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Report for November 2013

December 3, 2013

Report for The Month of November 2013

 

©GLENN LONEY 2013

 

 

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

 

This was the Month-of-Elections, that Annual-Occasion when the People-of-America get to validate the Choices the Koch-Brothers have already made for them.

 

The Ancient-Romans might have called this Vox-Populi/Vox-Koch

 

This was also the Month in which we remembered Our-Veterans-of-Foreign-Wars—of which we now seem to have a Superfluity.

 

This was the Month in which Chanukkah—which, being on a Lunar-Kalendar, moves around a lot, compared with the Christianized-Saturnalia—fell on the very day that President Obama was Pardoning the White-House-Turkey!

 

Some Angry-Republicans—who also wanted to Repeal-the-Constitution—could themselves have been mistaken for Political-Turkeys.

 

Nonetheless, in keeping with the Spirit of Dual-Holidays, the Jewish-Museum offered a Turkey-Menorah on its Website—free for Downloading!

 

Just imagine those Ancient-Maccabees burning Turkeys for Eight-Days in the Temple

 

As for the Pilgrim-Fathers & the First-Thanksgiving, their Lineal-Descendants were busy baking Pumpkin-Pies & rejoicing that almost all the Original-American-Indians had been restricted to Reservations.

 

Just imagine Abigail Adams & Martha Washington arriving in Las-Vegas for some Slot-Fun & Cirque-du-Soleil-Shows, to discover that they have No-Reservations!

 

Tough-Luck!

 

The Navahos, the Arapahoes, & the Apaches have Reservations to spare…

 

 

Speaking of Thanksgiving & Reservations, my Parisienne-Theatre-Colleague, Dr. Sandra Laredo, invited me down to the Players [often wrongly-called a "Club”] for Turkey & Stuffing.

 

The Players was founded on Gramercy-Park, in the Nineteenth-Century, by Edwin Booth, America’s Greatest-Actor at that time & Brother of The-Man-Who-Shot-Lincoln.

 

The Players is an elegant Town-House, crammed with Historical-Portraits of America’s Most-Beloved-Players, such as Joe Jefferson & Helen Hayes.

 

Although the World’s Greatest-Theatre-City does not have a Theatre-Museum, the Players is a Mini-Museum in itself.

 

You can—if you are a Member or a Guest—even see Edwin Booth’s Bedroom & the Bed in which He Died!

 

But imagine my Shock & Surprise when I thought I was going to witness a Death-Scene in the Dining-Room/Theatre where Jimmy Stewart was appearing in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

 

Turkey & Stuffing had been cleared-away so Festive-Guests could enjoy a Period-Movie, from a Simpler-Time in the Great-American-March-Forward to Exceptionalism & Prosperity.

 

The Lights had been dimmed, so that only a few guttering Altar-Candles shed a faint-glow on the remains of Pumpkin & Mince-Pies.

 

Over against a wall near our table, two Senior-Ladies had been sipping coffee, possibly worrying about whether George Bailey [a much younger Jimmy Stewart than when he became an Air-Force-General] was going to commit Suicide

 

Suddenly, one of them slipped off her tiny Golden-Chair—the even-tinier Cushion had come free from its moorings—falling with a Thud on the Inlaid-Flooring.

 

Looking over in the Semi-Darkness, I thought she might have had a Stroke.

 

She was Inert, but Moaning.

 

At the next Wall-Table, an even Older-Lady was cackling with laughter at George Bailey’s Predicament.

 

She had apparently Heard-Nothing.

 

Nor did anyone else notice, except the Fallen-Lady’s now-desperate Senior-Friend, who could not raise her.

 

Lacking my Cripple’s-Cane—which I had checked at the Door—I looked down helplessly, afraid I would also Fall.

 

Fortunately, Dr. Sandra took charge, immediately calling 911.

 

After an Interval, Six-Firemen appeared to succor the Unfortunate-Lady, whose Day had been clearly Spoiled.

 

She did not get to see how a Wingless-Angel called Clarence saved the Day for Jimmy/George.

 

But almost all of the Players-&-Guests—who were immersed in Hollywood’s Post-War-Vision of A Wonderful Life—seemed unaware that Anything-Had-Happened. Or that there were Firemen-in-the-Room.

 

Theatre-of-the-Absurd down on Gramercy-Park?

