Nick at Night

My frequent concert companion is an actor from London named Nicolas Levene. Seventy years ago he would’ve opened in Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” but today he’s starring in International City Theater’s premiere of Ray and Michael Cooney’s “Tom, Dick and Harry,” which runs through November 18 in Long Beach.

“Levene is not only a treat for the eyes, but also a gifted comic actor we’ll surely be hearing much more from,” wrote L.A. Stage Scene.

Long Beach is a long way from London but not so far from L.A., which is, of course, why Nick is here. Show-biz producers and swooning ladies may contact him here.

Nick is cultured and intelligent, qualities that will surely get him nowhere in Hollywood. Moreover, the narcissism, insecurity and desperate need for attention common to those in the acting profession, though certainly not absent in Levene, are at least partly ameliorated by his English charm, complete with plummy RP accent. Nick can read a parking ticket and make it sound like Tennyson.

He also attended Oxford, something Americans feel compelled to point out, as I just did.

I met him at an apropos event: a Victorian ball in Pasadena sponsored by the Social Daunce Irregulars. Nick is so bloody English, he actually brought a tailcoat with him to California.

As you’d expect from two culture snobs eager to cross wits, we took more interest in each other than in our dates, though not as much as we take in ourselves.

After the ball a group of us (the ladies all in hoopskirts) revelled around the piano in the lounge of the Ritz-Carleton. I played accompaniment to “Edelweiss,” oddly enough the only tune in the piano bench with lyrics. Then Nick sight-read Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Quite impressive considering the piece is in C# minor, a key which I, who play standards, had never even heard of.

An ardent music fan, Nick has attended concerts around the world and has thoroughly enjoyed the music he’s heard in L.A. — well, the tonal stuff at least. Nick likes pretty melodies almost as much as pretty girls, and I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to have a companion who shares my bourgeois tastes.

One last word: If you’re at a concert and see a couple of swells discussing the evening’s program, don’t be shy. Here’s how to tell us apart: The Englishman will be dressed like a Californian, and the Californian like an Englishman.

A bit tricky, that.

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