I'm Just a Broadway Baby

Straight Guy,


That, my friend, is the news of the day, as reported right here in the New York Times. Or at least in an ad in the Times theater directory.

Gypsy, pardon if I insult your musical intelligence, is a classic of American musical theater. A landmark. It's on Broadway in yet another revival, this time starring Patti Lupone as Mama Rose, a part she was born to play. Despite good reviews --Lupone won the Tony Award for Best Actress-- and good houses, its curtain is getting ready to drop. The shitty economy has hit Broadway, too. In the post-holiday slump, Broadway has traditionally been known to cull the herd of its weaker stock, but this year even successful shows, take Spring Awakening and Gypsy, are closing.

The ad's headline is set in the type size usually reserved for presidential election results and is positioned above a photo of the aforementioned Ms. Diva Lupone, arms akimbo in a classic Mama Rose pose. The rest of the ad:

"Years from now, theatergoers will be divided into two groups: those who saw these legendary performances in this musical masterpiece and those who didn't. Final Performance January 11."

This urgent tone is usually found only on placards announcing "The end is near, get right with God." It sounds Biblical. On top of begging for exclamation points, it's misleading: Gypsy will never be history. Perhaps this version, but never Gypsy itself. Mama Rose has been played by the best: Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Patti Lupone. Okay, there was Tyne Daly, too, but we'll keep that a family secret. My take is that they can close a Gypsy, but never the Gypsy.

(As an aside, one summer at the beach, the guys in the house next to us blared Gypsy nonstop for the week. A friend imagined them packing: "Sunscreen, check. Beach chairs, check. Gypsy soundtrack, check. No, darling, the Merman, not the Lansbury.")

Why this post? Our blog is supposed to poke holes in the traditional gay/straight stereotypes. But, once again, I find myself reinforcing the stereotype in our "he said/he said" dialogue. It's like a sand trap. Stereotype or no stereotype, this gay guy wants to be on the right side of the wheat and chaff of "those who saw. . . and those who didn't." Despite being financially wiped out by Christmas, I'm sorely tempted to spring for the ticket, hop the train, and see Ms. Lupone take her Mama Rose turn. I bet it'd be great. A real memory. Gay, huh?

I could forgoe it; I've seen Patti Lupone before. Yep, this is where it gets even gayer. I will now present and confess, in its glory, the list of Broadway divas I have seen.

--Patti Lupone, twice in concert, once in performance. So, check, check, and check.
--Elaine Stritch
--Betty Buckley, check, check
--Bernadette Peters
--Victoria Clark, check, check
--Emily Skinner
--Alice Ripley
--Barbara Cook, check, check, check, check.
--Kristin Chenowith
--Idina Menzel
--And, and. . . wait for it. . . Eartha Kitt, who was a mere one zillion years old at the time.

If I win that lottery for two tickets for Liza Minneli at the Palace, I'm taking you with me. Taking you to Banana Republic for a tune up first, but taking you with me.

I'm stuck in the love/hate relationship we all have with living in our stereotypes. I don't want to be a caricature, but I don't want to give up something that brings me pleasure even if it's a stereotype. I don't really like Gypsy that much, but it's the experience.

Off to log onto Ticketcharge to see how much this could cost me.

--Gay Guy


Straight in Upstate said...

GG -

I've seen none of these women, but as I mentioned earlier I was in the front row when Bea Arthur (or a male impersonator claiming he was BA, we're not sure) came to town. But...my mom relies on me as her external hard drive memory, expecting to access information with the fuzziest of search terms. One night she said, "Who's that blonde woman who was on Broadway - " and I said, "Elaine Stritch?" She said, "Yes!!!...how do you do that?!?" I don't know.

Gay Guy said...

Elaine Stritch at Liberty, her one-woman show, was dynamite. Very memorable. That is if you like to see an elderly lady in black tights and an oversize shirt spend the evening sharing stories, singing, and fighting her shirt sleeves and a stool all night.

Straight in Upstate said...

My friend Polly saw the show and said, "Her drinking stories were hilarious! I want to be an alcoholic too!" I don't think that made the list of review quotes used in publicity.

Straight Guy said...

How sad is it to you, GG, that my primary connection to Bernadette Peters is that she was in a Clint Eastwood movie and that Patti Lupone was Corky's mom in "Life Goes On?" Better than nothing, right?

Hey wasn't Betty Buckley the step-mom in "Eight is Enough?" (Googling...) Yes!

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