Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia Is Broadway’s Overnight Smash with Hilarious “Wishful Drinking”




Carrie Fisher — a five-foot tall ball of fire  —  may be Broadway’s hottest ticket this morning, more so than even Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman.

Her side-splittingly funny, knowing and incredibly witty “Wishful Drinking” opened last night to rave reviews and a sold-out celebrity-filled premiere.

In the crowd were Jane Fonda and her beau, famed record producer Richard Perry, plus Jane’s actor son Troy Garity and his wife Simone; Mario Cantone, Patti Lupone, Salman Rushdie (a fan and friend ‘ who knew?), the singer from the Scissor Sisters, plus Tovah Felshuh, Harvey Keitel, Martha Plimpton, Gay and Nan Talese, writer Bruce Wagner, many producers, and media types, plus Pat Mitchell, head of the Paley Center. Carrie’s got a lot of friends in show business, and believe me, they are all going to to want to see her one woman show.

There are many highlights to “Wishful Drinking,” although certainly the biggest production number, as it were, is Carrie’s blackboard filled with pictures of all the adults who comprised her parents’ major soap opera of the early 1960s. She calls it Hollywood Inbreeding 101, and with a pointer Fisher recalls the saga of her parents ‘ Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, along with Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd, extending to Connie Stevens, and various hilarious minor players. She stays just this side of slander as she retells the story that made tabloid headlines more than 40 years ago.

“Think of Eddie as Brad Pitt, Debbie as Jennifer Aniston, and Elizabeth as Angelina Jolie,” Fisher advises the audience. The whole thing is an absolute hoot. (”We’re related by scandal,” she tells her 17 year-old daughter who wonders about Mike Todd’s grandson.)

Of course, there is plenty more: Fisher’s life as Princess Leia of “Star Wars,” her failed marriage to Paul Simon, her failed marriage to talent agent Bryan Lourd, and the real story of how a gay Republican operative died in her Hollywood bed two years ago. Yes, there’s also the many rehab stays and a visit to a mental hospital. You’re kind of surprised there aren’t more of those episodes, all things considered.

There are no villains in Fisher’s monologues. It’s just a look back, with a glib touch, to what happened to her and her family in their pursuit of Hollywood fame and power from meager beginnings in Texas (Reynolds) and South Philly (Fisher). In order to make it fit into something workable, Fisher skips a few chapters: her work on Hollywood films, her roles in “Shampoo,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “SoapDish,” some good tales about other Hollywood friends. There’s plenty for a sequel. But what’s she put on stage is magic. Fisher ‘ though she may not realize it yet ‘ has exceeded her famous parents, shed her Princess Leia hairdo, and solidified her place in showbiz.

P.S. No one has the film rights to “Wishful Drinking.” How is this possible? HBO, Showtime, what’s taking so long?

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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