"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.

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).

Read the latest interview with Charles Busch

Charles talks about his current production of Shanghai Moon, the old and sometimes obscure films he pays homage to in his plays, socializing with old movie actresses - including a very famous leading lady - and just how long it takes him to get into makeup.

From newsday.com:

Fast Chat: Charles Busch
by Daniel Bubbeo
June 22, 2008
photo: Alex Remnick for East Hampton Star

Shanghai Moon now thru June 29 at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor

"a comedy with a bit of complexity" -- The East Hampton Star*

Thom Sesma, Charles Busch, Gordana Rashovich and Jodi Lin in Shanghai Moon (© Lia Chang)

Following the success of last summer's hit revival, The Lady in Question, Charles returns to Sag Harbor with a new production of his 1999 play, Shanghai Moon, co-starring his longtime pal, actress and comedienne Julie Halston. It is directed by Carl Andress, who helmed two previous stagings of Shanghai Moon, as well as the Off-Broadway production of Die Mommie Die!

Shanghai Moon is both an homage to and parody of films like The Cheat (1931) with Tallulah Bankhead, Shanghai Express (1932) with Marlene Dietrich, and The Letter (1940) with Bette Davis.

The heroine is Lady Sylvia Allington (played by Busch), a former Chicago showgirl married to an aged British diplomat. She travels with him to Shanghai where she begins a clandestine love affair with the mysterious General Gong Fei, becomes hooked on opium, is arrested for murder, and, like all Busch heroines, reveals her inner strength and resolve as her life falls melodramatically apart.

For more information and tickets, see http://www.baystreet.org/0704/show.asp?id=276

*See the review in the East Hampton Star

"Die Mommie Die!" designers win Outstanding Costume Design Award!

On May 5th, The League of Off-Broadway Theaters and Producers presented Ronald Case, Michael Bottari, and Jessica Jahn with the 2007-8 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Costume Design for last fall's production of Die Mommie Die! Congratulations Michael, Ron, and Jessica!

The three have been nominated for two other Outstanding Costume Design awards for their Die Mommie Die! creations: the Outer Critics Circle award and The Drama Desk award. Winners of the 2007-2008 Outer Critics Circle Awards will be announced on May 12. The 53rd Annual Drama Desk Awards ceremony will take place on May 18.

For more on the costumes of Die Mommie Die!, see the Sept. 2007 post "The Clothes (and Wigs) Make the Woman."

Michael Bottari & Ronald Case are longtime Busch collaborators.

Bottari and Case with the Broadway Bear likeness of Die Mommie Die's Angela Arden, which raised $1400 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Charles brings "Shanghai Moon" to Sag Harbor this June

Following up last summer's successful run of "The Lady In Question" at Bay Street Theatre, Charles will return this year with a revival of another of his hit plays.

Shanghai Moon
follows the American-born wife of an aged British diplomat who travels to Shanghai with her husband. She begins a fatal love affair with the mysterious General Gong Fei. It's based on such movie and stage melodramas as "The Bitter Tea of General Yen," "The Letter," The Green Hat, "The Cheat" and "Shanghai Express." It premiered Off-Broadway in 1999 at Theater for the New City. A 2003 production featured actor B.D. Wong.

Charles star as Lady Sylvia Allington. He will be joined onstage by friend and longtime collaborator, actress/comedienne Julie Halston. Carl Andress, who directed the 1999 and 2003 productions, and most recently, the Off-Broadway production of Die Mommie Die! will direct this production as well.

The revival will be presented at Bay Street Theatre from Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - Sunday, June 29, 2008.

See "The Lady in Question" wins raves for a glimpse at last year's production, including photos and a list of celebrities who came to see it.

Charles nominated for Drama League's 2008 Distinguished Performance Award

The Drama League recently announced the nominees for the 74th Annual Drama League Awards. Charles Busch is on the list for the Distinguished Performance Award for his outstanding performance in 2007's Off-Broadway production of Die Mommie Die!

He's in very good company. For the complete list of nominees, click here.

The Drama League will bestow awards for Distinguished Performance, Distinguished Production of a Play, Distinguished Production of a Musical, Distinguished Revival of a Play, and Distinguished Revival of a Musical at a luncheon on Friday, May 16 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, to be hosted by Harvey Fierstein.

"The Tale of the Allergist's Wife" now available on audio CD

Charles directed five performances of his Tony-nominated social satire, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, for L.A. Theatre Works nationally-syndicated weekly radio theater series, The Play's The Thing last May. It is now available on a 2-disc set.

Publisher's Weekly review:

"Busch's 2000 play transfers perfectly from the stage to audio, largely because the small casts is so larger than life (bordering on caricatures) that the characters don't need to be seen to be understood. As the title character, Amy Aquino's slightly nasal, tortured voice embodies this Jewish housewife's angst, and Richard Kind does an excellent job of conveying her husband's artless but endearing self-importance with his carefully chosen words and deliberately sonorous tone. Seinfeld's Estelle Harris, as Aquino's mother, steals many scenes with her screeching voice and rants about bowel movements. The appreciative audience clapping and laughing enhances the comedy. On the final track, a surprisingly mild-mannered Busch discusses the real-life model for the allergist and how the wife developed from a character he created when he was starting out as an actor." (Jan.)

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

New book of Charles Busch screenplays

Die, Mommie, Die! and Psycho Beach Party: the screenplays of Charles Busch

Two eminently readable and highly entertaining screenplays, with a marvelous bonus. Charles provides commentary on the making of these two films and discusses what it’s like to be both behind the camera and to star as a leading lady.

Click here for a capsule review (scroll to bottom of page)

Charles' first collection of plays is also available:

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife and Other Plays

Contains The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Psycho Beach party, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset.

While we're on the subject of books, if you haven't read Charles Busch's novel, Whores of Lost Atlantis, you are missing out. Chock full of quirky characters, surprising plot twists, hysterical circumstances, side-splitting zingers, and yes - sex, Armistead Maupin reportedly enjoys it annually.

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