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Remembering '30 Rock's' Gay Characters: Devon, and Jonathan, and D'Fwan - Oh My!

Jack and devon 30 rock

 

NBC's madcap sitcom 30 Rock aired for seven seasons (2006-2013) and won the Emmy for Best Sitcom in each of its first three seasons.  Starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, the show's cast of characters were neurotic and quirky New Yorkers, all of whom worked on a weekly sketch-comedy show that was similar to SNL.  And like any worthwhile show, a number of its characters were gay.  There were three:  Devon Banks, who was a thorn in Donaghy's side (Donaghy was played to perfection by Baldwin); Jonathan, Jack's highly protective executive assistant; and gay stylist/reality star D'Fwan.  Jack was the alpha male and the three were often in a tizzy over him.

 

DEVON BANKS - Jack Donaghy's arch-nemesis (played by Will Arnett) was always trying to usurp Jack's leadership position at the NBC-like conglomerate. There was a lot of sexual tension between the two and their fast paced dialogue was full of hilarious double entendres (enhanced by Devon's breathy voice).  My favorite is when Devon, during a heated discussion, tells Jack that "you're going down" and Jack responds, "No, Devon, I don't do that".  Devon's partner's name was Cashmere (he was never seen).

 

Devon banks played by will arnett

 

 

JONATHAN - Jack's fiercely loyal executive assistant, who Devon Banks once referred to as "that fancy little fellow".  He brought to mind Mr. Burns' second in command, Smithers, on The Simpsons.  Although he was usually shown in the background at his desk and had a few lines each episode, he had the most screen time of the three gay characters.  (He was played by openly-gay actor Maulik Pancholy).

 

Jonathan  jack donaghy's assistant on 30 rock
 

 

D'FWAN - In the show's final season D'Fwan became the star of his eponymous reality show (played by Titus Burgess, who later became well known for his role as Titus Andromedon on Netflix's The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).  Convinced that Jack was closeted, D'fwan changed his mind when he saw him dance.

 

Dfwan 30 rock

 

 

OTHER GAY TOUCHES

KENNETH PARCELL - An NBC page from Georgia, he was more or less asexual, and is perhaps the 'Q' in LGBTQ (aka "questioning").  In one episode Jack used Kenneth to try to seduce Devon, who had a crush on Kenneth.

 

Kenneth 30 rock

 

COLEEN DONAGHY - Jack's hyper-critical, self-centered, mom was played by gay icon Elaine Stritch.  Another icon, Patti LuPone, appeared in one episode as the mother of one of the writers.

 

Elaine stritch 30 rock

 

LIZ LEMON (Tina Fey's character) - In one episode Liz, fed up with her poor track record with men, tried to be a lesbian but was rebuffed by one she had befriended.

 

30-rock-season-1-3-blind-date-liz-lemon-stephanie-march-tina-fey-lesbian

 

GRETA JOHANSSEN - As played by SNL alum Rachel Dratch, Greta was an all-business cat wrangler who had a crush on Liz.

 

Rachel dratch 30 rock

 


New Sitcom "The Other Two" - When a Straight Roommate Isn't So Straight

The Other Two - Comedy Central

 

A new sitcom premiered in the winter of 2019 on Comedy Central, called The Other Two.  Set in New York, it focuses on Cary and Brooke Dubek, the floundering twenty-something brother and sister of a 13-year-old YouTube singing sensation.  I decided to give the show a view because of its SNL/Lorne Michaels pedigree and was pleasantly surprised to find that Cary is gay.  What was even more surprising is that Cary's supposedly straight roommate, Matt, is always coming on to him.  An All- American type, with washboard abs and a great smile, Matt is amusingly nonchalant after each fleeting encounter with Cary.  While sitcoms with gay characters have become less of novelty, I can't recall one in which a straight character acts on his same-sex urges.   And the show isn't shy about showing them in a lip-lock or jerking off.

