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Glenn's Report for February 2014

March 4, 2014

Report for The Month of February 2014

©GLENN LONEY 2014

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

Considering the Epically-Cold-Weather, it was a Heaven-Sent-Blessing that February was & is The-Shortest-Month.

That also meant that Performing-Arts-Critics didn’t have to go out into the Freezing-Manhattan-Nights as many times as they will when Tony-Time approaches…

Of course, by March—even coming in Like-a-Lion—the Metaphoric-Mercury should begin to rise in the Metropolitan-Thermometer.

Some New-Shows did have to be cancelled for a Night or Two, owing to the Extreme-Weather.

But for those Hardy-Perennials that have been running for Years & Years, neither Snow nor Sleet nor Dark-of-Night could keep the Tourists from the Swift-Completion of their Appointed-Entertainment-Itineraries

PASSING-GLANCES AT SHOW-SCENES-SEEN:

As usual, even if the Previewing-Play was clearly already a Washout in Script-Stage, the generally Excellent-Manhattan-Casts gave it Their-Best-Shot.

Even if the Euphemistically-Categorized "Emerging-Playwrights” aren’t quite ready for the Big-Time, they will certainly experience their Dramatic-Fantasies in the Best-Possible-Light, thanks to the Performance-Skills of Card-Carrying Equity-Members.

But it must be a Bit-Daunting to those who have just earned an MFA in Playwriting at Yale or Stanford to realize that some Broadway-Producers would rather bring back Raisin in the Sun & Les Misérables than take a Chance.

This Season we have had entirely too much of Romeo & Juliet in various Forms & Versions.

But what is it with the Powers-That-Be over in Brooklyn?

First, BAM imports a British-Production of King Lear, although featuring a Native-American—that is, he was born here.

Then—just across the street, so-to-speak—BAM’s New-Neighbor, Theatre-for-a-New-Audience, imports another British-Production of King Lear.

Is this Bardic-Overkill, or what?

Will Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe’s KING LEAR [★★★]

Yes! Every Inch—Even Every Centimeter—A King! Frank Langella Scales an Elizabethan-Everest!

It’s all very well for an Admired-American-Actor to want to show Audiences what he can do with the Role of Willy Loman, but—on both sides of the AtlanticMale-Stage-Stars must show their Chops in Major-Shakespearean-Challenges.

From Burbage to Booth, from Olivier to Langella, they have to begin by scaling Lesser-Heights than the Theatrical-Everest of King Lear.

The Scottish-Play is an Early-Challenge, usually followed by Hamlet. But only in the Wisdom-of-Age dare one play Lear

Sam Waterston wasn’t ready. Richard Thomas has shown No-Inclination to essay this Epic-Assignment.

But Frank Langella has arrived in Tattered-Royal-Splendor over in Brooklyn at BAM, at the Harvey-Theatre on Fulton!

This Thunderous-Production comes to the Metropolitan-Area from Britain’s Chichester-Festival!

Not only is there Ear-Splitting-Thunder, but Lear must perform his Mad-Scene, not on a Barren-Heath, but, instead, on an oddly-designed Wooden-Stage-Floor, in an Epic-Rainstorm.

Frank Langella is certainly Equal-to-the-Task, but that cannot be said of some of the Royal or Noble or Aristocratic-Others.

Possibly Your Roving Arts-Reporter has seen too many Lear-Stagings, with Royal-Roles impersonated by too many Famed-Stage-Stars

At the very Center of the Drama, Lear’s Beloved Cordelia—who is so Uncompromisingly-Honest that she cannot flatter her Senile-Old-Father, thereby losing both His-Favor & a Third-of-His-KingdomIsabella Laughland is entirely Too-Weak & Unconvincing.

What an Unfortunate-Stage-Name, as well!

The Sturdy, Stalwart Kent—in Steven Pacey’s Embodiment—seems rather Too-Young, Too-Immature, Too-Unseasoned.

It also makes No-Sense to have Lear’s Fool played by what appears to be a Mere-Boy.

At times, it was difficult to distinguish between the Fool & the Outcast-Edgar [Sebastian Armesto], who also seemed much the Junior to his actually Younger & Totally-Evil-Brother, Edmund—a Commanding-Presence in the Person of Max Bennett.

Nor were the Goneril & ReganPrimal-Witch/Bitches—of Catherine McCormack & Lauren O’Neil as deliciously, maliciously Evil as is the Custom in Major-Lear-Revivals.

When Lear divided his Kingdom into Thirds, it was unfortunate that there was no Large-Map-of-Britain spread-out on the choppy-wooden-flooring.

But this Useful-Prop was avoided by Stage-Director Angus Jackson, who possibly wanted to make sure that his Lear didn’t look like any Famous-Lears that had gone before?

It has been too many years since I’ve been down to Chichester for the Annual-Summer-Festival, but, from the first, under Sir John Clements’ Direction—in which he engaged such Talents as Maggie Smith & Keith Baxter—the Stagings were both Stunning & Memorable, usually making their way to London’s West-End.

Peter Shaffer’s The Royal Hunt of the Sun was premiered on that stage…

The Chichester-Festival-Theatre has a Thrust-Stage, jutting-out into an Amphitheatre-Seating-Conformation, which was rather reduced in the Old-Majestic-Movie-Theatre-Balcony-Seating of the Harvey.

Chichester has—among other Historic-Enhancements—a Roman-Wall & a Market-Cross.

In fact, the very Name of Chester means that it was once Roman-Legion-Stronghold.

Worth a Visit—not only for the Festival-Productions!

Oh, by the way: Not ony Male-Actors aspire to play Lear.

Once upon a time, up in Boston, the Bown-Adams School-of-Drama offered Queen Lear.

Women’s-Rights, you know…

Clare Coss’ DR. DuBOIS & MISS OVINGTON [★★]

Kathleen Chalfant Gives Her All in Period-Bio-Drama about the NAACP’s Founders…

The Essential-Problem with Clare Coss as a Dramatist is that she should be writing Wikipedia-Entries instead.

It is quite clear that she admires both Mary White Ovington & Dr. William E. B. DuBois extravagantly.

But, in her Obvious-Desire to provide all the Possible-Background that Audiences-of-Aliens might need in order to understand Race-Problems in the United States in 1915, she tells us more than we may want to know about The Crisis, Lynchings across the USA, President Woodrow Wilson’s Racist-Policies, NAACP-Board-Problems, DuBois’ Difficult-Personality, Ovington’s Family-Background, & Affective-Attractions between her Two-Protagonists.

All this Material could have been organized into an Interesting-Book.

As it was, despite Heroic-Performances by both Kathleen Chalfant & Timothy Simpson—in Period-Costumes, with Period-Phones, Phonographs, & Dictaphones—I kept looking at my Watch, hoping it would soon be over.

Gabrielle L. Kurlander staged.

John Patrick Shanley’s OUTSIDE MULLINGAR [★★★★]

"You Don’t Get the Farm Because You Have Too Much Kelly in You & Not Enough Reilly!”

Aged & Angry, the irascible Tony Reilly—furiously embodied by Peter Maloney—is plotting to leave the Reilly-Farm to a young, unknown American-Cousin.

He will do this to Spite his Own-Son—stolidly played by Brían F. O’Byrne—despite the fact that his Namesake, Anthony, has been stolidly toiling-away on the barren Reilly-Soil since he was a Wee-Irish-Laddie.

But there is never a Word-of-Thanks for all Anthony’s-Efforts; never a Kind-Word from the perpetually angry Widowed-Father to his Silently-Suffering-Son.

Among the Faults he finds with Anthony—no longer a young & hopeful Irish-Farmer—is that he "takes no Joy working the Land.”

Worse, however, is the Fact that there is more Kelly in Anthony than there is Reilly, for Old-Tony still resents John Kelly, his Late-Wife’s Father.

Since Mrs. Reilly passed-on, her once-spruce Kitchen has become a wretched Mess. Neither of the Tonys is much at Housekeeping

What they do, day-after-day, is Plod-On, Ploughing & Cursing, never even thinking of a Weekend-in-Dublin.

