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90 posts categorized "THEATRE REVIEW"

Jun 20 2017
BROADWAY BARES: STRIP U Makes The Grade! Comments (0)

DSC03923_newGone to the dogs! (All live images in this post by Matthew Rettenmund)

As always, enjoy my report on Broadway Bares, and feel free to chime in with names for anyone I failed to ID. All my Facebook pics are here. Thanks!

Broadway Bares, the annual, one-night-only, two-shows-only burlesque event that raises cash for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, was back for a 27th installment on June 18, accepting thousands of new students in a revue entitled Strip U. It raised a total of $1,568,114 for the cause.

No SAT, no shade: Strip U was the kind of baby-got-back-to-school experience that promised to keep *Scanyou up many sleepless nights in the future — and not with nightmares about forgetting your locker com or being late to class.

140+ Facebook Pics from Bares Here!

Overall, this show — directed by Nick Kenkel — was the apple of my eye among recent installments of Bares, an impressive return to form that passed with flying colors while demonstrating its mastery of diversity (race, age, body size, gender) and of the core skills that make these shows so much fun in the first place (dancing, humor, exhibitionism).

Tons More Broadway Bares Posts Here!

The only area in which this Bares could be called lacking when graded on a curve against the best ones of all time was star power, a commodity that has been on the wane for years. But who needs big-name stars when the show has so many homegrown stars, (anatomically) gifted hoofers more than capable of owning the stage? (Okay, it would've been fun to see Bette Midler's girls. But we've seen them before.)

Giphy-3Locky Brownlie goes for extra credit!

We arrived at the Hammerstein Ballroom two hours early for the midnight show, putting us right near the front of the amorphous line of young gay guys in aggressively cute shorts pretending they didn't even try with their outfits and enough drooling daddies that the show's traditional placement on Father's Day was, as always, humorously literal.

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May 20 2017
Like A Burning FLAMER — A Review Of ETERNAL FLAMER: THE BALLAD OF JESSIE BLADE Comments (0)

17903775_10101961736012424_5871730220147555357_n(All images via Tommy Jamerson)

Most fun I've had in a theater since the time I lip-synched in drag as Samantha Fox and my high school crush came up behind me and groped my “tits” — Eternal Flamer: The Ballad of Jessie Blade, a play by Tommy Jamerson, directed by Alex Acevedo.

The comic play, very much in the Charles Busch/Andy Halliday tradition, takes place in, on and all 18582048_10102022967504024_2535222910111656157_n over the '80s, following the titular young, cock-eyed (shut up) optimist (a bubbly, committed Brian Piehl, picturedl) who makes his way to NYC to try to become a famous dancer with Muffy Diver (butch-on-command Billy Berger-Bailey). He's in for a rough coming out, having left behind his childhood crush (effortlessly funny James Tison) only to find himself the target of a revenge bang at the, er, hands of sexy, sleazy Billie Panache (red-hot Joseph Swaggerty, who looks like C. Thomas Howell had a baby naturally with that other dude from Frankie Goes to Hollywood).

18447608_1480110208707585_4288840887319591908_nSwaggerty — I know it's funny, but can we pause for a moment to be aroused?

You see, Jessie has been rejected by Muffy, so he's shaking his moneymaker as a stripper in a club run by drag queen with a secret The Madam (Dominic Sellers), and since Jessie's her new pet, her ex, Billie, decides to use his penis in the same way Taylor Swift and Katy Perry (wait, who? this is the '80s ...) use music.

18556158_10102022962289474_6517306296632452825_nPiel & Baumann — skit happens

The ensemble cast in this production — for which exactly zero of the performers would ever need to be told, “Go broader!” — complements Jamerson's mostly clever, always funny writing. There are no weak links, so I'd be remiss without mentioning my friend Marc Patlan's hysterical Joan Crawford-meets-Eartha-Kitt-meets-Tammy-Faye-Bakker Momma Blade, the first OMG performance of the night; Egbert Bernard's scenery-chewing (he swallows it, too) Rudy; and maybe my favorite in a group of favorites, the hysterical Ty Baumann, whose '80s receptionist Monica (as well as other background characters he steps into) was spookily perfect. I've seen a lot of theater featuring people who went on to do big things, and he gave me that tingling feeling. That, and the guy next to me kept fingering me. I was in jeans.

See this when you can, because this piece will pop up again somewhere; our obsession with the '80s — like The Madam's secret condition — never goes away, it just gets worse.

