Films That Go Boom! | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

There's sure to be plenty of drama on screen -- and off -- at The Andy Warhol Museum this weekend when rarely shown film Boom! is presented as part of the Films That Corrupted John Waters series. The 1968 Joseph Losey film, adapted by Tennessee Williams from his own play The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, stars real-life high-drama spouses Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. In it, she's a dying, foul-mouthed wealthy woman; he's an interloping poet dubbed the "Angel of Death."


On receipt of the film containers, The Warhol discovered that the second reel of the six-reel film was missing, spurring a creative solution that will bring the drama directly to the audience: Local actor Dean Novotny will provide a one-man re-interpretation of the lost 20 minutes live. Novotny has undertaken similar work, including adapting another Williams work, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which he performed at the Lester Hamburg Theater.


Novotny promises his recreation won't be a snarky drag act and that the goal is to extend the Taylor performance in its pure form. "Taylor is really brilliant in the film," he says, adding that the material is a good fit. "The whole aspect of aging, of losing beauty, of wanting the younger man, as it is in Williams' plays -- it's already there for a gay man to play."


There's a few dramaturgical challenges: "There are other people in the missing sequence, but I'm just going to play Taylor's role," he explains. "I'll round it out in a monologue form, and use a telephone or other tricks. I want to make sure it's all there for the audience." 


He thinks viewers will be receptive and easily shift their focus from screen to stage. "I'll come in when the first reel ends, leave when the next reel starts." Laughing, he adds, "I hope they just don't think I'm some drunk queen that got up from the audience."

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