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rapic city journal 4 sep 2003

Rosie O'Donnell Backs Boy George Musical

By Michael Kuchwara

NEW YORK - When it comes to "Taboo," Rosie O'Donnell has put her money where her mouth is. The former talk-show diva is the producer and sole investor in the $10 million Boy George musical, opening on Broadway Nov. 13.
"I always think: Go big or go home," O'Donnell said Wednesday during a news conference at a Times Square Internet cafe to kick off Web site ticket sales for the production, which begins preview performances Oct. 24 at the Plymouth Theatre.
"Taboo," O'Donnell said, is "a legitimate, knock-'em-down, leave-'em-screaming, worth-a-$100-a-seat Broadway show." She confidently predicted it would win the Tony Award for best musical next June.
In terms of sartorial hyperbole, though, the 41-year-old O'Donnell _ dressed simply in denim and a "Taboo" T-shirt _ was out-glammed by the man who stars in the show and wrote its music and lyrics.
George, while clothed mostly in basic black, let his makeup speak for itself. Speak? The look positively shouted. It included one ear painted blue, his left eye surrounded by silver glitter, an abundance of red lipstick and eyelashes that Tammy Faye Bakker would envy. To top it off, streaks of black makeup cascaded from the top of the 42-year-old's shaved head.
"Taboo," which had a 15-month run in England, focuses on two members of the early '80s London club scene: performance artist and designer Leigh Bowery and a young singer-songwriter named George O'Dowd, who became George.
O'Donnell saw the show during its London engagement and thought, "`If I can make this happen (on Broadway) it would be unreal.' The score was brilliant. All I felt that was needed was ... some of the real story of what happened to these people being more accurately reflected."
As a result, O'Donnell has hired Charles Busch, author of "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," to rewrite the book for Broadway. Euan Morton will play George, the role he originated in London, and George will portray Bowery.
"It's `Hairspray' meets `Rent,'" said O'Donnell, trying to dispel the notion that some audience members might be offended. "There's nothing discussed or seen on stage that you haven't seen on Broadway before. So don't let the word `Taboo' scare you. This is not `Oh, Calcutta!'"
More like "naked souls," interjected George, in trying to describe the musical. "Exactly," said O'Donnell, adding that "Taboo" celebrates "the vulnerable human spirit. It's relatable to anyone who loves `Pippin,' to anyone who loves "Cabaret.'"
"And to anyone who loves their mother," added her star.

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