 
Apr 18 2017
6-PACK — THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD Ignites Furor + Comic Has Conflicted Views On Gays + Sheryl Crow Wants Female Musicians To Cover Up + Nikki Haley Addresses Chechnya Gay Crisis + Copping A Feel + Unitard Magic! Comments (0)

Gay-most-fabulous-story-ever-told(Image by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

WIDGETThe New York Times: The more things change, the more they stay the same — religious objections to blasphemous gay play The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. Tickets!

Lavell-CrawfordLavell Crawford (Video still via VLADTV)

WIDGETBET: Comic Lavell Crawford's own father was gay, but he says being gay is “still f*cking weird,” conflates it with the trans push for bathroom rights, says we're not born gay.

WIDGETYouTube @ AXS TV: Sheryl Crow clucks her tongue at Madonna (by name) and probably Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, among others, by implication, for having sexy art:

WIDGETJoe.My.God.: Nikki Haley is the highest-ranking Trumpster to acknowledge and demand answers about the Chechen concentration camp for gay men.

WIDGETTowleroad: When you don't want cops to keep their hands to themselves:

WIDGETJoe's Pub: Do not miss Unitard if you're in NYC in May — I saw them once and fell in love, and saw Nora Burns solo once and fell even harder.

Unitard-2017-NEW-Hero(Image via Unitard)

 
Apr 08 2017
Forever Hold His Peace: A Review Of DANIEL'S HUSBAND Comments (0)

DanielsHusband1-1491470159.pngRyan Spahn & Matthew Montelongo in Daniel's husband (Images by James Leynse)

Early on in Daniel's Husband — a new play by Michael McKeever, directed by Joe Brancato at the beautiful Cherry Lane Theatre — I started to sink in my seat. An opening scene at a bougie gay dinner party peopled by a generic crabby writer and his generic architect lover, and an aging lothario with his never-seen-a-vinyl-album-in-person twink date mate of two weeks, had me convinced I was about to see a play I had already seen 100 times or more.

Instead, the stock characters began to flesh out in unexpected ways, the familiar banter (featuring several too many jokes about dating younger men) became less pat. Soon, the play's entire equilibrium was disrupted by the arrival of the kind of overbearing mom any early shrink would have referred to as a confirmed-bachelor-maker, and something had changed.

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Mar 23 2017
Holy Cabooses! Bette Midler's HELLO, DOLLY! Is A Joy Comments (0)

1-1048_Bette-Midler-in-HELLO-DOLLY-Photo-by-Julieta-CervantesBette Midler as Dolly (Image by Julieta Cervantes)

I'll cut to the chase — I adored the latest revival of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler.

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Mar 18 2017
6-PACK — Bootylicious Life + JERSEYLICIOUS Death + A New Kind Of GLASS MENAGERIE + North Miami's LGBTQ Legacy + A Trump Voter Who Gets It + Trump, Who Does Not Get It! Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 5.30.17 PM(Video still via YouTube @BOYZ)

WIDGETManRumpsXXX: Check out “Talk Like Sex,” a François Sagat butt-a-thon (Work Unfriendly), after the jump below ...

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 5.40.14 PMMike Aktari died at 28, Auntie Fee at 59 (Images via Facebook)

WIDGETExtraTV: Sexy Mike Aktari of Jerseylicious and sassy Auntie Fee of YouTube cooking fame have both died.

WIDGETThe Film Experience: Is Sally Field in The Glass Menagerie sublime?

WIDGETPress Release: Artist Alan Gutierrez unveils sculpture to “celebrate the legacy of Miami-Dade County's LGBTQ champions.” It covers 1977-2017, includes Moonlight.

UnnamedHonoring those who blazed trails (Image via News Travels Fast)

WIDGETDaily Kos: White Southern male voter for Trump admits he was wrong — goes viral:

WIDGETAOL: Trump rages against FAKE NEWS, claiming his awkward meeting with Merkel — he refused to shake her hand! — went great. I say:

Tumblr_inline_on0quaaOe31qkdw6j_500(GIF via The Lisp)

Keep reading for that amazing, butt-tastic Sagat short subject ...

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Feb 15 2017
It's The Electorate That Got Small!: Hillary Gets Standing O At SUNSET BOULEVARD Comments (0)

16807180_10154496172723282_2527724436465688964_n(Image by Jeremy Daniel)

Continuing her tour of Broadway productions, Hillary Clinton arrived at Sunset Boulevard this evening to a rapturous standing O:

I saw the show last week, sans Hillary. My impressions: It's still not a very good show, but it's solid enough, and has those three crazy-good songs (that bring the house down).

