Oscar E Moore

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LINDA VISTA – by Tracy Letts, a Steppenwolf production at 2ndStage

October 12th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Dick Wheeler’s life is anything but a pretty picture.  He seems to have been born with low self- esteem.  He is in the middle of a prolonged divorce, bickering over child support and whatever else there is to bicker about.  His thirteen year old son is into porn and refuses to go to school.  But that’s his life not Wheelers.

At age 50 he is experiencing a monumental mid-life crisis working at repairing cameras (those that use film) when he was once a budding photographer.  Michael (Troy West) a man of a certain age, his boss, still lives with his mother, is suicidal in an amusing way and coverts the breasts of co-worker Anita (Caroline Neff) herself in recovery mode.

Wheeler is just moving into his new apartment in LINDA VISTA – San Diego California, as the play by Tracy Letts opens; being assisted by his squash buddy and longtime pal Paul (Jim True-Frost) who is married to Margaret (Sally Murphy) a long ago girl friend of Wheeler.

They worry for Wheeler and have set up a double/blind date in a Karaoke bar with Jules (Cora Vander Broek) a “life coach” who has her own set of problems yet has a Masters in Happiness.  LINDA VISTA runs just under three hours in two acts and worth every minute.

It is, at times, hysterical.  You will never see a more realistic and excruciatingly funny sex scene between Wheeler and Jules.  Beautifully and tastefully staged by director Dexter Bullard and Claire Warden (Intimacy Consultant) – who certainly knows her stuff.  Full frontal nudity for both participants.  If that isn’t enough to sell tickets then the play itself will do its best to give you something to laugh about and to think about.

IAN BARFORD is Wheeler, giving an honest and well rounded, first you love him then you hate him, no holds barred incredible performance.  With a hang dog look and a grumpy mid-life crisis attitude he runs away with this comedy.  Yes, this is an extremely funny play.  Yet truthful and moving with dialogue that is sharp and wise and caustic.  Covering everything from “foam” in restaurants to that orange monster who shall not be named to old movies and that old standby betrayal, Wheeler rants and raves with great comedic dead pan timing.  An Archie Bunker meets Jay Leno type of dude who prefers Wheeler over his first name which is Dick.

Into this mix arrives Minnie (Chantal Thuy) a 26 year old Vietnamese American with pink hair and red high-tops.  Wheeler meets her in a bar and as fate would have it she has seen him at his pool in the complex and arrives in the middle of the night (post-sex with Jules) as her boyfriend has beat her and she is pregnant and she has nowhere to go.  So our accommodating Dick invites her to stay…

Wisely Anita has refused to date this troubled Dick who is caught between his past and his future all the while having to deal with his present.  Serious and troubling stuff included.

The various locations are cinematically presented on the functional turntable set by Todd Rosenthal.  A panoramic view of Palm trees and a San Diego skyscape is truly a beautiful view.  Odd musical selections accompany the scene changes.  Appropriate costumes by Laura Bauer.

But it is the writing of Tracy Letts that wins the evening.  That and the terrific performance by Ian Barford strongly supported by all the other cast members.  A fine ensemble.  And oh, that sex scene!

A Steppenwolf production.  At Second Stage Theater.  The Helen Hayes Theater.  Highly recommended.  Through November 10th.

2hrs. 40 minutes.  One intermission

 

www.2st.com

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Photos: Joan Marcus

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THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM – intriguing and enigmatic

September 30th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Cue:  Ominous melancholy music.  Cue:  Soft light through kitchen window after last night’s storm – outside of Paris.  Cue:  Andre standing alone at the window; looking out.  Immobile.  Cue:  Daughter Anne enters speaking to her dad who is seemingly lost in his own thoughts.

Thus begins THE HEIGHT OF THE STORM by French playwright Florian Zeller – English translation by Christopher Hampton.

Starring Jonathan Pryce as Andre a renowned writer and Eileen Atkins as his wife Madeleine, who after 50 years of marriage has finally broken her vow and died before he did.  Or has she?  Unfortunately Andre is suffering from dementia and hand tremors.  Responses from Andre range from childlike laughter to anger to rage to tenderness to simple confusion to complete bafflement.

