"IT IS a hopeless endeavor to attract people to the theater unless they can first be brought to believe they'll never get in." Charles Dickens.
• EVEN IF you didn't see or didn't like "Kinky Boots" the fabulous musical that swept the Tony Awards Sunday night, how could you not love Cyndi Lauper's emotional acceptance speech? Cyndi won her Tony for writing the music and lyrics to the show. (Harvey Fierstein did the book.) Lauper is such an original, and true to herself, always. Perhaps too original and too true to have made the music industry predictions of 1984 come to fruition--that Lauper was the real (if quirky) talent who'd be a superstar forever, and Madonna was just a trashy flash-in-the-pan, soon forgotten. Both rocketed to superstardom in '84.
Well, as we know, Madonna went on and on--and is still going, certainly in terms of her concerts and general publicity. Cyndi's never stopped working, but her flame burned a little lower. She simply would never conform. (In this way she reminds me of the great Whoopi Goldberg.)
In any case, I loved Cyndi's speech, I love "Kinky Boots" and although I'm sorry my friend Tom Hanks didn't win for Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy," one could never say his awards shelf is bare. (I'm much more exercised by Bette Midler's exclusion from the nominations altogether.)
I'm pleased for the wonderful actor Courtney Vance who did win an award for "Lucky Guy," and thrilled that the brilliant Judith Light has now taken her second Tony for her performance in "The Assembled Parties." (I can't say it enough; Judith in one of the nicest, most genuine people in the biz.)
And I want to give what will be considered an unusual shout-out to Tyler Perry. Say what you will about his soap-opera-ish movies or his Madea character, but he regularly employs a revolving group of marvelous African-American actors, including Cicely Tyson. Perhaps Perry using her so much in film brought her to the attentions of the producers of "The Trip to Bountiful" which won her a Tony for lead actress on Sunday night? It was her first appearance on Broadway in 30 years.
As for the show, it zipped along at a nice clip, and, again--let there never be any further conversation about who should host the Tonys. That job belongs to and is owned by Neil Patrick Harris.
• OUR READERS are obsessed by strippers of late (I'm surprised more people aren't onstage these days kicking and zipping off their "kinky boots!)
Anyway, strippers abound in the new book David and Joe Henry have written about the late great bad boy of comedy - "Richard Pryor and he World That Made Him Furious Cool" ) this is coming from Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
It traces Pryor's rise, fall, changes, ambition, irresponsibility and how he ended telling the world about how he grew up in the black world of Peoria, Illinois, under the shadow of drugs, his brothel keeping grandma, prostitution, racism, bars, pimps, vaudeville has-beens, church folk, politicians on the take, and famous musicians
on the rise.
For instance, Duke Ellington wrote his classic , "Satin Doll" about an inspirational singer-stripper of this area, working the "black belt night club circuit" where Richard Pryor grew up. Great book and more about it here later.
To go on about strippers, I'll cite Channing Tatum, current cover boy of Vanity Fair for July.
Although this guy moved on from male stripping in his somewhat neglected - but I think brilliant movie "Magic Mike," he is also an action and romantic hero who can act, wow - does he ever get my vote! (Channing's real-life stint as a stripper was fairly brief, before he got into modeling and acting.) And you should look up "Magic Mike" made by Steven Soderbergh because it offers the often-denigrated Matthew McConaughey in the role of a lifetime - an aging male stripper working against the odds. Matthew was also terrific in "Killer Joe" which I was sure would land him an Oscar nomination. Possibly he'll nab some recognition in "Dallas Buyers Club" in which he devastated his body with what he said was a 30 pound weight loss, but looked more like 50--he plays a man succumbing to AIDS. (The Academy loves actors to really suffer for their art.) I think Matthew's laid back, surfer guy image--and his good looks--have worked against him.
I haven't had time to check out what Vanity Fair has to say about Channing Tatum but I can hardly wait. Written by Richard Cohen with photos by Bruce Weber, "From Stripper to Superstar" sounds just great.
• HBO and Showtime are leaving a lot of unhappy viewers of late. HBO's "Game of Thrones" which had a season more off than on, ended with a disappointing, dull, finale. Fans have to wait at least six more months to see if the writers of this complicated series can do better in season four. As for Showtime, "The Borgias" which has had it fastest-paced, most dramatic season yet, will air a surprising "series finale" next week. There was hope that creator Neil Jordan could stretch out another season or finish up the storylines satisfyingly with a two-hour movie, but...it is not to be. (Incest, that great taboo, has never seemed so romantic, passionate and inevitable as it has been presented by Cesare Borgia and sister Lucrezia, in the beautiful forms of Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger. Historians doubt it ever really happened, but go read history, then.)
Cable is expensive, and those who their invest money, time and emotions in these series seem to running out of patience.
• "Dear Liz. I am a music teacher at El Rodeo School in Beverly Hills. We recently put on a production of "Bye, Bye Birdie that was incredible for the students, families and community. I wanted to thank you for writing an article of my musical theater program in your column and on your websites. Musical theater has changed my life in many ways in the wake of the Oklahoma disasters and our ever-changing world. I believe that musical theater has always been a symbol of American hope and perseverance. Hopefully this will be a tradition that we can pass down to future generations. Thank you for your wonderful years of service and the gifts you have granted us all. Fred Pinto."
Thank you Fred. It's this kind of note that keeps me keeping on!