19 May 2010


Earlier this year I caught the Emmy Award Winning special RAZZLE DAZZLE, THE SPECIAL YEARS, a sweet little documentary that is more or less a guided tour through Ms. Gaynor's gaudy and fabulous televisions specials of the 60s and 70s.  If you've been following, you may remember that I went on a variety-show kick over the summer (because what else is there to do when you're in Poughkeepsie with a mere 5 hours of rehearsal to ASM a day), so, naturally, the special was of particular interest.  Mitzi's specials were like uber-variety shows, featuring boatloads of the gayest dancing boys in Hollywood, reams of taffeta and crinoline and sequined anything, and Ms. Gaynor's fabulous legs.  I was delighted to become acquainted with this singing dancing Barbie-doll-for-gays (it's hard to believe there was any other audience for that type of entertainment), who is otherwise mostly known for playing Nellie Forbush in the unwatchable movie version of SOUTH PACIFIC.

Perhaps because of the success of this documentary, Ms. Gaynor has been touring the country (including a stop of dear ol' Muncie, IN, which was the brunt of more than a few jokes last night) with a one-woman career retrospective, "RAZZLE DAZZLE, MY LIFE BEHIND THE SEQUINS", which opened last night at Feinstein's at the Regency.  

Normally a cushy venue with a paradoxical blend of luxurious space for the audience and unparalled intimacy with the performer, the folks at Feisntein's decided to put Mitzi in a converted ballroom, as opposed to their traditional cabaret venue, to all more space for her to "move", change costumes (glamorous, sparkly, Bob Mackie costumes), and show video clips (to cover the costume changes).  The room was cramped, the stage and lighting rather hastily installed.  But from her first entrance, in "Honey Bun" sailor drag, Ms. Gaynor was luminous, gracious, bawdy, and an overall delight.  Though she did a fair amount of singing (especially for a 78 year old who isn't Barbara Cook), she spent just as much time regaling us with stories from her charmed career.  Despite the fact that her life has been seemingly devoid of any conflict or despair (the worst thing that happened to her was having a contract terminated), she made a compelling and hilarious evening from anecdotes about her famous friends--Howard Hughes, Ethel Merman--and subjects as potentially mundane as "getting dressed to go to the Duke of Windsor's birthday party".  So charming was Ms. Gaynor that her weak singing was not only forgivable, but endearing.  (I am not so forgiving about the horribly cheap synthesizer--had I access to it from my seat I would have unplugged it before he could finish the opening number). 

Also of note was the fact that I was seated among fellow Bloggers du Theatre, including: Kevin, the Theater AfficionadoThe Adventurous Sarah B; and Linda, the Pataphyiscal Scientist

In a season seemingly full of "old ladies", Mitzi may not be as revelatory as Angie or B Cook, but I have never seen a performer radiate so much warmth and love. 

1 comment:

  1. What a delightful review! Loved sitting with you - your laugh is infectious and although, I wasn't laughing as loudly as you, it was certainly as hard. What a fun, fun evening!