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Report for March 2012

4/1/2012

Report for The Month of March 2012

 

©GLENN LONEY 2012

 

 

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

 

THOUGHT-FOR-THE-MONTH:

 

Never have so many Messages been sent, with so little actual Communication

 

Caesar! Beware the Ides of March!

 

That Shakespearean or Marlovian Soothsayer might also have added: Beware the Odes of Ovid!

 

Time was when most Americans also had to worry about the Ides of March, as Income-Tax-Filings were due on 15 March.

 

Moving the IRS Due-Date to Mid-April, however, hasn’t made the Ides any less hazardous.

 

Two days later is St. Paddy’s Day: Watch-Out for Irish-Rowdys on Fifth-Avenue, as the Paddy-Parade marches Up the One-Way-Down Avenue, along that Green Center-Stripe

 

Thinking of both Shakespeare & of the Irish—including Irish-Americans—this month we had Being Shakespeare over at BAM & Gene O’Neill’s Beyond the Horizon at the Irish Rep!

 

 

PASSING-GLANCES AT SCENES-SEEN:

 

Artists & Authors’ Real & Fantasy Animals On-Parade at the Morgan: From Dürer to TS Eliot!

           

It’s not quite the Carnival of the Animals at the Morgan Library/Museum—though some Musical-Animals would not have been amiss, with excerpts from recordings of Animal-Related-Music on-tap.

 

This charming new show—drawn entirely from the Morgan’s own Considerable-Collections of Manuscripts, Illuminations, Books, Letters, Jottings, Drawings, Sketches, Paintings, Engravings, Prints, & Lithographs is chastely titled: In the Company of Animals: Art, Literature, & Music at the Morgan.

 

To give this new show a Sense of Purpose, it’s divided into Sections such as Animals as Symbols & Animals as Teachers of Moral-Lessons. Aesop wasn’t the only Animal-Fabulist

 

Among the Animal-Lovers whose Poems, Prose, and/or Artworks are on-view: Ted Hughes, John James Audubon, George Orwell, David Hockney, Al Dürer, TS Eliot, Virginia Woolf, & William Blake.

 

Remember Blake’s Tyger? Burning bright, in the Forests of the Night…

 

The Morgan’s Bunnies & Camels will also be on-view until 20 May 2012.

 

 

From Birth of a Nation to The Birth of Promotion: Silent & Sound-Film-Publicity at Lincoln-Center.

           

DW Griffith’s Birth of a Nation was a powerful & controversial Silent-Motion-Picture.

 

It featured the Ku Klux Klan in a not-unfavorable Light.

 

But How To Sell This Photoplay to American-Audiences?

 

The fascinating new show in the Astor-Gallery of the Library of Performing-Arts at Lincoln-Center shows how it was done.

 

Colorful-Posters, Giant-Photos, Special-Souvenir-Gimmicks, Newspaper-Ad-Campaigns, Dazzling-Marquee-Displays, Contests, even Crossword-Puzzles

 

Rudolph Valentino is hardly the only Silent-Film-Star on-view. There’s also Doug Fairbanks & Mary Pickford. Not to overlook Jean Harlow, Lillian Gish, & Stan Laurel!

 

Silent-Films & the then newly-emerging Talking-Pictures have also been projected in the adjacent Bruno-Walter-Auditorium: From Way Down East to Hell’s Angels.

 

[It’s interesting to speculate: Were David Wark Griffith alive today, would he make a Sequel to Birth of a Nation—in which the later-notorious Ku-Klux-Klan protected Virginal-White-Girls from Fates-Worse-Than-Death at the hands of randy, rampaging Freed-Coloreds?

 

[Griffith could come-to-grips with a far greater problem than Post-Civil-War Race-Relations.

 

[He could make a Documentary about the Nation-Wide-Disaster of Morbid-Obesity & call it The Girth of a Nation!]

 

           

All Kinds & Forms of Folk-Art at the American Folk-Art Museum in the Mormon-Building.

           

Just across from Lincoln-Center’s Religion-Free-Campus is a large building topped by a Spire with the Golden-Figure of the Angel Moroni, trumpeting toward Heaven.

 

Inside this Complex are not one, but five Latter-Day-Saints Stake-Churches. It also contains a Mormon-Visitors-Center.

 

When the Center was first opened, you could witness Disney-inflected Egg-faced-Mormons doing-their-Thing, including Jesus inspecting the Pyramids in Middle-America! This he did, it is said, in the 40-Days after His-Crucifixion, before ascending into Heaven

 

At one time, there was even a Replica of the Golden-Plates from which The Prophet Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon! [Recently re-translated as a Broadway-Musical of the Same-Name.]

 

But this was a Mistake—as Your Roving Arts-Reporter soon pointed-out to the Folks at the Front-Desk.

 

No-one but The Prophet saw the Golden-Tablets.

 

The Angel Moroni took them away from him, when the Translation was completed. So how could the LDS make a Replica of what remained Unseen?

 

The Plates disappeared from the Front-Display-Window… The Window, itself, has also long-since disappeared.

 

Nonetheless, the Mormon-Faith is one of the most original of the variety of American-Invented-Religions or Variants-of-Christianity. It is, in effect, a form of American Folk-Art

 

So it’s entirely appropriate that the American Folk-Art Museum is located on the ground-floor of the Mormon-Building!

 

A number of the Portraits, Farm-Scenes, Ceramics, Dolls, & Wood-Carvings are clearly what is now called Naïve-Art.

 

They were made by simple, untrained American-Folks, recording or celebrating Family, Possessions, & even National-Pride.

 

But some of the more amazing & even fantastical & visionary Constructions qualify as Outsider-Art.

 

Or Art-Brut, as the Europeans call this genre.

 

Among current exhibitions is Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real & Imagined—on-view through 2 September 2012. But there’s also the 9/11 National Tribute Quilt!

 

The Museum offers Musical & Lecture Programs, as well as Special-Tours for Kids & Parents.

 

But the Mormon-Building—also including Apartments for LDS-Faithful—is NOT a Mormon-Temple!

 

Mormons worship in Stake-Churches. Not in the Hallowed-Temples, where only Sacred-Rituals take place.

 

Potential-Voters who want Mitt Romney to be Our-President may be interested to know that the Mormons have just Gone-through-the-Temple to transform Anne Frank & Daniel Pearl into Mormons.

 

Otherwise, at the Last-Judgment, Frank & Pearl would not be Admitted-into-Heaven

 

 

Big-Bucks Change-Hands in Christie’s Auction of American Paintings, Drawings, & Sculpture!

           

Although Christie’s had pegged Ben Shahn’s Hamilton Fish Park—with three men on a bench—at only $35,000 for a high-bid, this bit of American-Nostalgia actually hit $158,500 on the Auction-Block!

 

Along with Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth was one of America’s most-beloved Illustrators. His attractive ‘It Was Such a Warm Little House, There,’ Said She Huskily brought $152,500.

 

They don’t give Paintings Titles like that anymore… Some Artists seem to prefer Untitled.

 

Your Roving Arts-Reporter—who has also been making INFOTOGRAPHY™ photo-images all over the world for the past sixty-years—likes to photograph Art-Works when they are in the Auction-Galleries.

 

In a sense, they are virtually Between-Owners.

 

When they are in Private-Homes, they are inaccessible to all but Annie Liebowitz & Vanity-Fair Scribes.

 

In Museums—unless you are at a Press-Preview—the Guards will go berserk if you take your Camera out to make shot. Of course, Cell-Phone & iPad-Digitals have Changed-the-Game entirely…

 

Nonetheless, as I photographed selected Artworks from the impressively-catholic Collection of Dr. Mark & Irene Kauffman at Christie’s, I had the growing sensation: Hey! I’ve photographed some of these paintings & sculptures before!

 

At the Front-Desk, I was told: Yes! The Collection had a Museum-Show before it went for Auction!

 

On the Auction-Block, the Kauffman’s beloved Art-Treasures fetched some $4.2 Million!

 

But, of 202 Lots offered, only 147 sold. So there are still some Kauffman-Goodies out there.

 

Some handsome Furnishings & Objects d’Art from Jugendstil Viennafin-de-siècle or Jahrhundertwende, take your choice—are soon to be followed by Asian-Treasures, for New York’s Asian Art Week.

