Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for September 2009
BY Brandon Voss
September 21 2009 1:15 PM ET
As I’ve already mentioned, I tried to avoid solo performances like H1N1, but somehow I got creamed by Pie-Face! The Adventures of Anita Bryant, a one-man show from Orlando written and performed by David Lee. I usually enjoy drag celebrity impersonations, so I stopped by the Actors’ Playhouse hoping to be tickled while getting schooled on the Lord-loving, homo-hating, orange juice–schilling beauty queen’s shameful legacy. But in blending archival footage and recordings from the ’70s with fake newscasts and clever theatrics like subbing a Ken doll for Rolling Stone reporter Ken Kelley, Lee succeeds in celebrating a somewhat sympathetic Bryant for all her sunny stupidity. After all, she united the LBGT community before Carrie Prejean was even born.
Unfortunately, I happened to be at Lee’s final Fringe performance, a technical disaster he’ll not soon forget without intensive psychotherapy. Because his show’s so highly dependent on video clips and voice-overs, a show-halting computer meltdown made him break character to lament that both his agent and an Ugly Betty bigwig were also there to witness the horror. Yet the genial audience stuck by Lee even after we were forced to repeat a sing-along of David Allan Coe’s “Fuck Anita Bryant.” Later, when he shared the story of a concert appearance where an audience made Bryant cry by standing up and turning their backs on her as she sang, nearly the entire audience at the intimate Actors’ Playhouse instinctively pulled the same stunt as a teary-eyed Lee stood centerstage, lip-synching “God Bless America” — one of the most awkwardly moving moments I’ve ever experienced.