Dina Merrill and Chita Rivera

Ninah and Michael Lynne

Frieda and Roy Furman

Christine and
Stephen Schwarzman

Chita Rivera Brings
Down the House

Edward T. Callaghan
Photos by Rossa Cole

UILD HALL of East Hampton, the premier cultural institution of its kind on Long Island’s East End, held its annual Academy of the Arts Awards Gala at the Rainbow Room, a glittering fete for the leading lights of performing, visual and literary arts that was more a family affair than your traditional awards gala.

Academy of Arts president Roy Furman presented Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO, chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group and chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with the Special Lifetime Achievement Award.

In recognition of Guild Hall’s 75th anniversary, the academy also paid tribute to more than 70 past award recipients from the last twenty years, including Louis Begley, Dina Merrill, Kurt Vonnegut, Lukas Foss, Tony Walton, Paul Davis, E. L. Doctorow and Budd Schulberg.

From the outset, it was clear that the guests were in a celebratory mood as they streamed into the art deco splendor of The Rainbow Room. The gentle fog enveloping the skyline created a magical almost Oz like effect during the reception.

Chairman Melville "Mickey" Straus shared his excitement about the 75th anniversary festivities which will feature a revival of Robert Wilson’s Persephone, which had its world premiere at the John Drew Theater a dozen years ago; two major exhibitions, Guild Hall Collects and The Barrymores: Hollywood’s First Family, and the third annual Cabaret Convention.

Executive director Ruth Appelhof said Celebrating Creativity will include a new education center and a summer gala weekend culminating on Aug. 13 with an outdoor community day.

Angela LaGreca of ABC’s The View kept the evening festive and bright. The witty comic cracked up the audience with her Hamptons’ insider jokes and quips, at one point dubbing the East End "Cashalot."

A highlight of the evening was the stunning performance by Chita Rivera who, with musical conductor Mark Hummel, wowed the elegant crowd with several showstoppers. The two-time Tony Award winner and Kennedy Center honoree paid a loving tribute to the late Cy Coleman with a heart wrenching rendition of Where Am I Going from Sweet Charity, which she had performed at the Johnny Mercer Foundation tribute to Cy in the very same room just days before he passed away last year.

The crowd – filled with Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize winners at almost every table – also remembered the passing of former academy members Wendy Wasserstein, Betty Friedan, and Peter Jennings, who co-founded the Academy 21 years ago.

Celebrating creativity in the Art Deco splendor of the Rainbow Room were Chase Mishkin, Christine & Stephen A. Schwarzman, Frieda & Roy Furman, Anka & Louis Begley, Robert and Ina Caro, Leslie and Chuck Close, Helen and E. L. Doctorow, Luly Duke, Lukas and Cornelia Foss, Jane Freilicher, Jack Lenor Larsen, Ninah and Michael Lynne, Ellen and Jim Marcus, Cheryl and Michael Minikes, Jill Krementz and Kurt Vonnegut, Dina Merrill and Ted Hartley, Larry Gagosian, Pam and Edward Pantzer, Susan and Alan Patricof, Jane Wilson and John Gruen, Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox, Richard Meier, Henry and Peggy Schleiff, Mercedes Ruehl and David Geiser, Judith Steir and Donald Saddler, Barbara and Alan Slifka, Betsy and Budd Schulberg, Paola and Michael Schulof, Melville Straus, Gen LeRoy and Tony Walton and Kate and Josh Gladstone, artistic director of the John Drew Theater.

For more information about Guild Hall’s 75th anniversary Celebrating Creativity visit www.guildhall.org.

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