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!

My Photo
Name:
Location: New York, New York, United States

native New Yorker

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mae West: Cinderella

Born like MAE WEST in Brooklyn, New York, Sylvia Syms [2 December 2, 1917 — 10 May 1992] was a jazz singer whose birthname was Sylvia Blagman.
• • When she was a child, Sylvia contracted polio — — a disease that also afflicted Mae's sister Beverly and causes some sufferers to put on weight.
• • As a teen, Sylvia found her way to jazz joints on New York's "Prohibition Row" [West 52nd Street]. In 1941, the 24-year-old debuted at a club called Billy's Stable.
• • During 1948, Mae West went to performances at the Cinderella Club in Greenwich Village to see Rae Bourbon and listen to keyboard king Willie "The Lion" Smith. Fortunately for Sylvia Sims, Mae caught her act onstage there, too. Mae West gave her the part of Flo the Shoplifter in a Broadway revival of Diamond Lil.
• • Thanks to this big break and the exposure Mae West afforded her, Sylvia Syms appeared on the stage as Bloody Mary in South Pacific and as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! — — and also acted in straight roles.
• • Among others who observed her in night spots was Frank Sinatra who considered her the "world's greatest saloon singer." Sinatra conducted her album "Syms by Sinatra" [1982].
• • Signed to Decca Records, she had a million-selling record in 1956 with an up-tempo version of "I Could Have Danced All Night" from the soundtrack of My Fair Lady.
• • She died on stage at age 74 in New York City from a heart attack.
• • On Sunday 17 August 2008, during the "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side" walking tour, the group will visit the Cinderella Club and "I Could Have Danced All Night" will be sung live by a vivacious actress, a native New Yorker who has performed in many musicals.

___________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West's protege
• • Sylvia Syms • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mae West: 1928

Eighty years ago MAE WEST stepped into a glorious phase of her career. That was her big Broadway bonanza in 1928 — — and a gem it was.
• • "Diamond Lil" debuted at the Royale Theatre [242 West 45th Street, NYC 10036]
on 9 April 1928. It was a box office success as well as a favorite with drama critics.
• • Though Mae had worn contemporary styles as Margy LaMont in "Sex," she situated her 1928 script on the Bowery [New York City] during the Gay Nineties. Even after the show's run, Diamond Lil would become the actress's enduring persona.
• • Engaging gowns designed by the British costumer Dolly Tree [18991962] balanced Mae West's scarlet sisterhood style with a glamorous touch that made her more appealing to a middle-class audience.
• • Floor-sweeping creations
featured the hour-glass waist, revealing cleavage, frills and flounces, feather boas, and 1890-ish accessories that have meshed with Mae West's iconic image.
• • Dolly Tree also worked with Mae West on the costumes for another project staged on Broadway in 1928: The Pleasure Man.
___________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • 1928 • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mae West Gala: August 17th

Invitation to the Annual Mae West Gala

In her 1935 release "Goin' to Town," MAE WEST's character — — newly rich Cleo Borden — — has an evening soiree and decides to impress the guests by "throwing an opera." Always envisioning herself as a seductress, Mae (hilariously costumed) performs an erotic French aria by Camille Saint-Saëns: "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix."
• • On 17 August 2008, the glamorous Diamond Divas invite you to an a-MAE-zing birthday celebration that includes a musical walking tour of historical sights near Washington Square Park. Join Metropolitan Opera singer Marlena De La Mora and tour guide Sharon Weinman and historian LindaAnn Loschiavo for a noteworthy Sunday afternoon in Greenwich Village.
• • Metropolitan Opera singer Marlena De La Mora will sing excerpts from arias associated with Mae West including Delilah's French aria. Sharon Weinman, who has a long background in musical theatre, will punctuate the walking tour with showtunes linked to Mae's career. Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo will provide secret addresses tied to Mae West that have not been disclosed before.
• • This year the Annual Mae West Birthday Gala will also commemorate the 80th anniversary of "Diamond Lil," which Mae West wrote and brought to Broadway in 1928.
• • Soprano Marlena de la Mora has sung with both The Met & NYC Opera. A former winner of the New York Liederkranz Foundation's Wagnerian Vocal Competition, Madame de la Mora is a soloist at Fordham United Methodist Church.
• • Sharon Weinman has been leading walking tours for over a decade and performs in community theatre; she is also a Recreation Therapist with the New York State Recreation and Park Society.
• • LindaAnn Loschiavo's latest play "Courting Mae West" was onstage in July as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival; she is at work on a biographical travel guide "Mae West's New York, 1899—1959" and will show some of her rare vintage photos during the tour.
• • Walking Tour: "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side"
• • When: 1:00 PM on Sunday — — 17 August 2008
— — rain or shine
• • Meet: Village Restaurant, 62 West Ninth Street, New York, NY 10011
• • Price: $20
• • Subway: E or F [IND] train to West Fourth Street; PATH to 9th Street station
• • Attire: why not wear a Mae West-inspired hat?
• • Info: Seesaw864@juno.com
___________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • 1935 • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mae West's "Rosebud"