An Evening at the Local-Pub is the Height-of-Entertainment

Although Playwright John Patrick Shanley—his Doubt won both a Tony & a Pulitzer—places Mullingar in the Irish-Midlands & cites the Time as "Recently,” apparently not much has changed in the Countryside since Sean O’Casey, Lennox Robinson, & John Millington Synge.

Unfortunately for Young-Anthony, however, this is no Playboy of the Western-World.

If you have ever been to Eire & wandered-on, beyond Dublin, out into its stony, unforgiving Farmlands, you may understand how Desolate & Depressing some of these Stone-Walled-Fields can be…

Yes, they are almost always Emerald-Green—when they are not Ploughed-Brown—but that’s because it almost always Rains in Ireland.

Indeed, during most of Shanley’s Contemporary-Folk-Drama, it is Constantly-Raining.

So it’s No-Wonder that Anthony is so Sullen & Devoid-of-Hope.

It’s also No-Wonder that he—like so many Rural-Irishmen—seems a Perpetual-Bachelor.

His Salvation could be found in the pretty, pert Next-Door-Neighbor, Farmer-Lassie Rosemary Muldoon—interestingly-inhabited by Debra Messing.

Unfortunately, a Blessed-Union is Very-Unlikely

Many, many years ago, when they were only Small-Children, naughty Anthony pushed Rosemary down on the Ground & she has Never-Forgotten, Nor-Forgiven.

In fact, that Patch-of-Land has become a kind of Forty-Meter-Spite-Fence, separating Two-Parts of the Reilly-Farm, so that both Old & Young-Tony have to open & close Two-Sets of Gates every time they want access to the High-Road.

Old-Tony lost this little bit of Land some years ago, when he needed a Loan of £200, which somehow never got Repaid to Muldoon-Senior, who has gifted that Forty-Meters to Rosemary.

In their Brief-Encounters—in Perpetual-DownpoursYoung-Tony is Obtuse & Rosemary is Prodding & Challenging.

Will they ever Get-Together?

Not until there has been a Protracted-Death-Bed-Scene, in which Old-Tony finally gruffly admits that he Loves-Young-Tony & won’t give the Farm to that American-Cousin.

Oh, Well… The Irish… They are so Sentimental, after all.

What is entirely Incredible is the Discovery that Young-Tony thinks of himself as a Bumble-Bee!

From all His-Previous-Conduct during this Leprechaun-Free-Drama, Who-Would-Have-Thought?

Fortunately for Rosemary—despite that "Spite-Fence”—he thinks of her as a Beautiful-Flower!

In the handsome Doug-Hughes-Directed-Production—on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, formerly the Biltmore-Theatre—Audiences get to see several Depressing-Irish-Interiors, pivoting into sight, thanks to the Design-Genius of John Lee Beatty.

Dearbhla Molloy tartly plays Rosemary’s Widowed-Mother, Aoife Muldoon.

Aoife is—before her Death & Absence from the Remainder-of-the-Play—acidly-able to give both Tonys some Sage-Advice.

Incidental-Intelligence: Lynne Meadow, Artistic-Director of the Manhattan-Theatre-Club—Current-Proprietor of the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre—has just been elected to The-Theatre-Hall-of-Fame.

If you wish, however, to see Lynne’s Name—enshrined alongside Edwin Booth & Carol Channing—you will have to buy a Ticket to Wicked, as the Hall’s Pantheon-of-Famous-Names is housed in the Side-Lobbies of what was once the Uris-Theatre, but has long-since been Re-Christened as The-Gershwin-Theatre, in honor of George Gershwin, who did not compose Wicked

Barry & Liz Peak’s PHILOSOPHY FOR GANGSTERS [★★★]

What Is It about New-Jersey? Why Would Run-of-the-Mill-Mafia Need a Philosophy?

Colleges & Universities over in New-Jersey should be much more careful about Granting-Tenure to Determinists, as well as Logical-Positivists.

Fortunately, Humanities seem to be on the Way-Out of many College-Curricula, so neither Chris Christie nor Mafia-Princesses like Callie [Courtney Romano] will so easily be able in the future to Kidnap-Philosophy-Professors.

In this Odd-Multi-Media-Drama, Audiences down on Theatre-Row are invited to watch a Patty-Hearst-Style-Abduction of a Baffled-Young-Professor [Tom White], who immediately has One-Finger Chopped-Off by his Raptor-Captors.

Bruno Iannone plays the indulgent Grandfather-Don who permits College-Educated-Callie her Fling-with-Philosophy & Che-Style-Revolution.

One of their first Revolutionary-Outrage-Statements is to Gun-Down a some Senile-Seniors who are involved in a Euthanasia-Chat-Group.

This may have been intended as Black-Comedy?

At least it resolved their Concerns about Assisted-Death

Pointless to attempt to describe what else occurs on Sam Beckett’s Small-Stage, but the Production-Values are admirable.

Indeed, the Accompanying-Videos are so Professional that the Creator/Director-Peaks may well want to Rethink their Mafia-Philosophy-Project as a Major-Motion-Picture.

At least the Peaks didn’t conceive this Strange-Show as a Musical, but some Warning-Signals might have been covertly-sent with the information that the Producers of this World-Premiere are Rotten-Apples-Theatricals LLC…

Donald Margulies’ DINNER WITH FRIENDS [★★★★★]

Whose Side Do You Take When Best-Friends Break-Up? No More Gourmet-Dinners in Foursome?

What do you do when your Best-Buddy & Lifelong-Friend is really an Egocentric-Prick?

Post-Divorce-Situations can be Especially-Difficult if You & Your-Wife have long been the Best-Friends-Couple with Him & His-Ditzy-Spouse, the Kids all playing-together regularly…

How many in the Roundabout-Audience at the Laura-Pels-Theatre must have found themselves asked or forced to Take-Sides when there has been a similar Marital-Schism in their Familial-World?

So Donald Margulies’ wonderfully-acted Food-&-Drink-Oriented-Drama must surely have Rung-a-Bell.

Jeremy Shamos is both charming & baffled as Gabe, the Gourmet-Cook-Husband & Best-Friend of the Fleeing-Father, Tom, rigidly-embodied by Darren Pettie.

Marin Hinkle is both charming & sympathetic as Karen, always reaching-out to the Reality-Challenged-Beth, who wants to be Respected-as-an-Artist. Heather Burns eats Karen’s Goodies, but feels Patronized.

This handsomely-designed Family-Dinner-Show was envisioned by Allen Moyer & it still looks much as it did when it was premiered down at the Humana-Festival, at Actors-Theatre-Louisville.

Pam MacKinnon deftly directed, with all those Mini-Stages sliding on & off, plus those Boxed-Snowy-Windows descending from above.

The Gourmet-Food—as seen & described by Those-Actually-Eating-It—sounded like Nectar-&-Ambrosia in Suburbia.

Greg Edwards & Andy Sandberg’s CRAVING FOR TRAVEL [★★★★]

Sorry, Your Reservations Seem To Have Been Cancelled! Try These Guys: They Have Specials!

Sorry, but I could hardly hear the Travel-Arrangements being made down on the Stage, as a Pack-of-Jackals seemed to be sitting right behind me, laughing uproariously at every Scheduling-Misfire.

Or maybe they were friends of the hilarious Michele Ragusa & Thom Sesma, who played Two-Harried-Travel-Agents & Thirty-Demanding/Ditzy-Travelers all by themselves.

Edwards & Sandberg should now qualify for a lot of FAM-Trips, having done Yeoman-Service for the Travel-Industry in crafting this show—which was sponsored by no less than Nine-Travel-Oriented-Operations, including Four-Seasons-Hotels & Holland-America-Line.

I did not know that it might be possible to Charter the Landmarked-Intrepid for a Cruise-Round-Manhattan, but it apparently can be done if you have the Right-Connections!

Having nearly missed a Wonderful-Trip to Fátima & Santiago-de-Compostella because of the Epic-Incompetence of a Manhattan-Travel-Agent, however, I was less than amused by some of the Sales-Ploys & Scheduling-Disasters satirized in this otherwise Clever-Show.

