Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wiest Infection (or "My Name Is... Barbara")

To commemorate the recent release of Beyonce’s double album, “I am… Sasha Fierce”, which features a second disc devoted entirely to performances by B’s newborn hip-hoppin’ alter ego Sasha Fierce, I will be writing today’s blahg under my fierce new pseudonym… Tina Gay. (It’ll basically be the same routine, only I’ll throw in a couple of edgy, urban expletives here and there to maintain my queer thug appeal… Throw ya hands up, bitch.)

This past weekend I was at the Gerry-Scho Theatre to see All My Sons. To my shock and horror, I opened my Playbill and one of those damned white slips of paper fell into my lap; Dianne Wiest would not be on! To my relief and delight, however, neither would Patrick Wilson’s shirt at the top of act two. All was eventually forgiven. (Dianne! I ain’t mad atchya, Playa!) Joking aside, I thought it was a beautifully directed production with absolutely riveting performances by Lithgow and Wilson. Their scene at the end of act two, in particular, knocked the wind right out of me. Both are absolutely brilliant - even when not topless, which I think is the measure of truly great acting (but I’m a classically trained actor, so don’t go by me.) Lizbeth Mackay, who was on for Ms. Wiest, was also really fabulous. Though I couldn't help knowing in Dianne's absence that while I was enjoying myself, there was someone out there who could be doing it even better – It was like all of my dates. I fully intend to go back and catch Dianne when she’s feeling up to it. As for the most scrutinized of the show’s four headliners, Katie Holmes gave an adequate performance, shining dimly in the heavier scenes. I suppose I could have done without her, altogether. But you know how we gay men are about Katie: we either hate her, or we jump up and down on Oprah’s furniture and marry her. Jigga-WHAT?!

On Monday night, I received an invitation to a very schmancy gathering at the Manhattan Penthouse. It was the New York State’s Arts Fall Gala, celebrating the local arts scene and honoring some of its most influential contributors (not me.) One of the evening's honorees was the one and only Barbara Cook. Upon my arrival, I was introduced to Barbara, who I’d actually met once before. “So nice to see you again, Barbara” I said as I took her hand. “You too, dear… You know, I’ve completely forgotten your name”, she admitted. “That’s fine, dear,” I rebounded. “I actually thought we were here for Barbara Walters until I looked at my program. Do you know where the bathrooms are?” And then I walked. (Fine… I probably didn’t really say that last part. I just think being bitchy and passive-aggressive to Broadway royalty is funny. It was an honor in itself to be forgotten by Ms. Cook.) Where ma’ dawgz at?

After a few trips to the open bar, the presentation began. Following a beautiful video tribute, Tony nominees Kelli O’hara and Rebecca Luker spoke of their adoration and respect for Cook, and of her profound influence on their careers. The ladies then sang “Mr. Snow” (Carousel) and “My White Knight” (The Music Man) respectively, both admittedly a bit shaken to be performing for such a Broadway legend (not me… Barbara.) Babs then took the stage to accept her award and to speak about the grave importance of the arts and their funding, which is so often tragically insufficient. I’ll drink to that, Babs! It was a lovely speech and a lovely evening. Mazel Tov to my darling Frank DiLella who made it all possible.

I’m now off to catch Patti Lu-Ping-Pong in Gypsy for the eleventy-thousandth time. I just can’t get enough! PEACE OUT, HONKIES!

Tina G.

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