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Spirits Never Flag During 3-Day Party

Posted Oct. 16, 2005

  • 2005 Parkerfest Photo Gallery; Boston Post-Gazette article; New York Sun article

    NEW YORK — Three days of wall-to-wall Dorothy Parker events didn't slow down the enthusiasm for the indefatigable members of the Dorothy Parker Society of New York and friends at the 7th annual Parkerfest. Held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, it was the biggest event ever in the eight years of the organization.

    Everyone loves to dress up! We had the most amazing outfits at Parkerfest this year. See the photo gallery.

    The weekend kicked off with a cocktail party for 25 in the Algonquin Hotel's lobby. Seated at the "new writers table" in the south end of the room, glasses clinked and jokes were batted around. Our bar tab was just below $500, nowhere near our record. We were happy to meet photographer Helen K. Garber in from Los Angeles. Another Californian was John Batteiger, who is writing a book about Don Marquis and runs donmarquis.com. Author Marion Meade dropped by too. We also paid attention to actress Virginia Stringel of Westchester County, making her Algonquin debut.

    From the Gonk many of us shuffled over to the 45th Street Theatre for an amazing show based on Dorothy Parker's work. "You Might As Well Live" starring Karen Mason knocked the crowd out. The show was part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which organizers conveniently planned to coincide with Parkerfest! We were happy to deliver some audience members to this fantastic show.

    It may have been 10 p.m. or so, but spirits were NOT flagging. The night was just starting! Most of the crowd walked one block uptown for the first-ever Dorothy Parker Cabaret Night. The venue was Don't Tell Mama, a swell cabaret and piano bar on Restaurant Row. The place rolled out the red carpet for us, thanks to manager Sidney Meyer. The show was spectacular!

    The show opened with Cindy Ball, a super talented actress/singer/comedienne. The native Texan wrote "Boop Girl" about the story of Helen Kane, the real-life model for Betty Boop. Cindy had the crowd eating out of her hand during her 45-minute show. In the audience was a special surprise for Cindy, a dozen of Helen Kane's nieces, nephews and family members. The group was headed by Herbie Buck, a retired policeman who got the old Bronx gang together and really delighted us with their presence.

    This was a two-part show, and the second act was a special one. Last year we met Sara Jangfeldt when she jetted over from her native Sweden. The Stockholm singer/actress/dancer came to town with her jazz trio to perform her show "Enough Rope" in its New York debut. Sara wrote the show and the music five years ago, and has performed it in Sweden, Russia and Italy. Sara's show sets Mrs. Parker's words to original compositions, in English and Swedish, for a unique experience. The crowd was thrilled at the result. The Swedish government's culture and public affairs office helped support the trip. Among the Swedish VIPs at the show were Mr. Anders Lidén, Sweden's Ambassador to the United Nations, and his wife, Mrs. Linnea Lidén Hermance, and Charlotte Enroth, representative from the Consulate General of Sweden.

    The Parkerfest attendees were blessed with perfect weather, and Saturday shined with warm temperatures in the mid 60s. Just right for a walking tour. We began at the Algonquin at noon, and walked to more than 25 locations that were part of the Round Table members' lives. We didn't lose anyone as we walked through Times Square, the Theatre District, Rockefeller Center and Hell's Kitchen. We concluded our walk with a delicious lunch at the Round Table, of course.

    Following the walking tour, everyone went back to get ready for the main event, the second annual Dorothy Parker Bathtub Gin Ball and Speakeasy Cruise. We strolled down the dock at Chelsea Piers - while some kind of Czech rock concert was setting up - in our period attire to the applause of the tourists and Czech beer drinkers. The Diplomat, a 1930 yacht, was docked and waiting for us.

    Aboard the boat, we danced to the sounds of Bliss Blood and Cantonement. Cindy Ball joined the band for a few numbers.

    We had great costumes last year, but the 2005 crowd really went all out. The attire was something else! Among those in attendance, in no particular order: bow-tied Michael Katsobashvili, Michelle Lodge, David & Mary Trumbull from the Robert Benchley Society; Rick Morrison of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, chanteuse Stephanie Sellars (who won Best Female costume), John Batteiger (Best Male outfit); Eileen and Jimmy Keck (best-dressed couple) came in from Providence; Jessica Reed, Karen Sharkey, Tim Sastrowardoyo (who took amazing photos), Betsy Spigelman in her hat; and Virginia Springer decked out with the most devilish feathered outfit and tallest Swede on her arm; plus too many others to mention here.

    The boat lurched to the dock promptly at 11 p.m. and many in the crowd hurried over to Flute Gramercy for a private soirée in the VIP room. Who knows what went on in those shadows? But it was a VERY late night and the champagne positively flowed, as they say.

    Sunday noon, that was the time to be at the Algonquin Hotel for brunch in the Oak Room, where the Vicious Circle got its start. Almost 50 showed up for the good food and sounds of Sara Jangfeldt, who entertained the crowd with her "Enough Rope" show with her Swedish jazz trio. As the saying goes, she killed. The audience gave her a standing ovation, three of them. Among the watchers was cabaret sensation Maude Maggart. Sara was perfect in all ways, and the crowd was so happy with the show.

    At about this time, the crowd was not worn out enough. Because at 7:30 several of the group came back to the Oak Room for the marvelous Talk of the Town show.

    The consensus was that it was a terrific weekend and that just like the Round Table, that all of the attendees can't wait to meet again.

    2005 Parkerfest Photo Gallery; Boston Post-Gazette article; New York Sun article

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