If you ever lived through the angst of an unrequited love, a romance impossible for one reason or another, then Billy Hipkins’ Prince Charming, You’re Late will hit the spot. Directed by Perry Dell’Aquila, the monologue flows smoothly and movingly.
Hipkins, a forty-something gay man with a gentle, softly sardonic nature, fell for a much younger actor in a Broadway show where he was employed as a dresser. Unfortunately, this was a job that put him up close and personal with the object of his frustrated affections. Hipkins’ description of this unattainable young man is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, a vision of unattainable perfection in every way.
Hipkins is first seen standing, holding a giant book that eclipses his upper body and face. The Big Book of Princely Attributes is its title. The first line he utters is “Prince Charming has no genitals!” According to Hipkins, this is what makes Prince Charming charming.
After he carefully places this book on a fancy podium—pleasantly messy set by Jerome Joseph Gentes with Mark Finley and Michael David Bourque—he investigates the meaning of “charming.” A quick look at a dictionary reveals Webster’s multitude of definitions. He latches onto the ones that relate to fairytales.
He relates growing up in a closeted existence in Verona, New Jersey, and his constant longing to belong. Continuing the fairytale metaphor he speaks of dragons who followed him everywhere, a potent image for those who he feared would judge him.
He speaks wittily of the board game Mystery Date which entranced so many pre-teen girls seeking the perfect combination of looks, experience and money. At the end of the game the winner would open a door to reveal her “perfect” date or, more frequently, a dud, the one that Hipkins finds somehow attractive for all his off-beat differences.
The sixties pop singer Little Peggy’s song “I Wish I Were a Princess” helps him describe his inner turmoil, albeit with a frisky dance beat.
Hipkins’ description of backstage life in a Broadway theater is quite entertaining, even when he is working hard to control his emotions, all the while hoping that his Fairy Godmother would swoop in and help him.
At one point in Prince Charming he manages to don two Princess Charming gowns—actually one that turns inside out designed by himself and Mr. Wendall Goings. Tossing golden tresses of phony long hair over his shoulder he does give a sweetly askew version of two eager young royal ladies pining away for their Prince as they brush their hair.
It’s clear by the end that this ferociously romantic man will again glom onto yet another inappropriate love object. He is a charming masochist who will probably write another wistful tale.
Joyce Liao’s lighting made the small stage seem much larger.
Prince Charming, You’re Late (through July 23, 2022)
Theatre Two at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan
Running time: 75 minutes without an intermission