Musicals, confusicals, and doozicals are all heading our way, and my leg’s already tapping in woozy rhythm (or maybe it’s just a spasm). Gaily Broadway-bound is The Boy from OZ, with Hugh Jackman as the flouncily fabulous late entertainer Peter Allen. The suitably wind-her-up-and-she’ll-sparkle Ruthie Henshall is playing Liza Minnelli in the workshop version, and spies say Robert Gant, who’s Hal Sparks‘s HIV-positive love interest on Queer as Folk, tried out for the part of Allen’s boyfriend. That character, I hear, dies of AIDS, then comes back as an angel to belt out a pizzazzy “I Honestly Love You” to the title queen! Does Allen later swivel back to sing the same number to Liza? Probably, but by then I’m sure she’s off to see the lizard (her current husband).
Thoroughly Modern Millie has already come back, bringing with it a surge of memories of sad little Mikey bribing his only male friend to see the movie version with him instead of The Green Berets. (The friend was horrified, but sad little Mikey was in heaven.) The Broadway version? It replaces most of the score and tosses out the drag bit, but adds a lot of zesty spirit and some gay touches for an effect that evaporates as you see it, but is still pretty darned Sodom-and-Gomorrahble. Harriet Harris is particularly genius as the dragon lady who sells orphans into white slavery, but the whole cast is taps, I mean tops—and for cute Kristin Chenoweth‘s sake, I’m glad she dropped out a long time ago; her ex-boyfriend plays the boss!
Really esoteric Broadway queens swarmed the concert version of the Via Galactica score at Cooper Union, and Mikey was in humming heaven again. Via-what-who-huh, missy? Well, it was a trippy, multimillion-dollar ’72 sci-fi musical that closed after eight tragic Broadway performances. As critic Ken Mandelbaum wrote, “Nothing in Via Galactica could possibly have entertained a drug-free audience.” Well, this time, a perfectly sober crowd enjoyed the generic but often gorgeous tunes, and even got to meet composer Galt MacDermot, who told me the ’70s version flopped because “the script was weird, the direction was weird, and it was a disaster, with people falling off the set.” How weird.
Even more obscure—stay with me now—is David Pascucci Sings Previn & Previn, a new CD on which a little-known singer renders (mostly female-originated) showstoppers from camp-classic films Valley of the Dolls and Inside Daisy Clover. Amazingly, the guy throws a dollop of family values into the brassy mix. When he gets to “Come Live With Me” on the liner notes, Pascucci writes, “Disclaimer: I do not in any way, shape, or form condone living together before you’re married . . . but it was Mr. Previn’s wish that I not change the lyrics.” Yay, André! One prays Pascucci won’t next do a Rodgers and Hammerstein tribute record (“Mind you, I don’t approve of meeting strangers across a crowded room”) or a Jerome Kern one (“I have always found ‘Show Boat’s comin’ ‘ objectionable . . . “).
Without any added moralizing, The Elephant Man‘s back, and how can you not love a play about deformity when it looks as cute as a shirtless Billy Crudup? As the generous grande dame who offers sex, Kate Burton flings her top off, too, and at the play’s party at Tavern on the Green, she told me she didn’t have to be coerced to do so. “It’s in the script,” she said, sounding way dignified, but just then, actress Polly Draper came by and shrieked, “Great tits, Kate Burton!” In another corner, cleavage meister Bob Mackie told me he’d gladly design a show called Musto on Musto, especially if Isaac Mizrahi plays the part. But much more intransigent was Ian McKellen, who declined to be photographed with the boyfriend, only to have a paparazzo say, “It was OK in front of 60 million people, but not in front of 60?”
Strike a poseur by seeing Unitard—the monologue show at Fez—which is also back, but with a new name (Unitard 3: Now More Than Ever) and some personal developments for the cast. Nora Burns, who originally did a ‘logue about those annoying women who think having a baby makes them endlessly entitled, is now, whoopsy daisy, a mother. To her credit, she didn’t cut the spiel, she just made it more specific. “Now I play a hideous mother with a stroller,” Burns told me. “I keep interrupting my friend to say passive-aggressive things about the baby. But in real life, I try not to be the kind of mother I hate.” Not to worry; how could you hate a mother who names her daughter Fred?
Speaking of mothers and names, you can scream, “Great tits, Madonna!” all you want, just don’t call the superstar Madge, for Chrissakes. The British press has rudely dubbed her that, but when a cast member of the play she’s acting in, Up for Grabs, invoked that nickname, Madge—I mean the Queen Empress of the Entire World—righteously bristled. But meanwhile, do call her a TV producer. Madonna’s Maverick company has done a pilot for NBC called Truth or Dare, based on the nutty party game played in her hit documentary. Start fellating those water bottles for cash prizes now.
But back to monologues: David Rimmer‘s New York—a series of fictional psychiatry sessions with characters disturbed by 9-11—was the main course at the Lotus dinner benefiting Disaster Psychiatry Outreach, and you haven’t seen so many shrinks in one room since Mariah Carey last melted down. Headliners Griffin Dunne and Shalom Harlow canceled at the last minute, making me ready for some outreach, but Erik Palladino showed up and scored as a therapist who’s going nuts from all the post-trauma crazies. I asked Palladino to uncork some of his own dish about his stint on ER, which memorably ended when his fired character screamed at his boss, “You Nazi dyke!” “Creatively,” he admitted to me, “it was not the experience for me of why I’m acting. It became a little stale. The money was fantastic, but I’m not a high-end money guy.” You Nazi dyke! (I know that makes no sense here; I just always wanted to say it.)
Taking my finger out of the whatever, I went to Urge, the East Village cruise bar which used to be a funeral home, but now looks more like an airport lounge in a mid-level city. At scene queen Billy Beyond‘s birthday bash there last week, Billy didn’t recognize Will & Grace‘s Sean Hayes, introducing the actor around as “Jeff.” At least he didn’t call him Madge.
And while we’re cruising, wasn’t the Rock great as a gay bartender on Saturday Night Live, also making a pretty fierce drag queen as a messy pal of Drunk Girl? What’s up with this wacky stud? I don’t know, but I did a little research and found that Rolling Stone once wrote about the wrestler-actor’s “long-distance marriage” and also that a Datalounge.com regular just posted this message about his scorpion king: “Samoan and black? Can there be a more surefire recipe for horsemeat?” (Before you start writing that letter, let me say I’m fully aware that positive stereotypes can be damaging too.) But back to my point, is the Cock, I mean the Rock, one of us or is he just very comfortable in his lovely skin? Well, he recently told Stuff that when he first shaved his armpits, “it felt as if I were coming out. It was a coming out party and everybody was invited.” What’s more, he admits he cries during Beaches! Say no more. Rock—I honestly love you!