Tonight I attended my first Live Read, a Film Independent series at LACMA created by Director Jason Reitman. It featured the classic script Shampoo with readers Kate Hudson, Olivia Wilde, Bradley Cooper, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, Patton Oswalt, Lena Dunham and Nick Kroll. Just a little star power for a random Thursday night in Los Angeles!
Reitman opened the night by asking if anyone in the audience had attended his first Live Read of The Princess Bride. He was met with a resounding sea of raised hands- a definite yes! But he assured us newbies, that this reading would be equally enjoyable yet nothing like the first. He then went on to discuss that the reason he enjoys this series so much is that the performance we were about to see was truly one of a kind and no else would ever have the chance to see this show on stage again. And what a show it was!
In Reitman’s own words, “If The Princess Bride was a love triangle, Shampoo is a love pentagon’. And what more perfect a person than Bradley Cooper to play George Roundy- the charming (yet philandering) ladies man at the center of it all- originally played by Warren Beatty. The rest of the cast went as follows: Diane Lane as Felicia, Kate Hudson as Jill (Mom, Goldie Hawn, starred in the original), Olivia Wilde as Jackie, J.K. Simmons as Lester, Nick Kroll as Johnny Pope, Patton Oswalt as Norman, and Lena Dunham as Lorna.
The plot is simple, George is a Beverly Hills hairdresser who spends about as much time sleeping with his female clients as he does cutting hair. Like it or not, the ladies all fall hard for George and ignore the sense that they are not the only one in his life. If I had to draw you a diagram the relationships of the characters would look something like an tabloid version of ‘who dated who’ in today’s celebrity world. Needless to say, George’s juggling act gets sticky and he eventually has to face the consequences of his actions…with more than a few funny circumstances along the way.
Reitman said the script is one of his favorites- ‘top three for sure’- and I agree that you would be hard pressed to find better writing even in today’s talent pool. With just a few still shots from the original film projected as a backdrop to the actors’ voices, the audience had no trouble feeling like they were in a darkened theater watching the real movie.
The cast was all terrific and Cooper was extremely natural and perfectly timed as the lead. Patton Oswalt almost stole the show with great delivery of some of the smaller roles in the script, complete with different voices and gestures, which included a hacking cough and an expulsion of water from his mouth that even had his fellow actors laughing in tears.
Live Read aims to offer a new perspective on beloved movie classics and gives the audience a unique chance to see some of today’s most celebrated actors build a performance. Reitman’s choice script is featured the third Thursday of each month and is performed live onstage with a different group of actors. Reitman is an Oscar nominated director and writer best known for his films Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air.
To find out about his next Live Read, please visit LACMA.