Tag Archives: marlon brando

Lame Adventure 314: Broadway Unplugged

Broadway’s annual love fest to itself, the Tony Awards, will be broadcast this Sunday on CBS.  My pal, Milton, who has seen more of the nominated plays and musicals than me, has donned his critic’s chapeau and has written a witty and insightful post about all the contenders right here.

A few weekends ago I did the unthinkable — I cut short my power sleeping and headed down to the theater district where I photographed the facades of the buildings housing the nominated plays and musicals in morning light.  This is not exactly tantamount to snapping a gotcha shot of one’s girlfriend without her makeup, but I realized I had little idea about what most Broadway houses look like.  Absent the crowds clambering to enter under the sophistication of nightfall, many of these buildings are surprisingly quaint when viewed in the light of day.

Pictured below is the Ethel Barrymore Theatre located on West 47th Street.

If these walls could talk, would they scream, “Stella!”?

A much-ballyhooed revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman just closed there.  It will probably win big on Tony night.  This is the theater where in 1947 Marlon Brando originated the role of Stanley Kowalski screaming “Stella!” in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Currently, Blair Underwood is screaming “Stella!” in a revival of Streetcar featuring an African-American cast staged at the Broadhurst on West 44th Street.

“Stella!” screamed here eight shows a week until August 19th.

Back in 1935, Humphrey Bogart stood on those same boards making his acting breakthrough that led to Hollywood stardom when he appeared as an escaped killer in The Petrified Forest, a role he later recreated in the film of the same name.

The Pulitzer Prize winning social satire Clybourne Park (and my choice for Best Play where you can hear a terrific joke about white women and tampons) can be seen here at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

The neon lights burn 24/7 at the Walter Kerr who was a theater critic and playwright that died in 1996.

Back in 1929 when it was then called the Ritz Theatre (undoubtedly to differentiate it from the cracker which Nabisco would debut in 1934 but according to the Lame Adventures brand of (il)logic someone clearly had a premonition that this snack food was on the horizon), Bette Davis starred on this same stage opposite the slightly less well-remembered Etha Dack in a comedy called Broken Dishes.

Over at the Gerald Schoenfeld 81-year-old James Earl Jones and almost 87-year-old Angela Lansbury are energetically co-starring in the revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.

Living theater royalty can be found within these walls through September 9th.

Gerald Schoenfeld was a legendary Broadway producer.  Three years before he bought his rainbow in 2008, a theater was named in his honor.

Broadway has several theaters that were renamed for theatrical legends.  In the case of the recently renovated Stephen Sondheim Theatre, the theater had been originally named for Henry Miller.

Even if Henry Miller’s name is still carved in the facade, this is the Stephen Sondheim theater now.

Currently staging the revival of “Anything Goes” (including Henry Miller’s name).

In 1983 the Alvin Theatre was renamed for the playwright Neil Simon.  The last play staged at the Alvin was Mr. Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs.  The first play that opened under his name was Mr. Simon’s Biloxi Blues.  Currently a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar is being staged there, the exact type of production that must make this revered Jewish playwright gag.

Oy!

What about legends in the making?  Possibly one day a theater will be renamed for the 28-year-old powerhouse Nina Arianda currently starring opposite Hugh Dancy in Venus in Fur over at the Lyceum.

“Venus in Fur” is closing June 17th, but my superior, Elsbeth, managed to snag a pair of prized ducats to this show before it ends its run probably just to get me to stop my hounding.

Nina owned my vote for Best Actress in a play until I saw Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow at the Belasco.

“End of the Rainbow”, a show that was made for a post-performance stiff drink (or two or three).

Now I’m completely discombobulated over who should get it, but Milton reasons that even if Nina is stiffed, she’ll eventually win it, so he’s pulling for Tracie.

Does “Ghost” the new musical staged at the Lunt Fontanne have a ghost of a chance for much? Don’t ask me, I’m passing on seeing this one.  Dazzle schmazzle

In addition, I thought Best Actress nominee Linda Lavin was terrific as the mother that loathes both her children and her dying husband in The Lyons over at the Cort.

See and hear Linda Lavin roar!

Stockard Channing is another Best Actress nominee that can be found eight performances a week at the Booth Theatre as the mother in Other Desert Cities.

The Booth Theatre opened on October 16, 1913. Looking pretty good for pushing 100.

This show is another Best Play nominee that has scored a hit with both the critics and audiences.  The Booth was named for Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes.  Apparently, a grudge was not held against him considering whom his brother assassinated.

Across the street from the Booth is the Music Box where the raucous British comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors” is being staged. Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut here in “I Remember Mama” in 1944.

A viable contender for Best Revival of a Musical is The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess over at the Richard Rodgers.  Full disclosure:  I loved this wonderful production and the stars, Audra MacDonald and Norm Lewis, blew me away.  Oh yeah, and the music’s extraordinary.

