a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for November, 2010

Oscar-seeker Miranda Richardson’s now up on my YouTube Channel! YAY!

What a classy lady Oscar seeker Miranda Richardson is! My utterly charming interview with this lovely lady is now up on You Tube on my channel, and she’s in the Main Frame! You can’t miss her! www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

She’s had a very, very long illustrious career in British films ever since her debut feature “Dances with a Stranger.” American audiences may remember her VERY different portrayals in “The Crying Game” and more recently in “Phantom of the Opera” as Madame Giry, the Opera’s ballet-mistress.

She got her two previous nominations for her searing portrait of a woman going mad, then coming back again in “Tom and Viv” about the poet T.S. Eliot and his crazy first wife Viv. Who may have been simply been an undiagnosed manic-depressive. And Miranda also got nominated for “Damage” playing a betrayed wife. The first nomination was for Best Actress, the second for Best Supporting Actress.

This time her spot-on performance as MP/Secretary of State Barbara Castle, comes on at the end of the film and really does steal the show. Can Miranda get a THIRD nomination for “Made in Dagenham” just out today and getting rave reviews everywhere?

I think she will.

Pee Wee spreads FUN whilst Harry Potter spreads utter boredom!

Well, there’s a clear choice for New Yorkers who really want a bit of genuine holiday joy this festive-approaching season. Either you take you and your loved ones to “Pee Wee Playhouse” now on Broadway in a magnificent re-incarnation of the television show, in which the magic word is FUN! Directed by the same wizard/director who has just given Broadway IN THE SAME WEEK, the wonderful “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” Alex Timbers, “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” on Broadway is just a joy to behold! And to experience!

OR you can drag yourself to, or get dragged to, by Harry Potter enthusiasts, who will be the only ones who will enjoy the deadly 2 and a half hours of  utter stultification that consumes one as one enters “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part One”

 NOhO! Does that means there’s a PART TWO?!?!? When is this torture ever going to END?????

As Pee Wee Herman would scream, “HEEEEEEELP!”

I only went to see this one because the buzz was that it was one of the best Harry Pooters ever. And instead, what do I find out the hard way? It’s one of the worst!

Why is it so bad? Because it is so DULLLLLL. Virtually nothing happens. Though there are the requisite special effects, they seem small and dull.


Yes, Harry and co. are no longer imprisoned in Hogwarts, though perhaps they should be. They are out of school and being thrown into the cold, cruel world of “Deathly Hollows” in which the operative word is “DEATH” as in dead boring. Or maybe it’s “Hollow” as in “There’s nothing there.”

Working with an extremely muted palate, Harry, Hermione and Ron Weasley and a group of real trees swathed in mist, are the only living things in Pooterville this time around. And although Danielle Radcliffe is turning into a first-rate, energetic young actor, as is Rupert Grint, they are not enough to kick-start this D.O.A. franchise back to life. IF it ever had any life to begin with.

It must be the experience of the books. Which I found unreadable and derivative. Because the movies started out as sort of OK and steadily got worse until I swore around #4 or so, that I would never see one again. And I didn’t til I got suckered by hype into this one. Which is something like #7, oh no!

Motto is “Don’t believe Hype, dear ones” dear readers, dear cineastes. Just don’t.Or do so at your own peril.

Harry, Ron and Hermione(whose acting deteriorated as the film dragged on. Emma Watson! Take some acting lessons, girl!) became insufferable, stuck-up little self-righteous bores as the film wore on and on and on and on….zzzz

How did this ever become a multi-billion dollar franchise? The biggest one in Hollywood History. This is the seventh and would’ve been the last, and it isn’t because of the dreaded PART TWO, which may have perhaps a smidgen more action than the dulldulldull Part One. It boggles the mind. Or rather numbs it, because it is totally incomprehensible. The triumph of mediocrity is the only way I can explain it.

Compared to “Lord of the Rings” this is utter…well, I was going to say, nonsense, but there’s not a dollp of fun or one laugh in it. Although it does have the witchiest witch imaginable Bellatrix La Strange. As personified by the She’s-EVERYwhere Helena Bonham-Carter who tries with whips and snakes to kill these unbearable urchins. But unfortunately after something like ten minutes, they defeat and kill her! Oh cripes!

Give me Pee Wee Herman any day! More on him soon!

