a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for November, 2010

“King’s Speech” Breaking Box-Office records!

I’m oh so happy to report that the brilliant, moving, unforgettable “King’s Speech” is breaking box-office records this holiday weekend in VERY limited release. Check out just how much, where et alia at www.indiewire.com The inimitable Scott Feinberg also talks about this and many other fabulous things at www.ScottFeinberg.com

He used to call it com.www.And the Winners Is…com

And he’s got an actual Academy member to write about everything Awardsworthy under the name of Deep Voice. It’s a member of the Writer’s Branch and is he cantakerous! But interesting. He thinks for example that “The Kids Are All Right” has got no nominations in its’ future, just Mark Ruffalo!(?!) And I agree that “The Social Network” doesn’t “make you care. It doesn’t move me.” But that nevertheless he’d nominate Justin Timberlake as Best Supporting Actor. That’s TWO nominations in that category, gone, from this guy, who can’t even vote for the Actors UNTIL they are nominated by the Actor’s Branch, come nomination announcing day. He can however nominate WRITERS in the two categories that the Academy has, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. EVERYone in all the Branches gets to nominate the Ten Best Pictures… but I digress…

Also this the coming Awards Avalanche week. Tomorrow night is the Gothams, where, probably “A Winter’s Bone” is going to clean up, and then later this week, on Thursday, the National Board of Review is set to announce its’ winners.

Update: It did. It got Best Feature and Best Ensemble, but no Jennifer Lawrence as Breakout Performer, which she was nominated for, but didn’t win. Does this help the film get into the Year’s Ten Best at the Oscars? Hmmm..(Sound of Oscar…thinking…) Hmmm….

The National Board of Review are a New York-based awards-giving group that has a LARGE portion of females in their membership, a rarity in this male-dominated business, believe it or not, and also many, many gay members. More so than most groups.

And judging by that, I’d say “The King’s Speech” is going to sweep. It’ll get Best Picture from them, and Colin Firth will win the first, but not the last of his many, many, much deserved awards that are going to be coming at him like, well, gangbusters. Mixed metaphor? But hey that’s what I do!

Helena Bonham-Carter should also score here where they consider a year’s work not just one performance like the Academy. So HBC should qualify for not just her shy, sly Queen Elizabeth in “The King’s Speech”, but also her mad Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderful” and her 15 min.(or less) turn as Bellatrix La Strange, the witchiest witch who witch there was more of in the latest “Harry Potter.” Now playing…

Best Supporting Actor…I think they are also going to go for Geoffrey Rush, here. And maybe also for Best Director, Tom Hooper. If they go for Hooper over David Fincher(who’s shooting the Milennium Trilogy in Sweden, and may not get back for the ceremonies in Jan. You wouldn’t think this would count against him, but the NBR wants all its’ winners present and accounted for. Yes, they do.)

Best Actress may very well be Natalie Portman, starting her awards march. She, along with Firth, well, the two of them are going to be seeing A LOT of each other as the awards season rolls out like a juggernaut over all our Oscar-filled lives…

Breakthrough Performance by an Actor could be the only award that “The Social Network” wins….Will they give it to New York native Jesse Irritatingberg? They like Native New Yorkers. So that’s what Natalie Portman, from Long Island, has going for her, too.

Or it could be someone else from “The Social Network” Even Justin Timberlake could score here.

I’d be very surprised if Jennifer Lawrence (who totally doesn’t deserve it) will find her week bracketed by awards. First from the Gothams on Monday as Best Breakthrough then by the NBR later this week. She’s got that blonde teenage mojo working…Whether I like it or not…And I don’t…

Update: She didn’t win the BreakOut/Breakthrough category tonight at the Gothams…and with all this hype, she certainly SHOULD have…but the NBR may fall for it…

Best Adapted Screenplay would be the first Aaron Sorkin win and start his line dance to the Podium at the Kodak.

