Why 'Bullets Over Broadway' Took Over the Met

Guests and cast members of the new Broadway show mingled among the statues during the play’s opening night party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By Michele Laufik April 16, 2014, 12:42 PM EDT

To avoid competing with the museum's grand surroundings, organizers opted for more subdued take on 1920s-theme decor.

Photo: Carolyn Curtis for BizBash

The Metropolitan Museum of Art came alive at night last week—but not as part of the plot of a Hollywood movie. Instead, the landmark Manhattan building hosted the opening night party for Bullets Over Broadway, the Woody Allen musical based on his movie of the same name.

Planners Suzanne Tobak and Chrissann Gasparro of Serino Coyne Events were asked by the play’s producers to find a memorable and celebratory venue that had never hosted a Broadway opening night before; the Met quickly became a front-runner. But the unforgettable locale posed some interesting challenges. “It’s a delicate balance between graciously hosting a group of our size while also protecting the art on display in the event space,” said Gasparro, who coordinated with the museum’s senior special events officer, Vanessa Hagerbaumer, and her team.

“Because the museum is open to the public during the day, we had limited daytime access to some of the event spaces. We worked closely with our vendors and the museum to plan a proactive day-of schedule that put us in the best position possible come 5:30 p.m. when the museum closed to the public,” Gasparro said.

The theater production’s 1920s setting inspired the April 10 event's decor design concept, which show producer Letty Aronson oversaw, included burgundy, ivory, and gold linens and florals by Van Vliet & Trap, plus a custom black-and-white sunburst Lucite dance floor from HiTech Events where Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks performed. The Prohibition-era theme was kept subtle, though, as to not overpower the dramatic space that houses priceless Egyptian artifacts and Greek statues. “Because the Temple of Dendur and the Charles Engelhard Court in the American Wing are so inherently spectacular,” Gasparro said, “we didn’t want to compete with the grandeur of the museum.”

Olivier Cheng Catering & Events created the menu of passed hors d'oeuvres, including edamame purée on a nori chip and bite-size Bloody Mary tomatoes with vodka gelee, and a dinner buffet, featuring dim sum, miso-glazed black cod, and marinated filet of beef.

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