Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’

An Interesting Take on Joan Crawford in “Gorgeous Hussy: Interview with Joan Crawford”

An Interesting Take on Joan Crawford in “Gorgeous Hussy: Interview with Joan Crawford”

Morgan Ludlow’s “Gorgeous Hussy: An Interview with Joan Crawford” is currently having its world premiere at the Exit Theatre through August 16th.  Frankly this was a hard play to review since I was a personal friend of Joan Crawford for many years when working in Hollywood plus working on as an assistant cameraman on “What Happen to Baby Jane”.  Over the years I have seen many drag artists play Joan in a camp but never a legitimist actress in a drama.

Morgan Ludlow most certainly has presented an excellent study of the legendary film actress and has does some thought-provoking takes on Joan Crawford even having the male actor performing in drag in the second act. However the two hour production still seems to be a play in progress.  The drama needs to be tweak at least 15 minutes in the first act since it just a lengthy history of Crawford’s early work told by the actress playing the movie star.

The playwright dwells too much on Joan’s early career at MGM in the 30’s and very little on her work at my studio Warner Brothers.  He basically skims over “What Happen to Baby Jane” and other Warner Brothers films “Flamingo Road”. However in the second act the playwright gets to the guts of the drama and the words shine especially when both the actress and the drag tells of the  star romance with Clark Gable and her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Franchot Tone. This I found fascinating and I had wish to hear more about her romances.

 

The scene opens up in a Beverly Hotel  suite with Joan Crawford (Susan Jackson)coming back to life for some lively conversation and to drink her favorite booze Vodka (there was no Pepsi-Cola bottle in sight in the set). An ambitious young journalist Roy (Ryan Hayes) sneaks in the suite to get an interview. He has read a biography of the famed movie star and believes a lot of the star’s life was not brought out. Roy wants to get deep into Crawford’s life to see just makes her tick.

The aging movie star has something else in mind and in a strange twist of vodka and make up, the tables are turned and the interviewer becomes Joan Crawford while the real Joan asks the really hard questions as they struggles to understand the truth behind her career and life.  Does it work, Yes it does and it makes an absorbing night of theatre.

Susan Jackson gives a remarkable performance especially in the second act when she becomes the interviewer.  She does not elude the persona of Joan Crawford especially in the first act.  However she does have the Crawford laugh as I remember it.

Ryan Hayes gives a splendid performance as the interviewer and Joan in drag in the second act.  He morphs into the legendary screen actress and gives an impressive performance. His discussion of the romance with Clark Gable is noteworthy as is Susan Jackson also talking about the romance.  This is one of the highlights of the drama.

The band box theatre has some excellent slide projections thanks to Wes Cayabyab of Joan Crawford from her early days in silent and sound films at MGM to a more glamourize Joan in her Warner Brothers film.  I did feel that was something missing about this fabulous movie star maybe become there was just too much true information that the playwright ostensibly felt complete to work in. I would rather have seen more the second act when there was a true Joan Crawford coming from Ryan Hayes in drag.

“Gorgeous Hussy: An Interview with Joan Crawford” plays August 15 and 16th at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy Street, San Francisco.  For tickets go to www.wilywestproductions.com

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