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Entries in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (2)

Monday
Mar212016

Stage Door: Revive This! (a musical lover's list)

This week I caught the Off Broadway hit Red Speedo about a swimmer who thinks he needs performance enhancement drugs. It was a totally solid thought-provoking play and if that sounds like faint praise it's only that because the raves have been so breathless. I had front row seats (not intentional) which is a weird angle with which to see this show because the pool part of the stage looms large in front of you (you do get splashed). I don't mind getting wet so I wished they'd used the pool part of the well designed stage a little more. The actors were uniformly terrific so if you're interested in the topic, by all means go. 

But back to Broadway itself. After finally seeing The King and I, one of last year's Tony winners, and the news that Hello Dolly will finally return (with Bette Midler!) after decades of invisibility, thoughts turned to shows that rarely get revived. Some shows like Les Miz & Gypsy & Fiddler on the Roof and a handful of others seem to return to the big stage every 4 or 5 years.  It begs the question of why others are never revived. So herewith a list!

10 Longest Running Shows That Have Not Been Revived in Over 20 Years 
Not a qualitative list but factual based on how long the show ran.

01 Oh! Calcutta! - the nude musical revue closed in 1989 after two very successful multiple-year runs. Why no third?

02 Life With Father -Broadway's longest running straight play ever closed way back in 1947 the same year the film version came out. Among its 1939 opening night cast was future Oscar winner Teresa Wright. 

more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec262012

RIP Charles Durning (1923-2012)

2012 has been, so definitively, the year for huge teeming male casts (Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark, Magic Mike) of stars and character actors playing anxious determined men that I felt an extra pang of sadness to hear about the passing of Charles Durning on Christmas Eve. He was 89 years-old. 

Charles Durning at the SAG ceremony in 2008 accepting his lifetime achievement award

Had any of those movies (well, not, Magic Mike) been made in the 1980s, he would with certainty have popped up --  100% -- growling great lines in a suit or stove pipe hat.

Since the seeds of my movie mania were planted in the early 1980s, Charles Durning was one of the very first actors that embodied and defined the term "Character Actor" for me. I absolutely loved him in Tootsie (1982), one of the all time great movie comedies, as Jessica Lange's widower dad who took an unfortunate shine to Dorothy (Dustin Hoffman in drag). I remember experiencing early onset Oscar confusion when I realized (a couple of years after the fact) that he had been nominated for an extended cameo in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas instead. So I rented that one in 1985 of 1986, I think, on the sly -- my parents did not approve of "raunchy movies" -- and just delighted in his "little sidestep ♫ "

Other roles I have slightly less vivid memories of from that decade were his Oscar nominated turn in Mel Brooks comedy To Be Or Not To Be (1983) and his monsignor in the gay drama Mass Appeal (1985). The Golden Globes got to him before the Academy -- as they so often do -- nominating him for Best Supporting Actor for his hostage negotiator in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) which we recently discussed. Durning won a Tony Award in 1990 for playing "Big Daddy" in a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Kathleen Turner (who he worked with onscreen immediately thereafter in the failed would be franchise launch VI Warshawski) but sadly he never won any major competitive acting award for his onscreen work despite Globe, Emmy, and Oscar nominations. His most recent Emmy honors were for a stint as Denis Leary's father on "Rescue Me".

What's your favorite Charles Durning role?
Have you ever seen his Oscar nominated roles?