The Garden Theater in Winter Garden, FL
By Matthew Lombardo
Directed by Beth Marshall
Starring Kelly Wells
What’s most fun about movie stars? Their skill on screen? Their expansive lifestyle? Their outfits on Oscar night? No, silly, it’s their addictions and melt downs and general emotional squalor. As Tallulah Bankhead nears the end of her career, she’s in her last film, but her last critical line got lost in the ether. The studio needs her to return to the sound stage and redub that line, even if it’s a stinker of a film destined to get 3 stars on IMDB. Danny (Atwood) has the task of getting those precious ten seconds of dialog down, aided by the long suffering union sound man Steve (Tapia). Tallulah shows up a fashionably 12 hours late, blows a few takes, and consumes enough powders, pills, and cheap Scotch to stun Keith Richards. After we learn Tallulah’s tabloid friendly back story, she pries open Danny’s lies and innermost demons. Here’s a teaser: it ain’t easy being gay on in 1960’s Hollywood. And poor Steve? Well, he’s been the clock all day, so it should be a nice Christmas in his house.
It’s a weirdly entertaining story of dissolution, confusing, and it plays to everything we want to believe about Hollywood: washed up stars clinging to the past, up and comers hoping for a break, and the plight so the unsung backstage technicians that need to keep the star system running. Wells’ drunken southern bell keeps the whole evening balanced on tipsy the tip of her life while Atwood’s Danny masters the slow burn and learns a little about his own situation. I felt sorry for Steve, he had plenty of comic lines but was often out shown by the the star. Steve’s good, he’s just not addicted enough in this story to outshine the stars. The set has a clean, vintage 1960’s look, and we do learn a bit about the innards of the star making and star polishing and star destroying movie industry. It’s an adult show with the alcoholic sophistication of a real 1960’s story, and unfalteringly humorous as we look down from our perch of modern day rehab culture.