe and other nonprofits. I left inspired to volunteer more.

Sarah Mikutel