Julia Roberts wows Letterman show

'Duplicity' excited to be back in limelight

JULIA ROBERTS was full of what looked to be genuine enthusiasm the other eve with David Letterman — as sexy, warm, funny and witty as she has ever been. Julia is a real true star! We’re always sad when she goes quiescent and sticks to her private life and it’s always a thrill when she re-enters the public eye. (She is out promoting her latest, “Duplicity,” co-starring Clive Owen.) Dashing and glamorous in a white suit with a grey blouse and high heels, Julia teased Letterman into a pretended froth and shook her long blonde curls which are now enlivened by a big pink streak in the back. She seemed to be saying the “pink” was a sop to her little girl, but it is her twin son who likes it and says, “Look at my mom’s hair!” when they’re out in the supermarket. Julia scored with the audience by asking if she could be “bleeped” as she told a really profane anecdote about a mysterious fellow actor. The audience went wild!

THAT GREAT big beautiful blonde Tony-winner Christine Ebersole said, after months of appearing onstage in “Grey Gardens” that she had to be in a straight play for her next venture because she was too exhausted, at that moment, to go on singing in arduous musicals. So she was cast as Elvira, the ghostly first wife in the reincarnation of Noel Coward’s popular “Blithe Spirit.” And what happens? It is Christine’s fabulous voice we hear warbling Coward lyrics at the entre-acts. This is totally delightful, just about the best part of this remounting on Broadway of a British classic! Maybe it’s because I’m overly familiar with the play or because I saw the legendary Beatrice Lillie, the legendary Nancy Walker and the legendary Claudette Colbert all play in it that I found the latest version a little attenuated and drab. Of course, Angela Lansbury is specifically interesting as Madame Arcati and Broadway audiences love her so much that they give her a standing ovation when she simply appears onstage. She is an icon; she deserves the tributes. I was very impressed by Jayne Atkinson’s rather rigid and uptight performance as the living wife who finds her husband’s dead ex brought back from “over there.” And I liked the tray-dropping maid a lot; Susan Louise O’Connor reminded me of that supermaid from the past, the late Alice Pearce. My friend, the handsome Rupert Everett, needed an infusion of Cary Grant. He comes off, from the beginning, as downright surly. The divine Miss Ebersole is astounding to look at; incarnated as a willowy version of Marilyn Monroe — almost too beautiful. For the first time, seeing “Blithe Spirit,” I found this central character written as rather vapid and irritating. (I don’t think director Michael Blakemore has this show quite pulled together yet.) But then, there is always Angela Lansbury and many would pay anything to get the slightest glimpse of this legend in action. If you have never seen any production of “Blithe Spirit,” then you shouldn’t miss this one. Was it just me or were the actors in this little comedy not projecting well on opening night?

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