Scott Wittman to Direct JUKEBOX JACKIE at La MaMa; Opens 5/30
The works of the late, iconoclastic downtown theatre star, Warhol favorite and trailblazer of "glitter rock," Jackie Curtis will be featured in the dynamic new revue JUKEBOX JACKIE -- conceived and directed by Tony Award winner Scott Wittman and featuring the leading lights of today's downtown scene -- being given its world- premiere production by La MaMa at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.) with preview performances starting May 24 prior to its official press opening Wednesday, May 30.
Backed by a full rock band, Justin VivIan Bond, Bridget Everett, Cole Escola and Steel Burkhardt are among those featured in the cast of JUKEBOX JACKIE: Snatches of Jackie Curtis -- a collage of scenes, poetry, music and dance culled from the works of Jackie Curtis, who performed as both a man and a woman throughout his career in the 60's, 70's and 80's, stating, "I'm not a boy, not a girl. I'm just me, Jackie."
Making special appearances at certain performances of JUKEBOX JACKIE will be such legendary performers as Penny Arcade, Jayne County, Cherry Vanilla and Agosto Machado, all of whom worked with Curtis in his heyday.
The man who said, "I'm just me, Jackie" was, in fact, a fixture during those radical years in New York's clubs and theatres, including La MaMa, where Curtis was much-loved by La MaMa's late founder and artistic director Ellen Stewart, having made his debut in Tom Eyen's MISS NEFERITITI REGRETS at La MaMa.
Curtis pioneered the "glitter rock," "glam rock" style in the 70's, performing in drag in lipstick, glitter, bright red hair, trashed dresses and torn stockings. David Bowie was an early fan of Curtis, who went on to become one of the stars of Andy Warhol's inner circle, starring in director Paul Morrissey's FLESH and WOMEN IN REVOLT.
Following MISS NEFERITITI REGRETS, Curtis began writing his own plays with casts starring Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn, also at La MaMa. He wrote and often starred in such plays as GLAMOUR, GLORY AND GOLD (Robert DeNiro's first stage appearance), VAIN VICTORY, AMERIKA CLEOPATRA with a cast featuring Harvey Fierstein, FEMME FATALE with Patti Smith, Jayne County and Penny Arcade, and HEAVEN GRAND IN AMBER ORBIT.
Scott Wittman -- winner of the Tony Award for Best Score for the musical HAIRSPRAY and songwriter for the NBC-TV series SMASH -- created JUKEBOX JACKIE, having experienced and been influenced by Curtis's work as a writer and a performer. Some of the material performed in JUKEBOX JACKIE has, in fact, been retrieved from a box of Curtis's manuscripts and poetry sent to Mr. Wittman by the executor of Curtis's estate.
Conceived and directed by Scott Wittman, JUKEBOX JACKIE: Snatches of Jackie Curtis is collaged by Scott Wittman and Tony Zanetta, designed by Scott Pask, with lighting by Aaron Spivey, costumes by Rita Ryack, staged by Joey Pizzi and musical direction by Lance Horne.
JUKEBOX JACKIE is a signature production of La MaMa's 50th anniversary Homecoming season, indeed marking a homecoming for many of the artists involved in the production, including Mr. Wittman, Justin VivIan Bond, Jayne County, Penny Arcade.
Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of La MaMa says, "When Scott Wittman first came to me about JUKEBOX JACKIE, I knew the work was perfect for our 50th anniversary season. Ellen Stewart loved Jackie Curtis; Jackie was brash and gritty and glamorous and fit right in at La MaMa. I'm thrilled to have this chance to celebrate a remarkable, artistic provocateur in this exciting performance."
Scheduled through June 10, JUKEBOX JACKIE will perform Wednesday through Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 7 and 10 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 ($25 students/seniors).
For performance and ticket information call the La MaMa box office at 212 475 7710 or visit www.lamama.org.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos