Theater Talk: Crossdressing actors go for the big laughs

Jul 31, 2015

Crossdressing newbies Jordan Louis Fisher as Viola and Tim Newell as Olivia in Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT and BUA experienced drag actors Christopher Standart and Jimmy Janowski (who, by the way, has great legs) as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in BETTE AND JOAN: THE FINAL CURTAIN spice up new productions and keep summer audiences engaged.

TWELFTH NIGHT, a comedy by Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park is very well directed by Steve Vaughan and features an all-male cast as it would have in Shakespeare’s day. Standout performances are the two "female" leads Jordan Louis Fisher as “Viola” and Tim Newell as “Olivia.” The Elizabethan dialog is clear and seems quite natural and the mistaken identity at the end of the play is wonderfully handled. It runs through Aug 16, Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. at Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park. 

Christopher Standart (L) and Jimmy Janowski (R) not in drag as they rehearse "Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain" at the Alleyway.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Not to be outdone by Shakespearean actors in drag, BETTE AND JOAN: THE FINAL CURTAIN is high camp and stars Christopher Standart as “Bette Davis” (it's 1989 and she's on her deathbed) and Jimmy Janowski as “Joan Crawford” - sent from hell by gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons - (also played by Standart and Janowski) running through August 16, Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. at Alleyway’s Main Street Cabaret, 672 Main Street in Buffalo.

INTIMATE APPAREL, a play by Lynn Nottage, presented by Chautauqua Theater Company, directed by Vivienne Benesch, runs only through August 2. A young woman finds a few pieces of clothing owned by her great-grandmother and imagines her life as a seamstress in the early 1900s. It's up at the Bratton Theater at the Chautauqua Institution.

Tony Kushner’s big play about a big family - THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES - is now running at The Shaw Festival’s Studio Theatre. Gus, an aging longshoreman/union organizer, deals with his three adult children who have come back home to tell dad how to live his life. They are the LAST people on earth to be telling anyone, especially dear old dad, how to behave. The unusually long 14 word title, by the way, combine's Bernard Shaw's "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism" and founder of Christian Science Mary Baker Eddie's "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."

Eugene Ionesco’s RHINOCEROS, presented by Subversive Theatre (it’s a play about social conformity)  runs through August 15, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. at The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Avenue (on the third floor).