"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.

"A Very Serious Person" - now on DVD

This 2006 film marks Charles' directorial debut.
Written by Charles Busch and Carl Andress.
With Polly Bergen, Charles Busch, P.J. Verhoest, Dana Ivy, Julie Halston, and Carl Andress.

plot summary:

Jan, an itinerant male nurse from Denmark, takes a new job with Mrs. A, a terminally ill Manhattan woman raising her parentless thirteen-year-old grandson, Gil. Spending the summer by the shore, the emotionally reserved Jan finds himself oddly cast as a mentor to Gil in having to prepare the sensitive boy for life with his cousins in Florida after his grandmother's death. A deep friendship grows between these two solitary people. By the end of the summer, Gil has developed a new maturity and independence, while the enigmatic Jan has revealed his own vulnerability. (Written by Charles Busch)

To read the Variety review, click here.

View the trailer at the bottom of this page.

Two bonus clips:

Click here to purchase.

Angela Lansbury visits Die Mommie Die!


Award-winning legend of stage and screen, Angela Lansbury, took in Die Mommie Die! in November. After the show, she spent some time visiting with Charles and the rest of the cast.
See more photos and read the write-up at Broadway.com

Liz Smith raves about Charles in her Variety column

"THERE ARE very few genuine glamorous dynamite '40s/'50s-style ladies left to us these days. But the playwright and actor Charles Busch is one. His "Die Mommie Die!" at New World Stages is a massive tribute to Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and every other actress who ever paused dramatically on the stairs and gave the audience a piercing look. This play includes everything but the kitchen sink; it's lots of fun and the cast enthusiastic. ... When I went backstage, I asked, "Charles, are you going to go straight again and write another comedy for Broadway?" (The story Charles wrote about his own family in "The Allergist's Wife" ran almost two years.) Charles just laughed and then complained about the undergarment he was wearing, a slip that didn't come up to snuff."

Posted: Wed., Nov. 14 on Variety.com

A New Life for Die Mommie Die!
by Charles Busch

Charles is featured on Broadway Buzz's First Person Feature. Here's an excerpt:

"Playing the role of Angela Arden on stage is vastly different from playing it on film. Both experiences are fascinating to me. Die Mommie Die is an homage to a genre of suspense films in the 1960s that has been dubbed "Grand Dame Guignol." These were films such as Whatever Happened To Baby Jane; Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte; Straitjacket; Die, Die My Darling; and The Big Cube, in which great stars such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead and Lana Turner kept their long careers going by giving tour-de-force performances in increasingly tawdry thrillers. I've been doing film parodies on stage for many years, but what a fantastic challenge it was to actually do this on film. I could recreate the acting styles of these women in their own medium and not have to project to the last seat in the theater."


Read the entire first-person piece at Broadway.com, posted Nov. 13.

Videotaped interview with DMD cast and director

The entire cast of DIE MOMMIE DIE!, as well as director Carl Andress, are interviewed for Broadway Beat, the popular weekly television program for and about the theatre world, on Broadwayworld.com by host Richard Ridge.

Click this link to watch the video:

http://www.broadwayworld.com/videoplay.cfm?colid=22756

Interview with Charles Busch for Broadwayworld.com

Interview by TJ Fitzgerald, posted Nov. 10

TJ: Charles, it was so nice to meet you after the show. Who did you base the character of Angela on?

BUSCH: The character of Angela Arden is a composite of the sort of role Bette Davis or Joan Crawford or Susan Hayward would have played late in their careers in a suspense thriller in the 1960s'. I try to evoke these actresses without actually doing an impersonation. It's sort of an intellectual appreciation of their acting style.

TJ: Obviously, this show is something very near and dear to you. When did you write the show and how did you come up with the idea?

BUSCH: I wrote the play in 1999. I was going to be in LA filming Psycho Beach Party and I knew I'd only be shooting around ten days so it seemed safe to do a play at the same time. I had trouble coming up with an idea and then thought maybe I should base it on a classical work of literature. The ancient Greek myth of Clytemnestra came to mind and I thought it would be fun to do it the style of a 1960's suspense film.

TJ: It seems so effortless to you to create this person on stage. Do you have a special routine to prepare for each performance?

BUSCH: My only routine is that I go through all my lines every day before I get to the theatre, and then around a half hour before the show I go onstage and go through any section that I'm afraid I'll screw up. I'm always afraid of forgetting lines or stuttering on them.

TJ: When was the first time that you performed this character on stage and how was the audience reaction to the show?

