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Broadway’s Brightest Celebrate Patti LuPone at Drama League Gala

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    Vanessa Redgrave, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, and Boyd Gaines were among the theatrical stars who turned out to honor Patti LuPone last night at The Drama League’s annual benefit.

    "As a kid who grew up listening to her and is now getting to perform for her, it’s really neat,” said Christopher Sieber, who starred in Spamalot and Shrek the Musical and served as the MC. “First of all, I’m here to support The Drama League, which does a lot of great stuff for a lot of great people, like young artists and directors and writers. But it’s also Patti LuPone, who’s a Broadway legend."

    The gala, held at The Pierre Hotel, featured an auction, a dinner and a performance, in which LuPone’s friends and co-stars sang songs, told stories and gently roasted the Tony-winning diva.

    “Patti LuPone is the last great musical theater star,” said  Benanti, who co-starred with LuPone in both Gypsy and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. “She embodies the type of performer that I want to be. She has so much energy, and love, and passion and creativity.

    "And I feel like everyone here tonight probably feels that way. She’s an icon.”

    James Monroe Iglehart, who appears in  Memphis, said he was honored to be included in the evening.

    “This is only my second Broadway show, so the fact that they even asked me to perform -- I just jumped at the chance," he said. "It’s not often that you actually get to sing for a Broadway legend, and Patti has done everything on Broadway.”

    Justin Guarini, best known for being the runner-up in the first season of American Idol, starred with LuPone, Benanti, and several other big stars in last year’s production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown -- an experience he described as “insane” and “daunting.”

    “I’m out here to support Patti tonight because she supported me so much throughout that process,” he said. “So many people have benefitted from being in her presence and watching her work, and I’m definitely one of those people.”

    LuPone, for her part, said that she viewed the evening more as a way to benefit The Drama League, rather than as a celebration of her own career. But she did say that she was humbled and flattered by everyone’s support.

    “I’m thrilled they all came out tonight, and I’m very excited to see the show,” she said. “God bless ‘em.”