 

At Christie’s, this will be a very-short-week: 20-23 March 2012. But there will be more than 1800 Lots, with an estimated Total-Value of $48 Million!

 

Christie’s Alert: JEWELS FROM AN AMERICAN HEIRESS

 

On 17 April 2012, Christie’s will auction the Art-Deco-Jewelry of Huguette M. Clark, called by Christie’s: The Last Great Heiress of America’s Gilded-Age.

 

Clark may sound a bit Common as a Family-Name, but so does Jones.

 

Nonetheless, America’s great novelist, Edith Wharton, was born Edith Newbold Jones.

 

The first Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller was Mary Todhunter Clark.

 

Christie’s estimates that Huguette Clark’s Tiffany & Cartier-Gems may sell for as much as $9 to $12 Million!

 

Christie’s Alert: JEWELS FOR HOPE—LILY SAFRA’S COLLECTION IN MAY IN GENEVA!

 

You’ve surely heard of the Safra-Bank?

 

It must have been doing very well over the years, as Mrs. Lily Safra’s fabulous Jewel-Collection is expected to harvest Millions for Charity when it’s Auctioned in Geneva on 14 May!

 

The sale of these "Jewels for Hope” will benefit some Twenty-Charitable-Institutions

 

Lily Safra’s ruby & diamond Camellia-Brooch alone is estimated to bring $l,200,000 to $1,500,000.

 

Mrs. Safra must have had a Thing about Gems. Apparently, she collected them by the Jar?

 

On sale will be "The Largest Single-Owner Selection of Jewels by JAR Ever Seen At Auction.”

 

How about a Mason-Jar full of Sapphires?

 

No, no, no!

 

J A R is the of the Jewelry-Designer

 

                       

An Opera-Quartet at the Met: From Japan To Russia, with Stops in Seville & Italy…

           

Having been Effectively-Banned from the Metropolitan-Opera this past Fall, Your Arts-Reporter was delighted when Erna Metdepennighen called from Ghent to invite me to share her Press-Tickets for four important productions currently in the repertory.

 

Last Autumn, when I called Jennifer Cooper—who co-ordinates Press-Ticket-Requests for the Met—I was curtly informed that: "Our Press-Allocations are severely Limited.”

 

As I have been writing about the Met, the endangered New-York City-Opera, & Opera-in-General—both in America & Abroad—for many Decades, for such publications as the Met’s own Opera-News, Opera-Monthly, Opera, & other Popular-Magazines & Academic-Journals, this Discrimination both puzzled & wounded me.

 

Why am I on the No-Fly-List?

 

Fortunately, My Friend Erna—a longtime Critic-Colleague at the Bayreuth, Munich, & Salzburg-Festivals & President of the Belgian-Music-Critics—was glad to share.

 

As she had years ago, when we both saw an Opera-Singer fall to his Death on the Met-Stage, at the necessarily Aborted-Premiere of The Makropulos Affair, with Jessye Norman.

 

Historic Power-Struggles in Mother-Russia: The Khovansky-Clan Is Doomed!

           

Peter the Great didn’t get to be so Great by being Mr. Nice-Guy!

 

He doesn’t appear on-stage in Modest Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, but his Political-Intrigues & Ordered-Exterminations are everywhere.

 

The Old-Believers have to go. So, also, the Streltsy, the Elite-Guard that had become both indisciplined & drunken

 

Mussorgsky—who is better-known for his Boris Godunov, also a Tsar-inflected opera—tried to put too much History on-stage in Khovanshchina, for which he also wrote the Libretto.

 

Thus, the current Met-Revival may go on too long for some Opera-Lovers who are not Russophiles.

 

Nonetheless, Anatoli Kotscherga was impressive as the imperious—but not Imperial, as he would like to be—Prince Ivan Khovansky, intriguing against the unseen Tsar Peter.

 

Also powerful was Ildar Abdrazakov, as Dosifei, the Leader/Priest of the Old-Believers—who, at the opera’s close, Burn Themselves to Death, believing they will achieve Heaven through their Martyrdom.

 

This Terrifying-Tale requires a number of Major-Singers, with so many Distinctive-Personalities involved.

 

Notable were Olga Borodina, as Marfa, Mara Gavrilova as Susanna, John Easterlin as the  roughed-up Scribe, & Vladimir Galouzine as the High-Handed Prince Vasily Golitzyn. [Is Galouzine a possible descendant of Golitzyn?]

 

Although St. Basil’s & the Kremlin look low-budget in this 1985 production, on seeing this vision of Red-Square once again, I realized that I’d written about Ming Cho Lee’s Designs & Augie Everding’s Staging-Concepts when the production was premiered, long, long ago.

 

Kiril Petrenko—who is to become Munich’s GMD & is also slated to conduct the new Bayreuth RING in 2013—marshaled all his Orchestral & Vocal-Forces with vigor & skill.

 

The Stage was literally teeming with Scores of Supers: Peter Gelb is certainly doing-his-part to provide Jobs for Americans!

           

 

Madama Butterfly Becomes a Fascinating Pageant of Japonoiserie: Bunraku-Puppetry & More!

           

Wonderful to see Placido Domingo conducting the Met-Orchestra in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

 

But it would be even more Wonderful if the Pathos of Poor Butterfly’s Betrayal by the American she loved so very much were not almost Obscured by the Grand-Pageantry of Anthony Minghella’s production.

 

The constantly moving Japanese-Lanterns, the ranks & files of gaudily-costumed Japanese-Villagers, the black-clad Bunraku-Puppet-Handlers—who also scoot white rice-paper Screens hither & thither: all are darkly-reflected by an overhead-sheet of Mylar, stretched at a 45º-angle.

 

Even Butterfly’s young Son is—like that War-Horse, also at Lincoln-Center—a Puppet, not a Real-Boy.

 

This is a Cute-Conceit, but it detracts from the Power of the Tragedy. Why should Pinkerton give a hoot about what’s clearly an Animated-Doll?

 

Roberto De Basio was a somewhat stiff Pinkerton, with Patricia Racette as a sweetly-suffering Butterfly. As the almost-equally-suffering Suzuki, Maria Zifchak was touching.

 

Laurent Naouri provided US-Officialdom but also Compassion as Sharpless

 

This Butterfly-Production is beautiful to watch, as a Pageant. But as a heart-breaking Music-Drama, it doesn’t strum the Heart-Strings…

 

 

Leaping Live-Flames Consume Don Giovanni, Both Astounding & Warming the Met-Audience!

           

In Spain, there are some towns with Ovoid-Plazas, surrounded by tiers-of-apartments in Ancient-Buildings that conform to the Outlines of the Roman-Coliseum that once was there.

 

In Michael Grandage’s stunning new Don Giovanni, the Don’s Section of Seville seems to have been built inside the confines of a long-gone Bull-Ring!

 

Christopher Oram—who designed both the Sets & the Costumes—is a Visual-Genius!

 

What looks like the Back-Wall of the Don’s Mansion becomes Transparent, to reveal Tiers of Darkly-Brooding Monkish-Statues, bracketing the Immense Stone-Statue of the Commendatore the Don has slain, after debauching his Daughter, Doña Ana

 

This is a Powerful-Image, made even more so when the Statue Speaks

 

But the Most-Powerful-Image of all is that of the Live-Flames that burst from behind the Don’s Dinner-Table, when the Stone-Guest comes to take the Don down to Hell.

 

Andrew Davis conducted a Strong-Cast, led by Gerald Finley as the Don.

 

Kyle Ketelson’s Leporello was himself a very sexy fellow, lithe & limber, always amusing.

 

Kudos also to Marina Rebeka [Donna Anna], Ellie Dehn [Donna Elvira], Isabel Leonard [Zerlina].

 

Honors as well to James Morris [Anna’s Dad] & Matthew Polenzani [Don Ottavio]. Shenyang played the long-suffering, much-abused Masetto.

 

           

Beni Montresor’s Two-Dimensional Picture-Book Italian-Hill-Town Backs Three-D Performances!

           

Even though I am no longer granted the Press-Privilege at the Met-Opera, I certainly had a Sense of déjà-vu when the curtain went up on Beni Montresor’s Flat-Surfaced, Flown Two-Dimensional Set-Pieces for Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore.

 

Long ago, I’d written about his Design-Concept, in the framework of John Copley’s somewhat Overpopulated-Production.

