Monday, March 29, 2010

DELICIOUS congratulations to Ricky Martin!


Ricky Martin is no longer denying the rumors: He's gay. In a statement posted via Twitter in both Spanish and English, and later confirmed with his representative, Martin said: "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."
For many, Monday's announcement will come as no surprise; the "Livin' La Vida Loca" singer's sexuality has been speculated about for years. But the Puerto Rican star, who got his start as a child in the teen group Menudo, never directly addressed it and was usually seen at events with beautiful women on his arm.
Martin, 38, said he decided to reveal the truth after working on his memoirs helped him realize that he had to be free with himself, and not keep any more secrets.
"From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside," he said. "Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And this is something worth celebrating."
Martin said one of the reasons why he kept his homosexuality hidden was because he was told by some that it would hurt his career. While his U.S. career peaked after the release of his 1999 self-titled English album, a multiplatinum success that included the hits "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "Shake Your Bon-Bon," he is still a hugely successful Latin artist.

"Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth," he said in his statement. "Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions."

Martin, who is the father of two boys born via surrogate in 2008, said he couldn't continue to hide his sexuality now that he is a father: "Enough is enough. This has to change."

Martin's book is still a work in progress.

On the Net:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DELICIOUS remembers: "Lost Boy" Corey Haim

If the Artful Dodger had smartened himself up, dyed his hair, worn snazzy jackets with the sleeves rolled up, and sought an alternative career as a Tiger Beat cover star, he would have resembled Corey Haim at the peak of his career.

The Canadian actor, who has died unexpectedly aged 38, did not spend more than a few years in the limelight. Yet it was his chirpy, irrepressible personality, as much as the occasional high-profile film role between the mid-1980s and early 90s, that earned him the affectionate regard of mainstream audiences. Out of a meagre selection of movies, many of which went straight to video or DVD, it was the 1987 vampire romp The Lost Boys which earned him his teenybopper fanbase; the lopsided smile, impish eyes and jauntily spiked hair made him perfect pin-up fodder. The Lost Boys paired him with Corey Feldman, another rising young actor, who would become his close friend and frequent co-star. Viewers responded positively to the rapport between these young clowns who relished visibly the privileges of their fame.

Haim was born in Toronto to Bernie, a salesman, and Judy, who worked in computing. His parents separated when Haim was 11; by this time, he had already expressed an interest in acting after attending auditions with his older sister, Cari. He landed a regular part on the Canadian television series The Edison Twins, then travelled to Los Angeles to appear in his 1984 debut film, First Born. This drama starred Teri Garr as a divorced mother-of-two whose disreputable new boyfriend is rumbled by her offspring, including Haim as the younger lad. Haim was also cast as Sally Field's son in the romantic comedy Murphy's Romance (1985).

He started to attract positive notices, including one from Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who singled him out in a review of Lucas (1986), the actor's first lead role. "Lucas is played by Corey Haim, who ... does not give one of those cute little boy performances that get on your nerves," wrote Ebert. "He creates one of the most three-dimensional, complicated, interesting characters of any age in any recent movie. If he can continue to act this well, he will never become a half-forgotten child star, but will continue to grow into an important actor. He is that good."

Joel Schumacher hired Haim to play the younger brother to a brooding vampire in The Lost Boys, in which the stylistic cues came from MTV rather than Hammer Horror. Many of the cast members (Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland) went on to greater success, but for Haim this was as good as it got. The goofiness that made him so appealing here – his bathtub rendition of Ain't Got No Home was a dotty highlight – would come to define him, and to inhibit any progress as an actor. In 2007, Feldman reflected explicitly on his friend's apparent unwillingness to stray far from his own persona. "I would love to see Corey find the greatest stretch, the hardest character, the most removed element from him ... I would be a huge fan of that work. I would just love to see anything that didn't represent him as Corey Haim, because I've seen enough of that."

