Claudia Shear has been inviting San Francisco to come up and see her some time - and they have been. The demand is high enough that Dirty Blonde, her hit three-person Broadway play, will extend at the City by the Bay's Theatre in the Square through July 29. Performances began April 11 and were originally set to end June 17.
Two of the Broadway show's stars, Tom Riis Farrell and Bob Stillman, repeat their duties in San Francisco. Stillman, known for his singing roles in The Last Session and Kiss of the Spider Woman, portrays Joe Frisco, Frank Wallace and others, while Farrell takes the other lead role, that of Charlie, an overweight man who falls for Shear's Jo.
Dirty Blonde involves two single New Yorkers, Jo and Charlie, who meet at Mae West's grave site and goes on to trace the couple's changing relationship while simultaneously tracking West's career. That history is one of controversy and fame as the "dirty blonde" made it to Broadway (Sex, Diamond Lil) and to the movies ("She Done Him Wrong," "I'm No Angel," "My Little Chickadee") but kept her bad girl image.
On Broadway, Dirty Blonde closed at the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 41. After a successful run Off-Broadway, the comedy started previews on April 14, 2000 and opened two weeks later on May 1. The show's run included 20 previews and 352 performances. Dirty Blonde garnered five Tony nominations: Best Play, Best Director, Best Performance by a Leading Actress for Shear and two for Best Performance by a Featured Actor, one of which was for Stillman.
Shear (playwright and star) and James Lapine (director) co-conceived the show and shepherded its move to Broadway. The play marked Shear's return to New York Theatre Works, where she triumphed in 1993 with her one woman "tour de résumé" Blown Sideways, a 64-job search for employment. That piece earned her an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. Tickets are $50-$30. Theatre in the Square is located at 450 Post Street. For reservations, call (415) 433-9500.