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eonline 3 sep 2003

Rosie Tumbles 4 Broadway

by Lia Haberman

Boy george and Rosie O'Donnell

Rosie O'Donnell's back on Broadway.The news should come as little surprise to anyone who ever watched her eponymous talk show--the woman could never resist a show tune--or caught her hosting the Tonys.

But after having starred in two major productions, 1994's Grease and 2001's Seussical, O'Donnell has relinquished the limelight for her next gig as producer of Taboo.
The musical, about the London club scene during the early '80s, pairs the onetime Queen of Nice with the show's original creator and star, '80s icon Boy George, who's since forged a successful career as a club deejay.
But don't look for George (real name George O'Dowd) to play himself. That heavily made-up role's gone to 25-year-old thesp Euan Morton. Instead, the Culture Clubber stars alongside Morton as Leigh Bowery, an equally made-up transgendered performance artist and designer. Got that?
Here's the deal: the musical features the relationship between rising club kid Boy George (played by Morton) and the flamboyant Bowery (played by George) as they become major players in London's music and fashion scene, set against the backdrop of one of the city's most notorious nightclubs, Taboo.
Dubbed Hairspray meets Rent by O'Donnell, the show had a successful 16-month run in London's West End when Rosie caught a performance. Faster than you can say "Koosh ball," O'Donnell tapped her theater contacts to bring the show across the Atlantic.
Along the way, O'Donnell, who's underwriten the show's $10 million budget, made some minor changes for American audiences, which include promoting George's role in the production--he wrote the music and lyrics but wasn't even listed in the British playbill--she also plans to release a cast recording after the show opens.
In an effort to promote the show's November 13 debut, O'Donnell took to the Web on Wednesday, having notoriously turned her back on TV and magazines.
She and George kicked off the show's internet marketing campaign with an email blitz to over 3 million people. Web users will get first dibs at tickets while the traditional box office won't sell seats until September 22, "when all the good seats are gone," quipped O'Donnell.
In case anyone should question her computer skills, O'Donnell gushed, "I love the Web. I live on the Web. I surf the Web. My show is on the Web," she said in a statement.
Well, not exactly. The show in onstage at New York's Plymouth Theater but we digress.
In the meantime, O'Donnell's also busy preparing for a court battle versus former Rosie publishers Gruner + Jahr USA over the demise of her magazine last year. Both sides are due in court September 30 for a preliminary hearing into their dueling breach-of-contract lawsuits.

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