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Glenn's Report for March 2013

5 April 2013

Report for The Month of March 2013

 

©GLENN LONEY 2013

 

 

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

 

The Ides-of-March weren’t so bad this year: Julius-Caesar wasn’t stabbed in Wall-Street by a Consortium of  Concerned-Citizens.

 

Unfortunately, following the 15-March-Ides, the 17-March-St-Paddy’s-Day-Parade got rained-on.

 

The Annual-Easter-Parade—which changes Months from year-to-year—had only a Misty-Sprinkling.

 

But, Rain or Shine, Determined-Producers continued to Open-New-Shows, both on Broadway & Off & Off-Off & even Over-in-New-Jersey!

 

Ever been to the Paper-Mill-Playhouse?

 

As April approached, astonishing-numbers of Shows were opening, rather like all those Last-Minute-Movie-Premieres before the Oscar-Voting.

 

From now until 21 April—when the Outer-Critics-Circle-Nominators meet to select The-Select—we won’t have an Evening or a Matinée free.

 

It could be Worse: imagine Actually-Paying for Aisle-Seats!

 

 

PASSING-GLANCES AT SCENES-SEEN:

 

Johnny Burke & Robert McEnroe’s DONNYBROOK  [★★]

 

The Quiet-Man Sings Again! Irish Rep Offers Rousing-Revival of Jack Cole’s Broadway-Flop…

           

It was a Great-Day for the Irish: 18 May 1961—or at least for Irish-Americans—for Donnybrook opened on Broadway.

 

Eagerly-anticipated by Fans of the John-Ford-Film, The Quiet Man, it had a book by Bob McEnroe—who wrote The Silver Whistle—with a lilting Irish-Inflected-Score by Johnny Burke.

 

But what most-excited Ticket-Buyers-in-the-know was that this New-Musical was not only to be Choreographed by the dynamic Jack Cole, but would also be his Debut as a Broadway-Director.

 

Unfortunately, despite Cole’s Trip-to-Ireland—to learn more about the Lives, Hopes, Dreams, Customs, Houses, Superstitions, & Dances of the Lively-Peasants of Innisfree—& warm, welcoming Reviews, especially for Cole’s Choreography, sad to say, Donnybrook had only 68-Performances at the 46th-Street-Theatre.

 

Who Knows?

 

Perhaps, had Johnny Mercer, instead of Johnny Burke, crafted the Score & drafted the Lyrics, & someone other than McEnroe devised the Book—who now remembers The Silver Whistle?—the Outcome might have been different…

 

What was once the 46th-Street-Theatre was to become The-Richard-Rodgers-Theatre, so maybe Rodgers-&-Hammerstein should have been summoned?

 

If you’d like to know more about the First-Ever-Production of Donnybrook, check-out pp. 164-5 in Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole.

           

I can Strongly-Recommend it because I wrote it…

 

But, not only for that Reason, I rushed off to the Irish-Rep, where Founder/Artistic-Director Charlotte Moore has staged a small-scale but excellent Revival of Donnybrook.

 

Even if you are not Remotely-Irish, Irish-Rep-Productions are always rewarding, even though the Stage-Space is very confining.

 

Nonetheless, Set-Designer James Noone has created a Revolving-House that ingeniously opens-up to reveal Two-Interiors.

 

Both Inside & Outside, the Innesfree-Irish feel free to Dance & to Drink

 

But what they really all love is a Rough-&-Tumble Donnybrook!

 

Unfortunately for them & for Bride-to-Be Mary Kate Danaher [the admirable Jenny Powers], her Man won’t fight her Truculent-Brother, Will Danaher [Ted Koch] for the £300 in Gold that is her Rightful-Dowry.

 

The imposing Sean Enright [James Barbour] has quit Professional-Boxing in Pittsburgh because he killed a man in a Bout.

 

So he has returned to Innisfree, where he was born, to lead a new & Quiet-Life, preferably with a Lovely-Young-Wife beside him.

 

But Kate is a Handful, so he finally has to knock-down her Brother—who goes Down-for-the-Count with a wonderfully-astonished Look-on-His-Face…

 

This is a Delightful-Show, not to be missed, especially because it has so many fine Actor/Singer/Dancers in-action on that Tiny-Stage.

 

 

Liz Flahive’s THE MADRID  [★★★]

 

Surprize! Surprize! Some Married-Adults Are Uncomfortble in Their Relationships!

           

The Madrid is not a new kind of Hip-Hop Spanish-Dance

 

No. It is a Run-down-Building of grungy Studio-Apartments.

 

This is where Martha [played by Edie Falco, but not in Uniform…] flees, after disappearing from her presumably Happy-Home, after a Bad-Day at the School where she teaches, somewhat unhappily.

 

The new Family-Drama at MTC’s Basement-Venue opens with her Angry-Daughter & her Baffled-Husband selling-off the Contents of their Formerly-Happy-Home.

 

But the Red-Canoe does not sell in the Yard-Sale, contrary to the expectations of the Abandoned-Husband/Father & Deserted-Daughter.

 

Martha’s Distraught-Daughter is working at Starbucks, where Martha finally makes-contact, inviting her to The Madrid. She seems to be Tending-Bar & running Open-Mike-Night, fulfilled at last!

 

The Solicitous-Next-Door-Neighbors are having Domestic-Problems as well—not improved by having a Disastrously-Retarded-Son

 

Then there’s the wonderful Veteran-Actress, Frances Sternhagen, as Rose—not exactly Second-Hand, but not thriving in the Old-Peoples’-Home.

 

Although The Madrid is—as an Apartment-Complex, incredibly Cheap—as a Play, it seems much-longer than its Shakespearean-Two-Hours-Traffic of the MTC’s David-Zinn-Designed-Stage.

 

In fact, The Madrid is, in effect, a Made-for-TV Reality-Family-Drama: all Six-Segments crammed-into One-Disenchanted-Evening

 

Martha has some Real-Problems!

 

What she needs is Nurse Jackie!

 

 

Amy Herzog’s BELLEVILLE  []

           

Two Unhinged-Americans in Paris: Surrender Your Passports, Please!

           

The very next day, after slogging-through The Madrid & its Dysfunctional-Couples the night before, I suffered—for what seemed an Intermission-less-Eternity—the apparent Death-Agonies of an even-more-seriously Disturbed-Couple: Abby & Zack, Young-Americans-in-Paris, with Four-Months-Rent-Unpaid on their Top-Floor-Apartment in Belleville.

 

There was no need for a Senior-Assisted-Hearing-Device because Abby [played by a ditzy Maria Dizzia]—an Hysterical, Meds-Overdosing-Heiressbegan at her Vocal-&-Emotional-Top

 

Taken together, seeing Madrid & Belleville was rather like working Two-Weeks as an Orderly at the Mayo-Clinic!

 

Perhaps because Amy Herzog had done so well with her After the Revolution—which I admired very much, or its Sequel, 4000-Miles, which I didn’t much like—she was Commissioned, in 2007, by the Yale-Rep, to Write-a-New-Play.

 

At the end of that year, Herzog went off to Paris, where she ”discovered” Belleville.

 

Her Belleville-Inspired-Drama underwent a variety of Sea-Changes, finally being mounted by Yale-Rep in 2011, staged by Anne Kauffman.

 

On 22 January 2013, the First-Rehearsal took place down on East-Fourth-Street, at the New-York-Theatre-Workshop.

 

The Intellectual-Critic of the NY-Times, Charles Isherwood, has called Belleville: "Thrillingly-Good… A Nail-Biting-Psychological-Thriller.”

 

I was really Biting-My-Nails, for I feared I’d not make it to the Mens’-Room in time, with No-Intermission

 

Several Fellow-Critics said Herzog’s Doomed-Americans should have been in Bellevue—a Manhattan-Facility for Reality-Challenged-People—instead of Belleville.

 

 

At the Met-Museum, A Video of NYC-Street-Scenes, Including the Central-Park-Wall on 5th-Ave…

 

In the Black-Void of the Large-Central-Chamber of the Met’s Galleries for Drawings, Prints, & Photographs, a Rapt-Audience of Art-Critics sat Spell-Bound as they watched some Random-People walking by the Fifth-Avenue-Central-Park-Retaining-Wall—which they could have seen With-Their-Own-Eyes if they were to walk out of the Met & down to East-78th-Street-&-Fifth

 

I see a Section-of-This-Wall every day as I wait for MTA-Buses that never come.

 

London-Born James Nares had the Idea—imitating those Google-Map-People—to film People-on-NYC-Streets with an HD-Camera in a SUV, editing the Resulting-Footage into a 61-Minute-High-Definition-Video, which now belongs to the Metropolitan-Museum-of-Art!

 

To flesh-out this Odd-Show, Nares went into the Met-Vaults & plundered Objects-&-Images which he imagined had some sort of Connection with Streets, if not Street-People

 

Yes, we do have Walker Evans’ Photos of Depression-Men who could be Out-standing-in-a-Street.

 

But we also have a Limestone-Section of an Ancient-Egyptian-Carving, featuring a Row of Ladies with Great Pre-Afro Hairdo’s.

 

Could or should one imagine these Demi-Cleoptras standing in the Streets of Alexandria or Giza?

 

But why not let the Met explain its Rationale this Show itself—with some Editing to avoid Total-Textual-Boredom?

 

Street, a new Video by Artist James Nares, will have its New-York-Premiere as the Centerpiece of an Exhibition by the same name at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, from March 5 through May 27, 2013. A Recent-Acquisition of the Museum, the mesmerizing 61-minute high-definition Video—which was shot on the Streets-of-Manhattan, over the Course-of-a-Week, in September 2011—will be shown continuously on a Large-Screen in the Central-Gallery of the Museum’s Drawings, Prints, & Photographs Galleries.

 

The Exhibition Street will also include 77-Works-of-Art—selected by the Artist from the Met’s Encyclopedic-Collections—that situate his Video in relation to Earlier-Works that capture the Spirit-of-the-Street.

 

Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan-Museum, said: "James Nares’ Street is a Microcosm of Contemporary-New-York that makes accessible the Countless-Individual-Moments, Gestures, & Interactions that are normally Too-Fleeting to take-in-all-at-once. Because its Underlying-Subject is People, Street is also fascinating to view in a[n] Historical-Context.

 

"The Relevant-Works-of-Art that Nares selected from across [why not "from among”?] the Met’s Vast-Holdings range from a Striding-Figure, made in Sumer, around 3000-BC, to Walker Evans’ Jars of Pull-Tabs & Bottle-Caps, pocketed off the Sidewalk. These Works are Eclectic & Often-Surprising, & provide a True-Lesson in Close-Looking, across Geographic & Temporal-Boundaries.”

 

James Nares commented: "My Video, New York, & the Met are all-tied-together for me. I moved here in 1974, & since then, I have come to this Museum regularly—like most Artists I know—to Refuel-Creatively & to be Surprised, Challenged, & Inspired. Street is a Piece that I’ve wanted-to-make since coming here—a Love-Letter to my Adopted-Home. So, to be able to ‘raid-the-icebox,’ as [Andy] Warhol once put-it, & gather-around My-Work all these Old-Friends & New-Acquaintances, is One of the Happiest-Occasions of My-Career.”

 

To make Street, Nares shot 16-Hours-of-Footage, with a High-Speed-Camera that is normally-used from a Stationary-Position to capture Fleeting-Subjects, such as Hummingbirds & Speeding-Bullets, at a Rate of between 500 & 1000 Frames-per-Second. Nares reversed this Process by positioning the Camera to Film-out-the-Back-&-Sides of a Moving-SUV. He recorded his Footage in Six-Second-Snippets, the Maximum-Length-of-Time that the Camera can record at such a High-Resolution. He then greatly-slowed his Source-Material, & edited-down the Results to 61-Minutes of Steady-Continuous-Motion—which, if Shown-in-Real-Time, would last Only-Three-Minutes. Nares’ Friend, Guitarist, & Sonic-Youth Co-Founder, Thurston Moore, composed & performed the Video’s Musical-Score on a 12-String-Acoustic-Guitar.

