Charlotte’s Web – Theatre Review: Childsplay, Tempe

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When taking a child to the theatre for the first time, parents should chose wisely.   With the right production, the experience can be magical, even inspiring, revealing a new and previously unimaginable world of story-telling on a level many adults have either forgotten or perhaps can no longer imagine.   Childsplay, the non-profit, professional theatre company, knows this and has one aim.   To quote the Childsplay mission statement, the company wants to instill an enduring awe, love and respect for the medium.   Mission accomplished.

Childsplay was founded in 1977 and involves itself not only in delivering quality, professional productions and keeping its ever-revolving door of new audiences entertained, but also in the teaching of the subject.   The staff and performers travel; they teach, they take young audiences behind the scenes, they go to schools, and in 2007, the company launched its first national tour, performing for twenty-four states in fourteen weeks.

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The opening production of the 38th season began this weekend at the wonderful Tempe Center for the Arts with the return of the perennial favorite, Charlotte’s Web.   Adapted from the E.B. White book by playwright Joseph Robinette, in many respects, Charlotte’s Web is the ideal play to begin the season, particularly if it’s your child’s first trip to the theatre.   It incorporates several of those special qualities in story-telling that when done well can’t fail to inspire a sense of wonder in a child’s mind – humor, mystery, a theme of friendship and unconditional love, a young girl who talks to animals and adults who can’t.

Robinette’s thorough and faithful adaptation captures every element that made E.B. White’s classic so popular, but it’s what Childsplay does with the show that makes it come alive.   This is a dedicated cast, many of whom adult theatre-goers have seen in several productions in professional theatres throughout the valley before.

Kate Haas is a delightful Fern whose childlike and infectious exuberance is totally convincing as the eight-year-old farm girl who rescues the famous baby piglet from slaughter and names him Wilbur.   “A perfect name for a perfect pig,” Fern states.   Kyle Sorrell’s Wilbur nicely captures that playful sense of innocence and joy of what it’s like to discover new things and new friends.   When he realizes what his eventual fate might be and says, “A good life is better than living a long life,” Sorrell’s sincere delivery makes you believe every word.

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The support from the rest of the cast is first class, many of whom pull double-duty as either a narrator or several of the adult characters.   Katie McFadzen, so good in the recent Actors Theatre production of Good People, has fun as Goose.   The arrival of her seven new born goslings as Katie leads them on stage for the first time will charm every child in the theatre.   Jon Gentry’s Templeton, the greedy rat with the insatiable appetite, has a sly and snarky manner to him that draws some of the production’s biggest laughs.   When handed an old, decaying piece of fruit he sniffs it and says, “In day or two it will be just right.”   Yolanda London’s no-nonsense though friendly Sheep talks in a clear and deliberate manner that makes everything she says sound like a declaration.   “I do not play with pigs!” she declares, making sure that Wilbur keeps at arm’s length at all times.   Danny Karapetian effectively changes from the practical and friendly farmer, Homer Zuckerman, to the large pig Uncle, Wilbur’s rival for the coveted blue ribbon at the county fair, while Drew Swaine as Avery actually manages to give the smaller, supporting character of Fern’s brother a bigger impact on stage than the character makes in E.B. White’s book.

But it’s Debra K. Stevens as one of the nation’s most beloved characters, Charlotte the spider who spins those famous words on her web that children will remember.   When Charlotte makes her first entrance into the barn at night and climbs the ladder to her sparkling web overlooking the enclosure as Wilbur sleeps, you hold your breath.   There’s a sense of wondrous expectation to the moment, as if something truly magical is about to begin.

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Under Anthony Runfola’s assured and unfussy direction and supported by a production team that would make any theatre proud – William H. Symington V’s barnyard design is both simple yet hugely effective and eye-catching – Charlotte’s Web succeeds in opening that world of wonder that will hopefully inspire a child to seek out more.

With such a vibrant, theatrical community on our doorstep, watching Childsplay’s opening production truly completes the circle.   Think about it.   Here we have an outstanding production performed by adult professionals who will hopefully inspire in a new generation of theatre-goers a love of quality theatre, many of whom as they grow older may go on to audition for Valley Youth Theatre and later maybe Spotlight Youth Theatre.   Perhaps they may even take things further and make theatre their career where, if they’re lucky, they’ll get to work with many of the same performers they saw at Childsplay.

The next production in Childsplay’s season is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which premiere’s October 19.   Personally speaking, that’s too long to wait.

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For more information regarding times, dates and tickets, CLICK HERE for Childsplay’s official website.

