Though Leslie Jordan is a multiple award-winning actor (including a 2006 Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy for his embodiment of Beverly Leslie on the TV show Will and Grace), he’s one of those performers whose face is more familiar than his name.
Star – or should we say scene-grabbing co-star? – of hundreds of roles on stage and screen (both small and silver), Jordan is also an adept playwright, stand-up comedian, erstwhile female impersonator and full-fledged monologist.Now So Cal audiences have the opportunity to experience Jordan in an up-close and personal manner in his latest solo show, Fruit Fly at the Celebration Theatre in Hollywood (through February 18). It is an autobiographic conceit meant as a homage to Jordan’s beloved mother. If that sounds sentimental and/or lachrymose, not to worry! Jordan’s skills as a raconteur, his comedic timing and his out-of-thin-air impersonations transcends the typical life story format to become a lively and laugh-filled performance piece, perfectly suited to Jordan’s strengths as an actor and observer of human behavior.
On a lush but hospitable set design (by Jimmy Cuomo) and with photo projections (by technical director and lighting designer Matthew Brian Denman) that propel Jordan’s narrative forward in a chronological fashion, we get anecdotes, punch lines and confessions that, under David Galligan’s sensitively collaborated direction, become nothing short of engrossing, with the added benefit of often being hilarious.
We trace Jordan’s story from his southern fried Tennessee toddlerhood to the present day – encountering a crazy-quilt of characters, such as the patrons of the beauty pallor where Mother Jordan gets her hairdo finessed on a regular basis.
We learn of the unpleasantness experienced by Jordan when his father – an officer in the military – attempts to introduce him to spectator sports: a bond that was never meant to be sealed. After all, young Jordan would much rather have played with dolls than footballs or baseballs.
The question posed in Jordan’s 90 minute presentation is whether gay men, in time, turn into their mothers – not in the mode of the character in Hitchcock’s Psycho – but rather in terms of their dispositions and sensibilities. If so, Jordan proclaims that he’s proud to accept the comparison to his mother as a compliment, and to acknowledge the resemblance he has to her – both in physical appearance and psychological dimensions.
While much of Jordan’s display may seem to be quotidian in the retelling, in the flesh Fruit Fly is a coming of age tale that is as sweet as it is juicy.
Fruit Fly continues at the Celebration Theatre – 7051(B) Santa Monica Boulevard – through February 18. Show times are at 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sundays. For reservations, dial (323) 957 – 1884. For further information, visit www.celebrationtheatre.com.