 

From the premiere episode, here they are "innocently" watching TV (remember, this is a sitcom, not a XXX video):

 

The seduction1

Cary's glance
The seduction2  The pounce

 

The roommate is played by Andrew Ridings who in 2010 was in an off-Broadway play Over the Top where he played a closeted gay man (in the role of his boyfriend was Tanner Cohen, who starred in the 2008 gay-themed indie film Were the World Mine).  Cary's co-worker, Curtis, is also gay.  The actor who portrays him, Brandon Scott Jones, played a bitchy bookstore clerk in the Melissa McCarthy movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

 

Gay brother  the other two
Drew Tarver plays Cary Dubek

 

Of course, the show has more amusing gay-oriented stuff going on than just the furtive relationship between Cary and Matt (whose story arc appears to have ended after Episode 3).  And while the show is funny, at the end of each episode I felt oddly diminished.  Perhaps it's because of how it depicts the vacuous, social media-centric world that Millennials and Gen Xers live in.  Also, Cary is somewhat of a "sad sack", who, despite being in his 20s, acts like someone much older in the way he cringes at his peers attachment to social media.    

And although Cary's roomie may be gone, for the time being at least, you might catch Andrew Ridings, in a much more chaste role, appearing in a commercial for Dunkin' Donuts which began airing in May/June.

 

Dunkin donuts

 

The Other Two airs at Thursday at 10:30 after Broad City.

 

Other posts I've written about gay characters in TV sitcoms:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Modern Family

Roseanne

Will & Grace


Renowned Greenwich Village Gay Bar Co-Stars in Movie "Can You Ever Forgive Me"?

Julius bar in can you ever forgive me

 

The Greenwich Village bar, Julius's, plays a prominent role in the true-life drama Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant (both received Oscar nominations for their roles).  The bar is celebrated in the annals of gay history because it's where the famed 'Sip-In' took place in 1966 (three years before the Stonewall riot).  Throughout the movie Julius is where the main characters confide, plot and ultimately reconcile.  In total I'd say the bar has at least 15 minutes of screen time.  (Besides the bar, regular appearances are also made by a cat and a manual typewriter.)  Perhaps Hollywood might consider honoring Julius with a special Oscar for best use of a bar in a movie (after all, Judi Dench got an Oscar for less time on screen in Shakespeare in Love!). 

 

McCarthy and Grant play gay characters, biographer Lee Israel and aging hustler/party boy Jack.  And while the movie wasn't promoted as a "LGBT film", there is a steady amount of understated same-sex moments interspersed throughout the story.  For instance, Lee has a flirtation with a female bookstore owner and has a meeting with her ex, while Jack has a dalliance with a flirtatious waiter.  In addition, two other male characters who work at vintage bookstores give off a definite gay vibe (one of them is played by Stephen Spinella).  And AIDS rears its ugly head.  Although the movie is depressing, with shadowy interiors, gray skies and revelations about personal dysfunction, I enjoyed it a lot; Lee and Jack are two great character studies.

 

Can you ever forgive me
  

 

Now, back to Julius.  Located at the corner of Waverly Place and W. 10th St., it's a few minutes from my apartment as well as the Stonewall Inn and the Monster.  If I'm going to a bar the Monster is where I tend to go because it's just down the street from where I live (I've been known to run there without a coat in the wintertime) and it's much more spacious compared to Jullius , so I can walk around its two levels and not feel conspicuous if I'm there alone.  Despite not going there all that often, Julius has a friendlier vibe (including the bartenders) and the drinks are cheaper.  (Although it's famed for its burgers I've never had one.)

 

Julius bar exterior

 

Finally, besides its role in this film, Julius appeared in another movie I've seen, 2014's  Love is Strange (starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple).  But there was just one scene filmed there (pictured below).  Thinking back to all the gay-themed movies I've seen (more than 100) I can recall just one other that had a scene in gay bar in New York.  It was 1999's Trick, and the main characters have an encounter with Miss Coco Peru, who offers advice while powdering her nose in the bathroom at the club Twirl that used to be on W. 23rd St.

 

LoveisStrange_Featured

 


  


An Appreciation of Bette Midler

Bette midler 1970s

 

Although I wouldn't call myself a devout fan, there's a soft spot in my heart for Bette Midler, a powerhouse of talent whose music, movies and TV appearances I've long enjoyed.  (Truth be told, I was also never a rabid fan of Judy, Marilyn, Liza, Barbra or Cher).  I wasn't yet living in New York during her Continental Baths years, never saw her perform live in concert, nor did I see The Rose or Beaches, but over a career that's spanned five decades I've had my share of exposure to her prolific creative output.  I'm happy she's had such a successful and enduring career (some might even refer to it as "divine").  Now, with her triumphant starring role in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, this seems a perfect time to salute her through my memories.