The play "Courting Mae West" opens in one of the drag cabarets in the Village that MAE WEST used to visit. In Act I, Scene 1, Mae waves to a cigarette girl in drag known as Rosebud. Mae explains to her date, "I just cast Rosebud over there in 'The Drag'. . . ."
• • In 1923, Arthur C. Budd was 21 years old and residing at 25 West 52nd Street. Known as “Rosebud,” Arthur C. Budd worked as a female impersonator in “The Lady in Ermine” at The Century Theater.
• • A New York Times article published on 5 February 1923 — — “Village Raid Nets 4 Women and 9 Men: Detectives Thought They Had Five Females, but Misjudged One Person by Clothing” — — paints a picture of the Greenwich Village circles Rosebud traveled in.
• • The police continue to pay special attention to Greenwich Village, according to The N.Y. Times. Every tearoom and cabaret in the village was visited yesterday morning by Deputy Inspector Joseph A. Howard and Captain Edward J. Dempsey of the Charles Street Station, and a party of ten detectives.
• • Detectives Joseph Massie and Dewey Hughes of the Special Service Squad were at the Black Parrot Tea Shoppe Hobo-Hemia, 46 Charles Street, to witness what they had been informed would be a “circus.” They arrested what they thought were five women and eight men. It developed later, however, that one of the “women” was a man, Harry Bernhammer, 21 years old, living at 36 Hackensack Avenue, West Hoboken, N.J. He is familiarly known in the Village as “Ruby,” according to the police. The charge against him is disorderly conduct for giving what the police termed an indecent dance.
• • The other prisoners, all of whom were bailed out at the station house, were Lucy Smith, 22 years old, of 46 Charles Street, and Patricia Rogers, 24 years old, of 16 Charles Street, alleged proprietors of the establishment, charged with violating the Mullan-Gage law; . . . Arthur C. Budd, 21 years old, of 25 West Fifty-second Street; . . . Paul Warring, 21 years old, of 75 West Seventy-second Street; . . . . The real name of the Smith woman, according to the police, is Vera Black, and the real name of the Rogers woman is Nan Paddock.
• • Arthur C. Budd, according to the police, is known as “Rosebud,” and claimed when arrested that he is a female impersonator in “The Lady in Ermine” at The Century Theater.
• • Paul Warring, the police say, is pianist at the Black Parrot and was formerly employed at a Broadway cabaret. . . . Reilly is accused of doing “a suggestive dance.”
• • The detectives allege that before the raid early yesterday morning they bought eight drinks of whiskey at $1 a drink.
• • The “circus” did not actually take place, the detectives said, for just before the time for it to begin Patricia Rogers stepped out on the floor and announced: “There are two policemen here and I am afraid to put on the circus."
• • The joyful soiree at the Black Parrot Tea Shoppe Hobo-Hemia [46 Charles Street, New York, NY 10014] ended rather abruptly with a paddy wagon conveying the arrested individuals to Jefferson Market Police Court on Sixth Avenue on 5 February 1923.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • Jefferson Market Court illustration [1917] • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Joe Franklin on Mae West

