a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for March, 2011

Daniel Radcliffe Delights Bway! In “How To Succeed…”

Daniel Radcliffe is absolutely a delight and a revelation in the latest revival of Bway vintage musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He is so successful from his Harry Potter decade of family film franchise stardom that he never has to do anything for the rest of his professional life. Unless he wants to. And he certainly didn’t have to take on the singing and dancing challenge that J. Pierpont Finch represents in “How To…” But he did! And he triumphs!

Surprisingly. When the tiny Radcliffe busts a movie(or rather) move in the “Groundhog” football dance number the teenage girls in the audience (yes! teenage girls in a Bway audience!) started squeeeeealing with delight. That’s just the first act! And by the “Brotherhood of Man” finale number that concludes this rousing revival,the diminutive Radcliffe has utterly proven himself as a bona fide Broadway singing and dancing sensation!

And his “I Believe In You” the famous Men’s Washroom song sung to an invisible mirror — Fawgeddabowit!

 “How To…”, a creaky curio at best, really needs that star power and charisma in the central role that Radcliffe dazzlingly provides, or it really is pretty much a bunch of nothing. And very sexist too boot. Its’ heroine Rosemary’s singing of the delights of “I’ll be happy to keep his dinner warm. Waiting for him to wearily come home from Downtown” as the other girls in the steno pool sing ” Don’t Cinderella! Don’t give up the Prince!” and the glories of the “New Rochelle PTA!”

Feminists in the audience will be cringing. But not so the teenage girls who were SCREAMING their way through one Radcliffe number after the other after the other. They were in Harry Potter cult heaven! I’ve never seen anything like this reaction on Ole Broadway before…It reminded me of what it must have been like when Frank Sinatra sang to the swooning bobby-soxers at the Paramount. Not that I was there, mind you. But I’m just saying…it’s VERY unlike OLDE Broadway to have this much young blood pumping wildy through its’ veins. But why not? It works! In spades!

“How to…” harks back, way back,  to the days when stars were expected to sing seven or eight numbers (at least!) all night long. And dance, too! And Radcliffe does all that to a fare-thee-well.

He has a very nice, serviceable singing voice, too, and an undeniable charm that makes his supposedly Machiavellian rise to the top be be absolutely and utterly believable. His character,  J. Pierpont Finch simply by reading this “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” book rises to the top of the World Wide Wicket Corporation by simply following the book’s simply laid out rules. Unctously read as an off-stage voice by narrator Anderson Cooper. Yes, THAT Anderson Cooper! It seems every body wants in on this successful boy’s new next act. Singing, and dancing and with a perfect American accent, too! I loved it!

This plot strangely mirrors Radcliffe’s charmed life in a marvelous way. The boy is so utterly disarming, as the book says, “without really trying”, he succeeds and succeeds again, as Radcliffe as Harry Potter has done in the decades-long franchise now about to reach its’ cinematic conclusion this summer. It’s been the most financially successful franchise series in cinema history.

 And when the last movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Pt.2” is released and Daniel Radcliffe will  still be singing and dancing his way into America’s hearts in this charming revival which will run and run as long as Radcliffe wants it to be in it.

 With, I’m predicting a “Best Actor in a Musical” Tony Award to boot!

Having seen Radcliffe naked and acting his heart out to the tune of a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Actor in a Play for “Equus” couple of seasons back, one knew he had the dramatic chops to sustain this startling career transition to serious stage actor and now morphing even further into a singing and dancing Bway phenom.

Justin Bieber, Look Out!

Daniel Radcliffe is now crooning and swooning in a Big Phat Bway Musical Hit!

I’m beginning to think that Radcliffe can do just about anything! Of course, he is fully supported by one great show tune from the pen of the late great Frank Loesser after the other.

This show won the Pulitzer Prize it was considered so timely, so edgy, when it first came out 50 years ago, but without the spiffy stealth updating by director Rob Ashford and an able supporting cast, including TV Vet John(“Night Court”) Larroquette in the Rudy Vallee part of J. B. Biggley, the boss of World Wide Wickets and the beauteous, ample heaving bosoms of the headiest of  Hedy La Rue’s of Tammy Blanchard, one wonders just how pertinent this dated story could possibly be today. In a post-Enron world, a mild satire of corporate shenanigans could go over like the lead balloon it proved to be when Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullaly (pre-“Will and Grace”) essayed it back in the ’90s. He and it were so boring and she was so grating, I walked out at intermission. But he won a Tony anyway.

