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Glenn's Report for January 2014

February 1, 2014

Report for The Month of January 2014

©GLENN LONEY 2014

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

Those Resolute-Republican-Lawmakers, who deride the Wide-Spread-Fears of Global-Warming, must surely have been Congratulating-Themselves during the Epic-Cold-Waves that swept over the Eastern-Seaboard this Snow-Swallowed & Frost-Bitten-Month.

Indeed, the Bitter-Cold, the Frozen-Snow-Drifts, & the Icy-Roads-&-Sidewalks, as well as the Shortness-of-Days, conspired to keep many Well-Intentioned-Theatre-Goers bundled-up at Home, perhaps warming themselves before a TV-Image of a Roaring-Fire in a Totally-Conventional-Fireplace.

One-Good-Thing about getting-past 21-December-2013 was that you could safely ask: "Have you noticed how the Days-Are-Getting-Longer?”

One-Merciful-Benefit of Being-in-January always is that there are Few-Show-Openings, so Horrendously-Bad-Weather need not make You-Feel-Bad about Not-Seeing-Shows

Added-January-Benefits:

An Expeditious-Expedition to Holy-Places in Portugal & España: Fátima & Santiago-de-Compostella—as well as to the Medieval/Reniassance/Baroque Cathedrals of Léon & Burgos,

Concluding with Visits to Bilbao’s Frank-Ghery-Guggenheim, & Madrid’s Prado

Did you know that the Great-Cathedral of Santiago-de-Compostella houses the Holy-Relics of Jesus’-Brother, Jacob?

Did you know that—despite the Virgin-Birth of Jesus-of-Nazareth—it was Biologically-Possible for Jesus to have Siblings?

Did you know that the Prado-Museum—with its Priceless-Collections of Velazquez, Murillio, Goya, & Hieronymus Bosch—is Completely-Free on Saturday-Evenings after 6pm?

Did you know that the Grand-Pilgrimage-Arena before the Shrine of Our-Lady-of-Fátima is almost Twice-as-Large as that in front of St.-Peter’s-Basilica in Rome?

[For that Matter: Did you know that St. Peter’s is not a Cathedral?]

Did you know that the Long-Pilgrimage-Path to Santiago-de-Compostella—to be Traveled-On-Foot, through Cities such as Léon & Burgos—proved to be a Very-Profitable-Secular-Business for Centuries?

[The Canterbury-Pilgrims had it easy & they could tell their Tales in English, which has been an Immense-Benefit for Generations of English-Majors!]

Did you know that the Gothic/Renaissance/Baroque Cathedral-of-Burgos is an Architectural-Hodge-Podge of Magnificently-Decorated-Chapels & Shrines?

Did you know that the Basque-City of Bilbao is way-upstream from the Atlantic-Ocean?

Did you know that the Frank-Ghery-Guggenheim in Bilbao has Tons of Frank Stella’s Rusted-Steel, as well as Jeff Koons’ Flower-Puppy & Metallic-Mega-Tulips?

Did you know that there is actually some Contemporary-Basque-Artwork in the Frank-Ghery-Guggenheim in Bilbao?

Did you know that the Great-Marble-Monument to Henry-the-Navigator in Lisbon celebrates Worldwide-Colonization by Tiny-Portugal made possible by Great-Sailing-Ships?

[Think of Brazil in the New-World & Goa in Asia-Minor!]

Did you know that the Rain-in-Spain is not only Mainly-on-the-Plains, but also in the Northern-Mountain-Ranges?

Did you know that the Trip to Lisbon, Fátima, Santiago, Léon, Burgos, Bilbao, & Madrid—even in a Rainy-January—is well worth both the Money & the Time?

