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83 posts categorized "THEATRE REVIEW"

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.

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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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Jan 27 2017
Grace & Grace: The Moving Bond Between A Girl & Her Gay That Changed Them Both Comments (0)

49513590.cached(Image via Nora Burns)

Via Kenneth in the (212): Nora Burns is known for her loopy comedy shows, but it's the return of her acclaimed David's Friend that has become a hot ticket in Manhattan.

The show, while considered comic, is tinged with sadness, chronicling her intense friendship with a man who was struck down by AIDS in 1993, just before the rise of life-extending drugs for HIV. 

 

".....David Burns.....He was my best friend. We met dancing on a platform one night at #BostonBoston when we were 17. We spent the rest of the night rolling each other around the Fenway in a shopping cart with a boom box and didn’t leave each others side for the next several years. I moved to #NYC that fall and he came several months later, it was 1979. We had amazing adventures and spoke a language I’ve never had with anyone else. He died in 1993 and I miss him more than I can say, but he left me a wonderful legacy: many of the people I love and admire most I met through David so I would just like to say, Thank you David, I love you" - by Nora Burns #davidsfriend #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on

Burns was besties with David Burns — they were so close he changed his surname to hers — in the '70s, '80s and '90s, forging a bond that was legendary around town, with David instrumental in the running of Wigstock:

Would she and David have enjoyed a different sort of dynamic in any other sort of time or place? Burns demurred. “When you’re kids, you’re kids, no matter when it is—even now.”

Her tale is not so much about that time as it is about their lives at the time. Even though they ran in admittedly fabulous circles—including the fabled Studio 54 and later populated by colorful characters such as prominent drag artists Joey Arias and Lady Bunny (David helped the latter run the raucous and iconic Wigstock annual festival in the late ’80s)—Burns does not claim that hers is the definitive account of the setting. “I don’t go, ‘So we were at this party with Halston and then Liza showed up!’ It was everyone’s world, a smaller world then. There are far more fabulous people with star-studded stories to tell, and I leave it to them to tell.”

Check out Luis Damian Veron's interview with Nora Burns at The Daily Beast, and get your tickets for David's Friend here.

 
Jan 09 2017
Absolutely No Regrets: A Review Of PIAF!: THE SHOW Comments (0)

15826462_10154649452396001_8707316754049986677_nImages of Piaf were projected onto the walls of the performance hall as Carrere sang. (Image by Matthew Rettenmund; other images by G. Marsalla)

I spent Friday evening listening to Edith Piaf sing at Carnegie Hall in the '50s. 

Actually, the event was Piaf! The Show, we were in the Fifties in NYC and the singer was Anne Carrere, but close Please-credit-photo-by-g-marsalla_27637841531_oenough — Carrere hauntingly summons Piaf's vocal stylings so beautifully it has been said she possesses the legend's instrument at her peak. In a warm, witty rendering of all the songs Piaf made famous, Carrere's challenge was to inhabit Piaf's unique style while giving us flashes of her own personality.

She succeeded.

Act I consisted of early Piaf, 16 French numbers performed with gusto by Carrere and her tight band. Carrere looked the part enough to create an illusion but not enough to appear to be a caricature. The crowd was eating from the palm of her hand, so delighted were they to be hearing songs in what was likely the native language of more than a few.

After an intermission, Carrere & Co. returned for 12 more tunes, these more modern and among Piaf's signature hits. With each number the crowd grew more enthusiastic, awaiting the inevitable arrival of “La Vie en Rose” and “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien.” Carrere performed cheekily, leaving the stage to flirt with audience members, some of whom were all to eager to flirt back. (When she approached a woman, the attendee stood and shook her breasts, which earned her a skip.)

The only less than perfect part of the evening was when a creepy guy overeagerly volunteered to dance with Carrere onstage. Even seated, his body movements were disturbingly suggestive, threatening to kill the buzz of an incredibly emotional and faultlessly classy evening for Carrere, who was debuting at Carnegie Hall 60 years after Piaf's famed gig there. Her own respect for Piaf and her charm as a newcomer to the world stage won out.

Please-credit-photo-by-g-marsalla_27102215893_o

Wayward audience members aside, the evening was magical, driven by Carrere's indefatigable growl and her sweetness in admitting to us how much it meant for her to be able to bring us those songs in that place in that context.

For us, too, and for any big fan of Piaf; this is a show that can't be missed. Let it pass you by and you will regret it.

