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They Are the '80s

Corey Feldman stars in a stage parody of the psychological thriller Fatal Attraction. logo
Alana McNair and Corey Feldman in character
as "Glenn Close" and "Michael Douglas"
(Photo © Peter Berberian)
The '80s are back! Theme nights devoted to the decade are popular at various clubs and even at high school dances. Just last month, NBC premiered Hit Me Baby One More Time, which features such musicians as Wang Chung, Irene Cara, and Howard Jones singing their greatest hits from those days. The Awesome 80s Prom, an interactive stage show, is going strong at Webster Hall. And opening Off-Broadway at the 13th Street Theatre on July 10 is Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, a deconstructed comic parody of the seminal 1987 film that starred Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Headlining the stage version is Corey Feldman, an actor best known for his work in The Goonies, Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, and other '80s movies.

While Fatal Attraction marks Feldman's stage debut, he's been looking into making the transition from film to theater for some time; he's particularly interested in plans for a stage adaptation of Pink Floyd's The Wall, which is rumored to be heading to Broadway. "I wanted to find a way to gradually get into the theater world," says Feldman. "Fatal Attraction is one of a couple of projects that just popped up and I really, really liked the script. It's intelligent, yet pretty ridiculous and fun at the same time."

According to the play's co-author, Alana McNair, who also co-stars in the Glenn Close role, the project came about after she and her collaborator Kate Wilkinson watched Fatal Attraction a little over a year ago. "We were really struck by the way the women were depicted," she says. "Anne Archer was totally the housewife and Glenn Close was the working woman. We thought it would be really cool to take those two female characters and make them complete stereotypes of those roles."

Corey Feldman
(Photo © Peter Berberian)
The theatrical deconstruction -- which also incorporates texts from various Greek tragedies and century-old home etiquette propaganda -- is meant to comment upon the ways women's roles have changed over the years but also to show that some things have not changed. "We are presenting it like a cautionary tale of infidelity and morality," says director Tim Haskell. "The Greek chorus is telling the story as if it has happened a thousand times before, and since there is such melodrama to the movie, this heightened theatrical device is the manifestation of that shrillness."

Feldman plays "Michael Douglas" -- and yes, that's what the character is called in the play, rather than "Dan Gallagher," Douglas's role in the film. "What I'm offering is a study of Michael Douglas," says Feldman. "He represents, especially in this movie, all the male chauvinistic viewpoints of the world." (The actor makes it clear that he's talking about Douglas's film work rather than his real-life personality.) In preparation for the role, Feldman has been studying the Douglas oeuvre, including Basic Instinct and The Game: "I'm doing what I can to emulate his facial gestures, movements, and voice tonality. It's an all-out assault on Michael Douglas's on-screen persona."

While he's never met Douglas in person, Feldman says that he "wouldn't mind inviting him to the show, just to see what his reaction would be." Feldman has met Close, and he speculates that she "would like it a lot." The choice to use the actors' names rather than those of the film's characters in Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy is partly due to McNair's belief that the cult of celebrity really exploded in the 1980s. While stars have always had their followings, new information technology and the popularity of publications such as Star magazine allowed for an increased focus on the private lives of film and TV stars. As Feldman quips, "Celebrity in the '80s grew as rapidly as the hairdos."

Feldman himself has struggled with the legacy of such intense media scrutiny. Well-publicized arrests for drug possession in the early '90s still color his reputation despite the fact that he has been clean for many years now. He signed on to the 2003 "reality" TV program The Surreal Life with the intention of improving his image and clearing up some of the misconceptions about him but, he says, "It did none of that. It actually worked in reverse. I was called names I had never been called in 25 years of my career. I was very insulted and it was really hard to deal with."

His second solo album was titled Former Child Actor as a way of addressing in a tongue-in-cheek manner the various labels that have been applied to him. The title track of that recording was co-written by another '80s icon, Rick Springfield. "Anybody who's been in an industry for 30 years is going to have baggage," acknowledges Feldman. "But I think that, at this point, I'm able to move on to my current and future career."

That brings us back to Feldman's stage debut. He's confident in the abilities of director Tim Haskell, who successfully helmed a stage adaptation of another '80s film, Road House, that played at the Barrow Street Theatre in 2003-2004. Dubbed a "fightsical" by Haskell, that production featured elaborate fight choreography, and Fatal Attraction promises similar kinetic delights. There's also a "boiled bunny dream/dance sequence" which the director says is "obviously silly but will be done in earnest." The cast members have ended up with more than a few bruises during rehearsals, yet all involved feel that it's worth it. "We've got a really talented cast," Feldman comments. "There's a lot of integrity among the actors, and everybody is excited about the project."

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