As one might very well be as the play continues back and forth from past to present revealing old relationships and secrets and some hard truths in its four segments totaling 80 intriguing minutes to its compassionate conclusion in the beautifully appointed French countryside kitchen by Anthony Ward who also supplied the appropriate costumes.  Somber music by Gary Yershon separates scenes.

Even the great detective Hercule Poirot might have had to use his grey cells overtime to figure out what actually is happening in this sometimes difficult to interpret, mysterious memory play.

They have two daughters that have come for the funeral and deal with the future.  Perhaps putting Andre in a home as he cannot take care of himself without his wife who could do so without any problem.

The favorite Anne (Amanda Drew) to organize Papa’s papers and locate his very private unpublished diary and the other one Elise (Lisa O’Hare) bouncing from beau to beau – the latest a Real Estate agent The Man (James Hillier) whose name is Paul.  The sister’s relationship is strained to say the least.

Mother is quite relieved when they have all gone.

Director Jonathan Kent along with Lighting Designer Hugh Vanstone have done an excellent job in helping to clarify the proceedings.  The past suddenly in our present and then back again.  New characters introduced – The Man (see above) and The Woman (Lucy Cohu) an old friend that Madeleine has met in the market and invited back for tea and a chat with Andre.  Unexpected results ensue.  With talk of poisonous mushrooms and the suicide of an old couple facing similar problems.

Dementia is difficult to deal with.  So is death.  But one must be prepared to deal with such things and to be strong enough to continue with the help of children and or friends.  It is strange what one discovers when a loved one dies and what secrets are revealed.  It’s not easy to digest.  Or understand.  Life is complicated.  Death, more so.  Florian Zeller explains in a most unusual and unconventional way.

Runs through November 17th.  Manhattan Theater Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 West 47th Street.  No intermission.

www.heightofthestorm.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

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BETRAYAL – IT TAKES 3 TO TANGO in this dance of duplicity

September 9th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Pinter can be puzzling.  Not so here, in this exceptional revival expertly directed by Mr. Jamie Lloyd.  Imported from across the pond with its original stars intact.  This is no snobbish import.  This is the real deal.  Great theater.  Anyone interested in seeing fine actors at work directed with sublime detail should race to the Bernie Jacobs Theatre.  Run ends December 8th.  Hurry.

Surreal.  A heightened reality.  Bare bones.  Stark.  No set to speak of.  Two chairs and a small table.  Some props.  Mostly booze.  The economical words of Pinter.  And his infamous pauses.  Allowing the actors to express inner thoughts with a nod, a smirk, a search for the right word, or a false laugh or waiting to see what the reaction will be or lack thereof.  One can almost hear their minds at work.  All brought together with a brand new rhythm created by director Jamie Lloyd.

From the opening tableau this sexual love triangle tango for three sets a slow, steady and seductive pace that transfixes the audience into complete silence.

The three main characters stay on stage throughout – one never out of the mind of the other two.  A silent and brooding presence.  Dishonesty, deception, inner hostilities and selfishness simmer to the surface.

These people are not nice.  Professional and smart.  Attractive on the surface.  But…

BETRAYAL starts in 1977 and ends at the beginning in 1968.  The affair has ended for some time when we meet Emma (free spirit Zawe Ashton) who runs an art gallery that is dark on Thursday that had enabled her to carry on an illicit five year tryst with Jerry (a hot Charlie Cox) a literary agent.  Jerry is the best mate of Emma’s husband Robert (a cold Tom Hiddleston) a bitter publisher who loves Yeats.  Jerry was Best Man at their wedding.  She is now with Casey (unseen) another writer that Jerry has discovered.  Children are involved.  Most distasteful.

Mr. Lloyd manages to bring out the dark humor especially with Jerry and a scene in an Italian restaurant with a waiter (an excellent Eddie Arnold) beset with serving Jerry and Robert but it is the hidden truths that emerge that are so horrible but so beautifully staged that is breathtaking.