And now they’ve just announced that Anne Hathaway and James Franco are gonna c0-host the Oscars!?!?! Sounds like a big mistake. Also this may eliminate BOTH of them from the race.

Personally, I LOVED “Love and Other Drugs” but it’s a zesty, sexy Rom Com, with a dash of Parksinson’s Disease thrown in…as an Oscar grabber… for Annie, which I don’t think it’s going to be. Rom Com’s almost NEVER rank with the Academy, especially in this crowded year for females!

And can Annie and Jimmy pull off hosting duties? I’m of the mind that yes, SHE can. Annie can do anything. Great inner resources as a performer. Comes from growing up with Mom as a actress and a gay brother. Talk about Drama!

But James is soooo laid back…I keep thinking of him in “Pineapple Express…

“The Fighter” An Oscar Knock-Out!+ Other Awards News

I have to say, having just returned from an Academy-ish screening(it was mixed with guilds and obviously, actual press, too. I mean,was there!) and yes, it’s got Oscar nomination chances galore!

The audience at this screening seemed to love it, as I was tipped that the Academy would and they audibly did. That was born out by all the laughs and gasps and cheers throughout, though there was no final applause at the end. Every one left with smiles on their faces. ALWAYS a good sign for Oscar!

Mark Wahlberg’s passion project of many years has come to ripe fruition with him wisely surrounding himself with the some of the Best Actors in the business, like Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, all of whom I think are assured Oscar nominations in Supporting for this.

So it’s a holiday feast of blue-collar, but blue-ribbon actors all trying to out-do each other in what is a veritable Oscar smack-down and SUCCEEDING mightily. Each landing punch after thespic (acting) punch in this knock-out of a movie!

Although this is a boxing saga, it’s really more of a family drama, being played out against a boxing background. This Lowell Massachusetts hard-scrabble setting, replete with Boston accents, gives Leo, Adams and especially Bale, career-capping chances to really go to town in an award-winning, Oscar-baity way. Are they chewing the scenery for Thanksgiving? Gobble Gobble. Well, Leo and Bale are anyway…but the Academy LOVES these showy turns.

Wahlberg OTOH plays it down, very understated, almost dour and lets the wildness of the colorful characters around him shine. And shine, they do!

Bale is unfogettable as his crack-headed brother who is also his f**ked up trainer. Leo is  their horrible Mother-From-Hell  who is also his money-grubbing manager, and Adams gets to play against them as the good girl who he hooks up with, and who has to stand up to his insane family AND SHE DOES! You are totally rooting for her to take down the dastardly, deadly duo of Mom Leo and Brother Bale. This movie is one juicy fight scene from beginning to end! Whether it’s in the ring, or in the living room, or on the front porch, EVERY one is fighting!

As Wahlberg is also the producer here (and Bob and Harvey Weinstein are also listed as producers, too(!) with Paramount the main distributor) he’s going to get nominated for  getting this made & helming this irresistible (to the Academy and I think to audiences, too) combo of heart, guts and BOXING.

Boxing films have traditionally been catnip to the Academy and this one, though the formulaic trailers have been misleading-by-a-mile, “The Fighter” will be no exception. So in a field of ten possible nominees for Best Picture, I say the “The Fighter” is going to score one of those ten best slots.

With Wahlberg so monotone himself, I don’t think he’s got a chance at an Acting nomination. But as a producer of “The Fighter”, yes!

It’s going to be a Golden Glove( and Golden Globe) bout between Geoffrey Rush for “The King’s Speech,” and Bale for this in Supporting Actor  and THAT match-up is going to cause all the major Oscar attention for this film.  And those two performances are so different and also so  juicy, well, it’s a delicious prospect!

And Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are BOTH so good that they are BOTH going to be nominated most likely. Canceling each other out, and leaving the win to Helena Bonham-Carter for “The King’s Speech.” 

When two actresses from the same film get nominated in Supporting it’s historically someone else, who wins. The last time I remember this happening was in 2001 for “Gosford Park” when it was both Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Maggie Smith going head-to-head in Supporting…and somebody else won. Jennifer Connelly in a year that there was “A Beautiful Mind” sweep.

