By Margret Echeverria
On the way to The Loft at the Davenport Theatre, I mistakenly cut someone off in line into the parking garage. I immediately apologized, but was unable to reverse my mistake because New York City Traffic and so I was subjected to the most horrible verbal abuse from the driver behind me who stepped out of her car and didn’t let up for the full twenty minutes it took for the attendant to take my car and give me my ticket. My kidneys were vibrating because this rattled me to my core as I slipped into my seat to see Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose just minutes before curtain time. I needed to be totally transported and from the moment Ed Dixon stepped upon the stage, praise the Theatre Gods, I transcended.
Dixon wrote and performs the show as one man telling a story, his own memoir, about a twenty-year friendship he had with George Rose, a two time Tony Award-winning Broadway star, who had a total of five Tony nominations. Dixon was a young musical theater actor exchanging talent and good looks for rent by playing in regional tours when he met Rose, a horse of a completely different color – seasoned, British, not so good-looking, totally unpredictable on the stage even going off script to thrill audiences – and unabashedly homosexual in the nineteen seventies. Dixon is taken in by the freedom with which Rose lives his life. He sees Rose as a model of integrity living his life out loud and with gorgeous flair. But we sense there is a secret somewhere. Maybe something in Rose’s past is too painful to talk about, so Dixon doesn’t pry too deeply for twenty years and enjoys the honor of friendship with a man he greatly admires.
Rose is eccentric. He owns two mountain lions who live with him in his apartment on Jane Street. He has a drink BEFORE he goes on stage. He quits shows at will and returns to them welcomed with open arms from producers who knows he brings in money. As the friendship progresses, Rose actually turns to Dixon for his advice and expertise. Rose takes voice lessons from Dixon in preparation for a role. Dixon never misses a performance of Rose on Broadway and Rose returns the effort. They speak honestly about the quality of the productions they are in with each other and separately, drowning in hard alcohol together if it looks like closing night approaches just after opening.
Dixon embodies Rose and, even though there is only one actor on the stage, we clearly see both personalities shining out at us. Dixon’s writing is very entertaining; there are no passages that are too precious for Dixon and therefore lose value for us. We even get a bit of song and dance – Dixon still has serious chops. The story moves along and we giggle, laugh out right and feel a bit verklempt. But then we get to the part of the story near the end of Rose’s life. Dixon’s mostly merry tale takes a sharp knife-to-the-gut turn. Secrets are revealed and the anguish is very deep; this actually happened and Dixon places his heart in our laps, not for empathy but for understanding. He does not plead, he does not try to get us to see an enlightened point of view; he simply shows us moment by moment a cruel and relentless reality with an unpolished honesty that we really don’t get to see that often. It’s an over-used cliche to say a performer is brave, raw, fearless, but maybe we over-use these words because we want that experience so much. Dixon really delivers. We are reminded that life will get you eventually and you can be left without a clear path back to normal as you realize that no amount of manufactured substance will wash the taste of shame from your mouth. This show is a must see. Do not miss it.
Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose – Written by and Starring Ed Dixon; Directed by Eric Schaeffer,
The Loft at the Davenport Theatre – 354 West 45th St, New York, NY through April 15, 2017. Tickets and more info at GeorgieThePlay.com.
Produced by Martin Platt and David Elliott with Mary Cossete, Jamie deRoy, Riki Kane Larimer, Richard Winkler and Mike Blank; Scenic Design by Eric Schaeffer; Lighting Design by Chris Lee; Krista Robbins, Production Manager; Production Stage Manager, Megan E. Coutts.