Elizabeth Taylor's limousine broke down on its way to her cast party last night, and she hitched a ride in a passing Pinto, according to Michael Lonergan, the "Private Lives" company manager. She arrived late, but in high spirits, for the after opening celebration at Dominique's.
Earlier in the evening, Taylor got three dozen "Sterling Silver" roses from the cast. Alvin the Parrot got five of the long-stemmed lavender beauties. They were presented to him privately--Taylor received hers on stage.
Cakes and roses have been coming regularly into the Kennedy Center for Taylor, according to Larry Pine, the standby for Richard Burton. "I don't know what happens to them. Maybe Alvin eats them. All of it has to be opened by security. These days, you can't leave anything to chance. I don't know if anyone is sending things to Richard Burton, but I suspect he would send them right back. I suspect he's getting letters from admiring women."
In fact, Burton's wife, Sally, said no one was sending them anything.
Last night's standing ovation sent the cast off in a festive mood, car trouble notwithstanding, to the opening-night party for about 200. Zev Bufman, the producer, said, "It's a very warm and responsive audience." Taylor, in a white silk dress deeply cut front and back, looking all aglitter like the glamorous star she is, said, "It's wonderful."
Bufman added, "The further we get from New York, the better the audiences are."
Burton, wearing a blue velvet evening suit, said, "It's a very warm audience. I particularly appreciate it since I am a foreigner. I played here once with Helen Hayes and she took me to the White House to stand on the steps with President Eisenhower in 1957."
Sally Burton said she didn't count this as part of her honeymoon. "Philadelphia was my honeymoon," she said. "But I'm very happy." Two round tables were pushed together to accommodate the cast. The Burtons sat together, and Taylor had Bufman on her left and John Cullum, the second male lead, on her right. A place card was there for Alvin, but he made only a brief appearance at the table.
Taylor told Wolf Trap Founder Catherine Shouse that she plans to take a year's sabbatical after the run of the play in November. "I love being engaged," she told her. She's now engaged to Victor Gonzalez-Luna. Shouse said she had seen the play first with Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in the leading roles. "I enjoyed the evening very much, especially the tempo, but it was very different from the original cast. I thought Taylor was very much better than Maggie Smith, who played the role in London."
When the stars entered the restaurant, there was a crowd of 60 to 70 people waiting to applaud them. Dominique, who planned the party and paid for most of the expenses, is an old friend from Paris in 1958. "When she lived in Washington, I'd go often to her home to satisfy her need for good food," he said. When she left after the run here of her last play, "The Little Foxes," Dominique and his staff took the train with Taylor and the cast, cooking and serving all the way to New York. "She deserves nothing but the first class," he said. He paid for most of the "Private Lives" party "to welcome her back to Washington."
The menu for the some 225 guests: gazpacho soup, broiled swordfish, potatoes au gratin, creamed spinach, watercress and bibb lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing, rounded off with raspberry whipped cake. The room was filled with yellow roses and candles.
Dominique, when asked how much the party cost, said, "I do not know how much it cost, but one should always think of the pleasures, not the cost."