Haim got by for a few years after The Lost Boys in a succession of undistinguished comedies, reuniting with Feldman in License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989). He branched out into futuristic roller-blade science fiction in Prayer of the Rollerboys (1991). But his star was in decline, and an addiction to drugs preceded spells in rehab, as well as a dramatic weight gain that saw the diminutive performer hit nearly 300lb. His mother persuaded him to move away from the temptations of Hollywood and back with her to Toronto. In 2004, he was recalled in a popular single by the Thrills, Whatever Happened to Corey Haim? Despite its title, the song had little to do with Haim, though it did at least put that question onto people's lips. (The actor's response was: "I'm clean, sober, humble and happy.")

The moderate revival of interest which the song provoked may in some small way have helped to get Haim and Feldman's reality TV show, 'The Two Coreys', off the ground. That series, which began in 2007, revolved around Haim moving in with Feldman and his wife. Despite carrying the whiff of an extended publicity stunt, the show supplied the occasional instance of car-crash television, such as Haim coming to blows with Feldman after insulting his wife, or breaking down in tears upon discovering that his services were not required for a 'Lost Boys' sequel.

At the time of his death, Haim had three films ready for release, including the thriller American Sunset. It was no secret that he hoped to recapture his 1980s success. "I want to be the guy they talk about when they talk about comebacks," he said three years ago. "I want people to learn from me, see I'm human, and understand that I make mistakes just like they do, but it doesn't have to consume you. You've got to walk through the raindrops, and that's totally what I am trying to do."

• Corey Haim, actor, born 23 December 1971; died 10 March 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Delicious Theatre: "PAINT NEVER DRIES"

Do you recall BYE BYE BIRDIE? Of course you do. But do you recall its sequel BRING BACK BIRDIE? How about the sequels to ANNIE or THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS? Difficult, right? That's because they all failed - miserably. Whatever small charms these continuations may have contained were completely offset by the fact that, without exception, they all proved to be inferior and unnessesary in comparison to the glorious originals. Well, poodles, the long-promised sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's megahit PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - the biggest theatrical phenomenon of the 20th Century - is here. It's called LOVE NEVER DIES.

And we absolutely hate it.

As do many, many others. LOVE NEVER DIES has had some stinging reviews: "this poor spoof a show" (The New York Times); "misses on all fronts" (Jewish Chronicle); "lacks psychological plausibility - worse, it lacks heart" (London Evening Standard); "simply torpid. Only a radical rewrite will give it even the remotest chance of emulating its predecessor." (Variety).

What's wrong with it you ask? Well, for one thing, the story is just awful. We simply do not buy any of the changes in Raoul - or any of the other returning characters for that matter. Where oh where is the dramatic tension? All of the mystery and menance that made the phantom so delightfully memorable lo these many years have been drained away completely. (He even appears alongside all the other characters in the outrageously laughable 14 minute finale!)

And please... could someone fill us in on just HOW Christine and the Phantom could have sired little Gustave? Admittedly, it has been some time since seeing the Broadway production wonderfully staged by Hal Prince, but as we recall, Christine was drawn to the Phantom's beautiful soul - but repelled by his hideous looks. (look but don't touch.) In fact, anyone who saw Michael Crawford - or any of the subsequent broadway phantoms unmasked, would surely remember why. Our question then would have to be, are we to assume that Andrew Lloyd Webber and his collaborators would rather we recall the sexy film version of the character played by Gerard Butler (who only seemed to suffer a mild case of acne)... OR, was Christine date raped one evening after copious amounts of liquor and a few ruffies?


Fans of unintentional camp will probably adore the laughably anti-climatic second act finale which contains, perhaps, the longest death scene in recorded history. We won't spoil just who dies for you, but you may want to give the cd a listen before attending a performance as it may be difficult to hear the actors over the audience's giggles.

As to the score, with the exception of one - maybe two - songs, this has to be one of ALW's worst. (And given his output since the occasionally sublime SUNSET BLVD, that's a pretty hard record to top.) We enjoyed the original PHANTOM score - but this! Are we still at the opera? (More so than the first go round we fear.) We were led to believe that the show was set at Coney Island? (According to the reviews, the sets and projections are visually stunning, but from what we can hear, the score only seems to give occasional hints of being at that famed American institution.)