Michelle Williams & Ryan Gosling break your heart in “Blue Valentine”

Just got back from a press screening of the much-buzzed about “Blue Valentine.” I don’t want to write a complete review here. It doesn’t open til Christmas, but I will say that both Ryan Gosling and ESPECIALLY my darling Michelle Williams, really do live up their Oscar hype and both SHOULD be nominated!

There’s virtually no other characters in the film except them, and it creeps up on you slowly and them WHAM! It lets you have it with two barrels of blazing star-power.

Michelle is, from an Oscar standpoint, the more predictable nomination, since she’s the sympathetic one in this film. It’s all told from her point of view. And Ryan’s the heavy. But goddamn! La Belle Michelle is wonderful here. The irony is the best actress category is SOOO crowded, but a serious, tragic heart-breaking performance that seems ALL TOO REAL could easy knock out one of the actresses in the lighter, comedic contenders. I’m talking to you Julianne Moore.

Ryan Gosling, OTOH, is a probable lock because except for Colin  Firth and James Franco, the category is MUCH more open. Best Actor, that is.

And with the never-to-be-underestimated Harvey Weinstein, this should be a double slam-dunk for nominations.

Oscar Actress’ Temperature=Hot! Hot! Hot!

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, who invariably writes one magnificent article/post after the other after the other on all things Oscar, has done it again with a couple of beautiful, truly moving pieces on “Black Swan”, Natalie Portman IN “The Black Swan” and the Oscar race of Best Actress, which as Sasha so eloquently points out has now heated up to the boling point for the first time in recent memory.

Check all the excitement out at www.awardsdaily.com

I wrote a lonnnng post in response to her Best Actress article,But it was eaten by the technology, so I’m re-rendering it here. These pieces were soooo meticulously, daresay, breathtakingly arranged and researched to a fair-thee-well, KUDOS, SASHA!

She’s right on a lot of points, almost all, and then goes off the rails over all this ” Jennifer Lawrence is a lock” love. No. She isn’t. She’s lucky she’s getting all this buzz. Her performance is so inert, so understated, it could be a zombie movie. Except zombies have more life than this gal. She reminds me of a pile of botox. If botox were to be found in piles.  Or would it be quarts? Or gallons?

Underacting like this is something the Academy does not like.Young, blonde teenage girls who are ****able, as Sasha put it. THAT they like.

But they’ve got the probable winner Natalie Portman to drool over. Isn’t that enough?

 Well, I’m seeing “Blue Valentine” tomorrow and I hope my darling Michelle Williams doesn’t disappoint.

I’ll let you know when I’ve seen it.

So I think it’s Bening, Moore, Portman, Kidman and somebody else. But NOT Jennifer (who?) Lawrence…

Interestingly Anne Hathaway’s momentum seems to sunk like a stone.

Oh, and that fifth slot could be the much talked about Leslie Manville in “Another Year”. This year is so tough MICHELLE WILLIAMS might not even get in, it’s so crowded.

And I hear that there was a near-riot at the first AND ONLY SAG screening of “The King’s Men” in New York. People were lining up AN HOUR AND A HALF beforehand to get in! Lines around the block! And the response! Tumultous!

One female SAG member was saying “It’s the Best Film I’ve Ever Seen in My Life” and she wasn’t the only one who was saying that. And I agree!

“Bloody, Bloody…” is Bloody Wonderful!

“Bloody” my English grandmother used to tell my mother was a very, very bad word back in the Olde Country…on the Other Side…which in her case meant Liverpool…

But Bloody in the case of “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” the new VERY unusual, VERY original musical just transferred to Broadway from a VERY long, successful run at the Public Theater, is just plain Bloody Wonderful!

I had just had very severe and unexpected Oral Surgery(don’t ask!) and I couldn’t believe I was out and about and going to see this musical extravaganza, with “extra” being the  two most active syllables…which I had seen the first time around and not liked at all.

What was I doing back there? Well, Anthony Del Col of “Kill Shakespeare” fame wanted to see it. He and Conor McCreery were in town for their launch of their graphic novel of “KS” which I really wanted to attend, but Oscar called, in the guise of the Nominee Party for the Gotham Awards, and I HAD to attend that at exactly the same hours as the “KS” launch party in the Village at the Chair and Maiden art gallery.

Well, an Oscarologist and TV personality can’t be in two places at the same time, so I missed it, and got tickets to “Bloody, Bloody…” instead because I felt so bad that I missed their launch. And then Anthony tells me he’s in Philadelphia for a couple of days! But I had already secured the tickets for last night, so I had to go.