BUSCH: I've been playing variations of my Angela Arden character since 1984. In all my plays, I tend to play an elegant lady who pulled herself up from a tough past. Not only am I influenced by watching a lot of old movies when I was growing up, but I was also raised my Aunt in New York City, who was an elegant lady who came from humble origins. I think my performances are very influenced by her personal style.

TJ: How would you describe this show to let audiences know what they are going to see?

BUSCH: Die Mommie Die! is a parody of 1960's thriller movies that might have starred Bette Davis or Joan Crawford, but I hope that while you're laughing, you might also find parts of it touching as well as genuinely suspenseful.

TJ: Any plans to take the show on the road after its NY run?

BUSCH: There is a possibility we might take the play to San Francisco, but I'm taking one day at a time.

TJ: So, how long have you been doing the drag roles? I know you did a great movie, one of my favorites, Psycho Beach Party.

BUSCH: I've been writing myself female roles since I was in college at Northwestern University in the 1970's. For a number of years, I was a solo performer and played male and female roles but I always thought I was better in the female roles and when I started my theatre company, Theatre-in-Limbo in 1984 in the East Village, it was nice having other actors to play those male roles and I could focus on being a leading lady.

In the original play Psycho Beach Party, I played the young girl, Chicklet. When we made the movie in 2000, the producers and I both felt we should have a real young girl play that role and we were fortunate to find Lauren Ambrose. They wanted me in the film, so I wrote myself a new character, that of the police detective, Monica Stark.

TJ: I was also watching an episode of "OZ" recently. I could have sworn I saw you...

BUSCH: Yep, that was me. I played Nat Ginsburg on "OZ" for two seasons. My character was very ill from AIDS and also was on death row so I had a feeling I wouldn't be around for a third season. I was a big fan of that show and was thrilled when they asked me to be on it.

TJ: Any projects that you are working on now, aside from Die Mommie Die? Upcoming roles or new plays you are working on?

BUSCH: I have a new play called The Third Story which will premiere at the LaJolla Playhouse next year and I'll also be returning to Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor next summer to do one of my plays, not sure which. I love that theatre and my favorite kind of vacation is to perform a show in a beautiful resort town like Sag Harbor.

TJ: Now your show, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife was nominated for a Tony award. What was that like for you when you heard the news?

BUSCH: I was so thrilled by the commercial and critical success of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. A very exciting day was when the marquee went up at the Barrymore Theatre. It was pouring rain and I looked at it from every angle of the street. It was wonderful to be nominated for Best Play and I was lucky that year that they had scenes from each of the nominated plays on stage and the playwrights got to introduce the segments. So I actually got to be on stage at Radio City Music Hall. I knew I didn't have a chance to win but during those last five seconds, you do hope for a miracle.

TJ: OK, I know a lot of people look up to you and admire your performances. What type of advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

BUSCH: My advice is not to listen to too much advice, like "be sensible. That won't get you anywhere." I had to perform and I knew I was an odd type but it never occurred to me that things wouldn't ultimately work out. My big goal was to earn a living in the theatre and I'm very proud that I achieved that goal.

TJ: Alright, now our readers like to know a little bit more about the actor offstage, so here's some questions about some of your favorite things. How about telling us what is you Favorite Guilty Pleasure?

BUSCH: I'm addicted to reality TV. I've never missed a single episode of any season of "Survivor." I take it very seriously.

TJ: Who is your Favorite Female Vocalist?

BUSCH: Judy Garland. But among living singers, Marilyn Maye. Whenever she's playing at the Metropolitan Room, everyone should go see her.

TJ: And your Favorite Restaurant in NY?

BUSCH: Angus McIndoe on West 44th Street. The owner, Angus, is one of the most charming fellas in the world and the food is also terrific.

TJ: Do you have a Favorite Phrase?

BUSCH: I don't think I have one. I can be surprisingly inarticulate. I think I may perform my own work so I can have time to come up with and rehearse clever things to say.

TJ: And finally, if you weren't an actor/playwright, what would your profession be?

