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Ever since the Broadway musical “After Midnight” opened last fall, it’s had a rotating cast of celebrity singers perform four of the more prominent numbers in the revue-style show.
The latest is Vanessa Williams, and on Friday, Isabel Toledo, who designed the musical’s costumes, toasted the actress at the design studio she shares with husband Ruben in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Though Williams was top-billed, there was another figure making the rounds who would have stood out even without the head-to-toe teal suit on her back. It was Candy Spelling, the second wife and widow of Aaron Spelling, the television impresario.
Spelling, who describes herself on her personal Web site as a “TV star, producer, author, public servant, wife, mother, designer, blogger,” has in recent years added Broadway producer to her credits. She has been involved with a series of musicals especially notable for their starry casts — “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” with Daniel Radcliffe; “Promises, Promises” with the TV actor Sean Hayes, and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” with Matthew Broderick.
“Since my husband passed away, you can’t just sit home and knit,” she said demurely in her throaty purr. Spelling’s profile has a certain West Coast Zaz Zuh Zaz, as one of the Cab Calloway songs in the show goes, and she looked every bit the Los Angeles doyenne — a blonde in bright pastels and a silver choker in a sea of black eveningwear.
“After Midnight” is Spelling’s latest venture, where she is one of several producers along with Scott Sanders. She came to an early preview of the show, which channels the Cotton Club and the Harlem of the Thirties, and immediately sought to become involved.
“I wanted to be a part of it so much,” she said. Though Spelling’s prior musicals have received Tony Award nominations, a win has eluded her. She is carefully optimistic about her chances this year.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed. Are you kidding me?” she said. “It is a tough season. It’s always a tough season. I don’t think there’s ever a shoo-in. It’s always a tough season on Broadway.”
Williams made a quick round before taking off to prepare for that night’s performance, where in one of several striking numbers, she sang Calloway in a man’s suit.
“As African-Americans and especially being from New York, it’s our music, it’s our history, and this is our American songbook,” the actress said of her attraction to the show. “This is a chance to do our songbook every night and dance and celebrate an era that will never die.”
Right there near the front row later that night was Spelling herself, a Beverly Hills baby comfortably at home on the Great White Way.