Plymouth Theatre, (11/13/2003 - 2/08/2004)

First Preview: Oct 28, 2003
Opening Date: Nov 13, 2003
Closing Date: Feb 08, 2004
Total Previews: 16
Total Performances: 100

Category: Musical, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: An abandoned London warehouse, which formerly was the location of the hottest club of the '80s, Taboo, and a great variety of places in and about London.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Philip J. Smith: President; Robert E. Wankel: Executive Vice President)

Produced by Rosie O'Donnell and Adam Kenwright; Associate Producer: Daniel MacDonald, Lori E. Seid and Michael Fuchs

Music by Boy George; Lyrics by Boy George; Co-Composer: Kevan Frost; Music Co-Writer: John Themis and Richie Stevens; Book by Charles Busch; Adapted from the original book by Mark Davies; Musical Director: Jason Howland; Vocal, dance and incidental arrangements by John McDaniel; Music orchestrated by Steve Margoshes; Original concept by Boy George and Christopher Renshaw

Directed by Christopher Renshaw; Choreographed by Mark Dendy; (Unbilled) Choreographic Consultant: Jeff Calhoun; Associate Choreographer: Madeleine Ehlert

Scenic Design by Tim Goodchild; Costume Design by Mike Nicholls and Bobby Pearce; Lighting Design by Natasha Katz; Sound Design by Jonathan Deans; Hair Design by Christine Bateman; Make-Up Design by Christine Bateman; Associate Scenic Design: Nancy Thun; Associate Sound Design: Peter Hylenski

General Manager: The Charlotte Wilcox Company; Company Manager: Rob Wallner; General Management Associate: Susan Bell

Production Stage Manager: Peter Wolf; Production Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi; Stage Manager: Karen Moore

Musical Supervisor: John McDaniel; Musical Coordinator: Michael Keller; Conducted by Jason Howland; Associate Conductor: Daniel A. Weiss; Music Preparation: Emily Grishman Music Preparation; Keyboard 1: Jason Howland; Keyboard 2/Guitar 2: Daniel A. Weiss; Guitars: Kevan Frost; Drums: Chris Jago ; Bass: David Kuhn; Reeds: Charles Pillow; Violin: Sean Carney; Viola: Arthur Dibble; Cello: Ted Mook

Press Representative: Barlow-Hartman Public Relations; Dialect Coach: Stephen Gabis; Fight direction by Rick Sordelet; Marketing: TMG - The Marketing Group; Dance Captain: James Tabeek; Fight Captain: Asa Somers; Acting Coach: Candy Trabucco; Advertising: Serino Coyne, Inc.; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Casting: Bernard Telsey Casting, Inc.

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Opening Night Cast

Jeffrey CarlsonMarilyn
Raúl EsparzaPhilip Sallon
Liz McCartneyBig Sue
(Oct 28, 2003 - Dec 01, 2003)
Euan Morton
Broadway debut
George O'Dowd
Broadway debut
Leigh Bowery
Cary ShieldsMarcus
Sarah Uriarte BerryNicola
Jennifer CodyEnsemble
Dioni Michelle CollinsEnsemble
Brooke Elliott
Broadway debut
Felice B. GajdaEnsemble
William Robert GaynorEnsemble
Curtis HolbrookEnsemble
Jennifer K. MrozikEnsemble
Nathan PeckEnsemble
Alexander QuirogaEnsemble
Asa SomersEnsemble
Denise SummerfordEnsemble
Gregory TrecoEnsemble

Swings: Lori Holmes, Jody Reynard and James Tabeek

Standby: Donnie R. Keshawarz (Leigh Bowery, Philip Sallon)

Understudies: Dioni Michelle Collins (Big Sue), Brooke Elliott (Big Sue), William Robert Gaynor (Marcus), Lori Holmes (Nicola), Jennifer K. Mrozik (Nicola), Alexander Quiroga (Marilyn), Asa Somers (George), Denise Summerford (Nicola) and Gregory Treco (George, Marilyn)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2004 Best Original Score [nominee] 

Music by Boy George; Lyrics by Boy George

 2004 Best Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Euan Morton

 2004 Best Featured Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Raúl Esparza

 2004 Best Costume Design [nominee] 

Mike Nicholls

 2004 Best Costume Design [nominee] 

Bobby Pearce

Drama Desk Award

 2004 Outstanding Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Euan Morton

winner 2004 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical [winner] 

Raúl Esparza

 2004 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Jeffrey Carlson

 2004 Outstanding Lyrics [nominee] 

Lyrics by Boy George

 2004 Outstanding Music [nominee] 

Music by Boy George

Theatre World

winner 2004 Award [recipient] 

Euan Morton


music by Boy George; lyrics by Boy George

ACT 1 Sung By
Freak/Ode to Attention SeekersPhilip Sallon and Ensemble
Stranger in This WorldGeorge, Big Sue, Philip Sallon and Ensemble
Safe in the CityNicola and Ensemble
Dress to KillEnsemble
Genocide PeroxideMarilyn and Ensemble
I'll Have You AllLeigh Bowery and Men
Sexual ConfusionBig Sue, Philip Sallon, George and Marcus
Pretty LiesGeorge
GuttersnipeGeorge, Marilyn and Ensemble
Love Is a Question MarkMarcus, George, Leigh Bowery and Nicola
Do You Really Want to Hurt MeGeorge and Ensemble
Church of the Poison Mind/Karma ChameleonGeorge and Ensemble
ACT 2 Sung By
Everything TabooLeigh Bowery and Ensemble
Talk Amongst YourselvesBig Sue
The Fame GameGeorge and Ensemble
I See Through YouMarcus
Ich Bin KunstLeigh Bowery
PetrifiedPhilip Sallon
Out of FashionGeorge, Marilyn, Philip Sallon, Marcus and Leigh Bowery
Il AdoreNicola and Ensemble
Come on in From the OutsideCompany


AP: "Taboo Debuts With Some Sparkle"

Not many stars can get away with making their initial entrance on stage through a toilet stall but Boy George does just that.

