All hail Angela Lansbury.
Eight months shy of her 90th birthday, she arrived on stage Thursday for the Canadian premiere of her play, Blithe Spirit, by Noël Coward. This at an age when many people several generations her junior can barely be lured to leave their homes in Toronto's currently frigid climes, and can often hardly be convinced to do anything but sit on their sofas and watch old re-runs of, say, Murder, She Wrote.
Three times the Katy Perry, and nearly double the life span of Jen Aniston, she made an impression, alright, on the audience taking in the play at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Angela is on for a rather solid chunk of the classic screwball comedy, playing the part of the garish clairvoyant, Madame Arcati – although, thank goodness, there is a scene in the play (two hours and 30 minutes!) when the character does get to lie back on a couch in a sort of trance for a solid five minutes, giving the actress an opportunity to chillax, as it were, on stage. Certainly, that would be my preference in a role were I acting at the tender age of 89. See, Quvenzhane Wallis? This is how it's done.
“What a terrific actress,” said the theatre impresario himself, David Mirvish, when we brushed each other in the aisle afterward the curtain had fallen. As the man who owns the joint, he seemed pleased.
And I can't disagree, too, with the evaluation from Toronto Star critic Richard Ouzounian, while sizing up this latest home run by a woman who already has five (five!) Tony Awards, six Golden Globes and an honorary Oscar, for pete's sake. Having been famous ever since her parts in classic films like Gaslight (1942) and The Manchurian Candidate (1952), Ouzounian noted that Angela is not just phoning, or even, texting, it in. And her part isn't some decorative side-bar. “She stalks the stage as though she were a big-game hunter, flips her quips through the air as though they were Frisbees, and climaxes with a trance/dance that looks as though she learned it at the court of Nefertiti,” he describes.
What a night at the theatre, in other words! Angela herself expressed her endurance this way in an interview a few years back: “I take excruciatingly good care of myself. My artificial parts (she's had two hips and a knee replaced) all work. My physical stamina is pretty damn good too. Emotional stamina, I have that, too.”
A class unto herself, Angela has even – when you stop to think about it - swanned past other plum octogenarians such as Christopher Plummer, who at 85 is still performing live on occasion. Now, I only wish Toronto had been able to greet her with some, let's just say, jollier weather.
It was a dinner worthy of a supermodel this week, held at The Room in Toronto ( all the photos in our Diary of the Week!). Indeed, it really was – Linda Evangelista, one of the original “supers”, arriving to be feted at the intimate sit-down held in celebration of her new campaign for the high-fashion hive in Toronto. Highly amicable and quite voluble, the classic Canadian beauty was seen sharing Instagram tips with the department's creative director, Nicholas Mellamphy, and others, even sharing a funny-sweet parent-teacher-meet anecodate re: her son Augustin (the eight-year-old whose father is French tycoon Francois Henri-Pinault).
Standing up at one point to address the table, Linda – who'd brought her two brothers along – praised the curatorial approach at The Room, even going on to say it was more exciting to shop here than either Barney's or Bergdorf in New York. Finally, towards the end of the evening, there was another fun moment when Flare editor-in-chief Cameron Williamson presented the beauty with a classic copy of the magazine he'd thought to bring along - with Linda on the cover. “1989!” she exclaimed, looking at the mag, and holding it up to the others.