Co-Playwright Andy Sandberg directed, effectively using the Two-Handsome-Side-by-Side-Offices designed by Charlie Corcoran.

Juilliard & the Met-Opera Present A CONCERT OF COMIC-OPERAS [★★★★★]

James Levine Conducts Juilliard Students & Future Met-Opera-Stalwarts in Mozart & Others.

For most of the Audience at Juilliard’s Peter J. Sharp Theatre it was a Thrill just to see "JimmyLevine driving his Wheelchair up the Ramp to conduct Act-One of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Even Wheelchair-bound, however, Levine was not only Sovereign in his Light-Hearted-Interpretation but also Engagingly-Supportive of the Young-Actor/Singers.

The Reason for the Met-Opera crossing West-66th-Street to come over to Juilliard is its on-going Lindemann-Young-Artist-Development-Program.

Ryan Speedo Green was a resonant Osmin in Mozart’s "Turkish-Opera,” but he was also properly devious as Dr. Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’Amore.

Benjamin Bliss was a lively Pedrillo in Abduction from the Seraglio, as well as being a Love-Smitten-Hussar in Stravinsky’s Mavra—which required him to Cross-Dress.

Ying Fang was amazing as Konstanze, but equally astonishing in her Upper-Registers as Teresa in Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini.

As Mozart’s Turkish-Potentate, Pasha Selim, handsome Jake Alan Nelson did not have to sing at all: It’s a Singspiel Spoken-Role.

There were, of course, Super-Titles but all the Singing-Thespians were so Clear & Precise in their German, Italian, & even in English that they were thoroughly Understandable.

Because the Center of the Sharp-Stage was dominated by the Podium & Ramp for Maestro Levine’s Rollstuhl—flanked by the Julliard-Student-Orchestra—the Opera-Scenes were nominally "staged” on either side of that Imposing-Structure, with a Chair or two as Set-Props.

Nonetheless, the Student-Singers made Every-Effort simulate Actual-Emotional-Engagement.

Alexey Lavrov, as Belcore in Elixir, was impressively both Amorous & Militant: a Strong-Voice & Personality

James Levine—during the Tumultuous-Applause at the Close—was especially gracious to Mario Chang, who was the hapless Nemorino in Elixir of Love.

Also Honored & Applauded were other Student-Hopefuls: Andrew Stenson, Mary-Jane Lee, Margaret Lattimore, Lacy Jo Benter, Brandon Cedel, Anthony Kalil, Pureum Jo, & Yunpeng Wang.

The Juilliard-Orchestra was especially energetic during the Bumptious-Workout that Berlioz’ Overture provides in Benvenuto Cellini.

But even the Small-Sample offered helps explain why that Opera is so seldom performed.

As for Igor Stravinsky’s satiric/eccentric Mavra—a Flop at the Paris-Opera way back in 1922, even though he thought it was "the best thing I’ve ever done”—he must have been in a Post-War-Time-Warp.

His previous Masterpieces, Firebird & Rite of Spring, have stood the Test-of-Time, while this little jeu d’espirit now seems Strangely-Dated.

Eric Simonson’s BRONX BOMBERS [★★]

If You Root for the Green-Bay-Packers, This Is Not Your Show…

Peter Scolari is presented as Yogi Berra by—among others, according to the Program-Credits—"Primary-Stages, in Association with The-New-York-Yankees & Major-League-Baseball-Properties.”

But you really have to Love the Yankees to sit still through this Seemingly-Endless-Evocation of Yankee-History.

If you loved Yogi for "It’s déjà-vu all over again,” this could by Your-Play.

How about "Taking the High-Road to get to the Bottom of the Matter”?

Yogi is concerned about the Yankees, so, in Act I, he invites Billy Martin & Others to a Hotel-Room-Confab. There are some Harsh-Words. Billy cries…

In Act II, Carmen Berra serves a Fancy-Banquet—largely composed of North-Dakota-Potatoes— to Living & Dead Yankee-Greats, including Lou Gherig, who seems to have some sort of Disease.

Babe Ruth also turns up, with Joe DiMaggio already at the Festive-Table, so this must be some sort of Dream-Fantasy that Yogi is having.

Yankee-Stadium is evoked with a Hanging-White-Cut-Out, running round above the seats at Circle-in-the-Square, where once there was a really interesting drama about Lombardi & the Green-Bay-Packers.

Post-Mortem: Forget about ordering Bomber-Tickets online. This Doomed-Show closed almost before it had a chance to Open. I saw a Preview

Benjamin Britten’s BILLY BUDD [High-Winds/Deep-Snow]

From Glyndebourne To BAM, Captain Vere Sails into Port, But Poor Billy Still Has To Die…

Many years ago, I took a Course in Playwriting from Robert Chapman at UC/Berkeley.

Bob had come to Berkeley from Elitist-Harvard on the strength of the Broadway-Drama he had recently written with Louis O. Coxe.

It was called Uniform-of-Flesh & it was inspired by Herman Melville’s Tortured-Tale of British-Justice on the High-Seas.

British-Composer Benjamin Britten surely must have heard about this Play—possibly even have actually seen it—so it was not long before Billy-Budd became an Opera.

But Chapman & Coxe weren’t asked to turn their Drama into a Libretto for Britten.

Instead, he enlisted Eric Crozier & E. M. Forster, famed Author of Passage To India.

My Good-Fortune was to have seen the Premiere-Production at the Royal-Opera, Covent-Garden, as well as the first American-Incarnation.

I thought Nathan Gunn was born to be Billy

Now celebrating Britten’s Centenary, BAM decided to import the Glyndebourne-Opera-Production.

This Monumental-Staging—directed by Donmar’s Michael Grandage & conducted by Sir Mark Elder—runs Three-Hours, with Intermission.

The London-Philharmonic-Orchestra & the Glyndebourne-Festival-Chorus crossed the Atlantic to animate what the Press-Material describes as "Lilting a-capella Sea-Chanties” & "Bombastic Choral-Juggernauts.”

Poor Billy Budd!

Deliberately Taunted & Tormented by Master-at-Arms Claggart, he Strikes-Back.

Condemned to Death, Billy dies, crying: God-Bless Captain Vere!

Unfortunately, High-Winds & Epic-Snowdrifts prevented me from reaching the Howard-Gilman-Opera-House of the Brooklyn-Academy-of-Music

But at least I know How-It-All-Ends!

Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS [★★★]

Actually, Michael J. Bobbitt Wrote & Choreographed This Colorful Show, Using Marley’s Songs…

With Colorful-Puppet-Birds on their heads Three-Lively-Dancers bring to Young-Audiences at the New-Victory a Very-Colorful-Vision of Island-Paradise-Jamaica—all Abstract-Forms in Boldly-Basic-Colors.

Montego-Bay doesn’t really look like the Unit-Set-Scenery of Jos. B. Musumeci, Jr, but it’s certainly Arresting, complementing as it does the Vibrantly-Colorful-Costumes of Kendra Rai.

Among the Reggae-Ditties from the Bob-Marley-Songbook that the Talented-Performers share with the Victory-Kids are One Love, Riding High, Natural Mystic, Please Don’t Rock My Boat, So Much Trouble in the World, I Know, Brown Girl, & the Title-Song, Three Little Birds.

Your Roving Arts-Reporter would have been more than satisfied had the Colorful-Cast merely Danced & Sung, but they also had to Animate a Dumb-Narrative that involved a Sulky-Jamaican-Lad who won’t go Outside & see what’s Going-On, preferring to watch the One-Channel of Television that was then available to Native-Jamaicans & Tourists.

This Arcane-Fable—based on a Story by Cedella Marley—went on & on, well beyond the Attention-Spans of a number of the Increasingly-Restless-Juniors in the Auditorium.

Nonetheless, the Costumes & the Musical-Performances were worth the Snowbound-Trek down to Broadway & Forty-Second-Street.

