Theater

Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford: Two Shows About Them!

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Well, there have been two Alien vs. Predators, so why the hell not?

And the battling Hollywood battleaxes are ripe for dramatization, their every bitchy contention (like Bette’s that she was a real actress while Joan was a mere movie star) begging to be pronounced on a legit stage.

So something called Bette & Joan is opening in London in May, while an American production of that play may be in the works, considering the recent reading starring Christine Ebersole as brassy Bette and Jan Maxwell as faux demure Joan.

Meanwhile, an ambitious creative type named Michael Penny told me he’s written a musical version of B & J’s legendary feud, so I begged him for sneak peek.

Penny supplied me with the lyrics to this pivotal song, in which Joan’s daughter Christina Crawford croons about her sad life in the closet.

Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte and took a look.

(A Closet in JOAN CRAWFORD’S house. CHRISTINA discovered huddled under a blanket with a flashlight.)

CHRISTINA
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT I AM DOING IN HERE,
I’M HIDING, OF COURSE, FROM MY MOTHER!
WHEN MOMMIE STARTS DRINKING I JUST DISAPPEAR
WHILE SHE DOWNS ONE AFTER ANOTHER!
IF YOU HOPE TO GET THROUGH IT BE QUIET AS A MOUSE,
TONIGHT MOMMIE’S DEMONS ARE HAUNTING THE HOUSE…!

MOMMIE DEAREST’S
AT HER QUEEREST
WHEN SHE’S IN HER DRINKING MOOD,
EVERYONE GOES
ON THEIR TIP-TOES
THROUGH THE HOUSE WHEN MOMMIE’S STEWED!
THROUGH THE WALLS YOU’LL HEAR THE LAUGHTER,
DOWN THE HALLS THE SOBBING AFTER,
WITHOUT PAUSE SHE’LL RAISE A RAFTER
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE…!

JOAN (Off-stage, screaming.)
Christina!

CHRISTINA (Whispering.)
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE!

WHEN SHE’S LOST IT
FIND A CLOSET,
YOU’LL BE THERE A DAY OR TWO,
TRY TO LAST OUT
‘TILL SHE’S PASSED OUT
OR PERHAPS FORGOTTEN YOU!
SURELY SEEMS TO BE SOME GHOSTS THERE,
YOU’LL HEAR SCREAMS THAT COME FROM NO WHERE,
YOU’LL HAVE DREAMS LIKE IN A NIGHTMARE
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE…!

JOAN
Christina!
CHRISTINA
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE!

IF YOU’VE WANTED
SOMETHING HAUNTED
YOU WON’T NEED A LATE LATE SHOW,
MOMMIE DEAREST
HITS THE SPIRITS
AND WE’VE EDGAR ALLEN POE!
LIE IN STATE LIKE IN A TOMB HERE,
JUST YOU WAIT, YOU’LL MEET WITH DOOM HERE,
AS A PLATE SAILS THROUGH THE ROOM HERE
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE…!

JOAN
Christina!

CHRISTINA
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE!

JOAN
Christina!

CHRISTINA
IN MY HAUNTED HOUSE!

(CHRISTINA closes the door of the closet.)

END OF SCENE TWO

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