Dishing It Out In Mesa

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State Press
Celebrities (Sorta) Dish in Mesa
By Ana Anguiano November 17, 2010 at 12:01 am

Memories can be pools of great knowledge, advice and life lessons. Writing about your life is a great accomplishment and usually means you have something profound to say. This seems to go out the window however, if you’re a celebrity.

“Celebrity Autobiography” takes the self-absorbed autobiographies of celebrities such as Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Eminem, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson and shares them with an audience. Celebrity Autobiography is coming to the Mesa Arts Center this month and hopes to appeal to families and college students alike.

Some of the cast members performing at Mesa Arts Center are Maggie Wheeler (Janice on “Friends”), original “Saturday Night Live” cast member Laraine Newman, comedian Bruce Vilanch, Danny DeVito’s daughter Lucy DeVito and co-creators of “Celebrity Autobiography,” Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel.

Laraine Newman has only performed with “Celebrity Autobiography” in Los Angeles, but calls the show a “pick-up band” — it can go anywhere.

“All of us at one time or another take ourselves too seriously,” Newman says. “Most of the things I said in print when I was young were embarrassing.”

Newman says some celebrities are too busy to write their own autobiographies, so they have them ghost written, or have unauthorized versions.

“Brooke Shields was in college when her autobiography came out. She only wrote a couple of paragraphs and an entire book was written,” Newman says.

Newman says co-creators Pack and Reyfel pick the different autobiographies that intersect on the same event to get different perspectives — something Newman can relate to.

“I’ve read so many accounts of ‘SNL’ and how I remember them is wrong, even though I am dead-certain that what I remember is correct,” she says.

On stage, Newman has read Suzanne Somers’s early poetry and newscaster Joan Lunden’s autobiography.

Maggie Wheeler says they will be pulling out all the stops for the college night performances.

“Material we don’t use in earlier performances, we especially perform that night,” she says. The final college night for the Mesa stop is Thursday, Nov. 18.

Wheeler has read Ivana Trump’s and Elizabeth Taylor’s autobiographies in Los Angeles and New Hampshire.

“I get to play with wonderful people,” Wheeler says. ”We have a fantastic assortment in the rotating cast. It is unadulterated and very funny.”

Wheeler was invited to become a part of the show in California and was in after seeing it for herself.

“It’s a really fun night with unexpected laughter and humor,” she says. ”We have audience volunteers too.”
The first half of the show is stand-alone performances, while the second half is group pieces.

“It’s not stand-up comedy,” Wheeler says. “It’s something unique.”

If you go:

“Celebrity Autobiography” — College Night (contains adult content)
Mesa Arts Center — Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse.
1 E. Main St., Mesa.
Thursdays November 4, 11 & 18, 9:00 p.m.
Tickets are $35, $20 for students.