"Celebrity Autobiography" at Le Petit Theatre



The premise behind the off-Broadway hit Celebrity Autobiography is as simple as it sounds: people reading aloud from the literary works of the famous — and the more fatuous and self-indulgent the source work, the funnier. (Did Diana Ross really describe her rained-out Central Park concert as a “wet dream”? Yes, she did.) Developers Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel brought the show to Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre July 11 as a benefit for the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, assembling an amazing cast.

Bryan Batt opened the show as Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White describing the surprising difficulties of her job, which segued into Jay Thomas’ reading of Kenny Loggins’ unctuous public love letter to his wife (“I want to hold really still and let the US of us in”). Ryan Reynolds and Mario Cantone brought down the house as Geraldo Rivera and Liza Minnelli, respectively, describing a mutual sexual encounter in a bathroom at Studio 54, and Cantone killed as Zsa Zsa Gabor, describing the tortures of her infamous 72-hour jail stint, during which she washed her face with Evian water and read Town and Country magazine.

Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson’s autobios were read in counterpoint by John Goodman and Jennifer Coolidge, who put just the right blank spin on lines like “I didn’t know whether to levitate — or cry.” But the funniest interlude included the men in the show as the five members of N’SYNC, describing their most embarrassing moments; watching Goodman and Batt enact the roles of teenage boy-band members was worth the price of admission alone.

All this hilarity raised more than $10,000 for the Gulf, and producer Pack said after the show he’d like to bring Celebrity Autobiography back to town for a proper run. Two words — Ricky Graham. Imagine the possibilities.

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