Nilo Cruz’s SOTTO VOCE [★★★★★]

Remembering the Doomed-Voyage of the USS St. Louis:

Jewish-Refugees—Refused Refuge in Cuba—Returned To Nazi-Germany & Certain-Death…

Way back in 1939, many Americans still had no Inkling of the Abuses & Terrors daily being heaped upon German-Jews by the Virulently-Anti-Semitic Nazi-Regime.

Many Americans were still Ardently-Isolationist, unwilling even to help their Embattled-British-Cousins.

In the White-House, in Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, however, was well aware of what was happening Overseas.

But he was also acutely Politically-Aware that admitting Boatloads of Undocumented-Refugee-Jews would not be acceptable to Isolationist-Lawmakers.

This meant that—when the USS St. Louis arrived in Havana-Harbor, with a Human-Cargo of Desperate-Jews—the Cuban-Government, pressured by Washington, refused to let them Land.

Finding No-Friendly-Port in Cuba, America, or Canada, the St. Louis sailed back across the Atlantic, bringing 937-Doomed-Jews to their Date-with-Destiny.

Now, Cuban-Born-Playwright Nilo Cruz has staged his own Fantasy-Drama of the Emotional-Aftermath of that Infamous-Voyage: Sotto Voce.

At its Tormented-Center is the Blocked-Best-Selling-Novelist, Bemadette—brilliantly embodied & en-souled by Franca Sofia Barchiesi—who lost her Jewish-Beloved on that Ship-of-the-Damned.

Her Self-Enforced Manhattan-Seclusion is suddenly invaded Telephonically by Saquiel [Andhy Mendez], a Cuban-Jew, whose Grandaunt was also on the St. Louis.

This begins a kind of Metaphysical-Love-Affair, abetted by her Colombian-Maid, Lucila [Arielle Jacobs] who also has her Own-Demons to defeat.

Finally, Saquiel breaks through Bemadette’s Barriers, freeing her to begin to write again: to write about that Epic-Love & Enormous-Loss.

This is a Heartbreaking-Drama, sensitively Brought-to-Life, but not without Humor.

Nilo Cruz—who himself escaped Castro-Cuba, to be later encouraged by the Playrights Irene Maria Fornés [Fellow-Cuban] & Paula Vogel [Non-Cuban]—won the Pulitzer-Prize for his Anna in the Tropics.

Cruz also won the prestigious ATCA-Steinberg Playwriting-Award for Anna, in which Jimmy Smitts starred on Broadway.

[Personal-Note: As a Board-Member & Longtime-Funder of FACTA—the Foundation of the American-Theatre-Critics-Association, which gives this Award, along with Jim Steinberg, of the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Charitable-Trust—I take a Personal-Interest in Cruz’s Ongoing-Career, as well as that of Jimmy Smitts, who long, long ago was a Theatre-Student of mine at Brooklyn-College.]

Speaking Sotto-Voce—or in a kind of Undertone—I also take a Personal-Interest in the Pre-War-History of Cuban-Landings of Refugee-German-Jews.

Some—like my Late-Friend Eva—were fortunate enough to obtain a Landing-Visa, which not only permitted her to Debark in Havana, but also to travel onward to San Francisco, where her Cousin & my UC/Berkeley-Chum, Ruth Schwabacher & her Schwabacher-Frey-Relatives were able to welcome her.

My US-Army Draftee-Squad-Mate at Fort Ord, CA, Ken Rosenthal, also had the Good-Fortune to escape with his Family. But they settled in Guatemala, not the Bay-Area.

Similarly, other Longtime-Friends—only met & embraced after World-War-II—came over Cuba, initially to settle in Salvador or Colombia, before migrating to the United-States.

But it remains a Black-Mark that Isolationist or Openly-Anti-Semitic American-Politicians refused to save Thousands of German & East-European-Jews from the Holocaust.

Caryl Churchill’s LOVE & INFORMATION [★★★]

Little-Likely-Love But Obvious-Information-Overkill in Royal-Court-Inspired NYTW-Staging…

Remember Cloud 9?

It was produced Everywhere. Every College, Community-Theatre, & Regional-Rep loved it.

So also did Their-Audiences!

Not to Overlook the Attractions of Churchill’s Fen, Mad Forest, Traps, & Top Girls—but that was so Very-English, wasn’t it…

Nonetheless, this Brit-Playwright has come a Very-Long-Way from Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, seen in Manhattan long, long ago at the Perry-Street-Theatre.

Unfortunately, Love & Information—first seen in London at the Royal-Court-Theatre—is Two-Hours-Long, with No-Intermission, composed of a seemingly Endless-Series of Short-Takes about Human-Relationships.

Some of these Love/Hate-Themes are so Bromidically-Basic that only a One-Minute-Set-Up is enough to Get-the-Point.

All the Short-Scenes are set in a Claustrophobic-White-Cube, with the occasional Visual-Novelty of seeing Actors-Upside-Down or Vertically-in-Bed.

Not only are many of these Comedic-Problem-Relationships unnecessarily Repetitive, but they are also Media-Clichés.

The Box-Office-Bonus is that those Experimental-Theatre-Lovers who slogged down through the Epic-Snowdrifts to the Minetta-Lane-Theatre got to see such Beloved-Talents as Maria Tucci, Randy Danson, John Procaccino, & Karen Kandel valiantly Do-Their-Stuff on-cue, guided by Stage-Director James MacDonald.

Each Mini-Scene—rather like 3-D-Animated-Snapshots—was introduced by Deafening-Sounds.

Behind that Cute-White-Cube, there must have been an Epic-Jumble of Set-Props, the Rapid-Fire-Changing of which may account for all that Sound-&-Fury.

Carole King & Friends’ BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical [★★★★]

Greatness Not Thrust Upon Her: Carole King Achieved Greatness: Top-of-the-Charts-Albums!

Neil Sedaka makes momentary Brief-Appearances, but this Song-Crammed-Show is really a Musical-Bio of the Climb-to-Fame of Songwriter/Performer Carole King.

It has all the Usual-Production-Values of Juke-Box-Musicals such as Motown & Jersey-Boys, but it becomes Incandescent with the Dynamic-Song-Plugging of Jessie Mueller as Carole, abetted by her Sometime-Hubby-Lyricist, Gerry Goffin [Jake Epstein] & Competitive-Colleagues, Barry Mann [Jarrod Spector] & Cynthia Weil [Anika Larsen].

Huge Metal-Scaffolds scoot back & forth across the Mechanized-Stage, suggesting Recording-Studios at 1650 Broadway.

No, this is not the Brill-Building, & we are a Long-Way-Off from George Gershwin & Irving Berlin.

Frank Loesser & Rodgers-&-Hammerstein don’t even come close…

No, no! We are way beyond Tin-Pan-Alley, into Rock & Stuff.

Mueller is a Dynamite-Performer, but Carole King’s Troubled-Home-Life becomes a bit of a Slow-Drag.

I cannot honestly say that I was on the Edge-of-My-Seat, waiting to see if Gerry would come back to her.

But we do learn that Carole became Happy when she moved to LA & Laurel-Canyon, making Hit-Albums for the Big-Time.

We get to see the Shirelles, who have also appeared in another recent Bio-Musical.

Also: Little Eva, The Drifters, The Righteous Brothers, & Lou Adler!

Marc Bruni staged, with Deft-Choreography by Josh Prince. Douglas McGrath was tasked with drafting a Carole-King-Lifeline

I was delighted to recognize Some Kind of Wonderful, among the many King/Goffin & Mann/Weil Hit-Songs.

Unfortunately, my Aural-Familiarity with Top-of-the-Charts-Favorites of so-called "PopularMusic came to a close when the Lucky-Strike-Hit-Parade faded-away…

After that, my Listening-Experiences were confined to the Radio-Station of Good-Music, WQXR.

John Van Druten’s LONDON-WALL [★★★★★]

Underpaid & Overstressed Office-Staff in London-Legal-Chambers: Avoid The Masher!

Once again, The Mint-Theatre has revived—in 1930s Period-Style—a Forgotten-Winner!

This is John Van Druten’s London-Wall, set in the Reception-Room of a Prestigious-Legal-Firm in the "City.”