In a stripped-down, chic-looking production, Glenn Close is 70 playing 50 trying to be 20, and I think the fact that she pulls it off is a testament to how differently we view age. She definitely is a wildly different Norma Desmond than Swanson, and her age does change the vibe, but just makes the story a little more desperate.

Close is in good voice and overcomes fairly forgettable trappings, not including the eye-popping wardrobe, which I understand is original to the first production. (Which I saw!)

It's definitely a show worth seeing, if only for Close's triumph.

 
Feb 07 2017
Best Friends Forever: A Review Of Nora Burns's DAVID'S FRIEND Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 1.52.01 PMA story with heart (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

My cultural benefactors John & Sheldon — not really, but they do get me to go see things I'd otherwise not get motivated to see — invited me to David's Friend, the show by Unitard comic Nora Burns, a few weeks ago. I bought my ticket knowing next to nothing about it. By the time I entered the Club at La Mama this weekend, it was already touted as a hot ticket.

Check out my 2015 Unitard review here!

In 60 minutes, Burns (pictured) provides an unapologetically sentimental Bioremembrance of the original best friend forever, David, a fellow Massachusetts teen who joined her in running off to NYC at the end of the '70s, and the beginning of what would beecome a live-fast-die-young adventure.

Except Nora survived.

Over time, the eventual artist has been driven to memorialize their toss-my-salad days, when she stripped and he hustled and both did so many drugs this might be why Quaaludes became scarce, and when both became friendly with the types of artists drawn to the city back when it was seedily affordable. She is reliving that era onstage in a joyous way that gives contact euphoria and a sense of connection to the audience, and also in a way that sloppily and then — with unexpected precision — provides a sketch of her fallen friend and their eternal friendship so vivid it's hard to believe he wasn't a member of the cast.

2-6Back in the gay: Nora & David (This & photo booth image via Nora Burns)

At times, it's as if she is taking our hands and putting them into her side; her approach to show and tell is to skip both and instead to conjure and to make manifest.

The story is deceptively slight; the two danced their asses off. In fact, they met dancing on a speaker and seemingly only climbed down when he eventually became sick with AIDS and when she, later on, settled down with a husband and children. Their time on the speaker sounds like a mad dash from one party to another, and from the safety of suburbia to the more interesting, more dangerous nooks and crannies of a city that no longer exists.

While nostalgic and affectionate, the show is never whitewashed — plenty of STIs, jealous fits and jobs from hell are recalled, and her Valentine to NYC is spiked by a recurring image of the city in the '70s and '80s as a pile of junk teeming with rats and predators. But if you're one of those people who thinks the city is now a Giulianified shell of its former self, you will understand her longing for not just her friend but their grimy stomping grounds.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 1.54.39 PMPage from a drag calendar David put together (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Nora's delivery is utterly sincere. It is also funny, except for when it veers into Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 1.43.25 PM sadness, when it becomes difficult to imagine how she puts herself through such a naked (and public) connection to still-raw grief each performance.

She is so uncompromisingly honest, it might make you squirm when she cheerfully announces she needs gay men to provide the witty Oscar banter these days (she's got to be kidding! she's hysterical!) or when she drives home that she is a classic fag hag. There is a degree of supplication, but I think it's also just a reflection of her devotion to the best person she ever met.

David is beautifully remembered in this warm and scrappy show in a way he may never have been able to imagine, knowing Nora as he did then — and never getting to know Nora as she was later, is now.

Due to an outbreak of raves, David's Friend — directed by Adrienne Truscott and also featuring Billy Hough —has been extended. Along with other lessons, one the show offers is: Spend your time wisely. This applies to theater, too.

********************

Separate from my review, something that struck me about the show is that it is another example of something that elicits from me a longing to have been a part of the era that came just before me, which is also always laced with gratitude that I barely missed the inevitability of AIDS.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 12.09.55 PMSelf-portrait of Dillard from one of his books (Image by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard)

Hearing of David's recklessly fabulous life at Studio 54 and strolling Manhattan's dives and clinics in silver hotpants and leather definitely ignited that dormant fascination, as did the name-dropping of the ubiquitious Patrick McMullan (such a dishy appearance his name makes in the show, and he later shot it) and also of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, the so-called Naked Poet.

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