Off-Broadway’s “A Clockwork Orange” Is The New Crack

Also: About That "My Fair Lady" Revival

There are bristling-bodied men in muscle T’s—which eventually come off—in the homoerotic off-Broadway production of A Clockwork Orange, but it’s not meant to be pretty. Based on Anthony Burgess’s 1962 book, it’s the story—set in “England. Now”—of a young “Droog” who’s a barbaric rapist/murderer and who’s brainwashed in prison, then tossed out, to find that he’s allergic to both violence and culture. Alexandra Spencer-Jones’s stage production—straight from London—is visceral, energetic, and well choreographed, and the same-sex tauntings and teasings continue throughout, making this way gayer than the brilliant 1971 Stanley Kubrick film version. (This time around, same-sex pairings figure not only in malevolent seduction, but in gay bashing too.)

Eight male actors play 42 roles, and then there’s Jonno Davies as the menacing Alex deLarge, who speaks in a half-Russian/half-English jargon that probably sounds cuter than deLarge intends it to be. Songs by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Beth Ditto form the backdrop of this 90-minute rethinking, which I found a little one-note and wearisome, while still admiring its tenacity.

With a Little Bit of Luck

There’s been lots of buzz about the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady, coming in March. Lauren Ambrose has been rumored (but not confirmed) to play Eliza Doolittle, and when Colin Firth didn’t sign on as Professor Henry Higgins, tongues started clucking overtime as to who they would nab. Well, one movie star is telling people it’ll be Robert Downey, Jr. in the role. It’s a long way from playing Iron Man, but Downey, Jr.—who’s done theater, but never Broadway—would probably be terrific in the part, and he would certainly sell shitloads of tickets. Then again, Downey, Jr. is doing a Dr. Dolittle movie. Could the movie star be confusing that with this revival about the Doolittles? Just in case, I’d recommend doing little about this rumor. Just passing it along.

Another rumor wafting around is that Stephanie J. Block might be Cher in The Cher Show, the aiming-for-Broadway musical based on the diva’s life and career. Well, this is possible, considering that Block is a two-time Tony nominee (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Falsettos) who’s also known for musicals like Wicked (Elphaba replacement) and 9 To 5.

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Also, since the Donna Summer musical just announced three Donnas, maybe the Cher show could have a dozen of them and Block can play her in her forties. (Update: They just announced that there will be three Chers. Well, that works too.) Also, considering that Block played Liza Minnelli in The Boy from Oz, perhaps she’s become the go-to person for gay icons. But wait, adding to the intrigue, the fabulous Lena Hall—who won a Tony for playing Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch—was one of the actors who did a reading of The Cher Show. Could she play Chaz?

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And the beat goes on for Tym Moss, whose Tym Moss (A)live!!: Fun! Fabulous! Flamboyant!!! turns out to be one of the best cabaret shows in town. The Don’t Tell Mama show—directed by Lennie Watts with musical direction by Andrew Sotomayor—has Moss telling his story with hilarity, harrowing poignance, and, finally, inspiration.

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Growing up gay in the Midwest, where that sort of thing wasn’t appreciated, Tym dotted his room with teen idol posters of the male variety, and when he noticed that a friend had a poster of Farrah Fawcett, he thought, “Oh, my God! I have got to have that…hair!” Jump ahead to New York, where show biz dreams were put aside as Tym ended up owning a nightmarish real estate agency, living with a straight guy who’d spent five years in prison (“Well, he’d worked out all that time, so it couldn’t be all bad”), and becoming hopelessly addicted to a certain happy white powder. The happy powder led to much unhappiness, but Tym faced the man in the coke mirror and came out with a prideful determination to make the second half of his life gay heaven. Mixing diva ballads with heart tugging songs of introspection (“Creep,” “Hurt”), Tym bravely goes to deep, dark places and proves to be a smashing success in the process. You’ll leave the show singing—and saying—“He touched me.”

Michael Musto is the long running, award-winning entertainment journalist and TV commentator.