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Technicolor Fabulous: ‘Bright Colors and Bold Patterns’

December 23rd, 2016 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

Drew Droege in 'Bright Colors and Bold Patterns.' (Photo: Russ Rowland via The Broadway Blog.)

Drew Droege in ‘Bright Colors and Bold Patterns.’ (Photo: Russ Rowland via The Broadway Blog.)

For years, entertainment has often portrayed homosexuals as effeminate, self-loathing individuals who are well versed in pop culture, quick-witted, and way over the top. Some might argue that this same stereotype is being perpetuated in the solo play Bright Colors and Bold PatternsOn the surface, they may be right. But stick with this 80-minute monologue and by the end, you may discover some surprising truths about yourself and your world views, thanks to Drew Droege’s beautifully crafted script and Michael Urie’s wise direction.

Droege, who also stars in the comedy, is best known for his hugely popular impersonations of actor Chloe Sevigny. After watching an interview in which Sevigny nonchalantly name checked and spouted obscure references, Droege’s fascination led to a series of online videos.

His riff on Sevigny might well have been a precursor to the character he plays here. Gerry (Droege), a thirty-something brash and boozy pop-culture authority has just arrived to a decked out Palm Springs home (tastefully designed by Dara Wishingrad) from Los Angeles. He’s there for the wedding of his close friend Josh and Josh’s fiancé, Brennan, who Gerry dismisses as a dull figure and refers to as “mayonnaise on a captain’s wafer.”

Drew Droege (Photo: Russ Rowland via The Broadway Blog.)

Drew Droege (Photo: Russ Rowland via The Broadway Blog.)

Gerry is one of the first guests to arrive at the posh palace and is met by his ex-boyfriend Dwayne, and Dwayne’s significantly younger boyfriend, Mac. Neither is seen, but Droege’s masterful conversations with them bring the pair vividly to life. It’s not long before Gerry pours himself a frozen margarita and starts to dish on nearly everything and everyone that pops into his head.

Gerry has absolutely no filter and speaks at lightning speed mostly due to his abundant consumption of alcohol and cocaine. He’s particularly irritated by his friends’ wedding invitation discouraging guests from wearing “bright colors and bold patterns,” which he perceives as an affront to gayness. Gerry’s life mantra seems to be “go big or go home” and he has little patience for anyone who doesn’t interact in the world and live loud.

He continues to ramble on, citing references from Steel MagnoliasDesigning Women, obscure Lifetime television movies, and fashion designers. At times he meanders off topic but that is when the show is at his funniest. Gerry’s quips are razor sharp and Droege’s mannerisms and expressions are single-handedly worth the price of a ticket.

I’ve always believed that the term “tour de force” to describe a performance is pretentious and perhaps, it is. Yet there seems to be no better phrase to define Droege’s capacity to captivate and keep his audience fully engaged from beginning to end.

Gay marriage is the essence and thread of Gerry’s diatribe and he wonders whether the newly acquired right will force the gay community into a state of normalcy. It’s been hard for him to sustain a long-term relationship in spite of the proclamation to his fellow guests that he and his boyfriend, Greg, have been fighting. The problem is that Greg isn’t really his boyfriend; he’s a restaurant employee at the Veggie Grille in Los Angeles and Gerry is pining for his affection

It would be easy to dismiss Gerry as a caustic, bitter queen with a substance abuse issue and deep disdain for humanity. At times, I did feel uneasy about his blatant cocaine use and initially found him grating. Yet Droege is careful not to make his character a one-dimensional, shallow soul. In the show’s quieter moments, he’s able to poke a hole through Gerry’s false confidence, revealing a vulnerable, thoughtful guy who is trying to make sense of it all while he lives his life with wild abandon. Droege’s message: We’re not always fabulous, nor are we permanently flawed. We’re an alchemy of it all because we’re wonderfully human.