Although the Dramaturgical-Apparatus in the Program quotes the Playwright as not being a Man-of-Messages, a Primal-Fact-of-Life for the Young-Stenos & Secretaries in this Bittersweet-Romantic-Comedy is to Use-Your-Beauty before it Fades.

But be sure to Get-Married, not just Get-Laid…

This Point is clearly made by a Crazy-Old-Lady [Laurie Kennedy] who counsels a Confused-Beginner [Elise Kibler], who is in Dire-Danger from a Handsome-Sexual-Predator [Stephen Plunkett], who is a Stylish-Solicitor in the London-Wall-Offices of Walker, Windermere, & Co.

The Impressionable Pat Milligan has a Flustered-Best-Friend [Christopher Sears], but they do not Understand—until prodded by an Older-Secretary [Alex Trow], devastatingly-disappointed in the Man-She-Loved—that they are Soul-Partners & ought to do something Positive about it.

Suddenly-Deserted after Seven-Years-Commitment—over the Telephone, not In-Person—the Super-Efficient Miss Hooper hands-in Her-Notice to her Crusty-Old-Boss [Jonathan Hogan], with no Future-Prospects aside from the Newfound-Freedom of Going-Abroad to Make-a-New-Life.

As is Customary at the Mint, the Entire-Cast is Exemplary, especially as directed by Davis McCallum, in Marion Williams’ fusty Office-Settings & Martha Hally’s Period-Fashions.

Indeed, these Mint-Players so thoroughly Inhabit-Their-Roles that you could well believe that McCallum had somehow opened a 1930s-Era-Time-Capsule & suddenly brought this Often-Frustrated-Office-Force Back-to-Life.

Perhaps it’s High-Time for the Mint to mount a Van-Druten-Drama-Festival?

Consider the Canon: Bell, Book, & Candle, Old Acquaintance, Young Woodley, I Am a Camera, Voice of the Turtle

In fact, Van Druten’s I Remember Mama is soon to be revived in Manhattan by The Transport-Group.

Not to overlook the Impending-Revival of the Musical-Version of I Am a Camera, better-known as Cabaret

Thomas Keneally & Larry Kirwan’s TRANSPORT [★★]

Congratulations, Desperate Irish-Women! You’ve Just Won a Free-Trip to Australia!

It must have seemed a Great-Idea to turn the Tragic-Tale of the Enforced-Transportation of Irish-Women-Convicts from Ireland to Australia into an All-Singing, All-Dancing Musical-Entertainment.

Look! Isn’t this just the Right-Moment for the Ship’s-Surgeon to have a Love-Duet with that Feisty-Lassie?

How about a Seriously-Introspective Sung-Monologue by that Exiled-Priest?

Do we have enough Irish-Jigs in the First-Section? You know how American-Irish eat-up Irish-Jigs!

But we’re not doing River-Dance here. We have only Four-Women to do the Jigging in the Rigging…

Thomas Keneally—Author of the Book of Transport—has a Family-Connection to this On-Going-Epic of Brutal-British-Resettlement of Hardened-Convicts & Troublesome-Irish-Women to the Wide-Open-Lands of "Down-Under.”

His Wife’s Great-Grandmother was Transported at 20-Years for Stealing a Bolt-of-Cloth!

These are the Kinds-of-Things that the Irish do not easily Forget…

The Time recreated in Transport is 1838, shortly before The-Great-Hunger—the devastating Irish-Potato-Famine.

The Four-Women in Transport represent some 40,000 "Young-Undesirables,” shipped-off to Australia to propagate with Thousands of Hardened-Criminals already transported there to British-Penal-Colonies.

Australia’s First-Families are largely descended from such Patriarchal-Antecedents!

What about the Rupert-Murdoch-Clan…

The Estimable Tony Walton was enlisted not only to Design the Mainmast of "The Whisperer,” a Female-Convict Transport-Ship, for the Intimate-Space of the Irish-Rep, but also to Stage the Show.

As almost All-the-Action occurs in the Confined-Spaces of the Ship’s Dank-Holds or on its Darkened-Decks—despite the Walton-Design-Ingenuity—this makes for a generally Dim & Depressing Theatre-Experience.

Not only that: Jig-Music, in general, has a Jolly-Sameness about it that only the Irish can Love…

Oddly enough, over at BAM in Brooklyn, just days before, New-Yorkers could see Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd, an Operatic-Tragedy on a British-Man-o-War.

Sea-Chanties & Dancing-Sailors, yes; but no Broadway-Musical-Leftovers…

Nonetheless, as always, the Irish-Rep-Cast is Admirable, Erse-Accents & all that!

At least, this Singing-Show is not about the Horrendous-Potato-Famine, which deserves a Serious-Opera, rather than Song-&-Dance-Routines.

Charles Busch’s THE TRIBUTE-ARTIST [★★★★]

No No! Not Just a Drag-Queen! A Drag-Empress: Sovereign of All She/He Surveys!

What actually is a Tribute-Artist you may well ask?

As defined by Jimmy—in Fabulous-Drag, with an Iridescently-Shimmering-Gown by Gregory Gale—this Coveted-Title is really a "Celebrity-Tribute-Artist,” which involves miming the Manners & Modes of Famous-Ladies.

But Jimmy—who in "Real-Life” is the fabulous Playwright-Artiste-Personality Charles Busch—needs his Side-Kick Adriana [Cynthia Harris] to identify the Fabulous-Stars he is, in each Precious-Instant, impersonating.

Adriana fortunately has seen all Their-Forgotten-Films, so she is able to identify Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, & Joan Crawford as well as The Maltese Falcon, Chicago, Now, Voyager, ad-infinitum.

Aged & Infirm-Seniors in the Audience, who have long followed the Fabulous-Career of Charles Busch—beginning many years ago at Club-Limbo—of course have actually seen those Movie-Classics.

A Younger-Generation knows them not, unless it be addicted to Late-Nite Net-Flix, or whatever.

The Central-Problem in Tribute-Artist is that the Fabulous-West-Village-Townhouse in which the Imperious Rita [Julie Halston] has lived & ruled did not really belong to her.

Jimmy has been her Occasional-Guest, but she has just gone & died on him without any Apparent-Will.

Putting the Body in a Basement-Fridge, Jimmy & Adriana—conveniently a Real-Estate-Agent—plot to Sell the Lavishly-Decorated-Townhouse for Millions.

Anna Louizos should get Special-Awards for finding all those Elegant-Furnishings!

The Real-Owner suddenly turns-up with her Gender-Challenged-Daughter, Oliver [Keira Keeley].

As played by Mary Bacon—in spite of her frequently-proclaimed Low-Self-Esteem—Christina is Super-Hyper.

Oliver has Twittered or Face-Booked to contact Rodney [Jonathan Walker], an Old-Flame of Rita, who is an expert in Cutting-Up-Corpses.

Among Other Things.

Jimmy forces Adriana to go-down-on-him, to achieve Their-Ends.

Do not forget, however, if you get Cross with Cross-Dressers, they can certainly Cross you, even putting a Cross on your Door!

What eventually happens to the Fabulous-Townhouse requires the Reprise of Great-Moments from Film-Monuments—which is what Fans of Charles Busch really came to see anyway…

Douglas Lackey’s DAYLIGHT-PRECISION: An American-Tragedy [★★★★]

"Bomb Them Back To The Stone-Age” vs Precision-Bombing of Strategic-Military-Targets…

General Curtis LeMay prevailed at the end of World-War-II: The Blasted-Remains of Tokyo, Hiroshima, & Nagasaki were his Hideous-Monuments.

Had the more Scholarly & Scientific General Haywood Hansell remained in charge of Strategic-Missions of the Army-Air-Corps, those Devastating-Destructions would surely never have been Sanctioned.

Philosopher-Ethicist-Playwright Douglas Lackey is Chairman of the Philosophy-Department at CUNY-Baruch, but he is also acutely-aware that Humanistic-Philosophical-Formulations seldom carry-over into Civilian-Life.

There are the "Tough-Minded” & the "Tender-Minded”: Categories theorized by Harvard-Prof William James, brother of the Novelist Henry James.

