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Billy Masters: Theater
by Billy Masters
2022-05-23

This article shared 534 times since Mon May 23, 2022
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"Well, thanks Colin. That's the end of my career. Because you know, that role really should have been mine."—Rupert Everett tells Piers Morgan his reaction when he heard Colin Firth would play the lead in Tom Ford's A Single Man.

Last week, I went to New York City for the first time since the pandemic, and I marked the occasion by seeing the revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company. I must agree with most critics: Sometimes the gender-bending conceit works, sometimes it doesn't. But I am delighted to say this production pays as much attention to the scenes as the songs. This is evident from the first couple—Harry and Sarah—played with gusto by Christopher Sieber and Jennifer Simard. You are not likely to see it done better … ever. That said, every production of Company succeeds or fails with Bobby—or, in this case, Bobbie. I don't have much to say about Katrina Lenk. She's fine. She doesn't enhance the role or the show in any way—nor did she get in the way of it. As to Patti LuPone, she is as droll and laconic as ever, and vocally she's in fine form. She is never less than authentic and mesmerizing.

It was happenstance that I ran into Wilson Cruz outside of the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where Company is playing. He was there to present the cast with the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Broadway Production (shared with Thoughts of a Colored Man). The presentation took place during the curtain calls with a speech not only about Sondheim and the LGBTQ+ representation in this specific production, but also praising the openly gay cast members—including Matt Doyle and Sieber. After the audience left, everyone returned to the stage for some photos … and the fact that I was alone in the empty theater and inadvertently photobombed the event was another one of those happy coincidences.

There was a time when actors could get their start, training and, in some cases, a lifetime job on a soap. The stage equivalent of that is Chicago. The musical is celebrating 25 years on Broadway, and the years are starting to show. The wild card was Pamela Anderson—who, it should go without saying, is making her Broadway debut. I was rooting for her. And, truly, there is nothing wrong with Pam's performance—except that it's not really a performance. Anderson has been choreographed. She strikes poses and walks with panache. But not a single movement or gesture comes out of any authentic place. It would appear that every word and inflection has been dutifully drilled into her head. The result is that her Roxie lacks heart. On the positive side, she looks splendid and dances cleanly—if self-consciously. Her singing is in tune and has some musicality, but she doesn't project. If someone told her to use her diaphragm, she'd likely go back to her dressing room to get it! The only genuine moment of emotion crossed her face when she finished the last number—as if to say, "Phew!"

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Jesse Williams is making his Broadway debut and live stage debut in Take Me Out. And he is spectacular. If you read this column with any regularity, you know I do not use that word lightly. He has that "star quality" that is impossible to explain, but immediately evident. He is so natural that his acting is almost completely indiscernible. And he is surrounded by a cast that is equally outstanding. Despite how good Williams is, the person who holds this show together is Patrick J. Adams. With a lesser actor, his narration would simply be the bridge between the scenes. But he is so fully integrated, so invested and, again, so "real" that he amplifies every scene. Naturally, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is as wonderful as you'd expect. He's touching and endearing and lovely. It was the best production of this play I've ever seen.

I did not see The Music Man, but the show made news by initiating standing-room tickets for $76. Yes, that sounds expensive. Why, in my day, $76 would get you dinner, a show and a blow job from the understudy. Times have changed. Now you'll have to sneak in some M&Ms, stand and maybe get a handy from your neighbor!

We hear that The Music Man producers are scrambling to find someone to take over for Hugh Jackman when he inevitably leaves the show. I was told that Neil Patrick Harris was lobbying hard for the role. But rumor has it that the powers that be are casting their sights slightly higher—they'd like Justin Timberlake to make his Broadway debut in the role! It sounds far-fetched to me, and Timberlake's people are denying the rumors.

Meanwhile at Dear Evan Hansen, the latest recast is making history. Zachary Noah Piser just took over the titular role and will be the first Asian American to play it full-time. (He's been the alternate Evan since March.) It's also historic because he may be the first person to play the role who hasn't slept with Ben Platt!

When anyone is interested in sleeping with Ben Platt, it's definitely time to end yet another column. Yes, this was very theater-heavy—but I promise you'll find a whole lot more to look at on www.BillyMasters.com—the site that is a feast for the eyes … and other organs. If you have a question, dash it off to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to get back to you before Chicago adds a midnight topless show! So, until next time, remember: One man's filth is another man's bible.


This article shared 534 times since Mon May 23, 2022
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