So there I was at BBAJ and reeling from what seemed like HOURS of oral surgery and guess what? I just loved it second around! Talk about the transformative power of art! The show just LIFTED me into its’ own wild realm and I was as spell-bound by BBAJ as his contemporary voting base was said to be.

Why? What was “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” doing to me?

Well, I guess I wanted to maintain an open mind about it this time. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, as once again my critical colleagues raved and raved. I wanted to go in this time, and accept it on its’ own wacked-out terms, and this time it was pure theatrical enjoyment! I couldn’t believe it!

How had it changed? Well, the big Broadway theatre it was now in, the Bernard Jacobs’, was JUST the RIIIIIIGht size for this outsized rock musical and it’s larger than life performances,. especially Benjamin  Walker’s unbelievable, star-making turn as Andrew Jackson himself.

And before the music had just seemed toooooo loud. Now it seemed so catchy and fine, I immediately wanted a cast album! I guess a better sound system was put in place for Broadway. It seemed even, dare I say, at times, melodious?

This show is beyond quirky, and I guess I was offended by the opening scene of a middle-aged woman with glasses, a traditional historian, who narrates the first part of the show, in a motorized wheel-chair. To laugh at someone’s disability like this I thought was just distasteful.

But now, in the hands of expert comedienne Kristine Neilson (who bares a startling resemblance Tony Winner Julie White!) she was, of course, hilarious and plucky and determined, to power-scoot her way into center stage, even if she did bump into everything in her path, and set just the right tone for all of the historical ridiculousness to follow. She then gets shot in the neck with an invisible arrow! So much for traditional history, BBAJ is saying. History is gonna get it in the neck from BBAJ.

You see, the show’s premise is that we really don’t know ANYthing about Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, who was nicknamed “Old Hickory” and who, I was taught in grade school like everybody else in this country, was one of our greatest presidents. After all, he’s on the $20 bill!

Well, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is here to tell you something quite, quite different. It’s here not to just deconstruct history, but to destroy it altogether, and in the end, it is really shockingly all about race. And how Andrew Jackson was responsible for the genocide of the American Indians. And that he, in the conclusion the show draws, was “an American Hitler.”

And it seems irrefutable that he was, in the ways the history in BBAJ is presented to us.

And yes, also, Andrew Jackson was a lot of other things, too. Charismatic, “a rock star president”. He was extremely popular. He claims to be “The People’s President” and someone who stands for the rights of those “in the West” and against “The effete politicians from the NorthEast.” The song is “Populism, Yeah! Yeah!”

And he totes his many guns and kills as many Indians as he possibly can, and Spaniards, too, with great gusto.  (Is this beginning to sound like a modern politico? Yes, I shuddered, it does.  The first time I saw it, I thought it was about Bush. Now it seems to be a metaphor for S. Palin!)

This show worked this time around on so many levels I can barely list them all. It was first and foremost a rollicking good entertainment. And as performed by the stupendous young cast, it ROCKED! Like a good rock musical should.

Andrew Jackson, or “Sexypants” as the ads proclaim him, was incredibly embodied in a star-turn of a performance  by newcomer Benjamin Walker. The tall, dark and handsome Walker can sing and dance and act with the best of them, and is clearly on his way to a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a musical, if not the actual Tony itself! The six-foot-plus Walker STRIDES around the Bernard Jacobs’s stage like he owned Broadway and he right now, he certainly does.

I don’t know what this disjointed panalopy of warring theatrical genres would do without him grounding all of the historical contradictions that BBAJ espouses. It needs a monumental, heroic, ballsy hero to embody the charisma that they say the original AJ had. And Benjamin Walker has charisma to spare. His performance is fearless, both physically and vocally. Written  and directed by Alex Timbers with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, the role of Andrew Jackson requires an actor who seems to have superpowers. And Benjamin Walker is Superman personified. As he swaggers and struts his way through number after number that would cripple an ordinary human, I hear Hollywood Calling! Right about NOW!

This kind of matinee idol/hero/hunk won’t be long for Broadway, I fear. So catch him now while he’s still hot and boiling on Broadway. To say that he raises the temperature in the red-Christmas-light-bedecked theater is an understatement. He blows the roof off the place! Only RARELY do you see a powerful performance like this live and on stage on Bway. It’s a theatrical rarity.

And the casting in the supporting roles is equally exciting.