Posted in Theatre

Interview with Lindsay Nicole Chambers of Kinky Boots

Lindsay imageThe hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots will be marching on to the stage at ASU Gammage next Tuesday, September 16 until Sunday, September 21.   Nominated for thirteen Tonys and winning six, Kinky Boots is a comedy musical based on the 2005 British film of the same name.

It’s the true story of a struggling shoe factory and its young owner, Charlie Price who forges an unlikely partnership with Lola, a drag queen, to stop the factory from going under.   Earlier I had the chance to talk with actor/singer Lindsay Nicole Chambers who plays the part of Lauren in the current national touring company production and who’ll be appearing in the show next week in Tempe.   I began by asking whether the musical version of Kinky Boots has taken the same route as that other popular Broadway musical based on an earlier British film, The Full Monty, and changed the location to America.

“We’re still in Northampton, England,” Lindsay explained, “So we’re keeping it true to the movie and the original story.  We had a dialect coach all through rehearsals (helping with the British accents) so we got a lot of one-on-one help, and a lot of notes, so everyone’s pretty up on it now.”

Lindsay Nicole Chambers with cast member Steven Booth

Lindsay Nicole Chambers with cast member Steven Booth

Could she explain who Lauren is and where the character fits into the show?   “Lauren is one of the factory workers,” Lindsay replied.   “Like everyone who works in the factory there were generations of her family who worked there.  She grew up with Charlie.  They went to school together, though they didn’t necessarily get along.  She kind of thinks he’s a spoiled little brat.  As Charlie starts to fire everybody she takes him to task and suggests that he thinks outside the box and try to find a niche market, so I like to think I make the story happen.  And of course, they fall in love, which is so great.”

Had she seen the film?   “I saw the movie on a random showing on TV and was blown away by the story.  It was so self-affirming, and it was lovely.  I mean, what a lovely story about friendship, about family and legacy, and it carries through to the musical.”

Was she ever influenced by the Lauren in the film?   “Actually I’m going to steal this from Kyle Taylor Parker (who plays the part of Lola) in a conversation we were just having over dinner one night when we were in rehearsal.  We were talking about the differences between the movie and the musical.  The story is the same, but the musical is, you know, singing and dancing; it’s glittery.  The musical is a different delivery system of the happiness of that story.  In a way, you can’t base your character off what it was doing in the movie.  It was such a different vibe.”

As a performer, how difficult has the path to being in a national touring production been?    “Oh, I’ve been doing this for a long time now,” Lindsay said, “So the path for me to becoming a lead in a musical has been, you know, long.  Actually, my first equity gig was the national tour of Hairspray.  I’ve had to pay my dues, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I really appreciate where I am because I know how it feels, every step of the way.”

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And how about life on the road, away from family and friends?   “Well, actually my best man from my wedding is on the road with me, so I have a little of my family on the road with me.  The cast has been really great.  We all get along really well.  But, yeah, you know, it’s difficult.  I was married, like, two and a half years ago, so… yeah, it’s certainly different than living in your apartment with your cat and your husband.  But my husband travels.  He’s a singer in The Spin Doctors, so he travels a lot.  He knows how it is.”

Wait a minute.  The Spin Doctors?  Did she mean… Two Princes and Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong?  The New York band?  Those Spin Doctors?   “Yeah,” Lindsay laughed.  “He’s the lead singer in The Spin Doctors.  Isn’t that crazy?  As far as touring, we’re a match made in heaven.  It’s been working out.”

One of the questions local audiences always seem to ask touring performers when they come to ASU Gammage during the Thursday night Talk Back Q&A session with the cast is whether there’ll be a chance to visit any parts of the city while they’re here.  I asked Lindsay the same question.  “Unfortunately, we’ll only be there for a week,” she said.  “Some of the folks will have understudy rehearsals.  Las Vegas (where the tour is currently performing) has been great because we’ve been here for three weeks, so we’ve had a lot of time to drive somewhere and drive back and we’ve had a couple of days off, but we won’t have quite as much time in Tempe.  If you have any suggestions, though, that would be great.”

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How about the future?  Is there life after Kinky Boots already in the plans?  “I’m on the road with the show for a year, so things are looking Kinky Boots for the next year, but, you know, we all have agents and managers that are always looking around, looking for new things to come along, and, you know, I also do voice-over work, so that you can do while you have an eight-show-a-week job, but I’m kinky for a year.   And I welcome that year. It’s so nice to be locked in.”

