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Don’t let your modern life get in the way of theater

Did you ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right? You know, a day where everything you do turns out to be a lot more difficult than it should be, where everybody rubs you the wrong way, and where the only effective remedy would be to exercise your Second Amendment rights?

So here it is, on a day of record−breaking heat in April. Things start off okay, an hour’s workout at the gym, and the purchase of a 750−gram jar of Nutella — I can’t help it if you don’t know the metric system and are not addicted to hazelnut. But my first wife is home with a hobbled knee, and she’s getting weird about the swine flu scare. And I see one of my buddies from Crocheron Park limping around the neighborhood, telling me he has an illness (undisclosed) that may mean his tennis−playing days are over.

Then it’s off to the office, where nobody is answering their phone or responding to e−mails. I’m of an age — old — where once upon a time you could actually get to speak to a live person the same day. Now we have lots of ways to communicate — you know what they are — but forget about getting to talk to anyone.

Well, I did get to speak to my daughter. If you have an adult child, you don’t need a mirror, ’cause she will gladly tell you all the things that are wrong with you. And then some.

Just a minute, you may be saying — and my editor certainly is — what’s all this ranting in what is supposed to be a theater column? After all, the play’s the thing, isn’t it?

Okay, if you insist. The Outrageous Fortune Company opens its latest production tomorrow, its 47th in 16 years at Queens Theatre in the Park, with “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”, the comedy by Charles Busch that ran for 777 performances on Broadway a few years ago. Mr. Busch, known for such cult favorites as “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” and “Psycho Beach Party,” in creating “Allergist’s Wife” for a mainstream audience — that’s you guys — said of himself, “The honky−tonk drag queen was now reinvented as a Broadway playwright.”

Many will remember this play as a starring vehicle for Linda Lavin. Outrageous Fortune does not have Ms. Lavin, but it does have a splendid cast of some well−known locals. Vicki Klein has the lead role of Marjorie Taub, the long−suffering wife, along with Spencer Cohen, Barbara Goichman and Sherry Mandery. Rounding out the ensemble is Hoji Fortuna – you may not know him since he’s from Angola by way of Portugal, but I predict that you’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the future. The guiding light is the talented director Nick Brennan.

“The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” has just six performances scheduled in a 90−seat theater, so the producer — that’s me — urges you to get whatever tickets are left right away. That, at least, will put me in a better mood. And, by the way, this is perfect play for Mother’s Day.

Once again, to all theater groups out there, send me stuff about what you’re up to, more than just a listing of your next show, and I’ll be glad to print it. I certainly have hundreds of readers. Maybe dozens. Okay, at least three that I know of. I can even get you a subscription to the paper, so you don’t have to pay fifty cents or go to YourNabe.com. Remember, the play’s the thing.

Contact Ron Hellman at RBH24@Columbia.edu.

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