Mind you, he's dressed in a black tutu, a collection of eyeglasses covering his shaved head and enough makeup to sink Max Factor and Revlon combined.

The occasion, of course, is "Taboo," the London musical with a score by Boy George (real name: George O'Dowd) and produced on Broadway by recent lawsuit queen Rosie O'Donnell. This messy yet musically flavorsome show has arrived at the Plymouth Theatre, trailing clouds of controversy. Hissy fits by actors. A new choreographer. Rumors of another director waiting in the wings. If only a lot of that drama were up on the stage.

What's there, though, is a fine score, a (mostly) terrific cast and, strangely enough, some honest-to-goodness heart, real emotion that occasionally peeks through the glitter and deliberate outrageousness. They survive Charles Busch's bifurcated, often muddy book and Christopher Renshaw's slack direction, which lurches the story from scene to scene.

The plot? This is a Boy George musical in which the real Boy George doesn't play Boy George. The pop icon is on tap to portray Leigh Bowery, a flamboyant designer and performance artist who burned brightly in the 1980s and then died from complications of AIDS in 1994 at the age of 33. These days if anyone remembers Bowery at all, it's through the paintings of him by Lucian Freud.

"Taboo" is a celebration of a small slice of recent music history, a look at the 1980s London club scene, an environment that brought Boy George fame, fortune and notoriety.

One of the problems with the musical is that we have two stories competing for our attention. There's the Boy George saga and the Leigh Bowery tale, and they rarely intersect.

It also may be time to retire the flashback framework, at least for the rest of the season. "Taboo" is the third new musical this fail to begin by looking backward, a plot device used by both "The Boy From Oz" and "Wicked."

Here, two of Boy George's cohorts, Philip Sallon and Big Sue, are in the ruins of Bowery's old club, Taboo, and reminisce about the bad old days. Sallon serves as the narrator, sort of an '80s version of the master of ceremonies in "Cabaret," and introduces us to the character Boy George, who, in his first scene, is wearing a white gown and a large plume headdress.

O'Donnell has had the good sense to bring over Euan Morton from the London "Taboo" to play Boy George. He is a revelation. Morton, a small guy with a distinct, haunting voice, quietly anchors the production, grounding it in a reality that helps paper over some of the book's rougher spots.

For starters, "Stranger in This World," Morton's opening number, clearly defines Boy George's outsider status as a young gay man and gets the audience immediately on his side.

And the real Boy George's score is surprisingly theatrical. It uses only a sprinkling of his old hits such as "Karma Chameleon." Instead, the production opts for new music and lyrics that indicate the star could have a future in musical theater as a composer.

If Boy George is not really an actor (the original Bowery in London was a fierce, quite scary Matt Lucas), he does project an honesty that gets him through Bowery's big dramatic scenes, including the obligatory deathbed moment.

The large Liz McCartney and the petite Sarah Uriarte Berry portray the two women competing for Bowery's attention. Both have booming voices, particularly McCartney, who stops the show with a lament over her wasted life, "Talk Amongst Yourselves."

Jeffrey Carlson as Marilyn, a narcissistic, talent-free transvestite, is a hoot. Imagine a leggy, aggressive Marilyn Monroe – looking like she just stepped out of "Some Like It Hot" - and you'll get some idea of what Carlson expertly accomplishes.

Cary Shields is saddled with playing a composite character, an amalgam of all of Boy George's lovers. As a result, he is the most unreal character on stage, a role served up in soap-opera cliches that Shields manfully sidesteps.

Only Raul Esparza as the narrator, Philip Sallon, missteps, giving what could be the season's most extravagantly affected performance. Esparza doesn't just linger over words; he massages them into incomprehensibility.

In London, "Taboo" played The Venue, a small, low-slung auditorium just north of the raffish Leicester Square. There was just enough grunge in the place to give the meandering story a boost of authenticity. On Broadway, at the much posher Plymouth, the musical looks a little out of place. It has to depend on its hardworking cast and tough-minded score to put over what those brief, bizarre moments in the '80s were really like.


Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Plymouth Theatre

(11/13/2003 - 2/8/2004)


Brooke Elliott
During Liz McCartney's maternity leave
Big Sue (Dec 3, 2003 - Jan 4, 2004)
Liz McCartney
Return from one-month maternity leave:
Big Sue (Jan 6, 2004 - Feb 8, 2004)
Kimberly Rehfuss
Makeup Artist

Understudies: William Robert Gaynor (Leigh Bowery), Curtis Holbrook (Marcus), Kimberly Rehfuss (Big Sue), Asa Somers (Philip Sallon).

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