 

So much for Text-Editing. Here is the remainder of the Press-Release as it appeared on the Preview-CD:

 

"The street and street life have served as inspiration for painters and poets, filmmakers, and photographers since the birth of modernity. Nares’ inspiration for the film came from viewing actualité films by the turn-of-the-century pioneers of cinema Auguste and Louis Lumière and Thomas Edison—who themselves used the moving image technology that they invented to magically capture the street life of their own time. In the early stages of the development of Street, the artist considered subtitling the piece ‘A film to be viewed 100 years from now’; this desire to record the present, as if from a great distance in the future, resonates with earlier chroniclers of the street, such as Walker Evans. Nares’ inventive use of the most modern technology available at the time of production resulted in a distinctive visual look that harkens back to the simulated three-dimensional effects of 19th-century stereographs, while also being utterly up-to-date in its evocation of increasingly isolated, virtual, and image-suffused existence in the 21st century.”

 

About the Artist:

 

James Nares (born London, 1953) lives & works in New York. His Oeuvre encompasses Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Film, & Video. In his Paintings, he seeks to capture the Very-Moments in which he is creating them; Individual-Paintings are most frequently made in single…

 

Here, the Press-Release failed to Copy-Further on this Software.

 

 

Let There Be Light at MoMA: Shadow & Light + Structure Brought to Light: Photos & Architecture.

 

Bill Brandt’s Lights & Shadows in Shadow & Light: British-Lives from 1930s Onward…

 

Bill Brandt worked for a while in the Paris-Studio of the noted Surrealist-Photographer, Man Ray.

 

Initially, Ray’s Images of Female-Nude-Backsides—with Violin ƒ’s on them—didn’t seem to affect his Brit-Based-Subject-Matter.

 

Indeed, he made his name, in the Depression-Era-1930s, with interesting shots of Real-People, doing Real-Things: a Chamber-Maid "drawing-a-bath,” an East-End-Girl, doing The Lambeth-Walk

 

His almost Documentary-Images of Londoners during the "Blitz” provide a valuable-record: Masses sleeping in the Tubes of the Underground. Fortunately, No Trains in sight—

 

Brandt could be called the Annie Liebowitz of his day, but, unlike Annie, with her elaborately-staged Celebrity-Portraits—although he was also shooting on-assignment for Major-British-Publications—many of his Images seem more like Candid-Camera: caught-in-an-instant, the Subjects often unaware.

 

The MoMA Brandt-Retrospective is divided into Six-Sections: 1930s London; Depressed Workers, Factories, & Pits in Northern-England; Britain in World-War-II; Portraits; Landscapes, & Nudes.

 

That last Section suggests that what he learned from Man Ray finally paid-off.

 

On-Assignment, Brandt photographed such Notables as Francis Bacon, Harold Pinter, Martin Amis, Vanessa Redgrave, Tom Stoppard, Dylan Thomas, Henry Moore, Evelyn Waugh, & Barbara Hepworth.

 

None of these looks as contrived as Annie-Liebowitz-Celebrities

 

My Favorite is Brandt’s Portrait of Edith Sitwell & her brother, Sir Osbert. But not only because I wrote my MA-Thesis on Sitwell & her Synaesthesiac-Poetry.

 

Brandt was much-admired for his Darkroom-Work, achieving the best Print-Effect from his Negatives.

 

Curators have made every-effort to find the best-quality Brandt-Prints for this show.

 

Because Brandt’s Work is regarded as so Influential, interesting Images—made by some Contemporaries & a variety of Those Who Came-After—extend this Exhibition into Neighboring-Galleries.

 

 

Light Streams into Labrouste’s Bibliothèque-St-Geneviève: Soaring-Cast-Iron & Epic-Windows!

 

Until the Advent of the Innovative-Parisian-Architect, Henri Labrouste, most Libraries were primarily fairly Dark-Places, where Books & Manuscripts were preserved, safely-saved from Damaging-Sunlight.

 

Using New-Industrial-Technology, Labrouste flooded the Bibliothèque-Sainte-Geneviève with Light, filling the Outside-Wall of the Vast-Long-Reading-Room with Immense-Windows, but also providing a Gas-Lighting-System, so Parisians could come to Read-&-Research, even in the evenings!

 

Central to Labrouste’s Structural-System for Sainte-Geneviève & also for the even-larger Bibliothèque-Nationale, were his use of Iron, Cast-Iron, Ceramics, & Glass.

 

Before the creation of Iron that could bear Heavy-Loads—think of Iron-bridge, in England!—Stone, Bricks, Mortar, & Wood were the Primary-Materials of Construction.

 

In the Great-Square-Reading-Room of the Bibliothèque-Nationale, a Sense of Immense-Open-Space & Cascades-of-Light is created by Labrouste’s use of Four Slim 33-Foot-High Iron-Columns, which hold aloft Nine Square-Domed-Bays, crowned by Ceramic-Vaults!

 

Although there are Design-Elevations & Photographs of Noble-Buildings that were either designed by Labrouste or influenced by his Practice—including the Boston-Public-Library, a McKim, Mead, & White Design—it seems Odd that the Long-Ago-Demolished-Pennsylvania-Station has not been included…

 

Early in his career, Labrouste spent time in Rome & elsewhere on the Italian-Peninsula, studying Ancient-Roman-Ruins & Greek-Temples: the Sea-Faring-Greeks built some in Paestum. Even Etruscan-Tombs fascinated Labrouste.

 

Not only did this ground him in the Essences of the Elements of Classical-Architecture—long Colonnades of Classic-Columns, for instance—it also impressed him with the Delicacy, Geometry, & Color of the Ornamentation-&-Decoration used by both Greece & Rome.

 

The Drawings of Classical-Sites that he made are remarkable in their Simplicity & Elementality, quite unlike the Elaborate-19th-Century-Renderings of the Actual-Ruins made by his Contemporaries.

 

[Many of these Drawings had, for me, a Special-Interest, for I had myself made-a-point of visiting them & photographing them in-detail, when I was stationed in Naples, teaching at NATO-HQ, in Pozzuoli, a Site featured in Labrouste’s Ouevre.]

 

Not only does Structure Brought to Light flood into many MoMA-Galleries, but it is also enhanced by a number of Wide-Screen-Monitors, with Looped-Images, or even Touch-Screens for Self-Selection.

 

Most impressive of all, however, are the actual Architectural-Building-Models, themselves Models of the Artists’-Craft of Model-Building.

 

The Construction-Methods involved in both the Bibliothèques are wonderfully-detailed in Excellent-Models, as is the more-practical Interior-Construction & External-Decoration of the Menier-Chocolate-Factory.

 

The Most-Amazing-Model is the Many-Vaulted-&-Domed Project for a Public Great Hall, a Visionary-Creation of Anatole de Baudet, not a Labrouste-Confection.

 

Had this actually been constructed—had the Suspended-Vaults been able to be realized—this would be one of France’s Biggest-Tourist-Attractions

 

No-Matter: Paris still has stunning Labroustes for all to see!

 

           

Lanford Wilson’s TALLEY’S FOLLY  [★★★★★]

 

Sally Talley in Her Folly: Should a Well-Bred Southern-Girl Run-Away with an Ost-Jüde?

           

Both Danny Burstein & Sarah Paulson are both Superb & Heartbreaking in Roundabout’s Revival of Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly.

 

Matt Friedman has survived Pogroms & Anti-Semitic-Horrors, both in Eastern-Europe & in France, before & during The-War-To-End-Wars.

 

Now America is in the thick of World-War-II, but he has not enlisted, which makes Sally Talley wonder about his dedication to his Adopted-Country.

 

But there is a Bigger-Problem in his Curious-Courtship of the reluctant Sally: He is not only Older; He Is Jewish!

 

How Matt finally wins Sally is well worth the Seeing-&-Hearing: Danny Burstein is a Force-of-Nature as he initially wows the Audience & eventually dazzles Sally.

 

Jeff Cowie has designed a Spectacular-Gazebo/Boathouse-Folly, which almost upstages the Romantic-Sparring of Matt & Sally.

 

Sally’s Unseen-Talley-Family are Old-South—even here in Missouri, on the Long-Compromised-Border—with Textile-Factories to protect from Rapacious-Workers, with their Unfair-Demands on Capitalist-Work-Providers.

 

An Illness has prevented Sally from ever bearing Children, so she is no longer of any Value to her Family, in joining Two-Fabric-Fortunes.

 

Reading Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure-Class got Sally fired from teaching Sunday-School.

 

Matt sees Real-Value in a Woman with such a Frame-of-Mind: Sally is the One for him!

 

So much so, that Matt values vibrant Verbal-Volleys in the Valley of Sally Talley’s somewhat-silly Folly

 

Michael Wilson orchestrated [directed] their Passions

 

           

Paul Down Colaizzo’s REALLY REALLY  [★★★★★]

 

College at Mid-Term-Time Isn’t What It Used-to-Be: Life-Equations Changed Overnight

           

When I look back at life at Bowles-Hall, at UC/Berkeley, way back in 1948, I have to realize that Student-Sexual-Interaction has really, really changed

 

Our Fraternity/Sorority-Mixers were tame Tea-Parties, compared with the Wild-Partying in Really Really—which results, among other Shockers, in a Miscarriage.

 

David Cromer fiercely directed a Hyper-Charged-Cast: Lauren Culpepper, Zosia Mamet, Kobi Libii, David Hull, Matt Lauria, Evan Jonigkeit, & Aleque Reid.

 

Some of these Crazy-Conflicted-Kids, it seemed, were destined to be FLA—not Florida, but Future-Leaders-of-America.

 

I was content with being an FFA, or a Future-Farmer-of-America.

 

That obviously didn’t Work-Out…

 

 

Guillermo Calderón’s NEVA  [★★★]

 

The Secret-Life of Olga-Knipper-Chekhova: If Anton Were Alive, He’d Just Die…

           

Ich sterbe… Ich sterbe…

 

Those were the Last-Words of Russia’s Great-Playwright, Anton Chekhov.

 

He was in a Sanitorium in Badenweiler, where he had hoped for a Cure from his Terminal-Tuberculosis

 

I’m dying… I’m dying…

 

If Chekhov could only see what Guillermo Calderón has done with his Last-Words—as well as with his Widowed-Wife, Olga Knipper Chekhova—he’d die all over again.

 

But Neva is not only about the Death-of-Chekhov, his Wife’s removal to St. Petersburg, the Moscow-Art-Theatre, the 1905 Bloody-Sunday-Massacre, the Resultant-Russian-Revolution, the Stanislavsky-Method, but it is also about the River-Neva, into which Russian-Tragic-Heroines so often jump.

 

That certainly happens at the close of Queen-of-Spades, but that Plot is not included in Calderón’s Hysterical & Hilarious Farce-Trio-logy, that is a Metaphoric-Omelet of Russian-Social-History-&-Drama at the Jahrhundertwende.

 

At the center of this Metaphoric-Stew is the tempestuous Moscow-Art-Theatre Star, German-Born Olga Knipper, the rather-younger wife of Anton Chekhov, who seems to have recently died, leaving her grieving but free to move to Petersburg & the Neva.

 

The entire Production—at the Public-Theatre—has been staged himself by this famed Chilean-Playwright. It is played on a small central Platform, with a Great-Chair for the Great-Actress, now giving some terrifying Lessons-&-Examples of The-Acting-Craft.

