There are some actors who transcend their own talent, popularity and every role they’ve played. Such a legend was Mae West. In Claudia Shear's play, the star is captured at various key moments during her bumpy rise to fame, and seen simultaneously through the eyes of two of her most obsessive fans, creating a playful, bawdy portrait of one of America’s most timeless and controversial cultural icons.
The play seamlessly travels between the early 1900’s to the months prior to her death in 1980 and 20 years later to the present. This happens by three versatile actors, some fast costume changes and through Miss West’s musical compositions. This playwright, screenwriter and actress of vaudeville, burlesque, film and stage who challenged the censors of her time is celebrated in a unique 90-minute one act.
Anne Sheridan Smith plays both Jo, a lonely young actress who pays homage to her secret heroine at the West’s Brooklyn family mausoleum, and Mae West herself. Smith has the perfect look and legendary physique; she also has Mae’s delivery of double entendres down to a science. As brilliant as her Mae West is, Smith’s Jo is equally as impressive. Hiding her vulnerability and longing until she befriends David Tibble’s wonderful shy, nerdy Charlie at their icon’s grave, they share an infatuation with West and discover much about each other. Tibble also plays several other men in West’s life, including W.C. Fields. Nicholas Bailey, the production’s talented singing pianist, also demonstrates his diversity playing Frank Wallace, Ed Hearn and several other men.