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At BAM, a ‘Wow’s Wow’ of Hollywood • Brooklyn Paper

At BAM, a ‘Wow’s Wow’ of Hollywood

Hollywood heavyweight Hugh Jackman and BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins team up for a close-up during a gala presentation of “The Diary of a Madman” at BAM.
Photo by Noah Devereaux

Hugh Jackman, Blake Lively, Isabella Rossellini, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, David Hyde Pierce …

There were more stars inside the Brooklyn Academy of Music last week than in the dusky skies outside when the institution celebrated its 2011 theater season with a gala performance of “The Diary of a Madman,” starring Academy-, Emmy-, and Tony Award-winning star Geoffrey Rush.

Theater buffs shelled out big bucks — $1,200 apiece — to spotlight BAM’s stage programming while slurping cocktails and enjoying dinner with Hollywood glitterati, which also included actress Claire Danes and celebrity restaurateur Mario Batali.

The feastuals, held on the same boards where Martha Graham, Rudolph Nureyev and Enrico Caruso performed, were followed by Rush’s stellar performance in Gogol’s “Madman,” then a dessert party with castmembers, hosted by BAM Chairman Alan Fishman, President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph Melillo.

Rush later offered some food for thought of his own.

“Twenty years ago, I used to put on makeup that made me look more haggard, now it’s a major operation to erase all this aging,” he deadpanned to laughter from the merry crowd.

The evening’s decor featured table flowers ringed with gold noses — a cock-nosed salute to Rush’s character, the civil servant Poprischin, who sustains an injury to his snout (not to mention his dignity).

Aussie influences abounded, too, given the production’s roots at Sydney’s Belvoir St. Theatre. The wine hailed from the Mudgee region of New South Wales, and guests from Down Under included Jackman, director Baz Luhrmann and wife Catherine Martin, the original set designer for “Madman,” and Neil Armfield, the play’s director.

Luhrmann amiably deflected questions about his upcoming movie, “The Great Gatsby.”

“I’m just the handbag tonight, this is really C.M.’s show,” he said.

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