 

Bette midler hello dolly
In "Hello, Dolly!"

 

FAVORITE SONGS

My playlist is comprised of songs that were released between 1972-1977 and 1988-1992.  But nothing after 2000.

  • Friends (1972, The Divine Miss M) - Listening to it now, I find the line, "I had some friends but they're gone, someone came and took them away," chilling, since 10 years after the album was released this verse would hit home for many of us as the ravages of AIDS began decimating the gay community.  

 

Bette midler - divine miss m
Her first album

 

  • Do You Want to Dance? (1972, The Divine Miss M) - This was Bette's first song to enter the Billboard Hot 40.  I bought it as a single.  In the late 1980s Bette sued the Ford Motor Co. when it used a singer with a voice very similar to hers in a TV commercial.  A district court ruled against her but an appeals court overturned that decision.
  • Twisted (1973, Bette Midler) - A brassy cover of a song first released in 1952, the following year it was one of the tracks on Joni Mitchell's album Court and Spark.
  • I Shall be Released and Higher and Higher (1973, Bette Midler) - Both start out quietly, then build to a roar.
  • Strangers in the Night (Songs from the New Depression, 1976) - Remake of Frank Sinatra's classic, but with more pizazz.
  • Old Cape Cod (Songs from the New Depression, 1976) - A cover of a song from the late '50s which Patti Page made famous.  When I'd walk at night in Provincetown on a moonlit night I'd have Bette's version playing in my head.

 

Provincetown - captain jacks wharf
Captain Jack's Wharf in Provincetown, a place I stayed a number of times when I vacationed in P-town.

 

  • Tragedy (Songs from the New Depression, 1976) - Not to be confused with the Bee Gees disco hit by the same name, this is beautiful, plaintive song.
  • Yellow Beach Umbrella (Broken Blossom, 1977) - This one always makes me think of the Club Baths, where I first heard this tune.  And it was perfect in that setting with lyrics that suggested anonymous encounters, such as "and nobody there will ever know me well", "gonna be a mystery to everyone", and "nobody there will ever find out who I am".  The song was previously recorded by Perry Como, Andy Williams and Three Dog Night, which I found very peculiar because the song has such a female vibe to it.

 

Bette_Midler_-_Broken_Blossom

 

  • The Wind Beneath My Wings (1988) - Schmaltzy as hell but I always loved it, and I liked its beautiful music video as well.  It was Bette's only chart topper.  Three years before she made it an overplayed smash I bought a 12-inch dance version by a group called Menage

 

Bette midler - the wind beneath my wings
Performing the song at the 2014 Academy Awards

 

  • Miss Otis Regrets (1990, Some People's Lives) - Written by Cole Porter in 1934, Bette revisits the genre that was her trademark early in her career.
  • From A Distance (1991) - Brings back memories of the first Gulf War.  It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Stuff Like That There and Billy-A-Dick (1991) - From the movie For the Boys, both songs were written during WWII, bringing Bette back to her roots when she was identified with tunes like the Andrew Sisters' Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Glenn Miller's In the Mood.

 

Bette midler - for the boys
"For the Boys"
  • Ukulele Lady (1998, Bathhouse Betty) - A perfect, quirky with a retro feel to it that is vintage Bette.
  • In These Shoes? (2000, Bette) - This is a cover of a song by the late Kirsty MacColl from her 1996 album.

 

MOVIES I'VE SEEN

She's appeared in more than two dozen movies but I've only seen a handful: Big Business (1988, with Lily Tomlin); Ruthless People (1986, with Danny DeVito); Down & Out in Beverly Hills (1986, with Richard Dreyfus); Outrageous Fortune (1987, with Shelly Long) and For the Boys (1991, with James Caan).

 

Bette midler - down and out in beverly hills
"Down & Out in Beverly Hills"

 

TV SHOWS, MAGAZINES, ETC.

Guest starred on Cher's CBS special (Feb. 12, 1975) along with Elton John.  This was one of the pop culture highlights of my senior year in high school.

 

Bette midler - 1975 cher special

 

In People Magazine's June 30, 1975 cover story, there was a photo of Bette planting flowers in front of her brownstone on Barrow St. (the block off Seventh Ave. South).  I live near this street and think of this photo every time I walk on that block.

