Confessions of a Star Maker will be presented live at the Annenberg Theatre as a benefit for the Palm Springs Art Museum on Sunday, September 17th. This award-winning, new play, written and directed by Palm Springs resident Luke Yankee, is a film noir “whodunit” told in the style of a 1950’s radio play, including a stable of professional actors from Broadway, Los Angeles and the Coachella valley, as well as one of Hollywood’s top Foley artists creating live sound effects.
Confessions of a Star Maker takes place in Hollywood, 1952: a world where lunch at The Brown Derby, cocktails at The Trocadero, and dinner at Ciro’s was a common occurrence. One of the players in this arena is Nick Ralston, a hustler in every sense of the word. Nick, a closeted gay man, is an “over the hill” agent who will stop at nothing to promote his clients and maintain the appearance of an extravagant lifestyle – whether that means charm, extortion, sexual favors, blackmail or selling out to the highest bidder. With characters loosely based on Hollywood icons like Rock Hudson, Natalie Wood and Marlene Dietrich, the playreveals the thrill of 1950’s Tinsel Town as well as its dark underbelly. Add into this cocktail shaker of compromises and depravity a stable of actors, producers and publicists who are trying to keep their own dirty little secrets out of the papers in a world ripped from the tabloids and you have the glitz and glamour of the golden age of Hollywood that is Confessions of a Star Maker.
Playwright and director Luke Yankee knows “old Hollywood” first-hand. His memoir, Just Outside the Spotlight (about growing up as the son of Oscar, Emmy and Tony winning actress, Eileen Heckart) has garnered rave reviews from coast to coast and has been touted by critics as “One of the most compassionate, illuminating, showbiz books ever written.” It was also on PaperMag’s list of “The Ten Best Celebrity Memoirs of All Time.” His published and produced plays include Marilyn, Mom & Me, The Jesus Hickey, The Man Who Killed the Cure, A Place at Forest Lawn and The Last Lifeboat, which has had more than 60 productions in the U.S. and Canada. Confessions of a Star Maker is the winner of the Moondance Playwriting Competition and was workshopped at the prestigious Last Frontier Theatre Festival in Alaska.
The cast for the Palm Springs benefit will include Broadway veterans Tim Ewing and Barbara Niles. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Ewing’s credits include the Broadway production and national tour of Mama Mia, as well as the Off-Broadway productions of Falsettoland and Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures. Ms. Niles’ credits include Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, as well as many national tours and regional theatre productions. The cast also includes Emrhys Cooper, Paul Tenaglia, Tod Macofsky, Samantha Borthwick, Xander Doege, Jack Boyle and VJ Hume. The stage manager is Shay Garber and the associate producer is Don Hill.
The live sound effects will be created by Vanessa Theme Ament, one of the top Foley artists in Hollywood. Ament has been a Foley artist, sound editor, and voice actor for many films, including Die Hard, Platoon, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Predator, and A Goofy Movie. She is the author of The Foley Grail, and Divergent Tracks: How Three Film Communities Revolutionized Film Sound.
The performance will take place at 2 pm on Sunday, September 17th at the Annenberg Theatre in the Palm Springs Art Museum, located at 101 Museum Drive in downtown Palm Springs. Tickets are $100 and will include a post-show reception. Ticket sales will benefit a variety of programs at the museum.