I’d heard that Lindsay once had something of a crush on actor Sir Ian McKellen – an odd choice for certain well-known reasons – and I wondered if the story was true or was it one of those urban legends she wished would disappear.  “Wait, wait, where did you hear that?” she asked after she stopped laughing.  “You know, I do sort of have a crush on him.  Isn’t that weird?  Well, not so weird.  I mean, he’s the most talented actor.  I would spend some time with that man, for sure.  It’s sort of my husband’s fault because he’s been touring so long and he listened to an audio book of Homer’s Odyssey, narrated by Sir Ian and he’s just amazing.  And it’s so long, it’s quite a feat.”

And finally, the critics.  Does she read her reviews?  “I don’t like to read them,” she said, “But if my family or my agent says, hey, you got a great review, then I’ll read that one.  I’ll only read the good ones if I hear through the grapevine they’re good. “

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For times, dates and tickets to see Lindsay as Lauren in Kinky Boots, CLICK HERE for the official ASU Gammage website.

To find out more regarding the national touring production, CLICK HERE for the official Kinky Boots website.

And to find out more about Lindsay, CLICK HERE for Lindsay’s official website.

Posted in Interviews

The Drop – Film Review

Drop posterEveryday, you learn something new.  In the new crime/drama The Drop, the neighborhood bars of Brooklyn are used as ‘drop bars,’ convenient locations where the local mob hide their bundled envelopes stuffed with cash at night.  They’re collected at a later date.

Tom Hardy plays Bob, a quite, hardworking, unassuming bartender who works for his older cousin, Marv (James Gandolfini).   The neighborhood bar is called appropriately, Cousin Marv’s, and it used to belong to Marv, but not anymore.   The bar is Marv’s in name only.   Some time ago, the place was taken from under his feet by the local Chechen crime lord, Chovka (Michael Aronov).

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Days after Christmas, two masked thieves burst into the bar.   They hold Marv and Bob at gunpoint and steal the evening’s take; five thousand dollars.   Fortunately for Marv, this was not a drop night. But that doesn’t stop the Chechen’s from wanting their money back, nor from wanting Marv and Bob to find the two guys who did it.   “Do you know who this money belongs to?” asks Marv of the gunmen.

That’s one plot.   The second is more character driven.   On his way home, Bob rescues a beaten and abandoned puppy pitbull from a garbage can.   With the help of Nadia (Noomi Rapace) he nurses the puppy, still in its cute stage, back to health.   It won’t take long to realize that the puppy and Bob are comparable; both appear in need of someone’s company and both have the potential to bite if pushed.   Then the guy who originally beat and left the dog to die returns, and he wants the puppy back.

The third has to do with Superbowl night.   Cousin Marv’s is chosen as the drop bar for the big night’s takings, and yet something odd is happening.   On this important night, as envelope after envelope is discreetly dropped off, Marv takes the evening off, feigning sickness.   All responsibility is left to the quiet Bob.   “Are you doing something that maybe we can’t clean up this time?” Bob demands of Marv.

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Based on a short story by crime writer Dennis Lehane, The Drop is a slow, atmospheric burner that takes hold from the beginning and ends exactly as it should.   The film gives no indication where it’s going or how events are gong to unfold, and even though there always seems to be strands of plot or motivations not entirely clear, everything pulls together in one revealing speech that Bob gives to the would-be thief at Cousin Marv’s on Superbowl night.

Tom Hardy is quite remarkable as Bob.   The London born actor, whose career began in 1998 when he won a TV contest in Britain called Find Me A Supermodel, has a knack for successfully immersing himself into a character to the point where he actually seems to disappear without the aid of elaborate disguises (Bane in The Dark Kight Rises not withstanding).   He uses everything – his body, his face, his eyes – and morphs every time into whatever character he’s playing.   Plus his changes of accents are perfect.   In Lawless his slow, southern drawl captured a genuine feel of the area and the time.   In Locke he single-handedly carried the whole movie seated behind the wheel of a car while delivering his lines with the difficult though authentic sounding Welsh accent, and in The Drop his Brooklyn delivery sounds flawless.   It’s not that he’s good at mimicking accents, it’s his whole voice.   It changes.   Of course, as the villainous Bane, no one could understand a word he was saying, but that’s a different issue.   As Bob, you can tell from his pauses and his occasional sidelong glances that Hardy’s character is harboring some untold secret of the past to which we may never be privy.   He doesn’t want to get involved.  “I just tend the bar,” he tells Nadia.

