Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bruce Vilanch Weighs In On Hairspray Experience

Bruce Vilanch Weighs In On Hairspray Experience

Somehow, I missed this highly amusing August Variety piece by comedy writer-cum-musical actor Bruce Vilanch reminiscing about his experience as Hairspray's first touring Edna Turnblad. But it's a great read.

His opening riff is quintessential Vilanch:

OK, so it's no secret that John Travolta and I have fought over many of the same parts. After extensive lobbying sessions with Robert Stigwood, I let John have "Saturday Night Fever." I knew there'd be better roles ahead and, after all, if one kid from Jersey won't do another kid from Jersey a favor, who will? Ain't that right, David Chase?

When "Grease" came along, there was Stigwood again, this time with Allan Carr, and I let go of my Vulcan death grip on that role to John. Again.

When John dropped out of "American Gigolo," I was ready to go, but Paramount insisted I lose a hundred pounds by the next week, so in stepped Richard Gere. You know the rest.

While I was certainly delighted seeing Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur, along with the rest of the original cast of Broadway's Hairspray, when I learned that the hilarious, hirsute Vilanch would be touring, I made it a point to see the show again.

I not only caught Vilanch & Co. during the tour's 2004 stop in Minneapolis (Vilanch, of course was required to shave off his trademark beard, tranforming himself into an engaging and entertaining Edna), but I also had the unique privilege of dining with this comic genius -- I had been the highest bidder on a dinner with him during an auction to benefit the Minnesota AIDS Project.

This gracious man is seriously funny and very down to earth. He kept me in stitches throughout the meal -- of course, it didn't hurt that he came to dinner wearing one of his signature T-shirts that had a big rooster on it with the words "My" above said bird and "tastes like chicken" scrawled underneath.

While you can count on his witticisms being used in what seems like virtually every major awards show, look for Vilanch to resurface in the new celebrity-packed court show Jury Duty, next year's documentary "Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon," and a return to acting in "Tru Loved."

I'm just holding out true hope that Vilanch will return to the stage.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
Is It Just Me, Or... (June 14, 2006)

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At 02 October, 2007, Blogger Esther said...

A good meal and a good cause - what a great combination! I listened to a podcast with Bruce Vilanch a couple months ago. You're right, he's a very funny man. In fact, I think the interview was recorded at a restaurant, so I have some idea of what dining with him must have sounded like. So, were you able to get a word in edgewise?

At 03 October, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Oh yes. We had a great conversation, but I played his straight man almost completely.


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