Tuesday, December 22, 2009
In Greece: As for the headphones, they rocked. Motorola S9-HDs
There's a tiny sliver of time in-between the steamy summers in Manhattan and the unbearable cold that follows (wedged somewhere around late October) that provides the absolute perfect climate for anyone wanting a true 'Fall in New York City' experience. The weather is just crisp enough to break out a light jacket, but it's not so cold that everyone begins looking like they just stumbled out of a homeless shelter. It's also a great time of year to tell who's gay and who's not: The gays immediately break out the colorful, striped scarves, twisting them around their necks in an origami-like fashion. I like to call it the 'gay noose.'
Some thoughts from a recent re-charging of my Broadway battery...
Ragtime (the revival) is perhaps the most well-thought out, paced and precisioned musical on the boards right now. Sourced from the E.L. Doctorow novel, it's a look at the formation of a young America and the struggles of both the upper and lower class. It's one of the few new musicals I've listened to and immediately placed in the same class as something Learner & Lowe or Rogers & Hart would have written. It's beautifully pieced together, lush and one of those scores that brings back the 45-piece orchestra, rather than rely solely on synth and computer fill-in.
Here's a clip from the stunning opening number...
The original Broadway production of Ragtime was a monster of a show, opening the same year as The Lion King and, like every other production of that year, being trampled by Disney at Tony time. Ragtime's ultimate demise came not from bad reviews, but within their own production team when it was found that lead producer Garth Drabinsky was skimming off the top. This eventually shut down a otherwise healthy Tony Award-winning show.
Fast-forward 12 years and a scaled-down, yet much more emotionally complex version of this masterpiece is now back in Manhattan. I hope this production has a long run ahead of it, but that will take an audience who's willing to sit through a show that doesn't involve movie tie-ins or gargantuan set pieces constantly moving around. I wonder if that's even possible with today's Broadway ticket buyer. I guess we'll see. Here's a look at the new cast and some of the production...
I also caught the here today, gone tomorrow revival of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, starring one of my favorite actors Laurie Metcalf. It seemed doomed from the beginning, as Neil Simon's easy brand of Jew-centric comedy doesn't mix well with today's over-the-top spectacle expectations. The audience slept through most of the show, waking up in time to just barely put their hands together to form a clapping sound. It was depressing, but the show itself was quite nicely done and the actors found their individual character moments in ways I've never seen from this play before.
Bye Bye Birdie, the Broadway revival currently being done by Roundabout was what I would have expected to be a lush, colorful, Technicolor remake of a musical that cast the best of today's young (and very capable) Broadway performer.
The set was there. The costumes dazzling. Fantastic use of lighting and an on-stage, built-in treadmill (ala, Sondhiem's Into The Woods). What didn't work at all was the cast. This is another lesson to be learned when casting celebrities in two leading (and iconic) roles. When you're basically replacing Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera, you've got to take real time to make sure the male/female lead can, at the very least, match those performances.
John Stamos and Gina Gershon were dreadful: They were self-concious, uncomfortable with the material and gave performances that made all too clear that they were giving 110%, but failing miserably on all accounts. I warn you now, watching this YouTube video might be hazardous to your health...
Stamos can neither sing, no dance. I don't care if you saw him in Cabaret years ago and found him ageless and dreamy: He still sucks. He's quickly becoming the new David Hasselhoff of the Broadway stage, going from show-to-show, closing them as quickly as his little off-key voice can muster.
Gershon I was looking forward to, as her performance in last season's Boeing, Boeing was fantastic. In Birdie, her costumes, while beautiful, didn't hide the fact that she had gained a bit of weight and I think she was really concious of it. She moved in an awkward way. Her singing was more like slurring on-key. I was hoping for at least a Showgirls-quality character, but all I got was boring stripper.
Kim was boring and bland. Somewhere, Ann Margaret is pissed off and could likely still play the role... That is, as long as she's wearing that damned oversized cashmere sweater (just off of one shoulder).
Conrad Birdie was a Nickelodeon actor and totally forgettable in every possible way. Weak voice. Wooden acting. Worst of all, the actor's mother was sitting behind me and actually yelling (pep-rally style) every time her son came on-stage. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've sat through nearly three hours of yelling in a thick Jersey accent. I felt like I was at a Jewish Apollo Theatre.
Now transitioning from Broadway to gay porn... Because, hey, isn't that always the case?
Looks like Malachi 'I'm really straight and getting fucked in the ass for book research' Marx is back to doing porn, as his 'tell-all' book was turned down by every major publisher. Rumor has it that he's going to now be self-publishing the book. Thank God! It'd be a real shame if he spent all that time on his back for nothing. I await the release with breathless excitement.
Wasn't it once said that people in glass houses shouldn't bareback mindlessly while throwing back a line of cocaine? In reading through a certain pornstar's blog recently, I was treated to a rant against another performer who was obviously taking night classes at the 'Erik Rhodes School of Seriously Fucked Up.' The story involved sex, drugs, bareback sex and threatening threats. Funny thing though, as the accuser is, in reality, just as messed-up as the accuse. This blogger spends entirely too much of his life on ManHunt, cruising for dudes and specifically looking for bareback pig play. It's tough for me to feel anything but apathy for someone who pisses their life away and then has the brass balls to call out others.
A big welcome back to Blake Riley to the wonderful world of porn! If you're reading Blake, I do hope you've cleared up that long-term case of gonorrhea before you start filming again. Seriously, isn't Randy Blue supposed to blood test their models before the fucking begins? Seems to me that Randy might be spending a bit too much money on his house in the Hills and not enough on his bread & butter.
Bel Ami goes bareback with brothers! How wonderful: Now we get to see incestuous sex AND a likely transmission of disease from one bland model to another. It's nice to see that some things never change, like Bel Ami's ability to make every sex scene totally soulless and prove that Eastern European guys will do just about anything for a quick buck. Nice.
Okay, okay. Enough bitter ranting! I'm spending the holiday in South Florida and will be working on a new travel blog, filled with interesting details about my recent sojourn through Europe and Africa. It was a really spectacular two weeks abroad, so stay tuned. I'm also going to be heading back to Vegas to review the three new open hotels at MGM's City Center: Vdara, The Mandarin Oriental and Aria.
Shameless Plug: The perfect Christmas gift for the gay in your life... Kylie Minogue's LIVE IN NYC album. It's a recent live release from her only US tour to date. Great vocals and the re-arrangements of her songs are some of the best I've ever heard. Go forth and buy!
And speaking of shameless self-promotion, I got an email today letting me know I was in the finalist running for Cruising For Escort's EOTY competition. How shagadelic! While I'm not certain if winning this will get me a spot on The View, where I can tell Barbara Walters to shit in her hat, it may indeed get me that sash and diamond tiara I've always wanted. Click on the above C4E banner to register your vote today!
Last, but not lesbian, I've updated my personal photo archive on the Google Gallery in a big way this past week. Look for new stuff in the travels and random sections. For your daily dose of something BN, you can always check out my continuously updated photoblog, as well as my Twitter feed. Enjoy!