Here’s what other critics had to say:

“Plays do not get much gayer than ‘Bright Colors,’ a spiffy production directed by Michael Urie.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

“At an easy, breezy 70 minutes, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns doesn’t ask too much of our time while offering a surefire laugh.” — Zachary Stewart, Theatermania

“Gerry guards old wounds of exclusion and heartbreak, dating back decades, that have made him the spiny puffer he is today, inflated with prickly defenses. That’s what gives Droege’s show a poignancy beyond its hilarity. Gerry’s hard-won pride now rains on his parade.” — Adam Feldman, Time Out NY 

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns 
Barrow Street Theatre
27 Barrow Street, NYC
Through December 30

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

“Buyer and Cellar” Star Michael Urie Talks Babs & Betty

July 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Michael Urie in "Buyer and Cellar". Photo by Sandra Coudert.

Michael Urie in “Buyer and Cellar”. Photo by Sandra Coudert.

Michael Urie is a diva. Or at least he plays a diva, among many other characters, in the critically-acclaimed one-man show Buyer and Cellar.

Though perhaps best known for his slyly camp work on television’s Ugly Betty, Urie is a Julliard-trained actor who has sought out complex work on the New York stage like The Temperamentals and Angels in America. He’s got another theatrical hit on his hands with Buyer and Cellar, now settling into an extended run at the Barrow Street Theatre after premiering at the Rattlestick in April.

Hilarious, inventive and surprisingly touching, Jonathan Tolins’ play follows out-of-work actor Alex as he takes on his latest, only-in-LA temp job: a “shopkeeper” at the faux mall in Barbra Streisand’s basement. The play is fiction; Streisand’s Main Street USA cellar of shoppes to showcase her collectables is not. Tolins manages to mine this nugget of real absurdity to find something insightful to say about celebrity, perfection and loneliness. He’s helped immeasurably by the warmth and skill of Urie’s performance, as he toggles between multiple characters, including Ms. Streisand herself.

I recently had the chance to catch up with Urie in his makeshift dressing room beneath the Barrow Street stage, who is as crush-worthy in person as he is on stage.

Take the leap for Urie’s tales of Babs, being an out gay actor and the unmistakeable scent of Vanessa Williams.

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Woof! Broadway Barks Takes Over Shubert Alley

July 17th, 2013 Comments off
 The Jersey Boys opened the Broadway Barks celebrity presentations with the hit song, Beggin which had Bernadette Peters beggin for more! (photo: Mica Ringo, www.thedogphotographer.com)

The Jersey Boys opened the Broadway Barks celebrity presentations with the hit song, Beggin which had Bernadette Peters beggin for more! (photo: Mica Ringo, www.thedogphotographer.com)

Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters hosted the 15th annual Broadway Barks! this past Saturday — a star-studded dog and cat adoption event benefiting New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies. Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, sponsored by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and additional sponsorship by the New York Times, Barks! took over Shubert Alley in the heart of the Broadway Theater District.

Michael Urie holding a long haired Chihuahua puppy who is up for adoption with its liter mates at Animal Haven.  (photo: Mica Ringo, www.thedogphotographer.com)

Michael Urie holding a long haired Chihuahua puppy who is up for adoption with its liter mates at Animal Haven. (photo: Mica Ringo, www.thedogphotographer.com)

Marking its 15th anniversary of the organization, Broadway Barks! once again helped hundreds of New York City’s shelter animals find permanent homes by informing New Yorkers about the plight of the thousands of homeless dogs and cats in the metropolitan area. The actual number of pets adopted is still being formulated due to the rigorous review process to ensure that all of Broadway’s four-legged friends find themselves placed in suitable homes.

The ASPCA is proud to sponsor Broadway Barks as it celebrates 15 years of showcasing rescued cats and dogs,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “This event clearly highlights the joys that animals have to offer, but it’s important that we not forget the larger issue of animal homelessness in this city, where thousands of animals are still at risk each year. This event reminds potential pet owners to make pet adoption their first option.”

