By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
Silver performed her show in the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival; she’s now visibly pregnant, and has regained the 15 pounds she says she lost after the “documentary” was aired. Much of Bridezilla is a pedestrian tale, as Silver regales us — on and around Giulio Perrone’s wedding cake set piece — of her filmed hysterics while trying to find a wedding dress that would disguise her weight, and her spunky on-film ruminations about the cruel, exploitive ambitions of the wedding industry. (She says Matt cautioned her ever so subtly that he found her on-film performance to be overacted; she countered that she was building a fan base.)
Then comes the section that’s irrefutably absorbing, when Silver finally realizes the betrayal that we’ve suspected all along. Months after filming has been completed comes the e-mail from Britain that the “documentary” has been sold to Fox, which is turning it into a reality show. (That’s when the actual call from Oprah came in.)
Then arrives the news that Fox has been re-editing the “reality” of her wedding to loop scenes of her emotional breakdowns so that they play over and over. The series is now called Bridezillas. Her segment goes by the title, “Life’s a Bitch, and Then You Marry One.”
After the humiliating broadcast, she reads excoriating online comments by viewers. It only gets worse when, trying to reason with the mob, she posts lucid explanations of how she was misled, while acknowledging her many mistakes. This only triggers more waves of written abuse online, frustrating her efforts to “set the record straight.” The core of her identity crisis is her obsession with what others think of her. As her husband aptly puts it, “Why do you care? They’re idiots!” But she does care, and her endearing confession of the profound insight she’s learned — as though she’s appearing on Oprah — rings ever so slightly hollow through her tears. She is, after all, still doing this show, still confessing in front of strangers in a film-and-TV industry town.
And this is the fallacy of the culture of confession, how exploitation, even by oneself, keeps intruding on some presumed, lasting wisdom.
The first thing you feel from conductor/musical director Linda Twine is a quiet serenity. It has the soft radiance of an aura that then gets reinforced when she speaks. Her gestures are muted. Her voice is sometimes so soft, it requires straining to hear her. She grew up in Oklahoma, where she played piano in local churches. After graduating with a degree in music from Oklahoma City University, and after completing grad work at the Manhattan School of Music, she cut her chops playing in clubs. That’s where she got noticed by a producer of The Wiz. She was hired on as associate musical director. Then the musical director fell ill.
The critics refer to Twine as a consummate musician, but she’s also a consummate diplomat. I tried to pry from her some scenes of conflict during her years of touring with Lena Horne. She thought for a moment, and then replied, softly, “Oh, Lena would always buy gifts for everybody.”
The closest she came to conflict was in a story of muted hostility by white musicians to an African-American female conductor. “That wasn’t in the South, mind you,” she pointed out. “That was in Philadelphia.”
While working as an assistant, Twine would tape Horne singing in order to study her intonations and cadences. Horne knew this, which is partly how Twine got promoted to musical director for the tour.
Stormy Weather — a bio-musical about Horne — has been in development for a decade. Twine worked on an early workshop at the Manhattan Theatre Club, and didn’t return to the project until about a month before rehearsals began in Pasadena.
“It’s a work in progress,” she says. They’ve added more and more songs for Leslie Uggams, who portrays Horne. Twine says she likes Uggams’ performance a lot, while noting the different musical styles of the two women. “It’s not just their voices,” Twine explains. “Lena had a different kind of connection to the audience. Sometimes it was just in the way she looked at them, and the room lit up.”
After the show closes, Twine will return to her Brooklyn home. In an era that marks an unprecedented abundance of musical theater, there will be no shortage of musicals for her to arrange and conduct.
Though in the spotlight every night, Twine reveals a striking shyness, compared to Silver’s craving for attention. At the podium, Twine’s style is meticulous, not flashy. Perhaps the difference between Twine and Silver is the difference between a performer whose identity and passion come from music, something both within and beyond herself, compared to Silver, whose instrument is her own body, and the life she’s lived.Bridezilla Strikes Back! by Cynthia Silver and Kenny Finkle;
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