Bale v. Geoffrey Rush, who is brilliant, but already HAS an Oscar would be literally duking it out til the last minute in Supporting. Rush, as the hilarious, genial ,but tough speech therapist Lionel Logue, who is the Australian Henry Higgins teaching Colin Firth(the King) how to speak, is going to be a Battle Royal(pardon the pun) with Bale’s junkie, who, though everyone forgets it, as also a Brit. Yes, he is. He really is. Remember him as the kid in Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun”? Yes, that was little Christian. A child actor who has endured and ended up as “The Dark Knight.” Yes, that was him, the last time in the hood and cape. But all people remember from that film is the astounding Joker of the late Heath Ledger. R.I.P. Heath.

Bale, however, ALMOST overdoes it in the OTT category,but how can you play a character who is always tweaking, and not seem OTT, as well as ADD? Bale has lost a ton of weight for the part and as a  junkie who jumps out of windows to escape his harridan, chain-smoking mother (Leo), I do think he’s in contention.

It’s just that how much do they like Christian Bale? I mean, really? With that Internet rant to that poor stage hand being something that still lurks in people’s mind when they think of him? They may just make him wait, and give Rush a second Oscar for what is clearly the performance of the year.

But Bale’s never been nominated before and Rush has won before.  Me, I’d vote for Rush…but…it’s gonna be a fight to the photo finish at the Kodak between the two of them.

It’s also just a question of HOW many Oscars are they going to give to “The King’s Speech”? Colin Frith and Helena Bonham-Carter are both way out in front in Best Actor and now, Best Supporting Actress, too. Is “The King’s Speech” going to sweep?

I heard people discussing how there was one movie where there were lines around the block about ten days ago.  It was for a SAG screening and that was for “The King’s Speech.” “The Fighter” was well attended, but not full, by any means. And no applause at the end, though a consistently involved chorus of laughs and gasps, means they were involved. But  not as enthralled as “The King’s Speech” audiences are.

Bale has the best Oscar shot of the bunch of them. He gets to OD, and then go cold turkey in a jail cell! Now that’s what I call a PART! So Christian Bale will finally get his first Oscar nomination…

But will he win?

And in terms of other films…I heard when the New York Film Critics get together to vote soon, very soon. (“True Grit” FINALLY starts screening next week for all and sundry) that at the moment it’s still going to be a pitched battle between “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” So, what else is new? That’s the way it’s been since Toronto!

Except that today, “The King’s Speech” just got 100% from the Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes! How can ANYone argue with those stats? Especially the Academy!

Harvey Weinstein must be having a very happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Coupled with women, who are just flat out refusing to see “127 Hours” because of the gore, and the arm-thing…

People, again it was women I was talking to, are not digging “Black Swan.” ‘It ruins ‘Swan Lake'” one balletomane told me. But ballet lovers are going to be in the minority of AMPAS.

But then, of course, WOMEN are not the majority of the AMPAS voters. The SWORM are. Single White Old Rich Men…

And EVERYbody is digging Michael Douglas’ performance in “Solitary Man.”

Happy Thanksgiving from Oscarland! + News…

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, dear cineastes, dear theatregoers! And a few brief postings from Deep Inside Oscarland.

The Academy LOVES “The King’s Speech” Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter.

They LIKE “The Social Network” but LOVE David Fincher. A split vote between Best Picture and Directer here?

Jesse Eisenberg’s nomination is not a sure thing, by any means.

Annette Bening, but NOT Julianne Moore is beloved AT THE MOMENT. But they haven’t screened “Black Swan” for the Academy yet.

They have not even SCHEDULED a screening for “Love and Other Drugs” So that’s a bad.

Michael Douglas’s health is discussed, and his performance in “THE SOLITARY MAN” is much beloved. They all got their screeners for that.

