THE LEADING MEN: Joey, Joey, Joey

By Wayman Wong
06 Jul 2004

EVERYTHING’S COMING UP MOSES
With his sizable pecs and sex appeal, Burke Moses brings his considerable muscle to the heroic role of Herakles (the Greek Hercules) in The Frogs, directed by Susan Stroman and opening July 22 at the Vivian Beaumont. At 6-foot-2, the booming baritone towers over Dionysos (Nathan Lane), the god of drama, who literally goes through hell to get to Hades. In one of Stephen Sondheim’s new numbers, "Dress Big," Herakles tells Dionysos how to dress more manly ("not too fussy, too Fosse") .

In this Aristophanes comedy from 405 B.C., "freely adapted " by Burt Shevelove and "even more freely adapted" by Lane, Moses shows off his fit physique in little more than a loincloth. Best-known for his Theatre World Award-winning role as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, he says, "When I went to my [Frogs] fitting, William Ivey Long, costume designer extraordinaire, showed me a gold lame thong, and I just had to say no. I should look like Adonis, not a dancer at The Adonis. So we compromised. I got a beard and some extra codpiece material."

Moses, who maintains a low-carb diet and trained with a former Mr. Universe, wisecracks, "It seems my bread and butter is playing large, muscle-bound morons who make fun of their machismo." And though Herakles is onstage for only 15 minutes, Moses is thrilled to be in such esteemed company and reunited with Lane. He made his Broadway debut as Sky Masterson, opposite Lane’s Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls in 1992. "In Frogs, though, Nathan is also the writer, so he’s got to critique his writing and carry the show, and that’s pretty impressive." In return, the two-time Tony winner raves, "Burke was born to play Herakles."

Working with Sondheim also brings Moses full-circle: "Twenty years ago, I was fired from the original company of Into the Woods. I played one of the princes. I was young, right out of school [Carnegie Mellon] and didn’t rise to the occasion. I did the workshop and got the ax before it went to Broadway. Now the exiled Prince has been welcomed back, and it’s been a dream come true."



And this isn’t the first time Moses has worked with frogs. At 20, he was a waiter at a Boston restaurant called The Frogs: "It was the worst job I ever had. No one came, so I volunteered to go outside, wearing a stupid frog costume, to drum up business. A guard came by and said, ‘You can’t do that here. This isn’t an amusement park!’"

Before hopping into Frogs, the Manhattan-born actor, 44, carved a career out of soaps, sitcoms and straight plays (playing Stanley in Streetcar). But his dream role arrived when he took over for Brian Stokes Mitchell as Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate: "It requires every tool you’ve got. You get to do romance, comedy. And you’re driving the show. It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys."

Moses, who’s married to Paulette and has two sons, Jackson, 9, and Rafe, 4, says, "I’ve done TV and straight drama, but nothing compares to musical theatre. You have the pretty girls, the hilarious gay men, brilliant comics and the crowd. To be out there with a 20-piece orchestra while you’re singing a big solo, that’s the thrill of a lifetime!"

For more information about The Frogs, visit www.lct.org.

ALL-AMERICAN ‘BOY’ GETZ MARRIED
James Getzlaff, the star of Bravo’s gay dating show, "Boy Meets Boy," currently appears Off Off-Broadway in My Big Gay Italian Wedding, and he’s had a great time grooming himself for his New York stage debut. He plays Andrew, who’s going to the chapel and gonna get married to Anthony, but ex-boyfriends and family threaten to sabotage the farcical affair. "I love the cast and the show, and it’s very funny," raves the good-looking Getzlaff, who even sings and dances a little in Anthony Wilkinson’s comedy at Theater Four. "I also identify with Andrew: He’s just a romantic and sweet guy who’s making his way through life and looking for his soulmate."

Getzlaff, who turns 34 on July 7, is no stranger to the stage. Years ago, he did Damn Yankees in Seattle and Chicago in Vancouver, and he just toured in Lullaby of Broadway in Georgia and South Carolina, co starring Broadway veteran Sean McDermott, and his big solo was the title tune of Sunset Boulevard. Getzlaff, who’s even more charming and disarming in person, says his dream role would be the lead of Jekyll & Hyde because "the character has a split personality: sweet and charming one minute, but sinister and vicious another. We all have a dark side. It’d be definitely a departure from the sweet guy from ‘Boy Meets Boy.’"

As for the Bravo show, the 6-foot-2 hunk says, "Ultimately what came out of it was good. The experience itself wasn’t that good, and the whole twist [in which some straight guys tried to pass for gay] sucked. I think people are realizing it’s not cool [to deceive gay people] because another reality show, ‘Playing It Straight,’ was canceled. It turned into a manhunt of ‘Find the Fags.’ It was really cruel. But the positive thing about ‘Boy Meets Boy’ is you got to see normal gay men with jobs, looking for love and making new friends. It wasn’t about sex or drugs or partying. I’ve spoken to Dan and Sean since and kept in touch with the gay guys. We really bonded."

For more info, visit www.mybiggayitalianwedding.com.

WHERE THE GUYS ARE
There’s so much to see in New York: If you haven’t caught the radiant revival of Finian’s Rainbow at Irish Rep, 132 W. 22nd St. (212-727-2737), it’s playing through July 11. Chad Kimball has taken over the role of Og the leprechaun and, with his lucky charms, he’s magically delicious, especially when he stops the show with "When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love." . . . Mark Nadler is a multi-MAC Award-winning master of musical comedy, and his new show, "Write Now! Songs by People Who Aren’t Dead," is playing July 8-31 at Opia, 130 E. 57th St. (212-688-3939). . . . Jon Peterson gives his regards to Broadway in Chip Deffaa’s The George M. Cohan Revue on July 9, 16, 23 and 25 at Danny’s Skylight Room, 346 W. 46th St. (212-265-8133). . . . Michael Cerveris, who won a Tony for his killer performance in Assassins, celebrates the release of his rock band’s new CD, "Dog Eared," on July 12 at 9:30 PM at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St. (212-239 6200). . . . And John Bucchino has reason to be "Grateful": The Summer Play Festival presents his new revue, It’s Only Life, July 27 Aug. 1 at the Beckett, 410 W. 42nd St. (212-239-6200). And what a cast: Michael Arden, John Bolton, Andrea Burns, Jessica Molaskey and Billy Porter.

Looking for an out-of-town treat? See Noah Racey in Where’s Charley? July 9-Sept. 25 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT (860-873-8668). Racey, who deserved the Astaire Award for his phenomenal footwork in Never Gonna Dance, will be following in the footsteps of Ray Bolger and crooning "Once in Love With Amy." . . . Or go to the Catskills and catch Tom Andersen on July 11 in the Nancy LaMott Room at the Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, N.Y. (845-583-4114). He’ll be doing toe-tapping tunes from his new CD, "Who Knows?," which has received raves from critics and colleagues. Stephen Schwartz says, "I’ve really been enjoying Tom’s latest CD: both Tom’s covers of terrific country songs and his own excellent new songs."

Got comments or questions? E-mail me at waymanwong@hotmail.com.

Until next month, let’s hear it for the "boys"!

Wayman Wong edits entertainment for the New York Daily News. He has been a movie and theatre critic for The San Francisco Examiner, a writer for The Sondheim Review and a Drama-Logue Award-winning playwright.