 

 

PASSING-GLANCES AT SHOW-SCENES-SEEN:

 

While it is all too true that many New-Yorkers do not have enough Food to eat or Decent-Shelter over their Heads, there is No-Shortage of New-Shows for Tourists to see.

 

But Spider-man—after sustaining a $60-Million-Loss—is off to Las-Vegas.

 

Big-Fish—richly-laden with Production-Values, but also burdened with an Endless-Death-Bed-Scene—was off to that Great-Show-Warehouse-in-the-Sky shortly after opening.

 

Those Theatre-Regulars who had not seen the Auditorium of the Winter-Garden-Theatre in Ten-Years were at last to see its Décor once again, as Mama Mia! departed, in favor of Rocky.

 

Nonetheless, December was to be all-too-crowded with Openings, On-&-Off, so that there would hardly time to Deck-the-Halls.

 

Meanwhile, NSA was Monitoring-Anyone who had Tickets for the following Shows:

 

 

Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette-Company’s SLEEPING-BEAUTY  [★★★★]

 

"Someday My Prince Will Come,” But He’ll Probably Be a Block-Head…

 

What is it about those Beloved-Old-Fairy-Tales, that Happy-Endings almost always involve Virtuous-MaidensPrincesses or Scullery-Maids—being rescued from Fates-Worse-Than-Death by either Handsome-Young-Princes or by Poor-Lads, ennobled by their Courage?

 

Milan’s famed Colla-Marionettes have just given the US-Premiere of their beautiful Sleeping-Beauty at the New-Vic-Theatre on New-42.

 

This is an elaborately & ingeniously-designed Baroque-Production, which takes place in a Miniature-Version of an 18th-Century-Court-Theatre, like those in Bayreuth & Versailles.

 

The Plot follows that of the Perrault-Tale, but with the Music of PI Tchaikovsky, for his beautiful Beauty-Ballet.

 

The Royal-&-Noble-Wooden-Faces are beautifully-formed, but their Magnificent-Robes are even more admirable.

 

The Problem—always with String-Puppets—is that their Movement is fairly restricted, depending on the Unseen-String-Pullers up-above.

 

So, they largely Dance & Prance about, entering & exiting, while Offstage-Voices speak for them.

 

Nonetheless, the amazing Scenic-Transformations rival any of those to be seen in surviving European-Court-Theatres, such as Munich’s Cuviélles-Theater or Frederic-the-Great’s lovely Venue in Sans-Souci at Potsdam.

 

Another Problem is that of Scale: This Production was designed for the Intimate-Milan-Marionette-Theatre that is the Colla’s Permanent-Home.

 

At the New-Victory—which is much larger—you really had to be Up-Close to appreciate the remarkable Sets &-Costumes.

 

A large TV-Screen even had to hung high above the Main-Stage, replicating what was being performed down-below…

 

The Colla’s dancing, prancing Wooden-Dolls have been here before: they Premiered their Macbeth at the Chicago-Shakespeare-Theater in 2007, coming later to Manhattan to the New-Vic.

 

 

Guimarães & Delgaudio’s NOTHING TO HIDE  [★★★★★]

 

Card-Sharpies Use Dazzling-Decks Down at the Signature:

They Also Scribble Signatures on Cards for Delighted-Spectators! 

 

The Hand, it is often said, is Quicker than the Eye!

 

Both Helder Guimarães & Derek Delguadio obviously—well, not so Obvious, as it turned-out—had Something up Their-Sleeves, performing their Logic-Defying-Suite of Card-Tricks down at the Rom-Linney-Theatre.

 

No matter how Deftly-Shuffled, variously Spread-Out & Re-collected, Turned & Twisted, their Bike-Card-Decks always turned-out to be in Just-The-Right-Order

 

Based in LaLa-Land, where there are more than Card-Tricks on the Bill-of-Fare, Guimarães & Delguadio do not diversify into such Areas as Sawing-a-Lady-in-Half.

 

It would be fun, of course, if they would improve on this Hoary-Illusion, by Sawing-a-Lady-into-Quarters!

 

But theirs is not a David-Copperfield-Show, even though it has the Show-Biz-Creds of being directed by Neil Patrick Harris.

 

Harris is not going to Disappear any time soon.

