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Goldberg's divine 'Act'

I went to the opening night last week of the musical "Sister Act," which Whoopi Goldberg produces, along with Stage Entertainment, the Shubert Organization, Disney Theatrical Productions, Joop van den Ende, Bill Taylor and Rebecca Quigley. (This musical has already appeared on the London stage to great acclaim.)

I just want to brag on the moment at the opening night curtain call when Whoopi herself modestly appeared onstage to congratulate the cast. It was thrilling. (As you know Whoopi starred in the movie version.)

The New York Times critic, Charles Isherwood, must have a grudge against popular entertainment. So I am going to ignore his largely negative review and hope you will as well. I don't want to burble on about this; I'm just telling you that "Sister Act" is a splendid production with fast-moving scenery, imaginative costumes (ponder how you make a nun's habit "different"), swift pacing from director Jerry Zaks, wonderfully hot, and sweet and soft music from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.

Let's add of "Sister Act," fabulous actors you probably never heard of before and a realistic "chorus line" of Mafia-type hit men. The "nuns" of all stripes are wonderful and the Mother Superior, award-winning Victoria Clark, completes the rosary. Then there is leading lady Patina Miller; she is to die for and even thanks her mom and grandmother in her credits. Heaven can't wait and this show is heaven.

The musical skirts the lines of heresy and tastelessness when it comes to religion, but always neatly dances back across the horizon to heartfelt sentiments and rousing church music enlivened by rock 'n' roll. The theme seems to be "Jesus is love" punctuated with harmless vulgarity and profanity. (Probably Jesus would approve of modernization of a faith that sometimes seems stultifying.)

If you want to have a rousing good time at the theater and get your money's worth, I'd say stop looking for Ibsen in modern dress or Brecht as the new god, or any of that stuff. Go to see "Sister Act." Then go to see something really silly like "Priscilla Queen of the Desert." Let yourself relax and have a little fun.

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A number of years back, Chastity Bono dropped the "tity" from her name and became plain old Chaz, the all-American transsexual guy who issued originally from the loins of the inimitable Cher and the late Sonny Bono.

Chaz is not happy that doctors have not quite mastered creating a functioning penis for transgender folks like him.

But, he now has a beard, muscles and a formidable stomach and finds himself with a ferocious sexual appetite. He is still living with his lesbian girlfriend who sleeps in a separate room, now that the gay girl she allied herself with has become, for most intents and purposes, an authentic male.

Chaz will be seen soon chatting with ABC's "Nightline" on May 9. He impressed reporter Cynthia McFadden with his determination to become an effective spokesperson for all those struggling with gender identity issues. The documentary that chronicles his transformation is titled "Becoming Chaz" and will debut on Oprah's new channel May 10.

Even Cher, who first had to cope with a gay daughter and then a transsexual daughter-to-son, has come around. Cher was always honest that she found it all quite difficult -- and surprised at how difficult she did find it!

Although Cher still slips and calls Chaz "her" at times, she has come to terms with the fact that the little blonde baby girl she used to carry onstage with her in the Sonny and Cher years, is becoming an M-A-N.

Chaz Bono is a very nice guy and he is definitely not what is wrong in the world.

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