I was there. Thursday July 9th, the night after the “snatching of the cellphone scandal” when Patti LuPone strode on stage before the start of the ill-fated SHOWS FOR DAYS enunciating clearly “Anything you want to ask me?” to thunderous applause and whoops and whistles from her loyal fans regarding said incident. More applause and shouts of approval after her short but intense curtain speech.
Then the show officially began. The delightful, adorable and downright huggable Michael Urie arrived on the prop infested stage of The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center as “Car” the alter ego of playwright Douglas Carter Beane in this quasi semi-autobiographical stillborn opus in an OUR TOWN like presentation as he sets up the piece.
He will be our narrator. And furniture mover. Looking back fondly through lavender tinted glasses. Removing said glasses he becomes the fourteen year old (this is not a typo yes he is supposed to be a fourteen year old naïve/precocious youth – use your imagination – who has fallen upon this amateur acting troupe in Reading PA. – 1973.
William Ivey Long has hit the target dead center with his tasteless and tacky costumes of that tacky and tasteless era. He must have been watching re-runs of The Match Game for inspiration.
Back to the play. Or whatever. It’s directed with an extremely heavy hand by Jerry Zaks who attempts to find and highlight whatever humor lies lurking in the script. He’s still looking.
Patti LuPone is the star diva Irene who runs the show. Married to a husband we never see. Taking her meds when needed that we do see. Often. She’s your typical diva queen that typical theater queens adore. No matter what. She could just stand there and ask a simple question like “Anything you want to ask me?” and they’ll go wild. Simply wild.
Her troupe includes Maria (Zoe Winters) the ingénue. The young leading man Damien (Jordan Dean – Mr. AC/DC), the bull dyke stage manager Sid (Dale Soules) and Clive (Lance Coadie Williams – the black and gay older leading man) with a voice suited to portray Othello or Captain Hook. Irene is an equal opportunity employer.
All the characters are one dimensional. Sketchy. And at times deliver their “jokes” straight out. You can almost hear the cymbals clash as an exclamation point. What you will hear – often – is the sound of the wrecking ball – destroying the theater that Irene is trying to save – even going so far as to blackmail – to get what she wants – an official not-for-profit theater!
We get the history of Reading and its environs. Their local reviews. Their attempt to lure in subscribers. Their rival company. Costumes from their production of Peter Pan. And the sexual awakening and initiation to the act (behind a screen – use your imagination) between Car and Damien who has also been doing the deed with Irene. When you remember that Car is all of fourteen – jail bait – funny somehow doesn’t come to mind.
Perhaps that infamous cellphone offender was texting the box office demanding a refund.
For the record I am all for the banning of cellphones during performance.
Even after Ms. LuPone’s speech and widespread brouhaha over said incident don’t you think late in Act II I heard that all too familiar ring tone nearby that was quickly shut down before Patti could muster the militia. Imagine that if you will!
Photos: Joan Marcus
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