Much of the music is derivative of the worst of all Lloyd Webber's most recent disastrous attempts at a hit. And where oh where does Britain's favorite musical composer find these lyricists who's only gift is to write with little wit or imagination? (He even managed to make the usually talented broadway lyricist David Zippel seem like a hack in the dreadful sung-through bore THE WOMAN IN WHITE.)

Which brings us to the SUNG-THROUGH question. Would it kill Webber to write a show with actual dialogue? When will he wake up and realize that the 80s - and all that sung-through British claptrap that came out of it - are dead and gone? We've all moved on. Why can't he?

And recycling the song OUR KIND OF LOVE (A melody originally written for PHANTOM 2 but later re-titled, re-lyriced, re-used and recorded in THE BEAUTIFUL GAME) for the title song borders on insanity. Why not write something new?

For that matter, why bother to write a deflating sequel to one of the few glorious acheivements of his rather checkered career at all? Lord Lloyd Webber's choices in projects and collaborators just continues to astound us. 

For those of you sane enough to have waited for the reviews before buying the CD, here is a reprint of Ben Brantley's delightfully scathing review from the New York Times for your edification and amusement.

enjoy! - HVR

"LOVE NEVER DIES" - Same Phantom, Different Spirit
If you don’t know the first “Phantom,” you will be very confused; if you do know the first “Phantom,” you will also be very confused.

By Ben Brantley, The New York Times

LONDON — To think that all this time that poor old half-faced composer hasn’t been dead at all, just stewing in his lust for greater glory. Being the title character of The Phantom of the Opera, the most successful musical of all time, wasn’t enough for him. Oh, no. Like so many aging stars, he was determined to return — with different material and a rejuvenated body — to the scene of his first triumph. So now he’s back in the West End with a big, gaudy new show. And he might as well have a “kick me” sign pasted to his backside.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the Phantom, who has been uncomfortably reincarnated in Love Never Dies, which opened Tuesday night at the Adelphi Theater here. Surely no stage show has ever been as widely and severely prejudged as this belated sequel from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

You see, Mr. Lloyd Webber’s original Phantom of the Opera, based on the oft-filmed 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux, has developed a stark raving fan base since it opened (and never closed) in London and on Broadway in the late 1980s. When the news got out that there was to be another show about the Phantom — to be set in early-20th-century Coney Island, no less, instead of gaslight Paris — a few of those fans took to their cybersoapboxes to cry sacrilege.

Soon theater writers (including me) were receiving e-mail messages from “Phantom”-ites lamenting the show’s rank inappropriateness. And they hadn’t even seen the darn thing. Once the musical went into previews, many were reporting in chat rooms and blogs that their darkest fears had been confirmed.

Of course, bad advance word on the Internet has sometimes proved false. (Ever hear of Avatar?) And I would be delighted to tell you that’s what happened here, especially since Love Never Dies is scheduled for Broadway this fall. But how can I, when at every opportunity Mr. Lloyd Webber’s latest sets itself up to be knocked down? Directed by the protean Jack O’Brien (Hairspray, the New York production of The Coast of Utopia), choreographed by a seriously underused Jerry Mitchell and designed by Bob Crowley (Mary Poppins, The History Boys), this poor sap of a show feels as eager to be walloped as a clown in a carnival dunking booth.

For starters, the title, with its promise of immortality, was just asking for trouble. And its breathless solemnity pervades the show’s every aspect. This production keeps such a straight face, it’s as if the slightest smile might crack it. It never acknowledges that in a musical in which no one could exactly be described as animated, it might be a mistake to introduce your leading lady in the form of an automaton in her image. Or that it’s probably not a good idea to have your hero, in his first solo, sing “the moments creep, but I can’t bear to sleep” to a melody that moves like a sloth in quicksand.

