Another Openin’ Another Show!

Emperor Tony and Empress Robin in “Not A Lot” the opening number of the 20th Annual Night of a Thousand Gowns

They say that a Broadway opening number sets the tone for the two and a half hours to follow.  At Night of A Thousand Gowns, the Imperial Court of New York tries to do the same thing!

Opening Number XXIV

Empress Anne Tique and Emperor Tony lead the company in the finale of their wedding celebration, opening NOATG XXIV.

For 24 of the last 30 years, members of the ICNY have poured their heart and souls into creating an opening that will grab the attention of the audience and hold onto it.

Your humble correspondent still recalls sitting in the audience at her first Night of a Thousand Gowns in 1998 and marveling at a 12 minute version of “Mame!”  Of course, I was a little annoyed that Empress XI Gianna had chosen to wear Lucy’s red outfit from the film rather than Angela Lansbury’s golden pajamas, but you can’t have everything — it was fabulous.  That was likely the 5th of an eventual 20 opening numbers choreographed by the inimitable Empress X Ran-Dee.   

Ran-Dee was a master stager:  she could edit and encapsulate a show down to it’s most iconic moments, understand the amateur (in the best sense of the word) talent she was working with and figure out how to make it all look spectacular.  Costumes, kicklines, sass and a wink and nod to Broadway musicals and the occasional foray into pop  (Disco? Really Craig and B? DISCO?)  were her stock in trade, and whether a mini-musical, a medley or a full on folly, Ran-Dee and her partner Gianna delivered.

Opening Number XXVII

Empress Gianna backed by the men in the opening number of NOATG XXVII in 2013.

Getting together with 20-30 other courtiers for five nights of rehearsal was also great bonding time.  Learning the steps, relearning the steps, learning them again (who said we can remember them for 24 hours? We’ve got the lipsynch too!)  The productions have ranged from the elaborately costumed to the simply chic, and are always a lot of fun!

Opening Number 2012

Welcome to Wonderland, 2012’s Opening Extravaganza!

Sadly for ICNY, Ran-Dee retired to Florida in the mid-oughts, and stopped staging the opening number after 2013’s “Live Laugh and Love!” but fabulous and fierce new stagers have taken up the mantle and we’re all looking forward to the Vegas Spectactular being staged for NOATG31 on March 11 by Michael Blackmon-Ham (Viscountess Dominique St. James.)

Here are a few of the opening numbers available online:

Reign X, Emperor VI Steven and Empress X Randee

Reign XX, Emperor XV Fantasia and Empress XX Gefil Tefish

Reign XXII, Emperor XVII Rob Hunter de Woofs and Empress XXII Charlene Chivoe

Reign XXIII, Emperor XIV, XVIII and XXIII Tony Monteleone and Empress XIII and XXIII Anne Tique

Reign XXIV, Emperor XIX Jack and Empress XXIV Farrah Moans

Reign XXV, Emperor XX Vanity Society and Empress XXV Pepperica Swirl

Reign XXVI, Emperor XXI Ritz Kraka and Empress XXVI Witti Repartee

Reign XXIX Emperor XXIV Opi N. Yated and Empress XXIX Madison Mansfield (choreographed by M. Blackmon-Ham)

Retrospective Created for NOATG XXV of many opening numbers

If you have access to more videos of Night of A Thousand Gowns Opening Numbers, please email Witti at and I will include it here!