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A Theatregoer's Notebook
by Harry Haun

GLAD ABOUT THE BOOS
It's ironic that the Sardi's accolade - a caricature for its hallowed walls - is finally coming to David Garrison (right) nw when he is in the midst of an unbroken line of hisses. "It's quite consistent, actually", he says of the boos that greet his bows in Titanic, "but I'm taking it as a left-handed compliment. If I didn't, I'd be in therapy for the rest of my life!"
He plays that ill-fated liner's ruthless owner, J. Bruce Ismay, and does such a hatefully hard-nosed good job of it audiences can't resist spewing their disfavor for him, like clockwork, at his curtain call. He Shrugs a sheepish "It's a living," and the crowd roars."It's the best laugh in the show - a good tension release for the audience."
Prior to this voyage, Garrison always left 'em laughing, arriving on Broadway in that Christopher Durang cavalcade, A History of the American Film. "I was the song-and-dance man. I started out as a minstrel, and by the time we got to Technicolor, I was Gene Kelly. I did and 11 o'clock spot called 'Isn't it Fun To Be in the Movies?" "Seconding that motion, he next turned into a Tony-nominated Groucho for Tommy Tune's A Day In Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine.
Garrison still remembers the nights he opened in Hollywood Ukraine, "walking into Sardi's and getting applause and thinking, 'Maybe some day I'll get my mug up on the wall.' Well, 17 years later, it happened." And, under a heading of Be Grateful for Small Favors, "I'm happy to say that the caricature looks like me and not Mr. Ismay. There's a gleam in the eye that Mr. Ismay doesn't have."

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BRENDA BRAXTON

MAD ABOUT THE BOAS
At Smokey Joe's Cafe, a good dozen songs along into the golden oldies of Leiber and Stoller, boa meets girl: The highly girlish Brenda Braxton (above) slinks across the Virginia Theatre stage, dragging a chair and a 12-foot feather boa, stating the musical case of a hard-hearted gold digger ("Don Juan/Your money's gone/And when your money's gone/Your baby's gone").
Not only does she have fun with the number, of late she makes fun of it, appearing at various charity events in a hilarious send-up that flashes forward 20 years and finds her the oldest rocker this side of Keith Richards, dispatching "Don Juan" with determined (if arthritic) bumps and grinds. The parody came out of backstage chatter where she fancied herself a wizened old vamp strutting out that ditty while waiting for another Smokey Joe's to come along.
Keeping the show fresh after 1,000-plus performances in no trick, she says, because it's still fun. And, too, she has other irons in the fire-like Leading Ladies Just for Teens, which she started early in the run. Every other Sunday she has 15 or so young girls to the show. "We sit in the lobby and talk about having dreams and setting goals. They have no idea there are so many opportunities for women backstage. Then, they see the show, and we do autographs afterwards."
One of them may one day step up to the Tony podium and thank Brenda for that intial spark. She, of course, will be at Smokey Joe's, sending Don Juan on his way.

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