Birthday Candles Play Review

It’s amazing how quickly life goes by. One minute you’re a teenager with your whole future ahead of you. The next thing you know, you are holding your first grandchild.

This is the premise of the new Broadway play, Birthday Candles. Written by Noah Haidle, it tells the story of Ernestine (Debra Messing). The audience initially meets her as a starry-eyed seventeen-year-old and then follows her throughout the years, ending when she is one hundred and seven. As she goes through the various stages of life, she bakes a cake for each birthday. Among those who come in and out of Ernestine’s life is Enrico Colantoni (Just Shoot Me), who plays her long-time neighbor, and John Earl Jelks, who plays both her husband and grandson.

I’ve been a fan of Messing since Will & Grace. She was the reason I wanted to see the play. I was impressed with not just her performance, but the performances of all of the actors. Instead of aging via prosthetics and makeup, they rely on posture, changes in costumes, props, and wigs. It is a magnificent narrative and a treatise on life, family, and relationships.

My only problem is that the end of the play could have been cut down a little bit. Other than that, it is a piece of theater that is remarkable and worth every second.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It is also 90 minutes without an intermission.

Birthday Candles is playing at the American Airlines Theater in New York City until May 29th, 2022. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.

Leslie Jordan’s Instagram Account is Everything We Need Right Now

When the stay at home orders started back in March, it seemed at first to be like a lovely extended vacation with no end date. For the first few days, sleeping in late, watching daytime TV and generally doing nothing seemed wonderful. Cut to two months later and frankly, it’s getting a little old.

Leslie Jordan is just like the rest of us. The actor (known to Will & Grace fans as Beverly Leslie, Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) frenemy) is just like the rest of us. After two months of being cooped up at home, boredom is starting to set in. Speaking to fans via Instagram, he is saying what we are all thinking and feeling.

I look forward to his daily Instagram posts. I don’t know about anyone else, but it makes me feel less alone during this pandemic. If that is all it takes to get us through this, I will happily take it any day.

Thoughts On the Will & Grace Series Finale

A favorite television show is like an old friend. No matter how much time has passed, it feels like nothing has changed.

Last night, the second Will & Grace series finale ended.

It was nothing short of perfect.

The best series are the ones balance the comedy, the drama, and characters feel like our best friends. Will & Grace was much more than that. It has heart, humor and teaches more about the LGBTQ community/movement than any lecture can.

Every good thing must come to an end sometime. That includes our favorite TV series. It was hard to say goodbye last night, but it also felt like it was the right time to go.

Thank you to the cast, the crew, and everyone who had a hand in making this program. My life and the lives of the millions of fans around the world would not be the same without Will & Grace.

RIP Shelley Morrison

For many TV fans, our favorite characters are more than fictional creations played by trained actors. They are akin to a loved one who comes into our homes week in and week out.

Last night, former Will & Grace alum Shelley Morrison passed away. She was 83.

Born in New York City to Sephardic Jewish parents, Morrison had a lengthy career before she played Rosario Salazar, Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) maid. Unlike other servants of color who remained silent or absent from the narrative, Rosario gave as good as she got it. She knew how to push the buttons of not just her boss, but her bosses’ friends.

But there was more to the relationship than put-downs and insults. There was a loving bond between Karen and Rosario that added a new layer to the relationship.

May her memory be a blessing to those who knew and loved her in person and those who loved her on screen.

Z”l.

Will & Grace and The #MeToo Movement

Men using their power to use women for sex has existed for a millennia, if not longer.

Last week’s episode of Will & Grace addressed the #Metoo movement as only Will & Grace can.

In the episode, Grace (Debra Messing), is spending the day with her father, Martin (Robert Klein). While stopping at a restaurant, Grace reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a friend of her father’s whom she worked for in high school.

I loved this episode. Kudos to the writing team, Debra Messing and Robert Klein for addressing the issue of sexual assault in a way that hits home. The man who assaulted Grace is not a powerful politician or a movie mogul. He is simply an older man who thought that he had the right to sexually assault a teenage girl.

In the pantheon of Will & Grace episodes, this one is for the books. The writers could have hit the viewer over the head. But instead, they told the story of a young girl’s assault and how after it still affected her years after it happened.

Will & Grace Character Review: Vince D’Angelo

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series. For the purpose of this post, I am only referring the narratives in the original series, not the reboot.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to love, fate often sends us the right person when we are not looking for them. In Will & Grace, the right person for Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is Vince D’Angelo (Bobby Cannavale). They meet when Will is giving Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) driving lessons and Vince, who is a cop, pulls them over for speeding. When Will notices that the ticket was not signed, he goes to court to have it thrown out. Vince is also in the courtroom and after exchanging names, both realize friends have been trying to set them up for a while. While Will has had other boyfriends since his breakup with Michael at the beginning of the first series, Vince is the first guy Will seriously went out with.

