By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Speaking of breakdowns, Patti LuPone is having one every night in Gypsy, and the result is so breathtaking it could turn a gay man into a lesbian. I should know—I've spent most of my adult life watching Gypsy and cheering on everyone in it, including the cow (and I don't mean Mama Rose). I've seen Gypsy in New Jersey, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and with someone from Cagney & Lacey. Of course, this one seemed cursed—and not just because everyone loved it at Encores except the one person that matters, Ben Brantley. In previews, the air vent was falling and a curtain was bopping an actress on the head. But by last week, the mechanics had been oiled and the result, if at times overemphatic, was kicking so much ass even Brantley had to admit that "Mama's got the stuff." (By the way, that Cagney lady, Tyne Daly, ebulliently told a friend of mine on a bus the other day: "I knew six months ago she'd get raves and he'd eat his words!")
This time around, Dainty June is refreshingly played as a completely bitter bitch, the three strippers are magnificent grotesques, and they've gotten the first straight Tulsa in history. And LuPone! She rips into the part as if eating a live lobster. With her slash of a mouth surrounded by that Hirschfeld-drawing face and askew curls, she's a driven, sexy, playful, monstrous Rose—and crazier than a loon at the climax. I could do without the new ending that follows, but at least it shows once again that this is an attempt to breathe life into Gypsy, not just take it out of mothballs. (Another footnote: Marc Jacobs went to see the show with a hairy, hot Brazilian who works in advertising. "Ciao," said LuPone backstage, thinking the hottie was Italian. Same difference.)
Say "Bali hi!"to that other revival, South Pacific, though it just had an Internet wag complaining: "The naked-butt shower scene was not necessary at all. And on the other hand, all those sailors on a hot island and no one had their shirts off!" God, there's just no pleasing these queens. How can there be too much ass, yet not enough chest, especially since Lieutenant Cable does take his shirt off for "Younger Than Springtime"? But of course, Nellie doesn't show her Forbush, OK?
In a musical stroke of gay happenstance, the Imperial Court's Night of a Thousand Gowns and the Saint At Large's Black Party were booked on the very same night, so all the gays were tucking and gowning, then frantically running home to uncover their facial hair, take off the bra, and let the tits hang in a muscle T. Oh, well, it's all drag. And they all should star in South Pacific. Usually, the Black Party scene involves dozens of porn stars getting beer enemas backstage—or sometimes onstage. This time, I encountered swarms of guys who looked like Ellen Page in a leather harness, plus an old taskmaster teacher of mine wearing a brown bandanna. I always knew he should eat shit.