When word came that Charles Busch's plans to present drastically condensed, camped-up versions of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude and Anna Christie as part of his "Matinees Classiques" series had been scrapped due to rights issues, some of us assumed that Busch had received a "cease and desist" letter from the O'Neill estate. But not so.
"The story isn't quite as hot as that," Busch told me in a phone conversation this morning. "I never heard from the estate. It's just that my lawyers are nervous fellows, and they were afraid that somebody might object because the plays are not public domain. I thought, 'Well, I've cut them down to a half hour each! They're spoofs!' But it didn't seem worth the possibility of trouble. Last year, we did half-hour versions of Hedda Gabbler and A Doll's House--but, of course, Ibsen is public domain, so nobody was gonna come knocking on our door to shut us down."
The cancellation didn't ruffle Busch because, he says, "I've been looking for any kind of excuse to do The Lady in Question again." He's referring to his personal favorite of a string of Off-Broadway smash hits, written by and starring Busch, that also included Psycho Beach Party and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. In lieu of the mock O'Neill program, The Lady in Question will be offered up to fans as a magnificent consolation prize on Sunday, April 29, at 3pm. "I was able to get most of the original cast to come back," says the playwright-star. "We've got Julie Halston, Andy Halliday, Theresa Aceves, and Mark Hamilton." The company also includes David Staller, Patricia O'Connell, Peter Borzotta, and special guest star Alison Fraser.
According to Busch, "This will be a staged reading, directed by Carl Andress and fully costumed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case." Only one performance of the show will be presented; the location is Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (between 9th and 10th). All seats are $20. For reservations, phone 212-254-1109.