Joe Franklin has always enjoyed MAE WEST. During 1951 1999, when he was the host of television's first talk show "Joe Franklin's Memory Lane," the king of nostalgia invited Mae West to be featured six times on his popular program broadcast from New York City on WABC-TV and on WOR-TV.
• • In 2005, Joe Franklin enjoyed seeing scenes from Courting Mae West — — and this month he had a chance to get acquainted with the current cast when he popped in on a performance at the Kaufman Theatre [123 East 24th Street] on Monday 21 July 2008.
• • Before coming to the play, Joe Franklin plugged the show during the "Potpourri" section of his broadcast on Bloomberg Radio.
• • Here's Joe Franklin during Intermission, enjoying some refreshments. "With her whip cracking dialogue," Joe Franklin told theatre manager Mark Sportiello, "the playwright shows she is as much of a word jockey as Mae West."
• • An expert on vaudeville and a member of a prestigious sheet music society, Joe Franklin is no stranger to the lawless decade — — the Prohibition Era — — when Courting Mae West takes place.
• • According to Joe Franklin, what he enjoys about this serious-minded comedy is the sense that what happens in Act I and Act II is spontaneous and yet inevitable. And he enjoys the characters: the ambitious women and the complex, lovable scoundrels around them.
• • Joe Franklin was completely mesmerized by the star of Courting Mae West — — Yvonne Sayers, who relished the opportunity to play such a unique woman in American history.
• •
"She's a high-wattage actress," said Franklin. "She has the skill to keep her performance as acting and not an impersonation of Mae West."
• • A lifelong theatre buff, Joe Franklin has seen many performers try to portray Mae and fail. "I feel that, ultimately, you have to love the individual you are playing. You have to have a certain feeling. You have to have passion for the person. I can see that Yvonne Sayers is the type who prepared for the part by trying to understand why Mae did what she did, defending it, and getting behind it."
• • According to Joe Franklin, Yvonne Sayers is destined for stardom. "She's got what it takes — — just like Mae."
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
cast • • Yvonne Sayers [illustration] • •
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • author of "Courting Mae West" with Joe Franklin and Mae • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sarah Kanter: A Stand-Out as Beverly West

Ronni Reich of BackStage came up to see MAE WEST at the Fresh Fruit Festival last week.
• • Courting Mae West would not be without its excitement — — nor is LindaAnn Loschiavo's play of the same name, writes Ms. Reich.
• • "Loschiavo adopts Mae's language with ease and intelligence. . . and the vibrancy of Mae's world [the Prohibition Era] comes across," writes Ms. Reich.
• • "[Yvonne] Sayers's Mae West has several show-stopping moments," adds Ms. Reich. "Sarah Kanter Emanuel gives a stand-out performance as Beverly [West]."
— — excerpt: — —
• • Byline: Ronni Reich
• • Published in: BackStage Magazine
• • Published on: 21 July 2008
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
— — Courting Mae West — — Act I, Scene 2 — — Arcade Hotel — —
— — excerpt: — —

MAE WEST

You saw the news covering your drunken antics. What if your hubby finds you in Eddie’s room?

BEVERLY

Finally, I’m in the dailies! You think the papers only exist so critics can PAN your shows.

MAE WEST

What they printed about you in yesterday’s newspaper ain’t nothing to be proud of, Beverly.

BEVERLY

What they print on YOU ain’t nothing to brag about, Mae. Blind old owl! You’ve had LOUSY reviews for over 25 years. Last year that guy wrote how your play Sex stinks of turpentine.

MAE WEST

No one said my play Sex stinks of turpentine. You’re sloshed, Beverly. Come back to our room, please. Eddie, why did you give her so much to drink? This is your fault, too.

EDWARD ELSNER

I remember — (grandly, pompously) Variety called your play “a sink of moral turpitude.”

— — Courting Mae West — — Act I, Scene 2 — — Arcade Hotel — —
— — excerpt: — —
• • Used with permission.

_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
cast • • Sarah Kanter Emanuel relaxing after a rehearsal • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Act II, Scene 1 - the raid at the Biltmore