Hispanic actress Maria-Elena Ramirez as his devoted wife and fellow-blood-letter(Yes, they do it, and for fun and for romance) Rachel does a VERY sly imitation of all the white women cliches that she has probably never been asked to play in her professional lifetime.  In an inspired piece of non-traditional casting, wily director/writer Timbers is using Ms.Ramirez’ ethnicity as a comment on the race problems Jackson was constantly confronting in early 19th century America. His love for Rachel is perhaps the only redeeming feature in Jackson. AND that he adopts a Native American Indian child and names him Lyncoya. Did Jackson REALLY do this in real life? Or is this just another one of Mr. Timbers’ wry historical conceits? In any case, Jackson, whom the play claims watched his parents be killed by Indians, can’t escpae this question, even in his bedroom.

When Ms. Ramirez, whose Rachel dies towards the end of the evening, also ends up leading the tableaux of American Indians who Jackson is sending on a death march westward, just as the Nazis did to the Jews in WWII, well, the parallels and the power of that juxtaposition of Ms. Ramirez and the guilt-stricken Jackson speaks volumes.

Stealing the show out from underneath everyone is another NYU Grad actor(as is Ms. Ramirez), Lucas Near-VerBrugghe as the super-effeminate Martin Van Buren. Having seen many, many memorable performances of his in an incredibly wide variety of roles, while he was still a graduate student, I was not surprised but only delighted to see him come to, well, fruition as a pink-fuffled shirt President who can’t stop eating twinkies as he ogles the super-hunky Walker.

He shakes so much with sheer delight everytime he’s near his American Idol, Jackson, that I thought he was going to vibrate himself to death. But then, as the play darkens towards its’ end and Rachel dies and everybody seems to have deserted Jackson, Near-Verbrugge’s dedication, and dare I say it? Love, for his falling hero, takes his performance out of the stereotypical and into the sublime.

Lucas Near-Verbrugge. VER-BRU-GAH. Learn to pronounce it, because like Benjamin Walker, you’re going to be hearing from him and often, as their stars rise with the blazing success of “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

Memories of Jill Clayburgh, R.I.P.

I met Jill Clayburgh and her beautiful, talented daughter Lily Rabe at a Drama Desk Luncheon at Sardi’s a number of years ago. Actually, it was the year of “Doubt” because Cherry Jones was on the panel. I think it was about something like “What the Drama Desk  Award Meant to Me as an Actor” because there was nothing but actors on the panel. Frances Sternhagen, John Lithgow, Cherry and others.

And Jill and Lily and I were sat next to each at this event which was quite lengthy I remember and the lunch came first.

Jill was talking about our mutual friend Amy Robinson, who went to Sarah Lawrence, as did Jill. They were both in Florida doing something together regardingwhat ended in  the Bush/Gore mess down there. Was this before the election even? Were they trying to register voters? Oh, they were campaigning for Gore. That was it.

 I was surprised, and Jill was saying about Amy “She’s STILL producing her movies. But you know, movies today are not like the movies they used to do (in the ’70s)” Which is putting it mildly.

Most recently Amy was one of the producers of Meryl Streep’s latest triumph “Julie and Julia,” but I knew Amy as an actress at LaMama, just having graduated from Sarah Lawrence. Amy was in the wild experimental troupe Grupo Bilingue with me in the VERY early ’70s, and had been Petlurah, Cossack in an Israeli play called “Toy Story” at La Mama, where I was the assistant stage manager! This was very early days!

Susan Haskins, now the producer/co-hostess of PBS TheaterTalk with Michael Riedel, was also a classmate of Amy’s from Sarah Lawrence, and both Susan and Amy were IN THE CAST of my first play “The Babs’n’Judy Show” at the WPA theater, directed by another Sarah Lawrence alum, Bob Plunket. It was a smash hit at the time and really launched my career as a playwright.

Amy played a talk show host(!) named Carmelita Pope, and Susan had a few lines as a “TV director”(!?!) Talk about prophetic!

Anyway alllll these Sarah Lawrence connections gave Jill and I plenty to talk about over that lonnnnng lunch.

Jill was taught at Sarah Lawrence by the same teachers that had taught Amy, Susan, Bob and also now documentary filmmaker Nancy Heiken who just had an international success this year with “Kimjongilia.” These were the great academic/experimental theater directors the late Will Leach and Jon Braswell.