           

Even now, there are too many Choristers & Supers on-stage. At times, the Principals seem in danger of tripping or bumping-into friendly Villagers.

 

Nonetheless, Juan Diego Flórez proved a nimble Nemorino, dancing, clowning, & singing with abandon. His Nemorino is almost irresistible, which makes Adina’s studied Lack-of-Interest puzzling.

 

Flórez—at least in this performance—didn’t need Dr. Dulcamara’s magical Elixir of Love

 

This is a Melodic/Romantic Comic-Opera, but it’s by no means All-Downhill after Nemorino sings Una furtiva Lagrima.

 

[I made the Mistake of trying-out my Castilliano-Spanish, saying to Erna: Nemorino no puede cantar este noche. A Latina-Lady on the other side of me gasped!]

 

Of course, it’s in the Libretto, as well as the Score, that Adina must seem greatly-taken with Sgt. Belcore, he of the Handsome-Uniform & Bold-Moves.

 

The delightful Diana Damrau really was Adina; Mariusz Kwiecein ably & sexily embodied Belcore, & Alessandro Corbelli was wonderfully comic as Dulcamara.

 

Conductor Donato Renzetti entered into the antic spirit of the Opera & the Evening…

 

 

Gallery-Met Has Its Very Own Twilight-of-the-Gods, with Dana Schutz’s Götterdämmerung

           

Alec Ross, Music-Critic for The New Yorker, has already condemned Robert Lepage’s clanking Metal-Plankings for the new Met-Ring.

           

As I am not permitted to see it as Press, I dare not Pass-Judgment on it.

 

But—from Photos & Videos in the Met’s Foyers—it seems unlikely that Dana Schutz was in any way inspired by the Lepage-Production.

 

Nonetheless, Schutz may be having Second-Thoughts.

 

A Brochure-Insert notes that the image of Wotan is now titled Drowning, just as Wotan Down is now simply Down

 

 

Painting-Fences & Painting Churches: From Mark Twain to Tina Howe…

           

On a sunny Sunday-Noon, Your Roving Arts-Reporter sat inside the Historic New-Victory-Theatre, basking in the Southern-Sunlight of 19th-Century Missouri.

 

Of course, this Sun was artificial but Artful, as was the plank-by-plank whitewashing of
Aunt Polly’s wooden-fence—each Plank, as soon as painted, glowed whitely.

 

Laura Eason’s fast-moving adaptation of Mark Twain’s American-Classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer—as brought-to-life on-stage by Hartford-Stage, Kansas-City-Rep, & Actors-Theatre-of-Louisville—is now on-tour, roguishly-animated by a vibrant Youngish-Cast.

 

If you’ve not read about Tom & his Exploits with Huckleberry Finn for years, this is the show for you!

 

Body-Snatching at Midnight; Dead-Cats to ward-off Warts; Fleeing Injun’ Joe in that Cave: it’s all here.

 

Considering all the African-American Outrage at the use of the N-Word in Twain’s Sequel, Huckleberry Finn, so far no Native-American has made much of a fuss about the Name & Stereotyping of the character we might now call Mr. Indian-Joseph

 

Just a short sprint down 42nd Street from the New Victory to Theatre-Row & a different kind of Painting was taking-place.

 

In Tina Howe’s Painting Churches, a rebellious New-York Bohemian-Daughter [Kate Turnbull] is trying to paint a Portrait of her Boston-Brahmin-Parents.

 

Her Dad, Gardner [John Cunningham], a famed Literary-Critic—who is verging on Senility—may be modeled on Howe’s own dad, Quincy Howe.

 

I first saw this play years ago & was puzzled why the Keen-Company would want to revive it now?

 

Clearly, it must have been to give the wonderful Kathleen Chalfant a chance to wreak havoc as an Overbearing Beacon-Hill-Matron, packing-up a Lifetime’s-Possessions to move into a much smaller Summer-Cottage.

 

           

Flaunting Flamencos in Flouncing-Skirts at City-Center, with Rafaela Carrasco…

           

If Manhattan-Crowds come out in droves for Flamencos—some of their Kids even in Flamenco-Costumes—can evenings of Tangos be far behind at City-Center?

 

Four evenings of Flamenco may have been too few, but the Flamboyant-Talents of Carmen Cortes, Rafaela Carrasco, Olga Pericet, & Manuela Carrasco excited Bravos from the Orchestra to the Upper-Balcony, in what was once a Shrine-Temple, newly & colorfully Restored to its Depression-Era-Magnificence.

 

The last of the four programs—performed by the Compañia-Rafaela-Carrasco—was titled Vamos al Tiroteo, Versiones de un Tiempo Pasado.

 

As a longtime admirer of Carmen Amaya & Pilar Rioja, I was hoping for a stage filled with Vibrant-Women in those bright-red-trailing-flounced-skirts that require such skill to whip-about while legs are furiously-pumping & Clicking-Heels are stamping out the rhythms of Andalusian-Gypsies.

 

Instead, we got four men in Silver-Flamenco-Skirts, legs furiously-pumping & Heels-Clicking madly. Excellent!

 

Señora Carrasco, herself, preferred to perform in trousers, along with her company of four powerful Male-Dancers. Poetry-in-Motion, as they say. But very Potent, Passionate Poetry

 

Nor did the evening lack for Potent Flamenco-Shouters: Gema Caballero & Manuel Gagó amped-up the Passion & the Sense of a Time-Gone-By.

           

 

Bonded-Brothers Tied-Together in Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot: A Signature-Premiere.

           

Signature-Theatre has moved a bit Eastward on West 42nd Street.

 

Its Old-Home is now the Peter Norton Space, as Peter Norton & Peter Jay Sharp seem to be putting their Names all over the place on Theatre-Venues.

 

Although Pershing-Square is actually over on Park-Avenue-South—in front of Grand-Central-Station—the Three-Venue New-Home Frank Gehry has designed for Signature is now called: The Pershing-Square Signature Theatre.

 

The 299-seat venue is called the End-Stage-Theatre. The 199-seat play-space is nominally the Courtyard-Theatre, with another 199-seat conformation known as the Jewel-Box-Theatre.

 

This latter-space has been "modeled after a traditional opera-house…” But, in fact, it looks more like a Black-Box gone-wrong.

 

Signature’s signature-play-producing-program has always been to feature the Works of Important-Playwrights who Need-Closer-Attention.

 

One Season: Edward Albee. Another: Tony Kushner. Or Romulus Linney, for whom one of the three new Theatre-Spaces is named.

 

The new Pershing-Square facility has been opened with productions of plays by Edward Albee, Katori Hall, & South-Africa’s Dramatically-Dedicated Fighter of Apartheid, Athol Fugard.

 

When the Horrors of Apartheid were at their Height, Concerned-Americans showed their Solidarity with both Blacks & Whites—who detested the Boerish-Racial-Policies of the Afrikaaners—by refusing to eat Outspan-Oranges.

 

They also flocked to see productions of Plays by Athol Fugard—who now also has Road to Mecca on-view on New-42.

 

"Master Harold” …& the Boys, Boesman & Lena, Hello & Goodbye, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, A Lesson From Aloes, The Island, People Are Living There: the Playlist is long, but not endless.

 

Jack KrollNewsweek’s late, great Theatre & Movie-Critic—was an extravagant-admirer of Fugard’s Dramas. I was less enthusiastic, although I also deplored Apartheid.

 

We’d meet once a month for a Play-Tallying-Session, in which Jack would invariably extol Athol Fugard.

 

I, on the other hand, insisted that when Apartheid was brought to an End, Fugard would have nothing to write about.

 

Fighting-Racial-Injustice on-stage was his Stock-in-Trade, I thought…

 

I was, of course, Wrong.

 

The Captain’s Tiger is a very touching Memoir of Life on a Tramp-Ship on the Indian-Ocean…

 

Blood-Knot—which Fugard has himself staged—details the interdependence of Two-Brothers, one obviously Black, but the Other Passing-as-White.

 

They play-out various Fantasies & Old-Resentments with Passion & Gritty-Reality.

 

Scott Shepherd & Colman Domingo are both wryly-amusing & passionately-powerful in the Roles of White-Boy Morris & Black-Boy Zacariah.

 

           

Born-Deaf & Growing-Deaf: Engulfed by a Family of Self-Absorbed & Indulgent London-Crazies

           

The Self-Absorbed & Foul-Tongued Paterfamilias [Jeff Perry] in this London-Based Tribe of Non-Secular-Jews takes No-Hostages.

