Five performances remain of this entertaining and poignant world premiere about mid-century stage and film star Judy Holliday.
The play’s set in 1964, near the end of Holliday’s cancer-shortened life, in a New York City recording studio where she’s come to sing some jazz numbers (including a couple she co-wrote with her husband, jazz great Gerry Mulligan). Holliday tells her life story in a series of flashbacks, and it’s catnip for anyone with an ear for show-biz gossip from old Hollywood, or for the American songbook (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” Cole Porter, etc.).
Appropriately, it’s an enjoyably theatrical show. Holliday is winningly played by Broadway veteran Andréa Burns, and all the other roles, from members of Holliday (nee Tuvim’s) extended Jewish family to Hollywood moguls, self-righteous Congressmen and more, are played by the very capable Jonathan Brody and Adam Heller.
As Ted Hoover notes in his review for CP, Holtzman packs the play with so much incident that he’s unable to dig terribly deep into any of it. The blacklisting episode, in which the fiercely intelligent Holliday resorts to playing dumb blonde to save herself, is worthy of a play of its own
But this production (commissioned by City Theatre) has plenty of pleasures. Not least, in the intimate confines of City’s Hamburg Theatre, it’s especially easy to appreciate Tony Ferrieri’s great set, detailed down to the dirty ashtrays, vintage sound booth and parquet floor.
City Theatre is located at 1300 Bingham St., on the South Side.
Smart Blonde runs through Sunday. Tickets are $15-56 and are available here.
Whatever else Translations might be, it was a chance this past Friday to see a remarkable and varied array of talent on a single stage in one night, loosely arrayed around a theme.New Hazlett Theater’s Community Supported Art subcription series, was in six acts (and two ongoing works), each adapted from an earlier public performance piece by Jennifer Myers.
So, for instance, dancers Jasmine Hearn and Jil Stifel did a beautiful dry-land version of Myers’ “The Baiji’s Last Swim,” a performance work she did on the Allegheny River last year (with gorgeous erhu music played live by Mimi Jong). And the always stunning vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield did an a capella reprise of Myers singing “This Land is Your Land” at Allegheny County Council to protest plans to frack in public parks. (Wingfield’s performance was supplemented by young Kylan Bower Bjornson reading a statement to council on the same subject.)
Another highlight was “The Woman As,” which combined a spoken-word account of unflattering slang describing women throughout history, by Oreen Cohen, with a knockout dance by Gia T. Cacalano: contorting, convulsing, folding, Cacalano seemed to express animal suffering turned human, and vice versa.
Myers ran a smoke machine that blew perfect rings. The evening was closed out by Ji Young Nam, playing a beautiful piece on viola.
The evening was unified by between-act tarot-style readings by The Unreliable Narrator (Scott Andrew), who largely quoted text from testimony and speeches by indigenous people about our pillaging of the natural world. “The destruction of nature is the destruction of our energy, and of our existence here on earth,” went one.
Perhaps inevitably, given the work’s origin, the sum of the parts might have been more than the whole, although the excellent lighting design, by Mark Bailey, and sound design, by Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson’s Sonarcheology Studios, did nothing but help.
The New Hazlett’s CSA performance series recruits shareholders to fund supported residencies by local performers, with the payoff a ticket to the show. Halfway through the current season, with three performances to go, the theater is offering half-shares for $50 each.
Look into it here.
The second-half performers are: Jil Stifel and Ben Sota (Feb. 12); Anya Martin and the Hiawatha Project (April 2); and Teena Marie Custer and Roberta Guido (June 11).
Single tickets to individual events are also available for non-subscribers, for $20 each.
A bonus for second-half subscribers will be tickets to the world premiere of Alexis Gideon’s “video opera” The Crumbling, February 20-21.
Online sensation and queer advocate Tyler Oakley has quite the range of laughs, his best sounding somewhere between hysteria and a case of light hiccups.
It’s pretty amazing, and his almost six million subscribers would probably tell you so, too.
This fall, Oakley has taken his living room on the road for a sold-out variety show called “Tyler’s Slumber Party.” Back for more (and promising to upgrade 20 tickets to VIP passes), he hits Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead on Saturday, ready to put locals on “blast,” opening his hour-and-a-half show by reading embarrassing headlines from our past.
He chatted with CP recently by phone.
Why slumber parties?
I’ve been doing the live stream in my living room in my pajamas, so I was like, "Why not take that on the road?" And, plus, who doesn't love a onesie? It was so fun because I was like, "Is anyone going to come in a onesie?" and then the first set of shows, everybody was in their pajamas, I mean, even the parents.
What do you think of the perception of you as everyone’s queen, everyone’s gay BFF?
It’s really bizarre! Obviously that was never the goal or anything, but to have people say that, I mean, you don't get used to it. It’s definitely flattering and endearing, and when my viewers say that or things like that, it comes from the best intentions from possible. So I’m like, "I’ll take it. Thank you. I love you back."
How do you balance that audience of occasionally very young girls while still being your mature self and reflecting your personality?
I just always assume that, you know what, if it’s something people shouldn't be watching in their house, if that’s not something that a parent allows or something, then the parents will definitely be in charge of making sure the kids don't.
What’s down the road for you? Are you going to go from slumber party to Pampered Chef party?
Oh my god. If I did, my mom would love it. I don’t know! Who knows!
So, then, where do you see yourself at age 70?
Seventy. Oh my god. Hopefully, I’ll have grandkids and maybe they will continue the blogging legacy. I don’t know where I’ll be. Maybe when I’m 70 I’ll have had a talk show and I’ll have had multiple [best]-selling books, and I’ll still be doing my podcasts and still be talking into a camera if cameras are still around for that.
Maybe we’ll be sending vlogs via brain waves or something. I don't know where I will be in the future, but I'll still be doing something.
Tyler Oakley performs at Carnegie Music Hall on Sat., Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
The venue is located at 510 E. 10th Ave., in Munhall. Tickets are $39.75.
Go here for tickets and more information.