Who's Afraid of the Laugh Whore in the Piazza?(Original photos by Joan Marcus, Carol Rosegg,and Bill Streicher; combined by Adam Klasfeld)
Who's Afraid of the Laugh Whore in the Piazza?
(Original photos by Joan Marcus, Carol Rosegg,
and Bill Streicher; combined by Adam Klasfeld)
We at TheaterMania are constantly amazed by the creativity of our readers. On June 1, we announced a contest in which you were asked to combine elements of two or more productions from the 2004-2005 season into a "combo show." Lots of responses came in, and we were delighted to see that all of the entrants followed our advice: "the more ridiculously funny your idea, the better." Here are excerpts from some of the most hilarious submissions, followed by the full text of the winning entry.

In a bit of humor referencing a recent event that became tabloid newspaper fodder, Michael Barbieri posited The Good Body: Freshly Squeezed, starring Christian Slater. ("Need I say more?" asked Michael rhetorically. No, you needn't; the title says it all!) Rob Seitelman came up with the idea for Glengarry Glenputnam, in which "seven real estate agents, fighting for their careers, are brought together for an unexpected meeting at a Chinese restaurant" and are told that they're to compete in a spelling competition. "Dame Edna stars as Levine, Billy Crystal as Aaronson, Hugh Jackman as Barfee (boy, do those fat suits look like the real thing!), and Whoopi 'What the Fuck Am I Doing in This Play' Goldberg as Roma. Walter Bobbie's new musical is sure to run longer than Christina Applegate's legs. Music by Adam Guettel, with costumes by William Ivey Long and no choreographer willing to take credit."

Bob Gutowski offered Pacific Overtures On Golden Pond: "Not just another scaled-down Sondheim show, this environmental production stars beloved thesp James Earl Jones as the Narrator and the members of his extended family as the various citizens of his island kingdom." He also posited All Shook Up After the Fall, in which "the songs of Elvis Presley bring the story of an unfortunate marriage between a bloodless writer and a neurotic star to rockin' life! With Raúl Esparza, Erin Dilly, and Mario Cantone as Senator Joseph McCarthy." In Frank J. Schorn's Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed Laugh Whore, "The stand-up comic has decided to be honest after duping theatergoers last season with the misnomer title Jackie Mason: Laughing Room Only. His new show is subtitled 'Same old shtick, dustier old jokes, and my last shot to get money from the blue-haired old ladies before they go to the Eternal Catskills in the sky.' Whore, indeed!"

Michael Riordan thought up Who's Afraid of Brooklyn the Musical?, in which two theatergoing couples -- played by Kristin Chenoweth and Christian Slater, Mary-Louise Parker and Billy Crudup -- argue over whether Brooklyn was worth almost $100 a ticket. In Edward Albee's Spamalot, suggested by William E. Grau, "This year's Lifetime Achievement Tony Award recipient tries something completely different with a boldly conceived, modern-day interpretation of the search for the Holy Grail. Bill Irwin brings mime-like intensity to the role of King Arthur, and his single word of spoken dialogue -- 'Ni!' -- jolts the audience to life at the end of the play. Playing a bosomy Lady of the Lake, co-star Kathleen Turner keeps the king firmly in check and delivers the 'Diva's Lament' in biting, Mrs.-Robinson-meets-Jessica Rabbit style."

In George Reddick's Sweet Whore, "Mario Cantone plays Charity, a gay hustler looking for love in all the wrong places. Denis O'Hare is happy to participate." Elisa Lichtenstein came up with an eerily similar idea for A Laugh Whore Named Charity: "When Sweet Charity's leading lady Christina Applegate is injured, the show must go on -- and it does, with Mario Cantone playing Charity Hope Valentine, a comedian/prostitute who is looking for laughs in all the wrong places. Mario hyperkinetically bumps, grinds, and gyrates his way through such Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields classics as 'Hey, Big Heckler' while Christina cowers in the wings, tearfully reading the latest edition of Page Six."

Andy Phelan envisioned 'night Whoopi: Back With a Vengeance!, summarized as follows: "On the 20th anniversary of the solo stage show that launched the comedian's career, Whoopi Goldberg is going to kill herself. Only you, the audience, have the power to stop her! Host Dame Edna guides this tension-filled, interactive evening in the theater. The Australian giga-star invites patrons onto the stage for one-on-one interventions with Whoopi, which could include a manicure, a phone call to Whoopi's parents, or the acting out of scenes from her glory days in Sister Act and Ghost. Possibly a limited run." Thinking along somewhat similar lines, Rich Murphy conceived Julius Caesar: Back With a Vengeance: "Angered at being murdered by both the Roman senators and the New York critics, the original J.C. Superstar comes back from the dead as an Australian drag queen." Rich also had an idea for Dirty Rotten Frogs, in which "the United States Congress continues its irrational tirade against the French government for its lack of support of the Iraq initiative."

And now for our winner! In Angelo Pitillo's Who's Afraid of the Laugh Whore in the Piazza?, "An embittered, bickering New England couple vacationing in 1950s Florence faces a dilemma when their middle-aged gay son, a stand-up comedian, falls in love with a handsome Italian boy. Should they be honest with the boy's family about their son's 'secret' and risk standing in the way of what might be his one chance at happiness? After a night of hard drinking and mutual verbal abuse, they decide to allow the relationship to go forward when it dawns on them that they are all merely characters in one of their son's monologues." Angelo has already been mailed his prize: a $100 dining certificate redeemable at the theater district restaurants Trattoria Dopo Teatro, Cascina, or Zanzibar. Thanks to him and to all our contest entrants. Good work!