Piaf!: The Show has about 400 upcoming shows scheduled through 2019 in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Info here.

Set list after the jump ...

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Dec 05 2016
6-PACK — Boston Cream Pies + Just Like EVAN + Trump Taps Carson (No, Really) + Dems Build A Stall + Trump Tweeting Us Into WWIII? + Recount On In Michigan + Boselli's Bulge! Comments (0)

Boston-santa-speedo-run-2015-ks-iv(Image by Kyle Szarzy via BosGuy.com)

WIDGETHere's at least four things to do in Boston!

WIDGETReview of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway

WIDGETTrump selects buffoon — who recently admitted he couldn't handle a government job — as HUD Secretary: Ben Carson. (Get why?)

WIDGETDems plan to delay, delay, delay all of Trump's Cabinet picks. Remember Merrick Garland? Federal judge orders immediate recount of Michigan.

WIDGETGuess one way for Trump to get people behind him is intentionally starting a Cold War with China. Or a hot one?

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 10.22.57 AMPietro can't stop revealing himself on Instagram. (Image via Instagram @pietroboselli)

WIDGETAfter the jump, Pietro Boselli (above), shows you his manhood without actually showing it ...

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Nov 07 2016
The Notorious T.I.G.: A Review Of Tig Notaro @ Carnegie Hall Comments (0)

I've loved Tig Notaro from afar, but had never seen her in the flesh until Saturday night's performance at Carnegie Hall, a part of the New York Comedy Festival. God, I wish I'd seen her every chance I had.

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Oct 22 2016
Deep In The Nyle: Chippendales Is NOT For Ladies Only Comments (0)
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(First gallery image via Chippendales, all others by Matthew Rettenmund)

I went to see the Chippendales in Vegas a few years ago, and was surprised how gay-friendly it was. Returning this past week to catch the final night of Nyle DiMarco's residency as celebrity host, it had only gotten gayer—while still maintaining its unique status as the premier male burlesque stop for ladies.

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IMG_1211*JPGThe Chippendales Theatre at the Rio, plus Nyle's sexy-as-hell promo poster! (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

The show is a nonstop parade of irresistible, hypermasculine clichés designed to elicit scream after scream—Marines, construction workers, motorcycle gangs, they're all there, as are the mostly hairless, uniformly muscled, TALL, sometimes tattooed men who thrust their way through the numbers.

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IMG_1129*So many men, including my Chippendales hubby, John, center (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

As bulky as they are, most of the guys are terrific dancers, the music is up-to-the-minute, the costumes are on-point (and half-off!) and the newly installed LED displays let you check out every flex.

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Sep 12 2016
Sophia Loren Staten Island Style: A Review Of AN EVENING WITH SOPHIA LOREN Comments (0)

DSC00399(All images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Last night, I did something new after 24 years in NYC—I went to Staten Island, the fabled most conservative borough.

I was lured there by a siren's song: Miss Sophia Loren was making an unusual appearance on her Q&A tour, An Evening with Sophia Loren. UnnamedI find it odd that she would appear on Staten Island, but I think the tour is economically driven (she wants the money, not just remind us of her fabulousness) and the venue—the St. George—was probably much cheaper than anything in Manhattan. It certainly felt cheaper—it was frankly like the event had rented it out and the venue provided little more than a skeleton crew to move things along.

She's actually appearing in Detroit next.

Getting there wasn't half the fun, but it wasn't too much of a bother, and the ferry ride cooled me off. You may have heard that New York was stultifyingly hot recently. I went in and got my VIP pass, which was the very first moment I was notified that Sophia would not sign autographs at the $400 photo op. That seemed pretty stingy to me. I went back outside and spotted some autograph hounds by the stage door, listening in as one guy bent the ear of a security guy who could not have cared less as he talked about the various celebrity encounters he'd had in his life. I decided to hang there on the way, way off-chance that she would be accessible upon entry since only five or six guys were waiting and I had a nice pic for her to hopefully sign.

DSC00328If you gotta be 81, you wanna be 81 and look like this.

Her manager walked by us, never mentioning the inevitable—that she planned to be driven straight into the building and would enter without anyone laying eyes on her—until he was finally directing her SUV into the back entrance. At this moment, these pigs who hadn't been waiting at all physically pushed past us to get closer, but they got no more a glimpse of her than we did. My motto is to try, because I'd rather have her autograph than not have it, but I wasn't going to lose sleep. I think the nice guy who had roses for her might have.

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