First “Taboo,” now Rosie O’Donnell’s day in court gets pushed back.
Broadway’s newest producer was to open her Boy George tuner last Friday, but pushed back the first preview to tonight, the very day she is to go to court against Gruner + Jahr USA, publishers of her defunct Rosie magazine.
But sometimes things just work out.
“It is perfection!” said O’Donnell. “The trial now starts Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so I can hear that audience response before I am accused of being inhuman. I need the fuel of this musical.”
Only someone named Rosie could find the silver lining of a delayed, not to mention troubled, preview period as she heads into a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
Last week, O’Donnell put out a simple press release detailing the reason for the “Taboo” preview delay.
As it turns out, reporters aren’t the only ones who misquote celebs. Apparently O’Donnell misquoted herself in that press release:
“We are behind in running the technical elements of the show through. Out of necessity for the safety of the actors and crew and out of respect for the audience seeing the best possible show, we are delaying the start of previews until Tuesday evening, October 28,” wrote Rosie O’Donnell.
Not so, said Arthur Siccardi, production supervisor for “Taboo.”
This week, O’Donnell sides squarely with her production supervisor.
“I was tired. You do so many press releases,” explained O’Donnell. “Artie and his crew were blamed for the push. It was a creative decision, and not due to technical problems.”
What creative decisions?
Two weeks ago, the producer brought in director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun (“Big River”) as her new “choreographic consultant.”
“The creative team agreed that we needed a new set of eyes,” said O’Donnell. “We had two big leaks, at the beginning and end of act one. Act two flies.” Apparently, act one will too at tonight’s first preview.
There was also the recent contretemp with one of the “Taboo” stars, Raul Esparza. It came last Thursday, on the eve of the show’s first scheduled preview.
“Fourteen times I asked my director to fix Raul’s exit,” said O’Donnell, referring to helmer Christopher Renshaw. Finally, she felt the need to correct the situation herself. “So I stood up in the theater and announced, “OK, everybody! Here’s the fix! He will leave earlier! OK?”
That’s where things get a little murky.
O’Donnell said Esparza walked out. Sources said Esparza left the theater only after O’Donnell suggested that maybe his understudy could make the exit work. O’Donnell said that, while changes in the music had been made to accommodate certain backstage costume changes, no cuts in the script were required.
“It’s all on tape,” O’Donnell said of the argument. As it turns out, the producer is making a documentary of the making of “Taboo.”
Esparza could not be reached for comment.
“Raul is performing,” said O’Donnell. “He is brilliant.”
Roar of the crowd
Her big day of court only a day away, O’Donnell walks into her first preview tonight without fear.
“I fully expect people to stand and cheer, as they should,” she said. “It is a great show. It really has very little to do with me.” Despite the show’s having fewer than three weeks of tryouts, O’Donnell dismissed rumors that “Taboo” would not preem as scheduled. “It opens November 13,” she insisted.
One last question: Is Madonna coming to that big opening night?
“She’s invited. She called for tickets last week,” O’Donnell revealed. “I said, ‘Sorry, but we’re not open.’ “