That fellow for whom time creeps is the Phantom (Ramin Karimloo), now going by the name of Mr. Y. (Is that because Y is the, uh, sequel to X?) A decade after he terrorized the Paris Opera with falling chandeliers and his deadly Punjab lasso trick, Mr. Y has set up his own little sinister sideshow, called Phantasma (no comment), in Coney Island. Though Phantasma bids fair to be the season’s must-see cultural destination, the Phantom deplores “10 years of wasting my time in smoke and noise.” (No comment.)

Under his assumed name, the Phantom engages Christine DaaĆ© (Sierra Boggess), the famous French soprano whom he once stalked and hypnotized, to appear in his show. Wearing the latest in French fashion (and a cunning little head mike), she arrives with her vicomte husband, Raoul (Joseph Millson), and her 10-year-old son, Gustave (played by a rotating cast of child actors). The advent of the glamorous Christine antagonizes the Phantom’s envious aides-de-camp, Madame Giry (Liz Robertson, doing a Frenchified Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca) and her daughter, Meg (Summer Strallen), hitherto the singing star of Phantasma.

Friends of “Phantom” will recognize these characters, as they are all (except Gustave) recycled — and in some cases, changed beyond recognition — from the earlier show. The book is credited to four writers: Mr. Lloyd Webber, the comedian Ben Elton, the novelist Frederick Forsyth and the show’s lyricist, Glenn Slater. And its plot is so elaborate and implausible it makes the libretto of Il Trovatore read like a first-grade primer. If you don’t know the first “Phantom,” you will be very confused; if you do know the first “Phantom,” you will also be very confused.

Granted, using Coney Island as the setting makes a certain sense. The Phantom of the Opera was one of the first (and best) versions of that grandiose showbiz genre, the musical as amusement park ride. (The last time I saw it, 10 years ago, it was sort of like visiting Coney Island’s venerable Cyclone roller coaster, rickety but sturdy.) So why not put on a show set in a real amusement park?

Yet the wheels that keep this particular park in motion grind torturously. There’s no equivalent to the stage-crossing gondola of “Phantom” (unless you count the mechanical glass horse that briefly appears in Act I). The thrill rides, like much of the scenery here, are digital projections (often rather pretty) on scrims. Most of the three-dimensional scenery is made up of vast Art Noveau gates and sculptures, huge creations that match Mr. Lloyd Webber’s melodies in form and weight.

While lushly orchestrated (by David Cullen with Mr. Lloyd Webber), the score is, for the most part, so slow that you have time to anticipate Mr. Slater’s next leaden rhyme. Each of the songs — which range from bathing-beauty frolics to power-chord operetta ballads — spins a single tune until it loses its tread.

Since the lead singers are required to haunt demanding, throat-taxing upper registers, it is perhaps too much to expect them to act as well. As the Phantom, Mr. Karimloo sings with all the force that artificial amplification allows. Vocally, the pretty Ms. Boggess (who starred in The Little Mermaid on Broadway) combines the more mechanical qualities of Jeanette MacDonald and Julie Andrews. Mr. Millson glares handsomely. And Ms. Strallen, as the unappreciated Meg, has a spark of something like personality.

If this show could speed up and loosen up it might be (marginally) more amusing. As it is, only a couple of sequences are campy enough to elicit “whoa, nelly” smiles. Well, one, anyway: an electric-rock number in which the Phantom, accompanied by an automaton skeleton organist, communes with little Gustave, who takes off his jacket and swings it in the air, like a miniature Van Halen member.

That’s the concluding number of the first act, and it actually has some energy. But true to self-sabotaging form, this musical follows that song with the bizarrely unexciting postscript of Mrs. Danvers, I mean Mme. Giry, tossing the kid’s jacket down a stairwell. This is matched, in the second act climax, by what feels like the longest death scene of all time. Relax, I’m not going to tell you who dies (while gasping out a reprise of the title song). Why bother, when from beginning to end, Love Never Dies is its very own spoiler.

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