Previewed 7 June 2004, Opened 16 June 2004, Closed 28 August 2004 at the Duke of York's Theatre
Claudia Shear's 'quirky comedy' Dirty Blonde in London starring the author and directed by James Lapine.
A comedy about a gal, a guy and Mae West. Two obsessive Mae West fans fall in love after meeting at her gravesite, and their romance is aided and abetted by none other than Miss West herself. Two fascinating story lines then begin to interweave. One focuses on the banal lives and unlikely courtship of the two avid fans following their chance meeting at Mae's gravesite. The other serves as a brilliant counterpoint tracing the evolution of Mae West's wilful career from young vaudevillian upstart and overnight wisecracking sexy film star to the lonely isolation of her later years.
The cast for Dirty Blonde in features Claudia Shear along with Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman. The production is directed by James Lapine. Dirty Blonde enjoyed a 12 month run at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York's Broadway in 2000 and the entire original cast of three all reprise their roles for this London transfer.
"In the history of Hollywood, there has never been anyone quite like Mae West... Now, we have Claudia Shear both writing and starring in Dirty Blonde... Despite a long run in New York, the show seems oddly unfinished. Part-documentary, part-celebration of Mae, it would appear there was almost no highway or byway of eccentric Hollywood bisexuality which our Mae was not the pioneer. Two versatile American comic actors, Bob Stillman and Kevin Chamberlin, play all the other roles in James Lapine's inventive production but they too seem unable to work out whether they are in a play, a documentary reconstruction, or a celebration. This is essentially a fringe show which looks a little sketchy at West End prices but you have to admire its shaky ambition... By the end of Dirty Blonde you feel you have flicked rapidly through a biography. This is West Lite and Mae really deserves something a little less flaky." The Daily Express
"A play about Mae West might be just another synthetic showbiz tribute. A play about a pair of present-day loners who find happiness through a shared passion for Mae West might be a bit cloying. But weave the two stories together and you have got something much more rewarding. That is what happens in Claudia Shear's Dirty Blonde. Shear, who also stars in the show, plays Jo, a plump unsuccessful actress who gets to know a guy called Charlie when they are both making a pilgrimage to Mae West's last resting place, in New York... An amiable tale, and when you think it is in danger of turning too soft and sweet, it is invigorated by switching to the story of Mae West herself... The highlights of the star's career are all there. So are lots of the famous one-liners, along with some excellent new gags by Shear herself... It may not be an imperishable masterpiece, but it's very, very enjoyable." The Sunday Telegraph
"Part worshipful biography, wisecracking its way through the familiar facts and figures in the legendary dirty blonde's life, Dirty Blonde also cleverly entwines a schmaltzy love story about a chubby man and a chubby woman who share an obsession for a - fortunately - chubby woman, that whale of a female, Mae West... Claudia Shear slips effortlessly from feisty frump to corseted alluring icon, deftly capturing West's throaty, throwaway style; the way she always looked as if she was struggling to unglue a toffee stuck to her front teeth, and the butch walk, like a truck driver with hips. Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman play all the men in her life ('It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men', remember?) to camp perfection, as well as providing buoyant musical accompaniment. Likeable, no more, no less." The Mail on Sunday
Dirty Blonde in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 7 June 2004, opened on 16 June 2004 and closed on 28 August 2004.