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Glenn's Report For April 2013

4 May 2013

Report for The Month of April 2013

 

©GLENN LONEY 2013

 

 

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

 

Almost every April, I have to agree with TS Eliot, who once famously said—or wrote: April is the Cruelest-Month…

 

It began with the Annual-Hadj—not to Mecca, but to Louisville—for the Humana-Festival, noted below.

 

But it came to an Almost-Hectic-Close, with what amounted to not one, but two, Crunch-Weeks, in which Nominators for the Outer-Critics-Circle-Awards had to cancel everything-else in order to see the Plethora of New-Productions, both On & Off-Broadway, that now make the run-up to the Tonys seem more like Oscar-Frenzy in LA.

 

Seven-Days-a-Week, New-Shows Every-Night, Mondays included. With Matinées on Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays

 

Yes, it is a Treat to have Two-Seats-on-the-Aisle, but after a while, it all becomes a Blur.

 

Nonetheless, as Historian/Nominator/Board-Member of the OCC, I believe we have made some Intelligent-Choices, among many Deserving-Candidates

 

Although—as almost a Charter-Member of the Drama-Desk—I vote for the Drama-Desk-Awards, I do not have to be a Nominator, as I once was: Time-Consuming!

 

 

63rd-Annual-Awards: Outer-Critics-Circle Announce 2012-13-Season Nominees:

 

Pippin Heads the List with 11-Nominations! Followed by Kinky Boots with 9-Nominations + Chaplin: The Musical & Cinderella with 8-Nominations!

 

The First Broadway/Off-Broadway Award-Nominees of the Season!

 

Outer-Critics-Circle—the Organization of Writers & Commentators covering New-York-Theater for Out-of-Town-Newspapers, National-Publications & other Media beyond Broadway—announced today [22 April 2013] its Nominees for the 2012-13 Season in 24-Categories.

 

Broadway-Stars Robert Cuccioli [Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark] & Laila Robins [Dance of Death] presided over the [11am] Announcement-Ceremony at Manhattan’s Friars-Club.

 

Based on a recommendation by the OCC-Executive-Committee, a Special-Achievement-Award will be given to the Irish-Repertory-Theatre [Charlotte Moore, Artistic Director, & Ciarán O’Reilly, Producing-Director] in recognition of 25-Years of producing Outstanding-Theatre.

 

Celebrating its 63rd-Season of bestowing Awards-of-Excellence in the Theater, the Outer-Critics-Circle is an Association with Members affiliated with more than Ninety Newspapers, Magazines, Websites, Radio & Television-Stations, & Theatre-Publications in America & Abroad.

 

The Winners in the Categories listed below will be announced on Monday, 13 May, & the Annual-Awards-Ceremony will be held on Thursday, 23 May [4pm] at the legendary Sardi’s-Restaurant.

 

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY-PLAY:

 

Grace

Lucky Guy

The Nance

The Testament of Mary

Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

 

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY-MUSICAL:

 

Chaplin: The Musical

A Christmas Story

Hands on a Hardbody

Kinky Boots

Matilda the Musical

 

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY-PLAY:

 

Bad Jews

Cock

My Name is Asher Lev

Really Really

The Whale

 

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY-MUSICAL:

 

February House

Dogfight

Giant

Here Lies Love

Murder Ballad

 

OUTSTANDING BOOK OF A MUSICAL: [Broadway or Off-Broadway]

 

Cinderella

Chaplin: The Musical

Dogfight

Kinky Boots

Matilda:The Musical

 

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE: [Broadway or Off-Broadway]

 

Chaplin: The Musical

Dogfight

Hands on a Hardbody

Here Lies Love

Kinky Boots

 

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY: [Broadway or Off-Broadway]

 

Golden Boy

Orphans

The Piano Lesson

The Trip to Bountiful

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

 

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL: [Broadway or Off-Broadway]

 

Annie

Cinderella

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Passion

Pippin

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY:

 

Pam MacKinnon—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Nicholas Martin—Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

Jack O’Brien—The Nance

Bartlett Sher—Golden Boy

Michael Wilson—The Trip to Bountiful

 

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL:

 

Warren Carlyle—Chaplin: The Musical

Scott Ellis—The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Jerry Mitchell—Kinky Boots

Diane Paulus—Pippin

Alex Timbers—Here Lies Love

 

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER:

 

Warren Carlyle—Chaplin: The Musical

Peter Darling—Matilda: The Musical

Jerry Mitchell—Kinky Boots

Josh Rhodes—Cinderella

Chet Walker—Pippin

 

OUTSTANDING SET-DESIGN: [Play or Musical]

 

John Lee Beatty—The Nance

Rob Howell—Matilda:The Musical

David Korins—Here Lies Love

Scott Pask—Pippin

Michael Yeargan—Golden Boy

 

OUTSTANDING COSTUME-DESIGN: [Play or Musical]

 

Amy Clark & Martin Pakledinaz—Chaplin: The Musical

Gregg Barnes—Kinky Boots

Dominique Lemieux—Pippin

William Ivey Long—Cinderella

William Ivey Long—The Mystery of Edwin Drood

 

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING-DESIGN: [Play or Musical]

 

Ken Billington—Chaplin: The Musical

Paul Gallo—Dogfight

Donald Holder—Golden Boy

Kenneth Posner—Cinderella

Kenneth Posner—Pippin

 

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY:

 

Tom Hanks—Lucky Guy

Shuler Hensley—The Whale

Nathan Lane—The Nance

Tracy Letts—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

David Hyde Pierce—Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

 

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY:

 

Tracee Chimo—Bad Jews

Amy Morton—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Vanessa Redgrave—The Revisionist

Joely Richardson—Ivanov

Cicely Tyson—The Trip to Bountiful

 

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:

 

Bertie Carvel—Matilda: The Musical

Santino Fontana—Cinderella

Rob McClure—Chaplin: The Musical

Billy Porter—Kinky Boots

Matthew James Thomas—Pippin

 

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:

 

Lilla Crawford—Annie

Valisia LeKae—Motown: The Musical

Lindsay Mendez—Dogfight

Patina Miller—Pippin

Laura Osnes—Cinderella

 

OUTSTANDING FEATURED-ACTOR IN A PLAY:

 

Danny Burstein—Golden Boy

Richard Kind—The Big Knife

Jonny Orsini—The Nance

Tony Shalhoub—Golden Boy

Tom Sturridge—Orphans

 

OUTSTANDING FEATURED-ACTRESS IN A PLAY:

 

Cady Huffman—The Nance

Judith Ivey—The Heiress

Judith Light—The Assembled Parties

Kristine Nielsen—Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

Vanessa Williams—The Trip to Bountiful

 

OUTSTANDING FEATURED-ACTOR IN A MUSICAL:

 

Will Chase—The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Dan Lauria—A Christmas Story

Raymond Luke—Motown: The Musical

Terrence Mann—Pippin

Daniel Stewart Sherman—Kinky Boots

 

OUTSTANDING FEATURED-ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL:

 

Annaleigh Ashford—Kinky Boots

Victoria Clark—Cinderella

Charlotte d’Amboise—Pippin

Andrea Martin—Pippin

Keala Settle—Hands on a Hardbody

 

OUTSTANDING SOLO-PERFORMANCE:

 

Bette Midler—I’ll Eat You Last

Martin Moran—All the Rage

Fiona Shaw—The Testament of Mary

Holland Taylor—Ann

Michael Urie—Buyer & Cellar

 

JOHN GASSNER AWARD:

 

[Presented for a New-American-Play, preferably by a New-American-Playwright, but as Originally-Conceived, this was intended to Recognize & Encourage an Emerging-Young-Talent, not a Single-Play…]

 

Ayad Akhtar—Disgraced

Paul Downs Colaizzo—Really Really

Joshua Harmon—Bad Jews

Samuel D. Hunter—The Whale

Aaron Posner—My Name is Asher Lev

 

SPECIAL-ACHIEVEMENT-AWARD:

 

Irish-Repertory-Theatre: Charlotte Moore, Artistic-Director, & Ciarán O’Reilly, Producing-Director—in recognition of 25-Years of producing Outstanding-Theatre.

 

Nominations-Talley for 3 or More:

 

11—Pippin; 9—Kinky Boots;  8—Chaplin: The Musical, Cinderella; 6—Golden Boy, The Nance; 5—Dogfight, Matilda; The Musical; 4—Here Lies Love, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Trip to Bountiful, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; 3—Bad Jews, Hands on a Hardbody, The Whale.

 

NOTE: The Nominating-Committee attended all of this Season’s Broadway-Productions prior to the OCC-Awards cut-off-date. [The Other Place was considered & nominated last season, when it was produced Off-Broadway.]

 

2012-13 Outer-Critics-Circle Executive/Nominating-Committee:

 

Simon Saltzman [President]

Mario Fratti [Vice-President]

Patrick Hoffman [Corresponding-Secretary]

Stanley L. Cohen [Treasurer]

Glenn Loney [Historian & Member-at-Large]

Rosalind Friedman [Recording-Secretary]

Aubrey Reuben, Thomás Gentile, & Harry Haun [Members-at-Large]

 

 

PASSING-GLANCES AT SCENES-SEEN:

 

Previously, Your Roving Arts-Reporter has given the Humana-Festival its own Separate-Slot, but this time, it’s included in the April-Report because, well, I attended in Early-April!

 

 

THE 37th HUMANA-FESTIVAL: Showcasing New-Plays on Main-Street in Louisville…

 

Not only does the Actors-Theatre-Louisville produce a variety of New-American-Plays each Spring-Season, it also welcomes the American-Theatre-Critics-Association [ATCA] to present the Annual Harold & Mimi Steinberg/American-Theatre-Critics-Association New-Play-Award.

 

This Award is, of course, Memorialized by Plaque, but Jim Steinberg—in Memory of His Parents—writes a Check for $25,000. This is one of the most-munificent Playwriting-Prizes out there.

 

This Spring 2013, the Winner is Robert Schenkan, for his Lyndon-Johnson-Meditation, All the Way, dealing with LBJ’s No-Holds-Barred-Campaign to pass the 1964-Civil-Rights-Act.

 

But that’s not all of the Steinberg-New-Play-Encouragement: There are also Two [Runner-Up] Citations, with checks for $7,500 each!

 

One year, Arthur Miller was one of these Runners-Up, with a failed-drama called The Ride Down Mount-Morgan

 

This Year’s Citations were awarded to Johanna Adams, for Gidion’s-Knot, & to Lucas Hnath, for Death-Tax.

 

[He should, perhaps, have a Special-Citation for the Spelling of his Family-Name. That is not a Spelling-Error, no matter what your Microsoft-Spell-Check tells you…]

 

 

Theatre-Journalism & Drama-Criticism Re-Invent Themselves in the Digital-Age!

 

Just in case you didn’t Know-What-To-Think about the New-Plays at the Humana-Festival, the USC-Annenberg-School for Communication-&-Journalism provided Engine31.org, "the pop-up newsroom.”

 

This was touted as "New Journalism for the New Culture: Your go-to site for everything about HumanaFest plays.”

 

Among those Blogging about the Plays & their Actors-Theatre-Productions were: Suzi Steffen of OregonArtsWatch, Lou Harry of the IndianapolisBusinessJournal, Chris Klimek of WashingtonCityPaper, Douglas McClennan of Artsjournal.com, & Steven Leigh Morris of LA-Weekly.

 

Of course, anyone with a Cell-Phone or an iPad could register His or Her-Opinions Online, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, & the ActorsTheatreLouisville-Website.

 

With the Sudden-Deaths of some Newspapers & the Slower-Demise of some Famed-Magazine-TitlesNewsweek is Dead; No-one wants to buy TimeSchools-of-Journalism, especially Graduate-Schools-of-Journalism, are having rapidly to re-tool for Ether-Journalism.

 

Forget about Stop-the-Presses!

 

Forget about Copy-Desks!

 

Forget about Fact-Checkers!

 

Especially: Forget about Investigative-Journalism

 

As for Ethics-in-Journalism—or in Criticism—who is going to Monitor the Hordes-of-Blogs on the Internet?

 

 

THE PANEL: Charting-the-Course: New-Play-Directors in Conversation:

 

How can you have a Theatre-Festival without having a Panel?

 

Panels lend a Serious-Academic-Air to what otherwise might have been mistaken for just a bunch of Theatre-Loving-Hired-Hands trying to explain What-It Is-That-They-Do.

 

Among the Panel-Participants were Les Waters—the Award-Winning Artistic-Director of ActorsTheatreLouisville & Owner of a Fabulous-Left-Forearm-Tattoo [Maori ?]; Tom Dugdale—of the fabled La-Jolla-Playhouse, as well as a Guest-Lecturer in Graduate-Directing at the University-of-California at San-Diego; Amy Attaway; Meredith McDonough; Lila Neugebauer, & [as Moderator] Kwame Kwei-ArmahArtistic-Director of Baltimore’s CENTER-STAGE & Chancellor of The-University-of-the-Arts-London!

 

A Question: How is Graduate-Directing different from Undergraduate-Directing?

 

For those who could not be Present-for-the-Panel, it was Digitally-Recorded by a Large-Electronic-Device up in the Seating-Area, while the Panel-Participants—down in the Playing-Area of the Bingham-Theatre—played Musical-Chairs, to make sure that everyone would get some Face-Time

 

 

A Big Kentucky-Welcome To the Humana-Festival: Greetings!

Artists, Agents, Authors, Directors, Producers, Fund-Raisers, Play-Reviewers, & Drama-Critics!

 

Every Humana-Festival begins with a Thursday-Evening Get-Together at one of the Palatial-Mansions of Louisville, with an Open, Friendly Generosity that defines Hospitality & Good-Living in the Bluegrass-State.

 

On Mockingbird-Lane, we were YUMily-Welcomed with a Bountiful-Buffet. But no Col. Harlan Sanders Original-Recipe Chicken-Wings, alas.

 

Everyone on the ActorsTheatre-Staff—from the Top down—seemed eager to Aid, Inform, Facilitate, & Amuse.