Best Actress is soooo crowded that Sony Pictures Classics has made the mistake of the season by not putting Leslie Manville in Supporting for “Another Year.” Of course, the Academy can put her in any category that they want to.

Julianne Moore’s nomination for “The Kids Are All Right” is not a slam dunk.

But evidently Mark Ruffalo’s IS?!?

“Wall Street” NOT beloved there. Nor is Michael Douglas performance. If anything, he’s going to be nominated for the little seen “Solitary Man.”

They also like “The Fighter.” I think that’s in for a Best Picture nomination. And there’s its’ Supporting Cast is well thought of. I.E. Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams.

Happy Turkey! And as I’ve said on my show, soon going into it’s 23rd continuous year, “Have a fabulous!”

Was this year’s Oscar race over by TIFF?

It seems to me after seeing David Letterman go berserk over Natalie Portman and “The White Swan” that this year’s major Oscar races were over by TIFF. The Toronto International Film Festival 2010 gave its’ People’s Choice Award to “The King’s Speech.” The first two press screenings were for, at the same time of day, 9AM(!) “The King’s Speech” and “The White Swan.” And I’m happy to say I was the first one in line for “The King’s Speech,” having gotten up at 6 AM to get there to line up at 8:15 for the screening at 9.

When everyone saw “The King’s Speech” and “The White Swan” it was clear that Colin Firth was going to win Best Actor and that for “The White Swan” Natalie Portman was going to win Best Actress. And also that “The King’s Speech” was going to also be a very strong contender for Best Picture.

I remember saying to Anne Thompson, of Thompson on Hollywood at www.Indiewire.com , and it was the first time I had ever met her, posing the question “Is it just going to come down to ‘The King’s Speech’ for Best Picture versus ‘The Social Network.'” And y’know, that’s STILL the case three months later…

And what did the wise Anne T say in response?

 “I want to see ‘True Grit’.” And we’re all still waiting on that one! Too!

So, nothing has changed since TIFF and Natalie Portman and Colin Firth had already won their Oscars that first morning. TIFF is more important than ever as a launching pad.

And if Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush also win for Supporting!?!? Well, then the ENTIRE RACE was decided that cool morning at TIFF!

Sasha Stone’s Brilliant Tribute to the late Ronnie Chasen

Sasha Stone of www.Awardsdaily.com has just written one of the most brilliant pieces on the Oscars and how they work and the people behind them, as embodied by the late Ronnie Chasen, who was shot to death in  a car, Mercedes, in Hollywood last week. Reasons and assailants unknown.

It’s called “Why They Matter” and Sasha convinces us that yes, they do. The “they” being Press Agents.

As she carefully elucidates just what it is that the best publicists do, she is illuminating all our Oscar-obsessed lives, and the life of a great lady, who seemed to be respected, if not beloved by all who knew her.

I did not know Ronnie Chasen. She worked on the Left Coast and I do not. But we both work on the Oscars. Me, as press, and she as a press agent, and Sasha knew her very, very well.  And dealt with her on nearly a daily basis.

Sasha excerpts a very elegantly phrased email she received from Ms. Chasen, who was horribly murdered in L.A. last week, for those of you who live under a rock.

The whys and wherefores of her being so savagely gunned down in her own car, no less, are unknown and baffling to all who knew her.

Sasha, a deeply moral person, takes the high road and tries to describe to all her readers just what it was that made Ms. Chasen so good at what she did, which was getting her clients Oscar nominations and sometimes the Oscar itself.

So she spends most of her time, in her carefully worded and thoughtful piece, describing what press agents, specifically OSCAR press agents do.

Yes, they, are a breed apart, and it’s a specialization. To know how to get their client the nomination, then to get their client the award. If they can. And they do have to use, us, the press, just as much as we use them.

It’s their job. It’s essential, in this media-saturated age. And yes, as Sasha so succinctly puts it, “It’s their job to put the right film in front of the right people at the right time.” And it’s not as easy as it looks.

