566 posts categorized "THEATRE"
Mike Nichols, the acclaimed director of such film classics as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967), as well as one half of the legendary comedy duo of Nicolas & May with Elaine May (b. April 21, 1932) in the '50s and '60s, has died at 83. He'd been married since 1988 to journalist Diane Sawyer (b. December 22, 1945).
Nichols won the Oscar for The Graduate, only his second film, and delivered many other memorable movies as diverse as Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Gilda Live (1980), Silkwood (1983), Postcards from the Edge (1990), The Birdcage (1996) and his last film, Charlie Wilson's War (2007).
In 2001, he brought the highly regarded play Wit to TV, and three years later directed an ambitious Angels in America adaptation for HBO.
Nichols & May were known for their improvisational comedy, which led them to the successful Broadway show An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May. They split, both creatively and personally, but later buried the hatchet and teamed up on plays and films. (May wrote both The Birdcage and the Clinton parody Primary Colors.)
Nicholas was extremely active and frequently rewarded for his efforts in the theater, including directing enduring classics Barefoot in the Park (1963—his debut), The Odd Couple (1965), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), Annie (1977), Hurlyburly (1984), Whoopi Goldberg's blank-titled one-woman show (1984) and the relatively recent runaway hit Spamalot (2005). His final work on Broadway was as the director of Betrayal in 2013, starring Daniel Craig and his wife Rachel Weisz.
Apparently, Nicholas had not been in ill health, but died suddenly of a heart attack. A major loss for the entertainment world.
BOY CULTURE RATING: ***1/2 out of ****
The original 1997 production of Bill Russell/Henry Krieger musical Side Show, with Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, ran fewer than 100 performances before disappearing into cult status. It's back, with a robust re-imagining by Oscar-winning director Bill Condon that for the most part gives the already intriguing premise what should be enough razzle-dazzle to ensure a longer-lasting hit.
Erin Davie and Emily Padgett, singing powerfully and beautifully bringing their characters to life, play the real-life Hilton Twins, conjoined girls who were mercilessly exploited (sold, even) as children and then further exploited in Vaudeville as adults. Daisy wants the fame and adulation, whereas Violet just wants to be normal; neither will truly achieve her dream, and for better or for worse, neither will ever walk alone.
Ryan Silverman plays the complex backer who rescues the girls from indentured servitude at the hands of “Sir” (Robert Joy), and Matthew Hydzik is his sidekick, a closeted gay man with dreams of performing but who is saddled with a major flaw—a conscience. Together, the men help make the Hilton Twins into legit stage stars, but as the women slowly realize, performing for more people and more money never really removes them from the act of trading on their deformity—they are forever seen as freaks, no matter who's paying.
Former sideshow cannibal “Jake” (David St. Louis) is the only guy around who truly cares about the girls—especially Violet—but due to conventions (he's black) is not the right choice for a woman who wants to make no waves.
As the show zipped along, it seemed each of the leads was given a chance to truly shine dramatically as well as to show off his or her chops.
Featuring heartfelt singing that elevates some very talky, unlyrical songs (with obvious exceptions being “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” and “I Will Never Leave You”) and several charming Vaudeville numbers with good humor, razzle dazzle and some of the cutest male dancers this side of Broadway Bares, the show overall is an emotional success and a musical pleasure that connects with its audience through pathos and humor.
On a slightly separate note...
I saw Side Show in previews (review coming Monday, November 17, when the show opens) and took advantage of the opportunity to meet the last major cast member of Desperately Seeking Susan who I had yet to meet: Robert Joy. Joy plays the original daddy/conservator in Side Show and was, of course, Madonna's punker boyfriend in DSS.
Waited afterward at the theater's incredibly awkward stage door area (actors find themselves walking down a long hall with patrons after the action ends) and Robert was, well, a joy—very nice. He signs with his right hand, but holds the Sharpie in his fist as he does it. He happily posed for a picture (I was bummed he'd just put on his hat).
Joy recently turned 63.
BOY CULTURE RATING: **** OUT OF **** STARS
A 28-year-old friend of mine who is the perfect man and would get a proposal of marriage from me if it weren't for the fact that I'd have to pay him to get naked for me said to me recently, when I invited him to see Lypsinka, “Am I a bad gay if I don't wanna see a drag show?”