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There’s a quiet, touching quality to James Gandolfini’s final performance as Marv.   He’s a tough guy, but he’s browbeaten.   “I was respected,” he explains with a hint of animosity to Bob, “I was feared.”    That was before the Chechen thugs moved in and took what was once his.   On a fitting note, The Drop is deservedly dedicated to the popular performer.

Belgian film director Michael R. Roskam holds back on the violence.   It’s there – certainly the uncomfortable threat of violence is continually present – but true to the overall dark, noirish tone of the film, graphic outbursts are kept to just a couple of actions.   The threat is all you need.   Like a pitbull pushed to the point where there seems to be no other course, Bob’s sudden reaction to one climactic event is both so shocking and revealing in its execution, you stare at the screen, numbed, as your mind tries to decipher what you’ve just witnessed.

The Drop is one of the most satisfying crime/dramas seen this year.

MPAA Rating:  R               Length:  106 Minutes                   Overall Rating:  8 (out of 10)

Posted in Film

Angry Housewives – Theatre Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre, Peoria

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The success of the likeable though somewhat undercooked comedy musical Angry Housewives is genuinely surprising.  It opened in 1983 in Seattle where the show takes place and went on to become the longest running production in that city’s history.  It also ran in New York for a short while, though it never quite made it to Broadway.

At one time, there was even development for a TV pilot, though that idea appears to have fizzled.  Since then, outside of its Washington home turf, the show’s biggest success has been around the country in regional theatre.  With all that in mind, your first thought after finally seeing the show might be a puzzled, “Really?

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Four middle-aged women gather together in order to work out how they can make some extra money.  When Wendi (Kathi Osborne) suggests joining the emerging Seattle punk scene, putting on wigs and makeup and belting out a homegrown anthem to their kids ordering them to “Eat Your F*@#ing Cornflakes” in a local talent show, Bev (Rori Nogee), Carol (Monica Ban), and Jetta (Molly Lajoie) pick up their instruments and start rehearsing.  Even though only one is technically a housewife, the four ladies adopt the catchy moniker Angry Housewives, and they’re off, as long as the men in their lives agree to get out of the way.

What strikes you from the beginning is the overall look of the show.  Under Mace Archer’s stage direction, scenic designer Brad Cozby has developed a set reminiscent of something you might have seen representing a TV studio for an 80’s sitcom.  On one side of the stage is the middle-class living room with everything facing directly at the audience; on the other is the cluttered, country kitchen, while above is a young boy’s bedroom.  Under Daniel Davisson’s lighting design, all are brightly lit as if the set possessed a cheerful exuberance of its own, just like TV.  Characters move from background to background as if performing to an imaginary studio camera and always leave the stage with an exit punch-line.  All that’s missing is the canned-laughter.  Well, that and a second half.

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Angry Housewives is really built around the one what if… idea with everything we need to know about the ladies occurring and concluding in the first half.  Once the talent contest at the local Seattle bar is over, so is the show.  The second half has nowhere to go.  There are character conflicts – Wendi no longer wants to be the drummer; Bev’s son Tim (Connor Morley) is mortified that his mom is in a band – but no story.  It’s like watching a second series to a promising sitcom that can’t live up to the first.  Had this been one of the show’s regional, out-of-town tryouts, you might have recommended some second half rework before attempting Broadway.

The Arizona Broadway Theatre production works best with its casting.  All four ladies work well off each other with great support from the men.  Brian Sweis makes a very funny Larry, a prissy up and coming lawyer who likes everything in its place, particularly his wife.  “Why don’t you do normal things?” he asks of his wife, Jetta, when he finds out about the band, “Like gluing pictures on wood.” Greg Kalafatas is an amiable Wallace who appears to take pride in his Leonard Nimoy records and laminating the fins of fish he’s caught from his boat more than anything else; Sam Ramirez is terrific as the spiky-haired Lewd Fingers, and Spotlight Youth Theatre alumni Conner Morley holds his own with great confidence while performing alongside his more seasoned professional co-stars.

Despite the 80’s setting, Angry Housewives is not a nostalgic look at that colorful decade of big hair and dubious musical tastes.  There are no references to things that happened back then and nothing to make you reflect on what you might have been doing around that time.  It was written and premiered in the early eighties and was always meant to be a thing of its time; something that took place in present time, not a wistful indulgence of things passed.

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Even the music, aside from the obvious punk rock send up, has no 80’s flavor.  They’re show tunes, and while you won’t leave the theatre humming anything new, there are stand outs.  Monica Ban’s Generic Woman makes the show spring to life just when it needs the boost while Molly Lajoie’s touching Not At Home is a musical highlight.