PASSING-GLANCES AT SHOW-SCENES-SEEN:

Not so much on which to Report this January, reduced even more by Your Roving-Reporter’s absence from Metropolitan-New-York, in favor of Holy-Places in Portugal & Spain

Even though there were Opera, Ballet, & Theatre-Performances aplenty in Lisbon & Madrid—as well as in Léon, Burgos, & even Bilbao—after an entire day of admiring Gothic, Renaissance, & Baroque Cathedral-Architecture & Decoration, it was a Blessed-Respite to remain at the NH or Hesperia-Hotel assigned in each Fabled-City, to savor the Day’s-Digital-Photos on the iPad.

Sophie Treadwell’s MACHINAL [★★★★★]

Who Now Remembers the Sensational Ruth-Snyder-Murder-Case? Rebecca Hall Relives It!

There was a time when it was thought that Sophie Treadwell was Destined-for-Great-Things as a Woman-Playwright.

But her Big-Hit, Machinal, hasn’t had a Broadway-Revival since its 1928-Premiere!

Of course, the Following-Year, there was The-Wall-Street-Crash, followed by The-Great-Depression

The Ruth-Snyder-Murder-Case—she Killed her Hubby!—was the Inspiration for Journalist-Treadwell’s Drama.

But she did not dramatize this Headline-Sensation in a Journalistic-Manner: Just The Facts, Please!

No, indeed. She chose, rather, to use the Avant-Garde European-Mode of Expressionism.

For Broadway-Audiences, accustomed to Realism, this was, in a sense, an Alienating-Experience—which may well account for both Treadwell & Machinal sinking into Obscurity.

The Odd-Title refers both to The-Machine—an Electric-Chair, which at the close, is used to Administer-Justice to the Fearful-Hysterical-Young-Woman-&-Wife who could not adjust to the Machine-Like-Routine in her Business-Office or to the Machine-Like-Marriage in which she found herself Trapped.

Rebecca Hall is both Superb & Deeply-Affecting as The-Young-Woman, with Michael Cumpsty properly Smug-&-Bromidical as The-Successful-Husband, Man-of-Affairs.

Es Devlin has devised an Expressionistic-Revolving-Setting, which effectively-accommodates a Rapid-Run of Hectic-Scenes, all Art-Deco-Inflected, especially thanks to the Period-Costumes of Michael Krass.

Director Lyndsey Turner has also devised Silent-Scenes—running through the Basic-Narrative—as the Boxy-Setting Turns-&-Turns.

Rebecca Hall may seem like a Simple-Fearful-Pathetic-Nerd-of-a-Girl in this Highly-Stylized-Drama, but her Bio-Credits show an Amazing-Range as a Stage-Screen-&-TV-Actress.

But then, Acting must be in Her-DNA, for her Father is the Celebrated-Director, Sir Peter Hall, who—with Peter Brook—founded the Royal-Shakespeare-Company & later headed London’s National-Theatre.

Her Brother, Edward Hall, even founded his own All-Male-Repertory-Company, specializing in having Men also play the Women’s-Roles

Scott Siegel’s 12th ANNUAL NIGHTLIFE AWARDS 2014 [★★★★★]

All-Stars Perform for Their All-Star-Peers at Town-Hall!

The fabulous Dee Dee Bridgewater not only received the Nightlife-Legend-Award—responding with a Dynamic-Performance—but she also gave some Heartfelt-Introductions to Other-Talents.

Genially-hosted by Bruce Vilanch—who said that Gov. Christie had "thrown him under the bus” over in New Jersey—these Well-Deserved-Awards for Emerging-Cabaret-Artists were presented by such Stars as Bill Irwin, Stephanie J. Block, Jason Robert Brown, Maxine Lenihan, & Carole J. Bufford.

Fortunately, Vilanch noted, he was Not-Injured by the Bus, as No-Traffic was moving across the Fort-Lee-Bridge!

He was referring, of course, to the Revenge-Scandal that has killed Christie’s-Hopes of being The-Next-George-Bush

Edith Piaf could have been resting uneasy in Père-Lachaise-Cemetery, had she been able to hear Bufford’s passionate rendition of Je ne regret rien.

