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Posts tagged ‘Abba’

Cher Saves “Mamma Mia 2,” but It’s Hard to Resist


When Cher, yes, CHER, enters in the Final Act of “Mamma Mia 2,” she saves the film, and yes, kicks it upstairs into Gay Heaven, or at any rate, Camp Heaven with a good, swift  stilletto-heeled sureness, only a stage and screen legend like Cher could provide. Pow! All the dullness and wishy-washiness of her young co-stars vanished, and NOW we were in the midst of a glorious fun-filled summer musical romp. She was so good, I immediately re-wrote my mind’s middling review and began raving like a teenaged fan-girl. Which let’s face it, is a cheery place to be in these troubled times. I guess I ended up loving it, and wanting to see it again. No, really.
In spite of all good sense, I found myself totally abandoning myself to its epic silliness. And why not? I always loved ABBA as a guilty pleasure. Those original, now classic, tunes got me through some very dark times when I was a house-cleaner in London in the ’80s. I was trying to get my plays done and become a right, proper British actor in the grand tradition. And it was tough. But ABBA was so uplifting, it made me forget all the charring.

I was a “Super Trooper”, and now Cher is a Super Trooper, too. In fact, she climaxes this barely organized mish-mash with that song, as well as her much heralded “Fernando” duet. As she and Andy Garcia(yes, ANDY GARCIA!) tango and sing their hearts out, both Senior Citizens now, as fire-works explode behind them, like it was 1968. Or ’86. Or one of those years, or decades that Cher’s career spans and she’s still singing! She’s a goddess for the ages. And FINALLY makes up for Meryl Streep not being in this movie except as a ghost.

You see, “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again” does not really have a center to it, until Cher appears at the end like the Deus Ex Machina that she is. “Here We Go Again” flips back and forth in time between two stories, both starring lovely young blondes, Amanda Seyfried and Downtown Abbey’s Lily James. They both have to carry half the film each.

It seems Meryl’s character has died a year before “Mamma Mia 2” starts and her cinematic daughter Sophie (Seyfried) has to carry on without her, trying to re-build her mother’s dream of a turning their Greek island into a perfect Aegean guest house. Meanwhile, the film flashes back in time to the ’70s, when Donna (Lily James) was a wild young thing cavorting all over the continent, shagging everybody in sight.

Thus explaining (or trying to) how three different men could have potentially been the father of the single Mom Meryl’s child. As played by a trio of young hunks, notably “War Horse”s Jeremy Irvine (who grows up to be Pierce Brosnan). They make the case quite clearly how and why the young Donna/Meryl couldn’t keep her hands off all of them, one after the other, in rapid succession.

I would say Josh Dylan, who is making his big screen debut here as the young yachtsman that one day would become Stellan Skarsgard, has the best chiseled bod. British actor Hugh Skinner, who plays the young Colin Firth, doesn’t really get enough foreshadowing that his character is in later life going to be gay. An interesting opportunity missed.

Though Firth does camp up a storm in his own reserved way as his grown up self, and Christine Baranski (and Julie Waters) are back supplying even more camp (as if this film needed it).Which goes to prove something I’ve always felt. There can never be too much of a muchness. Or too much camp. Camp makes you happy. And so will “Mamma Mia 2.”

And last but not least, the young British hunk of hunks Dominic Cooper is back again as Sky, Sophie (Seyfried)’s hotter than hot love interest, and absentee husband. Dominic was one of the many stars of my year’s Best Film of that year “My Week with Marilyn” playing Milton Green, Marilyn Monroe’s ex-lover and now exasperated agent. He was also one of the original “History Boys” on Broadway and in film, and has been on “The Stephen Holt Show” more times than just about any one else (in this movie).And he used to date Cher! He just told Stephen Colbert. So it must be true!

“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!

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