Courting Mae West

The play "COURTING MAE WEST: Sex, Censorship & Secrets" is based on true events during the 1920s when actress MAE WEST was arrested and jailed in New York City for trying to stage two gay plays on Broadway. Maybe she broke the law - - but the LAW couldn't break HER!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Mae West Is Coming!

How many actresses would like to portray MAE WEST? When director Louis Lopardi placed the official casting call for the play "Courting Mae West" in Actors' Access, within 48 hours 690 responses had flooded his mailbox.
• • Since "Courting Mae West" — — a serious-minded comedy based on true events during the Prohibition Era — — has a cast of seven, not every resume was intended for the "diamonds is my career" gal. Another actress will portray Beverly West and Texas Guinan, for instance.
• • But the largest number of replies, according to Mr. Lopardi, was for the role of Starr Faithfull [called Sara Starr in the play]. He received 270 headshots and cvs from actresses eager to play the fatal flapper. Starr's role calls for a very thin, stylish woman in her mid-twenties. As written, Sara Starr is a complex creature with a generous store of nervous discontent, harsh in her judgments of others, and quick to see individuals as defective because they are not enough like her. When John O'Hara wrote about the beautiful party girl, who met death at age 25, he renamed her Gloria Wandrous and made her the centerpiece of Butterfield 8.
• • As Mr. Lopardi heads for his first round of auditions on Friday and Saturday [April 25th — 26th, 2008] at The Producers Club in Manhattan, what will he look for in the next Mae West? "Her vitality was legendary," said the director. "And Mae West had industrial strength charisma."
• • What helps a stage director select the right individual? The first step is "typing-out by headshots plus experience," he explained, "and then short screening auditions."
• • What are some red flags? Showing up totally costumed for the role is a warning sign Mr. Lopardi is aware of. "An actress can suggest Mae West by wearing a boa — — but if she shows up decked out like Diamond Lil, I would be leery."
• • The casting and the elimination rounds begin today. Later there will be callbacks. Check this blog again to see who will play Mae in "Courting Mae West" in mid-July at the Algonquin Theatre in New York City.
• • No cameras were rolling in an Astor Place audition room in Manhattan (back in June 2005) when a New York City director was then conducting a talent search for MAE WEST for a short excerpt of "Courting Mae West” timed for The Annual Mae West Gala on 17 August 2005. But the dare-to-bare urge was in the air.
• • The playwright, the casting crew, and the director's personal assistant were astonished to see how many aspiring actresses interpreted the director's suggestion to "have fun with Mae's bawdy dialogue and be bold” as a green light to go blue.
• • Actor Richard Kent-Green, while playing a waiter in the opening scene, found himself adrift in fishnet hosiery and female garments as an Australian actress tossed her black apparel around. Ever the improv expert, Kent-Green anchored these cast-aways on a folding chair and stayed in character.
• • Is Janet Jacksons wardrobe malfunction becoming a trend? Richard Kent-Green admitted to a roving reporter that he had seen, in one night, more curves than a coastal highway.
• • Comedienne Louise ["Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”] Lasser said it is unfortunate when an actress puts her faith in the casting couch instead of her talent. Being bold during an audition, observed Miss Lasser, used to mean you showed some sass. Mae West may have had the two biggest props in Hollywood but she is remembered because her wit titillated. [That talent search took place in the summer of 2005. Marta Reiman was cast in the leading role.]
• • "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets" — — based on true events when Mae West was tried at the Jefferson Market Police Court on Sixth Avenue — — will be onstage at the Algonquin Theatre [123 East 24th Street, New York, NY 10010] July 19th 22nd, 2008.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday evening July 19, 2008.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" — — showtimes
• • July 19th, 2008 — — 6:00 PM
• • July 20th, 2008 — — 2:00 PM matinee
• • July 21st, 2008 — — 6:00 PM
• • July 22nd, 2008 — — 9:00 PM
• • Tickets to COURTING MAE WEST will be $18 per person.
• • Discounts are available for GROUPS. Group Prices are available: write to or phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes long.
• • The air-conditioned theatre has 99 seats.
• • SPECIAL: $100
$150 donation — — donor gets name in the Program — — and 1 free ticket to the play.
• • $151
$500 donation — — donor gets name in Program and TWO free tickets to the play and invited to all parties.
• • The Annual Fresh Festival: a non-profit group organizes this ambitious yearly festival [now in its 7th year]. The two-week arts festival is a money-losing venture sustained by funds from The New York City Council, a culture grant from New York State, a stipend from Senator Tom Duane, and donations from good people.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae onstage in mid-July 2008.

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• • Photo: Mae West
• • 1927 • •

Mae West.

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