 

Or be Sawed-in-Half

 

For that matter, Guimarães & Delguadio do not even saw a Deck-of-Cards in Half. Guimarães does, however, tear a Corner out of one Card.

 

These Ingenious & Engaging Performers are backed by Six-Racks of Sealed-Bottles.

 

They do not contain Miniature-Sailing-Ships, but Decks-of-Bike-Cards!

 

Not so Easy to get an entire Deck-of-Cards—in its Original-Package—into a Narrow-Necked-Glass-Bottle

 

There must be Hundreds of these Bike-Card-Bottles in the Racks, but, no matter which Bottle an Audience-Patsy picks, it will turn out to have his Father’s-Name written on the Card-He-Selected!

 

For the Signature, this Show is a nice Change-of-Pace:

 

You cannot always be Reviving-Plays by Horton Foote, August Wilson, David Henry Hwang, Edward Albee, or even Romulus Linney

 

 

Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, or Queen Elizabeth I’s RICHARD III  [★★★★★]

 

Dick-the-Third Proves Not Only a Villain, But Also a Laff-Riot, Thanks to Mark Rylance!

 

Who knew that inside the Dark-Heart of Richard-Crookback lurked a Music-Hall-Comic, dying to Wow-Audiences, both at London’s Globe-Theatre & Manhattan’s Belasco?

 

Although the current Globe-Theatre-Rep on West-44th is a Limited-Run, the Richard III is so remarkable—also Very-Good-Entertainment!—that this Excellent-Company should be invited back  often.

 

As a Longtime-Shakespeare-Scholar & Theatre-CriticThe-Shakespeare-Complex, Staging-Shakespeare & Shakespeare-Revisited, soon to be On-Line—I have seen many, many stagings of Richard III, at the Oregon-Shakespeare-Festival, the RSC’s Stratford-Festival, the Stratford-Festival-of-Canada, the Old-Vic, the Folger-Theatre, in Washington, DC, &&&&&&&&&&

 

This Richard has to be The-Best-Ever!

 

Mark Rylance’s Richard is also The-Best-Ever, although I have never seen Gloucester-of-Scarborough played in such an Antic-Vein.

 

At the Outset, frustrated in every way by his Humpback & Withered-Arm & clearly not In-Line-to-the-Throne, as his Brother, the Duke-of-Clarence, stands in his way, Crookback confides to the Audience that he is Determined-To-Prove-a-Villain.

 

Deftly-directed by Tim Carroll, Rylance plays not only to the Audience, but also with them.

 

There is no Invisible-Fourth-Wall.

 

Period-Musicians—playing Period-Instruments—play directly to the Audience. As do the Globe-Players

 

Some of the Spectators actually sit in Galleries on either side of a Mock-Up of an Indoor-Stage-Façade of the Elizabethan-Era.

 

Among the many Confrontational-Scenes in Richard III—all of which are Newly-Illuminated in this Startling-Staging—the Murder-of-Clarence was a Revelation to me!

 

Just Imagine—after being Brutally-Killed, the Royal-Indignity of being dumped into a Butt-of-Malmsey!

 

Most of the Skilled-Players appear in more than One-Role, although Angus Wright is a full-time Duke-of-Buckingham, who learns to his Cost, that it’s not a Good-Idea to press the Newly-Minted-King for Favors, when he is "Not In a Giving-Mood.”

 

It was good to see that Jane Bergère—who dwells in the same Co-op as I—is one of the Savvy-Producers.

 

Because the Sam-Wanamaker-Recreated-Globe-Theatre—Sited on the South-Bank of the Thames—is Open-Air & cannot play in Inclement-Weather, especially in London-Winters, Manhattan is fortunate to have this November-Visitation.

 

Much is made of the Authenticity of this Production—which encourages Audiences to enter the Belasco early to watch the Actors put on their Make-Up & almost Authentic-Elizabethan-Costumes, made from the same kinds of Materials used by the Original-Globe-Thespians.

 

From his First-Efforts to Rebuild or Recreate Shakespeare’s Globe-Theatre—which had been destroyed by Fire, some Centuries ago—the American-Actor/Director, Sam Wanamaker, was determined to make the Playhouse & the Productions as Authentic as possible.

 

There was even a Major-Conference—in Athens, Georgia, of all places—to determine what the Globe actually looked-like & how it functioned.

