A Rosie by any other name...


By Michael Musto

Screen firecracker Rosie Perez is hitting the gay baths, and you'd better hide your cuchifritas. Perez'who's best known for films like Do the Right Thing and Fearless'is returning to the stage for a Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's The Ritz, the 1975 farce about some wacky shenanigans involving gays and mobsters in towels. Perez camps it up as Googie Gomez, a talentless chanteuse with an accent as thick as the cement the mob makes shoes out of. Though she wants to be thought of as a rising star ' la Bette Midler, more often Googie's mistaken for an off-kilter drag queen.

Joe Mantello, who also directed Perez in the revival of McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, is at the helm of The Ritz, and it's being mounted at Studio 54, a location that makes perfect sense considering the '70s hedonism that apparently went on in there.

Hi, Rosie. So how are you approaching Googie's very bad singing?

Rosie Perez: It's just so difficult for me! [Laughs] I'm really channeling three people -- Ethel Merman, one of my cousins (I can't say her name because she'll kill me and she's so clueless she'll never guess it's her when she sees it), and Boy Shakira.

Not Sanjaya?

No. Boy Shakira has got heart. Sanjaya, oy vey.