Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Boys Are Back in Town: Taboo Writer Boy George and Euan Morton, the Actor Who Plays Him in the New-to-Broadway Show, Dish about Rosie, Romance, and the Media

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Boys Are Back in Town: Taboo Writer Boy George and Euan Morton, the Actor Who Plays Him in the New-to-Broadway Show, Dish about Rosie, Romance, and the Media

Article excerpt

Don't call it a comeback. Boy George is a world-class DJ, designs clothes and has done his own radio show and newspaper columns, all while creating one album after another, whether it's dance projects like The Twin or solo albums like 2002's overlooked acoustic gem U Can Never B 2 Straight. So if his hit West End musical Taboo--about life in the '80s for a hardworking drag queen--gains him new attention when it hits Broadway, it's just because we're catching up with Boy, not because he was left behind.

"If only life were as simple as it's played out in the media," says George, who sits down for a chat during rehearsals with costar Euan Morton, both of them dressed casually, with George sporting a T-shirt that reads IT'S ALL ABOUT ME. In a rather mind-twisting bit of casting, Morton (in an Olivier-nominated performance) plays the young Boy George, while George plays legendary queer performance artist Leigh Bowery. The story follows a youthful Boy George making his way in London, led by the pied piper of nightlife, Philip Sallon, and balances itself against the career of Bowery. Other characters include real-life figures, like George's tragic drag pal Marilyn, and composites of other people in George's life, such as Culture Club drummer (and George's ex) Jon Moss.

Above all, unlike most U.K. pop musicals--which are built around old pop songs by ABBA, Madness, and the like--this show features an acclaimed batch of new songs, including "Stranger in This World," "Talk Amongst Yourselves," and "Ich Bin Kunst." "My mum, obviously she went to the workshop and wept from beginning to end--even the happy bits," says George. "'This is the happy bits!' 'I know, but it's so sad!' There were lots of people crying. When Euan does 'Stranger in This World' [a song about being different], there's a lot of mums that cry. And a lot of queens that cry. And a lot of queens and their mothers that cry together."

George is also writing two more songs for the Broadway show to emphasize the rise-of-a-pop-star story line being fleshed out in an all-new book written by Charles Busch. "The things people write about me," says George. "I was reading stuff yesterday: 'Vanished Icon.' Oh, that's a new one. I think people have to have these kind of simplistic ideas of what you are, where you are. You tend to become your career. You become your sexuality. You become your color. You become your job. No, that's not true of any human being, do you know what I mean?"

But it is true that the path to Broadway has been a fairy tale. Even after opening in London to strong reviews (especially for George's score and Morton's performance), even after a 16-month run and four Olivier nominations (including Best Musical), Broadway might have remained a "distant dream," as George once imagined it, until a certain former talk-show host fell in love with Taboo. "Rosie [O'Donnell] came to London and in her magnanimous way said, 'I'm takin' this to Broadway! …

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