The 10 Gayest Movies Ever Made!
By Michael Musto
A production number in 'Bullets Over Broadway' | Photo by Paul Kolnik
WOODY ALLEN’S DANCING HOT DOGS
Let’s slice up a piece of Mahler’s and keep the nostalgia coming, since waftings from the past have been barreling toward Broadway with the brio of a nude wrestling match. First of all, Bullets over Broadway is the splashy adaptation of the hilarious 1994 Woody Allen screwball comedy flick about a playwright who sells his soul by allowing his work to be done with a talentless gun moll in a role. Susan Stroman (The Producers, Crazy For You) has fluidly staged the 1929 pastiche, which is graced with lavish Santo Loquasto sets and gorgeous William Ivey Long costumes, as well as vintage tunes from “Let’s Misbehave” to more obscure numbers, like one that ends up featuring four dancing hot dogs, Broadway style. Zach Braff is the nebbishy writer who whores himself out, while Helene Yorke is the strumpet who once starred in a musical revue called Leave a Specimen, Marin Mazzie is diva Helen Sinclair (“Don’t speak!”), and Nick Cordero plays the gangster who actually exhibits an artist’s soul in between shooting people.
Cordero is an audience favorite, getting laughs with his tale of burning his school down for a science project, also scoring with an unlikely gangster tap number of “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do”. But he growls a little too much and Yorke screeches way too often, and in fact, the whole show feels in need of some pauses and pathos, not to mention loving insight. The result probably could have used more of that gangster’s artistry, but it’s definitely a slickly digestible musical with several numbers that could easily be pulled out for Tonys inclusion. Whatever gift it has to offer, it’s definitely got the shiniest packaging in town.
“Tain’t Nobody’s Business” also turns up in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, starring Audra McDonald as jazz legend Billie Holiday, but this time it’s done with a chihuahua and a glass of booze. In this 1986 interpretation of a Holiday concert in Philadelphia four months before her death, Audra is extraordinary, immersing herself in Billie’s sounds as well as her psyche with astonishing precision and pain. Having last played a wild-living woman on the edge in Porgy and Bess, Audra veers even farther out as her Billie goes from a raucous, funny mood full of sassy anecdotes and silky stylings to boozily falling apart under the weight of a lifetime of sadness and oppression. Fortunately, Lanie Robertson’s play goes way beyond the usual “And then I did…” type of biodrama to instead create a picture of a person, a legend, and a dream, and in her white dress and gardenia, audacious Audra shows why Lady Day could never really become Lady Yesterday, as cynics rudely started dubbing her during her career demise. My only disappointment is that this Billie never sings “Good Morning Heartache,” but maybe that reflects a welcome lack of pandering. In any case, God bless the child who can get tickets to this show.
By the way, Audra is tied with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for the most acting Tonys ever—five. (I’m not counting Harris’s special Tony.) Lady Day could be the record breaker. And that, my friends, was one of the 10 gayest columns of all time.