Tammy Faye's BROKEN ENGLISH Returns As Theater Piece Directed By Michael Schiralli
Now, as Marianne Faithfull, British pop's queen of survival, Starlite resurrects 1979's Broken English as a thoroughly modern tale of adventure, abyss and hard-won vengeance - one of the most brutally frank albums of its time, made flesh again, in poignant lethally honest character. - David Fricke/Rolling Stone
Following a month of sold-out performances in March of her portrayal of Marianne Faithfull, pegged to the 40th anniversary of the landmark Broken English album, Tammy Faye Starlite has announced a new production titled Why'd Ya Do It: Tammy Faye Starlite Performs Marianne Faithfull's Broken English at Pangea this fall. The show, directed by Michael Schiralli whose credits include Varla Jean Merman and the Mushroom Heads, Scraping the Bottom: The Most Offensive Songs of Jackie Hoffman and Tammy Faye's own acclaimed Nico Underground, launches Wednesday, September 25 and then plays every Thursday in October with the run concluding on Halloween. Two preview performances are set for Thursday, September 12 and September 19. Ticket for all performance of Why'd You Do It: Tammy Faye Starlite Performs Marianne Faithfull's Broken English available now: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4275575
Tammy Faye's earlier Cabaret Marianne performance piece was cited in The NewYork Times as a "jaw dropping show." In his review, Stephen Holden wrote, "Tammy Faye Starlite went all the way: impersonating Marianne Faithfull, rock music's 'fallen woman,' with an uncanny accuracy. Her simulation of Ms. Faithfull's vocal style and combustible blend of arrogance and scabrous sarcasm only begins to tell the story." Tammy Faye originally performed Broken English at Lincoln Center and brought it to Joe's Pub and The Metropolitan Room; later she performed Marianne Faithful: Exposed at Joe's Pub and McCabe's in Los Angeles. Thereafter, she took Cabaret Marianne on the road to Provincetown, Chicago and St. Louis.
When Marianne Faithfull released Broken English in 1979, she shattered all preconceptions, glass ceilings, walls and doorways. She claimed her identity and emerged as herself after years of playing the roles of pop princess, rock-royal consort, fallen angel, and tattered waif, roles for which she never auditioned nor truly wanted. Through the power of this album she became what she had always been: passionate, tender, knowing, uncensored and unashamed.
The album, in its unabashed desire and rage and profound excavation of the human spirit, still resonates today. It's not a relic. It's a reality. Tammy Faye Starlite does her utmost to keep the fire aflame and honor the integrity - no, the intensity - of Marianne Faithfull's groundbreaking album while trying to heed a Marianne dictum: "We f-ed up, now we're free!" In view of this assertion, it's easy to see why The New York Times' Stephen Holden proclaimed Tammy Faye's Marianne Faithfull portrayal to be "easily the most revelatory show I've seen.."
Marianne Faithfull has commented on the legacy of Broken English in recent years, suggesting, "It was simply the world seen from my point of view. It wasn't a conscious statement on the world... Broken English is very personal.. the songs, the covers that I did, simply happened to be songs I believed myself. "Working Class Hero," "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," "Why D'Ya Do It," were written by other people, but I could have written them myself."
Broken English, from the time of its initial release in 1979 through the present day has been seen as a benchmark work in terms of its raw honesty and the revelations it conveys.There was, understandably, a lot about heroin addiction, the curdling of the beatific turn-on-tune-in-drop-out ethos into a scrabbling, desperate world of "trying to get high without having to pay," as "Brain Drain" put it; There's still something jarring about hearing the daughter of an Austrian aristocrat singing John Lennon's "Working Class Hero", but it fits in the context of an album about the shortcomings of the decade that made Faithfull famous. The increased social mobility the 60s were supposed to have wrought was, it suggests, a myth, and so too was the sexual revolution. The female characters on Broken English are suicidal housewives and betrayed lovers, at the mercy of men; the most unshackled women are the smackheads."
Greil Marcus reviewed the album for Rolling Stone shortly after its original release: "The lyrics of Broken English are not autobiographical, but the album's power begins with Marianne Faithfull's old persona and with one's knowledge of the collapse of the woman behind it. Faithfull sings as if she means to get every needle, every junkie panic, every empty pill bottle and every filthy room into her voice-as if she spent the last ten years of oblivion trying to kill the face that first brought her to our attention. The voice is a croak, a scratch, all breaks and yelps and constrictions. Though her voice seems perverse, it soon becomes clear that it is also the voice of a woman who is comfortable with what she sounds like.:"
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