Story By: G. H. HARDING
Joyce DeWitt And Micky Dolenz Opening

HARD COMEDY WITH DOLENZ --- There’s a time honored tradition in theater-speak of trying the show out on the road; mostly trying it outside of New York, where one dreadful review, from one dreadful critic, could close it on opening night. Theaters like the Goodspeed in Connecticut and the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, are two such examples, where new plays get a proper jump start and some even make the leap to Broadway.

Friday, I journeyed to Ivoryton, Connecticut, to see the premiere of a new play, Comedy Is Hard, starring Monkee-Micky Dolenz with Joyce DeWitt (Three’s Company) and we just adored it. Penned by Simpsons-writer Mike Reiss, the two-act play is chock full of current facts and references and, spot-on funny, poignant and bittersweet.

Dolenz (Lou) and Dewitt (Kay) play two inhabitants of an assisted living facility for show business people. The director of play, Jacqueline Hubbard (who does a standout job) says it’s about "about life, love, show business, and the importance of growing old disgracefully."

Dolenz, who’s been in show business for almost his entire life (his bio in the playbill references some pre-natal work coming out soon!) is scintillating good; and, to me, instantly drawing a parallel to Billy Crystal’s character in 1992’s Mr. Saturday Night.

His comic timing is infectious and perfect, and to me, he totally pulled it off. It’s funny, as I watched him intently; some of his affectations reminding me his antics of when he was on the Monkees-TV show.

Dolenz’s forays into theater have been uniformly excellent and chosen with great care (I’m thinking about his run in Disney’s Aida on Broadway back in 2004) and his fans, who were out there in force Friday, loved it. It’s a totally different role for him, but he acquits himself handsomely.

Dolenz said to Connecticut's The Day daily: "I receive a lot of scripts ... You can usually tell by about 10 pages in whether you want to do it at all," he says, "10 pages in, I was crying with laughter. The humor just struck a chord. I've always loved that kind of Catskills (humor). I wasn't around for the 30's and 40's, obviously" - he laughs - "But, even by the 50's and my early exposure to comedy, I was a big Red Skelton fan and then Art Carney ... that kind of old-school comedy."

In fact, he and Dewitt, who more than adequately pulls off her role of Kay, make for a formidable pair.

One dream sequence (or, at least that’s how I took it), with Dolenz looking sharp in a tux and DeWitt in a fabulous gown is rendered with an emotional punch that for me, was the real highlight of the show. It's how they remember it to be. Very moving.

Reiss, who I was honored to meet that night, is a four-time Emmy winner and Peabody Award winner for his 25-years writing for The Simpsons is the real deal. His other credits include It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Alf, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His perceptive and hilarious script is a total home run.

In a curtain call speech, Reiss said he was “sitting in the audience wishing I had written that.” Reiss is one of these guys that everything he says is funny. I've become a total fan.

There’s no question that this play deserves to be imported to Broadway; Broadway would well benefit from its appearance there. Spot on brilliant. Bravo!

HENLEY NICKS SPAWN --- Stevie Nicks has confirmed that she was once pregnant with Don Henley’s love-child.

In an interview with Billboard, Rob Tannenbaum asked Nicks if it were true that Henley once got her pregnant and that they played on naming the baby Sara, later the subject of one of Nicks’ biggest hits.

“Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara,” Nicks said. “But there was another woman in my life named Sara, who shortly after that became Mick’s wife, Sara Fleetwood”.

When questioned further to confirm the accuracy of the statement, Nicks replied “Right. It’s accurate, but not the entirety of it”.

Tannenbaum also asked Nicks why she has not written her memoir. “Because I wouldn't be able to tell the whole truth. The world is not ready for my memoir, I guarantee you. All of the men I hung out with are on their third wives by now, and the wives are all under 30. If I were to write what really happened between 1972 and now, a lot of people would be very angry with me,” she answered.

She did say however that she will write it when everyone is too old to care. “I won't write a book until everybody is so old that they no longer care. Like, “I’m 90, I don’t care what you write about me.”

Stevie Nicks releases her new album 24 Karat Gold on October 7.

CLOSING NOTES --- At Ivoryton Friday, we ran into none other than Jerry Adler (Hesh from HBO’s beloved The Sopranos) at the performance and caught up with him. He loved the show and he and Mr. Dolenz spent some quality moments together. Nice show biz moment …

Tomorrow night is the final curtain call for The Palm in Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd. It’s been there since 1974 and served almost every notable in the town. I've had more than my share of awesome night there, but it can't be topped by the one in 1988 when I walked in and seated at the front table (always a power one for sure) was Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon and their wives. Chilling. According to my sources, they are not relocating with their famed walls of caricatures. In the coming weeks, however, the caricatures will be available for retrieval by their real-life counterparts. I can't for the life of me figure out why they wouldn't take them, as that’s the real history of the spot (in addition to the wondrous food). Believe me, they served everyone!

Some notables from the wall include: Bob Newhart (“I always thought it was Tim Conway … so this is news to me”); James Caan (“I have been eating this prime meat since I was a baby. My dad was a butcher in New York, and one of his first customers was the original Palm, so this is great news”); Barbara Eden (“I still have the pink long-sleeved nightshirt they sold with the Palm logo. I'm not sure where I'll out my picture”) ...

Great times, so sad to see it go, but plans are to relocate soon to Beverly Hills ...

Fleetwood Mac, re-united with Christine McVie, begins a world tour this week. Now, this is a show to see.


Anonymous said…
I'd love to see Micky & Joyce bring this play to Chicago. ☺