Euan Morton is spending his nights in a "sex cave." Okay, to be perfectly accurate, the "cave" is on the stage of The Public Theater; that's where the former Taboo star is playing Molly, a transvestite hooker, in Measure for Pleasure. "I first turned the role down because I didn't want to be in a dress again," says Morton. "I figured it just wasn't good for my career. But I think the script is really funny. David Grimm writes with such a British sensibility, which I appreciate. And I'm not in a dress that much because, in the second act, I actually play an old doctor."
On two of his off nights from the show, March 20 and April 3, Morton will head next door to Joe's Pub to sing selections from his soon-to-be-released CD New Clear, a stunning collection of soft pop. ("I'd like to expand my musical horizons, but I didn't want to alienate my theater fans by doing a punk album.") He first heard the title cut about 10 years ago and made a promise not only to record it but also to name his CD after it. Other highlights include a fantastic cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and two Boy George tunes: "Pie in the Sky," which was sung in the London version of Taboo but not in the Broadway production, and Victims. Says Morton, "That one was suggested to me by Rosie O'Donnell and her wife, Kelli. They have been so supportive of me. The greatest thing about this album is that it's the first project I've had complete control over, and I really feel like I was put here on earth to sing songs."
He'll get to do a different type of singing in late April at the New Victory Theater, when he will once again appear in the children's operas Brundibár and Comedy on the Bridge. But unlike at Berkeley Rep, where he was in the original production, he'll be performing this time without stilts. "I loved going out to the lobby after the show on the stilts," he tells me. "It was like street performing. But I think Tony Kushner decided they were taking the character in a different place than he wanted to go. Unfortunately, now I'll have to go to the gym. Between the stilts and the oversized costume, it was like dragging another person around on stage, which was great exercise."
As if all of this weren't enough to keep him busy, Morton is lending his time and talent to a variety of other enterprises, including tonight's NYMF: Best of the Fest Bash (in which he will sing a selection from Caligula) and the Play Company's Third Annual Cabaret Gourmet benefit at The Public Theater on March 6. He can also be heard on the just-released CD Jamie deRoy & Friends: Volume 7 singing the classic pop song "Superstar." Says Morton, "I'm just wild for Karen Carpenter. I might even throw one of her songs into my other concerts."
THE SIXTH SENSE
The above-mentioned Cabaret Gourmet benefit isn't the only reason why March 6 should be a great night for star-gazing. Among the many other events scheduled for that evening are the Nothing Like a Dame benefit at the Imperial Theater; the Bay Street Theatre's 15th Anniversary Benefit Gala at the Rainbow Room, co-hosted by Julie Andrews and Alec Baldwin; and The Broadway Musicals of 1930 at The Town Hall. Elsewhere that night, Penny Fuller shows off her singing skills as part of The Spring Season at Birdland; MadTV star Nicole Parker hosts The Waterwell Theatre Company's First Annual Benefit at Joe's Pub; and the wonderful Lisa Howard steps into the Broadway Spotlight at Ars Nova. Finally, Michael Cumpsty will read from some of Shakespeare's greatest plays at Avery Fisher Hall, in a program with the Russian National Orchestra.
Transitioning from the role of fictional Oklahoma oil heiress Jolene Oakes in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to real-life Southhampton heiress Edie Beale in Grey Gardens has required more of Sara Gettelfinger than just putting on a blonde wig and inserting blue contact lenses. For one thing, she's had to cultivate a new accent.
"I was very specific about how Jolene should speak," says the actress, "but it was fairly easy, since I grew up in Kentucky. It's similar to how I sound when I talk with my family on the phone and I'm getting sleepy. For Edie, I wanted something very East Coast, sort of like Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. I still look at the original [Grey Gardens] documentary about twice a week, just to listen."
Gettelfinger was a huge fan of the film long before she got the role of Edie, whom she plays in the show's first act, set in 1941. In Act II, which closely follows the documentary, the role of the now 56-year-old Edie is played by the magnificent Christine Ebersole, who appears as Edie's mother, Edith Bouvier Beale, in Act I. Says Gettelfinger, "Part of my challenge is blending my vocal mannerisms and stylings into what Christine will sound like as Edie 30 years later. Christine has managed to channel Edie so completely, it's almost disturbing. You have to catch your breath and pinch yourself. She has been so wonderful to work with, and I know she has made the same effort I have in creating the arc of this character."
While the real "Little Edie" descended into a kind of madness, Gettelfinger nonetheless admires her spirit: "Edie didn't want to settle down in her 20s; she was willing to put her personal life on hold just for the possibility of having a career as a performer. In that way, she was ahead of her time. One of the reasons I'm so passionate about this show is that I feel there's a real courageousness about Edie, even in her decision to stay with her mother in that house. There are people who pay thousands of dollars for therapy just to get Edie's confidence."
Sherry Glaser was happily raising her kids and "hugging the trees" in northern California when producer Harriet Newman Leve called her out of the blue and asked her to bring her award-winning solo show Family Secrets back to the Big Apple after a 12-year absence. In the show, Glaser plays five members of her own Jewish family, including her mother Beverly -- and she says that the changes in their real lives have resulted in a "natural updating" to the script. "They're saying what they now need to say," she remarks, "and I think changes in the culture are also affecting the show. For example, Sandra is so concerned with her body image. The last time I was here, the concern with being thin didn't seem to be as much of an epidemic as it is now."
Glaser has found that audiences are more deeply moved by her characters than ever before, and she credits this in part to the work of director Bob Balaban: "He is so brilliant, and his notes are perfect. He knows the exact thing to say to move me, which I find quite mysterious. His job isn't easy, since I've done this show about 2,000 times; he has to try to find out what makes this show still surprising to me. He's very subtle and I'm very broad, so it's a really nice balance."
Also: The peerless Dame Helen Mirren (who told me that she hopes to return Broadway next season) and her husband, film director Taylor Hackford, heartily enjoyed the Roundabout Theatre Company's hit production of the The Pajama Game, as did the one and only Joan Collins on a separate evening. And Oscar winner Estelle Parsons, Tony winner Cherry Jones, and the current cast of Jones's recent triumph Doubt -- Dame Eileen Atkins, Ron Eldard, Jena Malone, and Adriane Lenox -- were seen at the same performance of Defiance at Manhattan Theatre Club.
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