notjustaboutsex

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the ‘theatre’ Category

Renee Taylor on Dieting and Other Habits

with 2 comments

reneeRenee Taylor has had the life I might have had if my acting career had been laced with the brio her personality; my father had been more of a gambler instead of a Sunday craps shooter and my mother had encouraged instead of competed with me when singing  Clair de Lune at the piano. With the completely opposite set of life circumstances, Renee Taylor pushed through her Bklyn/Bronx Wexler family of origin and in fact used it and its effect on her to become the charming, humorous comedienne and writer that she still is today.

Her new one woman show, My Life On A Diet ( based on her book  My Life on a Diet: Confessions of a Hollywood Diet Junkie) at Theatre at St Clement’s written with husband, and creative partner for 53 years, Joe Bologna, is sheer delight. When she first appears on Harry Feiner’s stage set which resembles a 99- cent store version of Joan Rivers’ rococo living room, you wouldn’t be so far off if you thought it was Dame Edna Everage.  Taylor is a sturdy eighty- something with if not little girl voice, a soft spoken New Yorkease, that compels you to move forward in your chair so as not to miss a moment of her story craft and superb comic timing.

Sitting comfortably at her desk, Ms. Taylor starts to recount the diets of her life, slicing them into her yearnings for stardom, her mostly good and some bad luck and her commitment to being full alive. The visual projections of her diets and of her family and friends help open the story of her life. We hear about her endless auditions, Marilyn Monroe’s insecurities, Lee at the Studio, and a myriad of survival jobs, one becoming the signature piece which helped launch her television career. Taylor is an inventive creature with a deep ability to laugh and respect herself at the same time. When she can’t brag personally, she mentions people who admired her work, like Jack Paar, Perry Como and Barbara Streisand and all of America who watched her as Fran Drescher’s mom on The Nanny. Every story leads back to her life- long fat issues and her attempts at resolving the problem with ideas as bizarre as drinking only Cristal champagne or abstaining from everything except autumn air.

Her husband Joe Bolgona died in 2017. Together they wrote and acted in wonderful comedies like Lovers and Other Strangers. By her re-telling of their sweet courtship, they surely were really Made For Each Other.

Clearly, Ms.Taylor doesn’t have to prove a thing. She’s already there. But she is such a gifted artist with a great willingness to share her infectious spirit. Altogether, this makes the story of a disappearing show biz world and a young woman’s dream to be part of it, a must for anyone who wants to think back on the past and laugh in the present.

 

Advertisements

Written by nancykoan

July 22, 2018 at 3:09 am

They Promised Her the Moon

leave a comment »

jerriecobb

 

When they go low, we go high,” are words that could have easily been spoken by Jerrie Cobb (Amanda Quaid) in Laurel Ollstein’s new play They Promised her The Moon.  The play tells the relatively unknown story of mid- Western Cobb, a girl with a speech defect and a critical mother, but a dream that proved stronger than her limitations.

Cobb’s dad (John Leonard Thompson) was a pilot and after flying with him at age ten, Cobb was hooked. With his encouragement, she became pro and broke records in speed, distance and absolute altitude. Still, with so much discrimination against women pilots, she struggled to find work. When famed pilot Jackie Cochran, (Andrus Nichols), considered top female aviator in the world, created the Mercury 13 program to train female astronauts, Cobb’s luck changed. She out tested everyone including her male colleagues in the Mercury 7 program, but was not permitted to go up because women were not considered The Right Stuff.  John Glenn testified against hiring women for the space program and so Russia got there first with a lesser qualified Valentina Tereshkova.

This story of strength and resilience is beautifully told in this insightful and humorous play. Cobb had to compete not only against men but her own gender; Cochran, at fifty-five was too old to be an astronaut and consciously worked against Cobb’s success. She is brittle and tough, but we understand what she had to fight against, too.

The performances are all top notch, some playing several characters.  John Leonard Thompson as Cobb’s pilot father and Congressman is a quiet sensitive man and wholly believable as a father who can see a future in his daughter’s eyes.  Edmund Lewis, Polly Mckie and John Russell are all terrific with a wide range.

Amanda Quaid, our pilot hero, who discovers romantic love but chucks it for the skies, is so good at bringing an awkward young woman into existence in front of our eyes. When her career takes the obvious fall it must from not being permitted to become an astronaut, she doesn’t give up…she just moves…to the Amazon where she works with tribes and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981.

Ms. Ollstein, an original member of Actors’ Gang in LA, has a great ear for real talk and imbues the story with sensitivity and humor.

As directed by Producing and Artistic Director of the Miranda Company, Valentina Fratti brings this too little known story beautifully to life. Graham Kindred’s set and lighting design is simply perfect.

Hopefully, this wonderful show, having run its course at St. Clement’s will soon find a new home. It deserves it.

Written by nancykoan

June 2, 2017 at 8:52 pm