Despite the initial impression of the macho Italian-American New York City cop, Vince is really a softie. He is a romantic, enjoys crafting in his free time and is conscious about about making sure that his hair and skin are flawless. Though Will and Vince had their ups and downs, they eventually settled down into a happy marriage.

To sum it up: Love comes for Will Truman when he least expects it. While Vince has his imperfections like the rest of us, he is the right person for Will. When creating a love story, sometimes the writer has to let fate guide their character to their other half. It may take some time, but hopefully, the character will be able to see that this is the person they are meant to be with.

This ends my character review for Will & Grace. The new group of characters I will be reviewing is….you will have to come back in two weeks.

Will & Grace Character Review: Leo Markus

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series. For the purpose of this post, I am only referring the narratives in the original series, not the reboot.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

It’s not easy dating, especially when you live in a city that millions call home. But then fate rears its head and that special someone enters your life. In Will & Grace, that special someone for Grace (Debra Messing) is Leo Markus (Harry Connick Jr.). After years of so-so dates and boyfriends that were not the greatest, Leo is the perfect guy for Grace.

Leo is a Jewish Doctor (aka every Jewish mother’s ideal mate for their child). He is handsome, funny, charming and is willing to put up with Grace’s craziness. But Leo, like anyone of us, imperfect. He cheated on Grace with a colleague, effectively ending their marriage. After a brief time apart (and a short visit to the mile high club), Leo and Grace got back together and found their own happily ever after.

To sum it up: A good romance contains barriers to the potential couple’s happily ever after. Whether that is a physical barrier or an emotional barrier, something has to keep them apart. Though Leo is the romantic lead, he has a humanity to him, which not only makes him endearing to Grace, but to the audience.

Thoughts On the 20th Anniversary of Will & Grace

20 years ago today, an auspicious television series made it’s debut.

Will & Grace is the story of two best friends sharing a New York City apartment. Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is a gay lawyer. Grace Adler (Debra Messing) is a straight interior designer. Joined at the hip since college, Will and Grace are each other’s other half. Joined by Will’s wacky constantly out of work actor friend, Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) and Grace’s always buzzed assistant/socialite Karen Walker (Megan Mullally), this foursome has become an icon of modern television.

What the audience did not know is while they were laughing, they were also being educated about the LGBTQ community. Before Will & Grace, gay characters were often stereotypes or side characters who were not given the opportunity to shine. Will & Grace opened hearts, minds and helped to lead the way for many of gains that the LGBTQ community has made over the last two decades.

I have been a fan of Will & Grace from nearly the beginning. It has made me laugh, it has made me cry and most of all, it has made me think.

Happy 20th anniversary, Will & Grace!

 

Will & Grace Character Review: Rosario Salazar

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Many times, when a maid or a servant (especially a maid or a servant of color) is portrayed, they are subservient and quietly going along with the instructions of their employer. They also sometimes portrayed as unintelligent or too close to the stereotype. But Rosario Salazar (Shelly Morrison) is different. She is Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) maid and Jack McFarland’s (Sean Hayes) ex-wife. The best thing about Rosario is that whatever Karen dishes out, she can give it back ten fold.

But, the relationship between Karen and Rosario is completely adversarial. There is an underlying symbiotic relationship/friendship that balances out the moments when Karen and Rosario are in each other’s faces. When Rosario died in the first season of the reboot, it was a heartbreaking loss that was palpable to anyone who was watching.

To sum it up: When a writer takes a stereotype and knocks it on the head, it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge not just for the writer to go beyond the stereotype, but the reader or the audience member to shift their expectations of the character. In a sense, Rosario was the typical maid of color who works for a Caucasian woman. But, she was not subservient, could give it as much as she took and it, and in the end had a deep emotional connection with her employer. That is why Rosario Salazar is beloved by the fans of Will & Grace.

Will & Grace Character Review: Karen Walker

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For every main character, there is a supporting character. Sometimes, this character is the zany and not all there sometimes, but they are just as important to the narrative as the main character. In the world of Will & Grace, this character is Karen Walker (Megan Mullally). Karen is Grace Adler’s (Debra Messing) “assistant”. Though truth be told, Grace uses Karen more for her contacts among New York City’s elite rather than her abilities in assisting Grace in the running of her business. Karen is more interested in shopping and her extensive collection of alcohol and pills rather than getting work done. Her often spoken of obese and mega-wealthy husband, Stan is heard, but never fully seen.

Karen takes great pleasure in mocking Grace for whatever she sees as an easy target. She also has a very interesting relationship with Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) that is often symbiotic and mocks Will (Eric McCormack) as much as she mocks Grace. But underneath all that, Karen is there for her friends, through thick and thin.

To sum it up: While the supporting character is not given as much of the spotlight as the main character, it is important for the writer to give him or her their due. Karen works as a supporting character because not only is she the yin to Grace’s yang, but she also has enough of a back story to be a fully fleshed out character. Without that due and that fleshing out by the writers, Karen Walker would be just another flat supporting character that is neither seen or appreciated by the audience or reader.

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