LOOK INTO THE LIGHTS Not far beneath the wickedly funny and deliciously entertaining, Broadway backstage, one-man show, GEORGIE – MY ADVENTURES WITH GEORGE ROSE at the Davenport Loft is a bold, compelling story. That drama resides not so much in the subject of the play, George Rose, the English-born, larger-than-life, eccentric, Tony Award-winning actor, whose penchant for young boys led to his grisly end in the Dominican Republic, but in its creator. The real McCoy in GEORGIE is its playwright, veteran actor Ed Dixon, who has written and performs Rose’s story.
GEORGIE is chockablock-full of tantalizing behind-the-scenes anecdotes of famous - and infamous - Broadway productions, racy jokes (have you heard the one about the alligator who walks into a bar…), bitchy characterizations of showbiz celebs, and a rollicking stream of Mr. Dixon doing Rose doing a Who’s Who of acting greats - Gielgud, Olivier, Richardson, etc. Mr. Dixon’s precise take on Rose plumbs their relationship: Rose was Mr. Dixon’s trusted friend, theater mentor, "Dutch uncle" and creative confidante for nearly thirty years.
The emotional grist comes when Mr. Dixon confronts the reality of Rose’s pedophilia, which triggers Mr. Dixon’s own personal crisis. God knows, it’s hard for actors to dig deep in painful, traumatic terrain and unearth inner demons for public performance but Mr. Dixon so beautifully allows how, in his friend’s death, he found renewed life. Mr. Dixon is so damned appealing and just plain likable, I yearned for more of his own story.
Director Eric Schaeffer, also responsible for the uncluttered scenic design, helps Mr. Dixon pace anecdotes and events nicely. Since its workshop at Sharon Playhouse (where I saw this in the summer of 2015) and then a run at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, Mr. Dixon has added more inside baseball theater material, and dramatized a harrowing car chase through Caribbean sugar fields. Chris Lee’s simple lighting design culminates in a brilliant, transcendent glow for Mr. Dixon’s poignant close.
GEORGIE is a little marvel - a bare-knuckle but bittersweet tribute to a legendary actor, a love letter to theater life, and a touching, probing contemplation of self-reconciliation.
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