Cooper’s London

Stompin’ at the Savoy

During all the razzle-dazzle of the Diamond Jubilee, it seems the Queen was not the only monarch on display at the moment. Several generations of theatre royalty were on view last month at the Strand in London. I was invited by a very generous friend to pay court to them all at the Old Vic’s Annual Fund-Raising Lunch in the Savoy’s grand dining room. There was entertainment before each course that included several brilliant routines that somehow turned into the offering of prizes for which you bid and games for which you put £10 or more into an envelope.

Judi Dench did a brilliant Q and A with Celia Imrie and Peter Eyre that was the hands-down hit of the day. A celeb sat at each and every table. Ours, and the ones next door, included cast members and the director (Jamie Lloyd) from the Old Vic’s current production of The Duchess of Malfi. They were charm itself and told some lovely insider anecdotes about embarrassments behind the scenes. There were standup comics of British TV fame doing the auctions, “roasting” celebrities in the audience, and always making you feel you were part of a really good show.

We got to spend time with Eve Best–the Duchess herself-(see my post of April 23); Andrew Scott (Moriarty in the BBC Sherlock series and, I think, one of the most intensely promising actors of his generation); Tim Pigott-Smith, Mark Rylance, and Stephen Fry, among the familiar faces everywhere. Well-heeled contributors were mixing and mingling, and agents and directors were working the room with gusto. But host and Old Vic director Kevin Spacey was missing in action, filming House of Cards with David Fincher across the pond.

It was definitely the upper echelon event of the week and you literally couldn’t move an inch without seeing A-list faces from TV, film or stage. There were a few celebrated TV presenters and newsreaders in the room, and even some well-known playwrights. The entertainment was first- class, the conversation was scintillating and the food and wine were pretty terrific, too. For a few hours, it seemed almost like the real world. And by the time it was over, two hundred thousand pounds had been raised for Kevin Spacey and his theatre.

What recession??

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