Last night, the New York smash Celebrity Autobiography found its way to the suburbs. More importantly it brought its all-star rotating cast to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, NJPAC, in Newark. Comedians extraordinaire, Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live), Mario Cantone (Sex and the City, The View), Scott Adsit (30 Rock), Academy Award nominee Carol Kane (Taxi, Hester Street) and Annie Golden (the 1979 Hair movie), along with comedy writer and local resident Alan Zweibel (SNL and Curb Your Enthusiasm) and the show’s creator Eugene Pack took to the stage to read unintentionally funny passages from Celebrity Autobiographies. The show which plays Mondays, once a month at the Triad in Manhattan with a rotating cast of celebrities and celebrity autobiographies is now taking its act on the road and NJPAC is one of its first stops.
At the NJPAC’s Victoria Theatre, New Jersey audiences were treated to dramatic readings from what ranged to the scintillating to the salacious. From the contradictory to the ego bolstering. From the Jonas Brothers to the Brangelina and Jennifer Aniston of the 1950s, Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher-Elizabeth Taylor. These readings including more than one celebrity participating in the proceedings, doing complete characterizations, or dramatic reenactments. Scott Adsit, reading from what should have been a Pulitzer Prize finalist of a memoir, Don’t Hassel the Hoff, gave us a glimpse into what it was like to be back stage on Broadway with David Hasselhoff during his run as Jekyll and Hyde (he had to have the stage manager prompt him as to which role he was playing at the start of every scene). Additionally, a la Debbie and Eddie and Elizabeth, Annie Golden, Scott Adsit and Rachel Dratch allowed us to be a fly on the wall during the courtship and the eventual breakup of Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson’s passionate romance, through the memoirs’ of Reynolds, Anderson and Reynolds’ secretary. What is more, we get to know the Jonas Brothers’ aspirations through their own tome, like for instance, eldest brother Kevin, born November 5th 1987, would be an astronaut if he weren’t a musician and Frankie, the youngest Jonas, who isn’t in the band, is known internationally as “the bonus Jonas!” A line which Dratch deliciously delivers repeatedly in her unique style.
Last and definitely not least, no evening with Mario Cantone would be complete without his impression of Liza Minelli. However, in this context it was from Geraldo Rivera’s point of view and the longing passion they shared for one another from a far. He felt that she was a wounded bird who needed protecting. She pronounced at a party, out of the blue, “I love you Geraldo” with a hard “G” and then promptly walked away and left. A perfect example of unrequited, unconsummated love, handled by the deft comedic master that is Mario Cantone.
The proscenium arch of the NJPAC’s Victoria Theatre proved to be the perfect venue for Celebrity Autobiography, despite its usually playing at a New York cabaret type space. Moreover, with book in hand, once the actors took to the microphone stand, they became the people whose autobiographies they were reading. Whether it was Carol Kane rolling her Rs when referring to herself in the third person as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Alan Zweibel unexpectedly eliciting belly laughs as rocker Tommy Lee or Annie Golden reading from the unintentionally, not profound and yet very telling poems of Suzanne Sommers (she should stick to selling bio identical hormones), the evening was full of wonderful surprises and a good time was had by all.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Check out Celebrity Autobiography in New York at the Triad Theatre
Their next show is Monday 22 November, 2010 at 7:30 and 9:30 pm
The cast includes: Scott Adsit, Tovah Feldshuh, Michael Ian Black, Mario Cantone, Rachel Dratch, Alan Zweibel