NY Mirror

The warmest show in town, A Class Act has ridden to a larger theater on a wave of oomph and goodwill—and that's coming from the Grinch that stole Broadway. The musical uses undeservedly obscure Ed Kleban songs to help tell Kleban's story, with numbers springing out of events in the oddball songwriter's frustrated life. (After he became fabulously famous for A Chorus Line's lyrics, his career stalled, partly due to his own intransigence, but in the process he learned the value of doing and loving, tra la.) The effect is moving, voyeuristic, educational (you find out what a "charm song" is), and warts-and-all. In fact, Kleban was apparently a total nightmare, but one you end up wanting to take home with you. He'd love the fact that A Class Actproves to be the ultimate charm song!

At the opening-night party at Tavern on the Green, Lonny Price—who cowrote, directed, and stars as Kleban—told me that his doing all that at once "was hell—and hardest on the cast. I felt bad for them." (I didn't; they were all eating free food and being photographed at the moment.) In between flashes, fierce new cast member Sara Ramirezadmitted they changed her character Felicia's last name in the transition to Broadway. "It was Lipshitz," she said. "That wasn't an issue with me. But then they said, 'Make up your own last name,' so I named her De La Luz Flores for my grandmother." Felicia Lipshitz De La Luz Flores? It screams out for a Mellencamp.

The newest name to play Seussical's Cat in the Hat, Cathy Rigby, was at the Class Actbash, exclaiming, "I've got hat hair all the time!" (By the way, how'd you like to be in thatshow? The second they find some Nick at Nite type to fill your surrealistic shoes and raise the box office a notch, you're out the door with some hush money.)

A Beige moment: "This place is more pretentious than the Cock, but not as pretentious as g."
photo: Christopher Smith
A Beige moment: "This place is more pretentious than the Cock, but not as pretentious as g."

As the party wound down, the theater obsessives took to dishing the new Folliesrevival, which early word on the street says lacks period flair, cohesion, and strong enough vocals in a couple of lead roles. (A rumor has Hal Princebeing courted to fix things up.) Insiders counter that the production is actually infused with a bold concept that intentionally deglams, demystifies, and deconstructs the characters, a process Sondheimhas been totally behind. Well, however it plays out, I'm still here and still dying to see, if not direct, this thing!

The revival of Design for Living—which various characters in the play describe as being about "three-headed spiritual Ping-Pong" and/or "three-sided erotic hodgepodge"—is filled with white staircases and lines like "You've certainly emancipated yourself into a grand complacence." In this soigné exercise, the two guys fighting over the gal have always seemed to actually want each other, so maybe it's apt that this production explores that possibility with bells—and purple robes and underwear—on (though hinting rather than tonguing might have had more charge). In any case, I love how all the gender play has aroused discussion to the point where the Post critic said Jennifer Ehle's performance is extremely "womanly—no bisexual, her." As if any gal who likes gals has to have a handlebar mustache and a muscle T!

Pretty in pink, I checked out some downtown gender play with a quick stop at HomoCorps, Dean Johnson's smash gay rock monthly at CBGB, where a diverse crowd is entertained by drag queens (like Yolanda & the Plastic Family), female drag queens, drag kings, and some plain old gays. It's a very neo-punky, ambient, Rufus Wainwright-worshiping mood, and sometimes the crowd even faces the stage and pays attention to the music!

The next afternoon, feeling homo to the core, I happened to be eating brunch at the Village Cottage when Calvin Kleinwalked in, ordered a nosh at the counter, and kept looking out the window and at his watch, seemingly waiting for a date (Linda Wachner? A Stella's dancer?). Eventually, he left—"I guess he was stood up," boomed an observer—and though in his anxiety he didn't even touch his egg sandwich or cluster of grapes (I inspected them), at least he left a lovely tip.

As for A Crass Act, a/k/a Eminem, a reader feels that a good slogan for the raucous rapper might be "Comes in your mouth, not in your hand." Please—Ididn't say it or even think it!

But what I did say last week about a Nancy Seltzerpublicist pulling Aussie hunk Hugh Jackmanaway from me at a dinner was startlingly off base. Jackman, who was at a Miramax table when I approached him for an interview, was indeed dragged away by a handler, but it wasn't Nancy (his personal flack) or her people—they weren't there! The dizzying presence of nearby Julia Robertsmust have blurred everyone's critical faculties for the night.

You still can't drag me away from Beige—the sprawling, indoor/outdoor Tuesday night gay bash at B Bar. The place makes HomoCorps look like a Von Trapp family reunion. It swarms with fashion boys, cruise queens, velvet mafiosi, and fag hags all blathering away to the beat, and though I always assumed they were dishing designers and sex, I was wrong—they only talk about sex. Last week, I strapped a condom onto my ear and eavesdropped on all the three-sided erotic hodgepodge and can now report this 100 percent accurate batch of overheard glib gab. (Bear in mind—just listening can turn you gay.)

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