 

Bette midler - people magazine

 

A great Vanity Fair cover as well as an amusing photo spread inside the issue (Dec. 1991).

 

Bette midler - vanity fair

Midler_vf

Bette midler - vanity fair mowing lawn

 

Serenaded Johnny Carson (May 21, 1992).  Perhaps the highlight of Johnny Carson's last week hosting the Tonight Show was Bette hopping on his desk and singing You Made Me Watch You.  This affection was sincere since Carson launched her career when she appeared on his show for the first time in the summer of 1970 (however, her first national exposure was earlier that year on the much less popular David Frost Show). 

 

Bette midler - johnny carson

 

Starred in the TV version of the musical Gypsy (Dec. 12, 1993).  It took 10 years of cajoling before the show's late creator, Arthur Laurents, agreed to allow the  project to go forward.  The telecast was the fourth most popular show of the week and it won Bette a Golden Globe (but no Emmy).  Sadly, the movie's director, Emile Ardolino, died from AIDS complications the week before the movie was telecast.

 

Bette midler - mama rose in gypsy

 

Appeared in an episode of Seinfeld (May 18, 1995).  Playing herself, she's injured after Jerry slides into her at a charity softball game (his girlfriend is Bette's understudy in a musical called Rochelle, Rochelle).  While recuperating in the hospital Kramer decides to take care of her and presents here with a tiny likeness of herself made out of macaroni ("macaroni Midler").

 

Bette midler - seinfeld

 

Her love of nature and the people of New York City was the impetus behind the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit that Bette founded in July 1995.  It has championed neglected community parks throughout the City, restoring them through clean-ups and the planting of trees and greenery.

 

Bette midler - new york restoration project

 

Starred in a CBS sitcom in 2000-01 titled Bette.  (In the pilot episode her daughter was played by 13-year-old Lindsay Lohan.)  Unfortunately, this show was not a hit, and it's since been used as a prime example of how a big name doesn't necessarily mean a show will be a success with viewers.

 

Bette midler - cbs sitcom

 

During the 2011 holiday season Bette was featured in a commercial for the Honda Acura as an over-the-top Christmas caroler.

 

Bette midler - honda ad

 

Finally, the Caricatures ...

Bette_midler_risko
Artist: Robert Risko

 

Bette midler - al hirschfeld caricature
Artist: Al Hirschfeld

 

Bette midler - david coles caricature
Artist: David Coles

 

And if the 22 images in this post leave you wanting more, try the 2000+ images on this Pinterest page devoted to the Divine Miss M.

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Greenwich Village's Second AIDS Memorial Underwhelms

AIDSMemorial

 

I hate to say it, but the recently dedicated AIDS Memorial in Greenwich Village, which sits across the street from where St. Vincent's Hospital used to be, looks like the outdoor garden center attached to a suburban K-Mart.  And where it's situated, off busy Seventh Ave., doesn't offer a very contemplative atmosphere.  Furthermore, a soothing quotation engraved in the walking area is so lengthy that I doubt many will take the time to read it, especially since reading will likely be interrupted by other visitors walking over it.  Names engraved on a low wall aren't those who died of AIDS but, rather, those who donated funds, a tacky feature for a memorial.  Lastly, I found it disconcerting that three days after a recent snowstorm, snow/ice still hadn't been cleared from the area, making it impossible to read the inspirational quote (you would think that arrangements would have been made for this type of upkeep.)

 

I get it that the site was considered ideal for paying tribute to St. Vincent's since it was the focal point of the AIDS crisis in New York and one of the first hospitals to offer a dedicated AIDS wards.  However, I would have hoped for something more magisterial than a structure that resembles a not very sturdy looking mini-Oculus (lower Manhattan's new transportation and shopping hub).   

 

Meanwhile, a more stately and understated memorial is situated in a lovely, more secluded setting along the river in Hudson River Park at Bank Street.  Dedicated in 2008, it went largely unrecognized during the hubbub surrounding the planning of the newer memorial.  (And it cost considerably less.).  I find this site much more conducive to thinking about friends and loved ones lost to AIDS.