BUSCH: I would like to have a farm and make artisinal cheeses. I think that would be a wonderful life and maybe I'll someday do it.

http://www.broadwayworld.com/viewcolumn.cfm?colid=22859

DIE MOMMIE DIE! Reviews

"Charles Busch is radiant in his play, "Die Mommie Die!" -- Variety

"Directed by Carl Andress, “Die Mommie Die!,” which runs a peppy 90 minutes, is infused with the good-natured comic brio that has made Mr. Busch a drag artist whom middle America can embrace. Even theatergoers who don’t catch the copious old-movie quotations, verbal and physical, should enjoy Mr. Busch’s hair-trigger comic timing and rubbery mugging, which brings to mind vintage Lucille Ball. "

"[Mr. Busch has] an encyclopedic knowledge of, and bone-deep affinity for, the late-career films of Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Susan Hayward, as well as a host of B-picture actresses who rarely surface on Netflix. As Angela, Mr. Busch — who also wrote and starred in the 2003 film version of “Die Mommie Die!” — doesn’t specifically imitate any of those screen sirens. Yet he manages to embody them all."

From Variety:

"Thanks to Busch's script and exceptional leading perf, the surfaces of this comedy-thriller -- about the murderous meltdown of the pre-Nixon Hollywood family -- roll back to reveal provocative statements about the power women can lose when a man walks into the room."

"His rich physical and vocal palette prove that Angela is a woman of good breeding who could snap at any second. "


From The Epoch Times:

"Busch has written a delightful story, sending up Hollywood of old and turning several genres on their head in the process.... The cast is excellent ... and each member of the company gets more than one chance to shine (and steal scenes)."


At New World Stages (340 W. 50th St.)
Tuesday - Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 7pm & 10pm; Sunday at 3pm & 7pm.
Tickets: (212) 239-6200 or telecharge.com

starring Charles Busch as fallen diva Angela Arden
Bob Ari (The Constant Wife) as Sol Sussman, the tyrannical husband
Chris Hoch (Spamalot) as Tony Parker, the lover
Ashley Morris as Edith, daddy's little girl
Kristine Nielsen (Our Leading Lady) as Bootsie Carp, the Bible-spouting live-in domestic
Van Hansis (As the World Turns) as Lance, the emotionally disturbed gay son

Directed by Carl Andress

Visit the official Die Mommie Die! site for more info and tickets


DIE MOMMIE DIE!'s Opening Night


See opening night photos at Broadwayworld.com and at Broadway.com


Die Mommie Die!'s opening on Sunday, October 21, was very well received by an audience including Joan Rivers, Michele Lee, Xanadu adapter Douglas Carter Beane, playwright/performer Anna Deveare Smith (Twilight, Fires in the Mirror), Marian Seldes, Kate Mulgrew, David Pittu, Tony-winning Jim Dale, Edward Hibbert and Karen Ziemba (Curtains), Julie Halston, Tyler Hanes, (A Chorus Line) and "As The World Turns" cast members Jake Silberman, Elana Goode, Alexandra Chando and Marnie Schulenberg.

Ashley Morris on acting with Charles

Charles is "pretty crazy over" both of the actors portraying his children. But are the feelings mutual?

Ashley Morris, who portrays daughter Edith, was interviewed by Broadway.com for their "Fresh Face" feature published on 10/18. Here's what she had to say:

the audition
"They asked me to go outside of the room and prepare a side, and then when I came back in, Charles was on the stage to do the scene! I went to the park across the street afterward and kinda cried a little bit, because he's a comic genius. It was an honor just to audition with him."

rehearsals
"I just tried to watch Charles, because I think that's what theater is—you don't learn it from a book, you learn it from observing. He was so generous, helping me with timing and letting me ask him lots of questions."

the play
"It's thrilling to be onstage when Charles comes out," she says. "Every single night, the audience cheers and claps. It's lovely, because all of us—the actors and the audience—are together in this one night that can never be re-done. That's the magic of theater."

"The Clothes (and Wigs) Make the Woman."

"Gliding around in smart 1960s pantsuits and immaculate wigs, Charles Busch is radiant in his play, "Die Mommie Die!"" -- Variety

" [Charles] alone is costumed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, who understand the menace of big floral print. The wigs, by Katherine Carr*, are such characters that they should have names." -- Newsday

"... a series of pitch-perfect hostess outfits (designed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case)" -- New York Times

Charles with his longtime costume designers and collaborators, Ronald Case (left) and Michael Bottari.

Photo: Linda Lenzi

"We are thrilled to be designing Charles' costumes once again for the Off Broadway version of Die Mommie Die on stage, in N.Y.C. where it belongs! Charles has been a loyal and loving collaborator to us for over 13 years, starting with him playing Belle Poitrine in the Little Me in Birmingham all the way to the Hollywood film. We have some new costumes planned for Charles, so his fans will get a few surprises, but most are from the film which we keep in a special wing of our warehouse! Hope to see you all there."

