Was Mae West a Good Playwright?
• • Mae West did work with collaborators but she had a strong sense of where she was going in a narrative. There is very clever plotting, for example, in “Diamond Lil.”
• • In 1928, the newspaper ads were calling her fictional character Diamond Lil “the good bad girl” and Mae structures the plot around opposites: a street-smart bad girl, surrounded by criminals who could keep her in diamonds, furs, and fancy gowns, becomes fixated on a good-looking man who appears to be different, that is, clean living, decent, pious, and focused on morality and acts of charity instead of on material wealth.
• • Diamond Lil imagines what it must be like to be good — — to be a decent woman and worthy of a paragon like that.
• • Then Mae supplies a whopper of an O’Henry type ending: his piety is a mask — — he’s really a detective ("The Hawk") who’s there to investigate her and her circle. Although they wind up together, he’s no saint — — only an ordinary cop whose job it is to make sure she loses all of her ill-gotten diamonds. That is a masterful twist.
• • Mae West shows her capability as a storyteller by knowing the first precept of a narrative: creating strong characters who want something.
• • Her ending is crafty, too: Diamond Lil gets the man she wants but not in the way she expected to.
|"Diamond Lil" has its own Q-R Code|
"Darlene Violette channels Mae West to perfection!" — Stu Hamstra• • By popular demand, actress Darlene Violette — — and the wonderful cast who brought the Bowery denizens and Suicide Hall’s ne’er-do-wells to life — — will return in “Diamond Lil” for several evening performances at Don’t Tell Mama [343 W. 46th Street] on these dates in 2013:
• • 7:30pm on Sunday October 27th — Hallowe'en Party — come in 1890s costume!
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 3rd — vote for Gus Jordan for Sheriff Night.
• • 8:30pm on Sunday November 10th
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 17th
• • 7:00pm on Sunday November 24th
• • Phone after 4pm to reserve a seat: 212-757-0788; RSVP online: www.donttellmamanyc.com
• • Closest MTA subway stations: 42nd St./ Times Sq. via A, C, E, 1, 2, 3
• • The public is invited (suitable for age 18 and over). Join us as we turn the iconic NYC nightspot Don't Tell Mama into Gus Jordan's "Suicide Hall"!
• • The Cast: Starring Darlene Violette as Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery and also featuring Sidney Myer, Anthony DiCarlo, Joanna Bonaro, Gary Napoli, Juan Sebastian Cortes, Kimmy Foskett, Jim Gallagher and live music by Brian McInnis
• • Director: Co-directed by Dena Tyler, The Actors Studio, and Darlene Violette.
• • Come up and see for yourself. You might even win a swell Raffle Prize.
• • Watch a short clip: Diamond Lil meets Pablo, a gigolo
• • Read a Review of "Diamond Lil" • •
• • L'Idea Magazine's editors attended four times and had a lot to say. Here's the link: http://www.lideamagazine.com/usa-still-entertaining-mae-wests-diamond-lil-makes-new-fans-in-new-york-city/
• • Audience Comments about "Diamond Lil" • •
• • Gigi Garcone said: Just saw "Diamond Lil" — — a very entertaining production! This tribute to the sultry, irresistible diva Mae West is a must see! All the actors are very talented and you can see they put their hearts into their roles. I especially liked Darlene Violette as Mae West and Joanna Bonaro as Rita, a madam from Rio. Darlene encompassed the whole persona of Mae and Joanna was sublime as the madam — — she really has such a presence on stage. Very enjoyable performance and it's worth the trip!
• • Rick Baynes of Baltimore said: I second Gigi's comments. "Diamond Lil" brings the fabulous Mae West back to life. The wonderful Darlene Violette is spot-on in her portrayal of the lusty, bawdy Mae. Do yourself a favor and go see this lovely production.
• • Mrs. Jean McLoughlin of NYC said: I recently saw "Diamond Lil" and loved every minute. The entire cast was top-notch, and I was impressed with their creative use of the entire space. The characters really came to life and I was transported back to the raunchy days of Mae West. Darlene Violette gave a great performance as Diamond Lil — — but Joanna Bonaro really shone as the sultry, venomous Rita. Joanna commands attention and I was more than willing to give it. Fantastic show, I highly recommend that everyone see it! Even my husband, who does not like theater, really enjoyed it.
• • At Jefferson Market Library in NYC next month • •
• • Mae West's legal woes inspired the stage play "Courting Mae West." See it on 23 November 2013 in the very same room where Mae faced off with Judge George Donnellan and 12 jurors.
• • Darlene Violette stars as Mae West and the rest of the cast will soon be announced.
• • The play, based on true events, is set during the Prohibition Era when Mae's plays were padlocked and she was sent to jail. Talk about a woman who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong..
• • This free event is open to the public and there is ample seating. [Note: The humor and adult themes are not suitable for children under 13.]
• • In Her Own Words • •
• • Mae West said: "I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it."
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Watch a scene on YouTube.
Courting Mae West
• • Photo: Mae West • • "Diamond Lil" restaged in 2013 • •