“Since 2003, the lives of more than 237,000 dogs and cats have been saved through the combined efforts of the Alliance Participating Organizations, many of which, including Animal Care & Control of NYC, have participated in Broadway Barks over the years,” says Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. “This spirit of a collaborative community, manifested so clearly in Broadway Barks!, is moving us closer to the day when no New York City dog or cat of reasonable health and temperament will be killed simply because we do not have a home for them. We congratulate Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore for 15 brilliant years of saving lives through Broadway Barks!”

If you missed the event (or didn’t bid high enough to snag your favorite pooch), you can still order a Broadway Barks 2014 Calendar online by clicking here.

Bill Berloni, Lilla Crawford, and Jane Lynch (cast of "Annie") presenting adoptable dogs from the Humane Society of New York. (photo: Mica Ringo, www.thedogphotographer.com)

Bill Berloni, Lilla Crawford, and Jane Lynch (cast of “Annie”) presenting adoptable dogs from the Humane Society of New York. (photo: Mica Ringo, www.thedogphotographer.com)

Broadway Beauty Pageant Raises $50,000 for Ali Forney Center

May 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Orion Griffiths (Mr. “Pippin), winner of the Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The competition was stiff in more ways than one. Orion Griffiths, Mr. Pippin, was crowned as the winner of the sold out, seventh annual Broadway Beauty Pageant held Monday evening at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

The event raised over $50,000 to benefit the Ali Forney Center, which provides shelter to homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

The evening featured Callan Bergmann (Silence! The Musical), Julius C. Carter (SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark), Yurel Echezarreta (Matilda), Matthew Goodrich (The Nance), Orion Griffiths (Pippin), and Paul HeeSang Miller (Mamma Mia!). Nathan Lee Graham (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) also performed.

Each of the contestants went head to head in front of a panel of celebrity judges, but ultimately, the final vote was the hands of the audience.

Judges Andrea Martin (Pippin), Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), and Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar) kept the laughs coming but it was four-time Tony nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning actress Tovah Feldshuh that truly shined as the evening’s host. With a deep passion for the Ali Forney Center, appreciation for all of the performers hard work and a slew of foul-mouthed jokes, Felshuh deserved a crown of her own by the end of the night.

Host Tovah Feldshuh (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.

Given the alarming number of gay-related hate crimes plaguing New York City over the past weeks, it is more evident than ever that LGBT youth need a safe place to call home. Click Here to see how you can get involved.

The contestants of the Seventh Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

Judges (l to r) Michael Urie, Andrea Martin and Billy Porter. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The Sexy Men of the 7th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant

May 14th, 2013 Comments off
Contestants from The Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Matthew Murphy)

Thankfully Donald Trump has no part in the seventh annual Broadway Beauty Pageant, a benefit for New York’s Ali Forney Center. Instead, you can count on some of the hunkiest men of Broadway participating in talent, interview and yes – swimsuit competition.

We got our hands on some sexy preview photos of this year’s participants, which include Callan Bergmann (Silence! The Musical), Julius C. Carter (SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark), Yurel Echezarreta (Matilda The Musical), Matthew Goodrich (The Nance), Orion Griffiths (Pippin), and Paul HeeSang Miller (Mamma Mia!).

Four-time Tony nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning actress Tovah Feldshuh will host the event as contestants go head to head in front of a panel of celebrity judges, but ultimately, the final vote is in the audience’s hands. Andrea Martin (Pippin), Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), and Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar) have been tapped to judge the event.

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

The Broadway Beauty Pageant will take place on Monday evening, May 20 at 8:00p.m. at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

CLICK HERE for tickets.

Tickets range from $25 – $150. All VIP tickets include a pre and post-show VIP cocktail reception, gift bag, and premier seating.

(clockwise from top left) Julius C. Carter, Matthew Goodrich, Orion Griffiths, Yurel Echezarreta, Paul HeeSang Miller (not pictured: Callan Bergmann). Photos: Matthew Murphy

Want more than a taste? Take the jump for a preview video…
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