CHARLES BUSCH AND
Aug 10, Whyte Hall
by Jeannie Lieberman
again the Pines Arts Project has blurred the lines between Fire Island and New
York theater, importing the very best. Charles Busch, whose talent could carry
(and has) the show alone, very generously shared the spotlight with his “friends”
all winners in their own right.
floated onstage on multihued chiffon wings, over a chic black jumpsuit and
under a glamorous wig. “I need a song to start my show” he pondered in a
special song incorporating all his musical choices:
need a Porter
than I oughtta
then introduced the very accomplished Tom Judson on the piano who would lead
them on “a musical journey from A to B flat” (he wrote the music of the
original Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Busch’s inaugural show).
his laser sharp humor, he announced “I will tell you a personal story to establish
a tone of fake intimacy” relating a college affair he was thinking of
revisiting. “Then I did the math…102 is the new 90”.
inventive he mixed the old black and white “women’s pictures” with the classic “Cinderella”
titled ‘I Murdered My Stepdaughter”
up in New York he reminisced about Ethel Merman’s performance in the ’66
revival of Annie Get Your Gun with a unique rendition of “They Say That Falling
in Love is Wonderful” which revealed his acting chops.
Weinstein, slender and studious looking, comes across as a nerdy violinist
threatened to play a specially written “concerto a la Schoenberg” teasing the
audience with some very Victor Borge-like antics before lapsing into “I Wanna
Be Happy (but I can’t be happy until your happy too)” which he dubbed a
co-dependency song. This prompted Busch to comment “it’s a pity vaudeville is
time friend, co-star and possibly muse, Julie Halston, was called to stage
recalling how her first theater role was a replacement in “Vampire Lesbians..”
and how awful she was –
two, who often appear together, did a few readings from their act “Celebrity
Autobiography” with Charles uncanny as Bette Davis and Julie as her arch rival
and enemy Joan Crawford, who was credited with being able to say “Go F—k
yourself” without being vulgar.
then took over the stage confiding “I’m white trash from Commack”.
related how she finally had a face lift but was terrified to tell her mother until
she was grieving for the loss of a relative, her mother replied, “You should
have done it years ago!!!”
baby faced and adorable Andrew Rannells , of Book of Mormon fame, selected an overly
ambitious “What Kind of Fool Am I’’ for his solo.
Busch returned to stage in black feathers and sequins (“you didn’t expect me to
stay in one costume, did you/”)and re-introduced Judson, who played a lesser
known Styne/Merrill song “Mr. McGoo’s Christmas” while Busch , while feigning
interest, couldn’t quite keep from preening and posturing from the sidelines.,
but quickly recovered with “that was moving, honest”.
Charles delivered a straightforward and moving “What are you doing the Rest of
Your Life” he tickled us all with a reading from his bible: “Arlene Dahl’s Key to
Femininity”. In it she asks some male stars what they look for in a woman – and
quotes them – such machismo icons as Tony Perkins, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and
Noel Coward!!! Dahl closes with this advice: it’s much easier to change clothes
than husbands – ask any divorcee1
“friend”, Julia Murney took the stage with a rousing rendition of Kander &
Ebb’s “Ring Them Bells” and joined Rannells in a charming duet “As Long As
returned channeling Mimi Passman, diva of Temple Emanuel Shalom, inviting everyone
to Don’t Tell Mama at her favorite time slot, .4:30. He then paid homage the
Fire Island Pines Arts Project 30th anniversary, looking back to the
ghosts of Fire Island, to the ‘70’s, leaving the crowd with “Those Were the
directed by Carl Andress, Charles was very generous with his time, sharing the
talent of so many. People certainly got their money’s worth!
next project is the end of the season musical “Dolly”
30 – Sept 1, tickets fipap.org or in the harbor