 

Although there had been a Saturday-Get-Acquainted-Breakfast in recent years, this Spring there was Breakfast available the Entire-Weekend.

 

Oddly enough, the Breakfast-Buffet was down in the Basement, but the Donated-Coffee was Upstairs in the Ornate-Sarah-Schellenberger-Lobby.

 

With No-Elevators for the Handicapped, this was a bit Tricky: Combining Coffee with Cheese-Grits

 

As a Tribute to Welsh-Poet/Playwright Dylan Thomas, the Temp-Restaurant was named Milkwood. Not Silkwood

 

Shades of Under Milkwood!

 

But nothing like Manhattan’s White-Horse-Tavern, where Dylan liked to tipple a bit.

 

Why couldn’t they also have Biscuits-&-Gravy, if they can manage Grits?

 

 

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ APPROPRIATE  [★★★]

 

Oh! Look! I Just Found Grandpa’s Old Ku-Klux-Klan Hood!

           

Quite aside from the Sensations produced when Three-Siblings meet to divvy-up their Ancient-Sire’s Possessions, the Scampering-Antics of the Stage-Crew—rapidly Un-Dressing the elaborate Plantation-Manor-House setting of Antje Ellermann—were a Show-in-Itself!

 

Naturally, the One-Who-Stayed to look after the Dying-Father believes she has More-Rights than her two Brothers: One, Feckless; the Other, Up-Tight.

 

The Lafayette-Inheritance includes the rotting Arkansas-Mansion & its Dusty-Drapes.

 

But there’s also a disturbing Scrapbook: It is crammed with Picture-Postcards of Negro-Lynchings.

 

Yes, Indeed!

 

In the Good-Old-Days, the Good-Old-Boys used to photograph these Extra-Legal-Events, selling the Ghastly-Black-&-White-Images on Regulation-Size Post-Cards that you could send through the US-Mail to let Relatives & Friends know what you were up-to way-down in the Unreconstructed-Southland.

 

Some of the Characterizations & Motives in the Appropriate Script need some fine-tuning, but this rather Inappropriate-Family-Reunion should prove to be a Winner in Regional-Theatre.

 

 

Mallery Avidon’s O GURU GURU GURU, or why I don’t want to go to Yoga-Class with you  [★★★]

           

Does Julia Roberts Know That She’s Been Seen Onstage at the Humana-Festival?

           

Julia Roberts doesn’t actually Levitate in Guru Guru Guru &&&&&, but she is featured, Lotus-Position & all that…

 

This is an Hilarious-Spoof of the Varied-Brands of Yoga now on-offer for those who feel that the Asian-Way is better than Western-Medicine.

 

It’s all about the Pelvis!

 

On entering, Audience-Members are encouraged to Check-Their-Coats, depositing them on Hangers on the Rolling-Racks Center-Stage. These are wheeled-off when The-Lecture begins.

 

Unfortunately for the Projected-Slide-Show, no Photos of Famous-Gurus can be shown, owing to Copyright-Protections. So we are looking at a Blank-Screen

 

Not-to-Worry: Soon, some Intrepid-Spectators will take off their Shoes—not for Airport-Security, but for greater Yoga-Comfort, as they explore Pelvic-Power. They kneel on attractive Silken-Pillows.

 

There is also an instructive Shadow-Puppet-Play that explains how Parvati saved her child by replacing his own Severed-Head with that of an Elephant, making him into Ganesh, the Hindu-Equivalent of the Roman-Catholic St. Jude.

 

This is such a Fun-Show that it surely must come to Manhattan, Pelvis & all…

 

 

Jeff Augustin’s CRY OLD KINGDOM  [★★]

 

Papa-Doc Is Now Long-Gone, But Ghastly-Memories Linger-On…

 

Perhaps the On-going-Horrors of Haitiennes still trying to survive that Devastating-Hurricane are worse than what they experienced under the Ton-Ton-Macoutes & Papa-Doc Duvalier’s Disastrous-Dictatorship.

 

Then, again, perhaps Not!

 

Edwin—now a Walking-Ghost, but once a successful Haitian-Artist—discovers a young man on the shore, making a Boat that surely won’t float, to escape to America.

 

This Vision re-animates Edwin as an Artist. But, when his wife gets caught in an Anti-Duvalier-Protest, he saves her by betraying the young man…

 

Too bad Edwin didn’t live next-door, in the Dominican-Republic. Oscar de la Renta—who has a fabulous Estate there—could have collected his Paintings

 

 

Sam Marks’ THE DELLING SHORE  []

 

You Slept on My Couch & Stole My Ideas, So Now I Want a Blurb for My Book!

           

Now that the Era of the Printed-Book is coming to a Digital-End, Authorial-Problems like those exposed in The Delling Shore will soon be a Thing-of-the-Past.

 

The Summary of the Play offered by ActorsTheatre suggests that Words-Become-Weapons in this Duel between Authors, One Successful; the Other, Not

 

Frankly, I didn’t believe in the Character of Frank Bay, the Desperate-Failure, nor in the Premise of this Play.

 

Publish On-Line, Frank. Forget about the Blurbs. It’s the Blogs that count now!

 

Get Your Face on Facebook! Dump your Old-Manuscripts on Amazon.com.

 

 

Will Eno’s GNIT  [Minus-Stars]

 

No Song-of-Norway Nor Ibsen’s Words Set To Edvard Grieg’s Peer-Gynt-Suite

           

In the Bio, it says that Will Eno has never been to Norway.

 

Nor will he soon be summoned there by the Norwegian Ministry-of-Culture

           

Eno, enough!

 

Write Your-Own-Play: Don’t waste your time on Reductions of Modern-Classics.

 

Gnit isn’t even an effective-example of Frenchified-Jacques-Derrida-Deconstruction-of-Texts.

 

Nonetheless, Antje Ellermann’s Cartoonish-Cutout-Fir-Trees were charming.

 

 

Rinnie Grof, Lucas Hnath, & Anne Washburne’s SLEEP ROCK THY BRAIN  [★★★]

 

I Dreamt I Dwelt—Not in Marble-Halls—But in The Lincoln Performing-Arts-School!

           

Although there are seemingly Endless-Blocks of Old & New-Buildings with Retail-Space Available-for-Lease on Louisville’s Main-Street, one Bright-Spot in all this Urban-Discouragement is the Brand-Shining-New Lincoln-Elementary-Performing-Arts-School—with its Relentlessly-Industrial-Design-Concept.

 

The School’s Slogan is: Where the Arts Start

 

That’s Very-Brave: to create another School-of-The-Performing-Arts in a time of Digital-Revolution—when the Theatre-of-the Future may very well be visible on your Wrist-Watch, performed by Robots programmed in Bangladesh.

 

But Lincoln is not another High-School-of-The-Performing-Arts

 

No, Indeed Not!

 

It is an Elementary-School, a Magnet for Kids in Kindergarten up to Fifth-Grade!

 

Are these Kids in-training to replace the Broadway-Kids in Annie, Matilda, & even Newsies?

 

Nonetheless, it was instructive to discover how the Industrial-Strength-Machines & Electronics of the Lincoln’s Black-Box could be put to the Uses of Plays about Sleep & Brain-Functions!

 

As Americans—as well as Other-Kinds-of-People—spend as much as One-Third-of-Their-Lives in Sleep, it is certainly a Challenge to Imaginative-Playwrights to devise Scenarios for Mapping-Sleep, Removing-Sleep-Dysfunctions, Studying What Goes-On in Sleeping-Brains, & even Sending-Astronauts-Aloft in a Dreamscape.

 

These Three-Dream-Plays deftly interlocked, with the Overhead-Tracks permitting some Cirque-du-Soleil Gyrations that should give the Actors-Theatre-Acting-Apprentice-Company—who animated these Scenarios—a chance to Audition for the Cirque-School up in Montreal. Or is it in Québec

 

This Sleep-Safari is Multi-Disciplinary, also involving the University-of-Louisville School-of-Medicine & ZFX-Flying-Effects, among others.

 

Not only was there the Actual-Show, but there was also a Panel: Sleep & Dreaming: From Neuroscience to Psychoanalysis.

 

Not to Overlook the Sleep-Rock-Thy-Brain Art-Contest, inspired by Francisco Goya y Lucientes’ The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters…

 

Nor to Forget the Dedicated-Websitewww.SleepRockThyBrain.com—where you can share your Stories about Sleep & Dreaming!

 

 

THE FAMOUS HUMANA TEN-MINUTE-PLAYS:

 

When John Jory was in charge of Actors-Theatre-Louisville, the Humana-Fest always included Telephone-Plays, which could be overheard on the Mezzanine on some of those Old-Fashioned Bell-System Pay-Phones.

 

Now Long-Gone

 

But the fabled Ten-Minute-Plays remain on the Program.

 

Once-Upon-a-Time, they really did seem to last only Ten-Minutes.

 

But Not-Now!

 

Some seem Interminable—but that may just be a Matter-of-Perception.

 

There are at least Two-Ways to pronounce Minute: Min-Ut & My-Newt—as in Very-Small.

 

The Best-Ever Ten-Minuter at the Humana was surely that one about the Pillsbury-Doughboy.

 

 

Sarah Ruhl’s TWO CONVERSATIONS OVERHEARD ON AIRPLANES  [★★]

 

Thank-God, They Didn’t Have In-Flight-Meals on Their-Trays When They Crashed!

           

This Four-Hander was a disappointment, being the Handiwork of such a Talented-Playwright. No hints of the Ingenuity shown in her Vibrator-Play

 

 

Emily Schwend’s HALFWAY  [★★]

 

Pecan-Squares? Is That All You Know How To Cook? What Kind-of-Person Are You, Anyway?

           

You cannot really repair the Damage done long ago. Not even with Food-Offerings in a Halfway-House.

 

 

Jonathan Josephson’s 27 WAYS I DIDN’T SAY "HI” TO LAURENCE FISHBURNE  [★★★★]

 

Let Me Count-the-Ways You Could Say "Hello” to Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman?

           

This was Hilarious, offering a number of Comic-Walk-Ons, as Josephson’s Alter-Egos parade across the stage, before an Astonished-Stand-In for Laurence Fishburne!

 

 

Re-Fighting the Civil-War at the Met-Museum: But in Vintage-Photos, Not with Pot-Shots…

 

Actually—although you can follow the Progress of what Southerners still prefer to call The-War-Between-the-States—The Met-Museum’s Civil-War Image-Blockbuster is also very much about the Development of American-Photography during the Four-Year-War.

 

But, even today, some Americans regret that Matthew Brady & others took no Actual-Battle-Photos.

 

Given the fairly Primitive-Circumstances required for developing Metal or Glass-Plates in a Photography-Studio, consider how difficult it would have been to Halt the Battle-of-Gettysburg so that Brady could pose the Blue-&-Gray-Combatants.

 

"General Grant! Are you ready for your Close-Up?”

 

Speaking of that very Battle, the Met-Show coincides with the Battle’s Sesquicentennial, dated from 1-3 July 1863.

 

Open until 2 September 2013, Photography & the American Civil-War presents not only Battlefield-Slaughter-Shots: Platoons of Dead-Bodies, but also Portraits of the Leaders: Abe Lincoln, Jeb Stuart, as well as smaller Daguerreotypes & Tintypes of Great-Generals & Common-Soldiers.

 

There are more than 200-Photographic-Images on-view, some made by Unknowns, but many from Matthew-Brady’s-Studio, which employed other Photographers as well.

 

Thirty-Six Striking-Photos are Prints from Negatives housed at the Library-of-Congress.

 

Here’s General William Tecumseh Sherman on Horseback at Federal Fort No. 7, Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Next-in-Sequence is Sherman’s Men Destroying Railroad, Atlanta, Georgia.

 

But Not-in-Color, like David O. Selznick’s Film, Gone-with-the-Wind

 

The Grim-Hanging of Mrs. Surratt & the Other-Assassination-Accomplices are documented in several sets of images.

 

If you find a Photo of the Corpse of John Wilkes Booth anywhere in this show, it must be a Fake someone stuck-in for a Joke.

 

Booth was supposedly Burned-to-Death in that Barn he was hiding-in

 

Nonetheless: Thinking about Six-Degrees-of-Separation, I—once in Childhood, at a Side-Show—actually saw the Dried, Shrunken Mummy of Booth’s Body, with the Rope-Marks of a Later-Hanging on his Neck!

 

For that matter, My Great-Aunt-Euphemia was able to recall for me her Witnessing Lincoln’s Funeral-Train on its way to Springfield!

 

They sold Picture-Postcards of the Black-Draped-Train: Another-Advance in American-Photography!

 

I also have a Vestige of Mrs. Jefferson Davis: Her Signed-Calling-Card, from her Later-Days in New-York-Society, after that Disastrous-War.

 

 

Islamic-Art: Making the Invisible Visible

Complete with Airport-Security-Style Bag-Checks at the Met’s Front-Door: No Jihadists Welcome!

 

The compact new show in the Met-Museum’s Islamic-Galleries is not an instance of: Now You See It; Now, You Don’t.

 

No.

 

If it were not for the Met’s Skilled-Conservation-Experts, many Design-Details that Faded-from-Sight Decades or Centuries ago would not now be able to yield up Their-Secrets, including the Materials that were used to create them.

 

We see only Visible-Light, but the Met can use Ultra-Violet & Infrared-Radiation, as well as X-Rays!

 

The new show not only offers Examples of Art-Restored, but also explains how Methods have been developed to Preserve-Priceless-Carpets or Mend-Fractured- Ceramics.

 

But what do you do when an Ancient-Manuscript—illustrated with a Copper-Based-Pigment—begins to be eaten-through by the Toxic-Oxide?

 

In an Advanced-State-of-Deterioration, some Handsome-Historic-Calligraphy, over time, will begin to look like Stencil-Patterns for Writing that is No-Longer-There.

 

What Visitors do not get to see in this Exhibition—aside from some instructive Photos & Videos—are the Many-Conservation-Mechanisms in the Met’s Lower-Regions, where Ancient-Carpets can have Lost-Sections recreated or re-woven.

