New York’s 2009 Drama Desk Award winner Celebrity Autobiography has returned to Los Angeles at The Broad Stage. Created by Emmy-nominated writer-performer Eugene Pack, and developed by Pack and Dayle Reyfel, the show played to an enthusiastic crowd last Monday. This was mainly thanks to the comic stylings of the largely celebrity cast, which consisted of Roger Bart, Illeana Douglas, Jennifer Tilly, SNL alums Laraine Newman and Cheri Oteri, show creators Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel and comedian Fred Willard.
The next performance is scheduled for Sunday, August 21st at 7:30 pm and will feature Roger Bart, Tate Donovan, Illeana Douglas, Laraine Newman, Eugene Pack, Dayle Reyfel, Jennifer Tilly and Fred Willard.
In Celebrity Autobiography excerpts from actual celebrity memoirs are read out on stage by a handful of funny people. It makes for an outrageous evening of comedy as we listen to jaw-dropping, hard-to-believe vignettes lifted straight from actual celebrity tell-alls.
It’s a promising concept that delivers lots of good laughs, but some may find it not worth the pricey ticket cost. The show’s creators say they rifled through about 300 different celebrity biographies before they came up with their main themes: ‘Women who have slept with Burt Reynolds’ – which Pack and Reyfel dubbed ‘Burt Offerings’; the revelations from the various memoirs of Candy, Aaron and Tori Spelling – which they called ‘Spelling Bee’ (but which did not feature in Monday night’s show whatsoever!) and the old standby of dueling memoirs where what he said is pitted against what she said – which they dubbed ‘Rashomon and on and on.’
Working in rotation, the actors each took to the stage twice, each time bearing a different memoir. Jennifer Tilly kicked off the evening with Ivana Trump’s memoir. While the text is kind of funny, the humor lies more in the performance. Rather than attempt an impersonation, Tilly opts for a braying, somewhat exaggerated delivery of the first-person confidential, suggesting that the former Mrs. Trump is some sort of harridan. We gain insight into her “recipe for raising kids” that seems to consist of guiding them away from pointless pursuits (such as hockey) and towards more social activities, with a heavy dollop of ‘tough love’.
Fred Willard reads from “Don’t Hassel the Hoff,” hilariously recounting David Hasselhoff’s foray into musical theatre where he played the lead in “Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde” including a duet with himself! Charting this personal journey “from Baltimore to Baywatch to Broadway,” Willard glances inquiringly at the audience to punctuate the nonsense, even checking pages when non-sequiturs ensue.
Illeana Douglas reads from Melissa Gilbert’s memoir “Prairie Tale” and does a funny impersonation of Rob Lowe as Gilbert’s autobiography forms a portrait of a jilted psycho. Later she also does a great impression of hair-tossing and husky-voiced heroine Kathleen Turner.
A highlight of the evening is Cheri Oteri’s rendition of “Here’s the Situation” by Mike aka “The Situation” from the reality TV show “Jersey Shore.” Oteri adopts a Jersey accent and a cocky attitude to relate the deep insights from this shallow ‘star,’ sharing the anecdote of how he obtained his notorious nickname.
The evening concludes with an ensemble presentation of a mash-up of excerpts from the memoirs of the participants of one of the most famous love triangles in Hollywood history — Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.
Apparently sometimes audiences leave the show asking, “Did these celebrities really write that?!” Yes, they did.
Celebrity Autobiography returns on Sunday, August 21st at 7:30 pm.
The Broad Stage
Edye Second Space
1310 11th St.,
Santa Monica, CA.
Ample parking on site.
Ticket prices: $45.00 and $35.00
To purchase tickets and for ticket information, please call 310-434-3200 or visit the official site.