Cigar-Chomping & Power-Hungry Curtis LeMay had his sway, while the more-professorial Haywood Hansell was virtually swept-away in the High-Level Power-Struggle to Decisively-Defeat Japan.

As Lackey has imagined the Unfolding-of-Events—in Five-Acts & Twenty-Five-Scenes & a Coda—Gilbert-&-Sullivan’s Mikado is a Leitmotif, as well as Puccini’s Madama-Butterfly.

We understand that Hansell—unlike most of his Army-Staff-Colleagues—is an Educated, Cultured, Sensitive Gentleman.

He is even given Imaginary-Encounters with Vera Brittain, a celebrated British-Pacifist-Author.

For American-Bombing-Squadrons—trying to bring the Nazis to their Knees—Night-Bombing often meant that they could not really see Their-Targets.

Daylight-Precision-Bombing, on the other hand, could Score-Precisely. Unless there was a thick Cloud-Cover…

Hansell had marked-out important Strategic-Military-Targets such as Ball-Bearing-Factories in the Heart of Germany. Armies roll forward on Ball-Bearings…

Power-Plants & Oil-Fields were also Obvious-Targets.

But Britain’s "Bomber” Harris believed that the Destruction of Entire-Cities & their Civilian-Populations could bring the War to an Early-End.

So Hamburg was enveloped in a Devastating-Fire-Storm, something never seen before & certainly not envisioned before the Attack.

The Art-City of Dresden was subsequently Bombed into the Ground & even far below that.

But it did give the Western-World the Ex-Soldier become Author, Kurt Vonnegut, & The Slaugterhouse-Five

Lackey’s Entire-Cast—Our Officers & Lads all appropriately Uniformed in 1941-US-Army-Issue—is excellent, deftly directed by Alexander Harrington, son of the famed Truth-Teller, Michael Harrington.

The Point is made that our Bombers often lacked Fighter-Air-Support.

When it was Available—not already having been shot down by the Luftwaffe—our P-38-Fighters had Different-Ranges from our B-17- Bombers.

A Pilot explains: The P-38 is made by Lockheed. The B-17 is made by Boeing…

Nonetheless—possibly because the Multiple-Wall-Projections of the Same-German-Targets—Living-Through the Air-War in Europe does become a bit Wearing.

The Effect is rather like having been Drafted, the Selective-Service belonging to those who bought tickets for Daylight-Precision way down at Theatre-for-the-New-City, on First-Avenue.

The Production-Values are generally Exemplary, as are the Generals in what LeMay & others were scheming to turn into the US-Air-Force, free of Army Restraints & Constraints.

Having experienced Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, & Nagasaki vicariously in a California-High-School—informed only by Radio-Reports & the Sacramento-Bee—I thought The-Allies had done what Needed-To-Be-Done.

Years later, collecting Presidential-Autographs on Official-Portrait-Photos, I wrote to Harry S. Truman, in Retirement in Independence, MO, telling him how I respected him for making—in his "Dark Night of the Soul”—that Fateful-Decision to end the War with Japan so abruptly.

He wrote in Bold-Black-Ink, right on the Photo by his Face: To Dr. Glenn M. Loney, Kindest Regards from Harry Truman, 8-11-65.

There was also a Letter in which he wrote: I hope this doesn’t bring you any bad luck…

Did this refer to the Surge-of-Public-Anger at his Approval of Dropping the A-Bomb?

Other Air-War-Leftovers: My British-Cousin, Col. Tony Dangerfield—later Russian-Expert for MI-6—was British-Air-Marshall Tedder’s Liaison-Officer with Supreme-Commander Ike Eisenhower.

My American-Cousin, Jimmy Adcock, was Personal-Pilot for General Jimmy Doolittle & helped establish our first APO, when we invaded North-Africa, on our way up into Italy…

I, however, had to wait to be Drafted—as a US-Army-Private—to serve at Fort-Ord, in the Korean "Police-Action.”

David Rossmer & Steve Rosen’s THE OTHER JOSH COHEN [★★★★★]

Flooded-Out by Hurricane-Sandy, Josh Cohen Lives Again Over at Paper-Mill-Playhouse!

Just like Once—which began Way-Off-Broadway—so also should The Other Josh Cohen Make-the-Move to Broadway.

Actually, there are more than Two-Josh-Cohens—just look in the Phone-Book!—but the First-Version of The Other Josh Cohen began even farther Off-Broadway than Once, which was once-upon-a-time on East-fourth-Street.

The Two-Josh-Cohens—in this hilarious Musical-Romp through the Lovelorn-Libido of Josh-One—first Vocalized down at the Soho-Rep, to Rapturous-Reviews. Including one from THE-NEW-YORK-TIMES!

Unfortunately, Hurricane-Sandy wiped-them-out, with no help from FEMA, Obama, or Chris Christie to put them back-in-business.

Nonetheless, New Jersey has Come-to-the-Rescue: The entirely-admirable Paper-Mill-Playhouse has just opened a New-&-Improved The Other Josh Cohen

No longer a real Paper-Mill, the Playhouse still uses Tons-of-Paper for all those Theatre-Programs it needs for its Hordes-of-Subscribers, for it is a Broadway-Sized-Venue.

It was Packed-to-the-Rafters for the Opening-Night of The Other Josh Cohen, whose Audience leapt to its Collective-Feet in a Thunderous-Ovation at the Joyous-Close.

Yes! This is a Musical with a Happy-Ending! Schlumpy Old Josh finally Gets-the-Girl!

With a Lot of Lively-Songs & Comic-Routines in-between…

As the Audience assembled, some kind of Sneak-Thief was busily removing all the Set-Decorations that Designer David Korins had so diligently-discovered to create the Impression of a Single-Man’s Sloppy-Squat.

The Last-Treasure to go was a Framed-Willy-Wonka-Poster!

So, when an already-depressed Josh entered, the Cupboard-Was-Bare, but not quite like Old-Mother-Hubbard.

Josh is a Good-Guy, perhaps something of a Loner, but Inept, Awkward, unable to Get-Girls.

Nonetheless, he is Really-OK & you want to Root-for-Him, especially as there’s also Another-Josh-Cohen onstage, a Kind of Post-Depression, Post-Theft, Post-Failure, Josh-Cohen-of-the-Future!

Just when Things could not Look-Darker, Josh gets a Letter addressed to Josh Cohen.

It contains a Check for $56,000.

But Who could/would/should send Josh a Check for So-Much-Money?

Not his Mother, of course. Are you Kidding?

Josh is Afraid [musically] to Cash-the-Check.

Oh, Oh! There’s Another-Josh-Cohen in Manhattan! [Probably more than the Two onstage & the One offstage, whom we never see.]

The Check was wrongly-delivered to the Wrong-Zip-Code!

Josh Cohen would like to meet Josh Cohen, but this Guy is a real Upscale-Zip-Code-Snot & tells Josh just to leave the Check with His-Doorman.

The wonderfully-entertaining Show you can now see over in New Jersey—Traffic-Stoppages permitting—has Evolved since Soho & is still Unfolding, as the Cast works-together, taking Stuff from their Own-Lives & Frustrations.

Everyone is an Onstage-Musician as well as an Actor-Singer-Dancer, with a Variety-of-Identities to Assume, aside from the Two-Josh-Cohens, who play Themselves: in the Persons of Steve Rosen & David Rossmer, who take Credit for the Book, Music, & Lyrics.

The Lyrics are some of the most Witty & Clever you will hear on Broadway, this Season or Next, depending on when they can find an Intimate-Musical-Theatre that’s not already taken by Epic-Long-Runs.

The Booth-Theatre would be Ideal. No-Competition from Phantom, Lion-King, or Les-Mis

Ted Sperling staged, over in New Jersey.

If you cannot wait for Broadway, Paper-Mill is the place to see the Two-Josh-Cohens & the Rest of the Crew.

Get there early so you can have Prime-Rib at Charlie Brown’s, at the foot of the hill, just below Paper-Mill.

When I used to go over to Millburn & Paper-Mill on my own—before I discovered there’s a Press-Bus—I always took NJ-Transit early so I could have Prime-Rib & Horseradish at Charlie Brown’s.