 

Neither of his Troubled-Sons, his Singer-Wannabe-Daughter [Gayle Rankin], nor His Long-Suffering-Wife [Susan Pourfar] are safe from his blistering-attacks of Profanity & Negativism.

 

When his Deaf-from-Birth Son Billy [Russell Harvard] falls in love with a Signing-Girl [Mare Winningham]—whose Parents are Deaf, while she is slowly Going-Deaf, even more Troubles lie ahead…

 

Billy’s frenetic & also Profoundly-Profane Brother, Daniel [the rhyming Will Brill], Hears-Voices. He is determined to prevent Billy from Loving & Leaving.

 

The admired David Cromer—who also staged that much-admired Our Town in the Barrow-Street-Theatre Space—has Done It Again!

 

But he first staged this dynamic-drama in Sloane-Square, for the English-Stage-Company, at the Royal-Court-Theatre, which commissioned the play from Nina Raines.

 

This is the Iconic-Company—founded by the late George Devine—that gave us John Osborne & Look Back in Anger, recently at the Laura Pels Theatre.           

 

 

Going Gaga with Batsheva: Ohad Naharin Brings Hora To BAM in a Movement-Collage.

           

In Tel-Aviv, the Batsheva-Dancers don’t begin the morning’s exercises with a barre & mirrors.

 

Instead, they do Gaga, the innovative dancer-exploratory Regime devised by Ohad Naharin, longtime director of the Batsheva-Dance-Company.

 

The Adventurous-Ensemble takes its name, not from Solomon’s Bathsheba, but from the Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, who co-founded the company with Martha Graham.

 

Hora—recently at BAM over in Brooklyn—is currently touring North-America.

 

It’s only an hour long, but a lot of Human-Interactions & Confrontations are packed into that Time-Frame.

 

Eleven dancers in exercise-togs are discovered, sitting in-line on a long, long Plank, attached to the back-wall of a glowing low lime-green Roofless-Room.

 

Duos, Solos, & Group-Movements emerge. Many of the duos developed from Personal-Interactions of the Dancers in rehearsing this piece.

 

Isao Tomita provides a Musical-Background that appropriates Debussy & other Moderns, almost DJ-Inflected

 

The Long-Plank was designed by Amir Raveh!

 

           

I Sing the Wrath of Achilles: So Sung Blind-Homer, But Achilles Is in a Rage on East 4th Street…

           

The Attic-Greeks didn’t have Printing-Presses, so their undying Epic-Poems had to be recited by Rhapsodes.

 

They didn’t live in an Attic, either. They lived in Attica, a long way off from Ithaca

 

Their Greatest-Epic was the Iliad, in which Homer—or whoever was the True-Author—celebrated the Anger & Prowess in Battle of Achilles, Greek-Hero & Son of a Goddess, but still a Mortal-Man.

 

There has been a New-Translation/Interpretation of The Iliad that’s excited a lot of Comment & Argument.

 

But now Denis O’Hare & Lisa Petersen have done Their-Own-Thing by creating not The, but AN Iliad.

 

On alternating-evenings down on East 4th Street—at the NY Theatre-Workshop—O’Hare himself is the Modern-Rhapsode, directed by Peterson.

 

Your Arts-Reporter chose, initially, to experience instead the arresting, remarkable performance of Stephen Spinella. This was prompted by my admiration for his work as Prior Walter in Tony Kushner’s American-Epic, Angels in America.

           

If you are at all interested in the Arts of Performance—not to overlook The Trojan-War—you must not miss Spinella’s spinning-out of the sad-story of the Destruction of a City & a Civilization in a seemingly Endless-War—ten long years a fleet of Greek-Ships lay becalmed in the Sea before the Walls of Troy…

 

Lisa Peterson has conflated this First-Great-Recorded-War with almost all those wars that have come after: The Thirty-Years-War, The Four-Hundred-Years-War, The Forty-Years-War, various Civil-Wars, at home & abroad, World-Wars I & II, &&&&&&&&&&&

 

This has a Kind of Resonance with our own Endless-Wars of Opportunity or Choice. We have now also been Ten-Years in Afghanistan…

 

But there’s an Essential-Difference between the Trojan-War & all that came after.

 

It was the First & Only War to be fought over the Kidnapping of a Beautiful-Woman

 

Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction don’t come anywhere near Helen-of-Troy as an Excuse to Kill, Maim, Rape, Enslave, Pillage, & Destroy!

 

"Was this the Face that launched a Thousand-Ships & burned the Topless-Towers of Ilium?”

 

Oh! Helen! Make me immortal with Thy Kiss!

 

Bravo, Stephen Spinella!

 

I’ll catch Denis O’Hare the next War round…

 

 

Death Doesn’t Take-a-Holiday at the New Signature: Fear the Lady from Dubuque—She’s Death

           

Actually, even when Irene Worth originally played the Lady-from-Dubuque on Broadway—for a very short-run—she was the nicest, kindest, most-soothing Person on stage.

 

That remains True in the Signature-Theatre’s revival of Edward Albee’s curious drama of thoroughly Immature & Unpleasant-People partying round a Dying-Woman [Laila Robins], wracked with pain.

 

The Agelessly-Beautiful & Magisterially-Graceful Jane Alexander is surely the Lady I’d most like to come for me when My Time Is Up…

 

David Esbjornson staged in John Arnone’s elegant Art-Deco-ish setting…

 

           

The Ottoman-Turks Conquered Christian-Constantinople: Bye, Bye, Byzantium! But, Before…     

 

When the Turks overran Constantinople in 1453, this signaled the End of Great-Eras of Cross-Cultural-Stimulation.

           

But, before that dire-event, Constantinople was the teeming, steaming center of a number of Middle-Eastern Religions & Cultures.

 

A fascinating new show at the Met-Museum documents that Ideational-Ferment in the Seventh-Century.

 

It is titled BYZANTIUM & ISLAM: Age of Transition.

 

Some 300 artifacts have been assembled, from a dozen museums at home & abroad. Do see these before 8 July 2012, when the show must close.

 

It provides, in addition, a kind of Pendant to the Met’s recently re-designed & renovated Islamic Interiors & Exteriors which can also help New Yorkers learn more about the World of Islam.

 

 

Hey! It’s Raining [Blood] on Prom-Night! Like Dracula, Carrie Returns from the Undead…

           

Just why Robert LuPone & Co. decided it was High-Time to revive the Musical-Version of Stephen King’s Carrie remains a Mystery.

 

Unless it was to provide both the admired Marin Mazzie & the talented young Molly Ranson with challenging-roles worthy of their abilities.

 

Or, maybe, Carrie is supposed to be a Gothic-Counterweight to all those Vampire-Movies that are setting Teen-Girls’-Pulses a-pounding?

 

Mazzie madly plays the Religion-Maddened Fanatic-Mother of the verbally-oppressed Carrie, hectored at home & mocked at High-School.

 

While most Fundamentalist-Protestant Religious-Crazies demand Home-Schooling, Margaret White is certainly not the Woman they should honor for Home-Schooling-Excellence.

 

She didn’t even tell Daughter-Carrie about what Kotex once called—in a Free-Brochure for the Early-Teens: Nancy’s Biggest Day at Camp!

 

Hey! High-School is No-Fun if you aren’t Good-Looking, Athletic, & Popular.

 

Personal-Note: My Junior-Prom-Date—after torturing herself for some Six-Decades—wrote me recently to apologize for not being nice to me, way back then.

 

A jealous Freshman-Girl told her that she’d turned-me-down, so she said Mary was my Second-Choice

 

Not True!

 

As President of the Senior-Class I took the Methodist-Minister’s Daughter to the Senior-Prom. No one else had invited her, so both the Reverend & she were grateful.

 

What I did not then know was that she was Pregnant. But not by me

 

Stairway to the Stars & When the Deep Purple Falls were the two themes of those long-ago Proms. But I cannot now remember which was which: Building the Stairway was a bitch. I do remember that.

 

           

NYC Subway’s Chalkman Gets a Major-Show: Keith Haring at the Brooklyn-Museum.

           

What are we to make of this bit of Errata-Correction for the Keith Haring Press-Image Checklist?