 

Bus-Delays prevented me from witnessing the Opening-Minutes, but when I did enter, high-up, in-back, I saw Three-Performers writhing in front of what looked like either a Space-Heater or a Tele-Prompter.

 

Free-Standing-Space-Heaters didn’t seem quite right for The-Period, but that, indeed, was what it seemed to be, while it was also made-to-seem the Sole-Source-of-Illumination for Checkhova [a frenetic Bianca Amato], Aleko [Luke Robertson], & Masha [Quincy Tyler Bernstein], who couldn’t seem to decide whether she was a Character from a Play by Chekhov or Christopher Durang

 

What is that Holocaust-Survivors are fond of saying? Never Again!

 

But here, at the Public, it’s Neva! Again & Again!

 

The Public-Audience laughed heartily, so I must have missed something

 

Or was it, perhaps, that I was once a Student of The-Stanislavsky-Method—at UC/Berkeley—where I studied with the Heirs of Maria Ouspenskaya.

 

I also directed Anton Chekhov’s The Boor for my Thesis-Production.

 

In the Play-Text of this Three-Hander, the Tzar is blamed for the Bloody-Sunday-Deaths of Peaceful-Protest-Marchers.

 

In the Wake of the recent Sandy-Hook-Shootings, perhaps we should remember, Historically-Speaking, that Russki-Tzars don’t kill People; Sabers & Muskets kill people—especially in Petersburg in 1905

 

Who knew—aside from Guillermo Calderón, perhaps—that it would one day be called Leningrad!

 

What is it about Chekhov as a Playwright, with Other-Playwrights?

 

No less an American-Eminence than Neil Simon once honored Anton with The Good Doctor.

 

But this could have been viewed, instead, as a Love-Letter to Marsha Mason—who would become "Doc” Simon’s Second-Wife.

 

Mason—as an innocent young Country-Girl, who has just fallen-in-love with The-Theatre—gets to Try-Out with three Important-Chekhov-Verbal-Arias.

 

The Marriage didn’t work-out. Chekhov did die in Badenweiler.

 

But Chekhov is still very much Alive. Metaphorically-Speaking…

 

 

THE ART SHOW Is 25-Years-Old & Going-Strong at the Armory—for the Henry-Street-Settlement.

 

Almost Everything was On-the-Table at the Park-Avenue-Armory for the Annual-ADAA ART-SHOW.

 

Actually, On-the-Table was the Title of a Collection of Wonderfully-Bizarre-Sculptures by John Newman, presented on a long narrow white table in the Booth of the Tibor-de-Nagy-Gallery.

 

There are a lot of Dealer-&-Gallery-Shows at the Armory in any year, but this is really The-Show-of-Shows.

 

Not only were the Historic-Corridors, Lobbies, & Ornate-Chambers of the Armory ablaze with Banners, Posters, & Color-in-General, but there were fascinating Booths set-up by no less than 72 of America’s Leading-Art-Dealers.

 

Forty of the Booths were devoted to Solo-Artists, but there were also 32 Thematic-Presentations. This exactly adds-up to 72!

 

So No-Member of the Art-Dealers-Association-of-America—or ADAA—had a Booth that was just a Collection of Rag-Tag-Artworks it had brought to Manhattan from, say, San Francisco or Chicago

 

Most Impressive, however, were the Works of Wim Delvoye, especially his Scale-Model of a

Caterpillar-Bulldozer, which looked, at first-glance, to be constructed from a Gothic-Erector-Set.

 

Indeed, the Laser-Cut-Steel-Elements are modeled on Gothic-Cathedrals, with both Arches & Lancets.

 

Delvoye has done the same Cathedralizing for a Scale-Model of an Industrial-Issue Concrete-Mixer: just think of Chartres or Notre-Dame full of Industrial-Grade-Cement!

 

But that’s not nearly all the Artistic-Arrows that Delvoye has in his Artist-Quiver: How about a Tattooed-&-Taxidermied-Pig, named Eugénie?

 

Not to overlook some drawings from Delvoye‘s Cloaca-Series—inspired by his Unforgettable-Sculptural-Machine that simulated the Human-Digestive-System, manufacturing Excrement—vulgarly- known as Shit—from Food

 

This Industrial-Monstrosity so impressed Katharina Wagner & Eva Wagner-Pasquier—the Sister-Act running the annual Bayreuth-Festival—that it filled that Hallowed-Stage for the current production of Tannhäuser!

 

Delvoye hails from Ghent, in Flemish-Belgium—which was once the Spanish-Netherlands—so he knows about Cathedrals

 

You don’t have to go to Flanders to admire his Genius, however. The wonderful Objects on-view at the Armory can easily be seen down on the Bowery, at the Sperone-Westwater Gallery.

 

So Many Booths. So Little Time…

 

But the Photo-Experiments of Eadweard Muybridge—rotating madly to create the impression of Continuous-Looped-Movement—were an Astonishment at the Laurence-Miller-Gallery.

 

Muybridge got his start, thanks to California’s Governor, Leland Stanford—when he used Stop-Motion-Photography to discover whether All-Four of the Hooves of Stanford’s Prize-Thoroughbred, Occident, were ever completely-off-the-ground at the same time.

 

This Experiment led to a Stop-Action-Commission from the University-of-Pennsylvania: Men, Women, Children, Horses, & Animals in the Philadelphia-Zoo!

 

The Gallery has a fine example of the Published-Portfolio. If you want to know more, check-out: LaurenceMillerGallery.com

 

But you can also see these Photo-Series outside the Metropolitan-Museum-of-Art, where they are reproduced on Waterproof-Panels, which conceal from the General-Public the Construction of Multi-Million-Dollar-Fountains, which will further Memorialize the Fabled-Generosity of David H. Koch, who has renamed the New-York-State-Theatre—a Gift to the City, during the 1964/5 World’s-Fair—to Honor the Name of David H. Koch!

 

Almost reminds one of Shelly’s Ozymandias: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty of the Earth & despair!

 

Oh! Not to Forget: The ADAA-Gala + an attendant Art-Auction are always for the Benefit of the Henry-Street-Settlement. This is not one of those West-Bank-Settlements, but a relict of attempts to relieve Manhattan-Immigrant-Misery down on the Lower-East-Side.

 

The Settlement-House-Complex is now the Abrons-Arts-Center, where Woodie King once had his New-Federal-Theatre.

 

But Woodie could no longer pay the Rent on the Settlement-House-Theatre, so he’s now over on New-42, at the Castillio-Center

 

 

Anna Khaja’s SHAHEED: THE DREAM & DEATH OF BENAZIR BHUTTO  [★★★★]

           

Assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistani-Patriot Benazir Bhutto Lives Again…

           

Former Bush-Secretary-of-State Condoleezza Rice has a Lot-to-Answer-for:

 

Did you know that she sent Former-Pakistani-Premiere Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan, where she faced almost Certain-Death?

 

Bhutto was a Beautiful-Pawn in America’s Worldwide Great-Game-of-Thrones

 

Currently, down at the Culture-Project, at 45 Bleecker-Street, the remarkable Anna Khaja is bringing Benazir back-to-life—only to kill-her-off-again, at the close of Shaheed, which she also wrote.

 

Considering that B-B’s Father, Zulficar Ali Bhutto—an earlier Pakistani-Premier—was betrayed a Power-Hungry-Associate & Hanged, Harvard & Oxford-Educated Benazir Bhutto might have Thought-Twice about seeking Election as Premier herself?

 

But that’s why her Father sent her to the Best American & British-Universities: he wanted her prepared to Carry-on the Battle to Democratize & Stabilize the "First-Islamic-Republic,” an Untimely-Creation of the British Partition-of-India

 

In fact, B-B was twice elected Prime-Minister of Pakistan: both times dismissed by the then Presidents of Pakistan.

 

The fact that her father—Zulficar Ali—bore both the Name of the Mythical-Sword & that of its Owner, the Imam-Ali, meant that the Bhuttos were Shiites, deathly-enemies of the Sunnis in a Politically-Created-Country, with no Long-Traditions of its own…

 

In the immediate-aftermath of her Father’s Execution, B-B was arrested & put into Solitary-Confinement. Following that Ordeal, she remained under House-Arrest, until 1984.

 

Not exactly Nelson Mandela, but still…

 

The Action of Shaheed takes place entirely on 27 December 2007: the Fatal-Day that B-B was Murdered in her Motorcade.

 

Was the Weapon a Baby wrapped in Explosives

 

With a Folding-Screen, a few Props, & some Costume-Changes, Anna Khaja plays Eight-Roles, one of them Secretary-of-State Rice, who regards both B-B & herself as Women-of-Color who have Something-to-Prove.

 

Khaja’s performances are effective, but—unless one had read the Program thoroughly beforehand—it was not immediately-clear who Sara, Daphne Barak, Quasim, Shamsher, & Afshan actually were.

 

The Charge was made by Some—who had Axes-to-Grind, or who were Observing only from a

Safe-Distance—that the Bhutto-Family was Corrupt!

 

It is made clear, however, that without an Intimate-Knowledge of How-Things-Really-Work in "Emerging-Third-World-Nations,” No-one, not even Benazir Bhutto, could have achieved what she hoped for her Country.

 

This was a Great-Loss—not only for Pakistan—of a Remarkable-Woman-Leader.

 

 

Brooklyn-Museum Art-Works Win $830,625 in Christie’s First-Open-Sale!

 

No! It was a Mistake!

 

The Brooklyn-Museum was not getting rid of Superfluous-Art-Works in Christie’s recent Open-Sale!

 

Instead, 23-Artists donated their Works to raise Money for the Museum’s Artists-Space-Program, which is designed to encourage & exhibit Young-Brooklyn-Artists.

 

Richard Serra is not exactly a Brooklyn-Artist—he now Belongs-to-the World!—but his After, a work-on-paper, brought $218,500 at auction. This money surely can help some Young-Emerging-Artist in Park-Slope, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn-Heights, or even Brooklyn-College!

 

But the Open-Sale was not just a kind of Benefit for the Brooklyn-Museum: Major-Works from Important-Artists were also On-the-Block,

 

Even some Small-Sized Abstract-Expressionists did well: A Total of One-Million-Dollars for works by Mark Tobey, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, & Richard Pousette-Dart.

 

Held in a Private-Collection & Unseen-for-Twenty-Years—except, of course, by its Private-CollectorGerhard Richter’s Ohne Titel was bought for $782,500.

 

This Work-on-Paper is regarded as "among the most ambitious…in Richter’s Oeuvre, in terms of both Scale & Execution.”

 

Although Ohne Titel may sound Darkly-Mysterious, it’s merely German for Untitled, one of the Most-Popular-Titles for Modern-Artworks ever…

 

The Total-of-Totals for this First-Open-Sale was a gratifying $12.3-Million!

 

 

Andy Warhol Online-Only-Sale Achieves Only $2.3-Million…

 

Considering the Staggering-Millions Andy Warhol’s Works have won at recent Christie’s-Auctions, it may seem disappointing that the first Online-Only-Sale of Andy Warhol @ Christie’s—a kind of Brand-Name for the contract Christie’s has with the Andy-Warhol-Foundation-for-the-Visual-Arts, selling-off most of the Archives—did not earn more.

 

Not to worry: there were not all that many Lots-for-Sale—unlike the recent Major-Major-Warhol-Sale at Christie’s—but many of the Unique-Drawings & Paintings had not been seen widely, if at all, before.

 

Some of the Works were on-view at Christie’s before the Sale, but all were On-View-On-Line.

 

These attracted some 65,000 Website-Visitors & 263 Bidders, with more than 1,500 Bids from 36 Countries. The Lots were 99% sold.

