Tony Nominee For Chaplin Tells Me Why The Comic Was Genius

Categories: Theater

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Rob McClure was nominated for a Tony for the closed but apparently not forgotten musical Chaplin, in which he played the little tramp from his early days to his banishment to his bittersweet return and beyond.

And at a Tony event, Rob told me why the real Chaplin was more than just an outfit and some mannerisms.

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A Whole New Role For Joan Rivers

Categories: Theater

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Thumbs up for Rivers and Brantley
This Friday night on Thirteen, Joan Rivers goes from Fashion Police to theater critic, sharing the Theater Talk panel with esteemed arbiters Ben Brantley and Peter Marks.

And cohost Susan Haskins tells me Joan has quite a bit to say about I'll Eat You Last, the one-person show with Bette Midler as late, frisky super agent Sue Mengers.

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The Medea/Madea Disconnect Grows In Brooklyn

Categories: Theater

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The Gallery Players is a very cool theater group in Park Slope, where they're currently doing a strong production of Dreamgirls, giving it more intimacy than some of the splashier versions that have been mounted through the years.

And the entertainment started before the curtain, when the director told the audience about other revivals they'd be doing.

"The Pajama Game, " he said, smiling. "And Equus, A Little Night Music, Rent..." The audience was politely attentive throughout that list, taking mental notes as to what they planned to get tickets for.

And then he said: "Medea..." And suddenly, a woman started shrieking from the fifth row: "Ooh! That one I want to see!!!! Oooh!!!"

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Christina Crawford Improves Her Stage Act

Categories: Theater

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When I saw it recently, Christina Crawford's presentation Surviving Mommie Dearest (at the Snapple Theater Center) was a little bizarre because the bulk of it involved her showing a documentary that includes lots of her facing the camera and telling stories about mama, Joan Crawford. Christina sauntered out a few times to make comments over the film, but her main stage time came afterwards, when she fielded audience questions for a few minutes, making one wonder why she didn't just appear live throughout the entire show.

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The Guy Who Plays Smokey Robinson

Categories: Theater

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Charl Brown is nominated for a Tony for playing singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical. He's great in the part--convincing as Smokey, yet bringing his own stuff to it the way good interpreters do.

At a Tony nominees' event, Brown (Jersey Boys, Sister Act) told me the casting makes sense because for ages now, people have told him he looks like Smokey. (And indeed, the resemblance is eye popping.)

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A Tolstoy Musical With Russian Dinner

Categories: Theater

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That's what you get with Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Dave Malloy's electro-pop opera based on Tolstoy's War and Peace.

It's being performed at Kazino, a pop-up tent on 13th and Washington, which has been beautifully decked out as a Russian nightclub, complete with Napoleon portraits on the wall looking down at you as you eat (a change from his real-life stance, which always involved looking up).

On our table as we were seated was a seafood tray, dumplings, caviar, borscht, and of course wodka, lots of wodka.

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Cinderella Star On Not Having To Compete With The Matilda Girls

Categories: Theater

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Laura Osnes is very good in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and as a result, she's one of the frontrunners for the Tony Award for best actress in a musical.

One of the other frontrunners (or four of them, actually) would have been the girls who star in Matilda, alternating in the role. But in a stroke of luck for the other nominees, the Matilda girls were taken out of the running and will be given a special honor instead.

At a Drama Desk nominees' reception at Essex House yesterday, I asked Osnes how she feels about not having to compete with those four pint-sized powerhouses.

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Old Jews Star Tells Me Village People Movie Dish

Categories: Theater

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Marilyn Sokol on the right.
How's that for a grabber?

Let me explain. The hilarious Marilyn Sokol is one of the stars of Old Jews Telling Jokes, the breezily funny revue, which was honored with a Drama Desk nomination.

At a Drama Desk event yesterday, I asked Marilyn about having appeared in the infamous Village People film musical Can't Stop The Music in 1980.

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Broadway's Most Honored Set Designer

Categories: Theater

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This season it's David Rockwell, who has two, count 'em two, Tony nominations--one for the factory/nightclub set of Kinky Boots and another for the '80s newsroom ambience of Lucky Guy.

This week's column contains my chat with various Tony nominees like Tom Hanks and Cicely Tyson, whom I interviewed at a meet-and-greet that was a production of its own, full of gratitude and moist eyes.

But I also spoke with Rockwell, who said he made the Kinky shoe factory swivel around and become the nightclub, so "the environment becomes a commonality between two worlds."

Interestingly, the big treadmill number wasn't that easy to pull off, though. Rockwell told me they couldn't just get a treadmill that would do what they wanted. He had to do tons of research and then create it from scratch, which took all of nine months (the common gestation period for a lot of things, it seems). But when the boots are conveyor-belted out--not to mention the drag queens--it's a hot moment.

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Tom Hanks Rides The Subway, And Other Factlets I Just Got At A Tony Awards Event

Categories: Theater

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This week's column is a rollicking romp through a Tony nominees' meet-and-greet event, where Tom Hanks told me what people do to him on the subway, how his play was changed in rehearsal, and other insights into what it's like to be Tom Hanks on Broadway.

You heard me right, by the way: Tom Hanks rides the subway!

I also had the privilege of chatting up Cicely Tyson, who rides the bus with dignity in The Trip To Bountiful, and who told me that she's been after this part for almost three decades. Totally worth the wait!

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