2boys.TV – Crazy, Fiery, Sexy!; The Train Ride from Hell and Chicago

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on August 22, 2008

2Boys SMOULDERS: WHAT IS IT? Was it a starlet dreaming that she had just become a mega star? Or an Opera Diva, who really made it into the big time? Whatever, the image doesn’t stay put on this stage. It’s like liquid gold that shimmers and fades just like the stars that 2Boys bring back to life.

This show is for you. You people out there in the dark – as Norma Desmond would say. You will recognize Katherine Hepburn’s strange shaky voice, and Elizabeth Taylor’s voice from “Suddenly Last Summer” as she is being swept into madness.

You may not see them all on a screen, but you will be thrilled will the images of these stars lip synched by Stephen Lawson, who is the only performer on the stage except for visions of a naked Wolf Man (Aaron Pollard) who floats in and around the ethereal and ghostly gowns worn by Lawson. It’s a guessing game also, as you try to figure out whose voice you are hearing. Is it Anne Baxter, Miriam Hopkins or maybe Gena Rowlands? Even if you can’t place the voices, the drama of this haunting stage presentation will stay with you for a long time.

The “Two” Boys have put together a multimedia extravaganza that encompasses Drag, Lip Synching and high tech video effects. The use of clever lighting increases the dramatic theatrical effects.

Performing around the world, “Two Boys” have generated a huge enthusiastic following. Although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea – the show is like listening to a favorite album with all your favorite stars from a time when stars were really stars.

2boys.TV might be a bit misleading. Yes, there are Television effects, and the initials TV might also make you think that it is a transvestite show. It is and it isn’t all of the above. But, this is not just a drag show, it is a beautifully rendered evening of drama, Divas and the idea that love is all you need, no matter how elusive. The naked beast adds a quirky kind of sexuality to it. I think it means that everyone longs to be ravished by a naked beast. It’s a fantasy of course, but humans always seem to have those primitive urges.

If you are a fan of the “Mystery” series on PBS the first thing that you see is the cartoon drawing of a graveyard. That is the work of Edward St. John Gorey who was a writer and artist noted for his wry, macabre illustrated books. He also was noted for his designs for the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula. The reason I bring this up is that ‘2boys.tv’ reminds of the ominous, dark Victorian and Edwardian settings. Also in that same vein of performances you could throw in Theatre de la Jeune and the ‘Looking Glass Theatre Company’ in Chicago. It’s all Theater of the Absurd – and all wonderful mind-blowing fantasy.

Step out of the box this weekend and catch this show. See ‘2boys.tv’ at the New Conservatory Theatre. It’s a strange and ruthless world – You’ll be surprised!

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

Downtown Chicago.


On a recent trip to Chicago, I took the train. Since I don’t fly, ever – I had no choice. Well, let me tell you, it was the train ride from Hell coming and going. Here’s what you can plan on.

Rude dining room help who are not just rude – but they have this entitlement air about them. “Wait, I’ll ask for your order when I’m ready. Or, don’t touch that – let the Lady do it.” I didn’t see any lady.

But the worst is the ride. When I ordered a ticket, I asked for a roomette roundtrip to Chicago. At the Ferry building where I purchased the ticket, I was told that there were no roomettes on the date that I wanted. So, I said O.K. I’ll move the date back two days. Then, he said: “I only have a roomette going. To come back to SF on the date that you want you will have to take a ‘Bedroom’.” I said O.K. Then he said… “The round trip will cost $2,527.00.” And that was with my AAA discount. I said – “Are you sure you didn’t book me on The Queen Mary to England?” AMTRAK clerks have no humor – he didn’t even smile. I agreed to the outrageous charge, while wondering how they can always complain that they are going broke.