 

On-Line-Sales may well be the Wave-of-the-Future.

 

For some First-Time-Bidders, this was also the First-Time they had ever seen some of Andy’s off-hand Sketches & his Candid-Photos of such Buddies as Bob Rauschenberg.

 

You do not now have to come to Christie’s in Manhattan or in London to look at the Artworks & make a Bid

 

In April 2013, the next Andy Warhol @ Christie’s Sale will feature "Andy’s Legacy at the Infamous-Nightclub Studio 54.”

 

Google Christie’s to find-out What’s-Up!

 

 

At the Frick: The Impressionist-Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec—Art from the Clark…

 

If New-Yorkers cannot drive up to Williamstown to enjoy the Collections of the Clark-Art-Institute, then some of the finest French-Impressionist Drawings-&-Prints from the Clark have come down to New York.

 

There are 58 works on-view, including some delightful sketches Edgar Degas made of HorsesThoroughbreds, like his Ballet-Girls—as well as an impressive quasi-classical-drawing he made when a student at the École de Beaux-Arts.

 

The Exhibition focuses only on Works-on-Paper, but with special-attention to the Changes being brought about in the latter-half of the 19th-Century in Subject-Matter, Composition, Renderings

 

Millet is cited for Expressive-Execution, rather than Virtuosity: see The Sower.

 

Pisarro challenges the Notions of Finish

 

Gauguin experiments with Printmaking-Techniques: How about Zincography?

 

But Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec develops such skills in Lithography that his subtle Line & Coloration in Posters & Prints of Music-Hall & Cabaret-Stars become almost Universally-Collectible.

 

What would you rather have: an Original-Degas-Sketch of a Horse? Or a Signed-Lithograph-Poster of Jane Avril?

 

 

Go MAD & You Get THE-MUSEUM-OF-THE-FUTURE

 

OK!

 

So it’s High-Time to Move-On beyond Old-Fashioned-Museums!

 

Looking very Far-Ahead, it may well be that the THE-MUSEUM-OF-THE-FUTURE will be able to be Viewed on Your-Wrist-Watch, where you will also see Major-Met-Opera-Productions & Sports-Events.

 

In the meantime, however, a variety of Young-Artist-Designer-Imagineers have conspired over at MAD on Columbus-Circle—where Chris Columbus was recently at-home to Visitors—to show us how Things-Will-Be, once we have got-over staring at Old-Masters on Pristine-Walls.

 

In What Me Worry? 2013, Aaron Anderson & Eric Timothy Carlson have moved MAD-Director Holly Hotchner’s Directorial-Chair from Her-Office to the Second-Floor, where Visitors are supposedly able to sit in it & Play-Director, but limited by the Chair’s Actual-&-Symbolic-Attachment to the Wall by a Cable.

 

Unfortunately, at the Press-Preview, one could not sit in it, as it was Festooned-with-Balloons & protected by some Floor-Tapes, implying Keep-Out or Keep-Off

 

Nearby was a Standard-Issue Picnic-Table with Seats set on its Trusses.

 

Part of its Title is Colored Wood & Shape Benefit, 2013.

 

Once again, Aaron Anderson & Eric Timothy Carlson have come-to-the-rescue of Antiquated-Museums by producing an Aestheticized-Utilitarian-Object: They have saturated the Wood of the Table with Colors!

 

Now—to more-or-less QuoteThis Form serves as a Meeting-place & represents the Role-of-a-Museum as a Point where Various-Communities can Communicate, Blend their Ideas, & Enrich their Cultures…

 

Well, you Get-the-Idea. If not, get on over to MAD!

 

Also on the Second-Floor: some Super-Modern-Jewelry, including a wonderfully-wispy Garlic-Necklace—very good for warding-off Vampires, unless, of course, they are Handsome-Young-Post-Teen-Artist-Designers!

 

           

Rodgers & Hammerstein & Douglas Carter Beane’s CINDERELLA  [★★★★★]

 

Stuart Weitzman Made Cinderella’s Glass-Slippers! Talk about Product-Placement!

           

"The Prince has Beautiful Balls,” enthuses one of the Lavishly-Clad-Guests at the charmingly-choreographed Festivity in the Fabulous-Production of Cinderella, now at the Broadway-Theatre.

 

Unfortunately, the Enthusiastic-Standing-Ovation-Audience only gets to see One of the Prince’s Balls.

 

There is also a Princely-Banquet, later-on, but that’s Off-Stage, possibly because this Lavishly-Produced-Musical-Revival already has Too-Many-Props to take care of…

 

Although there is more than just a hint of previous Richard-Rodgers-Scores—Think Shall We Dance, from The King & IMark Brokaw’s scintillating-staging of Cinderella is like a Revival-Compendium of Rodgers-&-Hammerstein’s Greatest-Hits.

 

With Production-Values to spare…

 

Who but Multi-Award-Winning Costume-Designer William Ivey Long could have created so many

Dazzling-Ball-Gowns & Richly-Royal-Apparel?

 

Could any Broadway-Set-Designer other than Anna Louizos conjure-up a Forest that seems often On-the-Move, with Little-Animals popping out of Holes where Branches once were?

 

Laura Osnes is a lovely, compassionate Cinderella, with Victoria Clark an often Airborne-Fairy-Godmother.

 

Their Instant-Transformations—from Rags-to-Riches—are astonishing, thanks to Long’s Genius & some ingenious Stage-Craft.

 

Turning the Pumpkin into a Fairy-Coach was also an Astonishment, as was the Transformation of Woodland-Animals & Mice into Coachmen & Horses—who were wonderfully articulated by what seemed to be Bicycle-like-Pedal-Power

 

[Many years ago, in a London-Christmas-Pantomime, the Fairy-Godmother said: "Cinderella, run quickly to do my Bidding! Bring me a Pumpkin! I’m going to make you a Fairy-Coach!”

 

[Cinderella, who seemed to be an East-Ender, responded: "What’s ‘e goin’ to teach me?”]

 

Santino Fontana—who looks a bit like a Fairy-Prince in his elegant costumes—was charming as the Prince, who learns to take-an-interest in His-People, from which he previously has been dissuaded by his Regent-Advisor, Sebastian [the wonderfully-pompous Peter Bartlett].

 

In the end, even Cinderella’s Two-Unkind-Step-Sisters & their Doting-Mother turn-out to be Not-So-Bad, after all…

 

Watching Josh Rhodes’ Old-Fashioned-Choreographies brought back Wonderful-Memories of the Good-Old-Days of Broadway-Musicals!

 

How about bringing back some of those Agnes-de-Mille-Choreographies for Landmark-Rodgers-&-Hammerstein-Musicals?

 

The late Lee Theodore used to do that with The-American-Dance-Machine

 

 

Unnecessary-Speculation:

 

Did you know that the Original-French-Cinderella did not have Glass-Slippers?

 

No, indeed! In French, the Slippers were of Fur—once long ago denoted by a now-Archaic-word that sounded a bit like Verre, which means Glass. So Cinderella really had Fur-Slippers!

 

PETA-Alert!

 

Nonetheless, if you are looking for French-Words that sound a bit like Verre, how about Fer, which means Iron?

 

Consider the somewhat similar Furrier & Ferrier: A Ferrier puts Iron-Shoes on Horses.

 

Imagine Cinderella with Iron-Shoes? No-Way…

 

           

Holland Taylor’s ANN  [★★★]

 

Too Bad for Texans That They Now Have Governor Rick Perry—Instead of Ann Richards!

           

Ann Richards was, herself, a Force-of-Nature!

 

Holland Taylor—who is currently impersonating her, White-Wig & Texas-Twang, at the Vivian-Beaumont—is also something of a Natural-Force.

 

But, in collating what appear to have been Hundreds of Anecdotes, Remembrances, & Affairs-of-State, the Total-Effect—delivered with Passion, Anger, & Impatience—is rather like Ten-Ted-Talks

 

The Narrative-Framework of this show is a Commencement-Address, in which Ann is Looking-Backward: which magically-summons the Appearance of the Governor’s-Office in Austin

 

My favorite Ann-Richards-Remembrance is following her down the Garden-Path in Central-Park, when she was helping Christo open his fabulous Gates-Project.

 

A Remarkable-Lady & Holland Taylor is to be admired for attempting to share her with us—directed by Benjamin Endsley Klein.

 

 

Bill Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe’s HENRY IV, PART I  [★★★★★]

 

Wars-of-the-Roses Not Yet Over: Future Henry V Must Vanquish Hot-headed Hotspur!

           

What an Amazing-World Director Davis McCallum & Designers Dan Zimmerman [setting] & Whitney Locher [costumes] have created on the Open-End-Stage of the Pearl-Theatre!

 

With a central Stage-Platform—like a Boxing-Ring, without the Ropes—this astounding staging of Henry IV, Part 1 can contain Royal-London & its Lowlife-Taverns, as well as various Castles & Battlefields.

 

With any Luck—if the Pearl continues with the Shakespearean-Sequels, Henry IV, Part 2 & Henry V—it will eventually contain "The-Vasty-Fields-of-Agincourt”

 

But for the Globe-Theatre-Players that was a "Wooden-O.”

 

What really made the recent Pearl-Production such a Gem, however, was the Pearl’s Priceless-Acting-Ensemble, with John Brummer as the Vagabond-Prince-Hal & Dan Dailey as his mischievous Mis-Leader, Falstaff, the famously Fat-Knight.

 

Others in the Ensemble have to encompass more than One-Role: Shawn Fagan is remarkable as the Hot-Headed & Splenetic-Hotspur, but he is also charming as the feckless Serving-Man, Francis.

 

Often the Pearl’s Leading-Man, Sean McNall, this time out, played Poins, Northumberland, & Douglas with equal-ease.

 

Chris Mixon made a feisty Dame Quickly, but was also adamant as Worcester, opposing King Henry IV, even-more-intransigent in the interpretation of Bradford Cover.

 

The entire Company was admirable, in a variety of Roles, but Dominic Cuskern, Ade Otukoya, Lee Stark, & Ruibo Qian were especially interesting.

 

Whereas Distinguished-Brits often speak Shakespeare’s Liquid-Lines with Authoritative-Articulation, the Pearl’s Players made them Real: Passionate, Angry, Satiric, Ferocious, Ironic, Puzzled

 

The Battle-Scenes & the Mano-a-Mano Combat of Hotspur & Prince Hal were wonderfully choreographed by Rod Kinter.

 

Now occupying what was formerly the Signature-Theatre, way down on West-Forty-Two, the Pearl has come a Long-WayPhysically, Metaphorically, & Spiritually—from its Former-Quarters & Productions down on East-Eighth-Street

 

 

Cirque-du-Soleil’s TOTEM  [★★★★★]

           

It’s an Immense-Meat-Pie! No! It’s an African-Hut! No, No, No! It’s a Giant-Turtle!

           

Wow!

 

Totem not only showcases some Major Major Major Circus-Talents, but it also celebrates Evolution: Mankind’s Irresistible-Rise from the Primordial-Slime!

 

Even Evolution & Big-Bang-Denying-Republicans ought to take delight in the Evocation of many Tribal-Customs & Colorful-Ethnic-Costumes, brought to Life with Elegant & Energetic-Dances, as well as with breathtaking Acrobatic-Acts.

 

The Multi-Talented Robert Lepage—whose base is in Quebec-City—has conceived, written, orchestrated & directed Totem, already seen by Two-Million-People, in 18-Tours since its Premiere in 2010.

 

Not that New-York-City is the Last on its List. Not at all: Cirque-du-Soleil’s Zarkana played two-summers-running at Radio-City Music-Hall & several of its other Endlessly-Touring-Shows have been seen previously on Randall’s-Island & over on the Jersey-Coast.

