"The artistic journey is an ongoing process of discovering who you are, and I'm still searching. You may have been dealt an odd hand, but instead of walking away from the game, keep playing. Magical things can happen." -- CB

Get discounts on Charles Busch DVDs, screenplays, plays, or novel here.

"The main joy of The Third Story is that its foolery embodies something substantive"

Highlights from Michael Feingold's review in The Village Voice:

"The forest of narrative is dark, and its paths are twisted. At least so things are in the magical world of Charles Busch, whose narrative forest gets deeper and more mysterious as he ventures further along its unexplored byways."

"This is rich food; not surprisingly, palates accustomed to the thin gruel that today's theater too often serves up have grimaced at it."

Read the full review

Here’s to Leading Ladies - A Night Out With Kathleen Turner and Charles Busch

click image to enlarge
Published: January 23, 2009

ON a recent January night, Kathleen Turner and Charles Busch were sitting in a private room at Cowgirl, a bar and restaurant in the West Village, where a clamorous cast party was in full swing. She wore a dark wool turtleneck sweater. He sported a gray chenille toque hat — the kind, he said, that “Lillian Hellman would have asked you to hide money in.”

The two, both 54, share starring roles in Mr. Busch’s new play, “The Third Story,” a campy 1940’s-meets-sci-fi comedy that previewed Jan. 14 at the Lucille Lortel Theater (the play formally opens Feb. 2). read more

Kathleen Turner to co-star in "The Third Story"

Charles Busch's newest play, The Third Story, is coming to Off-Broadway's "hottest destination" - MCC Theater - following its successful world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse.

Kathleen Turner is slated to co-star in this triad of interwoven stories, in which actors portray different characters in each story; often switching from one character and storyline to another in the blink of an eye. Turner will be stepping into the roles originated by the impressive Mary Beth Peil.

Stage and screen veteran Turner, twice-nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress (for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), has been described as "a first-rate, depth-probing stage actress” by the New York Times.

Turner and Busch are joined onstage by Jennifer Van Dyck (Hedda Gabler), Scott Parkinson (The Coast of Utopia), Sarah Rafferty (Gemini) and Jonathan Walker (Twentieth Century). (Van Dyck, Parkinson and Walker appeared in the La Jolla run.) Carl Andress will direct.

This New York premiere will run Jan 14 - Feb 28, 2009 at The Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street. The official opening is Feb. 2, 2009.

Charles opens up about "The Third Story"

The Third Story is First Class Entertainment
Charles Busch opens his new show at the La Jolla Playhouse
By Neil Cohen

Inspiration comes to playwrights in strange ways. The play that Charles Busch started writing when commissioned by the La Jolla Playhouse is very different from the show that will have its world premiere Sept. 16.

The Third Story is actually comprised of three overlapping tales woven together into a fast and funny play. The first story is a realistic account of an aging, fading screenwriter in 1949 Hollywood who implores her son to collaborate with her on a new script. The second story is a B-movie take-off about the uneasy alliance between “a mob queen and a frosty lady scientist” that’s sure to please fans of Busch’s Hollywood-inspired comedies. Finally, the third story is a Russian fairy tale in which a painfully shy princess makes a dark pact with a mercurial old witch. The Third Story became the mother and son screenwriters’ quest to bring the B-movie to life, mixed with the fairy tale the woman screenwriter would tell her son. Most of the actors play more than one role, including Busch. In a departure from his usual starring vehicles like Shanghai Moon, which he successfully revived in the Hamptons earlier this summer, Busch confessed that he plays two supporting character roles, including “a wrinkled old crone.”

Settled in at his condo in La Jolla, the award-winning playwright and actor was graciously forthcoming about the show and why you’ll want to watch what you say around him lest it end up on stage.

“It’s a lovely group of actors and the theater’s nice and everything’s going fine,” Busch explained, sounding a little nostalgic for Manhattan’s easy access to everything without the need of a car. I asked him what inspired him to write The Third Story, since it seemed like such a departure for him. “Well, it is and it isn’t a departure — it started off as the same-old, same-old,” he laughed, “but then it turned into ‘Oy vey, oy vey!’ I kept reading about playwrights who had relationships with regional theaters, and I thought, ‘I should have a relationship with a regional theater.’ It’s so difficult — you know, my career has all been just presenting things strictly in New York. You’re sort of under this spotlight, and it’s intimidating to work. You’re second-guessing what ‘they’ — whoever ‘they’ are — what ‘they’ might think. It’s really good for me to work on a play in a more congenial environment.”

