YouTube is proof that God exists.
And he LOVES musical theatre!!!!
A few years ago, my friend Peter gave me a bootleg tape of a musical that... well... let's just say that the first time I heard it - - Hell, the first time ANYONE hears it - - the first thought that comes to mind is, "No fuckin' way. This is a joke, right?"
It's the same feeling I had the first time I saw the SOUTH PARK episode with Mr. Hanky, the Christmas Poo.
Yeah, that explains it, doesn't it? It was THAT feeling.
Jaw open. Eyes glazed over. Uber-shock & awe.
The musical was APPLAUSE! It's the classic Bette Davis film ALL ABOUT EVE set in 1970 (the year the musical opened on Broadway) starring Lauren Bacall in the role Bette made famous - - Margot Channing.
Now, if ALL ABOUT EVE set in 1970 made you flinch, these next few tidbits might induce an epileptic seizure.
Margot's dresser, named "Birdie" in the movie and played by Thelma Ritter, was changed into a male character named DeWayne. And being a great Broadway star's dresser, the character of DeWayne was gayer than a clutch purse on Tony night.
So naturally, the night Margot meets the homely Eve Harrington...
...Eve, Eve, little Miss Evil... who will later try to steal her career AND her boyfriend...
...if you don't know the movie, I can't help you... you must be living in a Red State or something...
...anyway, the night Eve meets Margot is the Opening Night for Margot's new Broadway play and instead of going to the after-party, she convinces DeWayne to let them tag along with him...
...to a gay bar... naturally...
That doesn't sound too very frightening, I know but to a Broadway audience in 1970 - - only one year after Stonewall - - it must have felt just this side of OH, CALCUTTA.
But in 2007, it almost sounds like the perfect fit for a musical.
But when you add in Bonnie Franklin, a song called FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT where everyone sings a car horn sound over and over ("Eh-eh-eh"), and Bacall speak-singing a rickety score and towering over the rest of the cast and nearly every set piece, it's got CARRIE: THE MUSICAL written all over it.
And yet somehow, the show really works and is a hundred times more entertaining than some green chick screaming about defying gravity or a pasty-faced white boy dancing around with a fake guitar surrounded by dancing dog-clowns telling us that the times, they're a changin'.
And even though we're 37 years past the Opening Night of APPLAUSE and my bootleg tape of the show is no longer in my possession, we've been blessed with YouTube, which can show us just how glorious an opening number set in a gay bar can be...
Glorious. APPLAUSE manages to be sublime AND ridiculous AT THE SAME TIME.
"Partly Jane Fonda and partly Jane Austen," indeed.