 

Aids_memorial_hudson_river_park  

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Gay Playwrights Honored With Sidewalk Stars in Front of Lucille Lortel Theater

Lucille lortel theater

 

It may not rank up there with the glittering Walk of Stars in Hollywood, but the sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village pays tribute to about 50 esteemed playwrights - at least a dozen of whom are gay.  On a recent Sunday afternoon, rather than mindlessly walk over them as I trekked out to the Christopher St. pier, I took a moment to look down at this list of accomplished (somewhat of an understatement) writers and was inspired to snap photos of some of their stars, and here they are ...

 

Lucille lortel west village 029
Looking down at the stars ...

 

CHARLES BUSCH

 

Charles busch
The 62-year-old Busch made his reputation playing larger-than-life female characters (with flaming red hair) in shows he wrote, such as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom; Psycho Beach Party and Die, Mommie, Die! One show he wrote, but didn't appear in, was the Tony-nominated play, The Allergist's Wife.

 Charles busch 

 

 

CHARLES LUDLAM

(1943-1987)

 

Charles ludlam
Ludlam was founder of The Ridiculous Theater Co. and is best known for writing The Mystery of Irma Vepp (one of 29 plays he wrote). Like Charles Busch he also directed and acted in many of his productions. He won six Obie Awards.
 
Charles ludlam

 

 

CHRISTOPHER DURANG

 

Christopher durang
Best known for Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, for which he won a Tony in 2013.

 Christopher durang

 

 

EDWARD ALBEE

(1928-2016)

 

Edward albee
Best known for writing Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Seascape; A Delicate Balance; Three Tall Women and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?  He wrote 34 plays, three of which won the Pulitzer Prize and two a Tony Award.

 

Edward albee2

 

 

LANFORD WILSON 

(1937-2011)

 

Lanford wilson
Best Known for The Fifth of July; Burn This; Talley's Folly and Hot L Baltimore. Awards include one Pulitzer, one Drama Desk Award, five Obies and three Tony nominations. He was co-founder of the Circle Repertory Company.

Lanford wilson

 

 

LANGSTON HUGHES

(1902-1967)

 

Langston hughes
A leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and '30s, he is best known for Black Nativity and Jerico-Jim Crow. At the age of 33 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Langston-Hughes-On-The-St-008

 

 

LARRY KRAMER

(1935-2020)

 

Larry karmer
Best known for the Broadway plays, The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, both which captured the despair and rage created by the AIDS crisis.
 
Larry kramer washington square park

 

 

TONY KUSHNER

 

Tony kushner
With more than 25 plays to his credit, he is best known for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Angels in America: Perestroika; Caroline or Change; and Homebody/Kabul. He also worked on screenplays for the movies Munich and Lincoln.


 Tony kushner

 

 

TERRENCE MCNALLY

(1938-2020)

 

Terrence mcnally
The 77-year-old McNally is best known for writing Love! Valour! Compassion!; Master Class; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Frankie & Johnnie in the Clair de Lune; A Perfect Ganesh; and The Lisbon Traviata. Winner of five Drama Desk Awards, four Tonys and two Obies.


 Terrence-McNally.-Photo-by-Jacquelyn-Martin-Associated-Press-File

 

 

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

(1911-1983)

 

Tennessee williams
Perhaps America's most renowned playwright, Williams name easily brings to mind The Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Sweet Bird of Youth; Suddenly, Last Summer; and Night of the Iguana.


 

Tennessee williams

 

 

MART CROWLEY

(1935-2020)

 

Martcrowley2
Accomplished as a TV writer and producer, Crowley's biggest claim to fame is as the writer of 1968's Boys in the Band.


 Mart crowley

 

 

MARC BLITZSTEIN

(1905-1964)

 

Marc blitzstein
Best known for 1937's The Cradle Will Rock and the Broadway adaptation of The Little Foxes.

 Marc.blitzstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering lllustrator Robert DeMichiell (1958 - 2015)

DeMichielle Robert de Michielle

 

While watching last week's Tony Awards I was surprised, and saddened, when, during the In Memoriam segment, Chita Rivera said the name of illustrator Robert DeMichiell (who had died in October 2015 at the age of 57).  Although I didn't know him personally I knew of his work through my friend Tom, who participated in an erotic drawing workshop that met weekly at the Leslie Lohman Gallery in SoHo.  Robert was one of the regular attendees and I bought a number of his sketches (two which are shown to the right) at the gallery's first Dirty Little Drawings show in 2003.  It exhibited work by participants of the workshop (all submissions were 4X4 inches square).  Once I knew his style I recognized his work in Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker.  He also produced a series of colorful Fire Island postcards that captured the carefree, body-beautiful atmosphere of the Pines.  (The scope of his work is nicely captured at the website illoz.)

