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Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman

Thomas Hopkins, Daniel Wallace and Julian Stoneman


My Trip Down the Pink Carpet


by Leslie Jordan

Based on his book My Trip Down the Pink Carpet

Directed by David Galligan

Apollo Theatre

Jan 27 – Feb 19, 2011








A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

In case you're thinking there might not be much to this trip, think again. For the price of a single ticket, you get an actor, comedian, dancer and all round insightful, full on individual all rolled into one!

Having been in the UK for many years and overcome my telly habit long ago, I had little, if any prior knowledge of Emmy award winning (Will & Grace) Tennessee born actor Leslie Jordan before my first encounter with him at his publicity appearance at the Groucho Club last autumn. However, during our brief conversation there, which Leslie had started, I was struck by his considerable charm, humour, unpretentiousness and straight-forward warmth.

In Pink Carpet, Leslie tells his life story via a series of funny and touching scenes, adding actions and reactions relating to those he's speaking of, among them, Faye Dunaway, George Clooney and many other famous (and not so famous) people, at just the right moments and measures to reap laughs, bewilderment and/or empathy from his audience. His skilfully enacted vignettes are punctuated by intermittent flashing lights and 'gay-bar' disco anthems which serve as evocative reminders of the 1970's, a time of hard won freedom in the form of increased rights and acceptance for gays and lesbians, a true time of celebration. Thoughtful use of such songs here solidifies their place in history forevermore.

Storming through the onstage revolving doors, beaming broadly from behind dark shades, Leslie exuded instant warmth with his doggedly sunny attitude. Why have an attitude if it isn't a positive one? From our place in the crowd we admired his easy going stage manner, confident story-telling and the enthusiastic responses it drew at any given moment. Leslie is a professional, through and through and it seems to be natural, a rare thing in today's world. But by his own admission, he's not perfect as he recounts the time he fell in love with a randy, red-headed cowboy for the same wrong reason(s) an over-heated hetro woman might a Stanley Kowalski type. Then there were the nights out that were clouded by drugs and alcohol to the point that all those parties just weren't much fun anymore. But where is he now, I hear you ask. Why, at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue, of course, where he will amicably be holding court eight times a week, so far, until February 19th, unless he's held over…

This world can often be needlessly complicated, driven by divisions according to looks, age, wealth and other can't take it with you, fadable attributes. Leslie's been there and back as they say, up and down, and now, even though it's his 'riding high in April' time, at fifty-five, he's well aware that nature has a tendency to shoot even her most unsuspecting citizens down, when they least expect it. Fame has been a long time coming for him, as his years of television character acting bear out, but now it looks as though fame has come to roost. A natural performer, Leslie has a way with his lines and every movement and expression that will stay with you long after you've seen this show and gone on your merry way. And you will be merry after seeing Leslie's show and, believe it or not, a little more hopeful. He's a one off, true original in that deceptively glib, nobody's perfect, distinctly optimistic American way that has nothing to do with celebrity, but is, in itself something to celebrate.

Everything about Pink Carpet is so professional, those watching won't even be consciously aware of it at the time. It's as though the whole kit and kaboddle just happens and we just happen to be lucky enough to be there when it does. Michael Hotopp's under-stated scenic design offers Leslie just enough scope to keep things flowing seamlessly along, through the years, with a revolving door serving as the exterior and interior leading to his audience initially, then as the show progresses, through the doors of his first gay bar, with a pink 'rope' meant to hold back fans on the Pink Carpet doubling as a childhood hula-hoop/ jumping rope. David Howe's wonderfully attuned lighting lends additional focus to Leslie's memories, whether joyous, poignant, awkward or triumphant, all along the way. Likewise, Richard Brooker's sterling sound design, injects sounds or snippets of disco anthems like Donna Summer's 'Last Dance' at precisely the right moment to enable changes in tempo to keep things interesting. Of course, the whole show couldn't come off in the enjoyable, well-paced way it does without the on target direction of David Galligan who surely, had his work cut out for him with a true life, one man show. But, I have to add that given Leslie's stellar attitude, which is no attitude at all - he had a great guy to work with.

Back home in Philly, I met a lovely guy named Billy, a funny, upbeat man who puzzlingly, invited me to his apartment to see his collection of brides. We perused his long wall-full of vintage photos of brides with cascading veils, wavy hair and smiles lined with dark lipstick. Billy's partner Paul was out and this was a chance for him to share his passion with a brand new person. My reaction was instantaneous. 'These pictures are gorgeous,' I told him, as he smiled broadly, almost paternally towards his prized collection. When Leslie Jordan spoke of his Lieutenant Colonel father scouring stores on Christmas Eve 1958 to find a much desired bride doll for his three year old son, I felt the connection….It's a small world, with lots of unique individuals in it, some of them, as Leslie says, little boys longing for bride dolls.

Thanks Leslie. I really needed that audience with you, however brief. And so my dears, do all of you, though you may not realize it until you're seated in the Apollo Theatre watching his show. Why? There's too much pretension in this world and not enough genuine warmth centered on truth. So forget about chilling, get going and grab tickets to My Trip Down the Pink Carpet while you can. Its wit and wisdom will speak to you, like an old friend who knows 'you' and makes no bones about sharing memories and giving you honest advice, As Leslie himself recognizes, 'There's nothing sadder than a man at war with his own nature.' Nuff said.

Fueled by Leslie's encouraging words and comic, totally unselfconscious onstage dance manoeuvres, we danced until the big hand was hard on the witching hour at the Cafe de Paris after party, breezily unaware that as we did, the last gift bags of specially created, pink chocolates by the door were being whisked into the night by other guests, many of whom seemed to have acted on rather sudden, mistaken impulses that the music being played by the live band was uncool and therefore, unsuitable for dancing. Perhaps like Cinderella, we'd stayed too long at the ball, but like never say never Cinders, we didn't care.

Box office: 0844 412 4658

Mon – Sat. 7:30pm, Thurs and Sat. 3pm matinee
Suitable for aged 16 and over
Apollo Theatre
Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 7EZ

Ticket prices: £45.00, £40.00, £35.00, £30.00, £25.00, £20.00 (Concessions available)

Booking fees apply (includes £1 restoration fee)




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