But the rise and surprise of Daniel Radcliffe made me stay and stand and applaud! Aren’t we lucky to have him on Broadway delightfully re-inventing this war-horse and his own career at the same time! As far as I’m concerned Broadway has a new star! Daniel Radcliffe! Long may he shine!

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Hail Stones & Heart Attacks at “Arcadia” on Bway!

Last night’s venture onto the Great White Way now that the Theater Season is starting to bloom, despite the sudden plunge back into wintry temperatures, was pretty eventful, and rather dwarfed the experience of the seeing the three hour PLUS “Arcadia.”

I’ve never experienced a hail storm IN MY LIFE! Especially on Broadway in mid-town Manhattan in the theater district! It was merely raining a bit at first but soon it turned into an all-out hail storm as New Yorkers were subjected to something REALLY new ~ being pelted with these tiny little balls of ice. I.E. Hail! I couldn’t believe it! And it kept up as I missed my bus stop and had to get off and walk back three blocks, being thoroughly pelted my these tiny little pellets. Bang! Bang! Bang! It must be what being shot at feels like.

And you couldn’t duck them. Of course, one could go inside and wait til it was over, but it didn’t seem like it was EVAH going to be over, it was so intense. It was like a down pour, except it was tiny, round, hard, and solid little balls coming down! And as they accumulated they finally started getting smushed under foot by the HOARDES of Spring-time theater-goers packing the narrow Broadway side streets all rushing to their appointed play or musical.

THEN, they took their bloody time OPENING THE DOORS to the Ethel Barrymore Theater, so the crowd crowding in under the overheard marquis(fortunately there was one) was PRETTY angry as they waited and waited and waited IN THE HALE until they finally got in!

THEN in the middle of the first act of Tom Stoppard’s VERY abstruse and difficult to follow play(at best), an elderly gentleman two rows ahead of me, seemed to being having a heart attack!

The woman he was with who was later identified as his daughter, ran out  from the absolute middle of Row K, which is smack dab in the middle of the Orchestra seats of the theater, edged her way disruptively out to the aisle and then ran out of the theater, something no one ever does. So I thought it was a bathroom emergency. Or she just hated the production(with good reason). I think it was in the middle of the impossible to understand ANYway scene about algebra, yes, algrebra, and iterated algorythms, whatever THEY are.

Then I was alarmed when she returned, and had an EMS guy with her in full regalia, with what I recognized as a heart attack pack, as they say.

THEN the lights came up and the spectral voice of the house manager, I assume, announced to the actors AND the audience “Actors on stage and members of the audience we have a medical emergency.” And another EMS guy or two came in and all of the now VERY disrupted Row K had to get up and leave their seats so they could haul this man who seemed at first slumped in his seat, then completely immobile. So much so that they had great difficulty extracting him from the center of the theater.

I remember Raul Esparza, who has been on my TV show several times, was onstage in the middle of a scene, and barefoot, being the actor who had the “Oh no!” look on his face, but he smiled and immediately left as did cast mate Lia Williams.

As an entire STRETCHER was moved into the aisle right before me(I had an aisle seat, so could see everything that was happening), I heard that the man was a critic. His review, I’m guessing was “Bored to Death.”

Elizabeth Taylor passes ~ The Star of Stars

So shocked and saddened to turn on my TV set this morning and be bombarded with the devastating news of Elizabeth Taylor’s death.

She seemed so strong, so resilient. I thought she would never die.

She was the Star of Stars. And my childhood idol/crush.

It seems sometimes I ran large portions of my childhood around her.

Memories come flooding back.

Now that I have a talk-show and routinely interact with all the great ones, I find myself trying to figure out how I can get them as guests and if so, why not?

Well, Elizabeth Taylor was simply before my time. And she was from pre-junket Hollywood. Where, as you may have noticed on my You Tube Channel or my long-running cable TV show, www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I get most of the biggest stars from TV press junkets.

Elizabeth Taylor’s film career was done YEARS before I started star chatting, but in the back of my mind, I always felt/hoped consciously or unconsciously that I would someday meet and greet her.

It didn’t happen.

I have so many childhood memories, mostly bittersweet, of trying, somehow to even catch a glimpse of her.

