Tom Oppenheim, Ellen Adler and
Albert Maysles

Anisha Nagarajan

Ernesto Chang,
Sheri Baroness de Borchgrave and
Kenny Lee

Swell Soiree Kicks Off
Stella by Starlight Gala

Story by Edward T. Callaghan
Photos by Rob Rich

HE stately Samuel Tilden Mansion on Gramercy Park, home to the National Arts Club (NAC), was the setting for an elegant soiree for the committee, sponsors and friends of the upcoming Stella by Starlight Gala to benefit the scholarship and outreach programs of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

NAC president O. Aldon James Jr., Studio vice-chairman Ellen Adler, and president and artistic director Tom Oppenheim, and co-host Jean Claude Mastroianni (NAC) welcomed a glittering crowd of some 150 of New York’s most ardent supporters of the arts to the gilded parlor rooms.

BORU Vodka and Castle Brands, sponsors of the event with NAC, served up libations for the guests.

In true Group Theatre tradition, the room was abuzz with artists and actors, playwrights and producers, singers and stars. Young Stella Adler student Anisha Nagarajan, currently starring in Bombay Dreams, brought the chatter to a halt with a soaring aria from Aida that left the crowd breathless before they broke into a roaring ovation that could be heard in Times Square.

Sipping their martinis while strolling through the art-filled rooms were producers Barbara Ligeti, Howie Silver and Murray Bruce, actors Cynthia Adler, Larry Luckinbill and Lois Smith, starmaker Peter Bennett, investment banker Richard Rabbito, the Drama Desk’s Randie Scott Levine, HBO’s Andrew Goldman, writers Dolores Barclay, Howard Kissel, Patricia O’ Haire, Arlene Epstein and Sheri, Baroness de Borchgrave, artist Don Duga, filmographer and award winning director Albert Maysles, Nina Engel, Sean-Patrick Hillman, Lucia Kaiser, WNET’s Sean Lacey, Princess Brigitte De Beauharnais-Romanovsky and scores more.

Highlights of the Stella by Starlight Gala, co-chaired by Michael Medavoy, Roy Scheider and Benicio del Toro, will be the presentation of the 2004 Stella Adler School of Acting Awards and a specially created Salute to Musical Theater.

Slated to be honored this year are Tony Kushner with the Jacob Adler Award for courageous contributions to Jewish and American culture, to be presented by Mike Nichols; Arthur Miller with the Group Theater Award for prolific achievement in theater, film, television arts and for community and social commitment presented by Zoe Caldwell; and posthumously Marlon Brando, former honorary chairman of the famed acting school, with the Stella Adler Award for consummate artistic achievement and interpretation.

Both Arthur Penn and Whoopi Godberg will make special tributes to Brando. The new honorary chairman of the Studio, fellow alumnus Warren Beatty, will accept the award on Brando’s behalf.

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