Manhattan Theatre Club Honors Christine Baranski

 

Manhattan Theatre Club’s Fall Benefit, an annual evening of cocktails and dinner, was held  Nov. 2nd,  to honor two-time Tony Award winner, Emmy Award winner, and longtime MTC collaborator and board member Christine Baranski.

 

Christine has done five shows at MTC, starting in 1982, and has been on the Board of Directors for over 30 years.

 

Friends and colleagues of Christine’s in attendance included Alan Cumming, Cherry Jones, Nathan Lane, Phyllida Lloyd, Rob Marshall, Meryl Streep, and Max von Essen.

 

  • Christine walked into the ball room at 583 Park, with 280 places set for dinner, and exclaimed, “I thought it was supposed to be intimate!”

 

  • As a surprise for Christine, Meryl Streep brought Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd as her guest. When Christine saw Phyllida across the room, she clapped her hands and ran over to both of them.

 

Cherry Jones & MTC Artistic Director Lynne Meadow -Photo Credit, Richard Mitchell Photography

  • Meryl talked about how rare it is to meet such a good friend after the age of 50, and how wonderful it’s been to have Christine in her life. Then she did a spot on impression of Christine that had everyone laughing. She also talked about how much she admires Christine’s great talent as an actress, in the tradition of Eve Arden and Roaslind Russell, and admires that she has been and is a great mother with two wonderful daughters.

 

From left to right: MTC Executive Producer Barry Grove, Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, Max von Essen, and MTC Artistic Director Lynne Meadow - Photo Credit - Richard Mitchell Photography

  • Nathan Lane was the MC for the night and shared some anecdotes about working with Christine over the years. He said when people ask him the inevitable question about actors he’s worked with, his response is, “Christine Baranski is my favorite of all the actors I’ve ever worked with.” He also read some words of tribute from Paul Rudnick, who was unable to make the dinner.

 

  • MTC Artistic Director Lynne Meadow spoke about her incredible, longstanding friendship with Christine that dates back to 1982, when Lynne directed Christine and Bernadette Peters in a new play at MTC. Lynne quoted many directors (including James Lapine, Warren Carlyle, Matthew Warchus, John Tillinger, Jerry Zaks and Casey Nicholaw) who have worked with Christine and loved her.  Lynne also read a letter from Terrence McNally, who said he has had a crush on Christine since he met her and that she is a great, great actress.

 

Meryl Streep & Christine Baranski - Photo Credit - Richard Mitchell Photography

  • Rob Marshall took the stage and said, “Meryl Streep and I have said many times, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be Christine Baranski?’”

 

  • Walter Bobbie sang “Quiet Night” from On Your Toes, which he did with Christine at Encores!. Rob Fisher accompanied as well as a quartet of back-up singers.

 

  • Alan Cumming talked about how he and Christine don’t do many scenes together on “The Good Wife,” but they do share a dressing room and some of the possessions she leaves lying around make him laugh all the time. He thinks that, in another life, they would have made great roommates. He sang a song called “Beautiful,” which includes the line “You’re fucking marvelous” - which had the audience in stitches.

 

  • Max von Essen, who did Mame with Christine at The Kennedy Center, sang a beautiful version of “My Best Girl” which had the audience teary-eyed.

 

  • Tony winner Cherry Jones told a story about their friendship and how she has very fond memories of visiting the Baranski family at their lake house, and then talked about Baranski’s late husband Matthew Cowles and their lovely daughters Isabel (who is pregnant with Christine’s second grandchild) and Lily, who were both in the audience.

 

  • Producer Chuck Lorre talked about working with Christine on “Cybill,” for which Christine won an Emmy, and how getting to work with her on “The Big Bang Theory” has been a wonderful experience. It was clear that he adores her professionally and personally.

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