Singin' in the NYPL: Movie Musical Kitsch

April 30, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

Costumed actors hired by Chi Chi Valenti--including this pair attired in Singin' in the Rain costumes--strolled through the crowd at the New York Public Library's movie musical-themed Young Lions benefit.

New York Public Library Young Lions benefit New York Public Library Thursday, 04.26.02, 9 PM to 1 AM
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The New York Public Library's main branch on Fifth Avenue--usually a quiet, staid place with grand marble staircases and sweeping hallways--was transformed into a loud, kitschy dance hall for the annual Young Lions benefit for young professionals. Entitled What a Glorious Evening! The Magic of Movie Musicals, the event brought in swankily attired guests, brightly costumed performers and a fun Old Hollywood theme.

Jessica Blades, the library's special events coordinator, produced the event, and Mark Musters of Musters & Company designed the decor, using a posh red theme. Musters draped red fabric around the pillars inside the Celeste Bartos Forum and placed ottomans covered in red raw silk (the same seats from last year's Infiniti car party) in the corners of the room. Hundreds of white votive candles lined the walls, and BML Stage Lighting and Productions washed the room in red lights with white gobos of stars and spinning movie reels projected onto the ceiling and rear wall. The entryway was decorated with red carpet (from Access Event Services) and shiny red fabric with gold fringe was draped across a ticketing area akin to an old-fashioned theater box office.

The look contrasted the NYPL's last big Library Lions benefit--funny how they don't call them “Old Lions"--which had a bookish look this year. And it was much different from the gorgeously eerie decor Musters brought to the library for the Hannibal premiere party.

For entertainment, Blades brought in underground club diva Chi Chi Valenti to spice up the party with a troupe of actors and dancers outfitted in costumes made especially for the event's theme by downtown designer Kitty Boots. A pair of faux Marilyn Monroes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes showed up a few times at the event: Two actors--one as Monroe and one as Jane Russell--posed atop a marble bench in copies of the film's signature red sequin dresses, and another performer, attired in a pink dress a la the “Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend” number, did the same, and all three acted as photographic backdrops as guests arrived. More actors--including one dressed as a cancan girl and another in a top hat and tails--posed and danced on specially made platforms situated between the forums' ceiling pillars, and others were dressed as figures from famous movie musicals like Singin' in the Rain.

Dance trio the World Famous Pontani Sisters performed two tap dance routines in the upstairs stage area, where video clips from old movies edited by Feedbuck Galore were projected onto a screen behind the stage. Party favors were also available, so guests could adorn themselves with faux diamond rings, strands of pearls, feather fans, marabou boas and top hats.

--Suzanne Ito

Read our coverage of the Old Hollywood-themed premiere party for Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending...

Read our coverage of last year's NYPL Library Lions benefit...

Read our coverage of the Musters' work at the Hannibal premiere party at the NYPL...

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