In the end, Angry Housewives carries an infectious silliness throughout culminating with an even sillier climax where all the men appear on stage in drag in an attempt to support the punk rock ladies.  It doesn’t make any sense – it’s more Rocky Horror than Sex Pistols – but it will make you laugh.

Despite the show’s phenomenal Washington success that, for whatever reason, is still going strong, you won’t leave ABT remembering much about the musical, except for maybe one thing.  The sight of Molly’s Jetta projecting with all the punk-rock aggression she can muster telling us what we can do with our box of cornflakes is something that’s going to remain in memory long after everything else about these desperate housewives is forgotten.

For times, dates and tickets, CLICK HERE for the ABT website.

Posted in Theatre

Innocence – Film Review

Innocence posterThe Young Adult horror novel, Innocence, written by Jane Mendelsohn and published in 2000 is considered to be among the finest gothic tales of its kind.  Fans and critics alike have said that Mendelsohn’s poetic imagery practically leaps off the pages, while followers of the novel have expressed on-line excitement at the prospect of their favorite book finally becoming a film.  Hold that thought.

After the untimely death of her mother, young Beckett Warner (Sophie Curtis) moves to Manhattan with her father and enrolls into the prestigious Hamilton Preparatory School run by a small group of women whose composed, mild-mannered and attractive appearance makes them look and dress as though they’ve just stepped off the pages of a glamour magazine for middle-aged women.  Even the school nurse, Pamela (Kelly Reilly) with her shapely figure, movie-star hair and whispery, calm demeanor would turn heads the moment she stepped out of the school grounds and into the real world.

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But there’s something odd going on, and Beckett senses it the moment she arrives.  “Careful,” states one of the girls as she passes Beckett in the hallway, “We’re all sick here.”

Beckett’s suspicions are enhanced further when she looks into a closet only to discover a decaying, ghostly, zombie-like something in there that makes us all jump – it’s another of one of those quick Boo moments – plus she keeps hearing ‘Help me’ whispered by ghostly figures at odd intervals and then actually sees the words as they mysteriously appear, scrawled on a bathroom mirror.  At one point the carpet around the young girl’s feet even changes to the look of supernatural blood spillage that disappears in an instant with a second glance.  The fact that the girl never mentions any of this to anyone is also suspicious, but let’s face it; by this point, any normal person would have run screaming from that school.  That early sighting in the closet would have done it for me.

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It doesn’t take long to realize that despite a sound enough plot and the occasional moment of effective, dark, atmospheric terror, Innocence really isn’t working.  There’s an overall sense of lethargy to the whole affair; the film moves to the rhythm of really dreary song, and the poor performances don’t help.

Sophie Curtis plays Beckett as though she’s sleepwalking.  True, considering she’s lost her mother, is now in a new and somewhat hostile environment and is surrounded by less than friendly fellow students, most teenagers would probably retreat into their inner world of silence and mope around all day, but Curtis makes Beckett plain boring.  Like the film, Beckett has no life.  In fact, writer/director Hilary Brougher has failed to inspire any sense of energy to any of the film.  Considering the literary pedigree that inspired the making of Innocence, something, somewhere – either in the writing or the production – went wrong.  Plus the cheesy, closing moment with the twist before the fade out, reminiscent of straight-to-video cheapies of the seventies, doesn’t help.

Followers of Jane Mendelsohn will not be happy.  Like Curtis’ performance, the whole film is sleepwalking.

MPAA Rating:  PG-13      Length:  96 Minutes       Overall Rating: 2 (out of 10)

Posted in Film

A Talk with Joan Rivers

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Joan Rivers died today following complications from a minor throat procedure where she fell into a coma on August 28.  “It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother,” her daughter, Melissa, said in a statement. “She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. ET.”

Joan visited and performed in the valley many times.  Her last visit to Arizona was last November when Joan appeared in a special charity show, Joan Rivers Comic Pain Relief at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Before the show, I had the opportunity of talking with Joan.  She was extremely accommodating, complimentary, and in true Joan Rivers fashion, she was open to anything I wanted to ask. “Go ahead, ask what you want,” she announced, putting me immediately at ease.

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Did Joan recall the first time she used her trademark ‘Can We Talk’ expression?

