I was first introduced to the talents of Jamie Morris and Christopher Kenney in the quaint and very gay beach town of Ogunquit, Maine. First, there was Edie (Christopher's drag persona) doing her one woman show with leg kicks to the Mainestreet ceiling and songs sung with flare and care. Yes, a drag performer that actually sings and doesn't lip sync. I was sold. Adding to the talents of Christopher and rounding out this spectacular couple is the other creative mind of Jamie Morris. Our first encounter was when he performed in Mommie Queerest as Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway), the controlling, wire hanger, axe wielding Hollywood star. It was crazy, funny, and over
a the top, where 1/2 of us like to be. It's a guarantee you'll laugh so hard you will pee in your seats when you see Mommie Queerest, or at least the woman next to you will (true story, it happened). I've seen MQ several times in Maine as well as Provincetown. I regret every time I miss a performance when I hear they are back in New England.
When I saw the news that Jamie was bringing yet another show to life and to my new hometown of Fort Lauderdale, I had to go. RE-DESIGNING WOMEN – takes head on the large personalities of the 1980s sitcom Designing Women. If you remember the Sugarbakers and their Atlanta design firm, get ready for the memory flood gates to open. Some of their catch phrases I recalled, but the creative mind of Morris and the acting of The Uptown Players of Dallas had me flashing back and grinning from ear to ear. The script was so well written, but there was definitely some improv occurring on that stage. Sides ached, face hurt, and friends were left crying. Live theater at its best. I was sad that I caught the Fort Lauderdale performance toward the end of its run for it would have been enjoyable and worth it to see it again.
New York City – I give you this warning, plan to attend and do not delay. June 10 – 21 at Baruch Performing Arts Center. You may and will find yourself wanting to go again. Each time I saw Mommie Queerest, I caught something new and I know the same would occur with RE-Designing Women. The other shows that you need to watch out for … The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode, The Silence of the Clams, and Gilligan’s Fire Island … if you see these being advertised, make it a point to go and be truly entertained.
Besides great performers, both Jamie and Christopher are great people, too. A work conference had brought me out to Las Vegas and I was aching to see Edie as the host of Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity again. Unfortunately, a PMS-ing coworker wasn't up to it and someone (me) had to be on chocolate and Midol duty. I apologized to Edie for not being able to see her perform, but I was quickly invited to Christopher and Jamie's Vegas home for a small anniversary party. Expecting friends and family to attend, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that the entire cast of Zumanity was there as well. It was better than the show. I will never forget their hospitality and that evening. Small acts of kindness go a very long way. So if you see Jamie or Christopher before or after their shows, give them a smile and some kind words for what they do and who they are. You never can tell with actors for sometimes it all appears as a facade, but when you learn the kindness runs deep, it's wonderful. Love you two and what you do.
Below, you will find a quick taste of the performance, some reviews of RE-Designing Women, as well as some adverts / posters of the other plays that were mentioned above.
Sitcom Parody Makes New York Premiere
June 10 – 21 at Baruch Performing Arts Center
"A laugh out loud must see comedy." — South Florida Gay News
"Hilarious… a hoot." — Total Theater (Dallas)
"Sharply written… This isn’t Shakespeare, so once you accept the fact it’s based on an ’80s sitcom about shoulder-pad-wearing Southern belles, you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show." — San Diego Union-Tribune
A delightful opportunity to cut loose, kick back, and enjoy gleeful, adult hilarity." – — Dallas Examiner
"A group of talented satirists who had me hysterical for most of the evening… Rest assured that, gay or straight, you are in for one helluva ride. I can't wait to see it again!" — Talkin Broadway
BevNap Productions will present the New York premiere of RE-DESIGNING WOMEN by Jamie Morris, the twisted mind behind plays including “Mommie Queerest,” (LA Weekly Theater Award winner), “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode,” “The Silence of the Clams,” and “Gilligan’s Fire Island". Directed by Christopher Kenney (The ThreePenny Opera on Broadway), this unauthorized original comedy parody celebrates one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 1980s. Performances run June 10 – 21, Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm, at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue — entrance on 25th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues). Tickets are $30 at 212-352-3101 or www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac.
In RE-DESIGNING WOMEN, a female-owned Atlanta-based interior design firm, plagued by the faltering economy, is on the brink of collapse. Things change when one of the sassy southern belles has an idea to save the business. She pitches a reality show to Andy Cohen, the hotshot producer from the BRAVO network, and soon, camera crews are following the zany antics of the four outspoken feminists, their ex-con deliveryman, and their daffy family friend. Fame and fortune quickly turn their world upside down as infighting and jealousy threaten to ruin their perfect sitcom existence.
The World Premiere of RE-DESIGNING WOMEN was originally produced by Uptown Players in Dallas and has been seen in Galveston, Ft. Lauderdale and San Diego.
JAMIE MORRIS is best known for his parody plays “Mommie Queerest,” (LA Weekly Theater Award) “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode,” “The Silence of the Clams,” and “Gilligan’s Fire Island.” He is also a writer for Cirque du Soliel’s “Zumanity” in Las Vegas where he lives with his partner of 16 years. When he’s not on the road playing Mrs. Garrett, Joan Crawford, or Hannibal Lichter in his own plays, Jamie is Father Mark in the long-running hit “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” at Bally’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
CHRISTOPHER KENNEY won the LA Weekly Theater Award as Best Comedy Director for his work on “Mommie Queerest,” and was named by Las Vegas City Life Magazine readers as “Best Local Theater Director” for his work on Jamie Morris’ plays. He danced professionally in the ballet for eleven years with 5 ballet companies including Ballet Oregon, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and Ballet Chicago. His drag alter-ego “EDIE” has appeared with Roseanne on the MTV Video Music Awards, with Rosie O’Donnell on her 1000th show, and on “Sex and the City.” In 2006 he was cast in the Roundabout Theater’s Tony-nominated revival of “The ThreePenny Opera” with Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper. Since 2008 EDIE has starred as the “Mistress of Sensuality” in Cirque du Soleil’s long-running hit show “Zumanity” at the NY-NY Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. As the emcee of the show, EDIE has performed for over 3 million people.