And there’s MILLLIONS of dollars spent on each major Oscar campaign. And there’s millions of dollars to be made at the box-office for the films that get those nominations and those awards. Lately  one has to include the Golden Globes in that mix, too.

And as much as people like to read about it and debate about each and every thing online, I can’t EVER remember one single piece of writing that puts it altogether so completely.

And press agentry is something that the average movie-goer, someone who is not in”The Biz,” really doesn’t understand. Perhaps it is too much information. But for me, whose life is nothing but hot-and-cold running press agents, this piece on Chasen, was elucidating.

People who think about Press Agents, if they ever think about them at all,  think of J.J. Hudsucker and Sidney Falco in “The Sweet Smell of Success.” Well, that was a different era. And it was depicted as awful. Very dark.

Sasha is showing us in her beautiful way, the OTHER side of what a press agent’s life is like. It’s a brilliant piece of writing. ANOTHER one. Sasha does it every day! And I find myself on a daily basis, saying “Bravo, Sasha!” You’ve GOT to read “Why They Matter.”

And Ronnie Chasen I guess symbolized for Sasha who knew her so well, just what that is.

R.I.P. Ronnie Chasen

Vanessa Redgrave & James Earl Jones Magnificent “Daisy”!

Just when you think this terrific, multitudinous Broadway season couldn’t get any more bountiful – Suddenly! There are two of the greatest actors of our time the hitting never-dreamed-of theatrical heights in “Driving Miss Daisy.” That would be Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in what is surely going to be considered one of the highpoints of their already legendary careers.

This is great acting of the highest order. The likes of which we rarely if ever see on Broadway. And how do they accomplish this amazing, but not wholly unexpected feat? Well, Vanessa Redgrave does it by utterly underplaying the sour, snippy, uppity, totally self-righteous Miss Daisy, who is a spritely 72 when the play starts in 1948.

Miss Daisy has crashed her car into her neighbors’ garage and now is no longer allowed to drive. And her doting son, Boolie (Boyd Gaines, who is just serviceable here) insists that she get a “colored” chauffeur to make sure she gets from point A to point B without catastrophe. And thereby hangs quite a tale and a play that proves itself here to be a durable American classic.

Miss Daisy  Wertham is Jewish and rich, but she’s the type who can pinch a penny until it screams. She comes from an impoverished background herself, and climbed to freedom and respectabilty through education,  becoming a school teacher  and eventually marrying her rich (now late) husband, the father of Mr.Gaines’ character.

“We had NOTHING!” Redgrave’s voice rises for one of the few times in the Alfred Uhry’s 1987 Pulitizer Prize-Winning play, “NOTHING!” But she does it all with a control and a simplicity that is startling, in that it renders this very familiar play, fresh as…well, a daisy!

Miss Redgrave only lets the gestures fly or her voice ring when she’s onstage with her son Boolie( Mr. Gaines), as his less-than-doting mother. Miss Daisy’s maternal instincts run to the nasty, the snide put-downs of her ever-helpful, ernestly do-gooding son. She’s quite insufferable as a mother.

HOWEVER,  when James Earl Jones finally enters the play (it seemed like it took forever to get them into their famous car-ride together) Redgrave hands the play totally over to him. On a veritable silver platter of well-seasoned acting chops. She gets very, very simple and true, and just let’s James Earl Jones rip the roof off the Golden Theater.

Jones, when we first see him is a shockingly-aged figure. White hair, he’s almost bent over double, with what one hopes is a character choice and not osteoporosis. He seems eager to make some extra money, desperate almost for a job. Especially driving a white lady of “means.” As if to make double-sure, he shuffles and “Yes’M”s and “No,’M”s drip from his lips, shockingly often, and in Jones’ sonorous voice, here controlled like I’ve never seen him before, they sound like honey, and fall throughout the play as naturally as Southern rain. The naturalness of their frequency locks Hoke into his subservient role, like a vise.