 

Among the Astonishing-Acts on-view in Totem are the Foot-Juggling of Marina & Svetlana Tsodikova; the Hand-Balancing of Pavel Saprykin; the Trapeze-Acrobatics of Guilhem Cauchois & Sarah Tessier; the Roller-Skating-Magic of Massimiliano Medini & Denise Garcia-Sorta, as well as, the High-high-high-Unicycles of a remarkable Troupe of Chinese-Lovelies, who toss Golden-Bowls onto each others’ Heads!

 

Aside from the charming evocations of Traditional-Tribal-Costumes, many of the Individual-Costumes of Dancers & Stage-Aides are remarkably Colorful & Complicated: There should be a Style-Show at Armani or Bergdorf’s

 

The Costumes are by Bob & Bill, who do not seem to have Last-Names.

 

If  you cannot get enough of the Genius of Robert Lepage, his Clanking-Version of Richard Wagner’s RING is currently on-view at the Metropolitan-Opera

 

           

David Henry Hwang’s THE DANCE & THE RAILROAD  [★★★★★]

 

Practicing Peking-Opera on the Donner-Summit: Time-Off from Blasting-Through Solid-Rock…

           

When the Great-California-Gold-Rush was announced in 1849, & Single-Chinese-Men began crossing the Pacific to The-Golden-Mountain—which was their Generic-Name for the Gold-Fields—an Immigration-Pattern was established.

 

In hopes of Making-a-Pile & returning to China as Rich-Men, they endured all kinds of Hardships & frequent Insults from the Hated-White-Devils who let them do their Laundry.

 

So, when The-Big-FourGovernor Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, & Chas. Crocker—decided to build their Central-Pacific-Section of the Transcontinental-Railway, from West-to-East, meeting the Union-Pacific, building East-to-West, Work-Starved Chinese-Men seemed an excellent-source of Very-Cheap-Labor.

 

They also enlisted the Irish, but multi-award-winning-playwright David Henry Hwang is not celebrating their Contribution to Driving-the-Golden-Spike at Promontory, Utah, in 1869

 

Instead, he focuses on an Adept of the Peking-Opera & an Eager-Young-Chinese who wants to learn the Moves as well: both of them helping blast-through the Unforgiving-Rock of the Donner-Summit in the High-Sierras.

 

In a stark-setting of Abstract-Geometric-Rock-Forms, with subtly-changing Light, Lone [Yuekun Wu] & Ma [Ruy Iskandar] bond through the Harsh-Discipline of the Traditional-Movements of Chinese-Opera.

 

Lone was sold by his Parents—when he was only a small-boy—to train for the Peking-Opera.

 

But, faking Fatal-Illness, his Mother calls him home, only to send him off to the Golden-Mountain.

 

But he won’t be running a Chinese-Laundry, as so many "Chinamen” then did in California.

 

No—he’ll be Working-on-the-Railroad

 

Many Chinese—employed & exploited by The-Big-Four never returned home: They died on the Mountain-Tops, tunneling through the Sierra-Summits.

 

The Transformative-Experience of Lone & Ma—dancing on the Mountain-Top—is wonderfully-evoked by Wu & Iskandar, surely-ensured by Director May Adrales, with the aid of designers Mimi Lien [set], Jennifer Moeller [costumes], & Jiyoun Chang [lighting].

 

 

Craig Lucas’ THE LYING LESSON  [★★★]

 

Whatever Became of Joan Crawford? Bette! Watch-Out! That Gun Is Loaded!

           

Yes, I got it: that Carol Kane is supposed to be Bette Davis—in a frumpy old house in a Coastal-Town in Maine, in Summer, 1981

 

But why would Director Pam MacKinnon suggest that she should have what sounded like a Polish-Accent?

 

Mickey Summer played Minnie Bodine.

 

Craig Lucas penned this Hommage to Baby-Jane in Late-Age, but it’s not another Reckless, alas.

 

 

More Art & Design at MAD: What Can We Make Out of Wood? Against the Grain & Then Some…

 

There are some Chairs in the new Wood-Show at MAD, but none of them looks really comfortable to sit-in, nor really Innovative as examples of Functional-Furniture-Design.

 

Only Francis Cape’s Utopian-Benches look functional, although a Spartan-Test to sit on long with No-Backs.

 

China’s famed Arts-Provocateur, Ai WeiWei, has provided a group of Wooden-Stools, joined in a clump at their Seats. This he calls Grapes

 

Famed American Wood-Sculptor Wendell Castle is represented with Ghost-Rider, a kind of Post-Modernist Sexually-Inflected-Rocker.

 

Even the famous Frank Ghery is on-hand, with what look like very small Wooden-Fish, but are called Pito-Wood-Essences.

 

How about a Porcupine-Cabinet or an Oak-Chair made of Scrapwood?

 

Making an Eiffel-Tower out of Toothpicks is Old-Stuff now, so Willie Cole has, instead, made a Large-Chicken out of Massed-Matchsticks!

 

Sofia Maldonado has performed a Public-Service by retiring some Decorated-Skateboards from Street-Actions—where they might become Instruments-of-Mass-Destruction of Old-People

 

If you are Fan of Alt-Wien & Jugendstil, you may be amazed to see a Vintage-Thonet-Bentwood-Chair wrapped & rewrapped in Steam-Bent-White-Oak

 

Then there’s a tall-painted-box that opens-up to reveal a Tree-Struck-by-Lightning, with a Chair & a Stool that blend into the Image so well they don’t seem, at first, to have 3-D-Personalities of their own.

 

But Laurel Roth’s two highly-polished SkullsVera-Wood & Swarovski-Crystals—were Exemplary!

 

Gone are the days when the long-gone American-Crafts-Museum—which was folded-into MAD—showed Works-in-Wood which weren’t quite so Far-Out.

 

Wendell Castle, George Nakashima, & Sam Maloof were in their heyday.

 

In fact, I wrote about Sam’s wonderful Rosewood-Furniture for Craft-Horizons, among other topics.

 

So it is that I now have a Vintage-Maloof-Rocker & a specially-made Maloof-Music-Stand

 

 

Handsome Thomas Hampson’s Masterful Master-Class at MSM: Breathe, Don’t Belt…

 

Although Thomas Hampson is a Nominal-Baritone, he can sing in Higher-Registers when he is showing a Novice-Mezzo-Soprano or a Fledgling-Tenor how to make an Aria something both deeply-felt & physically-experienced.

 

His recent Master-Class at the Manhattan-School-of-Music was a Podcast, so it will be available on your iPhone or your iPad.

 

But Hampson made the point that singing an Aria or an Art-Song is not really about pushing the Melodies out into the Audience. No: it’s all about You, feeling right in your Body & singing with an Intelligent-Technique that will reach the Audience without extra-effort.

 

The Young-Talents learning from the Master included Kurt Kanazawa—figuratively fondling Mélisande’s long hair; Mingjie Lei—overcome with the Loveliness of Princess Pamina’s Painted-Likeness; Gina Perregrino—longing for Lindoro, & Margrethe Fredheim—fearfully wandering in a Richard-Straussian-Night.

 

This was the first time I’ve ever seen a Master-Teacher also work with the Piano-Accompanists: He helped them to help their Singers!

 

Thomas Hampson is such a Charming-Performer & Raconteur himself that he should have His-Own-Show! His Insights—in using the Body most effectively in Singing—sound also sound for other Human-Activities.

 

The Master-Class began at 4pm but did not draw to a close until after 7pm. At one point, a Message was brought-out to him on-stage: Your Audience Is Leaving…

 

But only those Students & Old-People departed who would rather have Soup-&-Salad in the Cafeteria than share in Hampson’s Memories-&-Advice!

 

 

A Whale of a Show at the American-Museum: Not Barnum’s Version, but Real Natural-History!

 

For those who do not believe in Evolution, the Tale of the Whales should be even more confusing.

 

Millions of years ago, they walked on the Earth as other did Mammals, but they found that there was so much Good-Chow in the Sea-Water that they reversed Evolution by sinking-back-down into the Water.

 

Of course, if you don’t believe in Evolution, you also probably are certain that the Earth is only some Six-Thousand-Years-Old & was Created by God in Six-Days, with the Seventh-Day off for Good-Behavior.

 

Now, at the American-Museum-of-Natural-History, you may see such Religious-Beliefs confounded with Ancient-Whale-Skeletons that have come all the way to Manhattan from New-Zealand & its Maori-Museum.

 

In fact, to open this wonderful show—Whales: Giants of the Deep—a Maori-Delegation from the Museum-of-New-Zealand Te-Papa-Tongarewa even performed an Ancient-Blessing-Ritual, with Songs & Dances.

 

Rhonda Paku, the Senior-Curator of the Museum, was on-hand—as Acting-Kaihautu & Biocultural-Leader—to share Ancient-Backgrounds such as the Tale of the Whale-Rider.

 

You have, no doubt ,heard of Boys-on-Dolphins? Well, Maori-Boys have ridden Whales!

 

Not only is the History-of-Whaling explored, but the Scrimshaw-Carvings of Whaling-Men are also on-view. Not to overlook a Whaling-Ship-Log & a copy of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

 

The Skeletons are the most awesome-objects in the show, but there are many Photos, Text-Panels, & Video-Screens to draw even Young-Visitors away from their Cell-Phones for a while…

 

Actually, if you cannot get to the AMNH, you can probably get a very good idea of the show on your Cell-Phone, as the AMNH-Website is much more interesting than any Report-with-Photos that Your Roving Arts-Reporter could hope to file.

 

In fact, a recent Installation about the putative Museums-of-the-Future suggests that Museums won’t any longer need Actual-Artifacts: these can all be Digitally-Scanned & Available-On-line!

 

Nonetheless, it is admirable that Richard & Karen LeFrak have made the new Richard & Karen LeFrak Exhibition-Hall possible—along with Funds to further Education-Projects at the AMNH.

 

This Space has been so compactly-designed for Whales: Giants of the Deep that it’s amazing how much Material & Information has been shoe-horned into the Room.

 

Still, it’s a bit-of-a-walk to see the Museum’s famous & fabulous Blue-Whale, in the Milstein-Hall-of-Ocean-Life.

 

Museum-President Ellen Futter pointed-out to the Assembled-Press that—from all over the World—People coming to the AMNH want most of all to see the Blue-Whale!

 

 

Annie Baker’s THE FLICK  [★★★★]

 

David Belasco! Eat Your Heart Out! A Real Live Movie-Theatre Onstage at Playwrights-Horizons!

           

Annie Baker is the Admirable-Author of Circle Mirror Transformation & Body-Awareness, so why would she step back into the Metaphoric-World of Turn-of-the-20th-Century-Realism?

 

Actually, the Time is more or less The-Present—2012 in Worcester-County, MA—but showing a Movie-House-Auditorium onstage in Complete-Detail really harks-back to the Golden-Era of David Belasco & Stage-Realism.

 

At least there are No-Horses onstage, as in Belasco’s celebrated-production of Girl of the Golden-West

 

In fact, the Girl in this drama of Cleaning-the-Auditorium Post-Show is an Unhappy-Projectionist, not a Cowgirl.

 

Matthew Maher plays Sam, in charge of Clean-Up, with Louisa Krause as Rose, upstairs in the Projection-Room, when she is not downstairs with Her-Problems.

 

They are both having Problems with the New-Hire, Avery, sensitively-played by Aaron Clifton Moten.

 

Film-Fans will surely enjoy the Games of Identifying-Bygone-Flicks & their Now-Historic-Casts.

 

The Running-Time of The Flick is Three-Hours, somewhat less than Gone-With-the-Wind, but still a bit too long. Director Sam Gold could, perhaps, have edited some of the Unspoken-Pauses?