 

In the 1950s, when I was teaching Our-Troops—in the English-Midlands, at Burtonwood-Airbase—on Weekends I’d often drive over to Liverpool, where Sam Wanamaker had established his own Shakespeare-Theatre.

 

Ever a Liberal, Sam had fallen-afoul of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy & his infamous "Red-Hunts.”

 

Fortunately, Hollywood-Blacklists had no Power in Britain…

 

When Sam began his Campaign to Restore-the-Globe, I joined-in, even if only able to help in Summer, when on Holiday from Brooklyn-College.

 

I regularly reported on the Progress in various American-Theatre-Journals.

 

If you visit Sam & Shakespeare’s Globe, do check at the Door-Sill of Door-Three. There you will see a Brick, impressed with the name: GLENN LONEY.

 

There’s also a Glenn-Loney-Autograph on Copper-Plate inside.

 

When we discussed how Sam would achieve True-Authenticity in every aspect of the Bard’s Globe-Stagings, he was adamant that they could only be done in the Afternoon, under Natural-Light.

 

Well & Good! But what about Casting?

 

In Shakespeare’s Time, Roles of Girls & Women were played only by Teen-Age-Boys. Crusty-Old-Nurses, of course, were played by Beloved-Male-Comics

 

Real-Live-Actresses did not appear on the English-Stage until the Restoration, in the Reign of Charles II.

 

Indeed, the Actress Nell Gwynn was a Royal-Favorite: "Don’t let Nellie starve,” begged the Dying-Monarch.

 

But Sam balked at the Very-Idea of Boys-Being-Women, even if only On-Stage. He feared it might annoy some of his more Conservative-Patrons.

 

That has certainly not bothered Mark Rylance, who has even given some Astounding-Female-Performances at the Globe. His Cleopatra

 

The Globe wasn’t the only Venue for the Bard & his Players.

 

Eventually, they had their own Indoor-Theatre at the Blackfriars, but they also performed at Court & in the Inns-of-Court.

 

Soon, the Current-Company will have its own Quasi-Jacobean-Indoor-Theatre, as well.

 

It will be called the Sam-Wanaker-Playhouse!

 

 

Bill Shakespeare, Chris Marlowe, or Frank Bacon’s TWELFE NIGHT  [★★★★★]

 

A Hit! A Hit! A Very Palpable-Hit! Twins Lost-at-Sea Re-United! Virtue-Rewarded! Fools-Shamed…

 

If Mark Rylance doesn’t get a Tony-Nomination for Best-Actor this Season—as well as Best-Actress—then the Tony-Nominators don’t understand what they are actually seeing on Broadway.

 

If there were an Antoinette-Perry-Award for Best-Acting-Ensemble, it surely would have to be given to this remarkable Globe-Theatre-Company from London.

 

Indeed, instead of Wasting-Time in College-Acting-Classes or at the Actors-Studio—if it is still In-Action—Students should be bussed-in to see both Richard III & Twelfe Night at the Belasco-Theatre.

 

As the Drowned-in-Grief Countess Olivia, Mark Rylance is a Wonder.

 

He/SheCoronet-Crowned & Richly/Rigidly-Garbed—seems to scoot-on-wheels across the Jacobean-Stage, taking Mini-Steps, as befits an Elizabethan-Lady, who is, instead, in Illyria.

 

Almost as Outstanding as Rylance’s Olivia is the heavily-laced Maria of Paul Chahidi.

 

His/Her Chalk-White-Face is a Study of Conflicting or Fleeting-Emotions.

 

Whatever Whoever who actually wrote the Plays commonly-ascribed to The-Bard-of-Avon actually meant in some of the Comic-Lines, Chahidi/Maria—by the merest Twitches-&-Changes of Facial-Expression—gives them New-Meanings.

 

It was Instructive to see the Conspiratorial-Buckingham of Richard III become, instead, the Foolish-Knight, Sir Andrew Aguecheek: a Comic Tour-de-Force or Tour-de-Farce for Angus Wright!

 

Written for Epiphany, Twelfth-Night—for the Globe, however, Twelfe-Night—has more Occasional-Songs than any other Comedy in the Official-Canon.

 

But, as they are not really Plot-Related, they can seem like Lyrical-Asides or Poetic-Impediments to the Swift-Progression of the Dramatic-Narrative.