And when the Two Greats get together, the sparks fly. And how do they soar so? By absolutely, completely disappearing into their characters in this play that has NEVER,  ever been done on Broadway. Ever. After this magnificent revival, it will be done all the time now.

This theatrical power couple par excellence banish thoughts of the great 1989 cinematic version, which won the Oscar for Best Picture that year and Jessica Tandy was named Best Actress. Making her the oldest Best Actress recipient ever. Morgan Freeman, who also originated the role in the stage play, Off-Broadway, was nominated, but didn’t win.Though he did eventually garner a Supporting Actor Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby.”

Jones, who’s never won an Oscar, but has Two Tonys to his credit for “The Great White Hope” and “Fences,” just takes the part of Hoke and runs with it. Or drives with it, right into the theatrical firmament. And our hearts. And memories.

It’s one of his greatest performances, and hers, too. Taking his cue from her, Jones is also totally without frills and simple, simple, simple.  And as the times change (“Miss Daisy” starts in 1948 and goes on through the tumultous civil right area and into the ’70s) the power shifts from the back seat to the front seat. And when Miss Daisy’s synagogue is bombed, Jones’ Hoke is all protection and help for the distraught, disbelieving Miss Daisy.

You know he knows just how ugly Southern racism of that time can be. Whether it’s directed at Jews or at Blacks, it’s all the same thing, the playwright is saying.

When Hoke describes the lynching of a relative he witnessed as a young boy to the thunderstruck Miss Daisy, Jones is simplicity and quiet, heart-rending eloquence itself. He is also echoing a similarly, frighteningly effecting scene in the “Scottsboro Boys.” The Kander & Ebb musical, playing two blocks away, on the other side of Broadway and it chronicles the horrors and  the injustices 1920s & 30s South. And in the South of Miss Daisy’s 1940s & 50s world it is alive still. Hoke can’t eat at the restaurants Miss Daisy does. And he has to go in, always, by the back door.

Playwright Alfred Uhry, who never again reached the theatrical heights with anything else he ever wrote for the stage (though I did enjoy his “Last Night at Ballyhoo.”) surprises here, too. Because instead of being lost in a big, Broadway house, his “Driving Miss Daisy” OWNS it and fills the space,  and now in Vanessa Redgrave’s and James Earl Jones’ caring hands, we see that his characters are immortal.

Don’t faint! Broadway is having a REAL season!At last!

I know I’m prone to over-statement, but hyperbole is where I live, and what I see. And Broadway in the 22 years, soon to be 23, on Dec.7, that I’ve been covering it for my TV show www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Broadway has never had SUCH a season! And it really is having A WHOLE season, starting in the fall and stretching to next spring, if we’re lucky. In this economy, how is this happening??? Broadway is thriving! Tourists are packing the city. Who can afford these prices?? Something’s on the upswing, and it’s wonderful that it is!

It used to have this very real  Theater Season all year long, year in, year out. Not just the three months around the Tony Awards, in the spring.

And there were FIVE to SEVEN daily newspapers, at least. I remember fondly the World, Telegram and Sun. At one point they were THREE papers, then they consildated. And I particularly loved Dorothy Kilgallen, their Broadway columnist, who gained national television attention as a panelist of “What’s My Line.” Her column appeared every afternoon. Yes, the World, Telegram and Sun was an AFTERNOON newspaper! And she’d tell of all the marvelous plays and shows and parties she’d been to the night before. I thought it published in the afternoon because Dorothy obviously didn’t get up very early in the morning. If she went to bed at all! What a wonderful life she seemed to have!

And then, of course, like today, there was the New York Times and the Sunday New York Times. When I was a kid growing up in the Bronx, in Parkchester, I would sit pouring over and over the Broadway news “On the Rialto” that the New York Times used to have every Sunday in their Arts and Leisure section as I spread it all over the living room rug…I would read EVERY review and article, rabidly, and dream what it was like to be “On the Rialto”….and now I am!

