Thursday, August 04, 2005

Where the Booing is Hoot and Hoot and Hiss

Suzanne Somers' recent attempt to parade her insecurities on stage and under a spotlight proves to be -- surprise, surprise -- an off-Broadway turd the size of Montana. Apparently audiences were as uninterested in her cliched showbiz skeletons -- alcoholic dad, domestic abuse, self-esteem issues, unwanted pregnancy, illicit affairs, eating disorders, horse whippings, fox trots, smoking in the boy's room, gangbanged by the cast of "Lou Grant"-- as one would suspect.

But Christ-0-rama, the sheer level of snakebite venom surrounding reviews of her now-closed show, "The Blonde in the Thunderbird," almost makes you feel a wee bit badly for poor ol' Chrissie.

Check out Peter Marks' review, for instance, in The Washington Post:

"For some reason ... she's gotten it into her head that she's a fixture in the collective American consciousness, that five years on a brainless sitcom in the late '70s and early '80s has granted her lifelong entree into our good graces.

"The hubris is breathtaking. If any aspect of 'The Blonde in the Thunderbird' is consistently entertaining, it's the comical notion that an audience is invested in the vicissitudes of Somers's career. Near the start of the show, she assumes the 'classic' posture of Chrissie, the character she played on 'Three's Company,' a portrayal she feels certain millions still know and care about. Affixing rubber bands to her pigtails, she completes the 'transformation,' as if she were Laurence Olivier applying the hump for Richard III.

"The campiest moment of all comes toward the end of the show, when Somers pushes a souvenir cart onto the stage, packed with the perfume, jewelry and other tchotchkes she hawks on the Home Shopping Network. The gold-medal moment: She holds up a Thighmaster. It receives the biggest ovation of the night.

"You're never really sure whether Somers is in on the joke. 'Tonight,' the 58-year-old actress declares, 'you're going to get to know Suzie, the good, the bad and, oh yes, the ugly!' Whom, you wonder, is she really talking to? Does she really think an audience is all that curious? The night I attended, a tiny coterie of Somers fans was scattered about the house, but the rest of the audience appeared to be in a mild state of shock. Her songs prompted the kind of smattering of applause you hear at a PTA meeting after a vice principal discusses bus safety."

Eric Grode offers this on

"The ... book includes a bizarre sequence in which Somers wheels out a kiosk packed with her Home Shopping Network wares; her triumphant brandishing of a Thighmaster inspires the most raucous audience reaction to an inanimate object since Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Earlier in the show, the statement 'And I finally became Mrs. Alan Hamel!' also receives a smattering of applause--presumably from those who either forgot or don't care that Mr. Alan Hamel (who also produced 'Thunderbird') first had to 'finally' leave the original Mrs. Alan Hamel and their two kids.

"I wish Suzanne Somers all the contentment in the world. I'm thrilled that she found it in herself to get past a childhood that would have doomed many people. I'm genuinely happy that she has found a man she loves. I fervently hope she continues her success in fighting cancer, even if I find it medically and even morally dubious to point out at the audience and say, 'I did it and so can you!'

"But I don't want to hear her sing songs she has no business singing."

Then there's Charles Isherwood in The New York Times:

"Something is desperately needed, in any case, to dress up 'The Blonde in the Thunderbird,' a drab and embarrassing display of emotional exhibitionism masquerading as entertainment. Attired in a cruelly clingy black tights-and-tunic ensemble, Ms. Somers re-enacts or describes triumphs and traumas from her personal and professional life for a grinding 95 minutes, on a stage adorned only by a pair of video screens, an armchair, a prop phone and a coat rack.

"Devoted fans may savor this no-frills, quasi-intimate audience with a favorite celebrity and professional dispenser of uplifting advice, but others may find their attention wandering to the coat rack. And resting there."

Ouch. Is poor, washed-up, has-been, hardly-was Chrissie not deserving of some sympathy? If you prick her, does she not bleed? If you tickle her, does she not laugh? If you yank her off a goofy sitcom, does she not still need a paying gig of some sort?

This much we know: Joyce DeWitt had better watch her ass.


At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Joe Rossi said...

Man, even Nancy Marchand got in on that action?

Hell, Somers wasn't even on "3's C" for five years -- she only made it through four before they started running the 'placemats through like Jenilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes.


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