 

"…the orientation for Artwork #10 is incorrect. It should be rotated 90 degrees clockwise, so that the pig’s snout points upwards.”

 

In Keith’s multifarious world of Bizarre-But-Symbolic-Imagery, Pig’s Snouts may point in every direction imaginable.

 

Try rotating one of Keith’s Magic-Babies. Or how about turning a Pyramid Upside-Down?

 

Long, long ago, I saw a young man in glasses rapidly drawing Chalk-Figures on a Subway-Ad-Space that was covered, instead, by a sheet of Black-Paper.

 

As if he had practiced at-home, he swiftly drew a Radiant-Baby & a Barking-Dog!

 

Because I was watching so intently, several other people had joined us to watch this Chalkman at-work.

 

When he finished with a flourish, I led a round of Applause. He bowed, smiling, & dashed up the Subway-Stairs.

 

On several occasions in the days after that First-Encounter, I watched him chalk-up his Symbolic-Message.

 

But I never had the Presence-of-Mind to bring along a Razor & cut out the Finished-Chalk-Talk.

 

Obviously, others did & some of these Rescued-Refusées are now on-view at the Brooklyn-Museum.

 

Even dumber than failing to become the First-Keith-Haring-Collector, I never asked him his Name.

 

Some Journalist! First-Rule: Ask Names!

 

So, when I filed my Arts-Report for the Chelsea-Clinton-News—or whatever Bob Trentlyon was calling it: he paid $15 per feature, but you had to cash the check at-once, not on the following Monday, when there would be NO-Funds—I had to call my Nameless-Subway-Artist CHALKMAN

 

Soon after, I got a call from the Gallerist Tony Shafrazi. He liked my piece, but wanted to inform me that the Artist was Keith Haring & Tony was Representing-Him!

 

But I knew that Keith had Really-Arrived only when I saw one of his Eponymous-Drawings recreated Giant-Size on a blank-wall across from the Muni-Bus-Station in Pisa!

 

The Leaning-Tower & Keith Haring, no less!

           

 

Rodin Recast in Ceramics: Rachel Kneebone’s Porcelains Beside Rodin’s Bronzes!

           

Thanks to the fascination—plus the Deep-Purse—of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor, the great Bronze-Statues of August Rodin will never disappear from Major-American-Museums.

 

The Met has them. The Stanford-University-Museum has them. The California Palace of the Legion of Honor has them. The Brooklyn-Museum has them.

 

But now some Brooklyn’s Rodins are trapped in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist-Art, although Rodin had little enough to do with Judy Chicago, whose famed Vagina-Plated Dinner-Party has its Permanent-Home in the Center.

 

The ingenious Rachel Kneebone has been inspired by some of Rodin’s most famous Solo & Group-Statues. But she generally works in a kind of clear-glazed white-ceramic that looks almost like Fine-Porcelain, were it not for the great Firing-Cracks in some of the pieces.

 

Most impressive is Kneebone’s The Descent—inspired by both Dante’s Divine Comedy & Rodin’s Gates of Hell.

 

Mounted on a large round podium, hundreds of strange little figures are tumbling down into a Ceramic-Hell of Glazed-White-Flesh.

 

Also in the Sackler: Newspaper-Fiction: The New York Journalism of Djuna Barnes, 1913-1919

 

Those who admire Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood may not know of her Manhattan-Career as a Newspaper-woman!

 

This display of her Columns, Sketches, Stories, & Photographs should fill-in-the-blanks.

 

 

Hordes of Asian-Treasures at Christie’s: Pre-Auction Press-Preview for Asian-Art-Week…

           

Your Roving Arts-Reporter could be said to Haunt Christie’s Auction-House in Rock-Center.

 

Where else—if you are fascinated by Art-Works of All Ages & Objects d’Art from Here & There—can you freely-examine, even looking under the Chair-Seats or on the Vase-Bottoms for Provenance, & then photograph wonderful artworks that Museum-Guards would tackle you for even approaching?

 

Usually, I make a point of going off to Christie’s several days before the actual Auctions.

 

But, in honor of Asian-Arts-Week this March, Christie’s held a Press-Preview of the varied Collections on-offer. With Curated-Tours, plus Drinks, Cheese-Sticks, & Mixed-Nuts!

 

[Sotheby’s Auction-House also has Press-Previews—for which I duly registered—but to which I am Not-Invited. Why? I seem very welcome at Bonham’s & at Philips-de-Pury…]

 

Every available Exhibition-Space seemed to have been pressed-into-service, including some Board-Rooms. There were literally thousands of Artworks & Objects on-display.

 

Among the impressive Collections were those of Robert H. Blumenfield, Robert H. Ellsworth, & Doris Wiener.

 

Among Doris Weiner’s obsessively-focused collections are a number of the distinctive Ghandhara-Paintings. How many Buddhas can you squeeze into one image?

 

[Looking at the Superfluity of Images of The Buddha, as well as other Many-Armed Gods & Goddesses of other Oriental-Religions, I wondered once again why I was forced to give so many Nickels & Dimes in Childhood, in order to Convert the Asian-Heathens to Methodism. Obviously, it didn’t work

 

[On my desk, as I write this Screed, I am looking at a Rose-Quartz Ganesh, plus his Pure-Silver Ganesh-Brother, still smeared with the Orange-Powder of Rajasthan.

 

[As for the Apparent-Folly—from a Protestant Point-of-View—of worshipping an Elephant-God, one must not forget that, even in America, there are Decent God-Fearing Christians who must also worship the Elephant of the Republican-Party!]

 

SOME SALE-RESULTS:

 

Doris Wiener’s Treasures brought nearly $13 Million! Her 13th-Century bronze of Padmapani was sold for almost $2.5 Million.

 

South-Asian Modern & Contemporary Art didn’t achieve such brilliant records. But Tyeb Mehta’s Untitled (Figures with Bull-Head) did fetch $1,762,500.

 

Japanese & Korean Art came close, with $1,730,875.

 

Indian & Southeast-Asian Art topped-out at $6,329,750. A Sandstone Torso of Uma brought $1,142,500! But this is a Khmer carving, from the Angkor-Period

 

Chinese-Mirrors achieved over $2 Million, while "Selections from the Blumenfield-Collection” brought-in $6.5 Million.

 

The Totals for Asian-Art-Week at Christie’s were $69 Million!

 

69 has a kind of Yin/Yang-Conformation, if you think about it…

 

           

Is Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Comic-Rant "Good for the Jews”? How Long Is Your Tallis!

           

Your Roving Arts-Reporter is delighted to report that David Lefkowitz is hilarious as Rabbi Sol Solomon in Shalom Dammit!

 

Who knew that the Editor of Performing-Arts-Insider & the Founder/Editor of TOTAL THEATRE had So Much Blood in Him?

 

No, no, no! That’s Hamlet talking about King Claudius

 

Actually, who knew that Dave was a Natural-Born all-singing all-dancing Performance-Guy?

 

Well, I, for one, should have known that the Creator of the Radio-Show, Dave’s Gone By, had greater ambitions than merely to be the Publisher of the Show-Biz Press-Ticket-Bible.

 

Or the Editor/Maven of Total-Theatre, which occasionally hosts reports from Your Roving Arts-Reporter.

 

In the initial-segment of Shalom Dammit!, Rabbi Sol merrily mocks many of the Traditions & Rituals of Judaism, such as Overcooking-Food until all the Taste & Vitamins are gone.

 

In Act-Two, Rabbi Sol proves a Passionate-Patriot for Israel & its Right To Exist

 

All the ingenious Lyrics—to various popular tunes—are of David’s devising.

 

But he is strongly assisted—at the Pianoforte—by Richard Shore, who has been Music-Director for Fiddler on the Roof six times!

 

           

The Third Time’s the Charm: Once Now on Broadway: From Film to OOBA & Onward To Fame!

           

Your Roving Arts-Reporter has already reported on the Charms & Excellences of the Musical-Version of Once, once upon a time a film by John Carney, with a runaway Hit-Song.      

 

This was already a Hit down on East 4th Street—at the NY Theatre-Workshop—so its Broadway-Transfer has, in effect, extended what was, originally, a Limited-Run.

 

But Limited-in-No-Way by the ingenuity of Enda Walsh’s Book & the Songs of Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová.

 

Thanks to the European-Union, Eastern-Europeans have been flooding into the West. Just Think! Czechs in Dublin!

