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Billy Masters
by Billy Masters
2017-12-06

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"I don't know if I'm gonna make a pitcher or catcher out of you."—Robert Reed to the child version of John Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. If one believes the testimony of numerous masseurs, the answer is catcher!

Don't fuck with Dr. Seuss. The dearly departed doyenne of radio Lynn Samuels was given to reading from Horton Hatches the Egg on the air. That is, until she got a cease-and-desist letter from Audrey Stone Dimond—otherwise known as Mrs. Dr. Seuss! The cantankerous widow is wildly protective of her late husband's work. I was reminded of this story last week at the opening night of Who's Holiday! at the Westside Theater. This play tells the story of a grown-up Cindy-Lou Who, from How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Playwright Matthew Lombardo tells us what happened to Cindy-Lou 40 years after meeting the Grinch in a one-woman show written in the style of the late Dr. Seuss. Is it a sequel? Is it a parody? Either way, last year's premiere was thwarted by a cease-and-desist letter from guess who? The tenacious Lombardo took the matter to court—and won! That meant the show was able to go on—albeit a year later—with a new advertising slogan: "See The Show Dr. Seuss Doesn't Want You To See!" It lives up to the hype—due, in no small measure, to the bravura turn of star Lesli Margherita. She effortlessly captures the innocence of the young Cindy-Lou and then slowly adds layers as the perky mask falls. Oodles of credit must go to director Carl Andress, who works his endless theatrical magic to never let the show feel claustrophobic. I predict this will have huge seasonal appeal for years to come.

My matinee the next day was The Parisian Woman, a new play starring Uma Thurman. It has enormous relevance since it's set in present-day Washington, D.C., and written by Beau Willimon, who created House of Cards. What was curious was that Miss Thurman chose a strange mid-Atlantic accent—kinda a cross between Madonna and Mrs. Howell! And not being a natural stage animal, she was prone to wild gesticulation of her limitless limbs, which looked even odder in unflattering clothing. The show is saved by Blair Brown, who is incapable of giving a bad performance. She's so good, in fact, she magnifies the deficits of the play's star. Then again, reports were that Uma's name alone was selling tickets. So, what do I know?

That night, I saw Once On This Island, which, like The Parisian Woman, is a one-act, 90-minute show—my favorite kind! The production is as magical and enchanting as the story, and the cast ( including our own Alex Newell ) is uniformly superb. That said, I'm still trying to figure out what Lea Salonga was doing there. Not that she isn't good—she sounds as bright and brilliant as ever. But she has one number and spends most of the show walking up and down the stairs as if she were just crowned Miss Filipina! If you like the musical, you'll love this revival. If you don't know it, you'll still love it. And if you love Lea Salonga, you'll long for a helicopter.

In a rarity, I then went to my third show of the day! The spot 54 Below hosted an all-star concert presentation of the Lauren Bacall vehicle Woman of the Year. Also beside the point—did anyone think to invite Raquel Welch? Not that she was missed alongside such luminaries as Joyce DeWitt, Eve Plumb and Lypsinka battling for honors next to such bona fide Broadway babes as Julia Murney, Luba Mason and Christine Pedi. There were also some great men, including Robert Cuccioli, Brad Oscar and my new discovery, the dashing and sexy Kevin Zak. The show's 11 o'clock number, "The Grass Is Always Greener," was expertly handled by Dee Hoty and the indomitable Anita Gillette. Of all the shows I saw, this was the best of the bunch.

The reboot of Dynasty has announced the new incarnation of Alexis. Drum roll, please—it will be Nicollette Sheridan. Well, she was a vampy bitch on Desperate Housewives before her unceremonious ouster, so perhaps it'll work out. And, you know, she is British. No, not British like Uma Thurman—but actually born in England.

Time for more of Billy's Holiday Gift Giving Suggestions. Each year, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS honors one of our beloved divas as a holiday ornament. This year, it's Carol Burnett—fortuitous timing given her recent anniversary special. You can deck your halls with Burnett as Princess Winnifred from Once Upon a Mattress by going to BroadwayCares.org .

Two of my favorite performers are raising money for a good cause. I ran into Julia Murney and Max von Essen at Who's Holiday! and learned that they recorded a duet of "O Holy Night," with all proceeds going to Covenant House, an organization that helps homeless and runaway youth. You can get the single on Amazon or iTunes.

I know you love Steve Grand and sexy calendars. So, why not pick up his 2018 calendar—shot on location this past summer in Provincetown. You still want more? You're in luck. "I just had to make two calendars' worth of images. So yes, both calendars have their own unique set of photos," said Grand. I don't believe these are benefiting anyone other than Grand himself, but that's OK by me. Still, it's a curious choice for someone who previously bemoaned the fact that people focus on his phenomenal physique instead of his music. Eh, who am I to judge? You can pick him up at SteveGrand.com .

When I'm not judging ( but I'm judging ), it's time to end yet another column. While we may have avoided sex scandals this week ( boy, could Renata Scotto tell stories ), you can't avoid BillyMasters.com, the site Dr. Seuss probably doesn't want you to see, either! For all your other needs, write to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before "Once Upon a Mattress" is the name of a CNN special report! So, until next time, remember: One man's filth is another man's bible.


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