Censorship! Drag Queens! Patti LuPone! We’ve got everything except an extension for Porgy and Bess in this week’s theater column.
A production of Ira Levin’s 1978 stage thriller Deathtrap that was set to run at L.A.’s Gay and Lesbian Center in September has been cancelled over some gay content and tasteful nudity.
The play is traditionally a crowd-pleasing murder thriller about Sidney Bruhl, a famous playwright who plots to kill Clifford Anderson, his young male protege, and steal his work.
While a homosexual undercurrent between Sidney and Clifford has always been implied, director Ken Sawyer made it explicit with a kiss between the two. (The characters kissed in Sidney Lumet’s 1982 film version of the play as well.)
But Levin’s estate wasn’t having it, and revoked the group’s right to perform the play unless they removed any suggestion of a physical relationship between the two, and scrubbed some minor rear nudity from comely star Burt Grinstead, who played Clifford. Producer Jon Imparto said the estates’ demands were too “limiting” and pulled the plug.
So was it censorship (as Imparato claims) or is the estate rightly protecting what it interprets as the vision of the author? Levin, who died in 2007, also penned Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives. [Backstage]
CAN WE BE FRANK?
Producers of 50 Things I Love About Frank are making some pretty big claims about the show, opening Friday at New York’s Theater For The New City. In press notes, they call it “Brighton Beach Memoirs for the gay Italian”—pretty ballsy to compare yourself to one of Neil Simon’s greatest comedies, no? The stories aren’t altogether dissimilar, though: Based on the life of playwright Gaspare DiBlasi, Frank focuses on an Italian-American man grappling with coming out to his immigrant family in Brooklyn. But they also claims it’s in “the great tradition of Patti LuPone.” Does that mean actors yell at audience members using cameras and cell-phones? [50thingsiloveaboutfrank.com]
The latest man-in-a-dress musical to head to the Great White Way will be Tootsie, a new musical based on the Oscar-winning 1982 comedy starring Dustin Hoffman. The film follows an actor who masquerades as a woman to land a part on a television soap, and would actually make excellent fodder for a musical. It’s the first title slated under a five-year deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment and producer Scott Sanders to adapt the studio’s films for the Broadway stage.
No cast, creative team or dates have been announced, but we’re pretty confident Tootsie will soon take her place alongside the ranks of La Cage‘s Zaza, Priscilla‘s Bernadette and Hairspray‘s Edna Turnblad. [NBC]
A SECOND HELPING
Several gay works are included in Fringe NYC’s Encore Series, a selection of the best from the New York International Fringe Festival, including Danny Visconti is Hill-Bent: My Night With Hillary Clinton. It’s the tale of a chorus boy who meets the ballsy Secretary of State and somehow gets whisked off into a night filled with strippers, porn stars and leather queens. A gay musical-theater actor is also the lead character in Have I Got a Girl For You, which follows his experience running a (female) escort agency. Other Encore shows with queer themes include Standby: The Musical, 5 Lesbians Eating Quiche and Gay Camp. [Fringe NYC]
Broadway.com recently posted a hilarious but also though-provoking feature suggesting several classic roles Lady Gaga could tackle if she wanted to come to Broadway. Their dream-casting session included Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun and Victoria in Victor/Victoria. Those are all good suggestions, but we’re think outside the box a little: How about Gaga as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch? or Eva Peron in Evita?
How would you cast Mother Monster? [Broadway.com]