This is their riveting, unsettling story.  No intermission.  No late seating.

Excellent subdued lighting by Jon Clark.  A moody, melancholy soundscape by Ben & Max Ringham.  Both making for seamless transitions between the nine scenes of this one act 90 minute revival.  Simple but apt costumes and set design by Soutra Gilmour.

The bar has been set quite high for the rest of the season.

A note about Yeats.  I did a bit of research.  He also had marital problems.  Dabbled in automatic writing and was “a symbolist poet – using allusive imagery and symbolic structures.  He chose words and assembled them so that, in addition to a particular meaning they suggest abstract thoughts that may seem more significant and resonant.”  Wikipedia.

www.betrayalonbroadway.com

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Photos:  Marc Brenner

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MOULIN ROUGE! The musical – The Bohemians are back

August 4th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Based on the 2001 controversial Baz Luhrmann music video styled movie MOULIN ROUGE! a new creative team has brought back its Bohemians of Montmartre circa 1899 with a vengeance – and mammoth budget – on stage – at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre – for two and a half plus pulsating, relentless hours searching for its own distinct style with over seventy, count ‘em seventy songs (of various length and importance) that the slew of over thirty five producers has seen fit to share with us.

There is a smorgasbord of styles for us to digest.  MOULIN ROUGE! is totally inconsistent under the direction of Alex Timbers.  Is it a true love story?  Is it a farce?  A tragedy?  Is it a tale told with tongue in highly rouged cheek or is it just a glitzy and glamorous extravaganza?  The answer is all of the above – with a wink!

The audience is allowed to take videos and photos pre-show.  And they all do.  To bring back as a souvenir, I suppose for the show itself will evaporate from one’s mind tout de suite.

The story is quite simple.  After all, all those songs have to fit in, in the allotted time frame.

An American would be composer, Christian (the handsome Aaron Tveit with his radiant smile and glorious voice albeit lackluster charisma) arrives in Paris.  As an outcast, he soon finds fellowship with Toulouse-Lautrec (Sahr Ngaujah – an extremely odd choice of casting) and a dancer from Argentina, Santiago (Ricky Rojas) – Les Trois Musketeers, sort of.

Lautrec is involved with a show at the MOULIN ROUGE run by a gay Master of Ceremony Harold Zidler (a hard working Danny Burstein with brightly painted fingernails) who has run out of francs and is looking for a new backer to back his star Satine (Karen Olivo – whose opening song brings down the house and lots of silver confetti and then rapidly loses her sizzle.

Christian falls hard for Satine.  Satine falls hard for the evil villain of the piece the wealthy Duke of Monroth (Tam Mutu – the only believable and sexy one of the group) who after seeing a rough run-through of a new show starring Satine, decides to own the show and Satine.  This is known as the romantic triangle.

For what it’s worth there is little to no chemistry between the two star-crossed lovers.  Perhaps because of the frenetic pacing (Where am I supposed to be now?)  or (having to focus on what part of which song byte am I singing?) both Tveit and Olivo appear to be concentrating on anything but each other.  Where is the smoldering, sexy, romantic love affair promised?

With “L’Amour” in bright red letters featured on the incredible Coney Island surround-set by Derek McLane and the elaborate/opulent costumes by Catherine Zuber with great lighting by Justin Townsend.

The ho-hum choreography is by Sonya Tayeh.

There are references to many other well-worn musicals:  CABARET, FOLLIES, RENT, LA BOHEME and PRETTY WOMAN.  With a dose of FOLIES BERGERE, AMERICAN IDOL and MY FAIR LADY.

Act II develops the show within this show through its tragic ending.  And finally ends with a coda of a Can-Can which brought me out of my stupor and had the audience standing for the curtain call and another song!

The real star of this production is Justin Levine – who has done a masterful job of incorporating all the songs and tidbits thereof.  Music supervisor, orchestrations, arrangements and additional lyrics.

