Lucky Guy: Grand Ole Orgy

Special Features   Lucky Guy: Grand Ole Orgy
 
Dreamers, schemers and drag queens make up the mess of sparkly misfits in the new Nashville-set Off-Broadway musical Lucky Guy.

Leslie Jordan
Leslie Jordan Photo by Krissie Fullerton

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Leslie Jordan has been a four-foot-eleven-inch majority-of-one in the shows he has brought to New York (Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies and, last spring, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet), so it's conceivable he has looked around the stage of the Little Shubert, where Lucky Guy is playing, and wondered what all these other people are doing on the stage with him.

"I'm learning to be a team player," says the diminutive comedian, who is used to writing and executing his own stuff, unfettered by such "living scenery" around him.

It's a small miracle that (1) he ever crossed paths with Willard Beckham in the first place and (2) they converged so harmoniously. Beckham hails from the opposite end of the sociological totem pole, having spent all of his time on Broadway as a member of the ensemble (Lorelei, Something's Afoot, The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall), and he was inspired to write the book and two dozen songs for Lucky Guy — and direct it — by the ultimate ensemble film-epic, "Nashville."

Willard Beckham
photo by Krissie Fullerton

"It's set in Nashville, but it's all Fantasy Nashville," stresses Beckham. "Everything's way larger than life. For instance, the Queen of Country Music — a larger-than-life personality, the biggest star in Nashville — lives in a 28-room trailer house, recently featured on the cover of Motor Homes and Gardens. It's out there, big 'n' glamorous. "This production of Lucky Guy is very, very glamorous. William Ivey Long has gone out of his way to create the most beautiful costumes you have ever seen. One of [the Queen's] ten gowns in the show is this extravaganza thing of gold and more gold and lace and opulence, with this giant, practically Marie Antoinette red wig by the great Paul Huntley. It's almost as if you had gone to Alice in Wonderland and fallen through the rabbit hole, and there you are in Nashville — that Nashville."

In previous incarnations, the C&W diva — Miss Jeannie Jeannine — has been played by the Tony-winning likes of Kelly Bishop, Faith Prince and Victoria Clark, but for this edition the role will be played by a statuesque drag queen, Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson).

Jordan is her ever-lovin' Big Al, a smarmy used-car dealer who runs Right Track Records and barely reaches her boobs in his stocking feet. "We're Boris and Natasha," cracks Jordan, who is bedecked and bedazzled in the original sequin-excess designs of famed Nashville costumer Nudie, all stitched together by Long.

To Beckham, "Lucky Guy is more about show business than country music, the way Annie Get Your Gun is about show business more than it is the rodeo. That's what it is: this is about show business — but in Nashville. It's about all these people trying to get a hit record, make the right deal and turn stars overnight."

Xavier Cano, Callan Bergmann, Savannah Wise, Kyle Dean Massey, Jim Newman, Joshua Woodie, Jenn Jenn Colella and Wes Hart
Xavier Cano, Callan Bergmann, Savannah Wise, Kyle Dean Massey, Jim Newman, Joshua Woodie, Jenn Jenn Colella and Wes Hart
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