 

But these Czechs are crazy to make music & to inspire a Down-on-his-Luck Irish Song-Writing/Singing Genius.

 

Steve Kazee is the Guy. Cristin Milioti is the Girl. They make a great Duo: The Audience loves them!

 

The Audience also, understandably, loves the Dublinesque On-Stage-Bar, where they can drink Pre-Show & at Intermission, mingling with the Music-Makers!

 

Sign-Off on Signature’s Three-New-Venues: Katori Hall’s Hurt Village in the Romulus-Linney.

           

They are tearing-down the Projects in Memphis.

 

But force-of-nature Big-Mama [a rambunctious Tonya Pinkins] & her extended-family of ne’er-do-wells aren’t going to be re-located to New-Housing.

 

She’s the only one in the household who actually has a Paying-Job, but it’s just over the so-called Poverty-Level, so out-of-luck

 

This is happening during the "Second Bush Dynasty,” but the Troubles are still with us today, not only in Memphis!

 

The Entire-Cast of Katori Hall’s brilliant & disturbing drama, Hurt Village, is also brilliant. As is Patricia McGregor, who so ably staged this show about African-Americans in-extremis.

 

There seems to be No Hope & No Way Out

 

If you are one of those folks who hate the very sound of the N-Word, you may be very uncomfortable in Big-Mama’s cramped trash-ridden apartment. Every other word seems to be that short-cut for Negritude.

 

In the new Frank Gehry-designed Romulus Linney Theatre—one of three at the new Signature-Theatre—the Audience sits on Facing-Bleachers, with the stage in the center.

 

This is not an Ideal-Conformation for Performance, but there was clearly not enough space to create a Theatre-in-the Round or a Theatre-in-the-Square.

 

The most effective of the Signature’s three "Playhouses” is the End-Stage, where Edward Albee’s Lady from Dubuque is playing.

 

They are not, as far as we know, tearing down the Projects in Dubuque…

 

           

Dazzling-Costumes, Cunning-Choreography, Big-Production-Values: That’s Lucky Duck!

           

Lucky Duck is too Clever, too Smart, too Broadway-Professional in its Production-Values to be an Ideal-Show for small kids.

 

I loved every minute of it, but Pre-Teens around me were fidgeting before long. They obviously didn’t know what they were looking-at.

 

The book—by Jeffrey Hatcher & Bill Russell—conflates The Ugly Duckling with The Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella & Whathaveyou.

 

Bill Russell’s ingenious Lyrics are often hilarious & rather Too-Knowing for kids.

 

With the jolly score of Henry Krieger, Coterie-Theatre should find a way to re-market this charming show as a kind of Broadway-Musical-Parody

 

           

In Jeopardy Because of Color: Court-Martial at Fort Devens—Racial-Prejudice in the US-Army!

           

Can you imagine an Army-Recruiting-Officer deceiving Potential-Soldiers?

 

That doesn’t seem like The-American-Way, does it?

 

Unfortunately, this happens all the time: Recruiters’ Promises are worthless.

 

Once you are in the US-Army, you are caught in the Gears of a Great-Machine for Making-Wars.

 

In Jeffrey Sweet’s remarkably-structured Court-Martial at Fort-Devens, four young Colored-Girls have enlisted, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s calls for creation of the Woman’s-Army-Corps & opportunities for Young-American-Women to improve themselves. As well as to Serve-Their-Country

 

Assigned as Medical-Trainees, the Black-Quartet rebel when they are re-assigned to clean the Hospital-Latrines by a Racist-Colonel.

 

This Refusal-to-Obey-a-Direct-Order brings them before a Court-Martial. They are found Guilty, naturally…

 

Only the intervention of Eleanor Roosevelt saves them from the Stockade & Dishonorable-Discharge.

 

On a Trial-Technicality, actually.

           

Mary Beth Easley tautly staged a brilliant Cast in this Disgraceful-Episode in the Integration of African-American Men & Women into the US-Army. Where Racism had long been institutionalized.

 

When I was in the US-Army, we had to file a weekly Colored-Report, detailing the Misdeeds of African-American-Recruits in each Platoon—one man per Platoon…

 

The Production—not to be missed!—is a Woodie King jr New-Federal-Theatre show, at the Castillo.

 

Woodie couldn’t raise the rent for his former home at the Henry-Street Settlement-House.

 

 

Newt Gigrich, Attention! Ethan Lipton’s Company Is Moving To Mars!

           

Ethan Lipton—whose No Place To Go just opened in Joe’s-Pub, down at the Public-Theatre—must have been channeling Newt Gingrich when he developed this cabaret-entertainment.

 

Newt’s Pre-Presidential-Proposal to settle Americans on Mars finds an echo in Lipton’s fictional Plight.

 

His Info-Refining-Company is moving to Mars. Few Employees want to relocate: who knows what the Climate is like?

 

Lipton is not only a Playwright & Song-Writer, but he also acted in GATZ, now revived at the Public.

 

Backed by an Instrumental-Trio, Lipton sings some sad songs about the Hopelessness of the Human-Condition, treated in terms of his Imaginary-Employment & grim Future-Prospects.

 

Of course, these Concerns intersect with those of many Desperate-Americans, so he found a Ready-Response among the Appreciative-Audience, who, nonetheless, seemed well-heeled-enough to afford the highly-stacked-mounds of food from the Pub-Kitchen.

 

While admiring Lipton’s Talents & Imagination, I found the event a bit of a Downer

           

 

Is Willy Loman an American-Everyman or Is He Our King-Lear?

           

Is Death of a Salesman in danger of becoming another Tales of Hoffmann?

 

After Dustin Hoffman in the Title-Role—as the Salesman, not Death!—now we have Philip Seymour Hoffman on Broadway as Willy Loman, the compelling Anti-Hero in Arthur Miller’s long-ago exploration of the Failure of the American-Dream.

 

When Dustin essayed this role, he had his head shaved & played only six-times-a-week: he deemed the part too-demanding for the Standard 8-Performances.

 

Phillp Seymour doesn’t seem to have such Problems. Indeed, the Passion & Energy he exudes—as he relives the Past in his cluttered, confused Mind—are often deeply-moving.

 

I must admit that I’m not one of those Fans, standing at the End of a Long-Line, who believe that PS Hoffman is now Our-Greatest-Living-Actor.

 

Nonetheless, Hoffman’s Willy is impressive: a Role fully-inhabited; a Life fully-felt

 

How many Willys have I seen, since the Play’s Premiere long, long ago?

 

Let me count the Actors, if I can remember all of them…

 

Lee J. Cobb, Thomas Mitchell, George C. Scott, &&&&&&

 

Plus, I’ve also seen French, German, Swedish, & Italian Willys, over the years.

 

Miller’s agonizing drama very soon came to represent an Essence of What-Was-Wrong-With-America for Theatre-Directors-Overseas.

 

In Germany & Austria, Salesman is known as Tod einer Handlungsreisenden—a Literal-Translation…

 

It may be too much to view Willy Loman as the American Lear, an Actor-Summit that must finally be climbed by every actor aspiring to Greatness.

 

Nonetheless, Willy—the Man & his Mistaken-Faith in an Illusory-American-Dream—has now taken-on the Quality of an American-Everyman.

 

With the Near-Collapse of the American-Economy, with Major-Industries closing-down, [Steve] Jobs fleeing abroad, Dream-Homes lost in Mortgage-Swindles: now many, many Americans can identify with the Plight of Willy & Linda Loman.

 

We are Screwed!

 

Despite the outsized-ranting-personality of Willy, it is finally his valiant, long-suffering wife, Linda, who is the Core & Anchor of this drama.

 

Can it be an accident that the play’s meticulous-director, Mike Nichols, cast the remarkable Linda Edmond as Linda Loman? The Two-Lindas are heartbreaking…

 

In general, the Cast is just fine, but Andrew Garfield, as Willy’s hapless-son, Biff, is especially affecting.

 

Curiously, his Head is rather smaller than that of Finn Wittrock, who plays his younger brother, Hap.

 

At one point, Nichols has Hap rest his face on Biff’s left-shoulder. The visual-comparison is unsettling

           

Master-Designer Jo Mielziner’s original plans for Salesman have been effectively Recycled for this production.

 

They show Willy’s beloved free-standing Brooklyn-Home encroached-upon by Apartment-Blocks.

