Hudson’s Tammy Blanchard Plays a Mom with a Secret
By Sally Deering
The title of Peter Parnell’s new play at Lincoln Center DADA WOOF PAPA HOT sounds like the playwright went bonkers at his computer one night. It actually stands for the first words a little girl speaks to her dad – silly, yet endearing, baby talk.
Baby talk runs throughout DADA WOOF PAPA HOT, Parnell’s new play at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center through Jan. 3. Directed by Scott Ellis, DADA WOOF PAPA HOT focuses on the relationships between two pairs of gay dads raising young children; and, it features Hudson’s Tammy Blanchard in the supporting role of a mom with a secret. All the characters in Parnell’s new play are parents, both gay and straight, grappling with childrearing and its effects on marriage and adult relationships.
Alan and Rob, played by John Benjamin Hickey and Patrick Breen, are gay and married with a three-year-old daughter. During the course of one school year, Alan, Rob and their friends must deal with issues couples with children struggle with, like sharing child-rearing responsibilities and maintaining commitment in their relationships. Funny and poignant, DADA WOOF PAPA HOT is a mid-life coming-of-age story that explores some of the challenges gay parents face and are they different than the challenges of straight parents?
Ellis, who was nominated last year for a Tony Award for his direction of YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU on Broadway says he was drawn to the play because of the issues it brings up on the relatively new topic of gay fatherhood.
“I love that it’s a piece talking about unfamiliar territory,” Ellis says. “There’s not a lot of stuff being said about it. Gay, straight, we may have different challenges, but it feel feels very universal to me.”
Ellis spoke highly of the cast and commented on Blanchard’s work in the play. Although she’s in just one scene; her performance is funny and touching; and a real accomplishment considering the audience doesn’t see her until midway through the play.
“I’s one scene and she has to take the stage so that the audience says, who is that?” Ellis says. “It’s tricky and Tammy manages to get it right. I’ve seen Tammy’s work a couple of times on stage. She’s incredible to work with and great to have in the room.”
DADA WOOF PAPA HOT is Blanchard’s first Broadway play; up until now her Broadway credits include musicals and a Tony Award nomination for her role as Louise in the 2003 revival of GYPSY, and one for her performance as Hedy La Rue in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. Blanchard earned an Emmy Award for her portrayal of the young Judy Garland in the hit TV movie LIFE WITH JUDY GARLAND: ME AND MY SHADOWS.
Blanchard was drawn to DADA WOOF PAPA HOT, she says, because it seems to give audiences new insights into the gay community.
“I think it’s a coming of age play that can speak to straight people and open their eyes to what the gay world has evolved into,” Blanchard says. “It isn’t about sex and promiscuity – the way it’s perceived. It’s about love and commitment and raising a family, all the things that straight love is about. I was really intrigued by it. I wanted to be a part of it.”
Performing at Lincoln Center with such a stellar cast has been a terrific experience, Blanchard says.
“I’m enjoying it so much,” Blanchard says. “Playing Lincoln Center is exciting.”
After the play closes In January, Blanchard heads to the Sundance Film Festival where her new film, TALLULAH co-starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney premiers. Blanchard’s other film credits include: THE INVITATION, INTO THE WOODS, BLUE JASMINE, MONEYBALL, CERTAINTY, THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, RABBIT HOLE, CADILLAC RECORDS, WATERLOO, THE GOOD SHEPARD, BELLA, and STEALING HARVARD.
DADA WOOF PAPA HOT features John Pankow, Kellie Overbey and Stephen Plunkett along with Blanchard, Breen and Hickey, who earned a Tony Award for his performance on Broadway in THE NORMAL HEART; Breen also starred in THE NORMAL HEART; Hurt was featured on Broadway in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF; and Overbey in ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (directed by Ellis). Audiences may remember Pankow in the TV hit MAD ABOUT YOU, and on Broadway in THE ICEMAN COMETH. Plunkett starred in Lincoln Center Theater’s WAR HORSE and ON THE LEVEE.
On a recent Saturday, the audience seemed to be more quiet than usual, Blanchard says, proof they were engrossed in the play. After the curtain call, some audience members were overwhelmed with emotion. Blanchard remembers walking behind one couple, in particular, who started up a conversation about the gay people in their lives.
“This play is inspiring conversations about what being gay is about,” Blanchard says. “It’s thought-provoking.”
If you go
Shows Tues-Sun, through Jan. 3, 2016
DADA WOOF PAPA HOT
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater
150 W. 65 St, NYC
For tix: www.telecharge.com