Illegally Blonde, (She Was Once A Dirty Blonde)

by "Buzzin" Lee Hartgrave on April 30, 2004

“Is that a Flashlight in your pants – or are you just glad to see me?” – Mae West.

She was big in the 20,s, 30,s and even the forties. Some swore that she was really a man in drag. I doubt that story, but like Marilyn Monroe – she remains one of the most talked about stars of all time. The great thing about Mae West, who started out with brown hair in showbiz and became a platinum blonde is that even if you are young and never heard of her – you will still get a kick out of this play as performed at the New Conservatory Theater. West wrote her own lines for the movies and the stage. All were double entendre like “Is that a flashlight in your pants – or are you just glad to see me?”

That line is not in the play, but there are many others that are just delightful. On the stage there are huge swags of gold drapes and a stage within the stage – where Stephanie Temple performs her act and where she also appears as Mae West. Temple is just perfect in this roll. Compared to the dreary set at Theatre On The Square – this set looks like they spent a million bucks on it instead of $3.99 at The Square. And while we are comparing. I hated the production at The Square. The acting was god-awful, the sets were consisted of a couple of boxes and the sound was non-existent. Oh, by the way – the singing sucked too. And the tix were $65 bucks. Bad deal, I would say.

What a difference a couple of years make. This is a refreshing revival of what Claudia Shear, the author must have envisioned. The actors are a thousand notches above the touring show at the Square. Yes, this is a show about Mae West and her quirky like and wit – but it is also about a couple of lonely people who find each other with their mutual love of West. Robert Cooper plays a robust guy – who not only is fascinated with Mae West – but even wears a dress that the star gave him when he was 17 years old. She even told him to dress as her and sent him down to the garden to wave at fans from afar as the tour bus went by. He, of course remained a cross dresser. And he didn’t make a bad looking Mae West.

Cameron Weston who plays several different characters is also a terrific actor. I tell you – these three actors made me feel like I was watching a cast of thousands. The brilliant portrayals by them make this the season’s best laugh out loud comedy. It’s also a romantic comedy like no other with hilarious Gender bending. Also remarkable are Amanda Melton, Lighting Design, Bree Hylkema, Sound Design, Steve Romanko, Piano Recordings, Dean Starnes and Musical Supervision, Tom Show. Oh, and by the way – blondes do have more fun! RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! A recipient of The Lee Hartgave Fame Award for best Revival.

FA-LASH: A New musical about John Lennon will be part of the up-coming best of Broadway series. And the crowd-pleaser London hit – The Jerry Springer Opera will be the Orpheum Theater in February. If you love Trailer Trash and reality shows – then you will find this Opera something to sing about.



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