 

Many years ago, it was Your Roving Arts-Reporter’s Good-Fortune to have the Grand-Tour of the Met’s Netherworld, guided by the brilliant Stuart Silver, the Mastermind-Designer for many of the Met’s Galleries, Cases, & Exhibition-Strategies.

 

Watching the Missing-Colored-Silk-Threads of a badly-frayed Prayer-Rug being delicately replaced—interwoven with Faded-Silk-Threads that wouldn’t clash with the Old-Threads—was Instructive. It takes a Good-Eye, a Steady-Needle, & a Lot-of-Time!

 

 

AT THE BARD GRAD-CENTER:

 

SALVAGING THE PAST: Georges Hoentschel & French-Decorative-Arts from the Met-Museum…

 

The Vaults of the Metropolitan-Museum-of-Art are crammed with Treasures that the Ordinary-Public will never ever see.

 

Researchers, Artists, Interns, & Scholars, perhaps…

 

The tremendous Paris-Hoard of Bits-&-Pieces of French-Decorative-Arts—as displayed by Georges Hoentschel, in 1906, Floor-to-Ceiling in a Vast-Salon—was never going to get such a Display when JP Morgan bought the Lot.

 

Morgan certainly didn’t have space in his already Over-Decorated-Library. So he gave it to the Met, which had to build an Entire-New-Wing, designed by McKim, Mead & White.

 

There were, after all, more than 3,000 Objects—including Medieval & 18th-Century Furniture, Paintings, Sculpture, Tapestries, & Ceramics—in the Hoentschel-Collection.

 

Hoentschel was not only a Leading-Gallerist, but also a Major-Collector of French-Decoration.

 

Eventually, Tastes changed, so the Wing-of-Decorative-Arts now houses Arms-&-Armor.

 

So Met-Curators put Hoentschel‘s Hoard away for Safekeeping or something like that…

 

Morgan kept a few small Bronzes for himself, now also loaned to the Bard-Exhibition.

 

One of the most striking Metal-Figures may look like an Old-Friend to many New-Yorkers: It is on loan from the FrickJean Barbet’s Angel.

 

Even showing only some 200 Objects—reduced from the Original-Three-Thousand—the Bard’s Chambers seem stuffed with Golden-Beauty

 

 

CONFLUENCES: An American-Expedition to Northern-Burma, 1935…

 

Like Byzantine-Constantinople, It’s not British-Burma anymore.

 

Nonetheless, no one had any idea of a Land called Myanmar, way back in 1935, when the Vernay-Hopwood-Chindwin-Expedition set off under the Auspices of the American-Museum-of-Natural-History.

 

If you want to see a Yak-Saddle or a Naga-Basketry-Helmet, this is your show. Also visually-enriching are the Vintage-Photos & Film-Footages. How about Bird-Skins?

 

Interesting that both new Bard-Shows are from Major-Institutions on opposite-sides of Central-Park!

 

 

At the Leslie-&-Lohman Museum: Paul Thek & His Circle in the 1950s…

 

They were Golden-Boys & also Artists & Gay: Paul Thek, Peter Harvey, Wilbur Pippin, Joe Raffael, & Peter Hujar.

 

In the interesting Window-into-the-Past that Artist/Designer Peter Harvey has co-curated down on Wooster-Street, it is instructive to see how Relatively-Carefree they all seemed, after the Depression-Era & Second-World-War Repressions.

 

There are a number of Vintage-Artworks & even more Photos—some of which suggest that Paul Thek was a bit Self-Absorbed.

 

Thek became famous—even perhaps Infamous—for his Meat-Pieces, Handmade-Slabs of realistic-looking Flesh, encased in Plastic

 

But here’s a Photo of The-Golden-Boys, all in Terry-Towels, embracing Tennessee Williams, who looks like he’s just been in the Steam-Room with the Boys-in-the-Band

 

That was a Gay-Play that Peter Harvey designed!

 

 

At the Met-Museum: Diego Velázquez’ Portrait of Duke Francesco I d’Este…

 

The Estense-Dynasty moved from Ferrara to Modena, but their Reign was imperiled in the Thirty-Years-War, when France & Spain were contesting Influence on the Italian-Boot—which was Centuries-Away from becoming Italy.

 

So, to solidify an Alliance with Spain, Duke Francesco I traveled to Madrid, where King Philip IV not only hosted him in the Buen-Retiro-Palace, but also made him Viceroy-of-Catalonia, Admiral-of-the-Fleet, & Member of the Council-of-State.

 

Soon after, Duke Frank was invested with the Order-of-the-Golden-Fleece!

 

Were those not Honours-Enough, King Philip commissioned his Court-Painter, Diego Velázquez, to paint his Portrait, which is now on-view at the Met-Museum.

 

It is certainly a Handsome-Likeness, in its Ornate-Golden-Frame.

 

But it’s Not-Very-Big

 

The Reason this Estense-Duke has a Room-of-His-Own at the Met is that a Devastating-Earthquake in 2012 destroyed Churches, Museums, Famous-Buildings, & Art-Collections in Modena, Mantua, other fabled cities in the Po-Valley.

 

Modena wants to make us aware of its History & Treasures & would certainly like some Tourism & Financial-Assistance in Rebuilding

 

 

At MoMA: CLAES OLDENBURG—Seminal-Works: The Street, The Store, & the Mouse-Museum!

 

Looking down two-floor-levels into MoMA’s cavernous Atrium, you can see the Black-Outlines of the Head of Mickey-Mouse.

 

When you arrive at this Construction, you will find it crammed with all the Stuff that Claes had collected over-time, including some Cute-Pieces he made himself.

 

Upstairs, on the Sixth-Floor, a Major-Gallery is stuffed with Vintage-Oldenburgiana: the Seven-Foot-Diameter Floor-Burger & the Eleven-Foot-Long Floor-Cone, among other Astonishments!

 

 

At the Galerie-St.-Etienne: FACE-TIME: Self & Identity in Expressionist-Portraiture…

 

Even famed German & Austrian Expressionist-Painters needed Portrait-Commissions from the Wealthy & Powerful—who might be taking-their-chances if they hoped for a Photographic-Likeness.

 

But such Talents as Egon Schiel, Oskar Kokoshka, Käthe Kollwitz, Gustav Klimt, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, & certainly George Grosz were increasingly-interested in drawing & painting Ordinary-People.

 

Not only is this show Visually-Striking, it is also accompanied by Jane Kallir’s fascinating Verbal-Exploration of Expressionist-Portraiture.

 

Gallerist Kallir doesn’t actually talk to you, but her printed Essay is masterful. Look for it Online: www.gseart.com.

 

 

Sam Maloof at Bonham’s: Iconic-Rocking-Chair Sells for $43,750!

 

In the recent Los Angeles Bonham’s-Auction of 20th-Century Decorative-Arts, my dear & late Friend, Woodworking-Artist Sam Maloof was featured with several Important-Pieces.

 

Sam’s Walnut-&-Ebony Rocking-Chair—which sold for almost $44,000—was made as late in time as 2000.

 

So what must my Sam Maloof Rocking-Chair now be worth?

 

Sam made it for me way back in 1972, burning his name & mine into the Under-Rail of the Chair.

 

At that time, a Maloof Rocking-Chair cost $250. The Music-Stand that Sam made for me was a bit more: $750

 

Also in the Bonham’s LA-Sale, Harry Bertoia’s Giant Dandelion was the Leader, being bought for $47,500.

 

The Sales-Total was $1.5-Million, hardly what Christie’s-Auctions often achieve, but Bonham’s is an Auction-House worth watching—which Your Roving Arts-Reporter does every week, stopping-by its Handsome-Quarters in what used to be the IBM-Gallery on Madison-Avenue.

 

In fact, Bonham’s in London has just sent me the beautiful Catalogue for its 17-April-Auction in Knightsbridge of Decorative-Arts from 1860.

 

This is a Keeper!

 

If you would like to own such Catalogues, contact bonhams.com. It’s that simple…

 

 

Meanwhile, Over at Christie’s in Rock-Center: the delighted eye Sets Man-Ray-Record!

 

US-Born but Paris-Acclimated Man Ray’s Untitled Rayograph sold for $1,203,750, a Record, in a Christie’s-Sale that earned $7,654,125 for the entire the delighted eye Collection.

 

Under a Million, but still Up-There were Vintage-Photos by Paul Strand, Laslo Moholy-Nagy, & Edward Weston.

 

Robert Frank’s Trolley—New Orleans won $663,750 in a separate sale simply titled Photographs.

 

Important-Photos by Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, Peter Beard, & William Eggleston also did well.

 

As for Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow’s magnificent collection of Rare-Books, Engravings, & Prints, the Total was almost $16-Million!

 

Francisco Goya y Lucientes’ 33-Prints of Tauromachia was bought for nearly $2-Million. Followed by $843,750 for Goya’s Los Caprichios

 

Other Artists included in the sale were such Varied-Talents as Hans Holbein, Otto Dix, & Piranesi.

 

 

The Show-of-Shows over at the Park-Avenue-Armory: The Annual NY Antiquarian-Book-Fair.

 

Anyone who loved The Catcher in the Rye or The Grapes of Wrath so much that he or she read & re-read these Instant-Classics so much that their Dust-Jackets were finally In-Tatters might now regret that.

 

Top-Prices for Steinbeck, Salinger, & Scott Fitzgerald at the New York Antiquarian-Book-Fair!

 

Every Year, in fact…

 

But, if you do happen to have a Mint-Copy of the Nürnberg-Welt-Chronik—printed in 1493—you won’t have to worry about New-Shoes for the Kids.

 

Even a Pristine-Sheet from the Gutenberg-Bible is not just another Old-Piece-of-Paper.

 

As Facebook, Twitter, & other Online-Substitutes for Reading & Writing take-over, handsomely-designed, printed, & Bound-Books will be ever more rare & valuable.

 

Even if one could not afford some of the Rare-Tomes—or even a battered Catcher-in-the-Rye—at the Book-Fair, many of the Dealers were generously offering their Handsome-Catalogues free to Visitors to their Booths.

 

Here are some of the Leading-Dealers, with some of their Treasures that were On-Sale—with the Caveat that most of these Titles are probably still available by Post or On-Line:

 

The hand-sized Dealer-Guidebook for this, the 53rd-Annual, has room for few Ads, but it falls open easily at the Center-Fold to disclose Facing-Ads for Walt Whitman’s Own-Copy of Leaves of Grass, the 1855 First-Edition, & Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Autograph-Preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

 

These Rarities were available from Estate-of-Mind, at Booth-A12

 

There were more than 200-Dealer-Booths stuffed into the Park-Avenue-Armory.

 

Not only were Rare-Book, Print, & Autograph Dealers on hand from all over America, but there were also some Leading-British-Book-Sellers, as well as Rarity-Experts from France, Italy, Germany, & The Netherlands.

 

I couldn’t afford even a Second-Edition of Leaves-of-Grass, but, years ago—when there still was a Fourth-Avenue, with Second-Hand-Bookstores on its Lower-End—I did find a rather Negative-Review of the First-Edition in a tattered old Boston-Newspaper.

 

Rather than merely list some of the Major-Dealers—all of whom surely by now have their own Websites—I’d like to mention some of the Handsome-Catalogues given me by some Notable-Dealers, who surely have additional copies of these, if you’d like to come close to Owning-a-Rare-Book, even if only by Picture-Proxy.

 

Just down the street from me, on Madison-Avenue, Ursus-Rare-Books has a Shop-full-of-Treasures.

 

If you aren’t a New-Yorker, you might want to get copies of Ursus-Catalogues 305 & 311. Both of these are so handsomely-illustrated—in Full-Color—complete with Detailed-Descriptions of each Rarity, that they are valuable-additions to any Bookshelf.

 

How about Pierre Aveline’s Views of Versailles, Marly, et al, with over 50 Full-Page-Horizontal-Engraved-Views, Hand-Colored & heightened with Gold?

 

Only $45,000

 

Maggs Bros, of Berkeley-Square, had a large-scale Counterculture-Catalogue [No. 1462], featuring The Gay Traitor, Tom-of-Finland, & The Spanish Civil-War, among other Cultural-Alternatives.

 

From Santa Monica, came Eric Chaim Kline Bookseller, with Flavius Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, published in Basel, in 1589.

 

Josephus—who was a Jew who became a Roman-General—is one of the few known Published-Authors who was actually alive at the time of the Jewish-Rebellion.

 

This will cost you only $4,000.

 

[My own richly-bound Josephus is in two-volumes & has full-page-woodcuts, including the Second-Temple in Jerusalem—destroyed when the Romans put-down the Rebellion.]

 

From Paris, came J-F Fourcade, whose fascinating catalogue of Autographes-et-Manuscrits features colorful illustrations & facsimiles of Autograph-Letters of the Great & Famous, including Jean Cocteau & Sacher-Masoch.

 

From Oxford, came the Bookmen from Blackwell’s Rare Books. Both the catalogues for Sciences & Antiquarian-&-Modern—though small-format—are rich troves of Book-Info.

 

From the Lowlands, came the Dutch from Asher-Rare-Books, with monthly-catalogues. That for April 2013 lists Jose de Acosta’s 1605 Survey-of-America, with 20 full-page engraved Maps, for $62,000

 

From McMinnville, Oregon, came the folks from Phillip J. Pirages, whose Catalogue 63 is lavishly-illustrated & heavy as the Weighty-Information inside.

 

From Beverly Hills, CA, came Heritage-Books with—among other Titles—a First-Edition of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, one of only a Thousand-Copies printed…

 

Other Keeper-Catalogues—all richly-illustrated & crammed with informative-texts—include those of Librairie-Benoît-Forgeot in Paris, with Fêtes & Entrées; Ian Brabner, Bookseller, with Catalogue 9: Printed & Manuscript Americana; Clive A. Burden, of Hertfordshire, with Rare-Cartography; Raptis-Rare-Books, of Brattleboro, VT, & Baltimore’s own Kelmscott-Bookshop-Rare-Books, featuring some actual Kelmscott-Press imprints, among them William Morris’ Chants for Socialists: The Day Is Coming

 

 

Bill Irwin & David Shiner’s OLD HATS  [★★★★★]

 

Vaudeville Lives Again! Old-Hat-Tricks & Women-Sawed-in-Half!