I remember that Jill admitted that yes, she had participated in the Sarah Lawrence song nights, which was an evening of current pop standards sung by the undergraduate young ladies of SLU. Jill didn’t remember what song she sang. I think Carly Simon was a classmate. But NOT Yoko Ono.

Jill’s big film break, of course, had been getting the part of Carole Lombard, in “Gable and Lombard” which had launched her cinematically. She got particular praise for that portrayal, she thought, always being modesty itself, because people didn’t have a very strong view of Lombard, as they did about Clark Gable. James Brolin, believe it or not, played Gable!

She then went on to become the poster girl for the Women’s Movement in film after film that broke stereotypes of women’s leading roles in movies, probably forever, “An Unmarried Woman” being main among them. It shouldn’t’ve surprised me that Jill was registering voters in Florida. She’ll always be remembered as a seminal, political figure because of her great screen portrayls in the ’70s, which earned her two Oscar nominations.

She also told me that she got in to Show Business because her mother had been a secretary to David Merrick, the controversial Broadway producer, and so, she had virtually grown up on the Great White Way. And she and her mother both liked the universally despised Merrick. Her mother always took her to Sardi’s as a little girl. So she always associated Sardi’s, the legendary Broadway watering hole, with the happiest memories of her childhood. She knew the Sardi’s menu upside down and backwards, and knew all the nooks and crannies of it. We were having the Drama Desk luncheon on the third floor. I didn’t even know that they HAD a third floor! But Jill did. And she had been there many times.

Lily, her beautiful blonde daughter, was sitting between us at Sardi’s and had heard all these stories before. And I told Lily that she was going to get nominated for a Drama Desk Award for the play she was making her debut in that year. And she did!

Jill and I were soul-mates from that time on, and pen pals via email. She told me she NEVER answered the phone(!) but emails she always responded to. And as her work in this past decade kept shifting her back and forth between both coasts, emails were something she actively enjoyed doing. Since she never answered the phone!

She told me that when she was young, stalkers, etc. were a problem, but “not anymore” and she laughed, although she still never answered the phone.

Lily Rabe is as photogenic and as beautiful in her own way as her famous movie star mother, and of course, the great chronicler of Viet Nam, playwright David Rabe, was Lily’s father and Jill’s husband of many, many years.

Lily was playing Portia to Al Pacino’s Shylock in Shakespeare in the Park in NYC this summer, and she was terrific in it, as was the production as was Pacino. This was quite a serious dramatic breakthrough for Lily, who has consistently worked in New York theater over the past decade. She also, by the way, went to Sarah Lawrence.

I waited for her after the show to say “Hi” and congratulate her on this stunning success in Shakespeare, no less. But the security outside the stage door in the Park was kind of tight that night and I was saying “Hello” to two other friends in the show, Heather Lind, who just graduated from NYU and Hamish Linklater.

So when I didn’t see Lily emerge, I thought “Well, I’ll catch up with tales of her and her mom and dad later.” But that wasn’t to be…

The last time I saw Jill Clayburgh in person was after a performance of “The Clean House” at Lincoln Center. We had a long walk down Broadway in the moonlight. It was the year Penelope Cruz got nominated for Best Actress for the Spanish language “Volver” and we were discussing that. She was a member of the Academy, of course, because she’d been nominated so many times.

That silvery moonlit NY night was the last time I saw Jill Clayburgh alive, though we continued to communicate by email, and in recent years she was mostly in LA. I was shocked to hear that she battled leukemia for so many years. She never mentioned it. Never complained.

She was the epitome of “A Class Act.”

R.I.P. Jill. A great actress, a great lady, a great spirit, a great loss.

PS: I never had the great good fortune to have Jill as a guest on my program, but you can see her in a very nice clip that’s in Main Frame at www.youtube.com/theatertalk

Camp Classic Suffers Nervous Breakdown on Bway

I have heard the WORST buzz on any show this season on “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” the musical version of Pedro Almodovar’s Camp Classic, with two Capital Cs. This is an important even seminal work in the worldwide gay ouevre. And Pedro Almodovar is my personal gay god.

It was Almodovar’s breakthough film internationally. But here, in this version, at the Belasco, well, if you want to see a show having a nervous breakdown right in front of you. and all these talented people with it, run, don’t walk to the Belasco, because I fear it’s not going to be around for very long.

How could you take this hilarious movie and make a musical that is NOT FUNNY?!? There is no wit visisble in “Women on the Verge…”Every line seemed to land with a thud. And, and it’s just not well, gay, enough. I’ll be surprised if it’s still open by the time I finish typing this sentence.