MAE WEST's gay play "Pleasure Man" had a $200,000 box office advance when it premiered at the Biltmore on 1 October 1928. The police raided the show, however, and shut it down the same night. Perhaps this was an easy target, since the theatre was on the same block as the precinct: 47th Street, west of Broadway.
• • The infamous raid at the Biltmore is dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West," which will have its final performance on Tuesday 22 July 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [123 East 24th Street] in Manhattan.
• • The Algonquin's manager Mark Sportiello, who attended two performances, has become a big fan of both the play and the talented cast. "Courting Mae West is what great theatre is supposed to be!" said Sportiello, whose brother Tony is an award-winning playwright.
• • In "Courting Mae West," Texas Guinan [portrayed by Eileen Glenn] visits Mae West [portrayed by Yvonne Sayers] backstage at the Royale Theatre to warn her about the raid.
• • MAE WEST: Tex, isn't there a way to trouble-shoot this?
• • TEXAS GUINAN: Honey child, the problem with trouble-shooting is that, invariably, trouble shoots back!
• • In addition to battling a hex by legal voodoo, Mae West was in enormous physical pain during 1928.
• • The usually healthy, resilient, durable actress had begun to experience fierce abdominal agony, perhaps from stress. When the infamous raid at the Biltmore Theatre occurred, New York's bulldog of a district attorney was threatening her with another jail term.
• • Seized by the talons of legal eagles, Mae was rescued (somewhat) and got a jolt of good news from her savvy attorney Nathan Burkan. Burkan had convinced a judge to allow Mae to continue touring in "Diamond Lil."
• • Adding more relief to Mae's life was the fact that the Shuberts had just bought out Mark Linder, who had staked a claim on "Diamond Lil" because he suggested the locale.
• • Info and showtimes are here — — and we invite you to come up and see Mae.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Phone 212-352-3101 and get a ticket.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
cast • • Yvonne Sayers and Eileen Glenn • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Praise for an a-MAE-zing actress

MAE WEST move over, declared Ward Morehouse III.
• • After seeing "Courting Mae West" at the Kaufman Theatre [123 East 24th Street, New York, NY 10010], Morehouse said: Please welcome another first-class clairvoyant to the swelling ranks of those who dazzle by channeling dead celebrities on the stage and screen. Resurrecting the iconic screen queen, Yvonne Sayers easily matches the achievements of Oscar winners Philip Seymour Hoffman (who portrayed Truman Capote in "Capote") and Reese Witherspoon (June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line").
• • Like Mr. Hoffman and Ms. Witherspoon, Morehouse added, Ms. Sayers embodies a once living figure of distinctive style with a radiant conviction and finesse that turn surface mimicry into fine-grained portraiture. Ms. Sayers does a fine job of speaking "Brooklyn," shimmying across the stage, and channeling the original blonde bombshell.
• • Info and showtimes are here — — and we invite you to come up and see Mae.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
cast • • Yvonne Sayers • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

On rise: A drag cabaret in the Village

During the early 1920s, MAE WEST spent time in the company of Mother Superior.
• • A top-shelf drag queen, Mother Superior was a mainstay at the most popular gay nightspot — — Paul and Joe's on West Ninth Street — — famous for its drag cabaret. In coded language, Paul and Joe's (run by two Italian family men who lived in New Jersey) was careful to drop hints about being a place for pansies. These skillfully worded pansy ads appeared in The New York Times and elsewhere.

• • Floyd Dell's book Love in Greenwich Village (and many other books) described this former speakeasy on West Ninth Street. In 1920, the regulars filed through a dark-panelled portal three steps down from the pavement. Paul and Joe's was a place where people wanted to be delivered to temptation — — or wanted sin to stay in touch.
• • Since Floyd Dell died in July, let's give him a few lines here.
• • Floyd Dell [born 28 June 1887 in Barry, Illinois — died 23 July 1969 in Bethesda, Maryland] was a radical journalist and novelist whose fiction examined the changing mores in sex and politics among American bohemians before and after World War I.
• • From 1910 until 1920 Floyd Dell was a major force in American literature. In Greenwich Village, with hs buddy George Cram Cook, Dell was at the center of the Provincetown Players who fostered the career of Eugene O'Neill and invented the modern American drama.
• • Mae West might have heard of Floyd Dell via the Provincetown Players, where she and Texas Guinan attended the plays of O'Neill. The theatre was a short walk from Guinan's West Eighth Street apartment and the popular Paul and Joe's.
• • The Pansy Craze was a period during the Prohibition Era when gay clubs and performers (known as pansy performers) experienced a surge in underground popularity in the USA. Socialites, politicians, and even athletes (such as Jack Dempsey) frequented Paul and Joe's where they liked to sit on the mezzanine level and observe the spectacle from a discreet distance.
• • The gay clientele included Greenwich Villagers who were drag community leaders such as the Duchess and Mother Superior. The Duchess was the expert on drag deportment; it was the Duchess who instructed young drag queens on in-group codes of dress, style, speech, and etiquette.
• • The Duchess and Mother Superior (who were very helpful to Mae when she conceived "THE DRAG") were well-known activists who often wrote in the daily papers to protest gay bias.
• • This was the gay cabaret that inspired MAE to write her controversial play "THE DRAG," a work that kicked New York's legal machinery into gear on 9 February 1927. MAE spent that evening in Jefferson Market Police Court and was forced to stay overnight in Jefferson Market Jail.
• • Act I, Scene 1 of "COURTING MAE WEST" opens in Paul and Joe's on West Ninth Street. In the play the speak is called "Cafe Giovanni" and the wait-staff and the cigarette "girl" are in drag.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • the drag cabaret that inspired "The Drag" • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mae's man: Mario "Shortie" De Angelis

