The official opening of Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group revival of John Guare's modern classic The House of Blue Leaves on September 14 coincided with the grand re-opening of the renovated Mark Taper Forum. The production is excellent and the Taper lovely, although I must be honest and say I'm not fond of the pea soup-green seats. They were largely redeemed, however, by the fabulous new downstairs area, which is being referred to by many as the "disco lounge" thanks to its silver upholstery and mirror-tiled pillars.
I was privileged to attend the opening night after-party with the likes of top-notch cast members John Pankow, Jane Kaczmarek and Kate Burton, as well as VIP attendees T.R. Knight, Bradley Whitford and Joan Van Ark. However, I made a beeline (after finishing my free wine and dinner; Reverend has his priorities) for actress Rusty Schwimmer, who plays "The Head Nun", hilariously, in the play.
Schwimmer has given memorable supporting performances in such TV shows as Private Practice, Heroes, Desperate Housewives and Six Feet Under. But she has impressed me in the big-screen blockbuster The Perfect Storm, the under seen North Country and, most recently, the barely-released The Hawk is Dying.
She was gracious and funny as I introduced myself and commended her on her body of work thus far. A friend who accompanied me commented on how well she utilized the referee's whistle the Head Nun uses in The House of Blue Leaves to keep her fellow sisters in line. Schwimmer was ready to drag us back to her dressing room so we could all practice with it!
She was also thrilled that I had not only seen The Hawk is Dying -- the film is available on DVD-- but had such high regard for it and her performance in it. "I feel that film was so far ahead of its time," she told me, "and (the film's star) Paul Giamatti agrees."
Bawdy yet sensitive, strong yet vulnerable, Schwimmer is destined to become an GLBT fave if she isn't already!
Article by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.