Bill Irwin donned several sizes of Baggy-Pants to emphasize his Vaudeville-Mime-Genius.

But the Spotlight belonged to the Winners, many of them Up-&-Coming.

The Comedy-Winners were Gina Brillon as Outstanding-Female-Standup-Comedian—being Latino means you get Scholarships!—as well as Former-Taxi-Driver Jimmy Failla as Outstanding-Male-Standup-Comedian.

Among the Jazz-Winners were William Blakenot the Brit-Poet—who won with his engaging-evocation of a Female-Vocalist whom he Channels.

Nonetheless, Blake won in the Outstanding-Male-Vocalist-Category

The exciting Gretchen Parlato won as Outstanding-Female-Vocalist.

Outstanding-Jazz-Instrumentalists were Ben Allison & Darcy James Ague.

Although the beloved Laura Benanti was recognized as Outstanding-Major-Cabaret-Vocalist, other Performance-Commitments prevented her from dazzling the mostly Professional-Audience at Town-Hall.

But the Energy-Charged-Offerings of the Outstanding-Female-Cabaret-VocalistStacy Sullivan—as well as that of the Outstanding-Male-Cabaret-VocalistLiam Forde—more than made up for that.

As usual, Scott Siegel—whose Knowledge of the Manhattan-Cabaret-Scene, as well as of Broadway-Musicals over the years, is Unsurpassed—Crafted & Drafted a Dynamic-Show: literally a Shower-of-Stars!

Bert Brecht’s A MAN’S A MAN [★★★★★]

Forget About Those Fabled-Brecht-Composers Kurt Weill & Hanns Eisler: Here’s Duncan Sheik!

The Year is 1925; the Place is British-India, near the nervous Northern-Borderlands.

Ordinary Brit-Soldier-Grunts are doing their Duty, while the wily Widow Leocadia Begbick is having her Way with the Men & making a Rupee or two from her Gin-Mill.

This Handsome & Rigidly-Drilled-Production—down at CSC on East-13th—is a newly-translated Revival of Brecht’s Ribald-Satire on British-Imperialism far from Old-Blighty.

It is not in the Same-League as Brecht’s Mother Courage or Das Leben des Galileo, but it is jolly enough in its way.

This is largely thanks to the Energetic-Cast—notably Justin Vivian Bond, as Begbick, the Sultry-Chanteuse—but also to the Comedic-Efforts of Gibson Frazier, Stephen Spinella, & Other-Brit-Empiricists.

When the Audience enters the CSC-Arena, Individuals have to be careful not to Knock-Over the Orange-Oil-Drum-Towers that later scoot-about the Area, festooned-overhead with Vivid-Green-Leaves.

Aside from a Golden-Ganesha-Head & some Hindu-Pantheon-Color-Riots, the Production—designed by Paul Steinberg, Gabriel Berry, & Justin Townsend—is a Symphony in Green-&-Orange.

Although he is no Kurt Weill, the "Original-Music” by Duncan Sheik is eminently Singable & Theatrical.

Brian Kulick staged effectively, raising hopes that he will do the like for the Major-Works in the Brecht-Canon.

After all, that Fundamental-Communist-Opportunist, Bert Brecht—who lived out World-War-II, in the Comparative-Safety of Santa Monica, where he wrote Galileo for Charles Laughton—does have some Adoptive-American-Rootlings

Miral Kotb & Crew’s iLUMINATE [★★★★]

Hip-Hop Dancing-in-the-Dark iLuminated by Light-Suits & Other Ingenious Lighting-Devices!

See, this fascinating Light-Show is performed not just in a Black-Box, but also in a Void—devoid of Conventional-Stage-Illumination—so it likes to call itself iLuminate.

With a Visual-Emphasis on a Lower-Case i, followed by an Upper-Case L

Unfortunately, Computer-Spelling-Checks don’t like that kind of Keyboard-Typography, so it’s not easy to illuminate what happens on-stage at New-World-Stages.