MAE WEST used to say: "It's not the men in my life. It's the life in my men."
• • In the play "Courting Mae West," the role of the leading man is a fictional reporter MARIO "Shortie" De ANGELIS.
• • In his early 20s, cub reporter MARIO "Shortie" lives in a boarding house owned by Irish Catholic news seller DECLAN ROURKE, run by PEG ROURKE on West 9th Street in Greenwich Village.
• • A dreamer, a schemer, hard-working, well-read, college educated, very poor, and very ambitious, MARIO "Shortie" De ANGELIS has a drive to succeed as a writer and a reporter along with an insecurity that makes his personality prickly, sarcastic, class conscious, chauvinistic, and prone to arguments — — especially when his sense of self (his self worth) is being challenged.
• • Shortie and his news man's fedora — — the badge of the serious, on-the-move reporter — — are inseparable along with the big chip on his shoulder.
• • His signature gesture with MAE WEST: removing her glove and ravishing her hand
• • MARIO's core: manipulation by determination (or charm)
• • Come up and see Mae onstage July 19st — 22nd in New York City when MAE WEST will be portrayed by Yvonne Sayers and MARIO "Shortie" De ANGELIS will be portrayed by Jason Emanuel. Source: CourtingMaeWest.blogspot.com
"COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • Maebill • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mae from Page to Stage

The author of "Courting Mae West" discusses her a-Mae-zing journey taking MAE WEST through the Prohibition Era.
• • For decades my imagination was embracing an armful of women’s history attached to the crooked elbow of 10th Street west of Sixth Avenue. A 19th century Iandmark [that now houses a public library] used to be a busy courthouse with a prison annex. The notable dames who passed through here included Evelyn Nesbit, Texas Guinan, Polly Adler, Margaret Sanger, Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg, Starr Faithfull, Dorothy Day, Mae West [1893—1980], and many others.
• • Unfortunately, the only sign on this High Victorian Gothic wonder is a plaque about the two male architects: Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux.
• • Each time I passed this structure — — which resembles a quirky castle — — I pondered how to bring its cultural history out of hiding. Since I'm a journalist and an historian, I had a lot of opportunities to write about the former Jefferson Market Judicial Complex. And I did. I wrote several articles that were published in newspapers and magazines. I also blogged about Jefferson Market and began collecting rare images and vintage photos. None of this did the subject justice, I felt, so I began writing a play. But I had amassed too much material; too many noisy narratives clanged in my head. By process of elimination, one woman's battle and her censorship trials inside Jefferson Market Court came into focus. As a journalist, I feel a strong kinship with the First Amendment. Here was soul food.

• • "COURTING MAE WEST" • •
• • When I wrote the first draft of my play "COURTING MAE WEST" during October 2003, I knew a great deal about the courthouse and very little about the controversial actress. But the theatre company I was then attached to was quite enthusiastic about it, and a Staged Reading was organized for February 2004.
• • In early January 2004, The New York Law Journal did an interview with me. Immediately, other articles about my play followed. The New York Sun wrote about "COURTING MAE WEST" and then The Villager, The Forward, The New York Times, The Brooklyn Eagle, etc. On the day of the first Staged Reading, over 250 people had to be turned away for lack of room.
• • Hearing the dialogue spoken by trained actors helps a dramatist develop the play. After this first public reading, I would revise these 100 pages numerous times. Simultaneously, I was reading biographies about Mae West as well as 1920s newspapers. My play is set during the lively Prohibition Era [specifically from December 1926 — December 1932] when Mae West was arrested and jailed for writing two gay plays and staging them on Broadway.