The closest I got was when my first gay friend, who I didn’t know was gay, just “sophisticated”, who lived downstairs of me, in the Bronx, and who was a year ahead of me in Catholic school, Edward Calabrese, used to go “downtown” to wild and wicked Manhattan to perhaps catch a glimpse of her coming or going from where she was holed up when hubby Richard Burton was doing “Hamlet” on Broadway. She was staying in the Penthouse at the Regency Hotel.

Long story short. Edward and I never saw her.

We also waited to see her at “Hamlet”. Never saw her. Sometimes she’d go there to meet Richard Burton, the love of her life, before or after the show. Never saw her.

I did see HIM. In “Hamlet” on Broadway and of course, I went with Edward. Burton was a mediocre Hamlet, I thought, a critic even at that tender age. He was getting through it on his INCREDIBLE voice, and with a minimum of acting.

The great performances in that show were John Gielgud’s voice(on tape) of the “Ghost.” He really scared me. And remains still the best Ghost of Hamlet’s father ever, IMHO. And also a particularly poignant Player Queen, played in drag, by the very young Kit Culkin, MacCauley’s father. And Hume Cronyn was good, too, as the VERY busy body of Polinius. And Eileen Hurley, with BRIGHT red hair, was Gertrude…She played a VERY YOUNG Gertrude to Olivier’s much better “Hamlet” in the movie and later was Muriel, with equally bright red hair on “All My Children” for a very long run…

But I never saw Elizabeth.

But I tried.

I have so many memories of Elizabeth as she liked to be called that I could fill a book. Maybe someday I will.

Elizabeth R.I.P.

“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” on Bway! Wonderful! Gay-Fun-der-full!

I’m baaaaaaaaack! And tingling with the excitement, joy and delight of a great new GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY musical, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” which is landing on Broadway at the Palace theater right about NOW! KA-BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s wonderful! Gay-Fun-derful! “Priscilla” explodes like a glitter ball bomb, scattering confetti and good will for all and is even MORE over the Top than the classic queer film version. I know that doesn’t sound possible, but it is, believe me, it is!

Subtle, this isn’t. But how could it be anything else? It’s a non-stop musical with numbers from the ’70s, and some from the ’80s(Madonna’s) and none whatsoever from ABBA.

As it was in the movie.

And let’s not mince words, Madoona’s songs are NOT an acceptable substitute for ABBA’s which are currently STILL in heavy usage on Broadway in “Mama Mia” a show that seems to have no end. Hence the switch to the Material Grrrl’s, er, material.

And the ’80’s just don’t have the same camp resonance as the ’70s and the film of “Priscilla” was pure ’70s, and therefore morely truly, regally camp.

Madonna’s songs sadly make the whole show seem, well, er, tackier than the film version.

But Madge, as she’s called here, will just HAVE to do, because everything else about the show is just spectacular. With the emphasis on SPECK-TACKLE!

The costumes for the film, if memory serves, won an Oscar, and the gorgeous, eye-popping gowns and wigswigswigs(by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner) and will probably do the same  thing when the Tonys roll around, and guess what? It’s TONY SEASON! Yes, already the plays are opening every other second every which way you look. On Broadway And Off. And it’s wonderful that they are!

And you hope that they’re all gonna be wonderful. And not all of them will be. But “Priscilla” sure is!

The three leads were all unknowns before the curtain went up, but now they’re bona fide Broadway stars. In my book! And turn in such wonderful performances they almost make you forget the great performances of Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce. YES, GUY PEARCE, who all sizzled  in full drag on the screen. Yes, “The King’s Speech”, “Momento”s Guy Pearce, who is now a tres butch Hollywood A-Lister!

And I bet all three of these great gays, er, guys, will all be nominees come Tony Time, which as I said, begins NOW! Will Swenson, as the “straight” one, who has a previous wife and child. An incredibly touching Luke Mennikus brings the audience to tears as the lonely son Benji.

Benji provides the “plot” of “Priscilla” this time more heavily emphasized than in the movie. Benji wants to meet his absent father. Even if he does wear “purple pants.”

And Benji and his Mom are located in the middle of nowhere, in the Back of the Back of Beyond of the Australian Out Back, Alice Springs.

