“ALL REVVED UP WITH NO PLACE TO GO”
Ladies and gents,
Let me start with a public service announcement: I’ve been experiencing tremendous mobility problems with hip flexors, and it turns out I’ve been using the wrong kind of desk chair. Well, I’m now typing this from a brand-new Herman Miller number that has more buttons, levers and knobs than I’ll ever know what to do with, and let me tell you, I feel great! Take it from ol’ Scoopy, skimp on your desk chairs and live to regret it!
Okay, onto show biz. If you’re a downtown theater artist in 1982, having cut your teeth in the intimate and weird confines of La MaMa, and you get the chance to take your play to Broadway, what house do you think you’d feel most at home in? Well, something called the Little Theatre, at 300 seats, seems like a pretty good fit to me. Such was the early career trajectory of an outspoken, gravel-voiced boychik named Harvey Fierstein. That play, Torch Song Trilogy, went on to win Harvelah Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Actor. Well, all these years later, the Little Theatre is now the Hayes Theater, and Torch Song Trilogy is now Torch Song, and it’s about to reopen on Broadway in the same house. My head is spinning. I’m plotzing.
Today was the big old press event teasing the production, which kicks off in earnest on October 9, and I was there to chat with the show’s stars — Mercedes Ruehl, Michael Urie, Jack DiFalco, Ward Horton, Roxanna Hope Radja, and Michael Rosen, as well as producer Richie Jackson, director Moisés Kaufman, and Harvey himself. This is a company that is coming to Broadway knowing exactly what it’s got: a stellar production that has already been blessed with unanimous raves from its Off Broadway run. And speaking of “run,” I suggest you do so.
I recently opened a piece of fan mail from a reader who Cincinnati, Ohio (go Reds!) who told me that, while she adores my column and appreciates my prose, I lavish too much attention on events happening on the isle of Manhattan. So, Carolyn Unnewehr Schott from Cincinnati, let’s talk about some touring productions making their way across these United States.
Dear Evan Hansen, still packing them in on Broadway, is in the midst of tech week in Denver, readying for the first preview of the first National Tour on Tuesday! All of Denver is abuzz, and not just with legal cannabis highs! There have been sightings of the A-list creative team all over town the past couple weeks, and locals are treating them like the rock stars that they are. We’re told that director Michael Grief hasn’t paid for a drink in weeks, what with Mile High City theater fans sending bottles of bubbly to his table everywhere he goes.
Meanwhile in LA, Ain’t Too Proud is still attracting A-listers like Sophia Bush and Aaron Paul. Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss, who starred opposite each other on Broadway in Dear Evan Hansen (it all connects!), and are about to star together again, this time on the small screen in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series, “The Politician,” were also spotted dancing in the aisles at a recent performance of The Temptations tuner. At another performance, packed to the rafters with West Hollywood pretty boys, one audience member quipped to another, “I don’t need all Four Tops. I’d settle for one!”
Suddenly grabbing a great deal of buzz is Bat Out of Hell star Andrew Polec. Bat Out of Hell is the 23 year old Philly native’s first major acting gig. So green is Polec that the first time he met Meat Loaf, he called him Mr. Loaf. So wet behind the ears is this kid that he showed up at his audition wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants backpack. But don’t let that fool you: this kid’s been performing in rock bands since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and I’m told his time in the show has transformed him into a bona fide rock god. In London, they had to hire extra security at the stage door to keep the fans from tearing him limb from limb. One 84 year old pensioner from Leeds got so worked up during a shirtless scene that she tossed her panties at him mid-song, before sending her caretaker to the theater the next day to retrieve them.
Tidbits from around town:
Spotted Betty Buckley, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber, Taylor Trensch, and David Hyde Pearce cheering on Tony nominee Jennifer Simard’s solo show at Green Room 42. Also in the audience: Simard’s podcast-mates: Leslie Kritzer, Jamie Du Mont, and Rob Russo. (The foursome can be heard on the brand-new podcast, “The Fabulous Invalid,” where they dish about theater. The first episode posted yesterday and features an interview with none other than Joel Grey.)
Overheard a woman with a thick Long Island accent asking a clerk at Duane Reade if they carry Renée Fleming’s new CD of Broadway songs. His reply: “I don’t think they even make CD’s anymore. You have to download that, probably.” Confused and frustrated, she walked away.
Caught casting legend Bernie Telsey completing a Sudoku puzzle with ease, while waiting for the downtown F train.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!