Monday, March 5, stars gathered at The Triad Theater on 72nd Street between Columbus and Broadway to perform in Celebrity Autobiography. The show, which won a 2009 Drama Desk Award, is unique in that it has TV and film celebrities reading from other celebrities’ memoirs.
Emmy Award-nominated writer-performer Eugene Pack, who created the show, explained that every word comes from actual autobiographies. “We are not making any of this up; it’s going to be really hard to believe that,” he said.
The first performer to grace the stage was Oscar nominee Jennifer Tilly, who entertained with The Best is Yet to Come by Ivana Trump. In dramatic and sarcastic tones she read the chapter “My recipe for raising kids.”
Alan Zweibel read from Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s book, Here’s the Situation. He began with, “Friends, bros and countrymen, lend me your ears, for The Situation has come to give you the situation.”
Next was Mario Cantone, who made the audience roar with laughter by acting out Susan Lucci’s prologue to All my Life. The reading included Lucci stating how Kelly Ripa screamed, “Don’t leave!” as she was giving her acceptance speech at the Emmys and was told to wrap up.
Dayle Reyfel performed Secrets of a Sparrow, by Diana Ross. She talked about a concert she held in Central Park for 400,000 people, which was plagued by a rainstorm. “I was safe, we all were—ain’t no mountain high enough!” she proclaimed.
Tony Danza took the stage and read in his Brooklyn accent from The Way I Am, by Eminem. The chapter he read from focused on being at the MTV Video Music Awards with Christina Aguilera.
Gina Gershon was given Ecstasy and Me, by Hedy Lamarr. In an exaggerated voice, she shouted, “To be a star is to own the world and all the people in it.” Tips Lamarr gave in her memoir included that men are most attractive between the ages of 35 and 55, because under 35, a man has too much to learn.
The segment of the show entitled “Sports Night” featured Cantone, Pack and Danza. Cantone read from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography in an accent very close to Arnold’s. How I Play Golf, by Tiger Woods, was interpreted by Pack. “I can’t wait for tomorrow because I get better looking every day,” said Danza, speaking the words of Joe Namath.
The next part of the evening had performers acting out love triangles. Ziebel read an excerpt from Geraldo Rivera’s biography, which dealt with his affair with Liza Minnelli—with Cantone playing the part of Minnelli.
Another interesting autobiography was written by Marilu Henner. She wrote about her Taxi castmates, including Danza. With Danza standing on stage, Reyfel talked of Henner getting together with Danza, who smiled and shook his head. Celebrity chef Todd English also made an appearance, reading from George Hamilton’s book.
After the show, Peter Martin, owner of The Triad, invited the performers to his VIP lounge. When asked about her experience on stage, Tilly, who was happy to comment, said, “In Hollywood you’re always being typecast. They always want you to play the same thing. But here, one week I’m Ivana Trump, the next week I’m Melissa Gilbert. People love doing the show because you don’t have to rehearse.”
Pack and his wife, Reyfel, summed up the best parts of the show. Pack said, “Jennifer and Gina sizzled up the stage in a position no one can even imagine.” Celebrity Autobiography is held at The Triad once a month. The next show is April 9 at 7 p.m. and features Cantone, Jackie Hoffman, Brooke Shields, Steve Schirripa and Zweibel.
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