Gay playwright Charles Busch’s “Die, Mommie, Die” is one of his most celebrated, produced works. At the center of the comedy is former pop singer Angela Arden, who as the play opens is burying her beloved sister and attempting a good old-fashioned Hollywood comeback. All around her is chaos and eventually murder. Directed by Suehyla El-Attar, it’s onstage now courtesy of The Process Theatre and Onstage Atlanta.
We caught up with the inimitable Arden (portrayed by actor and playwright Topher Payne) to talk about her career, her family, her new tennis pro, Tony Parker (Weston Manders), who—rumor has it—is working on more than her backhand, and Angela’s long-time maid Bootsie (played by DeWayne Morgan).
We were sorry to hear about your late sister Barbara, Ms. Arden. How are you holding up?
Arden: Barbara and I were very close. In the beginning of our career, we sang together and then she chose to leave the act and then pursue her dream of being my personal secretary. Her loss was deeply felt by all of us.
We do hear you are on the comeback trail, however.
Arden: I am indeed! I’m back by popular demand. I feel, returning as a mature actress, I am looking for roles befitting my range now, ones like Maria in “West Side Story” or perhaps “Peter Pan.”
Tell us about your children.
Arden: My children are always a blessing and a challenge. Like a big bottle of Scotch. My son Lance is attending a university and participating in the theater program. He has stage blood in his veins and is breaking new ground. He has just been cast in a version of “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie. Daughter Edith is a bit more of a challenge. She has a very strong personality and large ears she inherited, both from her father.
We’ve heard Lance might be—as the saying goes—light in the loafers.
Arden: I am certain we all enjoy experimentation from time to time but we all come to our senses.
Are you and husband Sol pretty happy together?
Arden: Sol is a brilliant filmmaker. As a husband he is—a brilliant filmmaker.
We’ve heard you and Tony Parker are close?
Arden: He’s a tennis instructor and personal errand boy and nothing more! No matter what you hear at the Beverly Hills country club.
Hello, Bootsie! How long have you been working with Ms. Arden?
Bootsie: 25 years. I do my job well and I try my best to be part of the family.
We hear you and Sol have gotten close over the years.
Bootsie: Mr. S, that is what I call him, is the most sweetest man I have ever met in the world. He is so giving, so wonderful and gentle.
Bootsie: Pardon me, he is a married man!
We hear there is some chaos going on in the house.
Things are not going well. I think Angela may be having an affair. I don’t think it’s the first one. His name is Tony, the tennis instructor. He is a horrible, horrible man. He comes over and even tries to come on to me.
Word on the street is that he’s endowed.
Bootsie: You are going to embarrass me! I will say, he does seem to be well blessed down there.
Word on the street is also that you’re a bit of a snoop.
Bootsie: I am trying to look out for my family. I want everyone to take care, not have people go behind backs and do deceitful things. I do have a sneaky suspicion Ms. Arden may be up to something. Just the other day, I heard her say “which poison do you think would kill the quickest?”