           

Actually, the Woman-in-Question seemed to have been Not-Sawed, but Sliced, but Not-Exactly-in-Half

 

Two-Thirds-of-the-Way down the Long-Red-Box into which the cheerful Audience-Volunteer had been enclosed, a Sheet-of-Steel with a Razor-Blade-Sharp-Edge was pressed firmly downward.

 

In the Final-Third of the Red-Box, the Audience could see the Two-Pink-Soxed-Feet of the Apparent-Victim still wiggling!

 

Actually—as you may already have guessed—the Woman was not Cut-in-Half. Or even into Thirds

 

This was a Classic-Magician’s-Illusion.

 

But it did require an Elaborate-Prop to achieve the Desired-Effect—which was, one hopes, not to Destroy-Womankind, but to Astonish-the-Audience

 

For many of their Sleights-of-Hand, however, the Veteran-Clown-Mimes, David Shiner & Bill Irwin, pulled things out of their Black-Top-Hats—when they were not Talking-Through-Them.

 

One Old-Hat just wouldn’t stop spewing-out endless Curlicues-of-Paper!

 

Both Irwin & Shiner work very well with Audience-Volunteers: especially in a Silent-Film-Making-Scene.

 

Kudos to Wendall K. Harrington—the Award-Winning Video-Auteur—who devised some initial Full-Screen-Moving-Terrors, against which Shiner & Irwin romped frantically.

 

The marvelous Tina Landau orchestrated all this Fun & Foolishness.

 

It should Move-to-Broadway—even though Irwin & Shiner have BeenThere-Before.

 

 

Mark Janas & DISCOVER OPERA!’s MUSILDA  [★★★★]

 

Have You Guys Talked To Roald Dahl’s Agent? There’s Already a Musical-Matilda

           

Unfortunately for those who Cannot-Afford-Tickets to Broadway’s New-Musical, Matilda, the Manhattan-School-of-Music’s New-Musical, Musilda, was a One-Night-Only-Treat.

 

It was charmingly-paired with an Amato-Opera-in-Brief, Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon.

 

Think of what you have missed! You could have saved the Ticket-Money for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s new Broadway Cinderella, by making-do with Massenet!

 

What’s more: Farther-Up-Broadway—just beyond Columbia-University—you will see & hear the Stars-of-Tomorrow: Charming-Kids with Great-Voices, Fantastic-Moves, & a Total-Joy in Performing-for-Folks.

 

Gordon Ostrovsky staged the two shows, which were funded by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation—with special-funding from Sally & Anthony Amato for Cendrillon, to keep the Name of the famed Bowery-Based Amato-Opera alive.

 

Gordon Getty, it may be remembered, loved Opera so much that he even effortfully created such works as Plump-Jack, based on Christopher Marlowe’s Falstaff. Or was that Shakespeare’s invention

 

 

Roald Dahl’s MATILDA, THE MUSICAL  [★★★]

           

The Kids Are Great! But Is This Show Caught in a Time-Warp?

           

If you loved the Kids in Annie—with their Hard-Knock-Life—or even the More-Grown-Up Newsies, you may have a sense of Déjà-Vu when you rush-off to the Sam S. Shubert Theatre to see Matilda.

 

The Youthful-School-Friends of the Super-Intelligent—but Unloved by her Rascal-Father [Gabriel Ebert] & Sluttish-Mother [Lesli Margherita]—Matilda [Oona Lawrence] work very hard to make this show Work.

 

But the Songs of Tim Minchin don’t have that Original-Quality that would make this Show stand-out.

 

The Entire-Proscenium of the Newly-Restored-Décor of the Shubert is overlaid with Giant-Scrabble-Squares, which actually spell-out Different-Words, if you become bored with what’s happening on-stage.

 

There is, however, a Laser-Show of darting Green-Beams that should win some Special-Electronic-Effects-Awards from the Drama-Desk. If Theatre-Crafts were still alive, possibly I’d write a Feature about the Lasers

 

All comes right at the End-of-the-Show, when the Pathological-School-Tyrant—Crossed-Dressed in the Drill-Sergeant-Persona of Bertie Carvel—is Foiled-at-Last, with the kindly Miss Honey [the long-suffering Lauren Ward] finally adopting the lonely but Much-Too-Bright Matilda.

 

In Private-Life, Ward is actually married to the Director, Matthew Warchus!

 

There are actually Four-Matildas!

 

It was suggested—for Awards-Purposes—that it might be a Good-Idea to have the Awards-Nominators see All-Four-Matildas.

 

This was Enough-of-a-Strain when we had to see All-Three-Young-Billy-Elliots.

 

I’m sure the Other-Matildas are just fine in the Role, but Once-Was-Enough

 

Although Designer Peter Darling did devise some Interesting-Effects for this Royal-Shakespeare-Company-Generated-Production, there was a certain Visual-Condescension—that goes all the way back to the 1950s—in Comic-Conceptions about Working-Class-Taste.

 

How about Three-Ducks-Flying-Skyward on the Living-Room-Wall?

 

 

Tanya Barfield’s THE CALL  [★★]

 

Why Do They Want To Adopt Black-African-Babies When There Are Unwanted-Orphans Here?

           

The Time is The-Present. The Place is "A Metropolitan-Area.”

 

The Title of Tanya Barfield’s new Play is The Call.

 

The Titular-Call will let a Childless-Young-White-Couple know that their longed-for African-Baby is ready for them to Adopt.

 

The Metropolitan-Area might well be Local: perhaps the Couple lives in Park-Slope?

 

They live in an Unusual-Apartment, which keeps revolving, to show Various-Rooms, including what is to be the Longed-For-Baby’s Bedroom—complete with a Self-Assembly-Crib, Made-in-China.

 

She apparently runs an Art-Gallery, although—as played—she seems Not-Really-On-Top-of-Things.

 

He was in Africa on some kind of Aid-Mission some time ago.

 

Their Best—possibly their OnlyFriends appear to be a lively Black-Lesbian-Couple, who have been to Africa on a Safari.

 

Their Next-Door-Neighbor is an Oddly-Laughing-African-Gentleman who cannot return there…

 

When The-Call comes—with a Pixilated-Image on a Cell-Phone—it becomes apparent that she will become The-Parent of a Four-Year-Old-Orphan, whose Entire-Family has Died

 

Who wants a Black-Orphan who might well have AIDS

 

So The-Adoption is Off

 

The Sub-Text of this Drama is, of course, about the AIDS-Scourge, sweeping Sub-Saharan-Africa & also about Contaminated-Needles: In Africa, not in Park-Slope

 

Playwrights-Horizons & Primary-Stages jointly produced The Call, which was staged by Leigh Silverman.

 

But why these estimable New-Play-Workshops felt it necessary to Join-Forces remains a Mystery.

 

Even in the Elevator—taking various Handicapped-Oldsters down to Street-Level, including Your Roving Arts-Reporter—several Golden-Agers asked me what I made of the Evening?

 

They were baffled

 

But, only minutes later, we had some real Street-Theatre at the Ninth-&-42nd MTA-Bus-Stop:

 

A Little-Old-Lady was standing out in the Street, in the Bus-Lane, looking toward the Hudson-River, for the 42-Crosstowns that never come.

 

A Tropicana-Truck nosed into the Bus-Stop, to make a Late-Night-Delivery.

 

But, to position his Orange-Juice-Vehicle closer to the Curb, the Unseen-Driver began to back-up, almost slamming-into the Lady-Unawares.

 

We all shouted & screamed & someone pulled her out of the way.

 

Apparently, Tropicana-Truck-Drivers do not have Rear-View-Mirrors.

 

 

CRUNCH-WEEK FOR THE OUTER-CRITICS-CIRCLE:

See All the Wonderful-New-Shows Now Vying for Awards-Nominations!

 

Every April, the Executive-Board of the Outer-Critics-Circle—who are also the Nominators for the [coveted] Annual-OCC-Awards—spend every available Performance-Slot studying the Final-Entries for the Current-Season.

 

That means that there’s a Pile-Up of Playbills on my Desk, so I want to break the Log-Jam by noting each show as briefly—but cogently—as possible.

 

Founded decades ago by Fellow-Critics John Gassner—who was my Critic-Mentor—& John Mason Brown, the OCC was created as a kind of Theatre-Forum for those Critics & Reviewers who wrote for Venues that were not Mainstream-Manhattan or that were in New Jersey & Connecticut.

 

Even though the Drama-Desk—which is rather older than the OCC—wants to get its Possible-Picks out there before the Tony-Nominations, we at the OCC need to be even earlier for our Choices to be useful.

 

As a Voting-Member, since the 1960s, of both the OCC & the Drama-Desk—which originally only offered One-Prize, the Vernon-Rice-Award: Who was Vernon Rice?—I was a bit surprised to receive an Urgent-E-Mail-DD-Bulletin which contained the Following-Information:

 

"…Drama-Desk-Awards reflect both enthusiasm for all aspects of New York’s Professional-Theatre & a level of Erudition & Theatrical-Experience unparalleled in our Industry’s other Prize-Giving-Organizations.”

 

This came from the Keith-Sherman Publicity-Shop, but who actually made the Statement above I do not know.

 

Frankly, I think our OCC-Electors are as Erudite & Theatrically-Experienced as my Colleagues sitting behind the Drama-Desk

 

 

Berry Gordy’s MOTOWN  [★★★★]

 

All You Ever Wanted to Know about Berry Gordy! And Much, Much More!

 

It may be difficult to imagine, but there are some People in the World who do not know who Berry Gordy was & is, even today…

 

The Narrative-Spine of Motown is a Musical-Chronicle of Berry Gordy’s Life-Line, focusing on the Founding of Motown-Records, as well as his Marriage to Diana Ross, of The Supremes.

 

Bio-Musicals—even when they are Juke-Box-Inflected—can be a Slow-Drag: Then I wrote & then I wrote & then I wrote.

 

Berry Gordy, however, not only wrote Songs, but he was Recording other Song-Writing & Performing-Talents, as well as Showcasing them & Creating-Legends: How about Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, & Michael Jackson!

 

Not only does Motown blaze Spotlights on All-Those-Stars & the Motown-Catalogue, but it also dazzles with Famed-Groups recouping their Triumphs-of-Yesterday, in fabulously-sparkling Costumes by Eosa.

 

Brandon Victor Dixon is a somewhat Self-Absorbed Barry Gordy, but then he’s acting-out a Character invented by Barry Gordy, who wrote the Show’s Book—which is based on Barry Gordy’s printed Book!

 

Outstanding: The Big-Voiced young Raymond Luke, who instantly recalls the young Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson, as well as Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross

 

There is even Audience-Interaction: You could find yourself dancing-in-the-dark with Diana!

 

 

Douglas Carter Beane’s THE NANCE  [★★★]

 

It’s Curtains for Minsky’s-Burlesque, As Well as for "Nancy-Boy” Comics

 

Long before Rudy Giuliani became "America’s-Mayor,” Fiorello H. LaGuardia was at least America’s Most-Moral-Mayor.

 

They even memorialized him in a Musical called Fiorello

 

In The Nance, however, Mayor LaGuardia is a Menace: He wants to shut-down all Minsky’s-Burlesque-Houses & put a stop to the Smutty-Comic-Routines of the likes of Chauncey [Nathan Lane], who not only plays but is a well-dressed Queer or Fairy.

 

This wonderfully-designed show—Revolving-Sets by John Lee Beatty & Period-Costumes by Ann Roth—revives the Last-Days, not only of Burlesque, but also of the Irving-Place-Theatre, later replaced by Zeckendorf-Towers.

 

The resourceful Jack O’Brien has staged an Admirable-Cast—including Lewis J. Stadlen, Cady Huffman, Jonny Orsini, Jenni Barber, & Andréa Burns—recreating Sexually-Provocative-Routines & Randy-Burlesque-Comic-Set-Ups that once had Sad-Old-Men wanking-off under their Overcoats.

 

The Irony of Chauncey’s Situation—being a fastidiously-clad Middle-Aged-Homo, who flaunts it on-stage—is that he is also a Rigidly-Conservative-Republican, who cannot believe that the World he has constructed for himself is about to vanish.

 

Back in the days when the Police-Vice-Squad regularly beat-up Queers & often arrested them for Loitering-with-Intent, being a Registered-Republican is not the kind of Identity Chauncey should maintain.

 

Even today, the GOP is not hot for Gay-Marriage.

 

In 1937, they put Gays in Jail, even for flouncing-on-the-street. Especially for flouncing-on-the-street

 

Playwright Douglas Carter Beane—who betrays an Unhealthy-Familiarity with what might now be called The-Gay-Scene way back in Pre-War-Manhattan—does give Chauncey an unlikely Young-Male-Lover, whom he Meets-Cute at the Horn-&-Hardart.

 

The day after I saw the show at the Landmarked-Lyceum-Theatre, a Baffled-Woman—who regularly rides the 42-Crosstown-Bus & knows me as a Longstanding-Theatre-Critic—stopped me on 44th-Street to ask:

 

"What does Nance mean? I couldn’t find it in the dictionary.”

 

If she had gone Online & Googled, she might have come-up with John Nance Garner, FDR’s initial Vice-President.

 

Actually, the Name comes from the Brit-Phrase: Nancy-Boy.

 

The English-Equivalent of America’s Sissy-Boy

 

Way back in the Depression-Era-1930s, the favored Epithets were Queer & Fairy.

 

No-one thought that Furtive-Men who hung-around Greyhound-Bus-Station Men’s-Rooms were especially Gay.

 

If you See Something, Say Something!

 

 

Richard Greenberg’s THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES  [★★★]

 

Christmas Meets Kosher: But Judith Light Brings Light into Familial-Darkness.

           

This Spring, we are having a Festival of Revolving-Stages: Not only The Nance, but also The Call

 

Santo Loquasto’s Elegant-Settings for The Assembled Parties are almost as interesting as what goes-on inside them.

