As guests take their seats around communal tables, Johnny Irion, a musician who's married to Arlo Guthrie's daughter, Sarah Lee—the couple is a musical duo—helps his two young daughters into their seats. Osman, meanwhile, works the room, facilitating connections, drawing newcomers into the conversation, and directing patrons to the appetizers, to encourage mingling. "The life of an actor was too small for Daniel's talents," explains Jim Nicola, the New York Theatre Workshop's artistic director. "His gift is gathering people and helping them find some commonality." Now Osman rushes into the kitchen and returns balancing a gleaming turkey on a silver platter; the room all but swoons. "Yeah, baby!" someone calls out. "Norman Rockwell lives!" cries Croonquist.

Later, in the music room, which is strewn with leather ottomans and tribal-print pillows, Paula Langton, a luminous Bernadette Peters type, strums a banjo while leading the crowd in a sing-along; Suzanne Hoch pounds ably at the piano. Langton's husband, the lanky actor Ken Cheeseman, strolls in. "Kenny," Langton says, "we've got a uke all tuned for you!" Someone starts shaking a pair of maracas.

Osman sits still for the first time since dawn. "My friends say I haven't left the theater at all," he notes with a laugh, sipping a hard-earned margarita, eyeing his mutt, Carter, who's passed out on the threadbare Oriental rug. "I still produce and direct my own show every night."

Although it's the guests, reveling in the Dream Away's uncommon kinship and warmth, who feel like the night's big stars.

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