It’s the Best-Ever! Also, try the Homemade-Key-Lime-Pie…

Scott Siegel’s BROADWAY BY THE YEAR: Broadway Musicals of 1915-1939 [★★★★★]

Broadway All-Star-Cast Lights-Up The Town-Hall-Sky With Multi-Voltage-Classics!

Before there were really important Broadway-Book-Musicals, most of the Jazz-Age Broadway-Classics were created for Musical-Revues & Operettas.

So the inimitable Scott Siegel has rampaged through the Archives of such Vintage-Shows as the Ziegfeld-Follies, George White’s Scandals, the Music-Box-Revues, the Passing-Shows, & Earl Carroll’s Vanities to collage a Musical-Panorama stretching from the Outbreak of The-Great-War to the Eruption of World-War-II.

Fortunately, such All-Time-Hits as Begin the Beguine, Look for the Silver Lining, & Ol’ Man River have nothing to do with World-Wars, but Everything to do with making Broadway-Audiences so joyous that they’d go out of the Theatres humming the Hit-Tunes.

After a resounding Standing-Ovation, that’s also what the Capacity-Crowd of Town-Hall Musical-Fanatics did, savoring the Artistry of such Treasured-Talents as Karen Akers, Tonya Pinkins, Mark Nadler, Lari White, & Stephanie J. Block.

A wistful Karen Akers musically-wondered What’ll I Do?

But the hilarious Mark Nadler—pummeling the Steinway-Keyboard—gave New-Meaning to I Love a Piano.

The enchanting Ms. Block gave some Passionate-Thought to My Man

Two Americanized-Visions of Viennese-Operettas—The Student Prince & The Vagabond King—gave Dillon McCarthy & John Easterlin [Unplugged] ample-opportunity to show what Manly-Tenors can do when Deeply-in-Love.

If you love Irish-Tenors, then Dillon is definitely The Man, singing The Serenade, even if not actually in Old-Heidelberg.

But Easterlin was even more Romantic with Only a Rose.

Scott Siegel—who Creates, Writes, & Hosts the Broadway-by-the-Year© Series—is a Genius, not only in his Apt-Choices of Vintage-Classics but also in his Amazing-Ability to assemble such Dynamic-Casts of Headliners as Joshua Henry, Carolee Carmelo, Karen Mason, & the charming Chip Zien.

One of my Favorites is Carole J. Bufford—who recently dazzled on the Town-Hall-Stage with Je ne regret rien—returning for this show with Love for Sale.

Noah Racey choreographed himself in I’ll Build a Staircase to Paradise, but he joined Danny Gardner for Friendship, from DuBarry Was a Lady, in which these Light-of-Foot Song-&-Dance-Men co-choreographed.

There are no Broadway-Production-Values in Scott Siegel’s Broadway-Musicals, but none are needed when he has such Attractive-Performers—who know how to Dress-for-the Occasion—with a Handsome-Chorus as well & The Band onstage: Ross Patterson, Don Falzone, & Jared Schonig.

If you missed out on The-Jazz-Age—as well as World-War-I—there are Three-More-Shows which will give New-Yorkers a Grand-Total of 100-Years-of-Broadway-Musicals this Season:

The Broadway-Musicals of 1940-1964 [31 March], The Broadway-Musicals of 1965-1989 [12 May], & The Broadway-Musicals of 1990-2014 [23 June].

Who Could Ask for Anything More? [To borrow a Song-Title…]

Paddy Chayefsky’s MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT [★★★★★]

Can An Old Jewish-Garmento Find Happiness If Married To a Twenty-Four-Year-Old-Shiksa?

Yes, he can & he should!

As engagingly-played by Jonathan Hadary, the Widowed-Jerry is both Kind & Thoughtful.

But he’s also a very Lonely-Mensch, who deserves a Companion who needs Companionship.

Playwright Paddy Chayefsky, in crafting this "Heartbreaking Romantic Comedy”—as it is described in Keen-Company Press-Materials—must have been thinking in Everyman-Terms.

Chayefsky’s Cast-List designates him only as "The Manufacturer,” with the Unhappily-Wedded Young-Wife as "The Girl.”

Others are, variously, The Mother, The Kid-Sister, The Widow, The Neighbor, The Husband, The Son-in-Law…

Jerry’s Unmarried-Sister has been trying to "Fix-Him-Up,” which is where the flighty, over-eager Widow comes in.

The Girl has been married-off to her High-School-Sweetheart, who seems to think that Sex with his Wife is all that’s needed in a Marriage.

He is centered on His-Career & prefers His-Mates for Small-Talk & Fun.

The Girl—affectingly played by Nicole Lowrance—wants a Man she can Talk-To, Confide-In, & with whom she can feel Safe & Loved.

Jerry’s own Marriage was apparently Barren in several Senses.

They are Drawn-to-Each-Other.

The Age-Gap—which appalls Jerry’s Sister & The Girl’s Own-Family—is a Bridge this Odd-Couple will pass-over when they come to it.

The altogether-admirable Jonathan Silverstein—who is Artistic-Director of the keen Keen-Company—sensitively Staged his Ensemble.

Visually, it was remarkable that Jerry’s Apartment was furnished exactly like that of The Mother of The Girl!

Ceiling-Lighting-Fixtures—descending & ascending—let the Audience know in whose Abode the Action was occurring.

The Marriage-of-May-to-December is, of course, an Old-Theme. Even an Old-New-York-Theme.

Paddy Chayefsky surely knew about the Aged & One-Legged Peter Stuyvesant, one of the Earliest-New-Yorkers?

As a Young-Jewish-Lad in the Bronx, Chavefsky may even have hummed September-Song?

But writing another Knickerbocker-Holiday wasn’t his Style.

You don’t win Tonys with Historical-Musicals; The Tenth-Man came close, however, with at least a Tony-Nomination.

As for Academy-Awards, Paddy Chayefsky won Three-Oscars!

At the Juilliard-School:

Two-Concerts with Austrian-Influences—

[These Events were part of Carnegie Hall’s Vienna: City of Dreams, a Three-Week, City-Wide-Festival, saluting Vienna’s "Extraordinary-Artistic-Legacy.”]

AXIOM Interprets Knussen [Brit], Andriessen [Dutch], Lang [US], & Haas [Austrian] [★★★★★]

Carl Orff, Eat Your Heart Out! Percussions & Xylophones Galore in Eclectic-Program!

Jeffrey Milarsky has succeeded in creating an Outstanding-Young-Ensemble, dedicated to performing the 20th-Century’s "Classic” Repertoire of Contemporary-Music.

To Lovers of Bach, Brahms, & Beethoven, the Klonks & Klangs of some of the works offered at Alice Tully Hall must have seemed Alien indeed. Hardly "Classic,” but then, who knows what Audiences will relish in 2050-AD?

Georg Friedrich Haas’ Monodie did have a certain Single-Focus, but it was resoundingly-performed. The Composer came forward for the Resounding-Applause.

Also on the Program: David Lang’s cheating, lying, stealing; Oliver Knussen’s Two Organa, & Louis Andriessen’s Zilver.

Long a Musical-Mainstay of the Holland-Festival, almost every summer Andriessen would come forward with some new Musical-Treat.

My Favorite was the Nine-Symphonies of Beethoven, in which Andriessen managed to consolidate all those Famous-Themes.

JUILLIARD-ORCHESTRA Conducted by Hans Graf [Austrian] [★★★★★]

Major-Works Include Britten [Brit], Hindemith [German], & Brahms [Austrian]

Hans Graf may be an Austrian-Born-&-Bred—as well as Professor of Orchestral-Conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg—but he was Music-Director of the Houston-Symphony these past Twelve-Years, so he could be an Honorary-American, at least by Acclimation/Acclamation.

Perhaps he could be called a UN-Citizen, for his Bio shows that he has conducted Major-Symphonies all over the World.

Nonetheless, he conducted the Juilliard’s Young-Instrumentalists with a Firm but Loving-Hand. It was clear that they also responded to his Love-&-Understanding of the Compositions, especially the Hindemith-Symphony, Mathis der Maler.