 

We see the Bubble-Headed Shiksa, Julie [played by Jessica Hecht] only on Christmas-Day: first in 1980, then in 2000 AD.

 

Somehow, a Jewish-Guy fell in love with her Craziness, resulting in a Son, Scotty, [Jake Silbermann] whose Best-Friend [Jeremy Shamos] has a Crush on him.

 

For me—not Consumed-with-Interest in the Fates of these Folks—every appearance of the Acidic-Faye of Judith Light was a Positive-Delight.

 

Linda Lavin may have been the Jewish-Mother-from-Hell in The Lyons, but Judith Light is the Essential-Bitter-Truth-Teller: You don’t want to get in her Line-of-Fire

 

 

David Byrne & Fatboy Slim’s HERE LIES LOVE  [★★★★]

           

Don’t Cry for Me, Mindinao! The Imelda-Marcos-Musical—Without Thousands of Her Shoes…

 

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Eat Your Heart Out!

 

Your Essential-Evita has been Air-lifted from Argentina to Manila

 

As Documented in the Historical-Record & re-imagined by David Byrne, First-Lady of the Philippines, Ismelda Marcos, is indeed a Beauty-Queen.  As dynamically played & sung by Ruthie Ann Miles, she is also a Force-of-Nature, whom you would not want to Cross.

 

Somehow, David Byrne—whose Concept & Lyrics animate Here Lies Love—has managed to avoid any mention of Imelda’s Thousands-&-Thousands of Shoes.

 

Nor does he offer a Marcos-Post-Mortem, in which Imelda had her husband, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, frozen in a Coffin with a Glass-Window, so she could celebrate His-Birthday with him, even after Death

 

Nor do we get to see Philppine-President Corrie Aquino, who succeeded the corrupt Marcos-Regime.

 

We do, however, virtually participate in the Murder of Ninoy Aquino, a Marcos-Antagonist, who tried to Unseat the Tyrant.

 

In fact, most of the Audience down at the Public-Theatre participate in almost every Day & Month of the Imelda-Marcos-Story—which is vibrantly-recalled in Newsreel-Footage & Song-&-Dance.

 

Spectators cannot stand idly-by, looking-on: they have to keep-moving, not to be hit by the various Platforms that are scooted-about the Confined-Floor-Space—with two Stages, at either end of the Crowded-Chamber

 

What a Joy: to look down from a Cramped-Box-Seat—with my Cripple’s-Cane—to see Drama-Critics dancing, singing-along, & waving their arms along with the General-Public at the Public!

 

This is not only an Interactive-Musical, but also a Multi-Media-Marcos-Indictment. The Rentals for all the Technical-Marvels must be costing the Public an Electronic-Bundle!

 

Outstanding in this Talented-Cast are Jose Llana as Marcos, Conrad Ricamora as Aquino, & Melody Butiu as Estrella.

 

Confined-Choreography was created by Annie-B Parson, with the ingenious Alex Timbers directing.

 

Timbers has grown tall on Broadway with such unusual shows as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson & Peter & the Starcatcher.

 

 

Frank Wildhorn & Leslie Bricusse’s JEKYLL & HYDE  [★★★★]

 

Do We Get Our Wedding-Gifts Back, When the Mad-Doctor Commits Suicide at the Altar?

 

Talk about Production-Values!

 

The Jeff-Calhoun-Directed Revival of Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll & Hyde has them in Spades!

 

It’s worth the pricey Price-of-Admission just to admire the Almost-Always-In-Motion Scenic-Effects of Set & Costume-Designer Tobin Ost.

 

There was a time when some Theatre-Critics insisted that Frank Wildhorn’s Horns were not all that Wild.

 

In the cavernous Marquis-Theatre, however, all the Orchestral-Instruments, as well as Solo-Voices & Chorus are so Outrageously-Amplified, that it’s almost impossible to discern the Actual-Melodies that lurk below the Outpouring-of-Sound.

 

Nonetheless, Constantine Maroulis is a splendid Dr. Jekyll, who could obviously match his Spirited-Singing with his impressive Physical-Presence—without all that Amperage.

 

Deborah Cox—as Jekyll’s Intended, Lucy Harris—is also both Attractive & Vocally-Able.

 

Oddly enough, nowhere on the Title-Page of the Playbill-Program does it mention who might have created the Original-Horror-Story of Dr. Jekyll—A British Dr. Victor Frankenstein, whose Experiments might well make you want to avoid his Prescriptions.

 

Still, a Show well worth Seeing.

 

Touts from the Jekyll & Hyde Establishment—festooned with Skeletons—over on West-44th-Street are also surging outside the Marquis-Box-Office, urging Prospective-Spectators to have Pre- or Post-Theatre Drinks-&-Snacks.

 

But you might want to take an Official-Taster with you: Who knows what Henry Hyde might have put in your Cocktail?

 

 

Alan Cumming’s MACBETH  [★★★]

 

One Flew Over the Thane-of-Cawdor’s Nest: Three-Witches & Three-TV-Monitors!

 

Alan Cumming—playing almost all of the Roles in The-Scottish-Play—received a well-deserved Standing-Ovation, although some People seemed to be just putting-on their Coats.

 

This Reduction of the Original-Script is set in what seems to be a Green-Ceramic-Tiled Observation-Room in some kind of Facility for the Mentally-Disturbed.

 

Although there are also Two-White-Clad-Medical-Attendants to help-out with some of the Scenes & prevent this Man/Woman Macbeth/Lady-Macbeth from doing Excessive-Physical-Harm to him/herself, this effectual Acting-Stunt is really Cumming’s Solo Tour-de-Force.

 

He has tremendous Energy & Concentration, but, somehow, this Oral-Interpretation did not reveal any previously Un-Mined-Depths in this Legendary-Tale of a Failed-Dinner-Party.

 

Who would have believed that this Old-Play had So-Much-Blood in it?

 

A Little-Water clears us of this Deed! [Fiji or Poland?]

 

Out, Damnèd-Spot! Out, I say!

 

 

Lyle Kessler’s ORPHANS  [★★★]

 

Eugene O’Neill! Eat Your Heart Out! Orphans Is Beyond Beyond-the-Horizon!

 

If it’s Energy & Fury you are wanting, the new production of Lyle Kessler’s Orphans may be Just-the-Ticket for you.

 

See, there are these Two-Orphan-Brothers, whose Mother has gone & died on them.

 

Ben Foster, as the Elder-Bro, Treat, thinks he is protecting his possibly Retard-Brother, Philip, wildly played by Tom Sturridge.

 

Into each Life some Rain must Fall, so Alec Baldwin—as Harold, also once an Orphan—arrives on the Scene, in North-Philadelphia, to destroy Treat’s Closeted-Paradise—their Scruffy-Apartment—from which Philip dare not leave.

 

Things change dramatically, but All-Goes-Wrong at the End, when Harold is Murdered

 

The estimable Daniel Sullivan staged, in the Scruffy-Apartment, designed by John Lee Beatty, who usually provides Over-Elegant-Décor.

 

Watching this Play-in-Action, I had the disturbing sense of Déjà-Vu—not for what was happening on-stage, but from a Dim-Memory, years ago, of seeing Steppenwolf’s John C. Mahoney play what is now the Alec-Baldwn-Role.

 

 

Clifford Odets’ THE BIG KNIFE  [★★★]

 

Hollywood Exposed! A Major-Movie-Star Has Career-Doubts & Woman-Problems!

 

Following closely on the Heels of the Revival of Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy, the Revival of The Big Knife suggested that a Revival of The Country Girl might not be far behind.

 

Could Broadway be preparing for a Clifford-Odets-Festival?

 

Forget about Awake & Sing—too Immigrant-Yiddish-Retro

 

Why anyone would want to revive The Big Knife, however, would have remained a Mystery, had not Roundabout’s Todd Haines explained in Playbill:

 

"…the play is a searing look at the choices we make when the temptations of fame & money prove all too irresistible, & the consequences that we may or may not be able to live with…

 

"What excites me about The Big Knife is how it gives us a window into the Odets who was no longer a young phenom but rather an established talent living with the choices made by his younger self.”

 

Odets, of course, was not the only Broadway-Name seduced by Big-Bucks in Hollywood, only to discover that his Writing-Talents were not to be in service of Art or Truth.

 

Think of F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Revisited now—in the handsome 1948-Beverly-Hills-Period-Setting of John Lee BeattyThe Big Knife looks rather like an Innocent-Outline for a future Quentin-Tarantino-Movie, but without all the Gushing-Blood, Ingested or Injected-Drugs, Gratuitous-Violence, & Salacious-Sex.

 

Yes, there is Blood, on the dress of Marion Castle [an admirable Marin Ireland], after her Errant-Husband, Major-Movie-Star Charlie Castle [a somewhat affectless Bobby Cannavale] has killed himself upstairs.

 

But in this, Odets is like those Great-Greek-Tragic-Poets, who kept all Scenes-of-Actual-Violence Off-Stage…

 

Quentin Tarantino has changed all that: Just imagine what The Big Knife would be like if it were another Pulp-Fiction?

 

Did Tyrone Power or Errol Flynn do Drugs? Did they really do Each-Other, as Hollywood-Confidential once suggested?

 

For Broadway-Audiences, Clifford Odets was not about to suggest that some Bad-Hollywood-Choices were Drug-Inspired.

 

Alcohol & Off-Stage-Sex were Strong-Stuff enough way back when.

 

Nonetheless, Odets did make it clear that Hollywood-Moguls were not above having Troublesome-People killed to protect their Biggest-Investments

 

Doug Hughes directed a generally strong Cast, including the excellent Richard Kind & Chip Zien.

 

 

Colm Toibin’s THE TESTAMENT OF MARY  [★★★★★]

 

Fiona Shaw’s Fierce Jewish-Mother Is Not the BVM Catholics Have Been Taught To Worship!

 

As re-envisioned by Ireland’s Colm Toibin, Mary, Mother-of-Jesus, did not raise her boy to be The-Son-of-God.

 

As fiercely embodied by Ireland’s Fiona Shaw—who recalls the Raising-of-Lazarus & the Wedding-Feast-at-Cana as slightly different events than they have been described in Holy-ScriptureMary did not want her Son to die for the Sins-of-the-World.

 

At the close, it is clear that Mary believes the World wasn’t worth that Sacrifice

 

Nor did she ever really like that Crew-of-Misfits that gathered around Jesus, to be His-Disciples.

 

But, rage as she may, she cannot stop them from creating The-Greatest-Story-Ever-Told

 

Shaw is fantastic: she seems to be Mary, not merely playing Jesus’-Mother.

 

Shaw’s Director, Deborah Warner—with whom she has collaborated on a number of memorable Theatre-Projects—permits Mary to smoke Cigarettes, something Mayor Michael Bloomberg would never allow, had he been Mayor-of-Nazareth centuries ago.

 

Warner also allows the Audience at the Walter-Kerr-Theatre to come up on stage to admire the wonderful Vulture with an amazing Wing-Span, the tall tortured Tree-of-Golgotha, surmounted with a Wheel-&-Vultures, & The-Virgin-Mary herself, seated in a Clear-Plastic-Box.

 

Actually, although All-Catholics & most Protestants are supposed to Believe in the Legend-of-the-Virgin-Birth, Fiona Shaw’s Earthy-Mary clearly has Seen-It-All.

 

Will the New-Pope deny Colm Toibin the Absolution & Extreme-Unction—on his Death-Bed—that His-Soul so desperately needs to Enter-into-The-Kingdom-of-Heaven?

 

The Testament of Mary will surely be seen by some as not only Apocryphal, but also Heretical!

 

Nonetheless, Catholic-Convent-Schoolgirls are sure to love this show.

 

 

Horton Foote’s THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL  [★★★★★]

 

"You Can’t Go Home Again,” Said Thomas Wolfe; Horton Foote Says, "Yes, You Can.”

 

Cicely Tyson is both a bit Crazy & a lot Radiant as Mrs. Carrie Watts, a very old Widowed-Lady, living in a Cramped-Apartment with her Son Ludie [a woman-pecked Cuba Gooding, jr] & her Beauty-Parlor-Addicted Daughter-in-Law, Jessie-Mae [a justly Hair-Proud Vanessa Williams].

 

Having previously seen The Trip To Bountiful only with Casts impersonating Poor-Southern-Whites, I was at first dubious about the wisdom of changing Horton Foote’s small-scale story of Economic & Social-Impoverishment in Houston, TX, from White to Black.

 

Truth-to-Tell, The Trip now seems to have been written about Black-Folks, just trying to Survive, stifling in an Unwelcoming-Urban-Environment.

 

Although Ludie & Jessie-Mae need Carrie’s Pension-Check to pay the BillsLudie isn’t earning enough, especially with Jessie-Mae’s Personal-Needs-&-WhimsCarrie is ordered-about by her impatient, demanding Daughter-in-Law.

 

She has already tried to run-away: her Dream is to return to the Rural-Family-Home she knew as a child, in Bountiful—a tiny Texas-Town that has since fallen off the Greyhound-Bus Route-Map.

 

On her Runaway-Journey, Carrie is compassionately-assisted by Thelma [an affecting Condola Rashad], a War-Bride, returning to her Parental-Home for the Duration.

 

When the Sheriff [Tom Wopat] of Harrison, TX, drives Carrie out to what’s left of Bountiful—her Oldest-Friend there having just died—she finds the Vine-Overgrown-House in Ruins.

 

Nonetheless, the Birds still sing—as they do not in Houston—nor is the Farmed-Out-Land lacking in a Beauty-of-Its-Own.

 

A Family-Healing takes place, one in which the Joyous-Audience also seems to share…

 

Oddly enough, the Front-Drop-Curtain—by Designer Jeff Cowie—looks less like Houston than Pittsburgh’s Hill-Section in an August Wilson Inner-Urban-Drama.

 

Michael Wilson sensitively staged this Admirable-Cast: a Must-See this Spring-Season!

 

 

John Logan’s I’LL EAT YOU LAST: A Chat with Sue Mengers  [★★★★★]

 

Better Dish Than in the Women’s-Magazines at the Gristedes’s Check-Out-Counter!

