The Tribute Artist

We Love Charles a Busch-el and a Peck

The Tribute Artist, Charles Busch’s newest comedy, closed this past weekend. The piece was commissioned by Primary Stages and after a season of development, it played 69 performances and closed to standing ovations.

The Tribute Artist cast

Top Row, L to R: Keira Keeley, Jonathan Walker. Bottom Row: Mary Bacon, Julie Halston, Charles Busch, Cynthia Harris. Photo by James Leynse.


The Tribute Artist was one of Ben Brantley’s New York Times Critic’s Picks and also received wonderful reviews from everyone from The Huffington Post to Broadway World. It has been a joy to work with this company on such a hilarious and heartwarming show.


Meet a Tribute Artist: Mary Bacon

Primary Stages sat down with Mary Bacon, currently playing Christina in The Tribute Artist, to chat about inspiration, the neuroses of her character, and her fondness for director Carl Andress.

Mary Bacon Tribute Artist

Mary Bacon as Christina in The Tribute Artist. Photo by James Leynse.

What is your role in The Tribute Artist?

I play Christina, Adriana’s niece. She shows up thinking Adriana has been trying to sell the town home that Uncle Lou specifically left her in his will. She discovers Rita and Jimmy, who she thinks is Adriana, living there. Christina’s arrival with her kid Oliver throws a wrench in the friends’ scheme to impersonate Adriana and sell her seemingly unclaimed home, kicking off the obstacles in the play our heroines have to conquer.

What have you learned while creating this role?


Meet a Tribute Artist: Keira Keeley

Primary Stages sat down with Keira Keeley of The Tribute Artist, to chat about her experience playing a trans man, and her various artistic inspirations beyond the stage.

Keira Keeley

Keira Keeley as Oliver in The Tribute Artist. Photo by James Leynse.

What is your role in The Tribute Artist?

I play Oliver, a transitioning female to male transgendered 15-year-old. I basically am the honest, open, truth-teller in this group of ridiculous schemers. I arrive on the scene from out of town with my mother (Christina, played by Mary Bacon) to claim our legal inheritance of the multi-million dollar townhouse that everybody else wants a piece of! Throughout the course of the play and developing a genuine friendship with the faux Adriana (played by Charles Busch), I blossom in confidence and sense of self and step into my identity as a man. There’s a lot of humor and lot of heart in Oliver.

What were your first thoughts when you read the play?

One of the elements of The Tribute Artist that really struck me was how the characters’ sexualities and genders were simply allowed to be a detail about who they each are, but not the sole label of that person. For instance, Oliver is transgender, Rita (played by Julie Halston) is a lesbian, but all of their stage time does not revolve exclusively on this detail, it’s just a facet of them, like having blonde hair or being a certain height. I found that refreshing. (more…)

Meet a Tribute Artist: Charles Busch

Primary Stages sat down with none other than Charles Busch, the playwright and star of The Tribute Artist, to chat about inspiration, the origins of the play, and his work with director Carl Andress.

Charles Busch

Charles Busch in the Primary Stages production of THE TRIBUTE ARTIST

How did this play come to be? Could you tell us a bit about where you got the idea and how it has evolved to this point?

I love caper movies where a group of eccentric misfits band together to pull off a scheme. I’ve always wanted to do something like that with my long-time stage buddy Julie Halston. I’ve also thought for a long time about writing a play where I played a fellow who due to circumstances has to masquerade as a woman, as opposed to most of my roles where I’m simply playing a female role. I wanted to see if I could find a fresh way of bringing my own experiences to such a classic theatrical and cinematic situation. Primary Stages commissioned me to write a play for them and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put these ideas together. (more…)

The Tribute Artist is “SHEER JOY!” says the New York Times

The Tribute Artist, now a New York Times Critic’s Pick, opened this weekend to rave reviews!

Cast faint shot- NEW


“Charles Busch’s delightful and slyly insigntful new comedy. The greatest pleasure of The Tribute Artist is watching Ms. Halston and Mr. Busch trading barbs so fluently, aggressively and affectionately….two top comic artists, in perfect harmonic disharmony.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times  (more…)

Meet a Tribute Artist: Jonathan Walker

Primary Stages sat down with actor Jonathan Walker to discuss his process, his work with Charles Busch, and his character in The Tribute Artist.

Jonathan Walker

Jonathan Walker in the Primary Stages production of Charles Busch’s THE TRIBUTE ARTIST

What is your role in The Tribute Artist?

I play Rodney Ash, Adriana’s long lost (degenerate, deadbeat, sort of charming but deadly, drug addicted, body snatching, gigolo) lover. (more…)

Meet a Tribute Artist: Cynthia Harris

Primary Stages sat down with The Tribute Artist cast member Cynthia Harris to chat about her character, the rehearsal process, and highlights from her extensive career on stage and screen.

Cynthia Harris

Cynthia Harris in the Primary Stages production of Charles Busch’s THE TRIBUTE ARTIST. Photo by James Leynse.

What is your role in The Tribute Artist?

Adriana, my character, dies a natural death and Jimmy, played by Charles, borrows my identity in the hopes of selling the townhouse in which I live.

What did you think of it after the first read? (more…)

The Tribute Artist

The Tribute Artist – Meet the Cast

After weeks of rehearsal, the fourth show of our 2013/14 season, The Tribute Artist, will begin previews next week! The show is looking great and we can’t wait to debut the latest comedy from the master of Off-Broadway farce, Charles Busch. Check out our good-looking cast (more…)