OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Mike Tyson Broadway one-man show good and 'gloves off'

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-02-18T00:00:00Z 2014-01-27T20:10:50Z OFFBEAT: Mike Tyson Broadway one-man show good and 'gloves off'Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

When Broadway In Chicago announced last November that "after a highly successful bout on Broadway," fighter Mike Tyson would bring his one-man show, "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" to Chicago as part of a 10-week national tour, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

Iron Mike was originally supposed to do three performances over the weekend.

But along the way, it was trimmed to just two shows at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph St.

However, now having seen and reviewed Tyson's two-hour, no intermission, interaction in front of an assorted audience, I firmly believe that third scheduled show, and maybe more, could have been kept as part of the deal.

I know I would return to see Tyson's talk a second time and likely learn a thing or two I likely missed the first time around.

The concept for Tyson to make the rounds and talk to the masses is the idea of Spike Lee and producer James L. Nederlander.

After what's described as "a successful run at the MGM Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre," the new year began with the self-admitted money-strapped Tyson starting this national tour.

It does make for a couple hours of fascinating discovery into the roller coaster mind that is this built-like-a-machine man.

I didn't interview him while he was in town the week previous promoting the appearance, but I heard him telling other media counterparts that "the show is only about 5 percent boxing related."

At the risk of getting my ear bitten off (as Tyson did in the ring with Evander Holyfield in 1997), I'm going to disagree with Tyson now that I've seen the show. I'd say his performance and topic discussion is about 35 percent boxing, the rest being a mix of personal life, pop culture and his own preachings and laments.

It's just him, alone on stage, assisted by visuals, both video clips and still photos, shown on a giant screen.

To Tyson's credit, it's not easy to hold court for two hours, with thoughts cohesive, and entrance and entertain an assorted audience. But Tyson does just that, and more.

On Friday night, the theater was packed with everyone from theater-goer types and sports fans to families and curiosity seekers. (I will say because of some graphic language and topics, it's not for kids.)

I wanted to crane my neck to see if there was a teleprompter screen attached to the balcony (actress Carrie Fisher used one a couple years ago for her one-woman show), but I didn't see any such device.

Tyson covers his life from his family and early start in the ring at age 14, to his ill-fated marriage to actress Robin Givens and his prison sentence in Indianapolis for rape after an incident in Indy while he was judging a beauty pageant in 1992. He shows a video clip of him and Givens being interviewed by Barbara Walters, freeze-frames it and describes the pair on screen as "the classic chump and the tramp." He claims Givens and her mother Ruth worked together to trick him and gain as much financially as possible. He also says a young, yet-to-be-discovered Brad Pitt was having an affair with Givens to further his career, while she was in the midst of their divorce drama.

Lastly, Tyson gives his manager Don King a working over for also "stealing from him" with "double billing" and charging $8,000 a week for towels for Tyson.

And did Florence Henderson (while in town for the Indy 500) really come to visit Tyson in prison? You decide...

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

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