 

 

XRSCN4942
One of the postcards in DeMichiell's Fire Island Pines collection

 

Robert de Michielle chest
Another of his drawings that I own

 

Robert de michiell man on beach towel
Having spent a number of summers in the Pines, might I have been the inspiration for this sketch? 

 

New yorker cover by robert demichiell
March 1, 1993 cover illustration

 

I often found myself confusing DeMichiell with another gay illustrator, Robert W. Richards (still alive at the age of 75), who also participated in the erotic art workshop.  Their drawing styles, however, differ - DeMichiell's hot and masculine men are a blend of caricature and cartoon while Richards' men are more lifelike and have pretty faces with a high-fashion flair.

 

Robert richards
An example of Robert W. Richards' work

 

After a number of Dirty Little Drawings exhibits the organizers of the workshop compiled nearly 300 of the sketches and published them in a handsome hardbound book (like the drawings, 4X4 inches) titled, you guessed it, Dirty Little Drawings.  DeMichiell had four of his sketches published and eight of Richards' were chosen.

 

Dirty Little Drawings

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2016 Tony Awards Air on Same Day as Homophobic Attack in Orlando (June 12, 2016)

James.corden.2016tonysWho could have imagined that the highlight of the Broadway season, the gay Super Bowl, would be held on the same day as the nation's deadliest attack against America's LGBT population?  Yet it did on June 12.  Before the opening of the telecast, master of ceremonies James Corden soberly yet compassionately addressed viewers at home with his back to those attending the awards ceremony.  With his brief commemoration completed, the coronation of Hamilton began.  During the telecast comments about the slaughter of 49 patrons at Orlando's gay club, Pulse, were made by Lin Manuel-Miranda, Jessica Lange, Frank Langella and Barbra Streisand (yes, Babs made her first appearance in 50 years).  And everyone was sporting a silver ribbon on their lapel or gown in a show of solidarity for the city of Orlando.

 

Of course, in this day and age of 24/7 news the coverage of the attack was continuous and unnerving.  This was in stark contrast to the indifference shown more than 40 years earlier after the previous deadliest attack against gays, in June 1973, when 32 patrons of the New Orleans bar Upstairs Lounge died in an arson fire.  Sadly, hate continues in the present day but this time it was publicized worldwide rather than ignored.      

 

NOW, ON WITH THE SHOW!

The lovable James Corden was wonderful - and such a relief from the silliness of last year's hosts, Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth.  (Actually, Corden's love of Broadway is similar to that of another former host, Hugh Jackman.)  The introduction of Corden at the top of the show was genius, replicating the rap patter of Hamilton and sung by cast members.  It poked fun at Corden's relative unknown.  One excerpt:

CBS said, "This collision of theater and tele-vision needs a risk taker, it needs a rule breaker, it needs a troublemaker, a mover and a shaker - It needs that chubby dude from 'Into the Woods' who played the baker."    

 

Jame corden dancing tony awards  

 

PROUD PAPA

Lin-Manuel Miranda had plenty of opportunities to beam as Hamilton won 11 Tony's.  The widespread acclaim the show has received is no doubt the biggest reason the telecast's rating was the highest in 15 years.

 

Lin-manuel_miranda.tonys

Lin-manuel-tonys

Proud

 

CALLING THE FASHION POLICE!

There's always one and this year it was Cate Blanchett, resplendent in raccoon-eye makeup and an "outfit" that looked like it was made from a sweatshirt and leather harness.

 

Cate.blanchet.2016tonys

 

80+ NEVER LOOKED BETTER

At 83, the vibrant Chita Rivera introduced the In Memoriam tribute, a list she's not likely to appear on for many years.

 

Chita rivera 2016 tony awards

 

A COMEDIC TRIBUTE TO "LAW & ORDER"

There was a hilarious routine about various Broadway actors who may be better known for their roles on Law & Order than on Broadway (ending with six roles by Fiddler's Danny Burstein).

