Rosie bets it all on 'Taboo'

Friday, September 5, 2003

— When it comes to "Taboo," Rosie O'Donnell has put her money where her mouth is.

The former talk-show diva is the producer and sole investor in the $10 million Boy George musical, opening on Broadway Nov. 13.

"I always think: Go big or go home," O'Donnell said Wednesday during a news conference at a Times Square Internet cafe to kick off Web site ticket sales for the production, which begins preview performances Oct. 24 at the Plymouth Theatre.

"'Taboo,'" O'Donnell said, is "a legitimate, knock-'em-down, leave-'em-screaming, worth-a-$100-a-seat Broadway show."

In terms of sartorial hyperbole, though, the 41-year-old O'Donnell -- dressed simply in denim and a "Taboo" T-shirt -- was out-glammed by the man who stars in the show and wrote its music and lyrics.

George, while clothed mostly in basic black, let his makeup speak for itself. It included one ear painted blue, his left eye surrounded by silver glitter and an abundance of red lipstick. Streaks of black makeup cascaded from the top of the 42-year-old's shaved head.

"Taboo," which had a 15-month run in England, focuses on two members of the early '80s London club scene: performance artist and designer Leigh Bowery and a young singer-songwriter named George O'Dowd, later known as Boy George.

"It's 'Hairspray' meets 'Rent,"' said O'Donnell, trying to dispel the notion that some audience members might be offended. "There's nothing discussed or seen on stage that you haven't seen on Broadway before. So don't let the word 'Taboo' scare you. This is not 'Oh, Calcutta!"'

More like "naked souls," interjected George, in trying to describe the musical. "Exactly," said O'Donnell, adding that "Taboo" celebrates "the vulnerable human spirit. It's relatable to anyone who loves 'Pippin,' to anyone who loves 'Cabaret."'

"And to anyone who loves their mother," added her star.