5 June 2023

“I kinda look like a 200-year-old pole dancer now! 
I don’t think that’s gonna happen, but thank you anyway.”
Sylvester Stallone’s response when Sherri Shepherd asks if he’ll wear
his tank top and booty shorts in the Cliffhanger sequel.  The first film
came out in 1993.  In 30 years, those shorts have disintegrated…like Sly himself.

Greetings from London.  The second stop on my world trip was packed with theatre, and I’ve identified a serious problem.  Actors in stage shows based on a film inevitably come up short compared to their celluloid counterparts.  Original plays have less baggage.  Nobody knows what the first Juliet was like – except she was probably played by some guy bounding about in a frock.  In Florida, he’d be arrested!


I’m going to start with the stage adaptation of Brokeback Mountain.  Full disclosure – I’m not a fan of the film.  What can I say?  Long, lingering shots of vistas and sheep don’t do it for me.  This play goes back to the original short story by Annie Proulx and clocks in at 90 minutes.  I like my plays like I like my men – in and out.  In a cast that couldn’t be bettered, Lucas Hedges plays Ennis and Mike Faist takes on Jack – certainly two of the most talented, dynamic and attractive actors today.  Ennis is a man of few words, guarded, and unable to be honest…even with himself.  Jack is more boisterous, expressive, and somewhat reckless.  When Faist smiles, he lights up a room.  He’s so charismatic, he virtually eclipses everything around him.  That’s not to say that Hedges doesn’t hold his own.  Given his character’s demeanor, his outbursts allow him to show terrific range without veering into caricature.  Both are accomplished and brave portrayals.  Because I know you’ll ask, there isn’t any real nudity.  You get to see both men’s torsos and bums quite often.  And at one point, Faist is lying on his back nude.  He swings his legs in the air to get out of bed, and you got a glimpse of…well, you get the idea.

The play is presented as a memory piece, with the older Ennis onstage throughout.  Nothing against actor Paul Hickey, but at times it felt like a lecherous older man was watching two hot young guys canoodling.  I found it a bit voyeuristic and icky.  Even with this caveat, I heartily recommend the thoroughly engaging show and look forward to seeing where it goes after London – and who will play the roles.  By the by, it’s staged at @SohoPlace, which is not only a terrific venue, but the first new theatre in the West End in over 50 years!


Then there’s the musical version of Back to the Future, which hits Broadway next month.  Aside from a handful of songs from the movie, it has an original score…and that might have been a mistake.  I’m typically not a fan of jukebox musicals, but I found the songs by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard unmemorable.  While Marty is ostensibly the lead, the show was pretty much stolen by Corey English as Doc Brown, whose outrageously original portrayal was a crowd-pleaser.  The other standout was Oliver Nicholas as George.  Such a winning and unexpectedly delightful performance.  As Marty, Will Haswell is certainly capable – and has terrific thighs.  I don’t know how old he is, but he appears to be in his late-30s.  The role would be better served by someone younger and slighter.  Frankly, I think much of the show’s success hinges on an innovative production with a DeLorean that flies over the audience!


When I saw the US premiere of Joe DiPietro’s gay adaptation of La Ronde at West Hollywood’s Celebration Theatre back in 2009, I remember being impressed by the witty writing.  The Waterloo East Theatre asked DiPietro for an update, and he’s again come up with a winner.  F**king Men is playing to sold-out houses, and is as insightful and sharp as ever.  It’s clever, touching, funny, and provocative.  There remain a few references from the previous version that seem dated (including a discussion about Ecstasy).  But with this talented cast of four, the show’s in good hands with nary a weak link, to say nothing of the slick production.  It’s allegedly closing on June 18th, so grab your tickets quickly…if you can.

I finally saw The Mousetrap after 70 long years (obviously the play’s, not mine).  The Agatha Christie thriller is a bit less thrilling than I anticipated, but it is presented lovingly.  The cast was marvelous, if not more contemporary than Christie might have envisioned.  I solved the mystery straight away, but must confess a few of the twists took me by surprise.  Not surprising is that it’s still selling out, even after seven decades!


I looked forward to 2:22 A Ghost Story, which I’d heard good things about.  A young couple buys and is modernizing an old house.  Is it haunted?  They spend the night with another couple trying to solve the mystery.  The ending really surprised me, so that’s a good thing.  It’s provocative enough to make you replay everything that transpired.  In fact, I might go back to unravel it some more.  Another solid cast.  The most recent addition is Sophia Bush – from One Tree Hill, but better known to my readers as a one-time Mrs. Chad Michael Murray.  While not a natural theatrical animal, she turns in a very capable portrayal that will only get better with time.

I also saw a new musical called Oubliette – which is French for a pit that prisoners are thrown in with no way out…except straight up.  Think of Silence of the Lambs (“Put the lotion in the basket”).  My impression of the show is surely colored by the fact that the venue (The Other Palace) was FREEZING!  Frankly, I couldn’t wait to leave – I was virtually hypothermic!  The story concerns a peasant boy who is thrown in an oubliette along with some other prisoners and is trying not to go mad.  But is it too late?  This show has an ending that kinda came out of nowhere and somewhat perplexed me.  Not sure what I thought because I couldn’t wait to leave, but the performances were good and the imaginative use of the theatrical tundra was impressive.


Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Sunset Boulevard will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a revival in London’s West End.  And it will be helmed by…Nicole Scherzinger.  There’s no doubt she can sing it.  But can she act it?  If people thought the Juilliard-trained Patti LuPone was too young at 44, I doubt that Nicole can pull it off at the exact same age!  Then again, she was in that Cats film – and we all know how that turned out.


When does “never” not mean “never”?  When it’s Kim Cattrall returning to the role of Samantha (from Sex and the City).  “Me playing her?  That I can definitely assure you will never happen…for me, it’s over,” she told Piers Morgan in 2017.  And yet…she’s back.  And not just sending text messages from England.  On March 22nd, Cattrall showed up in NYC to film a scene in a car which was simply a phone call – without any interaction with the And Just Like That… co-stars.  We hear HBO head honcho Casey Bloys orchestrated the détente – which was news to both Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King.  Aside from the hefty paycheck, Cattrall had one request – to be dressed by legendary costume designer Patricia Field, who also opted out of the SATC sequel.  Sometimes you can go home again – but don’t expect your family to still be living there!


When we’ll never say never again, it’s time to end another column.  I’m currently in an undisclosed Eastern European country.  You know the type – where you wake up with 3 guys named Lukas!  Perhaps more details will pop up on – the site where things pop up quite regularly.  If you have a question worthy of the Eastern Bloc, send it along to and I promise to get back to you before a dinner theatre announces a production of Brokeback Mountain starring Scott Baio and Willie Aames!  Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

email.gif (981 bytes)Email to Billy?

Billy Masters
Copyright ©2023
2 Go Communications. All rights reserved
Revised: Jun 4, 2023 @ 1:38 pm

error: Copying content from is prohibited