Author, Actor, Icon! Charles Busch Brings His One-Man Show to The COPA Palm Springs, 10/16-17
CHARLES BUSCH, author and star of such plays as Psycho Beach Party, Times Square Angel, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset, You Should Be So Lucky, Shanghai Moon and The Divine Sister brings his iconic Cabaret stylings to The COPA Palm Springs for two "sure to be sell-out" performances, October 16 and 17 at 8:00 pm. Born in New York City, he began his theatrical career shortly after graduating from Northwestern University in 1976. After spending two years in Chicago working with different local theatre companies, he returned to his home town of New York City with a solo play called Hollywood Confidential, which he performed as a weekend late show at Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company's theatre at One Sheridan Square.
For the next eight years, he created a series of solo shows under the title Alone With a Cast of Thousands. In New York, he performed in cabarets such as the Duplex, the Ballroom and SNAFU. He toured across the United States, appearing at such theatres as the Performing Garage in NYC, the Source Theatre Company in Washington, DC, the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre, the CAST Theatre in Los Angeles and at the now legendary Valencia Rose Cabaret in San Francisco. He ended that chapter of his career in 1985 when he founded along with Kenneth Elliott an acting ensemble called Theatre-in-Limbo. They performed at a unique and fascinating art gallery/bar/ performance space deep in New York's Lower East Side. The notoriety and popularity of Theatre-in-Limbo and their early plays, Theodora; She Bitch of Byzantium, Pardon My Inquisition or Coma, Gidget Goes Psychotic, Times Square Angel and above all Vampire Lesbians of Sodom helped re-establish Alphabet City as a viable Manhattan neighborhood. Vampire Lesbians of Sodomtransferred to a commercial run at the fabled Provincetown Playhouse in June, 1985, was an immediate hit and ran five years in New York; one of the longest running plays in Off-Broadway history. In 1986, they presented their Limbo Christmas show, Times Square Angel, as part of a repertory season along with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. Theatre-in Limbo continued to produce new work and each play transferred from a non-profit theatre to commercial runs; Psycho Beach Party (1987, the Players Theatre), The Lady in Question (1989, WPA Theatre, Orpheum Theatre) and Red Scare on Sunset (1991, WPA Theatre, the Lucille Lortel Theatre). They also performed their signature piece Vampire Lesbians of Sodom in Key West at the Waterfront Playhouse, the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles and in Tokyo in 1992.
In 1988, Charles wrote a new libretto for the 1955 musical Ankles Aweigh for Goodspeed Opera and in 1991 adapted the book of the Truman Capote/Harold Arlen musical House of Flowers for a tour with Patti Labelle. On film, he's appeared in Addams Family Values, It Could Happen To You and Trouble on The Corner. In June of 1994, Mr. Busch starred in Charles Busch's `Dressing Up', a one night sold out extravaganza at Town Hall featuring guest stars Milton Berle, Beatrice Arthur and Charles Pierce. His play You Should Be So Lucky opened at Primary Stages and transferred to the Westside Theatre. In 1995, he co-authored and appeared in a critically acclaimed run in the Off-Broadway musical Swingtime Canteen. 1997 saw him performing his one man showFlipping My Wig at the WPA Theatre and writing the book for the musical The Green Heart which was produced by Manhattan Theatre Club at the Variety Arts Theatre. In 2000 he wrote the screenplay and appeared along with Amy Adams, Thomas Gibson and Lauren Ambrose in the film version of his play Psycho Beach Party. During this time, Mr. Busch starred as the fabulous Mame Dennis in a memorable staged reading of Auntie Mameat the American Place Theatre along with Marcia Lewis, Kelly Bishop, Maxwell Caulfield, Juliet Mills, Barbara Feldon, Lucie Arnaz, John Davidson and the late Peggy Cass recreating her original role of Agnes Gooch. In the summer of 2004 he once again played Mame in a full production at Maine's Ogunquit Playhouse and at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York.
In 2000, Manhattan Theatre Club produced his play The Tale of the Allergist's Wife starring Linda Lavin, Tony Roberts and Michele Lee. It was nominated for a Drama Desk for best play and won Mr. Busch the Outer Critic's Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting. It reopened on Broadway in November, 2001, was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Play, ran 777 performances and had a successful national tour starring Valerie Harper. For two seasons he appeared as Nat Ginzburg in the HBO series Oz. He premiered in his play Die Mommie Die in Los Angeles in 2000 at the Coast Playhouse and starred in the film version, for which he won a 2003 Sundance Film Festival award for Best Performance. In the winter of 2003, Charles starred in a new production of his playShanghai Moon, which had originally been produced at Theatre for the New City in 2001. For this new production co-starring BD Wong, he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel award and a Drama League Award. In 2004, Charles wrote the book to the Broadway musical Taboo produced by Rosie O'Donnell. His first novel Whores of Lost Atlantis was published in hardcover by Hyperion Press and released as a Penguin paperback and republished in May 2005 by Carroll & Graf. In April, 2005 Charles reunited with his long-time stage partner, Julie Halston, for a Gala Benefit for the Actor's Fund of America at Broadway's Music Box theatre, entitled Charles Busch and Julie Halston, Together on Broadway. The evening featured the 20th Anniversary performance of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.
Mr. Busch made his movie directorial debut with the short film Personal Assistant produced by Showtime and featuring Kathy Lee Gifford and Mario Cantone. His directorial feature debut, A Very Serious Person, premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won an honorable mention. At this time, he also directed L.A. Theaterworks' radio production of The Tale of the Allergists' Wife starring JoBeth Williams, Richard Kind and Amy Aquino. He appeared at the Minetta Lane Theatre as a guest artist in the off-Broadway play Spalding Gray Stories Left to Tell. His play Our Leading Lady was presented by Manhattan Theatre Club in 2007 and starred Kate Mulgrew as the 19th century actress Laura Keene. He performed in a revival of his 1989 play The Lady in Question with Julie Halston at The Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor New York in August 2007. The New York stage premiere of Die Mommie Die opened at The New World Stages for a limited engagement in 2007-2008 with Charles reprising his role of Angela Arden. His play The Third Story premiered at the LaJolla Playhouse and was later produced in New York by MCC, teaming Charles with Kathleen Turner. In June, 2009, Charles played the formidable Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest for LA Theatreworks. In 2010 he starred in his critically acclaimed comedy The Divine Sister, which ran at the Soho Playhouse for nearly a year and for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Best Actor. He recreated his role of Mother Superior in an LA Theatreworks radio recording in 2013. His play Olive and the Bitter Herbs premiered in 2011 at Primary Stages in New York. His most recent plays are Judith of Bethulia, produced at Theater for the New City in 2012 and The Tribute Artist, which reunited him with Julie Halston, produced by Primary Stages Theatre Company in 2014. The legacy of Theatre-in-Limbo lives on with the annual one-night staged reading of the Christmas play Times Square Angel, performed at Theatre for the New City continuously since 1999.
Due to his love and knowledge of film and theatre history, he has appeared in numerous documentaries for Turner Classic Movies and has lectured and conducted master classes at many colleges and universities including NYU, Harvard, UCLA and Amherst College. In 2003, Mr. Busch received a special Drama Desk Award for career achievement as both performer and playwright and was honored with a star on the Playwrights Walk outside the Lucille Lortel Theatre. As a cabaret artist, he is a two-time MAC award winner and has performed his cabaret act in many cities including San Francisco, Provincetown, New Orleans, Atlanta, Philadelphia and in New York at the Ballroom, Birdland and 54 Below. If this endless bio isn't enough, Charles is also the proud subject of the documentary film The Lady in Question is Charles Busch.