 

The Celebrity-Agent Sue Mengers is dead, but the Memory-Lingers-On, at least at the tiny little Booth-Theatre, where the redoubtable Bette Midler is wickedly recycling Sue.

 

As the Divine-Miss-M was reclining, or literally sinking-into, a wonderfully-upholstered Sofa-Complex—created by Jammal-Upholstery, whose Proud-Owner sat behind Your Roving Arts-Reporter—Bette/Sue was smoking simultaneously on a Joint & a Cigarette

 

Mengers was notorious for her devotion to various kinds of Stimulants, not least to Hollywood-Gossip—much of which she generatedChoice-Bits of which get strewn into the Audience.

 

Her devotion to the Career of Barbra Streisand is a Centerpiece, but her admiration for Client Julie Harris knows No-Bounds.

 

Mengers even reads Shakespeare & other Greats, just to be able to talk intelligently with Julie.

 

Nonetheless, she’s unable to get Julie cast as Mary Todd Lincoln, because Harris is "Not-Sexy-Enough.”

 

Well, Hollywood-Moguls, what do they know?

 

Sally Field had to Put-on-Weight, in order to get Cast as Mary in that Daniel-Day-Lewis-Special

 

Mengers likes to have Elton John as a Guest, because "He will eat anything.”

 

Except, she adds, "Snatch.”

 

For those who are easily-offended by Plain-Speaking, Strong-Language, or Naughty-Tidbits about the Great-&-Famous of LaLa-Land, this may not be the Solo-Show for you…

 

Did you know that Steve McQueen was an Abusive-Drunk? That he destroyed the Career of Ali McGraw?

 

Unlike a number of New-Broadway-&-Off Broadway-Shows, Scott Pask’s handsome Beverly-Hills-Home for Mengers/Midler does not Revolve.

 

But—like several new BlockbustersAudience-Participation is encouraged.

 

One Cute-Putz is invited up on stage—but he has to take off his Shoes before treading on the Sacred-Carpet—in order to fetch a Silver-Box of Cannabis-Ciggies from the opposite-side of the Stage.

 

The Genius-Director Joe Mantello orchestrated Bette’s Sue-Impersonation—which was devised by the obviously-admiring John Logan, who won an Outer-Critics-Circle-Award for his Mark-Rothko-Meditation, Red.

 

Hey! Logan also wrote Martin Scorsese’s  fantastic Hugo, as well as The Aviator & Daniel Craig’s latest Bond-Vehicle, Skyfall

 

 

Stephen Schwartz’s PIPPIN  [★★★★★]

 

Flower-Power & Love-Generation Coming-of-Age-Musical

Returns to Broadway & a Different-World…

 

Some years ago, Dancer, Director, Choreographer Bob Fosse invited me to talk with him about an Up-coming-Project, which he was not viewing with Especial-Excitement.

 

"Glenn! How do you deal with a Singing-Dancing-Show which has a Nonentity at its Center?”

 

Or Words-to-that-Effect

 

Bob was not only Not-Crazy about Stephen Schwartz’s Melodic-Songs, but he really didn’t like Roger O. Hirson’s Cartoonish-Book, in which Charlemagne’s Ineffectual-Son, Pippin, seeks to Find-Himself, a Major-Love-Generation-Activity.

 

The Fosse-Solution was to have Ben Vereen as a kind of Dancing-Master-of-Ceremonies.

 

In the Current-Revival, Diane Paulus has staged Pippin’s Picaresque-Journey-through-Life in a Circus-Tent, where Broadway-Gypsies outdo Cirque-du-Solieil’s Aerealists, Acrobats, & Magicians.

 

Instead of Vereen, we now have Patina Miller as a feisty Ring-Mistress, with Matthew James Thomas as the Charlemagne-Heir—who was known as Pippin-the-Foolish.

 

But Schwartz’s Pippin is really a Clueless-Love-Generation-1968-Hippie.

 

Fortunately, Thomas can Sing-&-Dance with the best of them—also, he’s a Whiz at Circus-Skills—but his Character still a Dancing/Singing-Vacuum.

 

Fortunately, this Lively-Show—with Lots-of-Players in the Aisles!—also features Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, Rachel Bay Jones, & the wonderful Andrea Martin—who stops the show with Gusts-of-Applause.

 

Among the Circus-Side-Show-Magic-Tricks, there’s the old Knife-Thrower-Routine, practiced by Charlemagne himself.

 

[This same Knife-Routine turned up the very next evening over at City-Center, where it was used on La Périchole, a Street-Singer in what was supposed to be 18th-Century-Peru, but looked more like a Downscale-Version of the Las-Vegas-Strip…]

 

Cirque-du-Solieil, Eat-Your-Heart-Out!

 

We don’t have to go all the way up to Citi-Field to see Totem!

 

We have all the Circus-Spectaculars right on Broadway, with Chet Walker’s Fosse-Derivative-Choreography.

 

 

At Christie’s: The Power-of-Pink: The Princie-Diamond Sells for $39,323,750…

 

Shah-Jahan built the fabulous Taj-Mahal as a Memorial for his much-beloved wife, Mumtaz-Mahal.

 

He was one of those fabulous Mughal-Muslim-Emperors who had more Jewels & Treasure than they knew what-to-do-with…

 

The Maharajah-of-Baroda was so fabulously Wealthy that he was—on-occasion—photographed running his Fingers through Bins-of-Diamonds, Rubies, Sapphires, & Other-Precious-Stones.

 

Once, it is rumored, he even offered Edwina, Lady-Mountbatten—whose hubby, Prince Charles’ Uncle, was then Viceroy-of-India—a Handful-of-Jewels.

 

The fabled Nizam-of-Hyderbad was no less generous, but he was not about to give-away his fabulous Golconda-Diamond. Instead, he sent it for Auction in 1960, where it was bought by Van-Cleef-&-Arpels.

 

When this Remarkably-Faceted-Stone was shown in Paris—at the shop of Van-Cleef-&-Arpels—it was "christened” the Princie, in honor of the Teen-Age Prince-of-Baroda, who was in-attendance, along with his Mother, the Maharani-Sita-Devi.

 

At that time, Van-Cleef-&-Arpels paid £46,000 for the Princie, equivalent of $1.3-Million today.

 

Considering how many Millions were then starving in India, it makes you wonder—as the Mughal-Emperors were Nominal-Muslims—why they were not obeying The Prophet & giving Alms to the Poor?

 

Giving a Handful-of-Gems to the Vice-Reine of British-India was not exactly the same thing as giving Alms to starving Cobra-Tamers

 

[It was whispered-about that Edwina was having an Affair-on-the-Side with Nehru, but that’s Tabloid-Stuff. It was thought that Lord Mountbatten—born a German-Battenberg—was sexually-indifferent, if not Gay.]

 

Anyway, when the Princie was on-display at Christie’s—in a small Black-Box of a room—its Ingenious-Faceting, seen from various angles, made it seem magically to Change-Colors.

 

The Security-Guard sternly told me that I was to take No-Photographs.

 

Not of the Princie, nor of any of the other valuable Jewels, Rings, Necklaces, Earrings, Brooches, Tiaras, Diamond-Settings, or even the fabulous Parure, in its own Special-Case, that must have once belonged to a Lady-of-Title.

 

The Princie was purchased by "an Anonymous-Collector, bidding by Phone.”

 

The Previous-Record for fabulous Diamond-Sales at Christie’s was the $24.3-Million, paid in 2008, for the fabulous Wittelsbach-Diamond.

 

The House-of-Wittelsbach—the Longest-Ruling-Dynasty in Europe, Monarchs-of-Bavaria—lost it all after World-War-I, by backing the Prussian-Kaiser. But the Heirs still have a Suite-of-Apartments in Schloss-Nymphenburg.

 

Sales-Totals, including the Princie, were a fabulous $81,358,700

 

Other fabulous Sales included $4.5-Million for a Rectangular-Cut D-Color VVS1 Diamond, followed by the $3,259,750 paid for a Harry-Winston Diamond-Ring—by Graff-Diamonds—who have a shop up on Madison-Avenue.

 

Seven other Jewels & Set-Gems sold for more than a Million-Dollars!

 

This makes the Otherwise-Impressive $5.3-Million Gem-&-Jewelry-Sale over at Bonhams on Madison—in the IBM-Building—pale-in-comparison.

 

Nonetheless, Tales of Fabulous-Mughal-Wealth do not always have Happy-Endings.

 

Shah-Jahan was ripped from his Throne by his Second-Son, Aurang-Zebe, who first poisoned his Elder-Brother, the Rightful-Heir.

 

Mumtaz-Mahal’s Loving-Husband lived out his life imprisoned, but Aurang-Zebe permitted him a Cell with a View of the Taj-Mahal

 

Ben Jonson wrote an Elizabethan-Tragedy about this.

 

 

Speaking of Christie’s: How About $5-Million+ for Russian-Works-of-Art?

 

If you had bid $500,000, you could have taken-home a Magnificent Silver-Mounted Porcelain Imperial-Presentation-Vase, created for Grand-Duchess Maria-Alexandrovna.

 

Or one of those Imperial-Romanov-Grand-Duchesses: I may have read the Info-Card incorrectly…

 

But at least I was allowed to photograph all the Impressive-Russiana on display.

 

Including a Collar Of The Order of St. Andrew The First-Called, which sold for $315,750.

 

Not, you understand, an Order-of-the-Garter, but nonetheless…

 

Then there was that Opulent-Eye Auction, with a superfluity of Gold-Ormolu: Total—$4-Million!

 

Who says the Economy is not Recovering?

 

 

Building the Blue-Box—with White-Ribbon—over the Rock-Center Skating-Rink!

 

At least Employment was recently being provided for Technicians & Construction-Workers over at Rockefeller-Center, where an immense Blue-Box was constructed over what should have been the Skating-Rink, available to New-Yorkers & Tourists alike.

 

But, No!

 

No Skating!

 

I couldn’t even get close-enough to make a Photo, as Uniformed-Police & Police-Barriers kept-out Ordinary-People while the Black-Tie & Couturier-Clad-Crowd thronged down the Promenade for a One-Night-Only Tiffany-Bash.

 

The Goodie-Bags must have been Fabulous, for Tiffany’s clearly paid-for the Fabulous-Presences of Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, & Kate Hudson.

 

These Glamor-Girls have better things to do than stand about looking Fabulous for the Admiring-Eyes of the Wealthy & Super-Wealthy. You have to Pay for their Presence

 

Who says the Economy is not Recovering?

 

Nonetheless, even Ordinary-People can now admire the Fabulous Art-Deco Fountain-Motif that has been hand-taped all over Tiffany’s Mother-Building on Fifth-Avenue.

 

 

Silent Stone-Sentinels Stand-Tall Behind Rock-Center’s Blue-Box…

 

By the time you read this, the Tiffany Blue-Box & White-Bow will be gone from the Rockefeller-Center Skating-Rink.

 

But—even more impressive!—Ugo Rondinone’s Nine Stone Two-Legged Monoliths will be standing above the Skating-Rink-Level.

 

This is another one of those Very-Costly Public-Art-Installations—like that Cute-Elevated-House for Chris Columbus on Columbus-Circle & the Collapsed-Spiral-Staircase near the Plaza-Hotel on East-59th-Street, called Fir-Tree, for some reason.

 

Rondinone—who is Swiss-Born, but NY-Based—calls these Tons-of-Stone HUMAN-NATURE.

 

If you missed the Rock-Center Christmas-Tree, these Archaic-Figures now stand where the now Firewood-&-Mulch Holiday-Symbol once stood.

 

Massive Slabs-of-Bluestone were quarried by Rondinone, leaving their Surfaces as they existed in Nature, but re-conformed in a kind of Post-&-Lintel-Balance, to suggest the Main-Elements of the Human-Form, such as Legs, Torsos, & Heads!

 

Just in case—if you wander-by & wonder what this is All-About—these Figures are "Mythic in Scale & Imagery, Visceral in Character & Impact,” reconnecting "the Contemporary-World with our Most-Ancient-Origins.”

 

Tell that to Hassidic-Jews.

 

Or even to Evangelical-Christians—who take the Bible literally: Where does it say in Holy-Writ that we are descended from a Race of Stone-Giants?

 

Nonetheless, you cannot say that the Public-Art-Fund is not Doing-Its-Job!

 

Didn’t we already have Jeff Koons’ immense Floral-Dog at Rock-Center, even though it was first-shown outside the Railroad-Station in Kassel, Germany?

 

Or was that the Railroad-Station in Hannover?

 

How about Jonathan Borofsky’s Walking in the Sky in Rock-Center?

 

It, like all that Murakami-Stuff, is now gone, but another copy of Walking in the Sky still stands outside the Railroad-Station in Kassel, a Relic of a long-ago Documenta-Exhibition.

 

The Best of these Rock-Center-Artworks was Anish Kapoor’s Sky-Mirror: In its Concavities & Convexities, you could get Great-Photos of the Skyscraper-Skyline

 

 

August Strindberg’s THE DANCE OF DEATH  [★★★★★]

 

Swedish-Sparring-Partners Make the Most & the Least of Their Marriage-from-Hell…

 

Years & years ago, up at the Yale-Drama-School, a very young Christopher Durang—after reading August Strindberg’s Dance of Death—thought that the Disastrous-Marriage of Edgar & Alice was more like a Boxing-Match than Wedded-Bliss.

 

And so it was that Durang wrote Play Strindberg, performed in a Boxing-Ring, with a Gong to indicate the Rounds. There was even a Referee, Alice’s much-abused Cousin Gustav

 

At Yale, at that time, the Stars-of-the-Future were in-training. Among them, Sigourney Weaver & Glenn Close, as well as Chris Durang.

 

Now, down at the Lucille Lortel, the Red Bull has mounted a production that is certainly No-Holds-Barred, but, nonetheless, with No-Gloves-On.

