Like most of the world, I first became aware of Grey from his Tony/Oscar winning turn(s) as the Emcee in Cabaret. I've written several times about my fascination with this musical, and with this character, which was on my bucket list before they invented that term. I was lucky to scratch the role off that list around 1990.
|Joel Grey's Emcee, with his "Two Ladies"|
|My Emcee, with my "Two Ladies." One can hardly tell us apart.|
|Here's Grey in the drag which opens the|
second act of Cabaret.
|As specified in the script, my Emcee also|
opened act 2 in drag. Twins, right?
|Goodtime Charley must have been a|
hoot. The opening number is sung by
warrior king Henry V of England and
Queen Isabella of Bavaria. And Ann
Reinking as Joan of Arc? Wow. The
production folded after a few months
when Grey left to make a movie.
The Grand Tour concerned a Polish Jew escaping Nazi occupied France and had the bad luck to open the same season as Sweeney Todd, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and They're Playing Our Song. Hard to believe I chose to see Grand Tour instead of those other shows, but I was so enamored of Joel Grey back then, I did (you guessed it, I wrote a bit about seeing it here).
Joel Grey's several flops following Cabaret suggests a point I realized a while ago. Though he certainly has the talent and the charisma to headline a show, he is most successful "in support." Over the years he has succeeded in roles such as the Wizard in Wicked, Amos in Chicago, and the aforementioned Moonface in Anything Goes. But when he is handed a starring role, such as in Goodtime Charley or The Grand Tour, he's less effective. This is another area in which he and I are similar. I'm much better in support, too.
|These days, the Emcee is considered the leading male role in Cabaret, but when Joel won the Tony (and then the Oscar) for it, the part was considered supporting.|
|ABC produced a 1-hour|
version of George M!, which
only proved that the role was
chilly and unlikeable. Here are
Nanette Fabray and Jack
Cassidy as Cohan's parents.
And I didn't do any better. Back in 1983, I played George M! in dinner theatre. I could act the part fairly well, being chilly and unlikeable myself, but my singing was suspicious and my dancing was downright dreadful. Ah, well, Joel recovered from the failure of George M!, and I suppose I did too. See how we're practically twins?
|Here is my George M! with my stage parents. I don't remember their names, which surely protects their reputations. My performance had nothing going for it other than a rather generalized enthusiasm.|