 

Billporter.lalaw
Billy Porter ("Shuffle Along")

 

Daveed.diggs.tonyawards
Daveed Diggs ("Hamilton")

 

Danny.burstein.tonyawards
Danny Burstein ("Fiddler on the Roof")

 

SKEWERING TRUMP

There were three swipes at Donald Trump.  In applauding the diversity of the Tony nominees, Corden said that Donald Trump had threatened to build a wall around the theater; Nathan Lane said he learned about the great importance of winning awards at Trump University; then, near the end of the show, in a real slap at him, there was a little routine about a show about Trump coming to Broadway in the fall titled "House of Moron".

 

Book.of.moron

 

HEY, HAVEN'T I SEEN THAT DRESS BEFORE?

 

Renee.elise.goldsberry
Renee Elise Goldsberry, 2016 Tony Winner

 

Alicia.vikander.justjared
Alicia Vikander, 2016 Oscar Winner

 

UNDERSTATED CHARM

I found myself enchanted by the number, If You Knew My Story, from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's nominated show Bright StarThe song had a countrfied charm and the stage setting's soft blue hues brought to mind a water color.

 

Bright.star

 

BECAUSE OUTRAGEOUS TICKET PRICES DON'T RAISE ENOUGH REVENUE 

New York senator Charles Schumer was applauded for passing legislation providing tax breaks for Broadway.  The cynical question in my mind - does that mean ticket prices will go down?

 

Charles.schumer 

 

CUTE, HORNY BOYS IN KNICKERS

The number from Spring Awakening had the cutest display of boys in knickers since the Tony ceremony from a few years ago that featured a number from Newsies.

 

Springawakening

 

EMILIO RUINED THE SURPRISE

In introducing a number from Get on Your Feet, Emilio Estefan spoiled a surprise when he mentioned that wife Gloria wasn't at the podium with him because she was appearing in the number.  I loved the two little boys dancing the rumba while playing maracas; the Ricky Martin-esque lead also got my attention.  One of the songs in the medley was Estefan's remake of Turn the Beat Around, but for me only Vicki Sue Robinson's original version will do.

 

Getonyourfeet  

 

THE REVIVAL THAT WON'T DIE

There was a special shout-out for the 20th anniversary of the revival of Chicago, but I found it odd that no mention was made of its original run 40 years ago.

 

Chicago

 

LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM!

Lin-Manuel Miranda gave a powerful, emotional acceptance speech upon accepting his Tony for Best Score.  The most memorable, emphatic line alluded to the day's tragedy in Orlando: "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside" .

 

Lin_manuel miranda tony awards 

 

THE LIGHTS OF BROADWAY ARE SO BRIGHT SHE'S GOTTA WEAR SHADES

 

Anna.wintour.2016tonys
Anna Wintour, as always, showed up wearing sunglasses.  And, again, she went home without a Tony.

 

DIVERSITY, THY NAME IS THE TONYS

 

Asian.tonys
The night's much-touted "diversity" included presenter Daniel Dae Kim, starring in "The King & I"

 

THRILLED JUST TO BE NOMINATED

 

Janekrakowski
Jane Krakowski ("She Loves Me")
 
Jonathan.groff
Jonathan Groff ("Hamilton")
 
Shufflingalong.actor.tonys
Brandon Victor Dixon ("Shuffle Along")
 
Michelle.williams
Michelle Williams ("Blackbird")

 

PAYING TRIBUTE TO CLASSIC BROADWAY

During commercial breaks cast members of the nominated musicals would rush outside and do a quick verse from a classic Broadway show, for all of 10-15 seconds.  The giddy energy brought to mind young kids putting on a show, a la Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

 

Lin-manuel_miranda.beacon theater
At the end of the song from "Rent" sung by the cast of "Hamilton" it was amusing to hear Lin-Manuel Miranda doing light shilling for CBS, shouting, "The Tonys, only on CBS!"

 

LOVE THOSE CROWD SHOTS!

 

Audience.shot
Something must have been going on in the cheap seats ...

 

TWO MORE "HAMILTON" FANS

 

Barack.and.michelle.obama.tonyawards
The president and first lady briefly talked about, what else?, "Hamilton", offering an anecdote about seeing a version of the show in its embryonic stage at the White House a number of years ago.

