You didn't see a movie star performing live on stage today, did you? I did. Mom and I took the bus to San Francisco to see Tony Curtis in the touring musical version of "Some Like It Hot." It's based on the 1959 movie classic in which Curtis starred with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, although now instead of playing the young hero Joe he's appearing as the naughty old man, Osgood Fielding.
Did you have Sunday brunch at a lounge on the nineteenth floor of a famous hotel with a spectacular view of the city of San Francisco? We did. We ate at the Top of the Mark. We could see the whole city, in spite of the scaffolding just outside the windows. And it was a glorious day, with clear views and just enough of a foggy haze to remind us that we were in San Francisco and not just any city. (As if it's even possible to make that mistake.)
The food was plentiful and expensive and pretty okay. I tried several things that I had no idea what they were, colorful little balls of something and wraps of something else. Caviar was available, which I guess would have made the price worth paying if I didn't already know I didn't want any. The hash browns and scrambled eggs were cold, but you can get potatoes and eggs anywhere. The lavish dessert table more than made up for any deficiencies elsewhere. Bread pudding, mmmmm.
From the restaurant we went on to the Golden Gate Theatre, a little bit of the city's history in the middle of the Tenderloin district. It was opened in the 1920s as an art deco movie house, converted to a twin-screen Cinerama in the 1960s, and then restored as a live performance venue in the 1970s. With the original ornamentation and decoration, it's like walking into the past.
Our seats were in the loge section, looking down on the orchestra and stage. It was hideously hot inside, but the air conditioner was doing the best it could, I'm sure. It was also clogging up my head and throat and making me a little queasy, but I got over it after the curtain went up.
The show itself was originally adapted as a musical several years ago and has been revived and revised for this new tour. The songs are lyrical in the Broadway tradition of "Gypsy" and "Funny Girl" (with good reason: same writers), the lighting is fun to watch and the scenic design is amazing. The story travels by train from Chicago to Miami in 1929, and you get a feeling for both cities (along with the train ride).
All of the performances were worth the price, and seeing a real showbiz legend in person is a thrill in itself. The production does a wonderful job of masking the fact that Tony Curtis doesn't sing or dance. He's a game old showbiz legend, and he seems to be having fun in his first stage performance. That more than makes up for talking his way through songs and hoofing it like the 77-year-old actor he is.
Really, the draw is the legend, but the show itself is brought to life by the other actors, singers and dancers. There are some amazing tap numbers by the Chicago gangsters, and some of the songs are worthy of anything ever sung on Broadway. The show's month-long run at the Golden Gate ended with this performance today. The company now moves on to Denver, where it starts Tuesday and runs for about two weeks.