Every third Wednesday (hump day of the hump week), a fabulous actor/singer/dancer currently on Broadway will fill out my nosey little questionnaire and offer a glimpse of what they look like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. Mr. June has romanced one of The Gilmore Girls, shown his Full Monty, and lit up The Light in the Piazza. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet…
The best part of the show I’m in now is… the response from the audiences, no matter their age, gender, background, sexual orientation, has been overwhelmingly thankful and supportive and moved unlike any other play I’ve ever done.
The most challenging job in show business I ever had was… When I was a kid, I worked at a theme park in Nashville. In the summer. Outdoors. Singing and dancing in mind-numbing heat was exhausting.
If I wasn’t an actor, I would be… A farmer or a rancher. Or a motivator of some kind.
Pick a Stewart: Jon, Rod or Martha? Jon and Rod. They both contribute immensely.
The best post-show cocktail in town is at…Joe Allen. It’s Wine. I’m a traditionalist.
What do you do after you’ve been nominate for your first Oscar and the world is at your feet? Head to Off-Broadway. Or at least that’s what Jessie Eisenberg (The Social Network) is doing this fall. He will star in his self-penned play Asuncion, produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater starting October 12.
The producers of the acclaimed revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart are offering a special, one-night-only discount to younger audience members for this Thursday night’s performance. Theatergoers born in 1980 or after can purchase tickets from the box office for just $30. In addition, there will be an exclusive talk-back after the show featuring cast members (hosted by NY1’s theatre producer and reporter Frank DiLellaand Playbill Magazine editor-in-chief Blake Ross), focusing on the impact of the AIDS crisis and those who may not be as aware of the history.
The offer follows a volatile give and take between the always-incendiary Larry Kramer and young gay rights activists over comments Kramer has made about the apathy of subsequent generations of gay men. At times, the response has been just as fiery but it is exactly Kramer’s ability to incite people into action that makes him and his play indispensable. This evening promises to be an amazing chance for constructive dialogue and, just as importantly, a way to engage younger patrons who may not be able to afford Broadway prices but would love the chance to see one of the best productions of the year.
As a revival of Larry Kramer’s fiery The Normal Heart rages on Broadway, a personal storm over the film version of the play has been blazing through the headlines as well. This past weekend, Entertainment Weekly filed a report detailing Kramer’s accusations that Barbra Streisand held the rights to direct a movie of his play for a decade but, because she was unhappy with his screenplay, it was never made. He suggested that the legendary singer/actress/director wanted the script rewritten to pump up her role and marginalize the gay characters.
“I’ve endured Larry Kramer’s outbursts in the past, not wishing to dignify them with a response. But at a time when we are all pulling together to achieve such giant steps toward gay equality, it is anguishing to me to have my devotion to this cause so distorted.”
People who need people, indeed.
Fear not; a film version of the drama about the early days of the AIDS crisis is still being talked about given the universal acclaim and Tony nods for the Broadway revival–with Babs involved as an actress. An update to the ew.com report states, “The Oscar winner says she would consider playing Brookner [a fictionalized version of Dr. Linda Laubenstein, a physician who saw some of the earliest HIV cases in New York's gay community] in Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s planned adaptation starring Mark Ruffalo.”
Larry Kramer’s flame-throwing, autobiographical play about the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City gets a starry revival directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe.
“More than a quarter of a century after it first scorched New York, “The Normal Heart” is breathing fire again.” New York Times
“It’s a snapshot of a city and era that feel long gone, and this production, co-directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, gives it a worthy frame.” New York Post
“…this is a spectacularly well-cast production in which every role has found its ideal interpreter.” Hollywood Reporter
“How does it hold up? Better than I expected, but not as well as I’d hoped.” Wall Street Journal
Mizer’s Two Cents: This is passionate, essential theater brought to life by top-tier actors working as a perfect ensemble. Larry Kramer can be a real pill and Joe Mantello’s central performance as Kramer’s stand-in Ned Weeks doesn’t shy away from the loud and off-putting aspects of the character, but he also manages to let us see the insecure, romantic beneath. John Benjamin Hickey is the key, allowing us to fall in love with Larry through his smart, unsentimental eyes. Yes, the play is political, lopsided and “sad;” but it is also timely, scathingly funny and stuffed with spoken arias that ring show-stopping applause from the audience. Plus, you walk out of the theater feeling like you want to kick some butt. It is unmissable for all serious, adult theatergoers.
They say it’s better to give than receive. Well, how about doing a little of both with Priscilla Queen of the Desert‘s impossibly buff and impishly charming Nick Adams? Mr. Adams is raising money for this year’s AIDS walk New York by offering himself–as guide for a backstage tour–to anyone who bids $500 or more. There’s probably another couple bawdy jokes to be made about what you get to see on the tour, but I promise to rise above out of respect for the great cause he’s supporting. Judging by the photo, Nick, however, doesn’t seem to need any further support. (Well, that promise lasted half a sentence.)
In fact, from Mr. Adams’s generous offer to Larry Kramer’s pamphlet passing after performances of The Normal Heart ( as well as Broadway Bares fundraisers and Broadway Impact‘s grassroots organizing for marriage equality), there has been a vibrant cross-pollination between the theater world and LGBT activism of late. Two related stories recently caught my attention:
Extra! Extra! I’ve got my little newsboy cap on today (and darned if it’s not fetching) with a trio of headline making theater stories. Perhaps I should audition for the upcoming Paper Mill Playhouse adaptation of the film Newsies–with a new book by Harvey Fierstein, fascinatingly enough. If they put some filters on the lights, I could look dewy fresh and yet still hungry and hardscrabble enough. But I digress. Let’s get to the scoop:
The Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which I raved about after seeing it at Arena Stage in D.C., is headed for Broadway with its entire original cast, including Amy Morton and Tracy Letts. Don’t start lining up for tickets, though; it’s not scheduled to hit the boards until October 13, 2012, exactly 50 years after the play’s original Broadway opening. Look at it this way, you’ve got something to look forward to next year other than the Mayan-predicted end of the world.
Speaking of the grim reaper (I’m on fire today), Roundabout announced the full company for their upcoming world premiere of Death Take a Holiday, a new musical with book by Peter Stone (1776) & Thomas Meehan (Annie), music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Nine). Previews begin June
Image via Google.
10 with a cast that includes some seasoned Broadway pros like Rebecca Luker (Mary Poppins), Simon Jones (The Real Thing), Matt Cavenaugh (West Side Story), Jill Paice (Curtains) and Max Von Essen (the recent revival of Hello Again). Sounds like something worth living for.
The intel on a new musical headed for the West End called Viva Forever reads like one of those good news/bad news situations, but darned if I can tell which is which. Make up your own mind as I tick off the players. It’s a jukebox musical featuring the music of The Spice Girls; written by Jennifer Saunders, the genius behind Absolutely Fabulous; produced by Judy Craymer, the mastermind behind Mamma Mia; and (per a recent press release) to be directed by Marianne Elliot, co-director of the gorgeously staged, current Broadway smash War Horse. Would you pay to see a 10-foot tall, Victoria Beckham puppet wearing some Lacroix, Sweetie?
A final note: The star-studded revival of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s scorching manifesto about the beginnings of the AIDS crisis, opened last night on Broadway. I’ll have coverage of the reviews and my full response next week in the “See or Not to See” column, but until then let me say that it is frighteningly timely and overflowing with passionate performances. While I’ve heard some people question its dramaturgical merits, the play feels absolutely necessary; it is a voice crying out to be heard. Now it will be heard, loud and clear.