 

It depends, thus, upon Feste—a Free-Lance-Clown, who wanders about the Town, Fooling for Olivia & Jesting for Orsino—to make these Songs effective.

 

That did not really Work in Tim Carroll’s otherwise Lively-Staging.

 

The American-Stage-Debut of Screen-Actor Stephen Fry—as the Cross & Cross-Gartered, Abusive & Abused, Ill-Used Malvolio—was warmly-welcomed by an Ovation-Prone-Audience.

 

The only Visible-Problem was the Periodic-Dropping of Wax from the Overhead-Candelabra: possibly Too-Strong-Gusts of Air-Conditioning?

 

One of the Quaint-Oddities in Twelfth-Night is the almost Homoerotic-Affection that Orsino develops for Cesario, the—as he believes—Handsome-Page, sent from Lady-Olivia.

 

Of course, Not-To-Worry, for he will soon discover that Cesario is actually Viola, whom he is legally-free to love.

 

But, as "Vile-Catamites” were hated, feared, & could be killed without impunity, this Forbidden-Attraction could generate a Certain-Frisson in the Globe-Audience.

 

With the Dawn of the Age-of-Aquarius, however, Attitudes began to change, so the Trendy-Musical based on Twelfth-Night was titled Your Own Thing, meaning you could now do Whatever

 

Why doesn’t someone revive this charming little Show?

 

 

At the CUNY-Grad-Center: Celebrating BAM & Beyond…

 

CHANGING-BROOKLYN: The Impact of BAM—An Evening with Harvey Lichtenstein

 

No-One mentioned it on this Auspicious-Evening, but Brooklyn-College, BAM, & the RSC—or Royal-Shakespeare-Company—once had a Triple-Shakespearean-Entente.

 

It seems appropriate, then, to Mention-It-Here, for, if Sam Wanamaker had been able to open his Globe-Theatre No. III way-back-when, then surely we also would have Partnered with The-Globe-Redevivus, even though Mark Rylance was not yet a Force-To-Reckon-With.

 

Not only did the Players of Peter Brook, Peter Hall, & Michel St.-Denis—who had recently created the RSC—come out to the Brooklyn-College-Campus, they even brought Wicker-Baskets of their Costumes-&-Wigs with them, to show us how to Dress-Up to Play-the-Part!

 

Over at the BAM-Opera-House, we had a Festive-Inaugural-Evening to welcome such Brit-Greats as Ian Richardson & Richard Pascoe.

 

It was my Assigned-Duty to look after our Then-Mayor, Abe Beame, who told me he had Read-Shakespeare in School

 

Harvey Lichtenstein was—on that Glittering-Evening—in His-Element. He was hosting International-Celebrities.

 

But, down on Fifth-&-34th—at the Grad-Center’s Martin E. Segal Theatre-Center—an Aged-but-still-Engaged Harvey was Looking-Backward.

 

As Segal-Chief, Dr. Frank Hentschker, moderated, Harvey recalled such Memorable-Theatre-Events as the US-Debuts of Wuppertal’s Pina Bausch, William Christie’s Les-Arts-Florissants, Poland’s Jerszy Grotowski & his Poor-Theatre, as well as Peter Brook’s RSC Midsummer-Night’s-Dream & his Epic Mahabharata.

 

Not to overlook Robert Wilson’s Einstein-on-the-Beach, A-Letter-for-Queen-Victoria, The-Life-&-Times-of-Joseph-Stalin, or the Contributions of Martha Clarke, Meredith Monk, Merce Cunningham, Robert Lepage, Trish Brown, or of Judith Malina & Julian Beck, of The-Living-Theatre.

 

Mme. Malina arrived—Wheel-Chair-bound—but was immediately rolled-up to Harvey, who kissed her hand. Julian had long-since Gone-To-Meet-His-Maker

 

Harvey recalled installing Arianne Mnouchkine in the Brooklyn-Armory, for one of her Francophone-Epics from the Cartoucherie, just outside Paris.

 

Also On-Recall, that Unforgettable-Production of Leroi Jones’ Slave-Ship, in which the Audience was almost On-Board, in that Tiny-Upstairs-Space at BAM.