“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” – an excellent production.

For all you sock puppet fans, in 1994 Shari Lewis commanded this same stage with Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse in Lamb Chop on Broadway.

Critics see a horse race between Porgy and Bess and the now closed revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies that was staged at the Marquis Theatre.  Follies shuttered to make way for the revival of Evita, which is also nominated in this category, but it is not expected to win.  The Marquis is a theater that is literally a massive marquee.

I see the name. Where’s the entrance to see the show?

The first, and thus far only time I saw a show there (the most recent revival of Follies), I had no idea where to find the entrance.  It’s situated in a Marriott Hotel.  Since I was not a guest, I was denied the option to call room service to ask, “Where the hell’s the theater?”  Fortunately, Milton arrived first so I was screaming at him, and he was screaming directions at me on his iPhone.  I’m sure people unaware that we’re more queer than (accounting for inflation) a nine dollar bill assumed I was yelling at my husband and he at his wife.

Nicer work at the Imperial’s box office was when “Les Misérables” ran here for over 12 years of its 16 year run.

Certainly a living legend at the theater box office.

Considering that locating the Marquis easily shaved several minutes off my life, I much prefer a classic easy-to-locate Broadway theater like the Nederlander, which is currently staging the Disney production nominated for Best Musical, Newsies.

Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” debuted here in 1962 when it was called the Billy Rose Theatre. That production cost $42,000 to stage.

This is a big, brassy feel good show that has about as much appeal to me as a full body rash.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” – a fun show about lost boys. Brooks Atkinson was a theater critic for The New York Times from 1925 to 1960.

I’m hoping that Once over at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre will win Best Musical since I relate much more to miserable people in Dublin than singing dancing newsboys in lower Manhattan circa 1899.

Before the show starts, “Once” audience members can walk on the stage and purchase a drink at the on stage bar. Truly this is my kind of show.

In 1927, the first show staged at the Jacobs (then called the Royale) was a musical comedy named Piggy.  The producers changed the show’s name to I Told You So in the middle of the run.  Apparently, they resisted renaming the show I Told You So That Piggy is a Terrible Name and We’re Bleeding Money.

Lame Adventure 89: The Breast of the Matter

After swearing to myself that I would never pay more than $2.99 for a pint of blueberries, when I am out running errands, what do I do but pay $3.49 at Westside Market for a pint of one of my favorite summertime fruits as the season winds down and the price ratchets up.  Apparently, I’ve personally scarfed every locally grown blueberry in the Tri-state area and they’re now being imported from Canada.  I leave the market grumbling when I am distracted by this thought provoking sign pictured below.

Start spreading the word -- or cream.

A weasel-sized middle-aged fellow found this sign and another more explicit one so titillating, he was describing both in vivid detail to someone on his cell phone, possibly a fellow middle aged anti-Adonis.  I flashed my all-seeing hairy eyeball Excitable Middle-aged Boy’s way.  This prompted him to tone down his exhilaration as he flashbacked on the threats of blindness his mother regaled him with in response to his constant self-servicing to the pile of sticky girly magazines stashed under his bed.

More explicit sign. Eh.

What I found most interesting about the sign featuring the six models was the inclusion of a pale, scrawny, hairy male and the exclusion of any women of color.  What’s that about?  Not to get too Robert De Niro about this, but the pasty white women selected looked rather fugly to me.  In fairness I suppose in that harsh lighting, even Salma Hayek would look more “eh” than “ah,” a feat that would normally seem impossible.  Although the pale, scrawny, hairy guy is hopeless, and should definitely be replaced by at least one woman of color, possibly all of the women, if lit with freshman year film school level artistry, would look great.

Once home I went online and checked out what Lush brand Lovely Jubblies Breast Cream is about.  The first thing I noticed was the cringe inducing tag line, “Keep your knockers in tit top shape.”  Apparently, the purpose of this “brilliant” breast cream is to avoid the fate of Marlon Brando’s abundantly endowed companion, played by the abundantly endowed Maria Schneider, in Last Tango in Paris, who he predicts, “In ten years, you’ll be playing soccer with your tits.”  Now, thirty-eight years after that film’s release, she’s closing in on sixty.  Therefore, she might be pushing her monumental rack around in a wheelbarrow today.

Lush hails this product as being “packed full of tightening meadowsweet infusion and firming tiger lily petals to help your girls fight the forces of gravity.”  In addition, this magic elixir will “leave your cleavage smelling like a fresh floral bouquet of orange blossom, rose, jasmine and ylang ylang.”  After reading that, I sneezed.