Recently a man proposed to his lady after the show – which might very well start a trend like those love locks on one of the bridges of Paris.  Let’s hope that couple fares much better than our two alleged lovers of MOULIN ROUGE!  Bonne chance!

www.moulinrougemusical.com

2 hrs. 45 minutes one intermission

Photos:  Matt Murphy

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STONEWALL – 50 years later

June 28th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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In 1995 a demo cassette recording was produced by Al Lowman for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.  STONEWALL a new musical was composed by Robin Webb with book and lyrics by Michael Aman and Oscar E. Moore.

We are proud to share WALK HAND IN HAND with everyone celebrating the 50th anniversary of this “most romantic revolution of all time.”

WE’VE COME THIS FAR

TIME TO CONTINUE

TIME TO LIFT OUR VOICES WITHOUT FEAR

 

SO FAR TO GO

SHOW OUR DEFIANCE

WE ALL BELONG

 

WALK HAND IN HAND

WITH HOPE WITH PRIDE

TOGETHER WE’LL DECIDE OUR FUTURE

 

WALK HAND IN HAND

DON’T HATE,  DON’T HIDE

ONE DAY WE’LL CELEBRATE STONEWALL

 

Out of ignorance comes fear

Out of fear comes hate

Out of hate comes discrimination.

The pain of discrimination is still felt twenty-five years after that revolutionary night.

 

We must refuse to walk backwards.

We must stay unified.

Forceful.

Visible.

Proud.

It’s a matter of life and death.

Those who hate, hate all.

Fighting on behalf of all of us will ultimately lead to the liberation of all.

Someone’s gotta make it right.

We will.

 

WE’VE COME THIS FAR

SO FAR TO GO

TIME TO CONTINUE

SHOW OUR DEFIANCE

TIME TO LIFT OUR VOICES WITHOUT FEAR

TIME TO LIFT OUR VOICES WITHOUT FEAR

SO FAR TO GO

WE ALL BELONG

SHOW OUR DEFIANCE

WE ALL BELONG

TOGETHER STANDING STRONG

 

WALK HAND IN HAND

WITH HOPE WITH PRIDE

TOGETHER WE’LL DECIDE OUR FUTURE

WALK HAND IN HAND

DON’T HATE DON’T HIDE

ONE DAY WE’LL CELEBRATE STONEWALL

 

ONE DAY WE’LL STAND

ONE DAY HAND IN HAND

ONE DAY WE’LL CELEBRATE

STONEWALL

STONEWALL

STONEWALL

Photo:  Shutterstock

click to hear WALK HAND IN HAND

https://soundcloud.com/m-jay-nyc/gay-anthem-lyrics-oscar-e-moore

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FRANKIE & JOHNNY in the CLAIR de LUNE – Taking a chance on love

June 1st, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Some believe in love (or is it lust?) at first sight and others do not.  So, why not take a chance on love?  One never knows.  For skeptical Frankie (Audra McDonald) a middle-aged actress with a tough veneer turned waitress (to earn a living) it isn’t so easy.  For Johnny, a charming, persistent short order cook who works in the same Greek greasy spoon and can quote Shakespeare (sort of) it’s a no brainer. He is hooked immediately.  He knows for sure.  She doesn’t.

He only has eyes for her.  She has noticed his sexy wrists.  He has noticed how kind she is to an elderly man with a cane who comes every day at the same time and couldn’t help but notice her prominent, shapely breasts.  And so here they are.  After a date that has taken some time to arrive.  Connecting.  Circa 1987.  Naked.  In bed.

Two unique and unforgettable characters brought together by who knows what.  Circumstances?  Physical attraction?  Loneliness?  Fate?  Or the full moon that shines through a window of Frankie’s walk up apartment in Hell’s Kitchen on the West Side of Manhattan where Bach’s Goldberg Variations is softly playing on the radio as these two characters toss and tumble in the darkness having wild, uninhibited, uncontrollable, audible sex; their nakedness blurred by the soft lighting by Natasha Katz and the spellbinding claire de lune.