 

Frank Hentschker showed some B&W Film-Clips of such Triumphs as Akropolis, Atys, L’Orfeo, MSND, & Bob Wilson’s Freud, but there was No-Color-Video to show the Splendors of Pina Bausch’s Nelken, in which some Five-Thousand-Red-Carnations were Stomped-to-Death every night…

 

For Your Roving Arts-Reporter, this was certainly an Evening-to-Remember—or Of-Remembrance—as I had seen almost all of the Offerings at BAM, from its Beginnings.

 

Indeed, having seen Peter Brook’s Midsummer-Night’s-Dream at BAM, I was chosen to create the Official-RSC-Production-Book of Peter Brook’s Midsummer-Night’s-Dream.

 

This was followed by Official-Production-Book of the Young-Vic’s Scapino. The one with Jim Dale, later a Broadway-Musical-Star.

 

When Harvey scheduled Peter Brook’s Epic-Length Mahabharata, Distinguished-Professor Marvin Carlson, Head of our CUNY-PhD-in-Theatre-Program, asked me to devise a Semester-Long-Seminar devoted that Hindu-Classic.

 

I did that & more, turning the Class into an Exploration of the Career of Peter "Empty-Space” Brook, including a Program of All-His-Films.

 

Our Last-Class featured a Personal-Appearance by Peter, who suggested that I Interview him—as I had done often before—rather than have him Summon-Up Remembrances-of-Productions-Past

 

This Seminar I converted into a Book: Peter Brook: From Oxford To Orghast.

 

It is still In-Print, although I’ve not seen any Royalty-Checks for some time. Possibly because the Publisher is British?

 

I did remind Harvey that the only Report I ever had published in New-York Magazine was BAM Awash, Afloat, written after the Opera-House had a Sudden-Flood

 

 

The Collegiate-Chorale-Concert at Carnegie: Arrigo Boito’s  MEFISTOFELE  [★★★★★]

 

Massive Choral-Forces—with a Devilish-Mefistofeles—Bring Boito’s Masterpiece Back To Life.

 

Well, not exactly Back-To-Life, as this was only a Concert-Version, not a fully-staged Opera-House-Extravaganza

 

Curiously, when the Infant New-York-City-Opera staged Mefistofele at NY-City-Center—with Norman Treigle as this Avatar-of-Satan—it opted for a Bare-Bones-Production, all that it could really afford, but nonetheless Totally-Effective.

 

Before that Striking-Staging in Manhattan, Opera-Loving New-Yorkers knew Boito only as the Ingenious-Librettist who gave the aging Giuseppe Verdi the Dramatic-Substance for his End-of-Life-Masterpieces: Otello & Falstaffo.

 

But this Musical-Adaptation of Goethe’s Faust is now seldom heard or seen.

 

This is Unfortunate, not only for its Intrinsic-Beauties, but also because it is the only Faust-Version that incorporates both Faust I & Faust II—the latter which Goethe never saw performed in his Lifetime, either as Drama or Opera.

 

That Superficial-Frenchman, Charles Gounod, only used Part I for his Faust: making Generations believe that the Masterwork was only about a Randy-Old-Uni-Professor—miraculously made Young again—debauching & abandoning a Simple-Village-Girl.

 

So, we have Conductor James Bagwell, the Massed-Forces of the Collegiate-Chorale, the American-Symphony-Orchestra, & Soloists Eric Owens, Arturo Chacon-Cruz, Juilianna Di Giacomo, Teresa Buchholz, & Joseph Michael Brent to thank for taking us both to Medieval-Frankfurt & Mythical-Troy, with the Lovely-Helena intact.

 

Although Helen-of-Troy was hardly Virgo-Intacta

 

"Helen! Make me Immortal with Your-Kiss!”

 

The Choral-Forces of the Collegiate-Chorale are so formidable—what a Volume-of-Sound they produce!—that it seems to take most of the Intermission for them to Leave-the-Stage & again take their places in the Tiered-Seating on-stage…

 

A Memorable-Evening!

 

 

Rupert Holmes’ Adaptation of the Best-Selling-Novel by John Grisham: A TIME TO KILL[★★★★★]

 

What Is It About Those Red-Necked White-Trash Southern-Boys? Raping Little-Black-Girls!

 

This is the Courtroom-Drama to put all other Courtroom-Dramas in the shade.