The La Jolla Playhouse commissioned Busch to write the play, which he described as “the history of Twentieth Century crime as told through the persona of this “First Lady of Crime,” sort of a mob queen.

“As I started writing it, I decided, ‘I don’t want to write that play!’ For one thing, my work has been getting more personal and complex, and I didn’t want to write just a spoof of gang movies. On the other hand, if I tried to write it more realistically, I don’t think I’m equipped to write an episode of The Sopranos,” he laughed.

“I started thinking of the era in which these gangster movies would have been made, toward the end of Film Noir,” he said. “I thought one story could be about this mob queen, and then another story could be a framework about this woman screenwriter who’s been around since movies began and is somewhat on the downslide. Since it’s all about storytelling, what if I wrote a third story, which was a fairy tale the screenwriter used to tell her son as a child? It sort of developed into stories within stories within stories. The theme that developed was how, among other things, writers use so many elements of their lives consciously and unconsciously, and use their relationships, and sentimentalize their relationships … and cannibalize their relationships and exploit their relationships…” he laughed.

“There are many different tones,” Busch added. “It’s very dramatic at times and hopefully very funny. It’s sort of a roller coaster of tone. Whatever ‘they’ think of it, I must say, I’ve had a fascinating experience writing it. It’s a very challenging play for me.”

I was curious whether Busch felt there were any modern counterparts to all of the great women actresses he salutes in his films. He answered, echoing Norma Desmond, that it’s the films, and especially the tabloid culture that have made stars like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and the like impossible to recreate. There’s no mystery allowed today’s stars, so he asked, “Who’s to say that George Clooney wouldn’t have been a star in the 30s?” He pointed to Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett as actresses he feels have star quality.

He’s also looking forward to playing Baba Yaga, the witch in the Freudian fairy tale, which is the kind of character he’s enjoyed doing in staged readings. Interestingly, he noted that he and a lot of his colleagues who play these classic screen divas find themselves facing the same kind of challenges the actresses they emulate experienced later in their careers. Does that mean that you’ll be seeing Lypsinka selling Pepsi Cola, and Busch marrying a studio head like Norma Shearer? Perhaps we’ll find out if he writes the fourth, fifth and sixth story!


The Third Story
Sept. 16-Oct. 19
The La Jolla Playhouse’s Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre,
2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, Calif., 92037.
Tickets are $29-62.
Information: 858-550-1010, or www.lajollaplayhouse.org


-- from ECHOMAG.com

Cast Announced for Premiere of Charles Busch's "The Third Story " at La Jolla Playhouse

from Broadwayworld.com, posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The cast and creative team have been assembled for the world premiere of the imaginative, hilarious comic drama The Third Story, written by Charles Busch and directed by Carl Andress. Several cast members will perform more than one role, highlighting the play's central theme of dual identity. The Third Story plays September 16 through October 19, 2008 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre at La Jolla Playhouse.

The Third Story is an uplifting and very funny play that is composed of three interconnected stories: a realistic tale of a mother and son screenwriting team in the 1940's, a B-movie about the uneasy alliance between a mob queen and a frosty lady scientist and a Russian fairy tale in which a painfully shy Princess makes a dark pact with a mercurial old witch.

The cast features: Charles Busch (Baba Yaga/Queenie Bartlett) who recently starred in his own screenplay of Die, Mommie, Die! and is the author of such critically acclaimed plays as The Tale of the Allergist's Wife; Mary Beth Peil (Peg/Dr. Rutenspitz) a Tony-nominated actress most recently seen on Broadway in Sunday in the Park with George, whose credits include Film: Stepford Wives and TV: Grams in Dawson's Creek; Jonathan Walker (Drew/Steve) whose credits include Film: Michael Clayton and Broadway: Twentieth Century and After the Fall; Jennifer Van Dyck (Constance Hudson) whose recent credits include Film: Across the Universe, TV: New Amsterdam, Broadway: Hedda Gabler; Scott Parkinson (Zygote) who performed on Broadway in The Coast of Utopia; and Rebecca Levy (Vasalisa/Verna/Miss Tinsley) a third-year MFA student at UC San Diego who has also performed in Lulu at Harvard University and Peter Pan at Berkshire Theatre Festival.

