Musicals

All posts in the Musicals category

Hopelessly Devoted To: James Mitchell

Published March 14, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan


Not only did the handsomely eclectic James Mitchell enact one of soap opera’s most hiss worthy villains for decades, but this lucky performer was also one of the cast of thousands, as that film’s tag line so boldly highlighted, to appear in the 1943 version of Phantom of the Opera. 


Granted, in Phantom, the always attention stealing Mitchell appears for mere moments as a reporter logging the details of the catastrophes that have haunted a local music hall. Thankfully, his turn as the diabolical Palmer Cortlandt on All My Children was a bit more substantial. There, his character continually made life hell for his often revolving spouses and judiciously tender offspring – all storyline subtext that Mitchell fully embraced, resulting in 7 Emmy nominations for the dedicated actor. 

Mitchell, who seemingly never hid his devotion to costume designer Albert Wolksy, his romantic partner for 39 years, also held dear his substantial pedigree as a theatrical artist. Humbly describing himself as an actor with strong movement skills, he actually was one of the Broadway stage’s most powerfully athletic dancers. Those who saw him perform never forgot it and his close collaborators included such mavericks as Agnes DeMille, Jerome Robbins and Gower Champion.

With DeMille, he famously essayed Dream Curly in the ballet sequence of 1955’s Oklahoma, where one of his partners was the beefy, animated character actor Rod Steiger. 

Thankfully, just like in that particular scenario, Mitchell always seemed to come off as unique and individualistic. So, while his one Gothic credit might only encompass a couple of minutes of screen time, the breadth of his career definitely speaks to the multiple achievements that one of our queer brothers could make – justifiably earning him a place in every gay horror lover’s heart forever. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and PINK Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Larry Kert

Published February 6, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

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The irreplaceably talented Larry Kert definitely knew the glaring disparities involved with a career in show business. Exploding into the pubic consciousness as Tony in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, he ultimately found that role would be the one that he was best known for despite decades of fine portrayals and other significant career highs.

Truly eclectic, he counterbalanced the glaring romanticism of his most famous work as the heavy drinking, casually seductive acrobat George in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, an enjoyable 1962 horror outing from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Written by terror wunderkind Robert Bloch and featuring a notorious shock ending, this outing has a lot in common with such carnival themed shockers as Circus of Horrors and Berserk.

Paired with the voluptuous Diana Dors, who also played a similar role in the previously mentioned Berserk, Kert radiates with a subtle cockiness and bravado here. But as he discovers that Dors’ schemes contain an inherently murderous malice, this musically toned pro shows his character’s true humanity and concern, creating a complex portrait of a tortured soul.

While winning further acclaim for his work in such theater projects as Cabaret and Company, replacing both male leads in their initial runs to great renown, Kert was also spoken about highly by colleagues who admired his courage in being openly gay in a period of time when that was considered unacceptable. Although, it has been noted that he was called out by some closeted gay creatives for being too carefree and obvious about his orientation, a double-edged sword that he seemingly rode with great finesse and steely resolve.

Sadly, this strong willed and courageous performer lost his life to AIDS at the age of 60 in 1991. His memory, though, lives on through all the proud gay horror fans who appreciate his small contribution to the art of fear and the even bigger ones he made to our visibility in the fields of creativity and beyond.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Patti LaBelle

Published January 1, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

I have been binging the CW’s Supergirl lately. Now beginning Season Four, I think I am proficient enough in the world of otherworldly heroine-based antics to propose that if there truly were a magnificent extraterrestrial creature living among us in real time – it would most definitely be the divine Patti LaBelle.

From her electric ‘70s space age costuming to her otherworldly soprano accented vocalizing, she can even take such iconic performer identified songs like Somewhere Over the Rainbow and make them totally her own.

It’s also been rumored that countless hardcore rock ‘n roll mommas have bowed down and backed ass first out of grungy nightclubs upon hearing Labelle’s raucous Love Symphony piped over the jukebox.

Indeed, I’d place my money on Patti being the only diva that could cancel out the shitstorm of 2020 with one energetic, elastic note, ringing in 2021 with resounding, enthusiastic might.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Peter Lorre

Published December 13, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

I have mad love for all those quirky character actors from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Often cast as ne’er do wells and sophisticated villains, their talents were often broader than they were given credit for.

For example, even though he was best known for his sinister turns in M, The Stranger on the Third Floor, The Beast with Five Fingers and The Raven, the unforgettable Peter Lorre truly shone as a comic impresario. In particular, he excelled in the glorious MGM musical Silk Stockings, a reworking of Greta Garbo’s famed comedy Ninotchka.

Here, Lorre gamely attacked clever lyrics by Cole Porter…

…and even engaged in a dance specialty or two!

Now, one has to wonder what Boris Karloff and Vincent Price might have added to the mix here.

Ponder that…and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Janis Paige

Published December 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Whether it’s a glossy MGM musical like Silk Stockings or a detective show where she plays a bedraggled housing project alcoholic, the divine Janis Paige always gives her all. This eclectic nature has brought her to Broadway, where she was in the original cast of the beloved Pajama Game, variety shows, where she excelled in dozens of intricately choreographed production numbers, and eventually to the ecstatic criminal bounties of Charlie’s Angels.

Here as part of the ensemble of the third season Angels Ahoy episode, Paige vibrantly enacts Joan Sayers, a personable widow who catches the eye of David Doyle. Doyle, as series’ regular Bosley, is busy helping his beautiful cohorts investigate a shipboard murder, but he gladly takes a little time out for romance with this beautiful stranger.