 

"SHUFFLING" PAST 11:00

Unlike the Oscars, the Tonys have a reputation for ending on time but this year the telecast went until 11:15.  Perhaps it would have ended at 11:00 if it weren't for the need for presenters to say the official title of Shuffle Along ("Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed").  Because it received ten Tony nominations it was mentioned throughout the night.

 

Shuffling.along

 

THEN ... AND NOW, THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD!

If your DVR stopped recording at 11:00 you missed the uplifting closing few minutes, featuring a number from, no surprise, "Hamilton",  with lyrics that were so very apt on this day:

Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now ... we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world - in the greatest city in the world! 

 

Hamilton_2016tonyawards

 

Here are reviews of previous Tony Awards:

2015 Tony Awards

2014 Tony Awards

2013 Tony Awards

 


Charles Busch Pays Tribute to the Leading Ladies of Cabaret

Recently I attended a one-night-only performance by Charles Busch, which was part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's American Songbook series.  The show, titled "The Lady at the Mic", celebrated the repertoire of Julie Wilson, Elaine Stritch, Mary Cleere Haran and Polly Bergen (and Joan Rivers was thrown in for good measure). 

 

CharlesBusch.Glen Hanson drawing

 

First, the positives:

  • Charles Busch - I love his stories and his female persona.  He conveys warmth and graciousness, with little of the crassness or bitchiness that is so often part of the routine of men who perform in drag.
  • The Venue - This was my first time at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room (in the Time Warner Center).  Rather than there being a wall behind the stage, there's a huge window that looks out onto Central Park South and 59th St., which is a pretty spectacular view.

 

Appelroom.jazzlincolncenter

 

  • Tom Judson - Busch's accompanist of the past four years, Judson is talented and sexy - even more so after I looked him up on Google Images.  Wow, how did he escape my attention all these years (similar to the reaction I had last year about singer-songwriter Matt Alber)?

 

Charlesbusch.tomjudson

 

Now, the negatives:

  • Charles Busch - Singing is not Busch's strength, at least not tonight.  Perhaps he had a cold since his voice was a bit ragged and he couldn't hit the high notes.  Thankfully, probably well aware of his limitations, his set was interspersed with his witty repartee and Tom Judson's contributions, so his singing was tolerable.  Also, during some of the less inspired songs my mind would drift as I gazed out at the cityscape stretching out behind the stage.
  • The Venue - Although the physical space is aesthetically pleasing, the seats were squashed together.  The seats themselves were chair-stools, so your feet couldn't touch the ground (even those of us who are six feet tall), which became a bit uncomfortable after about 10 minutes.  Also, the seats weren't very wide.  I've been more comfortable flying coach.
  •  Tom Judson - After the photos I saw on Google Images, it was a disappointment that he wasn't shirtless.

 

Tomjudson.shirtless

 

Nonetheless, the positives outweighed the negatives, and, anyway, an evening spent with Charles Busch is an entertaining one, so I went home with a smile.


Manhattan Mini-Storage Ad Features Creepy Gay Couple

Manhattan.ministorage.fivequeerguys Manhattan.ministorage.logoAds for Manhattan Mini-Storage (found mostly on the sides of buildings and in subway cars) are known for being topical as well as possessing a New York City "edge" to them (bringing to mind ads for Kenneth Cole).  And quite a few have an amusing gay sensibility to them.  However, one of the company's new ads that I've been seeing in subway cars creeps me out.  It features a smiling gay couple who have a peculiar look to them, half Stepford Wives, half Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum.  (I believe the model in the red sweater is one of the company's customer service agents.)  Another aspect of the ad that drew my attention is the headline that reads "We Like Musicals".  They just "like" musicals?  That makes them even more peculiar. However, despite their off-putting look, this wax-like duo still exudes more sexual chemistry than Modern Family's Mitchell and Cameron.

 

Manhattan.ministorage.gayad

 

One last attention grabber is found on the square ad format displayed in subway cars.  Unlike the ad above, this format (which I've zoomed in on below) shows their crotches, revealing quite a "package" on the Black partner.  (And as those who ride the subway know, you can be standing for a while, so you find yourself staring at what's in front of you and end up studying it closely.)

 

Manhattan.ministorage.crotchshot