Stage Beauty (2004) ranks up there as one of my all-time favorites in terms of eye-candy, and yet it’s fairly overlooked amongst the historical costume flick aficionados. It’s visually gorgeous, the script deals artfully with notoriously easy-to-fuck-up topics like bisexuality, gender fluidity, and sexual objectification. It’s got Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, Rupert Everett, and a young Zoë Tapper.
Based on the play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, it does play a little fast and loose with history, switching up things like Nell Gwyn‘s stage debut (in the film, she doesn’t begin performing publicly until after she’s the King’s mistress, whereas in real life, Charles II “discovered” her while she was working as an actress); the timeline of when Charles II made it legal for women to act in public (in the film, this doesn’t happen until after Claire Danes’ character makes a sensational debut in a public staging of “Othello” and Chaz is delighted with the novelty of a woman playing a woman’s role on stage); and credits Ned with creating the innovative “natural acting” style that, in real life, wasn’t even a thing for another 250 years. But whatever, it’s a great story regardless! And the costumes, designed by Tony-award-winning costumer Tim Hatley, are fabulous!
What did you think about Stage Beauty? Tell us in the comments!