It’s a raw and romantic evening.  Full of disclosures and discoveries.  And coincidences.  A master class in acting and directing.  Honest and extremely amusing dialogue supplied by Terrence McNally in this superb revival of FRANKIE & JOHNNY in the CLAIRE de LUNE originally produced by The Manhattan Theatre Club in 1987.

The guarded Frankie doesn’t quite know what to make of Johnny.  No sooner have they done it that he is talking marriage and kids.  She is just plain hungry.  Promising to make meat loaf sandwiches if he will soon after leave.  And thus we get to know them both, slowly revealing their deep rooted selves.  Including some very blunt sexual references that are very amusing.  The Great Dane story for one.

We are voyeurs.  Intruding into their lives courtesy of Mr. McNally.  It’s a pleasure to watch them develop before our eyes.  Listening to their back and forth banter.  And remembering that one could call into an all-night radio station and make a request “for the most beautiful music ever written” and have your wish granted.

See this wonderful production and don’t be afraid to take a chance on love whenever it may unexpectedly appear.

Finely directed by Arin Arbus on, at first look, a too large set by Riccardo Hernandez for this intimate examination of Frankie and Johnny.  However the terrific acting by Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon more than adequately fill the space with their talent to unearth their character’s desires.  We wish them well.

2 hours 15 minutes one intermission.  Broadhurst Theatre.  Limited 16 weeks engagement through August 25th.

www.frankieandjohnnybroadway.com

Photos:  Deen van Meer

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HILLARY AND CLINTON – The art of the almost deal behind closed doors

May 8th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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A momentous moment in the life of Hillary (Laurie Metcalf) – January 8, 2008.  New Hampshire Democratic Primary.  Also for Clinton (John Lithgow) and Mark (Zak Orth), campaign manager for Hillary’s run for President against her rival Barack (Peter Francis James).  Last but not least the United States of America.  It’s cold.  A coldness that also permeates HILLARY AND CLINTON’s imagined private relationship in this peek behind closed doors.

Captured by Lucas Hnath, an original thinking out of the box playwright.  Master of terrific dialogue, conflict, humor and setups.  Character studies that reveal the essence of the characters without imitating real life.

As we are informed by a wanting-to-win Laurie Metcalf as she steps up to a free standing microphone that someone somehow forgot to place a mic (a bit of theatricality here) so that she goes and gets one to give as a bit of bizarre, almost twilight zone setup – that there are infinite universes and that the Hillary in this play although named Hillary is a Hillary in an alternate universe although she sounds a lot like the Hillary that shares her life with the ex-President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

She then switches on the lights and we are in a cube of a hotel room (Chloe Lamford) where we will see the before Act I straight into the Act II goings on between the participants with a black backdrop that accentuates the characters as they enact the tactics that went into her run for the presidency to finally emerge from the shadow of her man Bill.

Bill the charmer who wants to be in charge.  As usual.  After Mark warns Hillary not to call him.  She does.  She needs funding.  Funds that Bill has plenty of but they will come with certain conditions.  He is at odds with Mark.  Hillary is confused and exasperated and fed up with having to deal with Bill but you know how it is when you can’t live with someone and you can’t live without that same someone…

Before the results she is ready to accept an offer from Barack.  After she unexpectedly wins she gives Barack a counter offer.  It’s the first time we see her smile.  The first time we see the personality she need to summon to win.

Well, we all know what happened.  But it is the fine acting of all that keeps us enthralled and the expert craftsmanship of the playwright that holds our attention.

There is no intermission.  It runs an hour and a half.  Just right.

It is finely directed and coached by Joe Mantello – he who is a fine actor himself.  Taking the time.  A look.  A pause.  Or do nothing.  Details that make all the difference in this universe or any other.

It’s bizarre seeing Hillary prone of the floor as Bill and Mark go at each other as if she is the net in a tennis match.

There isn’t much meat on the bones here but what meat there is, it is fun to chew on and completely digestible in this most original theatrical exercise.