I just can’t remember EVAH having to see so many plays at this time of year! When so many great shows were opening and opening and opening! It’s like the Theatre Gods have opened the floodgates, and we’re being inundated! With talent! And as a Drama Desk Voting Member, one has to try to see them all!

From September to,it looks like Christmas, there’s so many wonderful plays and musicals and all types of Broadway productions that I can’t quite believe this is really happening! And in THIS economy! How is so much production happening? And so many people going to see so many shows and at these prices!?!

It’s wonderful and it’s mind=boggling, but there it is. I never thought I would be seeing so many really, really good shows that I haven’t even had time to write about them!

Listing will have to do. LOVED “The Pittman Painters”at the Biltmore. Another British play by Lee Allen set in Northern England’s mining community,(like “Billy Elliot”, which co-incidentally Lee Allen ALSO wrote) it concerns a group of miners who with no cultural precedent whatsoever and not even a library in their tiny town, these men started taking an art education class that eventually turned them all into painters! And this is a true story! I could hardly believe it. It seemed wildly far-fetched — until they started showing the ACTUAL paintings(or very good facsimiles, anyway) that the miners painted and they were arresting and breathtakingly beautiful in the crude, unvarnished expressions of life as they saw it.  This show flies on its’ paintings, like musicals do on its’ songs…And I can’t recommend it highly enough.

At the other end of the excellence spectrum, there is the real triumph of the human spirit that is embodied in, of all things, Pee Wee’s Playhouse! Yes, the story, or BACK story of Paul Reubens’ fall from grace is sad, sordid, and grossly unfair, but now it’s 2010 and Pee Wee has triumphed in, of all places, Broadway. It looks like the first bona fide hit that the newly revamped Henry Miller Theater is going to enjoy. I LOVED Dame Edna’s pairing with Michael Feinstein last season, but that inexplicably fizzled.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse I think is going to run and run, simply on sheer joy and wackiness. It immediately reduces the entire audience to a child-like state and keeps them there. Pee Wee makes everyone stand up and pledge allegiance to the beginning of the show, and then we’re all pre-schoolers watching a very zany show with its’ tongue planted firmly in its’ cheek.

Pee Wee always ran on double entendre’s and there are plenty of them to keep the adults bemused and they’ll fly right over kiddies heads, like many of the puppets do, and Pee Wee himself does as the show’s great coup de theatre finale.

All the characters that I wondered “Whatever happened to them?” are back, sometimes with the original Pee Wee’s Playhouse Players playing them. Like Miss Yvonne, “the loveliest lady in Puppetland”. Whose looking a little worse of the wear but still pluckily hanging in there as she proclaims”Pee Wee! I’m your best friend!”

She has a rival in Pee Wee’s favorite chair “Chair-ee” who is back and now the other woman in Pee Wee’s crazy world, who he adores to sit on.

Jesse Garcia of “Quincenera” manages to impress as a new character of a Hispanic handy man who has come to install a new “computadora” for Pee Wee.  He manages to hold his own against all the animated furniture, flowers and fish.

The puppetry in this show is really first-rate. And when I first thought about this show I thought, “Well, a one-man show of just his shtick is gonna be a little boring after the first few minutes” but oh no, Ruebens’ Pee Wee is not alone! I think that I counted upwards of twenty actors and puppeteers at the final curtain call. Pee Wee is well supported this time around. And one’s heart does fly when one is shocked to discover that it remembers all the lines to Jambi The Genie(he’s a revolving talking blue head in a box. Pee Wee’s magic mirror as it were) magical invocation “Meka Leka Hi! Meka Heiny Ho!”

I wonder if “Elf” coming up soon can even regain HALF of Pee Wee’s simple(but complex) fun! “The magic word for today,” said Pee Wee, “is FUN! And you know what you have to do when you hear the word FUN!”

The audience obediently answers, “Yes!”

And Pee Wee says “SCREAM!”

And they all do! Me, too!

At the end of the show, everyone was screaming their heads off- with laughter! Heaven!

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