• • By February 2005 the play was ready for its second Staged Reading, which was held in Proshansky Auditorium [396 seats] on Fifth Avenue across from The Empire State Building. Again there was a full house and the audience loved it. By then I began to know Mae West much better but I continued researching and revising. Eventually, I rewrote this play EIGHTEEN TIMES, adding scenes, deleting material, trimming, polishing until I was satisfied.
• • Mae West was a comedienne who wrote her own material. I did not want to use any of her famous one-liners from her motion pictures since my play ends in December 1932 before she became a movie star. And this presented another challenge: could I be funnier than Mae West?
• • After the seventeenth revision, I gave the manuscript to Steve Rossi, an entertainer who had worked with Mae West during the 1950s. Steve Rossi said it was the funniest thing he ever read. "And," he added, "it sounds exactly like her. You got her speech and tempo to a T!"
• • So I began submitting my play to competitions and sending it to producers and theatre companies. The play was a semi-finalist for the Stanley Drama Award at Hofstra University. Then the play came in as a finalist in another contest — — but, unfortunately, this non-profit theatre group lost their funding and disbanded. Every day I found more places to submit to.

• • Based on true events . . . • •
• • The play meant a lot to me and so did the true events I based the story on: how an unsuccessful but determined vaudevillian wrangled with City Hall and tangled with the moguls behind male-dominated Broadway. The theatre world has not changed that much since Mae West trod the boards; most plays that are produced are written by men and are focused on male characters. In contrast, "COURTING MAE WEST" has powerful, determined women at its heart: Mae West, Beverly West, Texas Guinan, Starr Faithfull, etc. The play is filled with strong roles for actresses.
• • As luck would have it, in January 2008 a New York City theatre group that I had not submitted to heard about the play and asked if they could do a production as part of an annual two-week arts festival in Manhattan.
• • On July 11th, 2008, the cast was invited to give a free mini-performance at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble.
• • Saturday July 19th is the play's opening night.
• • Moving from the first draft in October 2003 to a fully-cooked final draft by October 2007 was an a-MAE-zing journey. Along the way I was invited by The Biography Channel to do an episode on Mae West; that episode was broadcast in 2006. Recently [last month, in fact], I was filmed for a TV documentary on the Prohibition Era. Footage from a dress rehearsal of my play will be part of this 90-minute film that will be broadcast in 2009.
• • More information and showtimes are here — — and we invite you to come up and see Mae.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • dramatist • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mary Murphy portrays Eliza Rourke

ELIZA ROURKE is one of the fictional characters in the play "COURTING MAE WEST." Yes, the Irish characters do dominate because, in Mae West's real life, she surrounded herself with people of Irish birth and descent.
• • In her early 20s, ELIZA is an unpaid maidservant in the boarding house owned by her Irish Catholic parents on West Ninth Street in Greenwich Village.
• • Raised by the schemer and master manipulator DECLAN ROURKE, ELIZA ROURKE is totally her father's daughter.
• • Still a virgin and dependent on her parents because of a lack of income, ELIZA is frustrated and getting desperate due to her lack of options. ELIZA feels imprisoned by her situation and is constantly scheming about how to improve her situation.
• • Infatuated by their boarder SHORTIE, ELIZA plans a way to be alone with him, hoping to get closer to him.
• • Fascinated by the chic SARA STARR, when ELIZA realizes SARA is admiring her body, she is quite prepared to seize control of the situation and take the upper hand.
ELIZA ROURKE's core: manipulation in a "velvet glove"
MARY MURPHY (Eliza Rourke) A few of her credits include: Jane Eyre, Artist Descending a Staircase, Stonewall Voices, Why Does it Sting…, Jailbirds, Wait Until Dark, and All Night Meeting. She has also lent her voice to the cartoon Pokemon, various radio, film, and television projects, along with an award-winning children’s audio adventure series.
"COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
's cast • • Mary Murphy • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 14, 2008

