Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
At one end of the room, a band was playing the swing of Benny Goodman, a beat completely contrary to the funky, barefoot stomping just experienced by the guests at the opening of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf."
However, at the other end of the Washington Hotel rooftop room, where New York producer Joseph Papp gave an after-theater party for the play he helped bring out of Off-Off Broadway obscurity, the mood was right. A group of "colored girls" - known Washington faces like Jewel Shepherd and Ronnie Wilson - were holding a doo-wah corner, singing background music.
"Oh you were so good," Shirley Wesley, a fellow at the Joint Center for Political Studies, shrieked as she spotted actress Jonette O'Kelley, an old friend from St. Louis, Catherina Biddle, the wife of Livingston Biddle, the man expected to succeed Nancy Hanks at the National Endowment for the Arts, grabbed Paula Larke, another actress, and said, "I love the way you use your face." Larke answered graciously, "Well, I got that from my mother and father." But Mrs. Biddle insisted, "No, you have a rare art."
Surveying the scene of reunions and greetings from the doorway was Papp, whose New York Shakespeare Festival now has the plays in Washington "For Colored Girsl" and "Chorus Line." I have seen this play maybe 100 times, and I am still moved," said Papp, who accompanied Joan Mondale to a portion of the play on Wednesday in New York.