"I have great confidence in our cast members and creatives," says Busch. "Carl and I are in a wonderful place in our long collaboration where we think as one and yet also challenge each other." Busch continues, "I am thrilled that we have such a crackerjack team of skilled and highly imaginative designers. The three stories are told in three very different theatrical styles and are interconnected in a cinematic fashion."

Directed by Carl Andress (Die, Mommie, Die!, A Wonderful Life), with original music composed by Lewis Flinn (Die, Mommie, Die!, The Little Dog Laughed), The Third Story features: Scenic Design by David Gallo (A Catered Affair, Xanadu, Radio Golf), Costume Design by Gregory Gale (Cyrano de Bergerac; The Wedding Singer); Lighting Design by Christopher Akerland (Talk Radio); Sound Design by Walter Trarbach (The Farnsworth Invention), Hair and Wig Design by Tom Watson (Into the Woods, Lestat), and Dramaturgy by Shirley Fishman. Stage Manager is Lisa Porter, Associate Producer is Dana I. Harrel, and Production Manager is Peter J. Davis.

The Third Story was commissioned by the La Jolla Playhouse and is inspired by Busch's life-long interest in film history.

"The themes in the play are: mothers having to release their children out into the world, no matter how painful that may be." Busch says, "Then the larger theme is how writers use everything in their lives for their creative work, consciously and unconsciously, past and present, honoring, sentimentalizing and cannibalizing their relationships."

Preview performances begin September 16th. The Third Story officially opens Sunday, September 21st and closes October 19th. La Jolla Playhouse performances of The Third Story are sponsored by COOLEY GODWARD KRONISH.

Performance times are Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30pm; Thursday through Saturday, 8:00pm; and Sundays 7:00pm. Matinees are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Single ticket prices range from $29 to $62. To purchase: call (858) 550-1010 or go online to www.lajollaplayhouse.org.

The nationally acclaimed, Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse is known for its tradition of creating the most exciting and adventurous new work in regional theatre. Led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Steven B. Libman, the Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and is now considered one of the most well respected not-for-profit theatres in Southern California. During the tenure of Director Emeritus Des McAnuff, numerous Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, including The Farnsworth Invention, Big River, The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Dracula, Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, and the currently-running Jersey Boys.

"The Third Story" - plot synopsis

Written by and Starring Charles Busch
Directed by Carl Andress

Omaha, 1949...Peg, a brazen screenwriter of Hollywood's Golden Age, has been a stowaway on a Chinese junk, escaped a cannibal village and had her ankle kissed by a young Tyrone Power — but now that the boys have taken over Hollywood, she's out of work. Ever optimistic, Peg approaches her son to collaborate on a new script to resurrect her faded career. Although Drew has fled Tinseltown for the quiet life of a Midwestern mail carrier, he reluctantly joins his mother to draft a crazy adventure through time, the uncertainties of science and the bonds of love.

Their flights of imagination bring together an elegant and hardscrabble Queen of the Mob, a chilly scientist harboring a seething passion and a romantic fairytale set in a Russian forest. Add to that a botched science experiment named Zygote with seven nipples and a chemical dependency, and a tough guy with a serious case of claustrophobia, and you have The Third Story.

Uplifting, imaginative and endlessly funny, The Third Story delights in the stories we tell to make sense of our lives.


Gracing the stage as three of the female characters in The Third Story, Mr. Busch is sure to delight and inspire audiences.

-- from lajollaplayhouse.org

Charles interviewed on "The Strange Dave Show" podcast

Okay, The Strange Dave Show is indeed strange, but if you can tolerate all the gratuitous sound effects, you get to hear Charles talk about everyone from Lauren Ambrose to Valerie Harper to Boy George and Paul McCartney (who complimented Charles on his great legs).

If you don't know all there is to know about Charles Busch, and you don't like to read, this is a good way to find out more about the award-winning actor, Tony-nominated playwright, all-around cult figure and "absolute sweetheart" (as described by just about everyone who's met him).

Kathleen Turner talks about "The Third Story" and Charles Busch on The Today Show

"The Third Story" with Kathleen Turner at the Lucille Lortel Theater

Die, Mommie, Die! - Live! Off-Broadway, 2007

A Very Serious Person - Trailer

Die Mommie Die! trailer

Psycho Beach Party trailer

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife


Linda Lavin, Tony Roberts, and Michele Lee perform a scene from Charles' hilarious Broadway hit at the 2001 Tony Awards.


A Few Career Highlights

Portraits of the Artist as a Man