"I've been absorbing the postures, the vocal inflections, the images, and the way these actresses turn their head toward the light. I try to visit their thought processes, and analyze why they are making that acting choice-- not just imitating that choice."
So many questions about gender identity found a place in 2014's headlines that, as the world put last year to rest and got on with the business of 2015, I couldn't help but think back to a particular week last fall.
One of today's great comediennes is in fact a man. In the tradition of other celebrated gender benders, like Divine, Dame Edna and RuPaul, the man who transforms nightly into Varla Jean Merman has spent the better part of 20 years elevating "drag" to a peerless variety of this art form.
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer, Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby.
If you need a good laugh (and these days, who doesn't?) you can always count on Charles Busch. In or out of drag, he's a movie-obsessed queen of comedy. His new romp, produced by New York's Primary Stages, is called The Tribute Artist. It's a hoot.
His humor, which steals liberally from movie queens and classic cinema scenes, remains. But like all Busch parodies, there are issues to explore. A skilled actor, his faux Adriana navigates the blurry lines between illusion and reality and discovers the value of honest emotion.
Downtown theater legend Charles Busch is best known for his satiric gender-bender plays. So it's something of a revelation to see him adapting a best-selling children's book into "a rabbit tale of musical mystery."
Len Cariou may well be the most persistently employed performer on the planet. He leaps fleetly from role to role, format to format and venue to venue -- theater, film, television, recordings, narration, voiceovers, documentaries and audio books.
When you sit through something as ludicrous as Williams's last play -- or so we're led to believe of a manuscript cobbled together by other peddler-meddlers -- you spend much of the time wondering whom the roiling cauldron of picked-over Williams obsessions serves.