Plus the fact that the train doesn’t even leave from San Francisco – it leaves from the Ferry Building where you have to take an Amtrak bus to Emeryville. Not exactly a glamorous way to leave the City, is it? And, oh yes – Gavin Newsom (Glamour Boy) closed off the Embarcadero on the day I was leaving for some dumb ass race. The Bus, I found out by accident was two blocks away from the Ferry Building. Was it posted anywhere? No! If the Cab driver had not noticed it – I would still be looking for it. The Bus driver was a clod. He tossed my brand new leather suitcase in the storage underneath the bus. Of course, you know what happened to it. Yep, it had scratches all over it.

But wait – there are more joyful moments to come.

The sleeping cars are ancient. Everything shakes rattle and rolls. At first it’s a novelty, until they put the chairs together to make it a bed. Lets just say that it could be what the beds at Alcatraz are like. Very little padding, made worse by Train Tracks that were like the potholes in San Francisco. Was this a prison train? – I wondered. Sure, the views are pretty awesome during the daylight hours. It’s the nighttime that is not that thrilling. I would say that it was more like “Chilling”. The air was blasted into the room and no one knew how to turn it down. I learned a trick however for the trip back. I bought some Duct tape and taped over the air vents. Naturally, I passed that around the Train to help my fellow sufferers. They praised me for my smart idea. So, you see, the Bush Administration was right after all. Duct tape will not only save you from Anthrax, but everything.

Plot twists to come: Usually the Train runs on snail speed. But, on the way back – because we were over two hours late, at 2 am the train all of a sudden was going close to or over One Hundred. It woke me up because the train was really bumping around on the tracks. Things were flying around my room. I believe that it was reckless and dangerous – knowing the condition of the tracks. I’m surprised that we didn’t derail along the Salt Lake desert. You know the area. It’s the one that looks like a moonscape. Many people swear that it is the area where the real moon landing took place.

The car attendant (Jesus) on the trip back was much better than the one I had going down. He was friendly, helpful. Especially when I lost my teeth bridge. It was my fault. I put the clip on bridge in a coffee cup so they would not fall on the floor of the train. So, what do I do? I threw the cup out with the teeth in it. Jesus, the attendant helped me look through the garbage, but no luck. That’ll cost me another Hundred bucks or more. But I have to thank Jesus — Amtrak is lucky to have him.

I’m afraid that Amtrak is hopeless. However, I have some suggestions that would help them. 1) Put in a wi-fi car. That would attract many business people and young technocrats that like to bring their gadgets with them. 2) If people want to dine alone, let them. They will be glad to pay a little more for the privilege. Quit announcing that this is a community dining car. I’m sorry, but I just paid 2,575 bucks. I don’t do community dining for that price. 3) Fix the damn cooling system. 4) Reinstall a Club car with a BAR where people can smooze. 5) Put in another set of tracks so that you might have a chance of being on time.

I know that you announce a hundred times how the freight lines have the right-of-way. Excuse me. When the Feds gave the right of way to the Train companies – it stipulated in the agreement that it was given for the good of the people — it does not mention Freight trains that are seven miles long. Those tracks basically do not belong to the Freight Companies — they belong to the people. Now, if Congress and the other political Wackos in Washington really cared about the environment – they would do something about beefing up Train passage. Any of the Prez candidates mention this? I didn’t think so. Oh by the way, we were scheduled to return to San Francisco (Emeryville) by 6 pm. It was 9:30 pm. And try to get a cab at the Embarcadero at that time. San Francisco might as well go back to Stage Coaches. At least they were on time.

NOW THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THE TRIP. The scenery along the route, as I mentioned was awesome. Chicago was clean, with gorgeous High Rise buildings. They apparently plan the building to compliment the building next to it. Every street corner has colorful flowers. No one sleeps in them and you don’t see a cigarette butt or a piece of paper on the street. The sidewalks are not dirty – and you feel safe walking around town. Also they must have a planning Department that knows something about planning. They don’t tear down significant historic buildings to put up an ugly piece of junk like the New SF Federal Building. No sir, you don’t see anything like that in Chicago. Don’t get me wrong – I love SF – I just wish that they would quit taking money from developers to put up ugly stuff, especially in the Civic Center Area, a place that should be a model for the City. You won’t believe the uglies that are about to be built in the area. Some have already started.

