Review – The Ritz, Studio 54

Thursday 15 November 2007

So the Whingers had been walking off their tired feet up and down Broadway for five days and so it was definitely bath time.

Gay bath-house time, in fact, as they took a trip to the legendary Studio 54 to see the revival of Terrence McNally’s 1975 farce The Ritz.

It’s a load of old nonsense really about a Cleveland garbageman Gaetano Proclo (Kevin Chamberlin, very good) on the run from his mob brother-in-law who wants him dead. Telling a taxi driver to take him to the place he’s least likely to be found, he ends up in The Ritz – a gay bathhouse. The publicity claims that “hilarity and chaos ensue, as Gaetano and his outrageous new friends hatch a plan to save his life.”

Understandably this involves a lot of people running in and out of doors in towels and these include former “adult” movie” star Ryan Idol (left, in 1990 and right, as he is today).

As farce goes, it’s little more than OK, but what makes The Ritz entertaining is the presence of the talentless, heavily accented Puerto Rican entertainer Googie Gomez (Rosie Perez), or more specifically her floor show in which she mangles such classic show tunes as “Tomorrow” (“Manana”), “I Could Have Danced All Night”, “People” (“Peoples. Peoples who need peoples…”), “Maybe This Time” and “Some People”. Think Margarita Pracatan on acid and you’ll get the idea.
Perez (left) is very funny and pulls it off excellently but unfortunately the Whingers couldn’t make out much of what she said during her non-singing scenes and quite literally (for once) lost the plot on more than one occasion.

Other aids to non-comprehension included a thudding disco noise in the background and the rumble of the subway train (but to be fair we couldn’t hear the rattle of the taxis).

Other positives include a stunning set by Scott Pask (surely no farce has ever been staged with more doors in it) and some superb seventies costumes and wigs .

The Whingers were also delighted to find the cast included Patrick Kerr who plays Noel in one of their TV faves Frasier.  Kerr plays the chubby chaser and very effectively too.

Terrence McNally collaborated with Kander and Ebb on The Rink and Kiss of the Spiderwoman and The Ritz feels far more at ease with itself during the musical bits.

But there was enough going on and it was short enough (2 hours) to keep the Whingers entertained.

But clearly too many naked bottoms and towel waving for one elderly pink-rinsed matron who left the show after about 15 minutes, presumably she had no idea what she was coming to see. Or perhaps she left her husband behind in the theatre, who knew exactly what the whole thing was about.

Here’s Rita Moreno as Googie Gomez murdering “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” in the 1976 film version:


One Response to “Review – The Ritz, Studio 54”

  1. Well Whingers, You’re better men than me. I agree that Perez and Chamberlin were good, but just could not get into this show.

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