Of course, warning signals go off for audience members when it is casually revealed that Sayers has buried four husbands. Indeed, a late-night costume party ultimately reveals that this friendly cruise goer is the most accomplished of black widow murderers. Ever the pro though, Paige believably connects with Doyle’s congenial creation here and the sorrow she feels upon the revelation of her dirty (and very dangerous) secret allows a bit of sympathy to register on her behalf.

Nicely, decades after this episode first aired, Paige is still allowing her charms to be appreciated by the world. At 98, she performs occasionally at cabarets across the country and has recently released her very highly praised memoir, Reading Between the Lines.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Leslie Brooks

Published November 21, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

“It’s called tonight…or never!” –  Miss Medwick (Leslie Brooks), Romance on the High Seas.

Crisp and cool, the glorious Leslie Brooks always shot from the hip, especially in 1948, the year that marked her most notorious cinematic undertaking. As the gleefully immoral Claire Cummings Hanneman in Blonde Ice, she calmly manipulates her way through a trio of beaus…including one who winds up dead and another who she frames for his murder. Coming on like a lethal version of Barbara Stanwyck’s fabulously Pre-Code Baby Face, Brooks is unforgettably malevolent here, creating an iconic B-Movie noir monster.

That same year in Romance on the High Seas, a much frothier, big budget Warner Brothers musical, she is less destructive. Still, as Miss Medwick, she makes an obvious play for her married boss, using a seductive tone and an arched eyebrow (or two) to try to sway him into her arms. Capitulating to his devotion to his wife, she eventually becomes a model employee. Thus, in her final scenes, Brooks radiates with a strong efficiency and warmth.

Despite those qualities, seemingly due to a disastrous divorce and vicious custody battle for her daughter that same year, Brooks soon disappeared from the screen. But her work as a worthy femme fatale will never be forgotten.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Elisabeth Welch

Published November 15, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The stunning Elisabeth Welch is a major part of the success of the classic 1945 anthology Dead of Night. As the fun and vibrant Beulah in the film’s most popular segment, The Ventriloquist’s Dummy, she is one of the first characters to react to the fact that something is off with Michael Redgrave’s Maxwell and his devious puppet partner Hugo.

Welch was much more than a sympathetic terror conspirator, though. One of the most sophisticated stars of the British theater and Broadway, she often introduced songs that went on to be classics.

Cementing her status as a cult icon, Welch also fabulously worked with auteur Derek Jarman in the late ‘70s.

More can, but need not be said!

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Vanessa Williams

Published November 1, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Initially gaining fame as a model and television actress, the uber talented Vanessa Williams eventually branched out into the worlds of pop music…and Broadway stardom! Grimm’s Brothers aficionados were probably awestruck by her witch in the revival of Into the Woods, while the rest of the world may have still been reeling from her sexy attack on the pop laced numbers from her debut album.

Nicely, this number even made it into a Perry Mason television film. (Talk about a flashy take on recycling!)

Most recently, this modern day diva brought her years of performing experience to a gloriously demented fruition in Bad Hair, a delightfully twisted original Hulu horror extravaganza.

https://www.vanessawilliams.com/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Elaine Stritch

Published October 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

She put the BROAD in Broadway, carving out an extraordinary career for herself on the stage. But those blinded by the sheen of her Tony and Emmy wins (and her association with such theatrical legends as Noel Coward and Stephen Sondheim) may not be aware that the magnificent Elaine Stritch has a couple grizzly genre credits to her name.

Significantly, in a time when the world was still afraid of lesbians, Stritch bravely enacted the role of Sapphic minded club owner Marian Freeman in the 1965 psycho-stalker thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear? Interestingly, the presence of the openly gay Sal Mineo as the disturbed busboy that the story focuses upon adds another lavender component to this gritty look at obsession and murder. Granted, Marian’s advances on Juliet Prowse’s Norah, the film’s heroine, are unwanted, affording her preferences the stereotypical ring of the perverse. But Stritch fills the character with as much dignity as she is able to while simultaneously applying her noted and uniquely salty perspective to the mix.

10 years later, Stritch sarcastically zapped her way through the second theatrical remake of The Spiral Staircase, as well. While a mysterious killer hunts down Jacqueline Bissett’s plucky mute adventuress, Stritch’s world weary nurse tends to the needs of Mildred Dunnock’s uncooperative matriarch character. Gravitating to the movie’s theatrical set-up of a winding mansion on a dark and stormy night, she ultimately provides the necessary diva antics while still remaining true to the take no bullshit essence of her character.  

With two appearances in the British genre anthology series Tales of the Unexpected, an arc on the murder-mystery based soap Edge of Night and the effective voicing of the grandmother in the animated favorite ParaNorman among her further credits, the truly singular Elaine Stritch definitely earned her place among the notoriously unsung heroines of horror before her passing at the age of 89 in 2014.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Scott Free

Published September 6, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

On the rare moments when one is able twist a thought or two away from the many social disasters that are plaguing us, it’s easy to remember that the world is actually populated with a ton of cool people. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you got to associate with one or two of them. LGBTQIA musician and activist Scott Free has been a longstanding voice for queer artists in Chicago, hosting a decades long performance showcase called Homolatte and being a very loud reminder to queer festival organizers that actually booking gay acts is a necessity for their events to be a true source of pride and awareness.

A few years ago, we spent a lot of time together working on a show called Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. To this day, friends still tell me how his lyrics for that project totally nailed aspects of their own lives, a true testament to his empathy and talent. His latest work, The Last Revolution, is a social call to arms that has deservedly gotten tons of praise and attention and, as with the majority of his work, really raises an eye on the tremulous circumstances that we are now facing as a nation.

Obviously, it almost goes without saying, that It’s truly been my honor to know Scott as a collaborator and friend and it’s truly my pleasure to welcome you to visit more of his fine output at http://www.scottfree.net/ and http://www.zombiebathhouse.net/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan