New York Post - 13.03.2020

(Ben Green) #1
New York Post, Friday, March 13, 2020

Years of therapy, marriage and
the birth of a son three years ago
helped him heal, Yazbeck says.
But Grant, who died 20 years
after becoming a first-time and
doting father at 62, found salva-
tion in LSD. Encouraged by his
third wife, Betsy Drake, the actor
went to a psychiatrist’s office and
embarked on the first of what
would be many trips. He was
pretty open about them, too. “He
famously wrote in the Ladies’
Home Journal how he became
a rocket ship in the shape of a
penis,” Yazbeck says. “Which
was crazy, but he must have been
[feeling] so free.”
That freedom may have helped
Grant, who died in 1986, respond
to rumors about his relationships
with other men, including his
on-and-off roommate, actor
Randolph Scott.
“He’d laugh at the press for even
asking him about it,” Yazbeck

says, “because after he tripped so
many times, he knew that [sexual-
ity] was never a big deal.”
Not that Yazbeck, whose glossy,
side-parted hair looks straight
out of the ’50s, has experimented
with LSD himself. “My little sis-
ter, who’s this incredible, hippie
Brooklyn poet, said, ‘Maybe you
should try it,’ ” he says. “But I’m
such a straight arrow when it
comes to drugs. I don’t even love
So far, he says, the biggest trip
he’s taking is the one he’s on right
now — starring in a show at Lin-
coln Center Theater, yards away
from a place that rejected him.
“I auditioned for Juilliard three
times, and it was always no,”
says Yazbeck, who left the
University of Cincinnati College-
Conservatory of Music in his
third year, too broke to pay the
tuition. “Now I’m playing Cary
Grant right across the street.”

Cary Grant, with Eva Marie Saint, in “North by Northwest.” By 1959,
when that film came out, Grant had taken many an LSD trip.

Hot Ticket



alk about pressure!
Tony Yazbeck’s feeling
it. It’s not easy playing
Cary Grant, the man
he calls “the greatest
movie star of all time.”
Especially when
Grant’s tap-dancing
while tripping on LSD.
That’s what you’ll see in “Flying
Over Sunset.” Inspired by the
real-life, acid-dropping journeys
of Grant, Aldous Huxley and
Clare Boothe Luce in the 1950s,
James Lapine fashioned a musical
fantasy for Lincoln Center Thea-
ter, where it will resume at the
Vivian Beaumont when Broad-
way reopens the week of April 13.
Those hoping for a Grant look-
alike won’t find one in Yazbeck,
Lapine warns. “We weren’t going
to put a dimple in his chin,” the
playwright-director says. “But I
think people are going to be
blown away by Tony because he’s
got it all. He can sing, he can
dance, he can act, and he’s also
handsome and dashing.”
Those very qualities helped
Yazbeck channel Gene Kelly’s
carefree sailor character onstage
in 2015’s “On the Town.” But
Grant’s charisma, the 41-year-old
says, was off the charts.
“Cary didn’t have to do any-
thing,” Yazbeck tells The Post
during a break in rehearsals.
“He’d just sit there with his legs
crossed, looking left, and you
thought, ‘I gotta talk to this guy!’ ”
As Yazbeck discovered, the
man born Archibald Leach in
Bristol, England, had a hellish
childhood. “His father was abu-
sive and his mother disappeared
when he was 10,” Yazbeck says of
Grant. “His father had put her in
an asylum.” But the boy was a
natural acrobat, and his father
soon had him performing in
“I believe he found joy in it, but
there wasn’t much of a home life,”
says Yazbeck, who realized he
had more in common with Grant
than he’d have guessed: a “cha-
otic” childhood of his own, with
an abusive stepfather, disrupted
schooling and “zero money.”
Yazbeck escaped through dance.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, he
started lessons at age 4, after his
parents found him glued to a Fred
Astaire film. At 11, he made his
debut as a tap-dancing newsboy
in “Gypsy,” his showbiz-loving
mom driving him back and forth
between Bethlehem and Broadway.

Keep calm, Cary on

Tony Yazbeck, in rehearsals for “Flying
Over Sunset,” found a way to connect
with the man he’s playing: Cary Grant.

Joan Marcus

It’s daunting playing

Hollywood’s most

dapper leading man, let

alone when he was on

LSD. Just ask Tony


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