While in Chicago – a Cousin (who I had never met in person before) met me in The Loop, under the Marshall Field Clock. Everyone in Chicago meets under the famous Clock. We shopped around and we were getting pretty loaded with stuff. Cousin Jeannine suggested that we go back to Marshall Fields and leave most of the stuff with the Concierge. Classy huh? They took our bags full of stuff and gave us a ticket. No charge. Marshall Fields looks a little tired since Macy’s took it over – but it still has a high-end image. We walked around looking for old-landmarks and found the Schubert Theatre, which is now called “The Bank Of America Theatre.” Tacky, Tacky. The Theatre still looks great, but that name has to go. The Jersey Boys were in residence. Jeannine took pictures of me in front of the Theatre. Then we went to a swank Italian Restaurant (Massiono’s) for lunch. It was really a treat. The weather was good with very low humidity in the mid 70’s. Hardly recognized anything – but enjoyed seeing it again and retracing my footsteps around town. I wanted to sing “Memories” but refrained.

My stay at the Springhill suites (Marriott) was very pleasant. My room overlooked Court House Place and several new towers. Court House Place was the original Court House Building where ‘The Monkey Trials” took place. It has been restored to its former glory and now houses legal offices. It’s fabulous. One of the nicest things about the Springhill Suites is that they offer a complete free breakfast (all you can eat) every morning from 6am till 10am. You can have Eggs, sausage, Granola, muffins, English muffins, Orange Juice and Coffee or Tea and various cereals. Also Coffee and Tea is available in the lobby 24 hours a day. Around the area at Dearborn north and Hubbard are many trendy nightclubs and great restaurants.

The room is a suite with Living room area, bedroom, great bathroom and a kitchen. Smartly furnished in modern and they have free WI-FI connection. If you didn’t bring your computer there are several in the lobby for your use free.

Rates of course will vary with the seasons. It was very comfortable sleeping there after the horror of the Train ride. Oh, by the way – I left my favorite hat in a Cab on the way to the hotel. The only other eventful thing after that was that they have a closet in the room that has a mirrored front. It looks like a door to another room. Twice when I went that way I forgot that there was a mirror there. I saw myself and jumped back. I thought it was another person. See what train travel can do to you! But, at least it’s on the ground.

Original Broadway Ensemble Cast of Spring Awakening. Photo Doug Hamilton.


LOOK OUT! “Spring Awakening” is coming to the Curran Theatre.

This will send you into a spin. In the second act there is a big showstopper called “Totally F%&*ed. The show was the 2007 Tony Winner for Best Musical. The musical play is erotic and just full of energy. See you at the opening.

ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER “Rock and Roll” will roll into A.C.T’s Geary Theatre in September. Tom Stoppard’s R&R follows the politics of a Marxist professor in Cambridge and his Rolling Stones-obsessed protégé that fights for freedom in Soviet-dominated Prague. Timely, wouldn’t you say?

And at Theatre Works in Palo Alto, they are bringing in the highly praised Broadway show “Grey Gardens”. We’re attracting hits like fly paper. This is going to be a great Theater season.

IN A FEW WORDS – ‘MORE STORIES BY TOBIAS WOLFF’ opens at the Magic Theater, Southside on Sept. 12. In 2002 the Word for Word production of Wolff’s stories, was a run-a-way smash hit. And Wolff is back for “Words” fifteenth Anniversary season. Witty and complex is the way many describe Wolff’s work. Yep! It’s a stellar season.


The Photo of Lee Hartgrave Boy Reporter is by Jim Ferreira – Film Noir & Hollywood Glamour. www.lafterhall.com.

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Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave is a longtime theater critic in the San Francisco Bay Area. His reviews appear each Friday in Beyond Chron.

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