Their coldness thaws a bit towards tenderness.  Feigned or not, they remain together in this other imagined universe at the Golden Theatre through July 21, 2019

Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

www.hillaryandclintonbroadway.com

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GARY A SEQUEL TO TITUS ANDRONICUS – Blood, guts and a bucket full of belly laughs

May 6th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Titus who?  General Titus Andronicus was a fictional character in Shakespeare’s first and only fictional revenge tragedy that takes place during the fall of the Roman Empire.  He returns from battle only to discover that most of his sons have been slaughtered.  And just about everyone else.  The bloody battles might be over but the bodies have been piling up in the streets and must be disposed of.

Enter Taylor Mac an intensely intelligent playwright with a wicked sense of dark humor who takes up where Titus left off with three clowns and a massive pile of make-believe life size cabbage patch doll-like casualties of war with a slew of body parts: arms, legs, decapitated heads and the almighty Roman schlongs now flaccid, who relate in a low-brow comedic style – think Marx brothers – the consequences of what has happened and what might follow.

In 90 minutes.  Give or take how many laughs pile up during the performance.  And there are many.

First up is Carol a midwife, not rich; not poor but somewhere in the middle who has had her throat slashed.  This zany midwife, who carries a great guilt as she couldn’t save a baby, is portrayed by the inimitable Julie White in full comic command.  She fills us in in front of the blood red and gold show curtain while blood spurts from either side of her neck splashing her hands and stage with the rose colored liquid.

There has been a massacre.  She has only been fatally wounded.  We discover that the baby belonged to Lavina, the daughter of Titus (remember him?) had with Aaron the Moor (I have had some help from Wikipedia) and the curtain rises on all those bodies with Janice (Kristine Nielsen) a no-nonsense maid that no one ever noticed in all her spastic glory is tending the pile and mopping up Carol’s blood as her new assistant Gary arrives with more bodies and a Cockney accent.

As a mere clown he has been upgraded “maid” with the hope of becoming a fool.  For only a fool can save the world.  He’s the optimist.

Gary was a minor character in Titus – a “cameo” but a clown nonetheless and here Nathan Lane can be crowned Prince of Clowns with his incredible performance.

The stage is set and what follows is hysterical, gross, instructional (prepping the bodies – ridding the bodies of left over cadaver gasses and bodily fluids) a mad hatter tea party (that detours into territory that attempts to sustain the momentum of the play, here and there a fart or two, a very unexpected and surprising finale and some very serious issues snuck in between all the tomfoolery which enacted by any other clowns would not be as successful.

The play, as it turns out, is very serious highbrow stuff disguised in rhyming couplets and very funny dialogue.  Gussied up in the guise of low comedy.  It works until it gets repetitive and begins to run out of gas.

The woman and children corpses are covered up.  The men exposed for what they are.  Gary and Carol tend to only the men for as Carol states –“There has never been a female Emperor and so the men must be held responsible” – or something like that.  It’s just another rough day on the job, cleaning up the mess that those in power have created.

Briskly and slyly directed by George C. Wolfe with movement by Bill Irwin.  Set by Santo Loquasto with costumes by Ann Roth.

If this sounds like your cup of tea by all means go and partake in all the lunacy onstage at the BOOTH THEATRE.  I rather enjoyed it.

www.garyonbroadway.com

Photos:  Julieta Cervantes

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TOOTSIE is FAB-U-LOUS – manna from musical comedy heaven

May 3rd, 2019 by Oscar E Moore
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Breaking News:  Hot on the heels of receiving 11 Tony Award Nominations TOOTSIES’ Dorothy Michaels aka Michael Dorsey is basking in the glow of her newly found stardom, quickly becoming the toast of Broadway and the hinterlands of New Jersey and tristate area where patrons are flocking into Manhattan (despite the new higher tolls) to see this newly discovered star.

They are willing to do just about anything and will probably have to, to get to see this phenomenal, fabulous star-is-just-born sensation who is the cause of a what has been hailed as “a tsunami of out of control laughter” from those lucky enough to catch her performance.