And Tick  a.k.a. Mitzi is reluctant to make the, er, confrontation, and takes old friend, Bernadette, a stately, classy transexual along for support( and back -up singing). Bernadette is (Terence Stamp in the movie) played to purr-fection by the Original Aussie(and London, and Toronto) Bernadette, Tony Sheldon. Who is staring at a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Nomination. And Will Swenson may be, too. After all, Douglas Hodge won in this category just last year as Zaza in the recent revival of “La Cage Aux Folles.”

Or will they put Will  Swenson in the Supporting Actor in a Musical category? Ah, but then he’d be up against the,er, stiffest competition of all, the break-out star Nick Adams, as the loud, motor-mouth Felicia, who pretty much steals the show, with one show stopping number after the other. Almost too numerous to list.

And I kept thinking I’d see his handsome face(and fizz-eeek!) before and the program notes reveal we’ve seen Nick strutting his/her stuff in the chorus of the latest “La Cage” and also “A Chorus Line”s revival and also “The Pirate Queen.” Yes, I’m such a Broadway baby I even survived “The Pirate Queen” and no, the studly/femme Nick Adams DIDN’T play the title role. But THIS TIME!

He arguably has the role of his/her career making bitchy/lovable Felicia a magnificent gay monument. And probably winning a Tony come June, too!

It was all so wonderful, I’ve run out of glittering adjectives! Go! Just GO! To “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”! Long may she rave!

“Matilda Boosoms” Tonight! At Ensemble Studio Theater! 7pm

So tonight’s the big night and today’s the final day of rehearsals before tonight’s 7pm staged reading. It’s at the Ensemble Studio Theater at 549 WEST 52nd street, in NYC. That’s almost over on the river! It’s quite a hike and I still haven’t figured out which is the best way to get there.

The subway stop nearest it would be w.51st or w.50th on the C line and the bus that goes up 10th Avenue would let you off one block away.

It’s all very exciting! And of course, since I’m also the director, it’s all consuming. But I will be back on blog duty after tonight’s performance. So just because the Oscars are over, doesn’t mean I stop covering everything under the New York sun!

There will be a lot of theater coming up. Broadway is about to go into full bloom, and there are a ton of plays opening. Tons! And I’ll try to write about them all.

A New Play! “The Six Flights of Matilda Boosoms” coming up! Fast!

Dear Readers, dear cineastes and dear theatre-lovers, especially you New Yorkers, I’ve got a staged reading of my new play “The Six Flights of Matilda Boosoms: A VERY dark comedy thriller” coming up FAST! Next Tuesday night, March 15 at 7pm at the Ensemble Studio Theater.

It’s part of their Memberfest, and the great actress Judith Roberts(google her) is the Member whose festivities this is and who is playing the title role of Matilda Boosoms. A VERY presentable woman of an age certain, who lives in a six-flight walk-up in Greenwich Village. It’s set in 2004(though Matilda’s mind is in 1964!) and Matilda is finding it harder and harder to get up and down all those stairs. It’s beginning to take it’s toll on her physical and mental health. And in a post 9/11 world, she begins to think that her neighbors are out to kill her. Or is it vice versa?

No reservations necessary. 2nd floor theater. EST as it’s abbreviated is on W.59th street near 11th Ave, but the entrance is on W.52nd. More soon. Like the exact street address of the theater! Lolol…

“The King’s Speech” wins Best Picture, Best Actor, Director, Screenplay!

WOW! That was a long show last night!

I just LOVE the Oscars! All year-long! Every day and all year-long, like Sasha Stone does, (though this year tried even her ever admirable patience) and Tom O’Neil certainly does. And of course, the great Guru o’ Gold himself, David Poland, who as he says, “planted his flag in Oscar” years ago.

I actually really did enjoy the show, because a) The King Speech really did win ~ at the end and b) my gal Anne Hathaway just blew it out of the ball park(mixed metaphor). She had to carry the show THE ENTIRE SHOW on her beautiful, and extremely capable shoulders, AND SHE DID! James Franco was clearly stoned. But on what? And as he became increasingly frozen as the show went on and on and on, it’s like whatever he started taking at the beginning when he was popping his eyes at the pre-show interview, where he was sitting down with an ABC gal.. By the time the show FINALLY started, whatever he was on had kicked in and seemed to paralyze him,.was it just EXHAUSTION? He had a big day the day before at the Indie Spirits, and also an art gallery opening and…as Seth Meyers supposedly quipped to Nicki Finke in an email….and valet parking…

He was just blanksville. Dead tired or just plain dead, it equals the same thing on TV. And Annie got more and more animated as he became less so…

But thank god for Annie Hathaway! She really aced it! With her enthusiasm, and her super-model ability to look good in any outfit in any situation. AND she’s a natural comedienne. Has she done stand-up? Bruce Villanch(another personal idol of mine) said that both Franco and Hathaway had aced SNL. But hosting SNL isn’t THE OSCARS!

