Lady Gaga surprised last night’s crowd at the Geffen’s annual Backstage at the Geffen fundraiser with a little impromptu performance. The curtain opened, and there was Gaga, who sang You and I (accompanying herself on the piano) for honorees Mellody Hobson, George Lucas, David Furnish and Sir Elton John. The show, emceed by Nathan Fillion, included amusing backstage stories from Samuel L. Jackson, Beau Bridges, Geffen Playhouse Artistic Director Randall Arney, Angelica Huston, and virtuoso violinist Lee England, Jr. (who played at Hobson and Lucas’s wedding, by the way). There was also a hip hop version of “Swan Lake” choreographed by Toni Basil. Here are some more highlights:
Samuel L. Jackson shared the story of how he stumbled upon acting in college thanks to his love for a woman. The acting panned out, and he’s been with the woman ever since—his wife LaTanya Richardson. “She is my harshest critic and biggest supporter.”
Anjelica Huston remembered one critic comparing her voice to “an unstrung tennis racket.” Ouch.
Beau Bridges spoke about his mentor, the late Gil Cates (director, producer and Geffen Playhouse founder). The story reached back to 1976, when Bridges co-starred in the film Dragonfly directed by Cates. It was a less-than-stellar beginning when Bridges proceeded to faint after working himself into a frenzy over a daunting scene. Regardless, the two worked together for many years in the decades that followed.
The night raised more than $1.5 million (a record!) for the Geffen’s arts and education programs and new play development.