Playwright, performer and drag diva Charles Busch will be back on stage in 2003 after his recent Broadway triumph with The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, The Drama Dept. will produce Shangai Moon, a parody of 1930's melodramas in the vein of "Shangahi Express." The limited run will play Jan. 3-Feb. 9, 2003.
Busch will star as Lady Sylvia Allington, the beautiful American-born wife of a aging British diplomat, who travels to Shanghai to persuade an infamous Chinese warlord to donate a priceless jade to the British Museum. Lady Sylvia, trapped in her loveless marriage, falls headlong into love with the notorious General Gong Fe, sparking off a madly passionate affair which must end in murder.
The piece is more in the tradition of Busch's campy, cross-dressing past, than the New York-style of boulevard comedy epitomized by Allergist's Wife.
Shanghai Moon was workshopped in a production at Theatre for the New City in January, 1999. The new version is heavily revised, however, and may very well be considered a world premiere, as the New City "debut" was not reviewed.
Busch said in a statement, "Having been a rather peculiar child who grew up in front of a television set watching the 4:30 Movie, it is no wonder that many of my fantasies are film-inspired. Thus, it was inevitable that I write myself a vehicle based on the pre-code oriental melodramas of the 1930's." Carl Andress (Busch's Queen Amarantha, author of It's Not My Fault, It Was on Fire When I Got There) will direct. Variety reported in June that B.D. Wong will also star.
Designing the show are Busch's long-time collaborators Michael Bottari and Ronald Case (costumes) and B.T. Whitehall (sets) with lighting by Kirk Bookman.
Busch, who first made his name with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, is also the author of Red Scare On Sunset, The Lady In Question and The Green Heart. His Die, Mommy, Die! and Psycho Beach Party have been made into films.
Allergist's Wife began at Manhattan Theatre Club and trasferred to Broadway for a money-making two-year run.
Recent Drama Dept. shows have included Free to Be...You and Me, Rude Entertainment, The Book of Liz and Music from a Sparkling Planet.
– By Christine Ehren
and Robert Simonson