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Daily Mail "The Ladies in Red"


For one night only, stars take a boa for charity.

by Neil Sears and Julia Timms

They can normally expect star billing, huge fees and dressing rooms to match. Last night, all a host of leading ladies asked in return for waiving their hefty pay cheques was to share the same stage - in bright red feather boas.

There were Hollywood stars Gillian Anderson and Melanie Griffith, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett - the Oscar nominated star of Elizabeth. Also among a parade of television and film stars were presenters Katie Puckrik and Dani Behr, actress Natasha McElhone and model Sophie Dahl.

They were taking part in a special performance of a work by Eve Ensler to raise money for women's charities.
And most took the stage at London's Old Vic swathed in a red boa to celebrate the fact that it was Valentine's Day.
However, as they met for the first time yesterday afternoon - with just a few hours to rehearse before appearing in front of guests paying up to 500 pound - tensions were almost certainly running high before curtain up. Melanie Griffith, for one, admitted in feeling incredibly nervous.

She said: "I have never performed on stage before so of course I am scared." Sophie Dahl also had reason for feeling on edge - she was accosted by a drunk outside the theatre. As the model made her way to the stage door, a tramp shouted: "I have seen you before." An onlooker said: "He then lunged for her. She looked very shocked and screamed, but was not hurt because her PR agent pulled her away. She was through the stage door very quickly after that.

The controversial drama - called "The Vagina Monologues," - is based on the responses of 200 women who were asked intimate questions about their bodies. Titanic star Kate Winslet had one of the toughest roles in the often-touching show. Her reading was about a teenage girl in Bosnia who had been gang raped.

Ally McBeal star Calista Flockart had been expected to take part in the reading but was unavailable to attend. A theatre spokesman said Miss Flockart who has recently sparked concerns that she is anorexic, was busy preparing for a new show.

There were almost as many stars in the audience as on stage. Among them were Vanessa Redgrave and her mother Lucy Redgrave, Jennifer Ehle, who starred in Pride and Prejudice. Kylie Minoque and pop star Natalie Imbruglia.

Anyone wishing to see the show in future, however, will be denied the sight of so many famous faces. New York writer Ms. Ensler will be performing the monologues in a one- woman show at the King's Head Theatre in Islington until March 8.