COLUMNS

Spacey enjoys, enchants an artful Washington

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • May 16, 2006

by Karen Feld

capconn
“I’m convinced we broke a number of D.C. laws when we took a late-night rainy tour through the Harman Center [for the Arts] without hard hats,” said actor Kevin Spacey. Shakespeare Theatre Artistic Director Michael Kahn took the actor on a midnight tour of the new Sidney Harman Hall performance space, scheduled to open in the Penn Quarter in September 2007, after a dinner at the Greek Embassy — where Spacey entertained the ambassador and other guests with an impromptu impersonation of Katharine Hepburn — on Friday evening.

Beyond the ‘Will’ award

Spacey was presented with the prestigious Will Award for classical theater at the 19th annual Shakespeare Theatre Company Gala at the Mellon Auditorium on Saturday evening. “I believe in truth,” Spacey said. “The movies don’t need my help; theater does.” That’s why he dedicated 10 years as artistic director to building a theater company at the Old Vic in London. Spacey is 18 months into what he calls “the greatest task I’ve undertaken.” Spacey said he’s seen what theater can do — “challenge, engage, enlighten and entertain.”

Lemmon and Papp as mentors

This actor, who mugged Meryl Streep in “Heartburn,” says Jack Lemmon was his mentor — “he taught me that being a good person and a good actor were not mutually exclusive.” And another mentor, Joe Papp, who pushed Spacey out as his $125-per-week assistant after seeing him on stage, was the recipient of the first Will Award as well as the first to bring free Shakespeare to the public in New York City.

Nurturing homegrown talent

The glorious event raised $428,000 for the upcoming free-for-all outdoor production of “Pericles,” opening May 24 at the Carter Barron Amphitheater. Thomas Matthews, 20, will be part of the ensemble. The handsome actor, a student at NYU, just happens to be the son of TV news personalities Chris and Kathleen Matthews. Kathleen is a member of the National Council for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. She said: “We didn’t encourage it; he wants it.”

Lost and found for a price

One guest lost his cummerbund on the way into the dinner, so WJLA-TV’s Kathleen Matthews wasted no time in auctioning it off to the highest bidder — New York venture capitalist Mark Walsh, formerly with AOL — for $200. Walsh later acknowledged that it was a Lord West $11 cummerbund. Spacey immediately ripped off his own, “a Giorgio Armani with special cache.” Autographed with a silver pen, it went for $2,600 in the auction. “I’m lucky to have my pants on,” said Spacey, who told me it was spontaneous and not a setup. “I’ll do anything for a good cause.”

Other Shakespeare Theatre supporters

Dance master Suzanne Farrell shares Spacey’s passion for and commitment to young people. “I had my time. Now it’s time to pass it on, to impart experience and knowledge,” she says. She’s thrilled to take her ballet company to dance Balanchine’s “Don Quixote” at the Edinburgh Festival in August … Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who, on occasion uses Shakespearean lines in speeches on the House floor, was at the dinner with his wife, Dr. Susan Blumenthal … White-collar super-defense attorney Abbe Lowell and his wife, Molly Megan, are moving to New York City’s Upper West Side for a year while their Potomac home is being renovated.

… and Lowell’s high-profile cases

Lowell, as usual, is currently involved in high-profile cases, including representing two influential, and now embattled, lobbyists: Jack Abramoff and Steve Rosen, who was an executive with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby. “I feel the weight all the time. The stakes are huge. The intellectual issues are huge,” Lowell said of the AIPAC case.

And, of course, he represented Gary Condit, the former California congressman who didn’t murder his gal pal Chandra Levy. We hear Condit is now living in Arizona off the proceeds from his litigation and running a franchised ice cream store.

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