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James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne Open in ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ on Broadway: REVIEW

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BY NAVEEN KUMAR

Airy, quaint, sugary sweet and a little bit magical—if ever a play could be perfectly likened to cotton candy, it would be director Scott Ellis’ light-footed revival of You Can’t Take It With You, which opened on Broadway Sunday at the Longacre Theatre. Its sprawling and gifted cast, led by a dynamite trio of comediennes—Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots), and Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids)—recalls a fine-tuned circus act, spinning into animate life a stock roster of old-timey characters.

YCTIWY22Deploying more than a dozen players over its swift three-acts, Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy is Depression-era escapism at its most cheerfully saccharine.

Three generations of an outlandishly eccentric New York clan follow their own pursuits under one roof—Penelope (Ms. Nielsen) writes (though never seems to complete) plays, her daughter Essie (Ms. Ashford) dances (often to her own tune) and makes candy, Penelope’s husband Paul (Mark Linn-Baker) manufactures fireworks in their basement, while the family’s grand-patriarch, Martin Vanderhof (James Earl Jones) likes to attend commencement ceremonies, play darts and evade income tax.

YCTIWY24The family’s primary shared trait is a particular optimistic ineptness: None of them really excels at what they do and not one of them gives a hoot. Affluence makes all this possible, and there’s a devil-may-care about the world outside their walls that shapes the family’s myopic, decidedly non-capitalist take on the American dream (the “it” in the title is money).

That is until their daughter Alice (Ms. Byrne), the only one with a real-world job, falls in love with Tony (Fran Kranz), a wealthy boy from a “nice” family and the heir to the Wall Street firm where she works. Planning a future with Tony means introducing their families, a prospect that rightfully terrifies her and makes up the bulk of the story.

Ellis keeps the play’s many gears turning smoothly across David Rockwell’s meticulously cluttered set (which itself spins too, of course), and the kooky family’s bond is deeply felt, even as they seem to be orbiting each other on different planets. Every member of the big ensemble delivers his or her own singular brand of funny, including Patrick Kerr as Paul’s pyrotechnic sidekick and Julie Halston as the blissfully drunk actress Penelope hopes will read her play.

YCTIWY7The ease and sweetness that Ms. Byrne brings to her roles onscreen fit perfectly here, as does her instinctive comic timing. An experienced stage wit, Ms. Nielsen packs a scene’s worth of laughs into a single word of dialogue, and Ms. Ashford’s physicality alone makes her every moment onstage a complete riot. Jones brings a buoyant charm to the head of the family and his rich, deep baritone lends some weight to the conclusion’s pat moralizing. (Do what makes you happy, the rest is hogwash.)

While we may be in no less need of escape than audiences in 1936, whipping up decades-old humor into a fresh, frothy confection isn’t easy—this production makes it seem all but effortless, leaving you with a grin that’s sticky-sweet.

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: joan marcus)


Three Arrested In Connection with Anti-Gay Attack, Shooting In Brooklyn: VIDEO

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Police in New York have arrested and charged two men and a teenage boy with menacing, third-degree hate crime and assault in the first degree after they chased and shot at a gay man in Brooklyn on Saturday night, reports NY Daily News.

The victim, who was dressed as a woman at the time of the attack, was walking with a friend near M.J. Beauty Salon on the corner of Putnam Ave. and Broadway in Bushwick at about 7 a.m. when he was attacked by Cody Sigue, 22, Matthew Smith, 21, and Tavon Johnson, 17.

According to police, the attackers screamed profanities and anti-gay slurs at the pair. The attackers then opened fire and shot the victim in the rear.

Johnson and Sigue were charged with menacing and third-degree hate crime, while Smith was charged with assault in the first degree. Johnson and Sigue each have one prior arrest while Smith has "an extensive arrest history," with 14 arrests including robbery.

Local resident Daquan Ruddock said:

“[It] shows how gay people can’t walk around in the street without someone saying something or doing something towards them. It’s sad.”

Watch an NBC New York report on the attack, AFTER THE JUMP...

Earlier this month, police investigating an anti-gay hate crime in Philadelphia were assisted by the public who used Twitter to track down the attackers.

Continue reading "Three Arrested In Connection with Anti-Gay Attack, Shooting In Brooklyn: VIDEO" »


New York Wedding Venue Owners Who Discriminated Against Gay Couple: 'We're Not Hateful People' - VIDEO

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The owners of Liberty Ridge, the wedding venue fined $13,000 by the New York State Division of Human Rights last month for refusing to allow a same-sex couple access to the facilities, are speaking out about the case in a new video for the conservative publication The Daily Signal.

Said Cynthia Gifford:

"We have hired homosexuals. We have hosted parties for same-sex couples. That's not the issue here. The issue is back to our freedom of religion - of our core values...We're not hateful people. We open our doors for a certain part of the year to everyone to come and enjoy God's country that we're so blessed to live on. And in no way would we ever turn anybody away from the farm. We just believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and we don't want to hold a marriage ceremony here on our farm because the state tells us we have to."

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

[via joe.my.god]

Continue reading "New York Wedding Venue Owners Who Discriminated Against Gay Couple: 'We're Not Hateful People' - VIDEO" »


Harlem Pastor Threatens 'Homos' With Hateful Church Sign: 'Jesus Fired And Brim-Stoned Them'

ManningSign

Pastor James David Manning of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem is back with another offensive, homophobic, and frightening sign. Manning previously warned African-American women that President Obama was responsible for unleashing white gay men on their husbands, and he whole-heartedly believes in the use of the word "faggot." Under a towering cross stating "Jesus is Lord," Manning has once again opted to spout hateful rhetoric and lies.

JdmThe New Civil Rights Movement reports:

"When the homos bullied the poor and needy in Sodom like they do in Harlem, Jesus fire and brim-stoned them," it reads. 

Manning would have you believe that's a quote from the Bible.

It's not.

Manning also believes that Michael Sam may marry a 9-year-old boy and that Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are closeted homosexuals. It seems like someone may be losing touch with reality...

Photo via Real Stories Gallery on Twitter.


Web Series 'Tough Love' Looks at What Happens When Women Try To Seduce Gay Men - VIDEO

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Steven Bell's web-series Tough Love is back with its final episode, "The Sleepover", in which Steven finds himself receiving some unwanted advances from a lady-friend. Says Bell of the inspiration for the episode,

"There was a period where I knew I was gay, but I told myself that I couldn't be 100% sure unless I had been with a woman. I've had a few female friends who would have been totally down to 'experiment' with me, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Women have never interested me sexually. There's just nothing there. So, it was really exciting to write an episode where I got to explore all that."

Watch and absorb the wry humor, AFTER THE JUMP...

Tough Love is currently in the final days of their Kickstarter campaign to help fund their next season. Check it out HERE

And, ICYMI, check out a previous episode of Tough Love, HERE

Continue reading "Web Series 'Tough Love' Looks at What Happens When Women Try To Seduce Gay Men - VIDEO" »


NYC Trans Man Who Chose Not To Transition Speaks Out: 'I'm A Guy' - VIDEO

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In a new video from BuzzFeed, Lauren Hennessy of New York City talks about his experience with gender and identity. He describes how though he has always "felt more like a boy" and identifies as transgender, he decided not to transition:

"I'm also a minority in the trans community. I'm a trans person that has chosen not to pass as my gender in society. And I think that's important too. I don't think you should have to transition." 

Watch as Lauren shares his journey, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NYC Trans Man Who Chose Not To Transition Speaks Out: 'I'm A Guy' - VIDEO" »


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