Once Upon a Grind
By C. Edwards
Where else but Broadway could classic fairy tales be reinterpreted into show-stopping burlesque numbers, all in the name of charity? On Sunday night, hundreds of stage performers, costume designers and choreographers gathered to Grimm and bare it for Broadway Bares XXII: Happy Endings, in a night that turned out to be hotter, sexier and bigger than Prince Charming’s royal balls.
We open with Kyle Dean Massey’s sweet lovelorn naïf getting a visit from his Fairy Godmother, played by actress Miriam Shor. “I used to be a Good Christian Bitch,” she smirks before tearing away her dress, “But now I’m just a bitch.” Presenting Massey with the obligatory storybook, she rolls her eyes as he repeatedly rubs his hand across it to no effect; “It’s not a Kindle. You have to open it.”
Proceeding the hardly innocent scene was pure raunch: Seven Dwarf gangbangs, Pied Piper naked rugby scrums, and Goldilocks spinning high above the crowd doing tricks in a sex swing with his bear-ish host. All of the players; prince and princess, wicked queen and magnificent beast alike, flexed, flipped, danced and stripped each layer down to exposed cheeks and strategically placed pasties, audience’s necks straining to catch a glimpse of something more. All that, and appearances by Judith Light, Lady Bunny, Evita’s Rachel Potter and Jennifer Tilly as an Evil Stepmother who could rival all 40,000 of the One Million Moms. “I’m sort of like a Patti LuPone,” Tilly sneered to the audience, “minus the stepmother part.”
“The Ugly Duckling, definitely.” Said Shor backstage when I asked her which was her favorite fairy tale, “It just reminds me of the transformative power of theater, it doesn’t matter who you are or how you feel, you can get up on that stage and be something special.” In the show, swans help a bullied teen spread her wings to the beat of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. What begins as a now commonplace “It Gets Better” scenario of High School angst ends in celebratory display of acceptance, individuality and topless-ness for both bully and water fowl.
“Honestly, whatever performance I’m watching, is my favorite, but I can’t even tell you how amazing [The Ugly Duckling] number is.
The dancers will carry you to another place, I didn’t know that someone bearing their breasts could make me sob.”
Whether it is same-sex marriage or the desire to dance around the comical endowment of a popular wooden boy, the fairy tale theme was an inexhaustible resource for both lowbrow innuendo and commenting of the political issues of the day. “It was such a wonderful idea,” executive producer, Jerry Mitchell told me, “the idea of happy ending. Don’t we all deserve that?!”