Theater Reviews: Off Broadway With Tennessee Williams, Brian Friel, William Shakespeare, and Celine Dion’s Dietary Habits

By Everett Quinton, Regina Bartkoff in NOW THE CATS WITH JEWELED CLAWS Credit: Josh Andrus Photo: josh andrus/joshandrus

Now the Cats With Jewelled Claws
Hey, remember LaMaMa, the old-time epicenter of the Village avant-garde? More to the point, remember the Club at LaMaMa, whose motto might be “More LaMaMa than LaMaMa”? Well, if you need a primer, a refresher course, or just a pick-me-up, slap on your sequined heels, fluff your feather boa, and plunk yourself down at Now the Cats With Jewelled Claws, an unabashedly campy, shoestring cabaret production of Tennessee Williams’s seldom-produced one-act. Mink Stole, muse of John Waters, plays Madge, a mid-century lady of leisure who lunches with neurasthenic Bea (Regina Bartkoff) at a once-chic, now-shabby eatery near their favorite department store, Guffles, whence Bea has barely escaped after a violent shopping-related fray. The restaurant is overseen by a bitter, aging gay gadabout (Everett Quinton) and staffed by a grotesquely pregnant waitress (the always disturbing Erin Markey), her face half beaten in by an offstage beau. Spoiler alert: No happiness awaits any of these ill-starred lovers — in fact, something like hell might be waiting just outside. (At the Club at LaMaMa through November 31.)

Celebrity Autobiography
The night I attended Celebrity Autobiography — a two-drink-minimum cabaret act where famous and semi-famous comic actors hammily read aloud from bigger stars’ drippy tell-alls — Jennifer Tilly narrated Melissa Gilbert’s early-eighties hookup with Rob Lowe, Marsha Mason slipped into Zsa Zsa Gabor’s skin to retell the harrowing tale of her night in a Beverly Hills jail, and Mario Cantone impersonated Barbra Streisand. (I’m fairly certain that last act is always playing somewhere on the Upper West Side, whether it’s on an actual stage, or in the back of a cab, or in line at Duane Reade. Personally, I preferred his reading from the Book of Geraldo.) If you’ve heard the show description, you’ve heard the review: Bull's-eyes don’t come much bigger than celebrity autobiographies, with their false humility, clumsy self-aggrandizement, and what-I-did-last-summer prose. Still, witnessing a giant mash-up of celebrity dietary habits, culled from their books, has its special pleasures. (Jonathan Silverman, it turns out, does a more-than-passable Celine Dion — at least when the subject is leafy greens.) But is this $35 to $45 worth of special? That depends entirely on your desire to be up close and personal with the readers on deck. Certainly there are far cheaper comedy entertainments, some of them equally semi-star-studded, but how many will catalogue the contents of Neil Sedaka’s stomach for you? And can you really afford to take that chance? (At the Triad NYC Theater.)