 

Once upon a time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made some sense, but Willy’s Two-Elms have been cut-down by Developers.

 

Willy has nothing left: nothing planted & rooted in the Ground

 

Finally—in the play’s Requiem—it is Linda who sums-up the Ironic-End of Willy’s-Dream:

 

"Willy, I made the last payment on the house today. At last, we’re free & clear!”

 

 

Cheek-by-Jowl’s Tongue-in-Cheek Post-Modernist-Remake of John Ford’s Whore

           

Were the Jacobean-Playwright, John Ford, to see his Blood-Soaked Melodramatic-Tragedy, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore—as re-imagined for Modern-Audiences by London’s Cheek-by-Jowl—he would be astounded.

 

So would Henry Ford, but for quite different reasons…

 

For that matter, John Ford would be astounded by the Ford Model-T & all else of the 20th-Century’s Discoveries & Inventions.

 

He might well, however, be underwhelmed by Modern Plays of Passion, for none are as crammed with Incest, Lust, Sinful-Pregnancy, Perversions, Poisonings, & Betrayals as Ford’s Whore.

 

Recently shown at BAM, the London Whore-Production avoided a Period-Staging, which might have placed the Astounding-Events in a more Understandable-Context.

 

The Sexual & Social Morés being flouted & violated in Ford’s vision of Post-Renaissance-Italy no longer have much meaning. Not since the heyday of Studio 54

 

Nonetheless, the Supercharged & Elegantly-Choreographed Sexual-Romps & Violent-Deaths on view at BAM were something to behold! The Entire-Cast was fascinating to watch in Action & in Motion.

 

Tom Ford—the Man’s-Man-Male-Fashion-Designer—ought to admire this show, even if Henry Ford would be baffled…

 

The estimable Declan Donnellan directed, with design by the ingenious Nick Ormerod.

 

 

The Ghost of James O’Neill Haunts Moon for the Misbegotten: Josie To the Rescue!

           

There’s a lot of Drunken, Randy Irishness in Gene O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten.

 

There’s also more than a whiff of his overbearing, father, James O’Neill, trapped professionally in the Role of the Count of Monte-Cristo.

 

James Tyrone, jr, is the Stand-In for his drunken, womanizing Actor-Son, the Terror of Broadway-Floozies.

 

In Moon, however, James is trapped in Rural-Connecticut, awaiting the Probate of his Family’s-Estate.

 

He’s drunken most of the time. Only Josie Hogan—his True-Love—can understand him & save him…

 

But Josie & her lovable Irish-Drunk-Dad, Phil Hogan, are living on a Stone-Strewn-Farm that James may soon sell to a loveless Standard-Oil-Heir, leaving them Homeless.

 

What’s most amazing about the current production of Moon by the Pearl-Theatre, is the Ferocious-Energy with which all the Actors—totally inhabiting their occasionally-caricatured Roles—make us Willingly-Suspend-Our-Disbelief.   

 

Colleen Dewhurst was once a memorable Josie, but Kim Martin-Cotton now has my Vote as The-Best-Josie ever!

 

Her rascally, scheming, hard-drinking, cursing Irish-Dad is made very special by Dan Daily.

 

Andrew May is both troubling & affecting as James, the Inheritor of the Tyrone-Curse.

 

What’s even more admirable—as the Pearl is an Acting-Ensemble, from which all roles are cast—are the contributions of Sean McNall, the Hogan-Son who escapes, & Kern McFadden, the High & Mighty T. Stedman Harder.

 

We are lucky that O’Neill’s difficult WidowCarlotta Monterey—didn’t burn all those plays that he’d locked-away.

 

What would the American-Theatre be without More Stately Mansions & Long Day’s Journey into Night

 

We are also Very-Lucky that JR Sullivan—who is the artful Artistic-Director of the Pearl—staged this Revival so vitally. He has turned this formerly somewhat uncultured Pearl into a Pearl of Great-Price!

 

So it’s great Good-News that, next season, the Pearl will have its Own-Home down on West 42nd Street, in what once was the Signature-Theatre.

 

 

DaPonte’s Long Green Park-Bench & Sunday-in-the-Park with Mozart’s Così

           

It’s not unusual to have a Sense of Déjà-vu when seeing Così fan tutte. Especially when one has seen so many, many productions over Six-Decades of Opera-Reviewing

           

But certain Scenic-Elements of the New-York City-Opera’s new Così—all-too-briefly at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre of the John Jay College of Criminal-Justice—looked familiar.

 

Had I seen them before at the Salzburg-Festival?

 

Or, perhaps, at ENO, the English-National-Opera?

 

Possibly, as Christopher Alden is the ingenious Director-of-Record, whose Unusual-Stagings are often to be seen Abroad.

 

With a Black-&-White Photo-Backdrop of a Mirrored-Woods, this Così was dominated by a Long Green Park-Bench, relieved by a Rowboat on occasion.

 

The Chorus doubled as a kind of Magrittesque Sunday-in-the-Park background, but the Bumptious-Antics of the Young-Lovers—egged-on by a brilliantly comic Despina [Marie Lenormand] & the elegantly-insidious Don Alfonso [Rod Gilfry]—were hilarious.

 

All the Singing was splendid—Magnificent-Young-Voices, Names-to-Remember!—but the Comic-Acting & Sinuous-Stage-Movement were even better.

 

So, Do Not Forget Sara Jakubiak [Fiordiligi], Jennifer Holloway [Dorabella], Allan Clayton [Ferrando], & Philip Cutlip [Guglielmo], or Christian Curnyn, who so brilliantly conducted.

 

 

The German-Jewish-Grandmother-from-Hell, Lost Up in Yonkers & Her Kids Are Bonkers!

           

Most Neil-Simon-Comedies are Laff-Riots.

 

Lost in Yonkers—wonderfully revived by TACT, at the Becket on Theatre-Row—has some wry, even bitter, Laughs, but it is basically a Heartbreaker.

 

Cynthia Harris is both amazing & terrifying as Grandma Kurnitz, who survived & escaped the Nazis, only to terrorize her own Children in their American-Exile in Yonkers.

 

With her weak son Eddie [Dominic Comperatore] on-the-run from Loan-Sharks, she’s left with his own Unwelcome-Children, Jay & Arty [the excellent Matthew Gumley & Russell Posner], & her daughter, Bella [Finnerty Steeves], who Never-Grew-Up.

 

This World-War-II-Era Period-Production is so good, so deeply-moving, that it ought to move, intact, to Off-Broadway!

 

Jenn Thompson staged, with an Eye & Ear for both Compassion & Hysteria

 

           

Lend Me a Hand-Puppet, God: Oh oh! I Got One from Satan Instead!

           

How about a Hand-Puppet with TEETH! The better to bite-off Your-Ear!

 

How about a Blow-Job & Muff-Diving by two Hand-Puppets?

 

How about Dialogue such as: My Life is Shit…

 

If you missed Robert Askins’ astonishing God-vs-Satan-Oriented-Comedy, Hand To God—recently at the Ensemble-Studio-Theatre—it is sure to move.

 

A Satanic-Puppet has taken-over the troubled young Jason’s Left-Arm. His Name is Tyrone. [No-Relation to Eugene O’Neill’s fictional-family…]

 

Steven Boyer is a remarkable Ventriloquist, voicing both the mild, fearful Jason & the Outraged & Outrageous Tyrone.

 

In fact, the Entire-Cast is Giving Its All. But watch out for Flying-Furniture, when it moves!

 

Moritz von Stuelpnagel staged. [Is that his Real-Name?]

           

 

Fireflies Are Having-Sex Over at the American-Museum-of-Natural-History!

           

If you are an Ardent-Creationist & believe in G-d’s Intelligent-Design, you may be appalled to learn that He arranged for the lowly, humble Firefly to Have-Sex!

 

It’s disgusting enough for Decent, G-d-Fearing Americans to know that Humans have to have Sexually-Intimate-Contact in order to Reproduce the Species.

 

Nonetheless, it’s one of the many Missions of the AMNH to carry-on Research into the Lives & Habits of all kinds of Creatures.

 

In the current Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, the Thrust of the vividly recreated Researches has been to learn more about the Chemical-Processes through which Fireflies, Mushrooms, Glowworms, Corals, Jellyfish, Predators & Prey in the dark depths of the Deep-Ocean exude their Own-Illuminations.

