Special Limited Engagement at Empire Stage, September 10-October 4

Hotspots Exclusive Interview by Mike Halterman

MommyQueerist_copy3Joan Crawford. Oscar winner. Clean freak. Child Protective Services’ worst nightmare.

By now you know the story of Christina Crawford’s tell-all about her tumultuous relationship with her famous mother. First the book, then the 1981 movie that became an instant cult  classic. Yes, it’s been 34 years since Faye Dunaway donned those famous arched eyebrows and big shoulder pads making us all go back in the closet and question our choice of clothes hanger.

For the last 12 years Jamie Morris’ twisted version, Mommie Queerest, has had sold-out audiences across the country re-thinking the oft-quoted, campy tale with the simple premise, “What if Joan had really been a man all those years?”

Told by an all-male cast of four, Mommie Queerest had its world premiere in Provincetown in 2003 and has since played in over two dozen cities including two sold-out runs both in New York City and in Los Angeles, where the show garnered 4 LA Weekly Theater Awards, winning for Best Comedy Direction for Christopher Kenney.

MommyQueerist_copy1In 2011 Mommie Queerest had a successful, sold-out run at Empire Stage. This return engagement will feature a new set design by Carbonell Award-winner Michael McClain and will reunite playwright Morris as Joan with Brooks Braselmen as Christina. Both actors originated the roles of the infamous mother/daughter team.

Mommie Queerest will play Empire Stage (1140 N. Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale) from Thursday, September 10 through Sunday, October 4.  The play runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. for a total of 16 shows. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online at smarttix.com.

ABOUT THE CAST

Braselman was nominated for the LA Weekly Theater Award for his portrayal of Christina Crawford. He also originated roles in Jamie Morris’ “Facts Of Life: The Lost Episode” (Natalie Green) and “Silence Of The Clams” (Calrice Startling). He has done voices for Cartoon Network/Adult Swim’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Squidbillies” and he can be heard as Truman Capote on the promotional cast recording of “The Black And White Ball”.

Morris, too, was nominated for the LA Weekly Theater Award for his portrayal of Joan Crawford. In addition to Mommie Queerest, Morris’ other  parody plays include “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode” (Mrs. Garrett), “The Silence of the Clams” (Hannibal), “Re-Designing Women” (Julia, Off-Broadway) and “Gilligan’s Fire Island.” He is also a writer for Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” in Las Vegas where he lives with his partner of 16 years.

I had a wonderful time speaking with Jamie Morris about Mommie Queerest and what it’s like to bring the show back to South Florida after four years away in this exclusive Hotspots interview.

How excited are you to come back to South Florida to put on this show?

We’re very excited. We’ve done all of my plays except one at Empire Stage. The first one was Mommie Queerest back in 2011. When I was pitched the idea, I thought, “Why would I want to go to South Florida in the heat of July and August?” But I loved it, and we’ve come back with shows every year since then, and it’ll be nice to introduce new audiences to Mommie Queerest this year.

Some markets are good because they always welcome you. South Florida is one of those for me. Everyone loves my shows, and I am so happy to see the response and so humbled by it. South Florida audiences are great.MommyQueerist_copy2

For people who didn’t get to see the show in 2011, tell us a little bit about it.

The premise of Mommie Queerest is pretty simple: What if Joan had really been a man all of those years? And a lot of people hear that and ask me, “Well, wasn’t she?” Joan Crawford is just this really strong, brassy leading lady that gay men just worship. And you’ll find that a lot of people root for Joan. Even though Christina wrote the book, and it was made into a movie, and you’re supposed to feel sorry for Christina, all the gay men I’ve found are on Joan’s side. Now, with all the transgender people in the news, maybe this play is timely again? I don’t know. [laughs]

What’s your favorite part of Mommie Queerest?

It’s probably the scene with Joan and Louis B. Mayer, where he comes to her in a dream and he tells her that he knows she’s a man and that her career is ruined. It’s a new scene that I added and it helps tie things together a little better than before.

For more information on this show as well as other Empire Stage productions, visit empirestage.com.