“The Best of Times”
A first-nighter gets frisky with 666‘s Joseph Michael O’Curneen. Photo: Timmy Blupe.
Ladies and Gents,
My lifestyle is finally catching up to me (or maybe it’s just the unprecedented pollen count). In any event, this week nearly wore me out but I’m a born trooper!
A Devilishly Good Time
Milton Berle once called me a prude because I politely requested that he stop exposing himself to me every time I saw him (he was an irrepressible show off). Well, I wish he had lived to see me at the opening night of 666. Never has Off Broadway thought to produce such a crass and obscene gross-out-athon, and never have I laughed so hard. And I’m not alone in my adoration of this show – the reviews have been across-the-board raves (with each critic finding a different way to say the world “penis” – I’ve read everything from “phallus” to “member” to (my personal favorite) “gun.” And, speaking of, let me just say that Uncle Miltie, for all his bragging, had nothing on this cast! The opening night celebration was hosted, improbably, by the General Consulate of Spain, and New York’s entire Spanish social scene came out to support. Why Spain, you ask? Because the genius behind this show comes from the world-renowned Spanish comedy troupe Yllana. The show’s irreverent attitude is clearly infectious, and it was great to see some of Theaterland’s most respected executives, including the great Barbara Eliran, goofing around with the cast after the show and really getting into the spirit!
A Big, Flaming Hit!
I am fairly egoless about my opinions, but I must take a moment to brag. This magnificent new production of La Cage aux Folles is the big old smash hit I predicted it would be. What a splendid evening the opening was, and what an absolute treat to see the great Jerry Herman. He is not only one of the most talented men in musical theater, but also one of the kindest.
On the Wings of The Wing
Now, I make no bones about being technologically challenged, but Timmy Blupe took me through a guided tour of the American Theatre Wing’s website and I was simply blown away. It is truly one-stop-shopping for any and all theater-related web-content (well, not “shopping” exactly, as it’s entirely free-of-charge). Boy do I wish this existed when I was a burgeoning theater lover, growing up in the sticks. New Yorkers are spoiled – our backyard is its own great theatrical resource. Now every passionate child growing up far away from the bright lights of the Big Apple, thinking that a fistful of cast recordings is the closest they’re ever going to get to a true Broadway history lesson, can relish in the artistry and excitement of the Great White Way. Bravo, American Theatre Wing!
Tennessee and me
Saturday’s opening of Target Margin’s The Really Big Once, which examines the collaboration between Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan on Camino Real, was completely captivating experience. Tennessee and I became quite friendly toward the end of his life (a friendship based mostly on our mutual affection for a properly-made Ramos Fizz), and I could feel his spirit present. Also present were Frances Kazan, Elia’s beautiful and talented widow, and visionary theater artist Richard Foreman – both clearly loving the experience. The play is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in the legacy of those two great artists.
What a Trip!
Last night I had two simultaneous events (a big thanks to Attitude Limo, who whisked me gracefully from scene to shining scene): the opening night of Leslie Jordan’s new one-man show My Trip Down the Pink Carpet and the fourth annual “Broadway Beauty Pageant.” Pink Carpet was a spirited and star-studded affair, as one would expect as the show is co-produced by the great Lily Tomlin. Lily and Leslie arrived together in the largest and pinkest limo I’ve ever seen. The moment was a true camp classic! Cynthia Nixon arrived soon after in much more humble transportation. Matthew Modine, Heather Matarazzo, designer Matthew White, Public Relations guru Irene Gandy, Diane Judge, super agent Peggy Hadley, Tina Louise (with her daughter Caprice Crane), Penny Fuller, CBS producer Ramon Parkins, Bill Hutton, Jay Manuel, Dick Button and Donna McKechnie, along with Lily’s “Damages” costars Vanessa Ray and Zachary Booth, were on hand to celebrate. I also spotted director David Galligan working the pink carpet. The after party was at the most lavish private apartment in the Trump building at Columbus Circle. The views alone were worth the schlep! The small-but-opulent, wood-paneled den was transformed into the press room, and the stars kibitzed on the sofa while the shutterbugs snapped away. It all felt reminiscent of an earlier time, when celebs and the media coexisted comfortably and happily. Liz Smith and I got wistful as we watched this retro scene unfold! Yes, it was heaven. Heaven, until an over-served party guest broke a mahogany armchair that looked like it was worth a fortune. That was my cue to make an exit and head to the “Broadway Beauty Pageant.” Another camp classic ensued! A ravishing (and slender!) Tovah Feldshuh hosted, while Christine Ebersole, Charles Busch, and Michael Musto (filling in for Jackie Hoffman, who got waylaid at the recording session for the Addams Family album) judged the talent. The absolutely adorable (and, it goes without saying, hard bodied) Charlie Williams (Mr. Memphis) took home the tiara. Best line of the evening was Charles to Tovah: “If you get any skinnier, you’re gonna look like you’re part of the Bodies exhibit!” To me, that’s a high compliment!
Tidbits from Around Town
Saw the great Tony Bennett at Birdland, seated at my favorite table.
Watched John Guare sitting alone, in deep contemplation, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater’s The Aliens.
Caught Bette Midler bending over to pick up some street trash and place it in a proper receptacle on Fifth Avenue. In heels and a short skirt!
Witnessed Hunky Jet Mark Sanchez carrying a case of Mountain Dew across Union Square. “Is Mountain Dew the secret to your physique?” I shouted. “I don’t touch the stuff, but I like to keep a stocked fridge for houseguests,” he replied. Oh, those lucky, lucky houseguests!
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!