Tourists are warned that tickets are “mighty tough” to come by and to scoop them up ASAP to see TOOTSIE.  That is the title of her hysterically funny musical comedy.  Dorothy Michaels (which she prefers to be called) stars in this star vehicle that has just opened at the appropriately named Marquis theatre where Dorothy Michaels has been anointed its new Queen.  Respectfully, Michael Dorsey has been appointed new King in residence for what seems to be a “mighty long reign” according to close sources related to the production.

If it is possible to get double Tony Awards for portraying Dorothy Michaels and Michael Dorsey then Santino Fontana should be the one to get them.

Based on the hit 1982 film certain adjustments have been incorporated into the story of a 40 year old downtrodden, unsuccessful actor Michael Dorsey whom no one particularly likes, including casting directors, writers and producers.  Not the best recipe for success for an actor.

So with the help of a pair of falsies and a pair of glasses, a wig and a pair of sensible pumps Michael has the courage and gumption to audition for the very same director who previously threw him out as Dorothy Michaels.  And faster than you can say William Ivey Long – Voila!  A star is born.

Starring in a musical version of Romeo and Juliet, sort of.  It’s called “Juliet’s Curse.” But not for long.  Everyone is so smitten with Dorothy that it is soon retitled “Juliet’s Nurse” giving director Scott Ellis ample opportunity to lampoon musical theater’s auditions, rehearsals, wealthy producer Rita Marshall (Julie Halston), agent Stan Fields (Michael McGrath), choreographer cum director Ron Carlisle (Reg Rogers), a tall, lithe and hunky guy Max Von Horn (John Behlmann) with a minimum of talent but maximum abs hot off his win on Race to Bachelor Island and what goes on backstage leading up to the eventual, eventful opening night.

The book by Robert Horn is absolutely to die for – from laughing.  Not since THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG have I laughed so much, so hard, so often.  And TOOTSIE has songs.  Songs by David Yazbek.  Songs with very clever lyrics (almost patter songs) with tunes that fit in just right moving everything swiftly along.  To wit MAX’s heartfelt adoration song to Dorothy “This Thing” that is a showstopper.

Speaking of which.  I was fortunate enough to see TOOTSIE the night the Tony Award Nominations were released when a once in a lifetime moment occurred.  There is a point in Act II where Michael’s agent discovers the sham and says to him that he had heard that Dorothy was being considered for a nomination for a Tony and he was ready to vote for her until…Well, the audience erupted into SPONTANEOUS, LOUD AND PROLONGED APPLAUSE.  I HAD NEVER EXPERIENCED THE LIKES BEFORE.  It was real life stopping the make-believe life of the show.  Santino Fontana reacted in character and it was at least five minutes before the show could continue.  Bravo! Or should it be Brava!?

Here I will mention the other wonderful cast members:  Michael’s writer friend and roommate Jeff Slater (a terrific Andy Grotelueschen) in on the scheme, Sandy Lester (Sarah Stiles) a constantly depressed actress who’s song is repeated three times to great effect (“What’s Gonna Happen”) and Lili Cooper as Julie Nichols the Juliet of the show within the show whom Dorothy falls head over heels for as Michael and where Max falls head over heels for Dorothy and Sandy falls for…JUST SEE THE SHOW!

Costumes by William Ivey Long are perfect as usual.  Quick changes are incredible.  Along with set design David Rockwell, Lighting (Donald Holder), Hair and wig design (Paul Huntley), inspired choreography by Denis Jones and finally the sound design Brian Ronan – music to my ears.

Dorothy Michaels sings “I Won’t Let You Down.”  And she doesn’t.  None of them do.  It’s a tour de force production that will have the producers laughing all the way to the you-know where.

Bless all the creative people who have met with obstacles along the way to success and have overcome them with great ingenuity.  Dorothy Michaels being a prime example.  Long may she reign!

Be sure to pick up your 8×10 glossy autographed head shot of the unstoppable Dorothy upon leaving the Marquis! Something to remember her by, although you won’t soon forget her.

2 hours 30 minutes.  One intermission

www.tootsiemusical.com

Photos:  Matthew Murphy

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