By Holli Harms
Like Halley’s comet sailing across the deep dark sky, a wonder to behold, Ann Talman sails across the stage and into our hearts in “Ann Talman: Elizabeth Taylor and The Shadow of Her Smile.”
Ms. Talman made her Broadway stage debut in Lillian Hellman‘s The Little Foxes playing Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter. Elizabeth Taylor was also making HER Broadway stage debut at the same time. These two women would become lifelong friends. Ann attended Elizabeth’s 50th and 60th birthday celebrations and so to honor Ms. Taylor on what would have been her 91st Birthday, Talman presented a special performance at The Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street.
This is a tour de force of storytelling interweaved with music and anecdotes about Ms. Talman and Ms. Taylor, and family and friends both famous and not-so-famous. Ms. Taylor was one of the most known stars on our planet, she was above us, and she was a shining light. We feel like we know her, so watching Ms. Talman telling of Ms. Taylor has the feel of home movies, and to find out that our beautiful star was also an unabashed prankster, an incredibly loyal and loving friend, gives us an even greater love for her.
Taylor had advice for Ann, “Annie, no more sports bras. Lift and celebrate your decolletage.” “Never let them take a photo of you from below.” “Exit a limo with knees close together and slide.” For her 60th birthday, Elizabeth Taylor rented out Disneyland, all of it. Ann was there, as was Michael Jackson, who asked if she would like to borrow any of his jewelry.
Ms.Talman relays the stories with such a great send-up to Taylor, her work with AIDS, and co-founding The Foundation for AIDS Research. She was always doing for those she loved. She was an amazing woman and movie star.
But the star of this evening is truly Talman herself. She transforms us with her alluring, slapstick, and honest storytelling, and lifts us with her beguiling singing. The evening is Talman’s story of what it means to have dreams come true, to experience, at such a young age, what it is like to be comfortable in the spotlight, enjoy it, and learn from it.
The songs in the evening, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me“, “If My Friends Could See Me Now“, “Shalom“, “That’s What Friends Are For,” “How To Handle A Woman“, “Send In The Clowns” and more are all exquisitely chosen and very personal to the evening. They are sung with Ms. Talman’s heart gleaming through them and are woven into the golden fabric of the evening, perfectly enhancing story and emotion.
Dressed in the best black boots and dress, bejeweled with diamonds and pearls, Ann Talman gives herself over completely to us. She holds nothing back, she is divine.
You will laugh and cheer and you will cry, as did everyone at my table, as Talman is never far from the truth of being human, of being people who reach out in search of love and friendship, and when we find it nurturing it and cultivating it, sharing it as we move along with grace.
The Laurie Beechman Theater 407 West 42nd Street NYC