Although it is Thoroughly-&-Hip-Hoppingly-Choreographed, it is not a Fred-Astaire-Type Dancing-in-the-Dark Sophisticated-Show.

Instead, in the Dense-Blackness, Strange-Light-Outlined-Figures emerge, Ambling, Dancing, Embracing, Fighting, Fleeing

Feet become separated from Torsos. Heads get lopped-off. Street-Lights dance & sway. A Huge-Light-Snake devours its Prey!

These Startling-Effects are achieved with the use of Ingenious-Light-Suits & other Stage-Props which are outlined with the same Light-Strip-Technology.

Fifty-Years-Ago, the Black-Theatre-of-Prague pioneered something similar, although their Special-Effects were achieved with Black-Light on Costumes & Props painted with Fluorescent-Colors.

Miral Kotb has produced & directed iLuminate, as well as Crafting-the-Script with Athena Sunga.

But, from the Credits & what happens on-stage, it would appear that almost the Entire-Cast had a hand in creating this DeLIGHTful-Entertainment!

Joe Orton’s LOOT [★★★★★]

Joe Orton Lives Again! But That Cannot Be Said of The-Corpse-in-the-Coffin…

When Joe Orton’s Black-Comedies began to surface in London—first at the Arts-Club, then in the West-End, beginning with Entertaining Mr. Sloane—astute Theatre-Critics hailed Joe as a new Oscar Wilde.

Joe had a Gift for transforming the Most-Banal of Social or Moral-Observations into Satiric-Gold.

Joe Orton was also No-Respecter-of-Persons nor of Organized-Religion.

As for Respect-for-the-Dead, in Loot, he shows Two-Likely-Lads hiding their Stolen-Pound-Notes in the Coffin of the Recently-Deceased-Mum of one of them.

For the remainder of this Odd-Comedy-Drama—totally lacking in the Moral-Values that Right-Thinking-Christians have been Brought-Up to Believe-In—that Mummy-Like-Corpse is tossed-about, to become a General-Object-of-Amusement.

The only Essentially-Innocent-Character in this Hilarious-Romp is the Befuddled-Spouse of the Dead-Woman.

Nonetheless, at the Close, it is He who is dragged-off to the Police-Station, even though he protests that he had been Kissed-on-the-Head by His-Holiness, The Pope!

All the Rest of the Randy-Rascals on stage go Scott-Free

Riotously-staged by Jesse Berger, this was another of the Red-Bull-Theater’s excellent Revivals.

Quite a change from The Witch of Edmonton, Volpone, The Duchess of Malfi, or Edward the Second!

Handsomely-designed by Narelle Sissons & appropriately-costumed by Sara Jean Tosetti, this Highly-Styled-Production nevertheless seemed to go right over the heads of most of the Audience at the Lucille-Lortel-Theatre, down on Christopher-Street.

Rocco Sisto was especially impressive as Truscott, but Not-To-Be-Trusted

Nick Westrate & Ryan Garbayo were the Bum-Mate Money-Thieves.

As the devious & scheming Fay, Rebecca Brooksher was a Sexual-Force to be Reckoned-With.

As the sadly-bereaved McLeavy, Jarlath Conroy was a Compendium of the Catholic & Conventional-Sentiments which Orton routinely mocked.

When Entertaining Mr. Sloane premiered in Manhattan, Joe Orton made his One-&-Only-Visit to America.

Having already become familiar with Orton-Plays in London, I was invited by the Broadway-Director, Alan Schneider—already an Old-Friend—to interview Joe backstage at the Lyceum-Theatre.

When we met, it was obvious to me that Joe had spruced-himself-up for Our-Interview: He was wearing a blue-striped Sailor-Pullover & tight White-Pants.

We immediately Made-Friends & Joe begged me to send him any Reviews or Comments about Sloane, as he was sure "They’ll hate it!”

He was So-Right: Norman Nadel called Sloane "a Medieval-Cess-Pool.”

