Broadway Star Makes AIDS and Jesus Funny!

The Limelight's born again, and so am I

What he prays to these days is Showstopper, a movie he has written about a reunited family that puts on a Broadway show based on a Douglas Sirk women's-issues film. Ben Stiller will produce and co-star, and Next Fall co-producer Elton John is writing the music. And Nauffts said the show within the movie might make a real Broadway musical someday. Bring on Imitation of Life on Ice with Johnny Weir!

At the Drama Desk nominees' reception, this season's double-whammy directing deity, Michael Mayer, admitted that an American Idiot set piece—a large frame with lights on it—looked perfect for Everyday Rapture, so he simply had it moved to the other theater. (Sometimes, there is God so quickly.) "That's the great thing about working with the same design team," Mayer said, laughing. Gosh, how I wish Jack O'Brien had moved the giant hairspray can to The Coast of Utopia.

And along came the spiritually named Robin DeJesus, a lit-up frame unto himself and a nominee for his flamboyantly Hispanic maid in La Cage aux Folles. Did he base his characterization on Rosie Perez, by any chance? "No! It's based on friends," DeJesus told me. "If I try to sound like Rosie, I can't do it." But the character is basically a Nuyorican, right? "Yes," he replied. "The director, Terry Johnson, said he wanted La Cage to be a haven for all different types of people." As a result, St.-Tropez is now populated with a Brit, a German, a New York Hispanic, and a Republican from sitcoms.

And finally, a Southern boy with an accent on pizzazz, Bryan Batt, had a party for his delicious She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother: A Memoir, which details his upbeat life from the bayou to Broadway. Batt—best known from Mad Men—told me that before he came out, he had a nonsexual crush on his Starlight Express co-star Jane Krakowski, but he didn't pursue it. ("I knew better!" he said. "So did she," I added. A boxcar should never date a dining car.)

Batt was a tiny bit less enamored of being so Cats-associated for years and laughingly told me, "I was the biggest pussy on Broadway!" As for his mama, who's a pussycat: "She is strong, but graceful. The first thing she said after having had several surgeries was 'Where's my lipstick, honey?' " Definitive proof that New Orleans housewives have way better priorities than New Jersey ones.

musto@villagevoice.com

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