 

In fact, sitting-still for Three-Hours—well, there is an Intermission—seems a bit like an Endurance-Contest: Will the Audience Stay-the-Course?

 

Nonetheless, the Epiphany is worth the wait…

 

 

Evenings at the Opera: Although Banned-at-the-Met, a Blessed-Reprieve from Belgium!

 

For many years—especially when Your Roving Arts-Reporter was a Contributing-Editor to Opera-News & Opera-Monthly & Opera & Theatre-Crafts—I regularly had Press-Tickets for New-Productions as the Metropolitan-Opera.

 

Last Autumn, however, Jennifer Cooper—of the Met-Opera Press-Office—informed me that I would no longer be on the Press-List: "Our Ticket-Allocations are very limited.”

 

So it was with great-gratitude that I welcomed the arrival in Our-Fair-City of the President of the Belgian-Music-Critics, my old friend & colleague, Erna Metdepennighen, who invited me to share her Press-Tickets!

 

Seeing some of these Productions for the First-Time, I was once again reminded of what a Great-Show the Met can present the Public! The Stage is Huge & so—often—are the Casts, especially when the Chorus-Army of the Met is called-up for Vocal-Service

 

 

Charles Gounod’s FAUST  [★★★★]

           

Ghosts of The-Great-War! Medieval Doktor-Faustus Trapped in Bomb-Factory!

           

In the on-going-effort to keep Opera-Alive for Modern-Audiences—who already have their Attention-Spans sharply-curtailed by Constant-Texting & playing Video-Games on their Cell-PhonesStage-Directors & Designers are relentless in their Quest for Ingenious-Updatings of the Old-War-Horses.

 

Johann Wolfgang Goethe would surely be astonished to see his Medieval Johann Faustus, Dr. phil. rummaging-around in what eventually seems to be a World-War-I Bomb-Factory

 

What Composer Charles Gounod might think is Anyone’s-Guess, even though his Music & the Barbier/Carré-Text have not been tinkered-with.

 

The Met’s Faust actually came across the Atlantic, from ENO—the English-National-Opera—where Stage-Director Des McAnuff & Set-Designer Robert Brill decided to move the Tale from Medieval-Germany to what looks like a Very-Large-Frame-Structure in the Early-20th-Century.

 

This Epic-Empty-Frame is equipped with two Towering-Spiral-Staircases at each side—rising out-of-sight into the Flies above—so that Faust & Méphistophélès are required to do a lot of Ascending-&-Descending—not to mention the Stair-Scramblings of other members of the cast…

 

As the Overture begins, an Immense-Projection of the Face of Dr. Faustus, PhD, looms very large on the Fore-Screen. Later, the Giant-Face of the Unfortunate-Marguerite is seen both Fore & Aft, also on a Rear-Projection-Screen.

 

As the Overture continues, War-Ruins are projected on the Rear-Screen, as War-Refugees file across the stage.

 

The Aged-Doctor-Faust is discovered in his Dust-Cloth-Draped-Laboratory. As he pulls off the Cloths, White-Smocked-Lab-Assistants flock in from the Wings.

 

As for the Old-Image of Gretchen-am-Spinnrad, McAnuff provides the simple, virtuous Marguerite with a Singer-Sewing-Machine, instead of the Historic-Spinning-Wheel!

 

Both the Rear & both Sides of the Structural-Frame are equipped with Projection-Screens—which can appear & vanish—providing rapidly-scudding Clouds or Piles-of-Roses, among other Video-Treats.

 

When the Stage filled with Home-Town-Troops, going off to War, I thought this was the Franco-Prussian-War, as the Women’s-Costumes didn’t look Early-20th-Century.

 

Nonetheless, the Big-White-Bombs certainly looked Great-War-Worthy

 

In the midst of all this Semi-Modernization, Piotr Beczala was a very handsome Young-Faust—in excellent voice—with the superb John Relyea a dapper, Sleight-of-Hand-Trickster-Mephisto.

 

As the bewildered & beleaguered Marguerite, Marina Poplavskaya seemed appropriately Overwhelmed by the Magical-Events that were Overtaking her Body-&-Soul. But her Voice was, at times, strained in ways that had nothing to do with the Ordeals the Character was Undergoing.

 

Alexey Markov was excellent as the Doting-Brother, Valentin. But his Sword-play was not equal to the Challenge of both Faust & the Devil.

 

At the Close—although she’s already doomed by the Devil—an Angelic-Chorus of White-Smocked-Attendants announces the Salvation of poor Marguerite.

 

But, to reach Heaven, she has to climb all those Metal-Stairs in the Rear, where the Bomb-Factory used to be. Fortunately, she was able to climb back down in time for the Curtain-Calls!

 

Alain Altnoglu conducted with an attention-to-detail that both Gounod & Field-Marshall Foch would have admired.

 

           

Riccardo Zandonai’s FRANCESCA DA RIMINI  [★★★★]

 

Paolo & Francesca’s Doomed-Love Not Quite the Wagnerian-Equivalent of Tristan-und-Isolde

           

As the Met’s Great-Gold-Curtain rose on the  Opening-Scene of Riccardo Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini—revealing an almost Pre-Raphaelite-Vision of Gauze-Clad-Maidens frolicking in a Maxfield-Parrish Art-Nouveau Palace-Hall—Your Roving Arts-Reporter had a Yogi-Berrish-Sensation of Déjà-Vu!

 

Where had I seen that Lovely-Vista of a Leafy-Tree almost filling the Open-Window of Ezio Frigerio’s remarkably Opulent-Set, featuring Semi-Gothic-Walls of Rich-Dark-Woods?

 

Well, actually way back in 1984, when this handsome production—staged by Piero Faggioni—debuted at the Met!

 

Unfortunately—despite the Valiant-Talents of Renata Scotto & Placido Domingo as the Doomed-Lovers—the Met’s Demanding-Subscribers were not seized with Admiration for the Score or the Libretto, so the Production was withdrawn after the 1986-Season.

 

Fortunately, the Met doesn’t have to pay Storage-Charges to a Do-It-Yourself-Storage-Facility, so the Ponderous-Sets have been slumbering all these Decades.

 

It was wonderful to see these Scenes again, especially the Second-Act-Vision of the Portals of the Malatesta-Castle under Siege, with Great-Siege-Machines bowing-in from either side of the stage.

 

Now, in 2013, Francesca—the lovely Eva-Maria Westbroek—is back, once again falling in Illicit-Love with Paolo—the handsome Marcello Giordani—the handsome Younger-Brother of her Legal-Husband, the Malformed Giovanni Malatesta [Mark Delavan].

 

Despite the Energetic-Conducting of Marco Armiliato, this Revival may have to go back to Storage again, for there were many Unsold-Seats in the Orchestra on a Friday-Evening.

 

It did not help that the Evening was unduly-extended with Three-Intermissions, permitting Opera-Lovers to flee in Three-Increments

 

The Fundamental-Problem with Francesca da Rimini—as with the other largely-forgotten Operas of Zandonai—is that he was deliberately-abandoning the Traditional-Set-Pieces of Italian-Opera: Arias, Duets, Trios, Quartets, & Sextets, in favor of a more Wagnerian-Form of Through-Composition.

 

That meant that Italian-Audiences at the Premiere, in Turin, in 1914—nor Met-Audiences way back in 1916—did not leave the Opera-house humming Hit-Tunes. Nor did they rush-off to Music-Stores to get the Sheet-Music.

 

At the turn of the Last-Century—the Twentieth, not the 21st—the Great-Days of Verdian-Opera-Composition were Long-Gone. But the new works of Giacomo Puccini promised much, in a New-Direction.

 

The fabled Music-Publisher, Tito Riccordi, began championing a New-Generation, including Zandonai & Montemezzi.

 

When was the last time you saw a production of Montemezzi’s L’Amore de Tre Re?

 

How about Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Umberto Giordano, Franco Alfano, or Idelbrando Pizzetti

 

[News-Flash! Pizzetti‘s Assassinio nella Cattedrale has just been revived this month by the San-Diego-Opera. The Libretto is based on TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral.]

 

There are perhaps Two-Problems with Francesca: although the Libretto alludes to the Doomed-Love of Tristan-&-Isolde—as well as that of Lancelot-&-Guenevire—this Fable doesn’t rise to those Mythic-Levels.

 

Nor does the Score even-remotely suggest the Soaring-Majesty of Richard Wagner’s Liebestod.

 

Instead, in Climactic-Moments, it sounds rather thumpingly like a John Williams Film-Score

 

           

Giuseppe Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA  [★★★★]

 

From the Salzburg-Festival To Lincoln-Center: Travita Takes a Trip…

           

The fearlessly Post-Post-Modern Willy Dekker Staging of La Traviata made Anna Netrebko a Star when it premiered at the Salzburg-Festival some seasons ago.

 

At the Press-Party later, Anna graciously posed for photos for Your Roving Arts-Reporter. I told her I hoped I’d soon see her in that very production at the Met.

 

She pursed-up her mouth in a grimace: "You know they won’t ever do anything this modern!”

 

Well, in the event, the Met-Opera’s General-Manager Peter Gelb did import the Salzburg Traviata, ingeniously designed by Wolfgang Gussmann.

 

But Violetta Verdy is no longer a Starring-Role for Anna Netrebko, who has moved-on to Other-Starring-Roles at the Met.

 

In fact, when I was finally able to see it at the Met, the marvelous Diana Damrau was frenetically-interpreting Verdi’s Stand-In for Alexandre Dumas’ doomed Grand-Courtesan, Marguerite Gauthier.

 

Dekker’s Avant-Garde-Vision at Salzburg was to place All-the-Action—no matter what the Scenes dictated in the Libretto—in a Long-Blue-Room, with a Swooping-White-Bench around the Upper-Wall, punctuated by a Large-Clock-Face, ticking-off the Remaining-Hours-&-Minutes of Violetta’s Brief-Life.

 

At Salzburg, this Production-Vision was presented on the Wide, Wide, Wide-Stage of the Grosses-Festspielhaus, where it looked like Cinemascope-in-3D.

 

The Immense-Met-Stage, however has a very High-Proscenium-Opening, so Gussmann’s Set-Concept has shrunk on the sides, but expanded Upward. It now has the effect of a Huge-White-Parabola, set against Outer-Darkness above, where the Figure-of-Death silently observes Violetta.

 

Both Euros & Dollars were saved on the Costume-Budget: the Entire-Chorus—both Women & Men—are dressed in Tuxes, ready for Gambling, Singing, Sport, Dancing, & Riotous-Fun.

 

Unfortunately, at Flora’s-Party, this has the Effect of making the Hostess visually disappear

 

Instead of a Bucolic-Scene—when Alfredo & Violetta escape Paris for the Countryside—the Blue-Room is filled with Squarish-Sofas, covered with a wildly-colorful Floral-Pattern. This Floralia also appears up-above, greatly-enlarged, erasing the Black-Void.

 

My Belgian-Colleague—who had also seen the Salzburg-Premiere with me—said of Dekker’s Production-Concept: "Zu viel Deutung; zu wenig Gefühl…”

 

That Nailed-It! Too Much Meaning; Too Little Feeling

 

The excellent Alfredo of Saimir Pirgu may well be one of the few Tenors who look terrific in their Undershorts: Not in Paris, but out in the Country.

 

But the Outstanding-Performance of the evening was that of Placido Domingo, as the imperious Father-Germont. He easily dominated the stage & his Still-Stentorian-Voice was both Powerful & Subtle, by turns.

 

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted with a fervor that suited the Wild-Rompings on-stage.

 

 

Giuseppe Verdi’s OTELLO  [★★★★]

 

Willow, Willow, Willow: Desdemona Dies, But Iago Is Still Alive as the Met’s Gold-Curtain Drops.

