May 22, 2018

Divas Lynne Jordan, Ty Cooper, Claudia Hommel and Elizabeth Doyle at Open Door Theater this Saturday night! Joined by bassist Jim Cox.

Our theme is April In Paris, but our show will be packed with variety. We have blues, jazz standards, originals, spoken-sung story songs and French/English classics all done by the amazing Lynne Jordan, Ty Cooper, Claudia Hommel and yours truly, Elizabeth Doyle. Bass player, Jim Cox adds a little musical testosterone.

For tickets to April In Paris at the Open Door Theater:

http://www.opendoortheater.net/tickets-calendar

If you have not experienced the Open Door Theater, you are in for a treat. People have said it’s an intimate jewel of a theater with good acoustics and close-up sight lines for all audience members. The Theater sponsors comedy troupes, theatrical productions and music events so come check it out. Saturday night would be the perfect time!
April In Paris? No, April in Oak Park!

To find out more about the Open Door Theatre in Oak Park, please visit: http://www.opendoortheater.net/

Will and Grace 2017 Reboot

When I first heard that the late 1990s TV sitcom, Will and Grace was being reprised, I was somewhat skeptical. Hearing that all four of the lead actors were on board made me a little more open-minded.

Now that I have seen several episodes, I can say that the reboot has retained some of the delicious humor and the endearing character foibles of the previous incarnation.

Megan Mullaly, Sean Hayes, Eric McCormack and Debra Messing all look pretty fabulous in this belated 9th season. Harry Connick Jr., Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Jordan, Minnie Driver and Molly Shannon, among others, all give welcome reprises of their guest roles this time around.

If anything, the show has demonstrated how far we have come with gay acceptance in the 12 years since Will and Grace wrapped up 8 seasons in 2006. The producers, writers and actors perhaps could not have predicted that gay marriage would be legal and quite common today in 2018.

Politics, class warfare, sexual mores and gay versus straight culture are woven into the current show’s plot lines and dialogue. This is screwball comedy for the 21st century with rapid fire banter and improbably hilarious situations.

When I need a laugh these days, an episode of Will and Grace is just what the comedy doctor orders.

Thursdays, 9 pm on NBC, Hulu

The Big Sick movie streaming on Amazon

I recently wrote about the podcast, Stay Tuned With Preet which featured an interview with writer/actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani who was unfamiliar to me.

Amazon is currently streaming The Big Sick, with a script co-written by Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. The film definitely covers all the bases of a romantic comedy, but it also examines a Pakistani Muslim family’s belief in arranged marriage, the challenging life of a stand-up comedian and the travails of our medical system when one is faced with a serious and unknown malady.

The film is based on how Kumail and Emily met before their marriage. Emily’s medically-induced coma ultimately brings the couple together as Kumail holds vigil with Emily’s out-of-town mother and father. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter turn in winning performances as Emily’s open-minded but very white parents.

Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon (Zoe Kazan is cast as Gordon in the movie; Nanjiani plays himself.)

You may find yourself laughing at the comedic dialogue yet getting a little teary at some of the touching scenes about life, death and love.

Kumail Nanjiani’s acting and writing credits for tv, movies and video games indicate that he not only got the girl, but he’s done pretty well for himself. He and his wife have turned their rocky courtship in Chicago into an intelligent yet hilarious movie. The Big Sick was indeed a diverting film to view on a cold winter’s night at home.

Alec Baldwin’s Podcast, Here’s the Thing

Now that I have discovered the world of podcasts, someone recommended Here’s the Thing hosted by Alec Baldwin and sponsored by WNYC, a non-profit, noncommercial public radio station in New York City.

The guest list skews to people in the arts, but an engaging interview with Watergate cast member, John Dean indicates that Baldwin knows his way around many topics, including government and politics. I have delighted in podcasts with Barbra Streisand, Audra McDonald and James Cromwell (activist and star of the movie, Babe.) My tentative list of programs I want to catch includes interviews with Elaine Stritch (his co-star on 30 Rock), whiskey-voiced actress Kathleen Turner, Billy Joel, Rosie O’Donnell and David Letterman, but his guests include economists, athletes, newspeople and accomplished individuals in various professions.

As good as Baldwin’s roles in numerous movies and tv shows have been, including his appearances on Saturday Night Live with his dead-on impersonation of our current commander-in-chief, his podcast program, Here’s the Thing which premiered in October 2011 may be an equal claim to fame.  Baldwin has a seemingly effortless ability to bring out the human, intellectual and comedic sides of his fascinating guests.

Talk on, Alec!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon

As I was listening to rapid fire clever dialogue in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, an Amazon original series, I was vaguely reminded of another show that uses this screwball comedy conversational timing: The Gilmore Girls. Small wonder since both series were created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and co-produced with her husband, Daniel Palladino.

The heart and soul of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the titular character played by Rachel Brosnahan, a mixture of New York housewife chic and very blue humor. The unexpurgated comedian Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) becomes her jail buddy and helpful colleague. The two people most important in her life at this juncture, however, are her wanna-be comedian and cheating husband, Joel Maisel (Michael Zegen) and her fledgling manager, Susie Meierson played by the wonderfully acerbic Alex Borstein.

While the heroine’s overbearing WASP parents were played by Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrman in The Gilmore Girls, Marin Hinkle and a daffy Tony Shalhoub are cast as Rachel Maisel’s Upper West Side Jewish parents. Hey, if something works the first time around, why break a winning formula?

Set in the late 1950s, the music, the clothing and the New York atmosphere are all convincingly evoked. Palladino’s script does point out that racism and sexism were alive and well, so this was no golden age in our country’s history for large segments of the population. Still, if a time machine existed, I would go back for a night in one of these New York comedy/music clubs.

Thankfully, we have The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as an entertaining alternative. Season Two, please!

Get Out, a movie on HBO GO

Twenty-somethings at a recent party were all raving about a strange and engrossing movie called Get Out. Written and directed by Jordan Peele (of the comedy team Keegan and Peele), a bi-racial couple, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allisonn Williams) visit her white and very strange parents who live in a bucolic and privileged enclave.

The Armitage family employ black servants who act like automatons. Things get even weirder as people show up for an annual party on the estate. Catherine Keener plays the therapist mother who may have hypnotized boyfriend Chris. Her husband is actor Bradley Whitford playing the forceful and phony suburbanite Dean Armitage.

My favorite character is TSA agent, Rod Williams (actor Lil Rel Hower) who is Chris’ friend and phone advisor as he encounters these unsettling events.

You will find yourself laughing and pulled along by the off-beat storyline, but make no mistake, the movie is exploring some brutally honest and horrifying concepts in our history and culture.

We still need Peele to be funny as a comedian, but here’s hoping that this is the first of his many films that allow him to visit the dark side. Pun intended. We will all be challenged and wiser for it.

If you don’t have HBO GO, you can purchase the movie at iTunes, Amazon Instant Video or YouTube.