-- Michael Bottari & Ron Case











Above Photos by Lars Klove
















*wig designer is Katherine Carr

Play, Movie, Play: about "Die, Mommie, Die!"

Charles originally wrote Die, Mommie, Die! as a play.
Die, Mommy, Die!”, as it was then spelled, was produced in July, 1999 at the Coast Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Charles later adapted it for the big screen, and Die, Mommie, Die! became his most beloved and critically acclaimed film to date. The film was nominated for six awards and won four, including the Sundance Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance (Charles Busch).

Produced in 2003, the film is set in 1967, with flashbacks to the 1950's. Worth watching for the wardrobe alone (40 costumes designed by long-time Busch collaborators Michael Bottari and Ron Case), the film stars Busch as Angela Arden, a famous former songbird with a closet full of secrets. Jason Priestley is delightfully smarmy as her young lover, Tony Parker, an unemployed actor as well-known for possessing a certain physical attribute that's in high demand as for his willingness to share it. Philip Baker Hall commands as Angela's authoritative husband, film producer Sol Sussman. Natasha Lyonne plays manipulative daddy's girl and mother-loathing Edith with equal parts evil and vulnerability, and Stark Sands is extremely endearing as the emotionally disturbed gay son, Lance. The chameleon-like Frances Conroy submerges herself into the role of the strangely mysterious, bible-quoting housekeeper, and Nora Dunn is perfectly hilarious in a brief turn as a conniving columnist.

Charles is at his best, flawlessly reincarnating the performances of dozens of Old Hollywood Actresses - yes, with a capital "A" - and weaving them seamlessly into his own, with his trademark style, skill, and accurate intuitiveness. His performance is veracious and perfectly toned.

A hilarious comedy noir (or noir comedy), genuflecting to the glamour of 1960s Hollywood, with a plot that is equal parts Greek tragedy and Hollywood kitsch, you're sure to love Die, Mommie Die - the play.

"The Lady in Question" wins raves!


Read the NY Times review:

"What Genius Cast This Play?" by NAOMI SIEGEL


"A free wheeling satire of patriotic 1940’s thrillers such as “Notorious” and “Escape”, “The Lady in Question” tells the suspenseful tale of Gertrude Garnet, the most glamorous concert pianist on the international stage. On tour in 1940 Bavaria, her colossal self-absorption is challenged when a handsome American professor engages her aid in rescuing his mother from a Nazi prison." (from charlesbusch.com)

Charles recently reprised his role as Gertrude Garnet in a revival of his 1989 play at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. Directed by Christopher Ashley, the cast included Julie Halston, recreating her original off-Broadway role, Candy Buckley, Richard Kind, Matt McGrath, Barrett Foa, Perry Ojeda, Larry Keith and Ana Reeder.

Paul McCartney with Charles

Charles with two Julies: Andrews and Halston
















Celebrities including Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Kate Burton, Angela LaGreca, Pia Lindstrom, Paul McCartney, John McDaniel, Lorne Michaels, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Marc Shaiman and Renée Zellweger have attended performances.

Read the BroadwayStars interview with Charles and other cast members by Michael Portantiere.

"A Very Serious Person" now on DVD!

Charles' first self-directed feature, A Very Serious Person, premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won an honorable mention. It has also been seen at San Francisco and Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals. At the 2006 Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Charles received the Artistic Achievement Award.

Written by Charles Busch and Carl Andress
starring Charles Busch
featuring Polly Bergen, Dana Ivey, Julie Halston, Carl Andress, and introducing PJ Verhoest

Press Release Synopsis:
Jan (Charles Busch), a traveling male nurse from Denmark, takes a new job with Mrs. A (Polly Bergen), a terminally ill Manhattan woman raising her parentless thirteen-year-old grandson, Gil (PJ Verhoest). Spending the summer by the shore with Mrs. A, Gil, and their housekeeper Betty (Dana Ivey), the emotionally reserved Jan finds himself oddly cast as a mentor to Gil in having to prepare the sensitive boy for life with his cousins in Florida after his grandmother’s death. A deep camaraderie grows between these two solitary people, and through the pair’s friendship with two local hairdressers, Lee and Glenda (Carl Andress and Julie Halston), Gil starts his journey to self-discovery. By the end of the summer, Gil has developed a new maturity and independence, while the enigmatic Jan has revealed his own vulnerability.

To purchase the DVD, click on the picture.