 

In Beowulf Borrit’s Period-Setting—dominated by a painting of Alice, the Actress, who gave up her Career to marry Edgar, the Gruff-Captain of a Military-Garrison on an Island off the MainlandVerbal-Mayhem & occasional Physical-Assaults are the rule.

 

So it’s good that the Children are going to school on the Mainland…

 

Enter Gustav, who has been in America—of which we hear no more during the entire play. He has, perhaps, been the Matchmaker for this Ill-Matched-Couple, but he also has cherished a fondness for Alice.

 

Between the two of them, Edgar & Alice contrive to reduce Gustav to Spiritual-Rubble.

 

The Captain—even with his Bad-Heart—is fond of Dancing, or Stomping, about their Parlor, hence the Drama’s Title.

 

Directed by Joseph Hardy, Daniel Davis was an excellent Captain, with Laila Robbins a vibrant, vindictive Alice.

 

Quite a contrast the Laila Robbins we’d just seen at the Friars’-Club, announcing the Nominees for the Outer-Critics-Circle Annual-Awards!

 

Derek Smith was a much-put-upon Gustav: He should have stayed in America

 

 

Jacques Offenbach’s LA PÉRICHOLE  [★★★]

 

If You’re the Viceroy-of-Peru, You Get To Take-Off-Your-Clothes a Lot…

 

Entering what was once an Intricately-&-Arabically-Decorated Shrine-Mosque—former home of the New-York-City-Ballet & the New-York-City-Opera—I was astounded to see, instead of a Great-Golden-Curtain, a Green-Drop, with an Inca Death-Mask on it.

 

That could well served as a Symbol—or a Warning—of what Stage-Director Christopher Alden did to what is essentially a Period-Tale of Street-Singers who Make-It-Big in Spanish-Vice-Regal-Peru, a Mountain-of-Gold at that time.

 

First, the Singing was very good, especially the Périchole of Marie Lenormand & the Piquillo of Philippe Talbot.

 

But the Grotesque-Antics which Alden conjured-up for them & the Rest of the Cast to perform must have taxed their Voices, not to overlook their Bodies.

 

It’s a wonder the Viceroy himself [a long, lanky Kevin Burdette] didn’t catch cold, so often was he stripped to his Jockies.

 

If the Production had been stripped of all the Gratuitous-Clowning, it could have been mercifully-shortened by at least a Third.

 

Among the Unnecessary-Side-Shows was subjecting Périchole to that old Circus-Favorite to Throwing-Knives at a Glamorous-But-Helpless-Victim, bound to a Target.

 

[Just the evening before, the same Trick was used in Pippin, over on Broadway—but with far-better-results. Here, it looked like just one more Dumb-Stunt…]

 

Paul Steinberg’s Basic-Set was an Enclosure decorated with what looked like Fractured-Tile-Fragments, alleviated by Cactus & Llama-Shaped Piñatas that bounded up & down above the Frantic-Action.

 

Unfortunately, what Alden does not understand about the City-Center Stage-vs-Auditorium-Conformation—learnt long-ago when Maestro Julius Rudel & Beverly Sills were creating the NYCO—is that the Center-of-Action has to be confined to a Triangle—with the Point-Upstage—in the Center, or those up in the Mezzanine & Balcony cannot see what may be going-on at the Downstage-Sides.

 

There are two Alden-Brothers, both Post-Modernist-Stage-Directors, whose often-bizarre-productions suggest that they do not Trust either the Operas they are staging or their Audiences.

 

David Alden—very popular in Europe, where they are supposedly bored with the Original-Narratives—is the most Ingenious. But still…

 

Offenbach’s La Périchole has some wonderful Melodies, but they work more effectively in Period-Productions, which I’ve seen both in Paris & in Munich.

 

At least the current Périchole brings the NYCO back to its Original-Home, having been thrust-out of what is now the David H. Koch Memorial-Theatre, at Lincoln-Center.

 

 

Five Major-New-Exhibitions at the Brooklyn-Museum:

 

Bright-Orange-Walls for the Delicate-Watercolors of John Singer Sargent!

 

Considering the Delicacy of some of John Singer Sargent’s Watercolor-Visions of Formal-Gardens, it’s puzzling why the Curators permitted the Exhibition-Halls at the Brooklyn-Museum to be painted Orange.

 

Except for a few well-known Portraits, the Watercolors cannot fight the Walls.

 

This otherwise Handsome-Show will continue until 28 July 2013.

 

Bring Sun-Glasses!

 

 

What To Do with Old-Tin-Can-Lids! Monumental Works by El Anatsui!

 

The various Tribes of Ghana & Nigeria must be eating a lot of Canned-Foods!

 

Not to overlook the Gallons of Liquids they have been drinking…

 

Ghana-born El Anatsui loves to make immense & colorful Wall-Hangings & Floor-Sculptures of discarded Bottle-Tops & Tin-Can-Lids.

 

The Met-Museum has one hanging in its African-Section, but one of the most striking in the Gravity-&-Grace show over at the Brooklyn-Museum is on-loan from the Guggenheim-Abu-Dhabi!

 

There are also what look like Huge-Lead-Shopping-Bags on the Gallery-Floors: These are made of Scrap-Sheet-Metal-Fragments.

 

Found-Objects are the Working-Materials of El Anatsui, so Street-Cleaners in Lagos [Nigeria] should be thankful to have this Unusual-Artist using what they otherwise would have to throw on the already Mountainous-Dump-Heaps.

 

If you cannot get over to Brooklyn before 4 August 2013—the Closing-Date for this Shimmering-Show—click onto the Museum’s Website for a Closer-Look

 

 

Considering Life, Death, & Transformation in the Americas

 

Ben Franklin once said that there are Two-Certainties: Death & Taxes

 

But, in order to Die, one first has to be Born, so it makes sense to deal with both & some In-Betweens in the fascinating exploration of Life, Death, & Transformation in the Americas, recently-installed at the Brooklyn-Museum as a Long-Term-Exhibition.

 

Drawing on the Museum’s extensive collections of Cult & Cultural-Artifacts from Hopis, Aztecs, Incas, Tlingits, & other diverse Tribal-Hoardings—the Finds from many Anthropological-Expeditions made by Museum-Scientists—this Domestic-Exploration of varied Concepts of the Rigors of Human-Life, over time, in North, South, & Meso-America brings Forgotten-Treasures up from the Museum’s Vaults.

 

Study an Inca Death-Mask

 

Admire a Hopi Ceremonial-Kachina

 

Keep Your-Distance from some Objects, for they may contain Ancient-Magic that is still Potent!

 

Although the Powers-That-Be have determined that New-York-City’s Second-Greatest-Museum should be known as the Brooklyn-Museum-of-Art, it has, from its Foundation, also been engaged in Expeditions & Research Worldwide.

 

In effect, over on Eastern-Parkway, they have a combination of the Met-Museum & the American-Museum-of-Natural-History!

 

 

Braddock, PA, in Decline, Documented by LaToya Ruby Frazier in A Haunted Capital

 

Pennsylvania is a formerly Industrial-State, whose Dead-Steel-Mills are not the only Casualties of Globalization.

 

Pittsburgh is just one of the Biggest-Economic-Disaster-Areas

 

The now-desolate Town-of-Braddock—once Home to one of the State’s First-Steel-Mills—has, over time, lost 90% of its Population.

 

Artist/Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier has documented the Losses by photographing Her Mother, Her Grandmother, & Herself as "a Metaphor for the Town’s Decay.”

 

Well, it’s actually more complicated than that Strange-Statement in the Promo-Material, because the Forty-Frazier-Photos are said to deal with "Complex-Intergenerational-Relationships.”

 

Frazier was not only featured in the 2012-Whitney-Biennial, but she also teaches Photography at Rutgers-University

 

 

From the Archives: Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn-Museum.

 

Most of these Arresting-Images are Rarely-Seen—not only because there is simply not enough Wall-Space to show all of the Hundreds & Hundreds & Hundreds of Drawings, Prints, Lithographs, Engravings, & Wood-Block-Prints in the Vast-Archives of the Museum—but also because Prolonged-Exposure to Light, whether Daylight or Artificial, can be devastating.

 

Among the American-Masters now on-view are Stuart Davis, Eastman Johnson, Marsden Hartley, John Singleton Copley, William Glackens, Benjamin West, Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Edward Hopper, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent—also on-hand with a Whole-Floor of Watercolors, & Georgia O’Keeffe.

 

But hurry-off to Brooklyn! These stylistically-varied Portraits & Scenes go back into the Storage-Vaults after 26 May 2013

 

 

Not-To-Worry: There Are Even More Brooklyn-Museum Special-Exhibitions On-Offer!

 

•"Workt by Hand”: Hidden Labor & Historical Quilts [Closing 15 September 2013].

 

•Käthe Kollwitz: Prints from the "War” & "Death” Portfolios [Closing 15 September 2013].

 

•Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett & Brooklyn’s Faience-Manufacturing-Company [Closing 16 June 2013].

 

•Raw/Cooked: Michael Ballou [Closing 7 July 2013].

 

In the Lobby-Area, there are also some Colorful-Foldings of Wood, Window-Screens, Joint-Compound, & Acrylic-Paint, confected by Marela Zacarias, one of which is called 163-213 Manhattan.

 

 

Bonhams & Christie’s Stage Unusual-Auctions:

 

The Treasures of the Late Larry Hagman, Better-Known as JR Ewing, On-Sale!

 

How many fans of Dallas knew that JR Ewing had such Good-Taste?

 

For that matter, how many knew that JR offstage—the Admired-Actor, Larry Hagman—was also the son of Mary Martin?

 

Mary had Very-Good-Taste indeed, having married Gilbert Adrian, the famed Hollywood-Designer.

 

So it should come as No-Surprise that Larry owned such Admirable-Collectibles as a George III Yew-wood Secretary-Bookcase, soon to be Auctioned in Los-Angeles by Bonhams.

 

Most of the Items on sale, however, relate to Hagman’s TV-Shows, including "Jeannie-Bottles,” one of them personally-designed by JR, before he was JR.

 

How about Leather-Bound-Scripts?

 

In fact, Hagman had a lot of Custom-Made-Leather-Stuff, as well as Signed-Portrait-Photos of Co-Stars like Barbara Eden, Linda Gray, & Patrick Duffy!

 

But there’s also a Sterling-Silver-Picture-Frame that Carol Channing gave to Mary Martin & a Book autographed for Mary by Truman Capote.

 

Oh oh! Larry also had a Collection of Antique-Fireman’s-Helmets!

 

When you die, will Your-Heirs want to keep All-Your-Stuff, or will they send all those Signed-Photos from the Second-Cousins to Bonhams for Auction

 

 

How About A Palladian Villa, by Michael J. Smith, at Christie’s?

 

Speaking of Antiques in the Style of the English-Georges, one of the Treasures assembled by Michael J. Smith for his Palladian-Villa-Installation for Christie’s was a George II Giltwood-Mirror!

 

Christie’s had the Idea to encourage the said Smith to create an Palladian-Environment-for-Contemporary-Paintings-&-Antiques that would then be auctioned, after touring Christie’s in London, San Francisco, & New York.

 

Well! What a Good-Idea!

 

Possibly, even Andrea de Palladio—of Vicenza, Italy—would have been pleased…

 

The Sale—including a Painting by Sean Scully [born 1945, so not yet an Antique]—fetched nearly $6.5-Million!

 

Scully’s Dead Sea was bought for $603,750, a Goodly-Sum, but not as much as Israelis are making from selling Dead-Sea-Salt for American-Complexions.

 

 

Bert Brecht & Kurt Weill’s MAHAGONNY  [★★★★★]

 

From Weimar-Republic to Berliner-Ensemble to Upper-Broadway: Anti-Capitalist-Satire!

 

For Starters, Dona Vaughn’s gritty-staging of the Brecht/Weill Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny is on its Own-Merits—with an Outstanding-Student-Cast from the Manhattan-School-of-Music—both Deeply-Depressing, yet Entirely-Stunning!

 

But this is also a Vintage-Production—designed by Beowulf Boritt, Tracy Dorman, & Tyler Micoleau—that Brecht himself would have admired.

 

Audiences entering the Art-Deco Borden-Auditorium up at MSM are confronted with a Grungy-Half-Curtain strung across the stage. Not with the customary Great-Gold-Curtain

 

Bertolt Brecht—inspired by Erwin Piscator & his Epic-Theatre—wanted to strip-away all Theatrical-Pretense & show the Facts-of-Life as they really are—at least from a Marxist-Perspective.

 

Although his Sometime-Partner in Weimar-Republic-Berlin, Kurt Weill, was more interested in American-Jazz than in Marxist-Theories, Brecht’s Dreigroschenoper & other essentially Anti-Capitalist-Teaching-Plays, gave him an excellent opportunity to show what he could do with Original-Tunes & Purloined-Melodies.

 

These Collaborations also got them Shut-Down by Adolf Hitler & the Nazis: Both fled to Amerika.

 

Weill built a New-Career on Broadway: One Touch of Venus, Knickerbocker-Holiay, Johnny Johnson, Lost in the Stars.

 

Brecht & his Retinue of Admiring-Women escaped to Denmark, only to realize that there was No-Safety there.

 

So they fled Eastward to Vladivastok, where they took-ship for Hollywood, settling in Santa Monica, where Brecht railed against Capitalism & wrote his Great-Classic, Das Leben des Galileo, premiered in LA & on Broadway by Charles Laughton.

 

Unfortunately, there was a Red-Scare-on-Sunset, as well as Across-the-Nation, so Brecht was summoned to testify before HUAC, the House-Committee on Un-American-Activities.

 

He essentially mocked the Committee, already having a Plane-Ticket for Switzerland in his Pocket. As well as a Swiss-Passport & a Swiss-Bank-Account.

 

Forbidden by US-High-Commissioner John J. McCloy from establishing a Brecht-Rep-Theatre in West-Germany, he accepted instead the invitation of the Soviet-Sponsored East-German-Government to set-up his famed Berliner-Ensemble in East-Berlin.

 

Once there, he set-about Photographing every Scene of every Berliner-Ensemble-Staging so the World-of-the-Future would know Exactly-How he wanted Brecht-Productions of Brecht-Dramas visualized in Years-to-Come.