Back in the Eighties, there was a jewelry boutique on Columbus Avenue called Ylang Ylang.  I once mistakenly referred to it, after imbibing a supertanker of cheer, as Duran Duran.  The real name for Ylang-ylang is the slightly more pedantic sounding, Cananga odorata.  Cananga odorata is a tree that produces an essential oil, as opposed to a nonessential oil, such as the grease on my face, from a flower that is used in aromatherapy.

Lush encourages users of Lovely Jubblies Breast Cream to “smooth a generous amount” on presumably their breasts, but then they coyly refer to where it should be applied as the more generic sounding “wobbly bits.”  Does this mean that when my D-cup sized nose starts showing signs of sag, I could apply it there?  This cream is available in 3.5-ounce jars to the tune of $24.95.

I’m confident that my ironing board replica breasts, and possibly even my well hung nose, will all remain perky and firm even when entering the crematorium.  It’s the stroke I’ll surely suffer if I were to shell out such a ridiculous sum of money for a product that is one part marketing and two parts sham – a part sham for each of my “girls” – that would kill me before gravity has a chance at having its way over here.  The thought occurred that if I smeared my breasts with smashed blueberries, it might yield a similar result; aside from a telltale purple stain I would prefer to live without.

Lame Adventure 35: A Banana a Day

I am very particular about fruit, but the fruit I am most particular about is the banana since I usually eat one every day.  Therefore, I easily eat close to 350 bananas a year.  Often, when I’m visiting friends or on vacation away from New York, I’ll go banana-less.  Although I like many other fruits — blueberries, apricots, peaches, figs, plums, pluots – and what exactly is a pluot?  You’ve come to the right place for that tidbit of knowledge.

Pluot orgy.

According to Wikipedia – and I paraphrase liberally and perversely — a pluot is the offspring of a shotgun wedding between a plum and an apricot that was the brainstorm of a now 84-year-old biologist named Floyd Zaiger.  Fortune calls Floyd “the most prolific fruit breeder in the world.”  That means that when Floyd buys his rainbow, I’ll read about it in The New York Times.  Fortune declares that Floyd’s “family-owned company, Zaiger’s Genetics, has patented more than 200 new varieties of fruit, all through conventional pollination.”  So Floyd’s fruits get it on the old-fashioned way.  When Floyd strolls the aisle of his local produce department and lingers by the cherry stand while holding a tomato, one can probably assume, “Ah ha, he’s match-making the chemato!”

Floyd in his orchard.

Enough diversion and back to the topic at hand, my long-term relationship with the banana, possibly my longest-term relationship with any foodstuff.  My daily banana eating habit has been going on for many decades. Considering all the bananas I have consumed thus far in a life where I could have easily died three times by now had I been born a dog, I am sure I have easily eaten at last ten thousand bananas, but more likely many, many more.  That calculation tells me two things, “Damn! I’ve eaten a lot of bananas!”  And, “Damn!  Am I really that old to have eaten my weight in bananas at least forty-five times – and have died three times by now had I been born a spaniel?”  How disturbing, and how disturbing to spend time figuring out those calculations.  I did recently cancel my subscription to HBO, so my calculator is filling the void.

In August 1977, when I was a kid, I was hanging out with my older brother, Axel.  We were eating chocolate covered frozen bananas in our parents’ kitchen.  Axel was a big Elvis fan.  He loved to order me to hurry up and walk our dog, Meanstreak, by shouting, “It’s Now or Never!”

So there we were in the kitchen eating our frozen bananas; Axel leaning against the sink, and I sitting in a chair.  In those days we were our own TMZ.  We were gossiping about Liz Taylor, and all of her health problems.  Axel was certain that she was going to check out soon.  I said definitively, “Naaa, your boy, Elvis, is gonna be the next one to kick.”

The next day Elvis dropped dead of a heart attack in his bathroom.

Elvis's death-wich.

Axel always likes to say that I predicted the King’s demise, but I think he had tremendous assistance from all those fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches he scarfed regularly.  I have once or twice, to my gastroenterologist’s horror, eaten a fried banana in a restaurant.  It tasted quite good.  The vast majority of bananas I eat are neither fried nor frozen.  They’re usually straight up, but often chased with a piece of dark chocolate.  As soon as the faintest spot appears, I can barely stand the taste.  I like my bananas solid yellow, even tinged with a little green.

My colleague, Ling, as well as members of my family, can eat a banana so heavy with spots, it almost looks like a leopard.  I would sooner sample fried jungle cat than eat a freckled banana.  The idea of eating either is almost enough to make me gag.  If Floyd reads this blog, I’d like to put in a request for the mush-free solid yellow banana which delays growing spots, but he’d probably advise me to just keep doing what I do, buy two at a time and deal with it.  It does not take a fruit-breeding genius to figure that out.

Ling's banana on the left. Mine on the right.

P.S.  Check out the video posted by Martini Max in the comments section of Chris Elliot channeling Marlon Brando performing the lamest banana dance ever on Late Night with David Letterman back in the day.