The Nicotras lunch with Angela Lansbury; announce ‘Christmas in Tuscany’

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.: It's not everyday that you come face to face with your idol — someone who you've admired all of your life and even dreamt about meeting one day.

It surely was a dream come true for hotelier Lois Nicotra — of the Nicotra Group — the day she got to meet and greet her all-time favorite movie and Broadway star —  thanks to her husband Richard, that is!

Read on and we'll fill you in on all the fun details.

Richard knows full well that wife Lois has always had a special affection for award-winning actress Angela Lansbury, the stage and screen celeb whose been entertaining audiences for decades, including her 12-year stint as Jessica Fletcher on the 1984 series, "Murder She Wrote."

So about a year ago, Richard bought Lois tickets to see the Broadway revival of "A Little Night Music," starring Ms. Lansbury and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Says Lois: "Wouldn't you know it. We get to the play and Angela Lansbury's not in it the show that night." Lois later learned the Tony Award winner was unexpectedly called out of town and was unable to perform in the show on that particular evening.

Some time passed and Richard read in one of the newspapers that the longtime actress was being honored on the occasion of her 90th birthday on a Monday night in fact, in Manhattan's York Theatre — a small Off-Broadway theatre on Lexington Avenue.

When the night rolled around and the Nicotras finally arrived at the swank soiree, a divine cocktail reception awaited them and was already in full swing.

The venue was filled with a number of popular cabaret singers and actors with names like James Earl Jones (currently on Broadway in "The Gin Game") and Len Cariou ("Sweeney Todd").

Lois commented that oftentimes things happen for a reason. For her, attending Ms. Lansbury's 90th birthday bash was even more personal than it would have been if they saw her on the Broadway stage.

Lois couldn't help but comment that the actress is still as stunning as she ever was.

The Nicotras got to pose for a photo op with Ms. Lansbury during the course of dinner and she was as gracious in mingling with her guests. Later, during the evening fare, organizers of the dinner party conducted a live auction that would result in lunch with Ms. Lansbury.

Lois recounts the auction was stopped when it came down to seven people remaining: In addition to Ms. Lansbury, included were her manager and her producer who runs the York Theater, the Nicotras and another couple.

The lunch would be staged in Michael's, a divine dining spot on West 55th St. near the St. Regis Hotel renowned for their "California cuisine and celebrity sightings."

Lois explains that she felt like she was walking on Cloud 9.

"What a beautiful person on the inside and out," she said of the living legend. "She's just like the character in 'Murder She Wrote.' And she's gracious and elegant."

And since Ms. Lansbury resides in Manhattan at times, the Nicotras are hoping to reprise Lois' dream come true.

CHRISTMAS IN TUSCANY

And in speaking of the Nicotras, the Hilton Garden Inn will play host to "Christmas in Tuscany," featuring performer Micheal Castaldo, the accomplished pop-crossover singer who'll be leading a string quartet and a harp in his debut performance at Friday, Dec. 11, at Lorenzo's Cabaret in the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. Showtime is 9:30 p.m.

Even better: "Christmas in Tuscany" also features a scrumptious four-course dinner with wine pairing and olive oil tasting for $89.95 (premium seating $104.95) plus tax and gratuity.