An uneasy sistership

Beverly West was quite unlike her sister MAE WEST. Their relationship forms one of the sub-plots of "Courting Mae West," set between 1926 — 1932 when BEVERLY is age 28 — 34.
• • Born in December 1898 and afflicted with polio that left her with a limp, BEVERLY WEST did not have the career drive her sister MAE WEST [1893 — 1980] had — — nor was she able to excel in dancing and athletics due to polio. Since MAE WEST did financially support her sister, she employed BEVERLY as her errand girl, messenger, lackey, and understudy. In her entire career, MAE WEST only missed one performance (after breaking her ankle), therefore, BEVERLY never took the starring role in a Broadway production.
• • Growing up in her sister's shadow, BEVERLY became an alcoholic and took pleasure in annoying and frustrating MAE by being late to performances, by not rehearsing enough, by being impulsive, and by doing whatever her head told her to do. Angry, hurt, childish, status conscious, frustrated, belligerent, loud, and an out-of-control exhibitionist when drunk, BEVERLY was quite prepared to seize the spotlight whenever possible.
• • When young, BEVERLY was much prettier than MAE. But MAE got her nose job first and alcoholism would quickly ravage BEVERLY's youthful beauty. The sisters had a very testy relationship. There was always tension between them. Except for one photo during Mae’s trial [April 1930], Beverly always looked away from Mae in photo sessions. MAE never forgave BEVERLY for the drunken spectacle she created in the theatre lobby during the Bridgeport try-outs of "The Drag" [January 1927]. BEVERLY never forgave MAE for all the ways she used her and bossed her around. However, since BEVERLY depended on MAE's financial support, there would always be an indisputable family tie along with a nervous imbalance between them.
• • In reality, BEVERLY was an actress who did get a radio gig doing Mae West impersonations — — and she did follow Mae to Hollywood (not having other options). The sisters remained loyal to each other (in their fashion) and wary of each other. But they were never close.
• • This is why in ACT II, Scene 5 BEVERLY is shown reliving her successful audition TO HERSELF or AN UNSEEN AUDIENCE instead of to MAE, whose approval she is prepared NOT to get.
• • THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION MOMENT — — MAE surprises BEVERLY (and herself!) by showing her true appreciation of BEVERLY's performance. BEVERLY is so stunned to be appreciated that she can only stare at MAE. Deliberately, it is the SHOCK and the RECOGNTION that is dramatized (vs a cosy reconciliation). When MAE WEST says, "C'mere, kiddo" the sisters do not embrace nor touch — — they only seem as if they might, creating tension by the distance.
"COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • with family circa 1935 • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mae West in Gay City News

Gay City News reminds us that "Summer's Fresh Fruit Has Ripened" — — and Mae West will be back on Broadway on 11 July 2008.
• • The Sixth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival of queer arts is back and runs July 11-27 at venues throughout Manhattan. The festival includes both themed-evenings and shows, highlights of which follow:
• • THEMED EVENINGS • •
• • THE CAVALCADE OF FRUITS: A preview and post-view of the festival featuring comedian Kelli Dunham, jazz vocalist Nhojj, Rome Neal, and scenes from Chip Deffaa's musical comedy "Theater Boy" and LindaAnn Loschiavo's "Courting Mae West."
• • 11 July 2008 — — 7:30 p.m.; Barnes & Noble, Lincoln Center, 1972 Broadway at 66th St. Free.
• • SHOWS • •
• • All shows are presented at Kaufman Theater at the Algonquin Theater Company, 123 E 24th St., btwn. Park Ave. So. & Lexington Ave. Tickets are available at http://www.theatermania.com or 212-352-3101.

• • COURTING MAE WEST: SEX, CENSORSHIP AND SECRETS: Written by LindaAnn Loschiavo and directed by Louis Lopardi, this show is based on true events that happened in New York City between 1926 and 1932, when "Verdi worthy-villains" rose up against the tough talking, liberal minded actress/ playwright Mae West. Fighting for the freedom to talk about sex in the Prohibition era, Mae West faces off with her critics. July 19th — 22nd. Tickets are $18.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Summer's Fresh Fruit Has Ripened"
• • Published in: Gay City News — — www.gaycitynews.com/
• • Published on: 10 July 2008
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
"COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• •
"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" are $18 per adult.
• •
Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.

• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
_____________________________________________________________
Source:http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Add to Google


• • Photo: Mae West
• • Courting Mae West logo • •

Mae West.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,