You’ll be asked to turn off your cell phones, but for the Sunday evening performances of Inside Private Lives at the Fremont Centre Theatre, you don’t have to zip your lips. Backtalk is heavily encouraged.
After all, the six people who will make up the bill are from a cast of sixteen newsmakers who often sought attention.
The cast of characters, all from the 20th century, changes from night to night. While they break the fourth wall to speak, touch, and even dance with audience members, they do not interact with each other. One character at a time tells his or her story.
The night I attended, Kristin Stone opened the evening as Christine Jorgensen, the first transgender "personality." During her heyday in the 1950s, the joke was: "Christine Jorgensen went abroad, and came back a broad." Jorgensen is disappointed to find that Playboy isn’t interested in having her as a centerfold, and chides the audience members (as Hugh Hefner and other Playboy-related people) for their lack of interest. Stone is charming and polished, the model of the June Cleaver-type of woman who was just naughty enough to become a nightclub act (Jorgensen died in 1989).
Adam LeBow was a sincere young Elia Kazan, who is meeting with friends from his Communist cell. He’s been called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he will names names, an act that will save him from being blacklisted but would follow him for decades.
While Kazan and Jorgensen are polite, Leonora Gershman’s Julia Phillips is a foul-mouthed, bitter woman on cocaine, railing at the executives who are firing her even though she won an Academy Award in 1973 for producing The Sting (an honor shared with Tony Bill and her then-husband Michael Phillips). She also was one of the producers of 1977's Taxi Driver and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and would, in 1991, write You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, a book that named high-profile names in Hollywood and topped the New York Times bestseller list.
For those who don’t remember, former President Jimmy Carter had a younger brother, Billy (Bryan Safi), who was best known for swilling beer and behaving badly. With his brother running for re-election, Billy has just been told he won’t be allowed to speak at the Democratic National Convention, and proceeds to get drunk.