Well, loved her, hated him. And even though they were there to reach a younger demographic the ratings STILL went down! So this was not working.

Stand up comics really are the way to go for this. I would much rather have Ricki Gervais. Hell, I, yes, me myself, I could have done a better job hosting. But then that’s what I do! I host a TV show…for 23 years…and let me tell you it ain’t easy.

And yes, I’ve done stand up, too, in my salad days…So one has a natural affinity to want to host, well, EVERYTHING!

When the high point of the evening, television was Kirk Douglas’ beyond embarrassing 1000 year old dirty old man routine, PLUS his stroke-affected vocal slurring…well, when he got to go ga-ga over Melissa Leo, he made even her dropping the F-bomb look better by comparison.

Leo is no stand-up comic and I thought to say “I’ve fucking won!” and get bleeped and then imitate walking with a cane and helping Kirk Douglas off… was Dreadful…Brilliant actress who finally got a glamourous look together, and was botoxed almost to the point of looking like Nicole Kidman….and then she opens her mouth and bats fly out. She was never this crazy. Or maybe she was. I felt terrible for her ex John Heard at this exact moment. I’m done with her. Great actress or not, she’s degraded the profession, or at any rate the Oscars, which in my book is unconscionable.

Asking a 90 year plus stoke victim who was walking with a cane to pinch her! And then he does! And then she takes his cane! And thinks it’s funny???? I’ve lost all my respect for her and will probably never write a good word about her again as long as I live. She’s dead to me. So she won the Oscar. On her own terms. Good for her. But THIS is how she chooses to present herself to the world in her big moment? By dropping the F-Bomb?!? At the Oscars!!! This is why Mickey Rourke didn’t win. And then her F-bombing threw with synchronization of the rest of the show off! So EVERYone seemed to be lip-syncing! How crass! How common! It’s really unforgiveable. But of course it isn’t HER fault. Blame it on Kirk Douglas!

But the worst was yet to coma as James Franco turned into-well, Kirk Douglas without the stroke…

It’s a long, dull show. It always was, but it does have it electric moments. And those moments make it worth it all.

My most exciting moment? Tom Hooper winning for Best Director! I and everyone at the Oscar party I was watching it with nearly jumped out of our seats with excitement!

And who said this show didn’t have any suspense? As the technical awards went to every other movie BUT “The King’s Speech” I began to get a little nervous.

Well, a lot nervous. But then when TOM HOOPER WON! And he made that beautiful speech to his mother! I was REALLY moved! And then Colin of course Firth won, and he was marvelously eloquent and funny. He thanked Harvey Weinstein with whom he has worked for “twenty years since I was a child sensation.” Now THAT was the funniest line of the night! Harvey was shown laughing heartily.

I felt myself turning INTO Harvey Weinstein as I saw EIGHT Oscar nominations disappear before my eyes. I’m sure he was thinking the same thing.

One of my friends, who did MUCH better in the Oscar pool of the night than I did, said he just decided to “follow the money” and that’s exactly what the Academy did. They gave four Oscars to “Inception” which made A LOT OF DOUGH, and two to “Alice in Wonderland” which BOTH Helena Bonham Carter AND Anne Hathaway starred in which made a BILLION dollars. Ditto two Oscars for “Toy Story 3” another HUGE money-maker…

And of yes, Natalie Portman in purple won as expected, but her water didn’t break. But she was VERY, VERY pregnant. That was her thing this year. Just getting bigger, and bigger and bigger to the point of nearly exploding when she won her Oscar. She broke down crying. It was nice.

Christian Bale was boring. Which for him is a good default mode.

I doubt any of these people will be at the Oscars again any time soon. But Colin Firth will. He thanked Tom Ford, which I thought was a lovely touch. What a great performance and film “A Single Man” Kudos and Congratulations to Tom Hooper, Hollywood’s new Golden Boy and Colin(OF COURSE!) and “The King’s Speech”!Poor Geoffrey! Poor Helena! You two was robbed! TKS ~You should’ve won everything!

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