Die Mommie, Die! Trailer

If you've been living under a rock since the early 2000's, you may have missed Charles Busch's most popular film to date. Here's a preview for those who've missed it, and for those who can't get enough of it! Written by and starring Charles Busch, based on his stage play. With Jason Priestley, Natasha Lyonne, Frances Conroy, Philip Baker Hall, Stark Sands, and Nora Dunn. [editorial comment: The film is better than these clips might indicate... I would have chosen differently, had I edited the trailer.]

Stark Sands and Jason Priestley in a clip from Die Mommie, Die!

The audio and video quality of this reproduction is rather poor, and taken out of context, this scene may seem rather long, particularly as it's difficult to hear in places. However, this is a fabulously fun and sexy scene, and, for those who haven't seen it, will give you an idea of the kind of humor that permeates the film.

Charles directs his Tony-nominated hit, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife for a nationally-syndicated radio program

L.A. Theatre Works recorded five performances of Busch's deliciously devious social satire, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, to air on LATW's nationally-syndicated weekly radio theater series, The Play's The Thing. The playwright directed JoBeth Williams and Richard Kind in five performances, May 16 through 20.

Charles with original Broadway cast members (clockwise) Linda Lavin, Anil Kumar, Tony Roberts, Michele Lee and Shirl Bernheim

Charles said of this experience:

"A very interesting challenge directing The Allergist's Wife for the radio. Each of the five performances had a live audience of about three hundred people and the natural tendency for everyone involved is to deliver the performance for them. However, the real purpose of the thing was to record a radio show. The actors stood at mikes with head sets on and read the play from scripts. They had to learn not to hold for laughs like we do in the theatre but to ride over the laugh, because their mikes were much louder than the general mike that recorded the laughter. Also, the play is about two women on the verge of a breakdown and in the theatre, it's fun to hear them shriek and scream at each other. On the radio, it could be deafening. The challenge was each time I told the actresses to take the volume down, they naturally lost intensity. The emotional intensity had to come from suppressed rage and phrasing. Very interesting kind of work."

Hopefully, we'll get to hear the results. Click on this post's title for more info and the LATW radio syndication schedule.

THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH named Best Documentary

FOR REVIEWS, CLICK HERE.




THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH was named Best Documentary at The 2007 International Gay Film Awards, also known as the Glitter Awards. The award, voted on by the gay press as well as foreign and domestic gay and lesbian film festivals, is given for “outstanding achievement of work that narrates true gay life events in an original, controversial manner.”

Produced and directed by John Catania and Charles Ignacio, THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH is an affectionate and entertaining tribute. Dubbed by The Village Voice as a "drag to riches story," it casts the artist’s fascinating life as a triumphant tale of drive and perseverance.

Previous awards for THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH include Best Documentary at the 2006 Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Fire Island Film & Video Festival.

THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH had its world premiere at the 4th Annual Tribeca Film Festival in April 2005 and was released theatrically in March 2006. Its North American television premiere was on Sundance Channel where it continues to air through summer 2008. DVD distribution is by Docurama.

To purchase the DVD, click on either photo.

Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell

Charles appeared as a guest actor joining the cast of the Naked Angels production of Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell, performing the role of “Career” at the Minetta Lane Theatre from May 23 through June 3, 2007.

He joins an impressive (and eclectic) list of actors including
Richard Kind, Fisher Stevens, Estelle Parsons, Josh Lucas, Rachel Dratch, Bruce Vilanch, Valerie Smaldone, Dylan Walsh, David Boreanaz, Christopher Gorham and Michelle Trachtenberg, Elaine Stritch, Anthony Rapp, Lisa Kron, Darnell Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg - who performed in a benefit performance on the late monologist's birthday, June 5.

The birthday celebration continued the following evening, as Charles hosted an event where celebrated authors read excerpts from Gray's monologues.

Kate Mulgrew and Charles Busch Discuss His Recent Historical Play, "Our Leading Lady"

Kate Mulgrew, former Star Trek icon and recent star of Charles Busch's historical play Our Leading Lady, chats with Busch about 19th century theater mover and shaker, Laura Keene (the actress who had insisted that Lincoln attend her performance the night he was assassinated), as well as Charles' library phobia (had he been beaten up by a gang of librarians?) and his next project:

Interviewer (jokingly): And we can next look forward to your Long Day's Journey into Night, now that you're in a more serious mode of writing...

CB: Yes, yes. My intention is to write a completely humorless play. Devoid of any humor.

KM (laughing): Oh, is there anything in it for me, darling?!

CB: Yes, my dear. Except - the first 3 hours will be in Ancient Yiddish.

To read the transcript, click here.

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