But this began a Correspondence that ended only with Joe’s Savage-Murder by his Longtime-Partner, Kenneth Halliwell, who smashed-in his Skull with a Hammer while Joe slept.

This happened when I was up in Yorkshire, visiting my Great-Aunt Margaret Dangerfield.

Reading the Morning-Paper, she observed: "Well, your friend Joe Orton has just died—like one of those people in his plays!”

Every Summer, when I went over to survey the European-Festival-Scene, I’d stop-off in London to catch-up on West-End-Theatre & have lunch with Joe at the Arts-Club.

Joe would always bring Two-Scrapbooks with him: One with the Good-Reviews. The Other, with the Negatives—which he would read aloud to me with Commentary.

He would insist on Paying, as he was now "Making-Money” & I was, as he knew, one of those Underpaid-College-Professors

Now much in the Public-Eye, Joe was being invited to sup with Donald Pleasance & other eminent Actors & Directors.

Halliwell had become an Embarrassment: Joe told me he was planning to leave Ken for Someone-Else

When I suggested we go down to the National-Gallery after lunch, to see a New-Exhibition, he refused: "I can’t. If I don’t get back soon, Kenneth will kill me…”

But I saved all of Joe’s Letters to me.

None of mine to Joe survive, as he had to destroy them before Kenneth could find them. In those Pre-Computer-Days, I never made Copies.

When it came time for a definitive Joe-Orton-Biography, I wasn’t asked, even though Margaret "Peggy” Ramsay, Joe’s Literary-Agent, knew we were Pen-Pals.

Instead, Peggy—who had always been a Good-Friend to me—chose John Lahr, who had never known Joe personally.

When I remonstrated with her, Peggy reminded me that she was Not-My-Agent

"Nor was your father Bert Lahr & you didn’t write Notes on a Cowardly Lion.”

But she did ask me to lend John all the Joe-Orton-Letters, which I did.

Quotes appeared in the Subsequent-Bio: Prick Up Your Ears.

Very soon, all those Letters will be reproduced online in my Joe-Orton-Compendium: Joe Orton Posts a Letter.

The Actual-Letters I donated to the Berg-Manuscript-Collection of the New-York-Public-Library, where they can now be studied.

Roy Williams’ Adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER [★★★★★]

Run for Your Life, Not for the Selfish or Official-Needs of Others: Sheldon Best’s Colin Is the Best!

This was once a Memorable-Movie, but Roy Williams has now made Alan Sillitoe’s Inspiring-Story into a Stage-Work that’s also an Endurance-Contest for the Designated-Runner.

As deftly-staged by Leah C. Gardiner—in the Atlantic-Theatre’s intimate Sub-Basement-Space in the Google-Building—the Loneliness of Long-Distance-Runner, Colin, is made both Visible & Palpable, thanks to the Physically-Taxing-Performance of Sheldon Best.

Growing-up among disaffected Young-Blacks, in what seems to be North-London, Colin—who is always annoyed that No-one pronounces that name the way he fancies—gets caught in a Robbery & sent into Juvenile-Detention.

But he has a Unique-Talent for Running, which leads a Well-Intentioned White-Psychologist to encourage him in perfecting that Skill.

When the Great-Race is finally run, Colin realizes he’s not just Running-for-Himself: His Hoped-For-Victory means something else for Others.

So why not just Stop-Cold

Sillitoe examines the Social-Fabric of the Blighted-Lives of Colin, his Family, & Friends.

Loneliness appeared in 1959, when "Kitchen-Sink-Playwrights” such as Arnold Wesker were busily—if unsuccessfully—attacking the British-Class-System.

So the Bristling-Resentment of the then-prevailing Upper-Class Sense-of-Entitlement may now seem a Bit-Dated, especially for American-Audiences who have No-Experience of Being-Looked-Down-Upon by Men who went to Eton & Harrow, to Oxford & Cambridge.

The American-Experience of the One-Percent vs. the Ninety-Nine-Percent is something else entirely…

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