By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
A Chorus Linethe classic Broadway show about the casting of a classic Broadway showis about to return, and we'll see if it has the survival skills of Chicago, which opened way back in the same year that officially made me a rabid theater queen and a gay cliché. Actually, Chicago needed a revival to find its critical mass. It was originally considered not warm enough by criticsGod, they're idioticand it didn't really beguile them until O.J. had woken everyone up to the absurdity of celebrity justice in America. The more feel-good A Chorus Linealso about the blinding power of showbizwas adored from day one, and it helped that, while it uplifted, it hit on then adult topics like breast implants and homosexuality, plus the cast added to the emotional weight by pretty much playing themselves. So Line may not exactly be screaming for another go-round with new actors, but in hopes that audiences will embrace it as a theatrical American Idol or a musical America's Next Top Model, what I did for love was go to the revival's press event last week to check it out and pray.
What I learned was that they seem to be doing the show pretty much as a museum piecewell, there's really no other waywith original collaborators directing and re-creating the old choreography. But as they brought out the cast for our inspection, it seemed that a little creative revising was being served. "As Mark, we have PAUL MCGILL," said the announcer as a tall, African American woman strutted out, looking fierce. Clearly Paul had tucked or perhaps even had it lopped off. This was interesting! "Sorry, it's DEIDRE GOODWIN as Sheila," corrected the announcer. Oh well, it was still a new touch; in the original, Sheila was white.
TO SIR WITH GLOVES
What's really new on the Rialto? The History Boysa surprisingly funny yet heady study of an unconventional teacher whose career hits a tiny roadblock with the revelation, "He handled the boy's balls!" There's lots of dry wit and academic quippage on hand, but naturally I was most drawn to observations like that oneor, "Our headmaster is a twat . . . a condescending cunt"not to mention the infamous French bordello scene. (The play's gay content, by the way, is far from nouveau correct, furthering one's sense that this could have been written in the '60s, even though it's set in the '80s.)
Staying in the decade that existed only so that VH1 could later do specials, there's an openly gay band member and a few other homo moments in the otherwise not so heteroflexible The Wedding Singer, which is the second big musical this year about New Jersey, guaranteeing it at least 8 million ticket buyers. The show is MICHAEL JACKSON thin but more amiable than a K-Tel commercial on Ecstasy. Act I is bouncy and big-haired, with a refreshing minimum of Broadway-style cheesiness (until the finale). Act II stumbles a bit once the lead stops his wedding singing and the show dabbles more in romantic impasses and icky sentiment, but it gets back on its dancing feet, and by the end you're willing to let likable performers like STEPHEN LYNCH, KEVIN CAHOON, and RITA GARDNER sing at your own wedding. It's FELICIA FINLEY, though, who steals the whole thing in just two raucous scenes as the jilting bride. If there's a God, Finley should be nominated along with another fab FELICIA The Color Purple's Ms. Fieldscome Tony time. (Another fun fact: The Wedding Singer has a fake CYNDI LAUPER, but Threepenny Opera has the real one. End of fun fact.)
Unlike A Chorus Line, Threepenny also has an actual man in dragBRIAN CHARLES ROONEYas Lucy Brown, and it turns out he's not a condescending cunt at all (though he gets to sing the C-word in both English and German). I met Rooney at the SCISSOR SISTERS' after-party at the Cuckoo Club and he was adorable, telling me his stage soprano is real and so are the privates he so wantonly flashes onstage. "If I used prosthetics, they'd be better than that," he said, laughing.
At the same club, as I recently wrote, the new Hairspray movie's director, ADAM SHANKMAN, was carrying on quite unself-consciously with his porn-actor boyfriend, who flashes his privates for a living. Well, the beau turns out to be 23-year-old ex-Falcon star JOSH HARTING, who once implied in an interview that he's bisexual. So's Shankman; Harting told me the director recently bought him a car.
HUSTLE WITH MY MUSCLE
A movie about a hustlerBoy Culturemade it into the Tribeca Film Festival. (Interjection: A movie about everything made it into the Tribeca Film Festival. There are kazillions of filmseverything from a documentary called Jesus Camp to one about a theater campand each one has at least three publicists alerting you to the receptions, arrivals, screenings, after-parties, and press conferences every five minutes. It's awesome, but for me, it's almost become a delete festival.) Anyway, Boy Culture is a funny, easy-to-take odyssey of a Seattle guy who introduces himself by explaining why he obviously must be a hustler. ("Here are two clues: I'm gay and they made a movie about me.") The part is played by the comely DEREK MAGYAR, who offscreen dates TARYN MANNING while clearly waiting for his own awakening that'll lead him straight onto my loving lap in Murray Hill.