“Oh, absolutely,” she declared.  “I didn’t know I was saying it.  It’s really what my whole act is about.  It really started when Elizabeth Taylor blew up to be the fattest thing going.  There was a picture of her and a car and she couldn’t get out of the car.  She was so heavy at that point.  And I talked about it.  I was the first person to discuss it, and they (the audience) would stare at me, and I said, can we talk here?  And that’s what you say to a friend, and that became almost my buzz word, because it’s like saying, are we going to tell each other the truth or do you just want me to do some stupid stewardess jokes?  And my act is always about that.  I do a lot of very close-to-the-bone humor.”

I told Joan I remembered her Elizabeth Taylor standing-in-front-of-a-microwave joke that she used in her act during the eighties.  “Yes,” Joan responded with a hearty laugh.  “Yes. She shouted, hurry, hurry.  She put on a yellow sticker and school kids tried to board her.  She was a very good friend of a mutual friend of ours, Roddy McDowell, who is Melissa’s godfather, and I said to him, ask Elizabeth – you never called her Liz – ask Elizabeth if I’m doing too many jokes about her, and he said he asked her and she said, tell Joan it doesn’t hurt me where I live.  She always thought she was extraordinarily beautiful.  She was one of those women who whether you were five hundred pounds or three pounds, men gravitated to.  And so she never had the sense that she’d gotten fat.  To the end she thought she was the most beautiful creature in the room and how lucky is that, huh?”

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Keeping in mind that a lot of Joan’s act was name-dropping and picking on celebrities, I asked her if there were any celebrities she could name who to this day will not talk to her.  “Oh yes, a lot of them,” she said with a dismissive wave.  “Gwyneth Paltrow, that idiot.  When she’s standing up and able to stand up due to lack of food – she’s usually too dizzy, they carry her on – she has not forgiven me.  You know something, when you weigh three pounds and you name your children Apple and Orange and Grapefruit, you’re an idiot.”

Over the years, Joan Rivers has made several live, in-concert albums.  I told her that the one album I found the most entertaining also had the most entertaining cover; a group shot of the royal wedding with Prince Charles and Lady Diana and Joan as one of the guests.  “It was Joan and Diana’s wedding picture,” Joan laughed.  “They put me in.  They took one of the guests out and put me in.  And if you really go back and look you will notice I’m the only one carrying a gift for them.  I bought them a blender.  I love the picture.  They had to dress me up, and I was standing there happy.”

Joan Royal family

I pointed out that she was the only one in the picture who looked as though they were enjoying themselves.  “Of course,” agreed Joan.  “I was the only one who had the class to bring a gift.”

The subject of late night television came up, and before I could get to a question, Joan jumped right in.  “Jay Leno, that garbage,” she declared.  “He’s never let me on his show.  Never, never allowed me on his show, so he can go to hell.  But luckily, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Letterman, all the others have, so it’s ok.  You should read the new book on Johnny Carson.  It’s amazing.  It’s sensational.  Everything is true.”

Having had a late-night talk show of her own, not to mention she was once a permanent fill-in for Johnny Carson, did she miss interviewing?  “Oh, very much,” she said. “ I love interviewing to the point that I’m now doing on the Internet a show called In Bed with Joan which has gotten picked as one of the six best Internet shows.  All I do is sit in my bed and people come in and they sit on the bed with me and we talk.  I love interviewing.  You find things out that are extraordinary from people that you don’t have any clue until they sit down.  You think, well, this is a stupid Victoria’s Secret model and then you find out that this is a girl whose mother was killed by the Russians and who crawled through mud to get to something.”

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Besides the USA, Joan Rivers also had a massive following in Gt. Britain.  I asked if she ever altered her act in order to be understood by a foreign audience.  “No,” she replied.  “My husband was English, so I said, well, Edgar thinks I’m funny so they should think I’m funny.  I go over there every two years and do a big tour all through the British Isles.  I’m crazy for Ireland, for Scotland.  I could retire there tomorrow if I had a warm coat.  And London has the best theatre in the world.  I love them and they love me.”

And finally, speaking of audiences, I asked Joan if it had got to the point in her long career where she knew how certain audiences in a certain area were going to respond to the act.  “Areas don’t count anymore,” she explained.  “We’re really one global village. We all see the same movies, we all have the Internet.  In the old days they’d say, you’re going down to Texas, so be careful, don’t say this, don’t say that.  That’s gone.  I think older people are in shock at me because they think I’m going to be doing, you know, memory lane stuff, and I’m now working on Fashion Police which is a very young audience, very young and very smart.  I’m very current.  I swear, I carry on, I talk about things I probably shouldn’t talk about, and that’s the way it goes, you know.”

Joan Rivers was 81.

(Pictures taken from the 2010 documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work)

Posted in Interviews