OK, it's official: The supporting players on "Mad Men" are the new Rat Pack.
The "Night on the Town with 'Mad Men'" musical revue the thesps pulled off tonight under the direction of David Carbonara, the series' in-house composer, at the El Rey Theater was a rollicking and slightly risque good time. Best of all, the performers seemed to be having a blast, and it rubbed off on the crowd. It's telling that so many of the show's cast and crew members were in the aud and working the event, which was a fundraiser for the local chapter of the Recording Academy.
"You look downright classy," he complimented the crowd (many of us went with the spirit of the show by dressing retro). Drink in hand, Murray got the night off on the right note with a jazzy rendition of "Scotch and Soda."
Apropos of the tune, Murray noted that the night was made possible through the kindness of "Mad Men" producer Lionsgate, plus a big check and many gallons of free booze provided by Chivas Regal. (Indeed, the band Carbonara led was dubbed the "Chivas 13.")
"So keep sipping the Chivas -- the more you sip, the smoother it'll go down," Murray advised. But he didn't need to. Of the eleven performers who took the stage -- plus special guest Inara George -- there wasn't a clinker on the bill. And the song selection was perfectly matched to their characters. The night was the brainchild of Carbonara, but he had a lot of help in pulling it together in a matter of weeks from "Mad Men" scribe Robin Veith and helmer Michael Uppendahl (pictured on far left of group shot above).
Mark Moses, aka Duck Phillips (pictured right), followed Murray with a swing-y rendition of "Ain't Love a Kick in the Head." He noted that he was wearing his "Duck-edo -- which comes smelling of booze and covered with ashes."
Thrush George came out to lend her sweet voice to an uptempo take on "Manhattan" -- no need to explain why, for this show.
Michael Gladis (pictured below) looked every inch Paul Kinsey as he strolled out wearing an acoustic guitar and a his tux shirt open with the bow tie dangling around his neck. He launched in to "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" -- and promptly stopped after about 15 seconds.
"I fucked up the lyrics," he admitted. The second time worked just fine (I always choke up a little at the line "I wish there was something you could do or say/to try and make me change my mind and stay," and this version was no exception.)
Murray intro'd Alison Brie, aka Trudy Campbell, as a girl who really "looks good in pajamas." She wasn't in a teddy but rather a silky white dress, sexy gloves and faux fur boa that she put to good use while delivering a sassy take on "Daddy" -- ("I want a brand new car, champagne, caviar") -- that would've made Sammy Kaye proud. Brie belted in a Broadway-ish way, but after the show she swore she'd never sung in front of an aud before.
Patrick Fischler, aka Jimmy Barrett (pictured below left with Michael Gladis), followed Brie, decked out in his signature white tux and withering sneer. He read the boilerplate verbiage about the event being a fundraiser for the music education program of the L.A. Chapter of the Recording Academy.
"I'm dying up here," he quipped after rattling off that mouthful. "Baton jockey -- play something sexy." And sure enough a lady of burlesque strutted out to do a fan dance around him. She got down to her star-shaped pasties (Murray hipped us to the fact that the fan dancer was the same one who appeared the "Mad Men" seg where the guys and Peggy take a client to a strip joint.)
Of course, who would follow Jimmy but Bobbie Barrett? Melinda McGraw came out bathed in brilliant blue sequins with hair piled high and hard. She brought a Lambert, Hendricks and Ross flavor to "Twisted" ("My analyst told me/that I was right out of my head.") Like I said, the song selection was spot-on!
Robert Morse (pictured at far right below with, from left, Colin Hanks, Bryan Batt and Christina Hendricks), a man who knows his way around a stage, was every bit the daffy Bert Cooper as he came out hailing "The Brotherhood of Man." He stopped halfway through for a shout-out to "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner, who of course was holding court with his posse in the front row.
After a round of applause for the Creator, Morse dove into a song he really knows his way around, "I Believe in You" from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." He sang the hell out of it -- noting a one point that "I haven't hit that note in 40 years" -- and blew Weiner a very theatrical kiss on his way off the stage.
Next up was Maggie Siff, aka Rachel Menken (pictured below right with Bryan Batt), who channeled her inner Ella Fitzgerald as she warbled "Black Coffee." ("I'm hanging out on Monday/My Sunday dreams to dry.") Siff was eye-catching in rust-orange dress.
Crista Flanagan, aka Lois Sadler, was swathed in purple-blue chiffon for her appropriately ditzy number, Irving Berlin's Depression-era spirit-lifter "Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee."
Now, we all could have expected that Rialto vet Bryan Batt, aka Salvatore Romano, would steal the show, and steal it he did, with help from four dancing girls dubbed "the Romanos" (one of whom was the actress who plays Paul Kinsey's girlfriend).
Batt turned on the charm to the sultry South American rhythm of "Sway." "Is it hot in here -- or is it just my girls," he teased as he twirled each one across the stage.
Finally, the evening ended with a clap-along folksy rave up from -- who else? -- Colin Hanks, aka Father Gill, who brought out his acoustic and was accompanied by Dar Williams on "Early in the Morning." (My Variety colleague and companion last night Brian Cochrane points out that it's the same tune Father Gill does at the end of the seg "Three Sundays.")
"I have a feeling there are a lot of sinners in the house tonight," Hanks said. "Thank you for indulging us."
All of the other performers came back out for a final chorus with Hanks and Williams, which brought the crowd to its feet. The onlookers included Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway), Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove), Edin Gali (Kurt) and Darby Stanchfield (Helen Bishop).
And here's how we know the "Mad Men" troupers were having a good time. After spending an hour or so at the El Rey pressing the flesh and collecting compliments, a bunch of them decamped to the Chateau Marmont for still more fun, off stage.
(Pictured right, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner and composer David Carbonara.)