The Duchess of York Speaks Out About the Queen

Living high with Sondheim. Other heroes include Sean Hayes, Denzel. On the other hand, Kelsey Grammer . . .

Meanwhile, I'm glad they got Denzel Washington and Viola Davis to do Fences, and though all through the first act I was smugly thinking, "Please! I saw the original with James Earl Jones and Mary Alice," I dropped it for the second half, when the power kicks in as Denzel's character drives his family apart with pigheaded pride. The way it reforms itself is especially glorious theater.

The revival of Collected Stories pits Linda Lavin against Sarah Paulson as a mentor and a protégé in a tense artistic discourse carried on in very close quarters. It's Red with ladies and way more books on the shelves. Their power struggle makes for stimulating talk, and Lavin gives the whole thing extra heft with classic readings of lines like, "Things were different when I was ovulating."

In testosterone-laden news, I hear Constantine Maroulis is getting an arm and a leg to do the upcoming tour of Rock of Ages, which should help him feel like less of a Foreigner as he takes the Speedwagon on his Journey across the Styx.

And what of my own theater-related journey last week, with Tinkerbell way up inside me? Well, I was halfway through a zombie movie—watching it, that is—when I got an emergency call asking if I could fill in for the otherwise engaged Jackie Hoffman as a judge at the Broadway Beauty Pageant, benefiting the Ali Forney Center. I raced out of zombieland to Symphony Space, where five comely Broadway performers paraded around for me, fellow judges Charles Busch and Christine Ebersole, and host Tovah Feldshuh, as we sat back and rated their assets. In the talent competition, the contestant from In the Heights scored with Mo'Nique's climactic monologue from Precious while wearing gold-lamé hot pants and a zebra-print headwrap—exactly what Mo'Nique wore in the movie, as I assured Ebersole. Also scoring, the West Side Story guy sang an acoustic medley of Lady Gaga hits in jeans, a plaid shirt, and no menstrual blood whatsoever. But the big winner was a chorus boy from Memphis who spun around to "The Main Event," looked hot in a blue Speedo, and spoke in full sentences. He was a man, a sailor, a prince, and a country!

musto@villagevoice.com

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