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Elsa Lanchester: SHE’S ALIVE!
It’s 1962, and character actress Elsa Lanchester is still best-known as a bride-the iconic 1935 Bride of Frankenstein, and the devoted, long-suffering bride of Oscar-winner Charles Laughton.
As Hollywood scandal sheets threaten to reveal a well-kept secret and her movie star husband of 33 years is in decline, Elsa sings and clowns her way out of the shadow of the Monster.
Songs from Elsa’s real cabaret act–English music hall numbers and special songs written specifically for her by the Turnabout Theatre’s Forman Brown–are featured in this 75 minute show.
“Booker has imagined Lanchester preparing for her own solo show in her dressing room, where, in between dealing with the vicissitudes of cabaret life, she fields calls relating to a potential career-damaging item set to appear in a gossip column. She handles all with aplomb, good humor, and more than a few choice expletives.
Booker, as Lanchester, takes to the fictional vaudeville stage to perform a number of old music hall songs – some rather bawdy (“Don’t Tell My Mother I’m Living in Sin”), some sappily sentimental (“Please Sell No More Drink to My Father”), many irreverent (“Who Stole the Pennies From Me Dead Irish Mother’s Eyes”). The songs are all performed in jaunty style by Booker, who then, in character, exits the ersatz stage to continue frantically trying to keep her cool while attempting to stomp out various personal fires (for example, a drunk Laughton is threatening to hijack her show – once again).”–Gwen McCallister, Martha’s Vineyard Times
You thought you knew the Bride?! She wasn’t Katie Nana in “Mary Poppins”, she wasn’t Aunt Queenie in “Bell, Book, and Candle”, she wasn’t the batty old lady in “Willard”. She was utterly unique. No mad scientist created Elsa. She created Herself!
Charlotte Booker (Elsa) understudied Madeline Kahn in the first Broadway revival of Born Yesterday (how’s that for a Bride of Frankenstein connection?!) and appeared off-Broadway in Take Me Back, Leave Me Green, Fugue, Five Genocides, Deathbed, Psycho Beach Party and, and Bitch!, which she also wrote. A veteran of regional theatre, Charlotte originated roles in the world premieres of Quilters, Three Songs, Dusty and the Big Bad World, and an adaptation of Frankenstein (yes, as Dr. F’s bride). She has played leading roles at the Long Wharf, Williamstown, Yale Rep, Hartford Stage, The Old Globe, The Alley, Baltimore Center Stage, and Denver Center, as well as the Papermill, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati Playhouses. Her last Chicago role was in LADYHOUSE BLUES at Wisdom Bridge, directed by Robert Falls, about 150 years ago. Ms. Booker starred as Honey, the perfect 50’s sitcom wife, in the 90’s cult series Hi Honey, I’m Home on ABC-TV as part of its Friday night TGIF lineup. She also played the icy headmistress Maggie Chambers in four seasons of Power, and guest-/co-starred on Bluebloods The Jim Gaffigan Show, Boardwalk Empire, Law and Order, Larry Sanders, Murphy Brown, Drew Carey, Newsradio, Chicago Hope, and many more. Her play, THE BOOTHEEL, was a 2021 semi-finalist at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference and the Garry Marshall New Works Project. A monologue from ELSA LANCHESTER: SHE’S ALIVE! won the 2022 Alvin Epstein Solo Performance Award’s Audience Favorite; the show was subsequently developed in 2022 at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. She currently divides her time between NYC and Evanston. www.charlottebooker.com/www.elsalanchestershow.com
MARK NUTTER (on keyboard) grew up in a motel near Joliet, Illinois, which is not as glamorous as it sounds. He is the author of Giant Banana Over Texas: Darkly Humorous Tales, and Sunset Cruise on the River Styx: Dark, Absurd Tales. After studying theatre at Loyola, Mark played piano for the Reification Company and for Second City, and acted at the Goodman, Victory Gardens, and the Organic Theatre, where he met his mentor, Stuart Gordon. Mark co-founded the popular Chicago comedy troupe Friends of the Zoo in the 80s, then moved on to New York as a guest writer on Saturday Night Live, to Orlando to write for the Mickey Mouse Club, then on to Hollywood, where he wrote for the sitcoms Woops!, Nurses, and Third Rock from the Sun, and co-wrote the film Almost Heroes. Re-connecting with Chicago pals Dave Lewman, Joe Liss, and John Rubano, Mark co-wrote and performed the four-man musical, The Bicycle Men, performing it in Chicago, NY, and London. Wiith beloved director Stuart Gordon, Mark created the music and lyrics for Re-Animator: The Musical, (based on Stuart’s classic cult horror film). Re-animator the Musical was a smash in NY, Las Vegas, Edinburgh, and Los Angeles. Mark currently lives in Evanston, where he writes books. Every year at Christmas time, he heads to LA to perform the perennial anti-holiday show, Christmas Smackdown, which he co-wrote with Cynthia Carle–and has happily performed in NY, here in Chicago, and even online during the Covid shutdown. www.marknutter.com