When playwright, performer and drag diva Charles Busch returns to acting on the stage after his triumph with The Tale of the Allergist's Wife in January, he'll be joined by a fine cast of Broadway and Off-Broadway talent, including B.D. Wong (M. Butterfly, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Becky Ann Baker (June Moon, Titanic) and Daniel Gerroll (Ghosts, House and Garden). They are featured players alongside Busch in the Drama Dept.'s production of his Shanghai Moon, playing Jan. 3-Feb. 8 at the Greenwich House Theatre.
In Shanghai Moon, a parody of 1930's melodramas in the vein of "Shanghai Express," Busch stars as Lady Sylvia Allington, the beautiful American-born wife of a aging British diplomat (Gerroll), 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 (Wong), sparking off a mad, passionate affair which must end in murder.
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.
Gerroll also plays Pug Talbot, the salty captain of a drug-running ship. Baker doubles as Mrs. Carol, a brothel owner and Sir Geoffrey, a prosecuting attorney. Also in the cast are Sekiya Billman (Miss Saigon) as Mah Li and Marcy McGuigan as Dr. Wu and Sir Lionel.
Carl Andress (Busch's Queen Amarantha, author of It's Not My Fault, It Was on Fire When I Got There) directs. 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 transferred to Broadway for a moneymaking two-year run.
Recent Drama Dept. shows have included Free to Be...You and Me, Rude Entertainment, The Book of Liz, Music from a Sparkling Planet and The Dark Kalamazoo.
Tickets are $35. The Greenwich House Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street off Seventh Avenue South. For reservations, call (212) 633-9632. The Drama Dept. is on the web at http://www.dramadept.org.
– By Christine Ehren
and Robert Simonson