           

As the Beautiful, Loving, Trusting, & Innocent Desdemona, Krassimira Stoyanova is heart-breaking, as Iago [Thomas Hampson] intrigues against her, to destroy Othello [José Cura] as well.

 

Unfortunately, the Villainous-Iago doesn’t get the Punishment he so richly-deserves, for Verdi must have decided that that would be a Distinct-Anti-Climax after the Deaths of the Principals: The Strangled-Desdemona & the Dagger-Suicided-Othello.

 

Rolex made possible the Revival of this Michael-Yeargan-Designed grandly-scaled Vision-of-Cyprus.

 

Considering that Cyprus was—at the Mythical-Time of Shakespeare’s Tragedy-of-Miscegenation, on which the Opera is based—a Dependency of Serenissima-Venice, it is astonishing how many Noble-Buildings from Various-Architectural-Periods dominate the Downtown-Landscape-Upstage: a Medieval Fortress next to what looks like a Bank-of-America, but is, instead, surely a Greek-Temple

 

Alain Altinoglu again conducted, following his Thursday-Night Faust, but Otello is clearly a quite different Challenge. The Met-Orchestra seemed admirable!

 

 

Vit Horejs’ KING EXECUTIONER  [★★★★]

           

Polish-Magical-Realist-Novel by Tadeusz Nowak Adapted for Czech-American-Marionettes…

           

What was it like, when the Nazis were in Poland & Polish-Jews were in-hiding, in-fear-of-their-Lives?

 

What was it like, for Simple-Village-Peasants, before the Nazis invaded Poland & occupied Everywhere?

 

Tadeusz Nowak’s 1968 NovelA Jak Krolem a Jak Katem Bedzies—has been charmingly-transformed into a Marionette-Epic by Vit Horejs for his Czech-American Marionette-Theatre.

 

This Distinctive-Ensemble performs in a Tradition long-known to the Socialist-Countries of Eastern-Europe: with the animated & involved Puppet-Handlers in-full-view of the Spectators, laughing, singing, crying, dying, & dancing with their Tiny-to-Giant-Marionettes.

 

To American-Audiences—brought-up on Star-Trek & James Bond—it can be an Historic-Tonic to be transported-backward into a Peasant-World that most of us cannot even imagine: Unless, of course, Fiddler on the Roof speaks to you…

 

Speaking of that, there’s also Live-Klezmeresque-Music to accompany the Life-Journey of Poor Peasant Piotr, who eventually—when he joins the Polish-Resistance against the Hated-German-Invaders—has to kill Two-Collaborators, who are Local-Men he’s known all his life…

 

World-War-II now seems a Long-Way-Off for those of us who lived through it, but for Younger-Audiences it can be Cautionary to discover How-Things-Were in Eastern-Europe at that time.

 

There are Three-Rear-Lit-Panorama-Monitors on which Scenes & Backgrounds of the Developing-Narrative appear. These are in a striking Black-&-White-Visual-Style, so impressive, in fact, that it would be Show-in-Itself to see All-Three-Panoramas unroll to Klezmer-Music!…

 

The Czech-American Marionette-Theatre‘s admirable production of The Golem is even much farther back-in-time than King Executioner, so the Past-Is-Not-Lost, even if we recover it with Tiny-Dolls-on-Rods-&-Strings.

 

The charm & detail with which the various Marionettes have been constructed & costumed is astonishing: Even if it takes Four-Puppeteers to animate the GiantOne of them for each Giant-Boot!

 

The Tale of a Peasant-boy who dreams of becoming King—only to become a Partisan-Executioner—is certainly an Interesting-Artistic-Artifact.

 

But there is an Historical-Follow-Up to the WWII-Era: Freed of Nazis, both Poland & Czechoslovakia were overrun by Russki-Soviets, creating Communist-Systems—subservient to the Soviets—all over

Eastern-Europe.

 

In Poland, this time there was Little-Resistance to this Politically-Disastrous Take-Over.

 

But the Plucky-Czechs didn’t capitulate entirely: if they didn’t dare shoot Russian-Soldiers or Resident-Commissars, they at least could use Czech-Culture to subvert the Totalitarian-Marxism which was forced on them.

 

Vaclav Havel used the Theatre to suggest the Fundamental-Ridiculousness of the Life that Czechs were required to lead, under the Banners of Lenin & Stalin.

 

Havel’s ingenious Satires baffled the Police-Censors, but Prague-Audiences understood his Social-&-Economic-Critiques quite clearly.

 

So, when the Warsaw-Pact & Communism were dismantled in the wake of 1989, Vaclav Havel was elected the First-Democratic-President of Czechoslovakia since the Nazi-Einmarsch prior to WWII.

 

How about Havel’s The Memorandum or The Increased Difficulty of Concentration as a Marionette-Drama?

 

           

Karlheinz Stockhausen’s OKTOPHONIE  [★★★★]

 

Choreographed-Sound Echoes Through the Trusses of the Park-Avenue-Armory Drill-Hall!

           

Entering the Park-Avenue-Armory’s Drill-Hall, Auditors—for there is almost Nothing-to-See—must remove their Shoes before donning the Compulsory-White-Robe, with a Hole in the Middle for Their-Necks.

 

Then they proceed to a Great-White-Circular-Platform in the Center of the Hall, where they effectively Sit-on-the-Floor, but with White-Backrests.

 

As the Throngs file inward, the effect is rather like the Grail-Knights in Parsifal, or a Gathering of the Klanwithout the Hoods.

 

At the Center of this Great-Circle is what appears to be a Cyber-Control-Center, from which Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Complexly-Notated-Electronic-Score is Monitored.

 

Overhead is an Octagon of Complex-Speakers, but there is almost No-Illumination, for Stockhausen preferred that this Quasi-Sonic-Electronic-Music be heard in Darkness.

 

What seems to be a Cantus-Firmus of a Low-Throbbing-Drone is shot-through with Crashes, Shrieks, Bangs, & other Sound-Shocks.

 

This makes the Scores of Philip Glass sound Positively-Polyphonic

 

Actually, Oktophonie is the Musical-Accompaniment for the Second-Act of Dienstag—or Tuesday—in Stockhausen’s Seven-Opera-Cycle, called Light.

 

What we are hearing, then, is the Epic-Battle between Two-Angels: Michael & Lucifer.

 

Even though Audiences do not really see much, the Visual-Artist is Rirkrit Tiravanika.

 

Kathinka Pasveer—a longtime Stockhausen-Collaborator & performer of works that he wrote especially for her—is the Sound-Projectionist at the Console of the Cyber-Controls.

 

Pasveer—who knows what Stockhausen wanted in performance—carries on his Legacy.

 

But, as Joseph Conrad might say: "Mistuh Stockhausen, he dead…”

 

 

 

Wright, Greene, & Anastasio’s HANDS ON HARDBODY  [★★★]

 

From Hoover’s Two-Cars-in-Every-Garage To Winning a Nissan-Pickup, with No Garage at all…

           

Talk about Product-Placement!

 

In the new Broadway-Musical, Hands on Hardbody, a Cherry-Red Nissan-Hardbody-Pickup sits Center-Stage.

 

It is virtually the Only-Prop of Major-Proportions onstage & provides most of the Scenery

 

The Object of the Endurance-Contest that is musically on-view—onstage at the Brooks-Atkinson-Theatre—is for Someone to keep his or her Gloved-Hands on this Hardbody until Everyone-Else drops-out—either from Fatigue or Discouragement.

 

The Winner then gets the Keys & can drive the Nissan-Hardbody home, even if there’s No-Garage there.

 

This Contest is taking-place in Longview, Texas, which—despite its Name, celebrating a Long-View of the Texas-Landscape—seems to be like Oakland, CA, in Gertrude Stein’s famous-phrase: There’s no There there.

 

The ostensible Social-Value of the Nissan is that it brings together a Raffish-Collection of Small-Town-Losers who would, otherwise, seldom or never meet.

 

The Entertainment-Value, on the other hand, is that we get to see them all Dancing & Singing around the Hardbody, while they tell us & Fellow-Contestants about their Often-Desperate & Sad Lives.

 

It was clear—from watching Varied-Samples of the Audience, when my Attention was not riveted to the Stage-Scene—that many empathized or even identified with the Group-Protagonists.

 

By now—after Two-Bush-Terms, Two-Disastrous-Wars, & the Corporate-Takeover-of-America—it has become obvious that the American-Dream has become a Nightmare. Even a Pile-of-Crap

 

This is what the Doug-White-Book suggests, but it may not be Something-to-Sing-About.

 

Nonetheless, such Talents as Keith Carradine, Connie Ray, Allison Case, Jay Armstrong Johnson, & Hunter FosterSutton Foster’s Brother!—put all their Energy & Belief into the Roles assigned to them.

 

It’s not easy to construct Choreography around a Hardbody—a Truck, that is, not Rita Cansino Hayworth—but Sergio Trujillo does his Best.

 

Neil Pepe, the Guru of the Atlantic-Theatre-Company, staged.

 

In the Old-Days, when there were still many Music-Stores, I might have bought the Sheet-Music, so I could learn to play the Hit-Songs from the Show.

 

But, somehow, Some Enchanted Evening is more My-Speed.

 

Hands on Hardbody seemed, to me, more like Rock of Ages in a Nissan-Dealership

 

Speaking of Product-Placement: During many Attention-Lulls in the production, I studied the Tires on the Nissan. Oddly enough, there was no Brand-Name visible.

 

Were they Bridgestones or Goodyears or Michelins?

 

An advantageous Advertising-Opportunity missed…

 

 

Lanford Wilson’s THE MOUND BUILDERS  [★★★★★]

 

"They Vanished Without-a-Trace”: If That Were Really True, How Do We Know They Ever Existed?

 

After Days, Weeks, & even Months of dusting-away the Dirt concealing the Interiors of the Mysterious-Mounds built along & near the amazing Confluence of the Wabash, Cumberland, Ohio, & the Mississippi-Rivers—finding mostly Small-Fragments of Old-Pots—imagine the excitement of the Excavation-Team in finally discovering the Golden-Death-Mask of a Great-God/Priest-King of the Mound-Builders

 

But the Morning-After, in Lanford Wilson’s Metaphor-Rich Mound Builders—now revived at the Signature-Theatre—all the Wonderful-Finds have been swept-away, Deliberately-Destroyed, with even the Actual-Site obliterated by a Bulldozer.

 

To discover why this happened & its Effects on the Family-Related-Team, you need to see the astonishing production—staged by Jo Bonney & designed by Neil Patel, Theresa Squire, & Rui Rita.

 

But this Fraught-Drama is not just about Digging-Up-the-Past: it is really more about the Betrayals that People who should-know-better inflict on those they should Love—or at least Respect.

 

The Entire-Ensemble—now interacting in the Romulus-Linney-Theatre at the Signature—is Outstanding, but Will Rogers is unforgettable as the wild & horny Chad Jasker, who owns the Land on which the Mounds were found & mistakenly expects to make a Fortune when the Site is covered-over by an Interstate & a Rising-Lake, which he thinks will become a Tourist-Trap.

 

Unfortunately for his Dreams-of-Riches, the Site has been declared Protected & the Interstate—still to be built—has been relocated

 

The Photographer-Wife of the Archeologist-in-Charge has been having a Brief-Fling with Jasker, but she has photographed all the Golden-Treasures the Night before the Site is destroyed.

 

But the Morning-After, she rips all the Film out of her Camera: So the Mound-Builders Vanish-without-a-Trace?

 

Well, not exactly: Not only are there Other-Mounds, but any Ancient-Culture that we still know something about—even if its Ancient-Cities have vanished—still survives in Memory & Tradition

 

Perhaps this Production might make Spectators wonder whether we will also Vanish-without-a-Trace?

