Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BEA ARTHUR: Thank You For Being A Friend

The fabulous Bea Arthur passed away this weekend (1922-2009). With her imposing stature, raspy baritone, withering put-downs and impeccably timed "takes," Bea Arthur was comedy gold from start to finish.

Her only connection to the world of Mondo Musicals is her appearance as the singing barkeep of the Mos Eisley Cantina in the ill-fated Star Wars Holiday Special, but she's beloved by the gays (myself included) for her turns as the left-wing harridan Maude Findlay on Maude (1972-78) and as the relatively-sane Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls (1985-92).

As a kid, I was a huge fan of Maude (my parents should have known right then) and I've discovered to my delight that it's still one of the funniest and most daring shows ever aired on network TV. Everybody knows about the abortion episode, or the pro-pot episode. But who remembers episodes like the Emmy-nominated "The Analyst," an episode-length monologue delivered by Bea Arthur to an unseen therapist? Or "Vivian's First Funeral," where Maude is forced to steal jewelry off a corpse (with hilarious consequences)? Stuff like that just doesn't get made anymore.

Bea Arthur's Broadway triumphs include playing Lucy Brown in the seminal 1956 New York production of The Threepenny Opera with Lotte Lenya*; portraying the original Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof in 1964; and starring opposite Angela Lansbury in Mame in 1966. She was also the only saving grace of the Mame film starring Lucille Ball in 1974. She headlined a one-woman Broadway show in 2002.

Her last performance was on a Comedy Central Roast for Pamela Anderson, reading "erotic" passages from Anderson's book in her trademark deadpan style.

Here's Bea with Angela Lansbury singing the bitch-fest "Bosom Buddies" from Mame.

* Also starring future TV luminaries Jerry Stiller, Ed Asner, Charlotte Rae, John Astin and Jerry Orbach!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Music and lyrics Jon and Al Kaplan. SILENCE! Silence of the Lambs: The Musical won the Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Musical at the 2005 NYC Fringe festival. Their next project is a musical film of the 60s cheesefest They Saved Hitler's Brain.

Monday, April 20, 2009

REEFER MADNESS - Have a Brownie!

As today is 4/20, I thought I'd toke up cue up "The Brownie Song" from the hilarious spoof musical Reefer Madness. Enjoy the nutty goodness.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

LITTLE SHOP: Another Remake?

Shock Till You Drop is reporting that director Declan O'Brien has optioned the remake rights to Corman's Little Shop of Horrors. O'Brien promises "I have a take on it you're not going to expect. I'm taking it in a different direction, let's put it that way."

My take? I think it's frustrating to consider another remake of the film while the "original ending" version of the Frank Oz movie still languishes in the vaults, some 23 years after it was consigned there by a bad preview audience.

Still, I look at it this way. O'Brien has optioned the rights to remake the original film, not the musical. There might, indeed, be some value to seeing another take on the material, a take that gets it back to its low-budget shock-comedy roots, with sick humor and buckets of gore. And who knows, it might spur Geffen and/or Warners to pony up the dough it would take to finish the musical right and put it out on BluRay. So, I am cautiously optimistic about this project.