Theater News

Feelin’ Peevish

Julie Halston, Kevin Ligon, and Andrew Lippa on their biggest pet peeves.

Due to my crazy penchant for whiling away the hours talking to humans, I have developed a rather virulent aversion to the mispronunciation of common, everyday words. In short, it gets my goat. I know I sound snobbish, but I’m talking about well-educated, sensible people who insist on saying “supposibly.” If my grape-colored iMac can have a spell-check, why can’t Bill Gates get someone to invent a pronounce-check? I love “nucular,” too.

While sitting through a scintillating community theater production of
The King and I, I actually heard the actor portraying the King of Siam boom, “Ekcetera, ekcetera, ekcetera!” I had to be led out of the building. Over the years, I have acquired quite a “lenthy” list of these problematic words: “heighth,” “expresso,” “real-a-tor,” and “strenth” among them. The leggy supermodel Christie Turlington once mentioned that a certain jewelry store’s very name was “synomenous” with diamonds. And speaking of jewels, have you caught Joan Rivers herself on QVC hawking her “jew-ler-ry.?”

I spoke to some notoriously peevish friends recently, and “axed” them about their issues. I think it’s good to get these things out in the open. It may be a lost cause–like playing charades against Marcel Marceau–but as I always say, “The more you complain, the longer God lets you live.”

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see people who are in the public eye–theater, film or TV–going to public events without glamorizing. It so annoys me, I can’t begin to tell you. First of all, put some make-up on! And women, get used to lashes! They say “Oh, I can’t stand those fake lashes on my eyes.” Stop it! These are the same gals who scream, “Oh, I look terrible!” when they see their picture in Page Six the next day. You didn’t do your job! You’re supposed to have the popped-eye look.

Actress/comedienne Julie Halston
Actress/comedienne Julie Halston

You might look scary to your husband in person, but for us, the public, you’re gonna look beautiful. And you should be thinking of us.

One thing I admire about Donna Murphy is that she does not walk out her door without being swathed in Valentino. She doesn’t appear in the Food Emporium without being DONE! I love Julie Wilson, too. She wouldn’t go to an opening at Don’t Tell Mama without being coiffed, with the eyes, the chignon, the gardenia. She understands her persona. And don’t tell me it’s too much of a Los Angeles approach; I don’t like that look, either. LA is much too casual for my taste. I’m talking old Hollywood. I know I sound ancient and cranky, but REMEMBER OLD HOLLYWOOD?

When Norma Desmond says, “We had faces then,” I want to weep. Can you name one person who has the allure and the compelling quality of a Joan Crawford? NOT ONE! She was a force of nature! They were stock characters, but they understood what the character was and they went with it. Of course, living that double life, they all became alcoholic monsters; but, hey, WE were happy. They performed that gracious act for US. I personally don’t care about a star’s happiness. I want to know that the public is being taken care of.

So girls, PLEASE get it together! Of course, now that I’ve said all this, you’ll see me at the grocery store looking like the Wreck of the Hesperis, but I’m not a Broadway star. YET. When that does, in fact, happen, you will never see me un-swathed.
– Julie Halston

Kevin Ligon, Philip inKiss Me Kate
Kevin Ligon, Philip in
Kiss Me Kate

OK. You’re walking on a New York City sidewalk, and three people come strolling at you, heavily engaged in conversation. Don’t you think one would move out of the way so you don’t have to hurl yourself into traffic to pass? No acknowledgement of your existence whatsoever. Where do they expect you to go? What are you supposed to do? Jump up on a car? I’m sorry, but my air-lift is not operating today. That drives me nuts.
– Kevin Ligon

It drives me crazy when you’re on a plane, you’ve landed, the captain tells the passengers not to stand up quite yet, and PEOPLE STAND UP! It kills me! Wait until they turn the seat belt sign off. I clearly have no problems with authority. I believe the captain knows what he is doing. I respect rules when I feel they’re for the common good, and I get deeply anxiety ridden when I start hearing the early unclicking of the seat belts. We have to obey rules in life, and of course there are some rules you always want to quibble with. Sometimes there are bad rules, and you want to rise against them. Revolutions are about not following the rules. That seems over-the-top for this particular thing, because it is a good rule! It’s not like the pilot wants to control us or be punitive in any way. If I were the pilot, and I heard that unclicking, I’d start moving the plane real fast just to teach them all a lesson. Now, do I walk against the light at crosswalks in New York City? Absolutely. I’m not really being consistent. I’m being hypocritical. Some rules apply to me, and some don’t.
– Andrew Lippa, composer/lyricist, MTC’s The Wild Party

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