HIS HEART DOESN'T BELONG TO PUFF DADDY
Who's afraid of Puff Daddy? Clearly not Anthony Mackie, the hot young actor who stole Ma Rainey's Black Bottom as the stuttering Sylvester and who plays Constantin (a.k.a. C-Trip) in Regina Taylor's Drowning Crow, now in previews at the Biltmore. At a recent press event, Mackie minced no words about the casting of the infamous Sean "Puffy" Combs as Walter Younger Jr. in the upcoming revival of A Raisin in the Sun: "Casting a rapper like P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Mr. Runner, or whatever he calls himself, shows a great lack of respect to the African-American community by the African-American community." Proving that Mackie has nothing against rappers per se, he remarked that Eminem, with whom he worked in the movie 8 Mile, "showed me nothing but love." By the way, Mackie will also be appearing in the Cabaret Gourmet benefit for The Play Company, this coming Monday, February 9 at Lot 61.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
Despite having earned some first-rate reviews (including one from yours truly), Bill Clinton's former flame Gennifer Flowers unexpectedly bolted the production of Boobs! The Musical: The World According to Ruth Wallis at Dillon's earlier this week. According to the show's publicist, Flowers has been suffering from walking pneumonia and bronchitis and decided to head home to New Orleans to seek medical attention. But another source close to the show says that BOOBS's financially plagued producer only paid Flowers half her salary last week. The publicist denied that there are any unusual money problems -- including non-payment of salary -- but admits that the show's future sans Flowers is uncertain. Indeed, it's possible that Boobs! will be flat by the weekend.
OBJECT OF DESIRE
Adam Rothenberg, the little-known actor who wowed the critics this fall with his performance in Birdy at Theater Four, has landed the plum role of Stanley Kowalski in the Kennedy Center's production of A Streetcar Named Desire, opening this spring. His leading ladies will be current Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson as Blanche and past Tony nominee Amy Ryan as S-T-E-L-L-A-A-A-H!
The much-maligned Taboo takes its final Broadway bow on Sunday, but author Charles Busch is hardly staying home and crying his eyes out over the musical's premature closing. The divine diva will emcee Theater for the New City's Love 'n Courage benefit this Monday, which will feature appearances by such living legends as Elaine Stritch, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Kitty Carlisle Hart. La Busch will also participate in the star-studded Embrace benefit on February 19; and on February 23, fans can catch him at Fez, reading selections from Joan Crawford's autobiography as part of that hot spot's ultra-hot Cause Celeb! series. Wire hangers are strictly forbidden.
The too-little-seen Joanna Gleason will return to the stage as Dr. Emma Brookner in the Worth Street Theater's revival of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart at the Public this April, opposite the ever-amazing Raúl Esparza...Drama Desk Award winner Angela Goethals is set to star in Studio 42's production of the hit Danish play First You're Born, opening late April at Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater...Urinetown co-star Ken Jennings and cabaret/theater favorite Eric Michael Gillett have joined the cast of Silent Laughter, upcoming at the Lamb's Theater.
ONE HOT TOMATO
Two-time Tony Award nominee Mary Testa was recently chosen as one of 100 honorary "Campbell's Kids" in whose names the soup giant is donating $1 million to the Salvation Army. I wonder how much of her favorite, Campbell's Tomato Soup, Testa is eating these days? She looks better than ever -- and if you don't believe me, you can see for yourself on February 22 at the Lark Theater. She will be part of The Transport Group's benefit Evening with Michael John LaChiusa, which will also feature performances of the composer's work by the equally amazing Michele Pawk and Carolee Carmello. In April, Testa -- who's also been making us howl on NBC's Whoopi -- will co-star with the fabulous Julia Murney and Mary Beth Peil in Transport's production of LaChiusa's First Lady Suite at the Connelly Theater.
HIS AND HERS
The year 2004 is turning out to be a special one for Mr. and Mrs. Martin Silvestri. She is better known as Christine Andreas, the three-time Tony nominee (and winner of last year's Barrymore Award for her performance in Pal Joey at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia) who has brought her wonderful cabaret act The Carlyle Set back to its namesake hotel through February 28. Meanwhile, her very talented composer husband is finally seeing his new musical Johnny Guitar (based on the 1954 cult film) produced Off-Broadway. Performances begin at the Century Theater on March 4, with Judy McLane, Ann Crumb, Steve Blanchard, and Rob Evan in the leads.
LIFE'S A BEACH
Attendees of the 2001 edition of the National Alliance of Musical Theater's (NAMT) annual festival of new musicals were delighted by a snappy, tuneful farce called Palm Beach. Now, it's possible that a full production of the show may be seen at the La Jolla Playhouse this summer. Meanwhile, a 2003 NAMT favorite, Barry Kleinbort and Joseph Thalken's Was, is definitely set to be produced by the Human Race Theater Company in Dayton, Ohio from October 14 through 31.