An updated revival of the 1940s musical
Pal Joey is winning rave reviews from theater critics, most of
whom are hot and bothered over Stockard Channing's performance as Vera
Simpson, the rich lady who gets treated like a broad by Joey. The
Hollywood Reporter called her performance “breathtaking.”
But a new gay sub-plot in the play is certain to stir some excitement
Joey is the night-club MC Joey Evans
(Matthews Risch) who is ruthless in his pursuit to own his own club.
What's changed in seven decades? This
is a far darker and seductive Pal Joey that graced the
original Broadway stage with Gene Kelly. Kelly was a charming
womanizer, while Risch is a dark figure, a sexual predator.
Also added back into the production are
three numbers omitted from the original Lorenz Hart-Richard Rodgers
musical score (I Still Believe
In You, Are You My Love? and I'm Talking To My
Frank Sinatra starred in the 1957 movie
adaptation of the show. That movie also included Kim Novak as good
"mouse" Linda English and Rita Hayworth as Vera Simpson, Joey's
strong-armed partner in the new club, Chez Joey.
But the most dramatic deviation in
Richard Greenberg's (Three
Days of Rain) treatment of the John O'Hara story is the
introduction of a gay character. Nightclub manager Mike (played here
by Robert Clohessy) who originally hires Joey and later works for him
is now gay.
That's a real gasser, as your pal Joey