The Program opened with Brahms’ stormy Tragic Overture, a Companion-Piece to his Academic-Festival-Overture, a Musical-Thank-You to the City-of-Breslau [now Polish-ed as Wroclaw] for awarding him a PhD Honoris-Causa.

It was a Big-Night for the brilliant young Juilliard-Cellist Khari Joyner, who soloed in Britten’s Symphony for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 68. This was originally composed for the famed Russian-Cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich.

Khari Joyner is a Musician of Ferocious-Concentration, so focused on performance of the work that he even Stomped the Platform on occasion. Britten has given Cellists a fiendishly-difficult Challenge…

Joyner’s Bio is almost as impressive as that of Hans Graf. He has just given a Private-Performance for President Barak Obama in the Oval-Office!

Few Americans have ever journeyed to Colmar—in French-Alsace—to savor Matthias Grünewald’s Medieval Issenheimer-Altar, but Paul Hindemith certainly captured some of its Soaring-Visual-Drama in Mathis der Maler.

My Guest thought we were going to hear something by Mahler [Gustav], but Maler means Painter.

Paul Hindemith was one of those Unfortunate-Artists who fell afoul of Nazi-Art-Diktats.

He was fortunate to make his escape from Germany, eventually teaching at Yale…

Personal-Note: When I was teaching the US-Troops in Verdun back in the 1950s, on Fridays, I’d drive over to Strasbourg to Audit Seminars at the University, after which I’d motor on down to Colmar to study the Great-Panels of Matthias/Mathis’ fabled but long-forgotten Altarpiece, now separated from their original Hinged-Conformation.

BEYOND CARMINA-BURANA: Carl-Orff-Commentaries—

Creating Prometheus & Ein-Sommernachtstraum

Anyone who has ever been fascinated by the Thrumming-Rhythms of Bavarian-Composer Carl Orff’s Carmina-Burana may well have wondered why none of his other equally-engaging Operatic-Works is ever heard in Mainstream-American-Concert-Programming.

There is a Reason

So, if you have never heard—or even heard-ofOrff’s Prometheus, you might be interested to know that the Orff-Zentrum-München has recently issued a Monograph that explores almost every aspect of its Antecedents, Creation, & Performance, including photographs of the Schlagwerk that is so necessary to its Stage-Life.

This Engrossing-Study—by Werner Thomas—is, however, also illustrated with frequent Musical-Citations. But if you cannot read Music—not to mention German—you are in Trouble

Many years ago, it was my Bona-Fortuna—as Professor Orff termed it—to experience the World-Premiere of Prometheus in Munich at the Bavarian-State-Opera.

I still have the Production-Photos.

For the Entire-Opera, the Central-Character is chained to an Immense-Rhomboid high-up Central-Stage.

Not only does Prometheus never get to move around in the Stage-Space, but he has to sing his Entire-Agony in Classic-Greek!

Of course, there’s also that Eagle gnawing at his Liver the whole time

Well, that’s what you get for Giving the Gift-of-Fire to Mankind!

Zeus—just like that Old-Testament-Deity—is an Angry-God. He will not be Defied!

How many Male-Opera-Stars want to learn a Role that’s entirely sung in a Dead-Language, one that only some select University-Professors can understand?

After the Premiere, I asked Professor Orff what would become of this very Expensive-Production.

Obviously, it wouldn’t find a place in the Regular-Repertory, alongside Carmen & Traviata.

"Oh, it’s really a Festival-Opera,” Orff explained. "You can only perform it as a Special-Event.”

He also pointed out to me that—like many of his works—its Orchestration required many kinds of Percussion-Instruments, not least Multiple-Xylophones.

If you would like to know more about Orff & his Operatic-Inventions, Google the Orff-Zentrum in Munich.

Its Genial-Director, Dr. Thomas Rösch has also prepared a Monograph on Orff’s Musik zu Shakespeares Ein-Sommernachtstraum.

Near the close of his Vibrant-Life, Carl Orff transformed this Score into a wonderful Ballet, ingeniously-choreographed & amusingly-performed by the Ballet-Corps of Munich’s marvelous Gärtnerplatz-Theater, Orff’s Essential-Home in the Bavarian-Capital.

Dr. Rösch does more than discuss the Dream-Music itself: he also outlines Orff’s Beginnings as a Theatre-Man in Frankfurt & in Munich during the Free-Wheeling-Years of the Weimar-Republic, when Munich was The Arts-Center in Germany.

Orff was able to work with the much-admired Avant-Garde-Director Otto Falckenberg at the Münchner-Kammerspiele, where the Young-Composer learnt much about how Theatre-Works are effectively staged.

Inspired by composing for Falckenberg‘s As You Like ItWie es euch gefällt—production, Orff began work on his First-Version of Midsummer-Night’s-Dream in 1917.

He finished his Zweite-Entwurf in 1928.

In 1939, Orff’s Frankfurter-Fassung for Shakespeare’s Midsummer-Night’s-Dream was ready for performance.

It was a Critical-Success, but Orff always dreamt of this Score as being more than just Enhancement for a Bardic-Classic.

There were later Versions as well: 1944, 1952. 1964

That’s why it ultimately became a Ballet.

After the Nazis seized Power in 1933, the Beloved-Mendelssohn-Music for Shakespeare’s Midsummer-Night’s-Dream was banned.

But Carl Orff did not compose his Sommernachtstraum to replace Mendelssohn, as some may think.

With the Nazis dictating German-Cultural-Standards, many Creative-Talents—especially those who were Jewish—found themselves falling-afoul of the Censors.

Bert Brecht, Kurt Weill, Thomas Mann, & other German Artists, Performers, & Authors fled to London, Manhattan, & Hollywood.

Carl Orff, whose Mythic-World was rooted in the Bavarian-Soil—often aloft in the Alps—did not leave.

This was held against him.

Early an Admirer of Orff, his Operas, & his Schulwerk—an easy System for Teaching-Kids to Make-Music—I enlisted our Mutual-Friend, Dr. Fritz Kracht, to make American-Librettos for Die Bernauerin & Astutuli, or The Wise-Ones.

The Unmarried Augsburg-Bathhouse-Attendant, Agnes BernauerPregnant with the Child of the Heir to the Bavarian-Throne—is Drowned in the River-Isar on the Orders of Herzog-Georg.

Fritz Kracht called his New-Version The Ballad of Agnes Bernauer.

He staged its World-Premiere—with Orff’s Enthusiastic-Approval—at the University-of-Missouri in Kansas-City.

That’s the Last that was ever heard of The Ballad

Astutuli—which is in essence The Emperor’s New Clothes—is effectually an Attack on those who Supported the Rise of Adolf Hitler, but Orff didn’t dare have it performed until after World-War-II.

Kracht moved the Venue from somewhere near Oberammergau to Harlem, rechristening it as Salt of the Earth.

It has Never-Been-Performed.

When Julius Rudel was Chief of the late, lamented New-York-City-Opera, I brought both Ballad & Salt to his attention, Scores & Librettos in-hand.

Although the NYCO-Production of Carmina-Burana was a Repertory-Regular, always popular, Maestro Rudel passed.

He told me: "I don’t want Orff to be competition for Orff.”

The next Summer, when I visited Orff in Sankt-Georgen, I told him this, showing him the NYCO-Schedule.

There were Five-Verdi-Operas in the Repertory.

"So, is Verdi competition for Verdi at your City-Opera?” Orff asked me, somewhat annoyed.

When Beverly Sills took over the Artistic-Direction of NYCO—after Rudel retired—I once again brought the Scores & Librettos for her to study.

Sills also passed.

But she said to me: "Carl Orff didn’t leave Germany. The Others did…”

So, I finally understood that many in the Music-Business thought Carl Orff was a Nazi.

Or at least a Sympathizer—because he did not abandon his Native-Ground, which so thoroughly permeates his Life & Work.

Anyone interested in the American-Versions of Bernauerin & Astutuli should contact Schott-Musik in Mainz. Try Googling their Web-Site.

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