 

 

More Millions Earned at Christie’s: Asian-Art-Week Sales Total $80.4-Million!

 

Asian-Art-Week was celebrated City-Wide—even down in Chinatown—with many Galleries putting their best Asian-Arts in their Show-Windows.

 

At Christie’s, Overall the Sales-Totals were Record-Breaking!

 

How about $2,811,750 for Gilt-Bronze 9th-Century Tibetan-Bodhisattva?

 

The Collection of Heidi & Helmut Neumann was sold for nearly $3-Million, with a "Rare & Important” Tibetan-Painting of the Buddha with the One-Hundred-Jataka-Tales being bid-up to sell for $1.2-Million.

 

Fine Chinese-Jade-Carvings from the Lizzardo-Collection—along with other works—brought-in nearly $4-Million!

 

Hildegard Schonfeld’s Collection of Chinese-Snuff-Bottles fetched $1.5-Million, even without any Snuff in them…

 

Among the Treasures of Japanese & Korean-Art, a massive 18th-Century-Korean White-Porcelain-Jar was purchased for $1.2-Million.

 

A World-Record was set for Huanghuali-Furniture, with the Auction-Sale of a very long & heavy Plank-Top-Pedestal-Table: it brought $9-Million.

 

It clearly must also have cost a few dollars or so, to move it in & out of the Christie’s-Showrooms in Rock-Center

 

But not all the Top-Prices were paid for Centuries-Old Ceramics, Furniture, Snuff-Bottles, & Tibetan-Bodhisattvas: Someone paid $1,859,750 for an Oil-Painting from 1964!

 

This was the rather charming & wispy Village en Fête, painted by Syed Hiader Raza, whose works will surely now command even Steeper-Prices.

 

 

Futures at Christie’s: Imperial-Russian-Fabergé & The Collection of the Duchess-of-Alba!

 

There are many Fabergé-Fakes out there in the Market now. Some are so well &  so richly-made that it’s difficult to be certain they are not the Real-Thing.

 

But, if you are bidding at Christie’s—in the 15-April-2013-Sale of Russian-Works-of-Art—you can be sure that they are indeed from Fabergé’s-Workshops.

 

Not all Fabergés are Imperial-Easter-Eggs, however.

 

How about Two Gum-Pots?

 

One is of Aventurine-Quartz, bought from Fabergé by the Dowager-Empress Maria-Federovna!

 

The other was formerly in the Malcolm-Forbes-Collection: it is a Gold-&-Bloodstone Gum-Pot!

 

Then there’s the Badge-&-Collar of the Order of St. Andrew-the-First-Called.

 

Unfortunately, the Original-Knighthood does not come with the Purchase of these two Imperial-Objects.

 

As for the Collection of the Duchess-of-Alba, this is not the Ducal-Lady who was painted by Goya.

 

No indeed! Instead, she is of the Era of Art-Deco & the Treasures to be auctioned were created by the "Legendary French Art-Deco-Designer, Armand Albert Rateau.”

 

The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow—devoted to Graphic-Arts-in-Books—will be dispersed in Four-Sales in 2013, beginning 9 April, with Books from Martin Shongauer to Marc Chagall.

 

 

Jacques Offenbach’s ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS  [not-rated]

           

When There Is No Air-Conditioning, You Are Very Close to Hell…Or Hades…or l’Enfers

           

At the Manhattan-School-of-Music, Opera-Director Dona D. Vaughn told the Audience for the Workshop-Production of Jacques Offenbach’s Comic-Opera, Orphée aux Enfers, that the MSM-Parents they might have seen Dancing-in-Lobby had just heard that their MSM-Student-Offspring decided to choose Med-School over a Dubious-Career as an Opera-Singer.

 

Not Everyone who sounds just great Singing-in-the-Shower is cut-out for a Major-Operatic-Career

 

In fact, the Employment-Possibilities for any Student-Singer or Student-Musician are diminishing daily.

 

Nonetheless, if you think you may have a chance to be the Next Lang-Lang or Tomorrow’s Maria Callas, it could be a Cultural-Crime & certainly a Personal-Wound not to try & train. If you don’t—even if you don’t succeed—you may all your life long regret that you didn’t make the Effort.

 

It was clear from the MSM-Workshop that—among a number of Attractive-Performers—there were only a few who should be encouraged to go forward with Serious-Operatic-Training.

 

Still, some of the Less-Than-Sutherlands & Thinner-Than-Pavarottis surely could make Careers in Cabaret & Musicals.

 

Some, for instance, are Obvious-Charmers, but without the Vocal-Potential for Wagner or Verdi.

 

Hello, Andrew Lloyd Weber!

 

The Senior-Student Orpheus was performed on a very narrow stage along one side of the Ades-Performance-Space.

 

This made the Group-Effort to reproduce the Can-Can seem a bit effortful

 

Somehow, they do it better in Paris.

 

Unfortunately, the Concrete-Walls are not Ideal for Operatic-Resonance & the apparent-lack of Air-Conditioning made for a Less-Than-Maximal-Experience.

 

 

Nora Ephron’s LUCKY GUY  [★★]

 

It’s Newsies Grown-Up—But without the Hit-Songs, or, The-Front-Page [Almost] All-Over-Again…

           

Stop-the-Presses!

 

Clive Barnes just got into a Cab to get over to the Post to file his Midnight-Review of Luigi Pirandello’s Right You Are, If You Think You Are!

 

Late-News-Flash! Walter Kerr fell asleep in an Aisle-Seat at On a Clear Day You Can See Forever!

 

Ah! The Romance of Culture-Journalism

 

But who would want to write a Play about Broadway-Critics? How about when Clive got fired by the New-York-Times for having too many Free-Lunches with Broadway-Producers?

 

No. That kind of stuff is only of interest to Insiders.

 

The same could be said of Hard-Drinking, Corruption-Exposing, Self-Promoting, Hard-Driving Irish-American-Tabloid-Newspaper-Columnists.

 

The Big-News is that what looks like a Nora Ephron Episodic-Screenplay-Treatment has made it possible for Tom Hanks to at last have his Long-Awaited Broadway-Debut!

 

He works very hard—impersonating the Late Mike McAlary, a New-York-Newsroom-Legend—as does the entire Large-Cast, directed by George C. Wolfe, who ran the Public-Theatre long, long ago.

 

This Production has already been lavishly-admired by Present & Former Reporters, Columnists, & Editors—especially those who actually-appear in the play, Lucky Guy—even as Broadsheets & Tabloids disappear.

 

Who now remembers the New-York-World? The New-York-Journal? The New-York-Telegram? The New-York-Tribune? The New-York-Herald? The New-York-Sun?

 

The New-York-World-Journal-Tribune?

 

I even wrote for that Last-Amalgam of Dying-Newsprint.

 

Not to mention being the New-York Theatre-&-Music-Stringer for the LA-Times

 

So, yes, I do know something about Pitching-Stories to Hard-Boiled-Editors, as well as the Hurly-Burly of the Copy-Desk, having also written for the New-York-Times, Newsday, & the New-York-Daily-News.

 

Writing for the Christian-Science-Monitor, however, was nothing like writing for a Manhattan-Tabloid.

 

So, even though Actual-Manhattan-News-Stories are showcased in Lucky GuyOut-of-Towners could be forgiven for not remembering who Abner Louima was. Let alone Walter Winchell

 

For that matter, Who the Hell was Jimmy Breslin, anyway?

 

           

Richard Greenberg’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S  []

 

If Truman Capote Were Still Alive, He’d Die a Slow-Slow-Death, Watching This Bankrupt-Breakfast!

           

Unfortunately, although bearing Truman Capote’s Original-Title, this Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s was really more like The-Last-Supper at Hamburger-Heaven, where some of the Drama’s Un-Actions are staged.

 

Richard Greenberg’s Lack-Luster-Adaptation has, of course, Nothing-To-Do with Audrey Hepburn, but Emilia Clarke—as Holly Golightly—lacks the Raffish-Charm & Outrageous-Behavior of Capote’s Original-Creation.

 

Nor is Cory Michael Smith—as "Fred”—a Believable-Stand-In for a Young-Truman. One longed for a bit more Tacky-Glamour: both in the Leads & Cast, as well as the Scenic-Décor.

 

The Entire-Production looked Grey, Washed-Out, Faded, Tired

 

Even the Pre-Play Front-Curtain-Projections of World-War-II Posters & Vintage-Photos were too vague to be enjoyed properly. Especially by those of us who had lived through the Second-World-War

 

 

Cyndi Lauper & Harvey Fierstein’s KINKY BOOTS  [★★★★★]

 

Wow! A Hit! A Palpable-Hit! Kick-Up Your Very-High-Heels with Kinky Boots!

           

Here’s the New-Broadway-Musical you’ve been waiting-for & how could you go-wrong with Sexy-Songs by Cyndi Lauper, a Tranny-Fable by Harvey Fierstein,  & Jerry Mitchell’s Dynamic-Direction & Supercharged-Choreography!

 

Hairspray-Harvey now has Two-Blockbuster-Musicals on Broadway: both Kinky Boots & Newsies!

 

The Book is based on a Movie that had the same name as the Musical, but you may not have seen it, as there were No-Vampires, Space-Aliens, or Zombies

 

See, there’s this Shoe-Factory up in the North-of-England—or wherever Northhampton actually is—but Dad has died & Son wants to Make-Something-of-Himself down in London.

 

But No-one wants to buy the Quality-Men’s-Shoes that the Factory has been turning-out, so it will have to be shuttered, as other Shoe-Factories have already been.

 

That means Loss-of-Jobs & possible Financial-Ruin for the Town, so Stark Sands, as Charlie Price—the London-Lusting-Son—seeks to save the Factory.

 

But he needs a New-Niche in Shoe-Manufactory!

 

Fortunately, he catches the Fabulous-Drag-Show of Lola [the Entirely-Fabulous Billy Porter]—with its Fabulous-Costumes & Fab-High-Kicking-Boots by the Fab Gregg Barnes—which leads to the New-Line at Price’s-Shoe-Factory: Kinky-Boots!

 

The Human-Sub-Text in this Fantastic All-Singing, All-Dancing, All-Energy Broadway Show-of-Shows is the fact that both Charlie & Lola—really the slight, mild-mannered Simon, who becomes Charlie’s Brilliant-Boot-Designer—never could please their Fathers.

 

Charlie didn’t want to be an Industrialized-Shoe-Maker—"Someday, Son, All This will be Yours!”—but Simon’s Problem was much, much Bigger: Simon was Different

 

They share a Song about this ProblemI’m not my Father’s Son—but it goes-on-too-long after it has already Made-Its-Point: You really want more Show-Stoppers, not Philosophical-Angst.

 

If this Tale of a Fabulous-Drag-Queen & Her Fantastic-Dragettes were set in the United-States, Simon could be described as not only Different, but also as African-American. But the Show is set in England, so Simon may be said to be Black or Colored.

 

Not only will you get to see Lola & Her-Girls dance-up-a-storm in a London-Club, but also you will get to see how a Shoe-Factory really works, not to mention how Lola & her Fabulous-Trannies strut the Runway in Milan!

 

Laurels to all the Designers, but especially David Rockwell on Sets; Gregg Barnes on Boots-&-Costumes; Kenneth Posner on Lighting; John Shivers on Sound, as well as Josh Marquette on Hair-Design, & Randy Houston Mercer who designed the Fabulous-Make-Up.

 

Kinky Boots looks like one of those Broadway-Musicals that will Run-Forever!

 

Bravo! Harvey, Cyndi, Jerry Mitchell, & Stephen Oremus!

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