By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Now that the Tony Awards have showered us with their glorythe Full Monty producers should check the chads, by the wayit's the most delicious time for some saucy assessments of the recent Broadway season. Having missed only Act II of Jane Eyre and all of Kelsey Grammer's Macbeth, I'm just the minxy martyr for the job. And so: Proof is about the authorship of a brilliantly created, barely penetrable math equation. The Invention of Loveis that equation. . . . The lovable A Class Actwas a celebration of a failed songwriter. Unfortunately, it failed. . . . The season's height of crassness was the promotional Mercedes-Benz sitting in the lobby of The Adventures of Tom Sawyera real 19th-century, down-home country touch. . . . Anyone who won a Tony also had to sadly realize: "Blastgot one too."
The Folliesas that cute li'l Reba McEntyreand Heather Headleyboth call itis pretty fabulous, though critics who practically vomit at the sight of a sequin were suddenly appalled because it didn't spew forth enough glitz. Please! The revival mines the material for darkness in the way critics usually find enthralling. Besides, when 42nd Streetopened, the same wretches moaned, "Too glitzy."
In Judgment at Nuremberg, poor Maximilian Schellhad to sit onstage and watch a younger actor do a bad impression of Schell's Oscar-winning performance in the movie. And then the younger guy got nominated! . . . The Producersas you may have heardis a zesty, inventive adaptation that carries on as if no joke is too low and no ticket price too high. I loved it, especially when it uses us as the theater audience within the show, our reactions to Springtime for Hitlerhelping shape the plot. So give me a Tony!
The awards telecast itself? It moved zingily, but not enough so to climb out of the ratings toilet, probably because the Dubuque crowd wasn't exactly dying to find out whether Richard Eastonwould beat Conleth Hill. Of the winners, Christine Ebersoleseemed too steely, Cady Huffmantoo gushy, and Mel Brookstoo windy, though Mel's such a hilarious meshuggener it didn't really matter if his partner got a word in. Backstage, Brooks told us, "When I'm asked by intellectual journalistsvery few of which I see in this roomwhat my favorite movie is, they expect me to say Grand Illusion, which isgood and has a lot of Jews. But my Pavlovian answer is Top Hat." As for plays? "I've always loved She Shtups to Conquer."
MyPavlovian response was to go to the after-ball at the Sheraton, where Jane Eyre's Marla Schaffelwas gamely posing with a floral centerpiece on her head in lieu of a Tony. Absurdly enough, another snubbeeMonty's eightysomething Kathleen Freemanwas reduced to standing in the street afterward and flagging down a cab home! Stoically enough, I didn't push her out of the way. To echo Cady Huffman, "I just love everybody! Thank you so much!"
I was even more grateful to wake up the next morning and hail a subway to the Mayflower to meet Olivier Ducasteland Jacques Martineau, the French lovers who wrote and directed Adventures of Felix, a picaresque film that's prompted a few acceptance speeches of its own. Felix is a kooky gay guy with AIDS who, while searching for his biological father, meets a batch of strangers who care for him in such a familial way that Daddy suddenly doesn't matter anymore. It's a giant fantasymore Top Hat than Grand Illusionbut one so sweet it leaves you wanting to uproot your family tree while looking for some grannies at the local dance hall.
"I only met my father once, when I was seven," the cutely pinch-faced Ducastel told me, with a hint of anguish. "But I don't really want to do the trip that Felix does." So he won't evermake the effort to track down petulant Papa? He paused for a mercilessly long time, then murmured that he wasn't sure. "Really? I didn't know that!" shrieked Martineau, who'd clearly assumed hewas the only daddy Ducastel would have from now on.
As for larger acceptance issues, Ducastel told me that, despite the gay community's advances, "people still look at homosexuals like strange persons. We have very close friends with kids and sometimes we joke and tell them, Maybe your child will be gay or a lesbian. They are terrified. One told me, 'You're a monster to say something like that to me!' " The twosome's next film, aptly enough, is about fairy-tale characters colliding with the real world.
It only took one BelgianDominique Deruddereto make Everybody's Famous, a flick that comments on the vapidity of the fame game. At least I think it does; I skipped the screening to see Evolution instead because it had much bigger names. I did make it to Famous's after-party at Bouley Bakery, where Deruddere told me, "The desire to become famous without particularly having any talent is a very unhealthy perspective." I was deeply offended, but decided not to let this guy rain on my empty quest for world stardom. After all, he recently lost the Best Foreign Film Oscar to something called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! "It's like a circus," he told me about the Oscar ceremony, "but we weren't expecting anything, so it was very relaxing." And he probably at least got to pose with a floral centerpiece on his head.