LA Theater Review: CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (The Broad Stage)

by Tony Frankel on July 28, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

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THANKS FOR THE MEMOIRS

If there were an award for “The Best Idea for a Theatrical Entertainment,” the winner surely would be Celebrity Autobiography, in which celebrities read the actual memoirs of other celebrities. Because the celebrities on hand read from scripts or directly from the books themselves, the evening lacks an inherent theatricality and seems better-suited for a cabaret setting (the simplicity in design and presentation also allows for a change in both material and roster of celebrities at each performance). However, you will be amazed and amused by 90 minutes of non-stop, jaw-dropping entertainment. The most astounding revelation is that superstars actually wrote such unintelligent and shocking drivel (whether it be a tell-all or pseudo-guidance), clearly intended for their undiscerning and prurient fans.

Celebrity Autobiography – The Broad Stage in Santa MonicaThe stellar talent on hand had a field day with the material; their performances ranged from mock seriousness, (Tony-winner Roger Bart’s interpretation of a Kenny Loggins love letter), to purely comic (Jennifer Tilly’s manic-depressive Ivana Trump), to a Saturday Night Live-styled impersonation (Cheri Oteri’s brilliant take on Ethel Merman and Laraine Newman’s spot-on Cher).

Celebrity Autobiography – The Broad Stage in Santa MonicaBut when Fred Willard read from “Don’t Hassel the Hoff,” we laughed so uproariously that we were choking for air. With a simple upturned eye to the audience, the deadpan Willard managed to heighten the collision of David Hasselhoff’s self-proclaimed humility with his remorseless ego: “I was far from okay. After forty years in show business, my childhood dream was about to come true. It had been a long journey. Knight Rider had made me famous. Baywatch had made me rich. But Broadway had always been my dream. When I had stepped on to the sidewalk that night I could see my name in lights over Times Square. At eight o’clock a hush would fall in the Plymouth Theatre, the overture would begin and I would step on to the stage as the lead in Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. This would be the greatest night of my career, the pinnacle of my success.”

Celebrity Autobiography – The Broad Stage in Santa MonicaI still smile just thinking about it (if anyone wants a copy of the Hoff’s book, there are 53 available on Amazon for $.01).

Ileana Douglas has long been one of my favorite actresses, and her droll delivery of Melissa Gilbert’s obsession with Rob Lowe did not disappoint. In fact, it made me furious because I didn’t come up with the idea for this show myself. No, the creators and developers are Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyful, both of whom will likely be a part of the show no matter where it travels in the states. While there was a part of me that wished for a slicker show, the unadulterated fun and the opportunity to see amazing talent up-close – reading the greatest dreck imaginable – makes Celebrity Autobiography worth a visit. Plus, there’s something to be said for the communal experience, as there is a wicked delight in laughing at Suzanne Somers’ “poetry” together.

tonyfrankel @ stageandcinema.com

photos by Peter James Zielinski

Celebrity Autobiography
next show August 21 at the Broad
for tickets, visit http://www.TheBroadStage.com or call 310-434-3200

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