But gays are the audience for this, if indeed there is any audience at all. And you have some of the best musical comedy actresses of our time, including Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti and Sherrie Rene Scott and make them ALLLL not funny? Well, director Bartlett Sher and composer David Yazbeck have done just that.And Jeffrey Lane the book writer has to take a lot of the blame, too. For this brightly-hued mess.

At one point, towards the end of the painful first act, all these uber-talented women were STARING at each other, with “What the hell are we doing here?” looks on their faces. And I’m sure much of the audience was thinking the same thing.

It sure is colorful enough. In fact, director Sher seems to have spent all his time and energy on the extremely overwhelming, but colorful projected backdrops, that display more excitement than the actors do. Which is a shame.

 In fact, the never-for-a-moment-still projections by Sven Ortel, overwhelm most of the actors, and you watch them instead of the mere mortals trying valiantly to hold up their ends of the bargain. Sher obviously wants to direct a movie. But this isn’t A MOVIE! It’s a Broadway musical! Now, he did just fine with “Light in the Piazza” but that had a magnificently lush and romantic score by Adam Guettel. Here the score is just thumpingly serviceable. The music should make it fly, not give you a nervous breakdown.

Wasn’t this the show that was a hit in London and that’s why they brought it here? Can’t be the same production. It’s certainly not a British cast, for a change.

There’s been soooo many British shows and British actors on Broadway this year I thought I had moved to England.

What’s missing is the light-hearted , De-LIGHT-ful light touch that camp needs to succeed. It needed a homosexual writing the score, I’m afraid, and David Yazbeck who is talented and has succeeded on Bway with shows based on movies like “The Full Monty” and “Dirty Rotten Soundrels” has come a cropper with “Breakdown.” His score is thumpingly straight and frankly too serious for a delicate, camp subject like this.

He and Sher, both heterosexuals, married with children, just don’t get it. And they’ve ruined what should have been a sublimely frothy show into something shrill and almost unbearable. Y’know, like A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. It made me want to watch the movie again. But not this musical. Life is too short.

And what a shame it is to see the great Patti LuPone wasted like this!

However she and Danny Burstein, are the only two performaners here who seems to hit just the right high notes as a crazy Madrid cab-driver with peroxided blond hair. They are the shows bright spots. And it does have them. And Burstein has the entire opening number to himself called “Madrid Is My Mother” and I thought, Wow! This really might be something! And to hell with all the bad buzz, then as the show wore on and on and only brightened when La LuPone crossed the stage in a parade of outrageous ’60s hats and costumes, or when she sang, did it sputter to life. She has one solo number called “Invisible” and she stops the show. And it needed stopping.

The shows creators never seem to find the CHARM and the warmth of Almodovar’s world, except when Patti or Burstein were center stage.

And a lot of this also has to be laid at the doors of Sherrie Rene Scott, who is the leading lady here, in her first serious acting role. And she was never known for her serious acting. She has to anchor the whole show. Not BE an anchor. It’s like she’s this dead-weight the musical has to keep dragging back on stage. She seems to be playing depressed. And it’s depressing as opposed to comical.

 And Laura Benanti, who won a Tony for her performance as Gypsy in “Gypsy,” is simply strident and hysterical, but not funny- hysterical, just hysterical- hysterical. Like as in annoying.

Carmen Maura, if memory serves, was just instantly lovable as Pepa, the lead in the movie version. You were instantly on her side. You wanted her to succeed in all the crazy attempts she makes to NOT have a nervous breakdown. She had warmth. She had charm. She had style. She had class. She had humor. It was the greatest FUN to watch her try NOT to have a nervous breakdown. Whereas poor Sherie Rene Scott seems to actually be clinically depressed.

And the subtitles in the movie were funnier than the lines in this play. Maybe it should’ve been all in Spanish with subtitles. So sad, so sad.

Luis Salgado who was in the chorus of “In the Heights” here gets an actual memorable role as the non-speaking Malik  the terrorist who is the amour of Laura Benanti’s character. He gets to be nude upstage of Benanti getting out of bed, and then dresses and comes back later clad only in a towel. Now THAT’S Almodovarian! And I’m sure Pedro would agree.

O Dios Mio! Oh! And Brian Stokes Mitchell is in this too as the man all the women are obsessing over. And that makes some kind of sense. But since he’s wasted with mediocre songs and lines, too. He barely registers.

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