Well, yes, yes, he is.
But not because he isn't into drag—so much of it is stale. He's a bad gay for thinking Lypsinka is a drag show. John Epperson's Lypsinka is more in the performance-art vein. And besides that, she's not a drag show...currently, she's three.
Lypsinka: The Trilogy is now playing on NYC's Lower East Side at The Connelly Theater. On alternating nights, the Queen of Drag Queens is performing Lypsinka! The Boxed Set, The Passion of the Crawford and John Epperson: Show Trash, three very different shows with very little overlap but lots of overlip.
JUST A FEW OF THE NAMES WHOSE VOICES APPEAR IN LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET:
Judith Anderson Polly Bergen Arthur Blake Joan Crawford Bette Davis Olivia de Havilland Sandra Dee Phyllis Diller Ruth Draper Frances Faye Penny Fuller Judy Garland Dolores Gray T.C. Jones Gisele MacKenzie Fay McKay Ethel Merman Agnes Moorehead Kay Stevens Dorothy Squires Kim Stanley Gloria Swanson Natalie Wood
The first, and best, is Lypsinka! The Boxed Set, approximately 90 minutes' worth of Lypsinka in her robotically glamorous prime (she's even better as a man of a certain age playing a woman of a certain age than he was when he did it as a youngster), gliding across the stage and expertly mouthing a complicated soundtrack made up of obscure songs from musical theater and instantly recognizable soundbites from film, TV and the theater. His lip-synching style is so leisurely it becomes hypnotic. He never overemotes; rather, he simply parts his lips and lets the sounds seem to emerge from within. His best weapons are his eyes (the gams are still in working order, too—see inset), which light up the stage with shock, existential angst and/or malevolence, as each sonic snippet demands.
Also compelling is The Passion of the Crawford, the lioness's share of which consists of Epperson and Steve Cuiffo or Scott Wittman recreating Crawford's legendary 1973 Town Hall interview, in which she tweaks Bette Dvis, verbally spanks Marlon Brando, talks parenting and almost has a rolling orgasm while commenting on Greta Garbo. Lypsinka's visual adlibs, affecting expressions Crawford didn't but should have made, are delicious. She then segues into a somewhat dreary sequence of Crawford camp-earnestly reciting a religious text, but it comes to an end with a fantasmagoric remix of some of Crawford's famous lines as well as elements of the Town Hall Q&A that has to be seen to be believed. (If you're into latter-day Crawford, don't miss this video!)
Completing your set is John Epperon: Show Trash, in which Lypsinka fades to black so that Epperson himself can shine—and shine he does, as an outstanding pianist and inimitable singer. He offers original compositions that illustrate the trajectory of his life from Southern sissy to big-city sensation, as well as a few lip-synching interludes as a nod to his alter ego. (In an odd tribute to Katharine Hepburn, Epperson impersonats her singing Rapper's Delight—and it just so happened to be the very same day Sugarhill Gang's Big Bank Hank died.)
For Epperson to take on the responsibility of doing three shows simultaneously is some kind of cry for help. Don't ignore it—see all three so you don't have to wait another 20 years to drink in his loopy, intelligent, darkly funny, queerly nostalgic tribute to popular and unpopular culture.
And if you don't wanna see a drag show, then you are your rabbit-faced wife can go to hell.
Above, check out more than 20 then-and-now split-screen images of stars!
Last weekend was my third of four celeb-soaked encounters in the space of a month—first I hit up the Courts Celebrities Fan Fest, then New York Comic Con, then another edition of the Hollywood Show in L.A. (KEEP READING) and finally this past weekend's Chiller Theatre.
More on Chiller very soon.
First up, the L.A. Hollywood Show was quieter this time, leading some attendees to wonder if this type of non-genre autograph show might be dying off quicker than Old Hollywood. But it wasn't nearly as dead as the Courts version, so there was still a good flow of starfuckers to keep most of the celebs busy—at least on Saturday. (Sunday was a graveyard—never go if you can only go on a Sunday, when a chunk of the celebs will have decided to suddenly get a bad cold and not show.)
Above, in the gallery, check out juicy then-and-now photos. After the jump, my impressions of each star I met...