 

He called these Model-Bücher, or Model-Books.

 

Well, that didn’t Work-Out: as a Theatre-Man, what was he Thinking?

 

Directors outside the Warsaw-Pact-Area—especially in West-Germany—wanted to put their Own-Stamp on their Brecht-Stagings.

 

MSM’s Dona Vaughn has surely studied the Model-Book for the Rise & Fall of the City of Mahagonny, with a few new insights of her own.

 

But she also had the advantage of being an Intern for Maria Ley Piscator, Erwin Piscator’s Widow.

 

The Piscators had escaped Nazi-Germany, where he’d established the Volksbühne, or Peoples-Theatre, to New York, where Piscator established his own School at the New-School.

 

After the Defeat of the Nazis in 1945, Piscator decided to return to his Beloved-Berlin, but the Soviets were not about to let him have the Volksbühne back again.

 

So our High-Commissioner made it possible for him to create a Frei-Volksbühne, or Free-Peoples-Theatre in West-Berlin.

 

Your Roving Arts-Reporter is offering this Extended-Preface because he was an American-Professor-Abroad from 1956-60—largely in Western-Europe—but with Press-Access to East-Berlin, East-Germany, & Soviet-Satellites beyond…

 

So I frequently saw Brecht’s-Original Berliner-Ensemble-Stagings, as well as those of his Widow, the Celebrated-Actress, Helene Weigel, who kept his Tradition-Alive.

 

After Brecht’s-Death—both he & Weigel are buried in Berlin’s Protestant-Cemetery—I continued to maintain contact with Weigel, who once asked me if I knew her Son, Stefan Brecht, who lived in Greenwich-Village.

 

In fact, I’d just done an Interview for Theatre-Crafts with Stefan’s Wife, who was designing Costumes for Robert Wilson, just then Emerging-to-Fame with Stunning-Stage-Stunts like Einstein on the Beach.

 

"Stefan is Crazy!” said his Mother.

 

Well, some Villagers did think he was a bit crazed, now & then, but This, coming from His-Own-Mother?

 

"Frau Weigel, why do you say that?”

 

"Stefan could be living here in East-Berlin, working in Brecht’s Theatre!”

 

Not only that: I got to know Maria Ley Piscator—not only because I’d seen her Beloved-Husband at work in West-Berlin in the late 1950s, but also because she was a Best-Friend of the late Mollie Gassner, Widow of my Mentor, the late John Gassner, Professor of-Playwriting at the Yale-School-of-Drama

 

Meanwhile, back at the John C. Borden Auditorium: The Brechtian-Half-Curtain was pulled-aside to reveal an Actual-Truck onstage.

 

Wanted for Fraud, Peculation, & other Crimes in Pensacola, FL, Widow Leocadia Begbick [an outstanding Raehann Bryce-Davis] is on-the-run, with her Partners-in-Crime, Trinity Moses [Gideon Dabi] & Fatty-the-Bookkeeper [Peter Tinaglia].

 

Instead of pressing-onward, they unload the Truck to create Mahagonny, a City-of-Nets, that will ensnare Unwary-Men & strip them of their Cash & Self-Respect, if they have any…

 

Not only will they have Whiskey, Boxing-Matches, & Games-of-Chance, but also Ladies-of-Easy-Virtue, as Jenny & her Girls soon arrive on the scene, singing the famed Brecht/Weill song: Moon of Alabama.

 

As a Stage-Librettist, Brecht had only a sketchy-knowledge of English, so the Lyrics are strangely hilarious” "We’ve lost our good old Mama & we must have Whiskey or we must die…”

 

For that matter, neither Weill nor Brecht knew anything more about Ordinary-America than they had gleaned from Black-&-White Hollywood Silent-Films.

 

But Brecht was certain—way back in America’s Jazz-Age Flapper-Twenties—that Capitalism was the Root-of-all-Evil.

 

When everything collapsed in 1929Mahagonny premiered in 1927—causing The-Great-Depression, which spread to an Already-Depressed-Germany, his Mahagonny-Vision seemed Prophetic.

 

Oddly enough, it still seems Relevant!

 

The Beautiful but Hard-Knocks-Hardened Jenny [a stunning Amelia Berry] pairs with the Lovable, Trusting Jimmy Mahoney [the lovable Aaron Short], but only for Cash.

 

When Generous-Jim runs out of Money, no-one will help him.

 

Not Jenny, nor the Other-Survivor [Justin Griffith-Brown] of the Four-Lumberjacks who came down from Seven-Hard-Years felling trees in Snowbound-Alaska.

 

One of them, Jack O’Brien [Scott Ingham], has died from eating Three-Roast-Calves at a sitting…

 

Along the way, the Audience gets to savor such Brecht/Weill Jazzy-Hits as the Mandalay-Song & the Benares-Song.

 

Brecht must have loved B-Songs & Jennies, as he has Pirate-Jenny—in another Seminal-1920’s-Work of Musik-Theater—sing Das Bilbao Lied.

 

Kynan Johns conducted with a Jazzy-Flair that both Brecht & Weill surely should have admired, but this Landmark-Production was on-view at MSM for Three-Performances-Only.

 

Alas…

 

 

Jonathan Tolins’ BUYER & CELLAR  [★★★★★]

 

Barbra Streisand Currently the Unseen-Co-Star of Two Sensational Stage-Monologues!

 

Years & years ago, Barbra Streisand—who apparently never threw-out anything—must have decided to give her Fabulous-Tool-Shed a Fabulous-New-Look.

 

So she sent her Lawn-Mower, Spade, Rake, & Garden-Hoses to Sotheby’s for Auction.

 

If you miss her on her Next-Fabulous-World-Tour, you now can at least Hear—if not See—the Fabulous-Streisand onstage in New-York-City.

 

Well, actually, you won’t really hear Ms. Streisand’s Actual-Voice

 

No, alas…

 

The Divine-Ms-B is being recycled by the Divine-Miss-M, in I’ll Eat You Last, in which Bette Midler channels the Late—but entirely Fabulous—Mega-Talent-Agent Sue Mengers.

 

Both Mengers & the Ugly-Girl—who was originally Barbara, before she lost that A—were Unhappy-Brooklyn-Girls, eager to claw-their-way-out.

 

Midler looked like an almost Shoo-In for Best-Solo-Performance until the very Fey & Funny Michael Urie debuted in a Church-Attic down in Greenwich-Village as Striesand’s Cellar-Vintage-Mall-Shop-keeper, Alex More.

 

Barbra Streisand was Not-Available for these performances, but Playwright Tolins & Fantastic-Mime Urie make her a Palpable-Stage-Presence!

 

Things get-underway when Urie/More shows us a Fabulous-Coffee-Table-Book, with both Fabulous-Text & Fabulous-Photos by Barbra Streisand!

 

This Handsome-Tome [Copies may still be Available if any Barnes-&-Noble-Bookstores remain Open in Manhattan] documents the Fabulous-Good-Taste that Ms. Streisand—who is currently Mrs. James Brolin—has demonstrated in Constructing & Furnishing her Fabulous-Estate in entirely Fabulous-Malibu!

 

There’s the Main-House & some Guest-Houses, of course, but Streisand also has a Vintage-Red-Barn which, in turn, has a Fabulous-Vintage-Mall of Historic-Shops down in the Cellar.

 

That’s the Cellar-part of the Show’s Title

 

But Streisand is apparently so dedicated to Authenticity that she must have a Shop-keeper down in the Cellar, so she can come down & buy any Fabulous-Object that strikes her All-Knowing-Eye. Even though, of course, she already owns all of them.

 

Alex More—who claims descent from Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia, which Streisand apparently has been trying to create on her Malibu-Estatecharms her, especially with his Knowledge of All-Her-Greatest-Roles, even Gift-Wrapping a French-Automaton-Doll, that she has, on a Whim, purchased in her Own-Cellar, owing to his Salesmanship.

 

Alex has an Unseen-Gay-Jewish-Lover, far from Malibu, who routinely mocks Streisand & Alex’s infatuation with her. This is High-Camp, far beyond that practiced by Boy-Scout-Leaders

 

Well, without giving-away more of the Fabulous-Streisand-Secrets, suffice-it-to-say that Michael Urie is Cute-as-a-Bug’s-Ear.

 

As Sue Mengers/Bette Midler might say:

 

"Alex/Michael!

 

"I’ll Eat You Last!”

 

 

Wright & Forrest’s SONG OF NORWAY  [★★★]

 

Thanks to the San-Francisco Civic-Light-Opera,

Long, Long Ago, Edvard Grieg Came-Back-To-Life…

 

On the very last day of April, the First-Musical I ever saw came briefly back-to-life—One-Night-Only—at Carnegie-Hall!

 

This was Robert Wright & George Forrest’s Song of Norway, recycling the eminently-hummable Melodies of Edvard Grieg in service of an endlessly-boring Fictive-Bio that had almost nothing to do with the actualities of Grieg’s stable & successful Life—widely admired by an International-Public, while generously-subsidized at Home.

 

The Genesis for such Hit-Tunes as Strange Music & Freddie & His Fiddle was the desire of Edwin Lester & Homer Curran to create a New-Musical—instead of another Operetta-Revival—for the San-Francisco Civic-Light-Opera.

 

Homer Curran also had a Musical-Theatre to fill, up on Geary-Street, modestly named the Curran-Theatre, now as then, the Major-Musical-Theatre-Venue in the City-by-the-Golden-Gate.

 

When I was an Undergrad at UC/Berkeley, way back in the 1940s, we had a Student-Activity called Ushering-Signups.

 

You showed your ASUC-Card, to prove you really were a Registered-Student, then you signed-up for a Specific-Production on a Specific-Night—Across-the-Bay—in such venues as the Geary-Theatre, the Curran-Theatre, or even the San-Francisco-War-Memorial-Opera-House, designed by G. Albert Lansburgh, the man who created the Martin-Beck-Theatre—now the Al-Hirschfeld—in Manhattan.

 

So it was that I found myself entranced with the Actuality of Musical-Theatre: the Gorgeously-Costumed-Stars, the Choruses of Dancing-Boys & Dancing-Girls & Singing-Boys & Singing-Girls.

 

Not to overlook the Miraculously-Changing-Scenery & the Colored-Lighting!

 

Other Civic-Light-Opera-Treats included revivals of Blossom-Time, Rose-Marie, The Merry-Widow, & The Student-Prince. Who now even remembers what Operetta once was?

 

Ed Lester & Homer Curran also showed their shows South-of-the-Bakersfield-Border, in LaLaLand, or Los-Angeles

 

I even got to be a Stage-Super in one of them.

 

But to create a New-Musical/Operetta—at a time when Agnes-de-Mille was about to Revolutionize-the-Look of Broadway-Musicals, with Oklahoma!Lester & Curran had to find the Right-Talent for the Task.

 

Bob Wright & George Forrest had been Studio-Librettist/Arrangers for MGM, so they already knew how to plunder Famed-Themes, Scores, Tunes, Symphonies, Concertos, & Melodies—without Copyright-Problems.

 

Watching Song of Norway in the Curran, I was so dazzled that I had no idea that it was not really the Real-Edvard-Grieg-Story.

 

Nor did I have any realization then that the Force-Rhymed-Lyrics were essentially Formulaic & Laughable

 

The next Musical-Mountain that Wright & Forrest had to climb for the Civic-Light-Opera was the Compositional-Oeuvre of Alexander Borodin.

 

This resulted in Kismet, like Song of Norway, a Big-Hit in both New York & London.

 

The Adaptation-Kids also tried to achieve a Hit with Magdalena, but that didn’t work-out.

 

The Creator of Jazz-Dance—or Theatre-Dance, depending on which Source you consult—was Jack Cole—who choreographed Kismet.

 

When I was writing Unsung-Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer-Director Jack Cole, I became Close-Friends with Bob & George, whom I already knew when we lived in Brooklyn-Heights.

 

So I never really challenged them about the Lyrics for Song of Norway.

 

Only on the Last-Night of April, sitting there in Carnegie-Hall, seeing all those improbably & intricately-contrived Rhymes projected on an Overhead-Screen, did I realize how Awkward, even Hilarious, some of them actually were.

 

So it was very brave of the Collegiate-Chorale—now in its 71st-Concert-Season—to choose to do a Semi-Staged-Revival of Song of Norway.

 

The Choristers were just fine, but, with so much Staging-Stuff going-on in front of them & the American-Symphony-Orchestra—elegantly-conducted by James Bagwell—it was at times difficult to know when they were actually singing.

 

When they were suffused with a Rosy-Glow of Overhead-Lighting seemed to be a Cue!

 

The much-beloved Comedian Jim Dale—all the Voices for the Tapes of the Harry-Potter-Books!—worked his way through a Narration devised by Roger Rees.

 

This helped Set-the-Stage & abbreviate the Text, which did not, however, make the evening any shorter, as there were numerous Ballet-Sequences, as well as Norwegian-Kiddies & Fans of Edvard Grieg, seeking Autographs.

 

Outstanding—also in Elegant-Gowns & Colorful-Peasant-Costumes—was Alexandra Silber, as Nina, the Future-Fru-Edvard-Grieg. Her Voice & Stage-Persona are Striking, Memorable—despite the Appalling-Amplification.

 

Taking a Night-Off from Cinderella on Broadway, Cinderella’s Fairy-Prince, Santino Fontana, was admirable as Edvard Grieg, considering the Textual-Idiocies he had to negotiate.

 

Marni Nixon was indisposed, so the beloved Anita Gillette stepped-in as Mother Grieg, a not-very-rewarding-role.

 

For that matter, the otherwise admirable Walter Charles seemed Out-at-Sea as Father Grieg, with that Captain’s-Cap & all the Fish-Metaphors.

 

Fortunately, the wonderful Judy Kaye was indomitable as the Totally-Invented Imperious-Italian-Diva, Lousia Giovanni. She also got to wear some Outfits that seemed to drip Colorful-Chopped-Fabric

 

A Special-Program-Line credits Han Feng as the Designer-Responsible

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