The Playgoer: No, this is not High School Theatre

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No, this is not High School Theatre

Patrick Healy has the awesome job of recounting the backstage shenanigans of the already ill-advised commercial Off Broadway revival of that creaky old Dracula play from the 20s. (The play that was the basis of the 1931 Bela Lugosi film--and hence the reason that movie bears no resemblance to the novel.)

Basically the lead actress, Thora Birch (of American Beauty and Ghost World) was fired due to no fault of her own, other than the bad luck of having the most insane stage-father ever.

This online update of the story gives even more, um, colorful detail than the print edition:

[Birch] was playing the central female character, Lucy Seward, the love interest of Count Dracula. [Director Paul] Alexander said that Ms. Birch was fired because her father, Jack, had threatened another actor during a rehearsal on Thursday night. Mr. Birch, in an interview, denied making any threat.

Mr. Birch, formerly an actor in pornographic films...
Yes, you read that right.  But there's more.
Mr. Birch, formerly an actor in pornographic films who is now Ms. Birch’s manager, had attended most rehearsals to provide support and guidance for his daughter. At one point during Thursday’s rehearsal,  Mr. Birch confronted an actor who had been working on a scene with Ms. Birch. [...] Mr. Birch asked the actor why he was rubbing Ms. Birch’s back during the scene. The actor – whom none of the sides would name – said that he had been directed to do so as part of the scene. Mr. Birch objected, saying that the back rub was unnecessary, and told the actor to stop. (It is unusual for anyone other than a production’s director to instruct an actor.)

 Mr. Birch had been a frequent presence at “Dracula” rehearsals. Ms. Birch’s contract had called for her to have a bodyguard, and Mr. Birch said that he was serving that role because “Thora had had some stalking issues in the past.” But he and Ms. Birch also said he had been on hand to offer support and advice to Ms. Birch and confer with her about upcoming projects, including a film that Ms. Birch said her father was co-producing. “My dad is my support, and he is the best support that I could ever have,” Ms. Birch said.
I'll refrain from commenting on that eerie sounding daddy-daughter "film" project.  Only because you can't make up something funnier than this next bit:
At another point during Thursday’s rehearsal, Mr. Alexander said he noticed Mr. Birch peering through a window that was part of a library set while a scene with Ms. Birch was underway. “I couldn’t believe my eyes and turned to a crew member and said, ‘Is that Jack Birch looking through the window at Thora?’ ”

Mr. Birch said that he had been backstage at that moment examining  “a loose, very wobbly platform that Thora and others had to walk across.”

Mr. Birch and Ms. Birch said that he had been her manager for years. Mr. Birch and Ms. Birch’s mother, Carol Connors, were stars in pornographic films in the 1970s.  Ms. Connors is best known for “Deep Throat.”  Mr. Birch has been on film sets with Ms. Birch before; a gossip column in The New York Post reported in 2007 that he had been present during Ms. Birch’s taping of a sex scene for her movie “The Winter of Frozen Dreams.”

Always nice to see the child go into the family business, eh?  (And how about that "How I Met Your Mother" story!)

And now for the coda...
Ms. Birch has been replaced by her understudy, Emily Bridges, whose father is the actor Beau Bridges; Ms. Bridges’s role will be played by Katharine Luckinbill, whose parents are the actors Laurence Luckinbill and Lucie Arnaz.
Well I'm sure these parents will behave themselves.  After all, what diva-rights do they have. They weren't in Deep Throat!

1 comment:

cgeye said...

I resent the implied insult to high school theatre, simply due to the good manners and cooperation necessary from students in order for them to participate in an extracurricular activity.

Also, if a parent with a history of pr0n were lurking around a school auditorium, he'd be taken away by campus safety before the squeak from his loafers died....