Academy Award winner Celeste Holm and Tony winner Elizabeth Wilson covered Lyric Hall Sunday not just with their admirers, but with comfortably upholstered seats for the revived former silent film theater’s wooden folding chairs.
Holm (All About Eve, Gentlemen’s Agreement) and Wilson (Picnic) marked their 95th and 91st birthdays respectively with a bash that drew a festive crowd of 75 of their admirers to the Whalley Avenue antiques shop and performance space at the gateway to Westville Village.
Lyric Hall founder John Cavaliere, the event’s executive impresario, said that proceeds from the fundraising event will pay for the upholstering of the theater’s 40 folding chairs with comfortable new cushioning.
The event included a viewing of Ray Glanzman’s documentary Broads on actresses from the 1930s and 1940s, including Holm and Wilson. Then, at 4:30, celebrants arose from their comfortable seats, sang happy birthday, and toasted the legendary thespians with birthday cake and prosecco.
The former silent film theater is almost a centenarian itself, having been built in 1913 and recently renovated by Cavaliere (pictured). It is rapidly becoming an artistic mecca not only for New Haven but for folks from the wider circle of New York and New England cultural circles, many of whom hoisted glasses at Sunday’s event.
Holm’s husband, singer Frank Basile, knocked out Broadway tunes for the crowd Sunday.
Elizabeth Wilson appeared in the “Broads” on screen while watching the film with the audience.
Portraits of the actresses were unveiled.