 

This remarkable show has been created as a kind of Maze, circling back on itself, so that the Exhibition-Gallery can contain far more than in a Conventional-Conformation.

 

But it’s all Very-Dark—otherwise, how could you see these faint Luminescences?—so you need to move carefully & cautiously.

 

Watch-Out for the Stoplight-Loosejaw-Dragonfish!

 

All the Illustrated-Info-Panels are cleverly-designed, but it takes time to digest them, while other viewers may be jostling for a chance to read them as well…

 

But it’s all Worth-the-Wait & there are Quasi-Luminescent Refrigerator-Magnets just outside in the Gift-Shop.

 

           

Making Scenes—Opera-Scenes, That Is—Up at The Mannes-School…

           

The young Opera-Aspirants up-on-stage in the no-frills Concert-Hall over on West 85th Street could have benefited from a Master-Class with Thomas Hampson.

 

As did some also-promising Young-Singers recently at the Manhattan-School-of-Music.

 

But these Hopefuls aren’t studying at MSM or Juilliard. They are students at the Mannes-College-for-Music of the New-School.

           

Some—ranking the three major Professional-Performance-Schools in Manhattan—tend to rate Juilliard first, MSM second, & Mannes third.

 

Juilliard is in a class-by-itself, for students can major in Dance or Theatre, as well as in Music.

 

This has something to do with Endowments, as well. Juilliard & MSM have multiple Performance-Spaces.

 

Mannes has only its Concert-Hall.

 

Its forthcoming Spring-Opera-ProductionDon Giovanni—will be seen two-evenings only, at the Kaye-Theatre at Hunter-College. [Friday, 4 May & Saturday, 5 May 2012]

 

The recent program of Opera-Scenes at Mannes showcased the students of Ted Taylor, who was a genial, informative Host & Accompanist.

 

The generally talented & attractive Singers demonstrated that they had Big-Voices & could negotiate the Notes in Tempo.

 

But they still seem a Long-Way-Off from inhabiting the Characters they presume to represent on-stage.

 

Thomas Hampson could help them…

 

Some of the Sopranos, however, need Styling-Advice from Michael Kors.

 

For that matter, so do some Noted-Sopranos, when appearing in Concert. Flounces & Fringes detract…

 

Opera-Hopeful-Students of Susan Caldwell will offer Opera-Scenes on Friday, 30 March. As will the students of Susan Woodruff Versage, on Friday, 6 April.

 

The Mannes has undergone some Name-Changes over the years, as some Brass-Plates in the Entrance testify.

 

Now it is part of the ever-expanding New-School.

 

Remember when that was The New School for Social-Research?

 

Did that Historic-Name sound Too-Commie?

 

 

Jesus-Christ! Superstar! Will the Cast Play the Godspell Kids Baseball in Central-Park?

           

Years & Years Ago, the Editor of Opera-News asked me to do an Interview with Andrew Lloyd-Weber about the New-Operas he was composing for Broadway & London’s West-End.

 

I’d already planned to talk with him about Evita & Superstar for After-Dark, so this would be metaphorically Killing-Two-Birds-with-One-Stone. Or Interview…

 

Andrew received me in his Suite in the Carlyle-Hotel. He’d already read some reports I’d written for After-Dark on Broadway-Musicals.

 

He was both amused & flattered that Opera-News believed he was composing Operas.

 

Why did my Editor think he was intentionally composing Operas?

 

Well, because there’s no Book. No real Dialogue, aside from what’s sung. No Recitative

 

Truth was, when Andrew & Tim Rice were working on Jesus-Christ Superstar, they didn’t think it would ever get a Professional-Production, owing to its Concept & Content.

 

So there was no real Book: just an Outline.

 

Actually, they really did have a Book. It’s called The-Good-Book!

 

Their Best-Hope was, they thought, to make a really excellent Recording.

 

The Superstar-Album took-off, with Worldwide-Consequences.

 

So the Producer Robert Stigwood approached them about a commercial-staging.

 

Tim Rice told him there was no actual Book; that he’d get-to-work to create one.

 

"No,” Stigwood told them. "The Songs tell the story. It doesn’t need a book.”

 

The Rest is History: Tom O’Horgan gave Superstar a totally Trendy-Treatment for Broadway.

 

The same thing happened with Evita.

 

Although they had thoroughly-researched the Life of Evita Peron, once again the Team feared that the unusual story of this Third-Rate-Actress eventually becoming the Dictatress-of-Argentina would not Make-It at the Box-Office.

 

But as an Album, it was, once again, a Worldwide-Success.

 

But this time, the ingenious Stage-Direction of Hal Prince took the place of a Conventional-Musical-Book.

 

The new Revival of Superstar at the Neil-Simon is definitely Super, but in a kind of Post-Modernist Proto-Industrialist-Vision.

 

Set-Designer Robert Brill must have run-up quite a Bill over at the Metal-Shop

 

In a very real sense, the suffering Judas of Josh Young is the Star, with the Jesus of Paul Nolan more Ascetic than Passionate. Did Judas really Love Jesus?

 

The Gaggle of High-Priests & Sanhedrin look rather like Taliban-Fighters, thanks to Paul Tazewell’s designs. But he did craft a delicately-flowing-gown for Mary Magdalene, sensitively sung by Chilina Kennedy.

 

Outstanding were the Troubled-Palatine-Governor Pontius-Pilate of Tom HewittI find No Fault in this Man—as well as the Outrageous Hasmoneon-Herod of Bruce Dow.

 

The ingenious & occasionally-Obvious Lighting-Effects of Howell Binkley were very important to the Total-Effect.

 

There was a News-Zipper that kept the Audience informed of Date, Place, & Time.

 

I was disappointed that it didn’t also offer Dow Stock-Quotes or Ads for the Wall-Street-Journal.

 

Des McAnuff staged dynamically, but the Choreography of Lisa Shriver was also very important, with such a large cast & so many shifting Metal-Structures.

 

McAnuff also has a show just across the street from Superstar: he also staged Jersey-Boys! Of course, Frankie Valli was no Messiah, but still…

 

The Original-Cast-Album should make a Big-Comeback. Not to overlook the attraction of a New-Cast-Album. The Audience was transfixed, especially with Jesus’-Crucifixion.

 

If you want to see Jesus-Crucified in the Oberammergau-Passion-Play, you will have to wait until 2020. It is performed only every Decade

 

But over at the Neil-Simon, He will be Crucified Eight-Times-a-Week!           

 

Perhaps Cardinal Dolan can make attendance at Superstar a Religious-Obligation?

 

Like giving-up Sex-for-Lent, replacing it with Devotions on Broadway!

           

 

STARS IN THEIR CROWNS:

This Month’s Rational-Ratings—

 

Modest Mussorgsky’s KHOVANSHCHINA  [★★★]

 

Giacomo Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY  [★★★★]

 

Wolf Mozart & Lorenzo Da Ponte’s DON GIOVANNI  [★★★★★]

 

Gaetano Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE  [★★★]

 

Laura Eason’s THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER  [★★★★]

 

Tina Howe’s PAINTING CHURCHES  [★★★]

 

Athol Fugard’s BLOOD KNOT  [★★★]

 

Nina Raine’s TRIBES  [★★★★★]

 

Ohad Naharin’s HORA  [★★★★]

 

Denis O’Hare & Lisa Peterson’s AN ILIAD  [★★★★★]

 

Edward Albee’s THE LADY FROM DUBUQUE  [★★★]

 

Gore, Pitchford, Cohen, & Stephen King’s CARRIE  [★★★]

 

John Carney’s Movie Musicalized: ONCE  [★★★★★]

 

Katori Hall’s HURT VILLAGE  [★★★★]

 

Coterie Theatre’s LUCKY DUCK  [★★★]

 

Jeffrey Sweet’s COURT-MARTIAL AT FORT DEVENS  [★★★★★]

 

Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN  [★★★★★]

 

John Ford’s ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE  [★★★]

 

Gene O’Neill’s MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN  [★★★★]

 

Wolf Mozart’s COSÌ FAN TUTTE  [★★★★★]

 

Neil Simon’s LOST IN YONKERS  [★★★★★]

 

Robert Askins’ HAND OF GOD  [★★★★★]

 

Andy Weber & Tim Rice’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR  [★★★★★]

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