 

Ingeniously-Designed by James Noone, the Judicial-Heart-of-the-Courtroom is always going around in Circles, rather like the Intricate-Plot, which requires a Defense-Attorney in a Mississippi-Town to get an Acquittal on a Charge of Premeditated-Murder for a Furious-Black-Father whose Little-Girl was Kidnapped, Brutally-Raped, & Savagely-Beaten.

 

During the Trial, the Klan Rises, with a Flaming-Cross & Torching of the Attorney’s Home

 

Outstanding in a Uniformly-Admirable-Cast are Patrick Page, Sebastian Arcellus, Ashley Williams, Tonya Pinkins, Tom Skerrit, Chiké Johnson, & John Douglas Thompson.

 

Because the Outraged-Dad has killed the Two-Pecker-head-Rapists with an Automatic-Weapon in the Courthouse—an Act both Admitted & Witnessed—the only Possible-Route to Acquittal is a Plea of Not-Guilty by Reason of [Temporary] Insanity.

 

Unfortunately, the Expert-Witness for the Defense has a Long-Buried-Charge of Statutory-Rape in his File. So, forget about Credibility

 

Fortunately, the Local-Psychiatric-Expert blurts-out his Low-Opinion of Local-Juries

 

Ethan McSweeny staged, but those Rapid-Revolves & Skittering-Videos threatened to Upstage his Best-Laid-Blockings.

 

 

Wallace Shawn’s GRASSES OF A THOUSAND-COLORS  [OXOXO]

 

Wally Shawn’s Obsession with Tumescence Gives New-Meaning to "Members”-of-Congress!

 

Decades ago—when the West-German-Theatre was recovering from its Nazi-Past—a Celebrated-Post-War-Playwright devised a Theatre-Evening titled Insulting-the-Audience.

 

That was Peter Handke & his strange Theatre-Evening was called Publikumsbeschimpung.

 

The Curtain rose & the Actors came forward.

 

They then proceeded to call the Paying-Spectators such Names [here, in Translation] as Shit-Heads, Idiots, Cock-Suckers, Fools, Mother-Fuckers, & even Christian-Democrats!

 

The Game was to see how long it would take to Empty-the-Auditorium.

 

West-German-Audiences had been long conditioned—even before the Hitler-Era—to regard The-Theatre with Great-Respect—even Paying-Taxes to support it!

 

I witnessed performances of this Deliberate-Mockery in various State-Theatres.

 

Initially, most Spectators could not Believe-Their-Ears: was this what their Tax-Money was paying-for?

 

Eventually, however, they began to leave: Some in Anger; Some just Shaking-Their-Heads.

 

One Theatre-Listing describes Grasses thusly: Three Intellectual Artists try to rationalize Totalitarianism.

 

Not-Really. Nowhere-Near…

 

What Wally Shawn & his Director, Andre Gregory, are really doing is Mocking-the-Audience, waiting to see how long they can take Extended-Discussions of the Length-of-the-Shawn-Member when Distended.

 

I liked best the part where the Bathrobed-Shawn bit off Mice-Heads at a Fantasy-Feast in a Cat’s-Castle.

 

Considering the Subject-Matter that Shawn & Gregory offered their Public-Audiences, perhaps this Show could be renamed Farts of a Thousand-Odors?

 

The Big-Question for This-Theatre-Season: Will Wallace Shawn receive the Pulitzer-Prize?

 

 

Un-Authorized New-German-Version of Prof. Dr. Ibsen’s AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE  [★★★★★]

 

Town-Meeting at BAM’s Harvey-Theatre, Led by Dr. Thomas Stockmann, Norwegian-Truth-Teller!

 

Just Imagine! A Play written way back in the 19th-Century has a Social-Message that is as Relevant & Troubling today as it was then.

 

This is Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, newly "adapted” by Florian Borchmeyer, Dramaturg of Berlin’s Schaubühne-am-Lehniner-Platz. [Please note that that is Lehnin, not Lenin!]

 

As tautly-staged by Thomas Ostermeier—complete with Shattering-Disco-Sounds—its Stalwart-Protagonist, Thomas Stockmann, is shown to be Unflinchingly-Right, but also a somewhat Self-Righteous-Truth-Teller.

 

Dr. Tom’s Brother, Peter Stockmann, is Mayor of a small Norwegian-Town that is famed for the Healing-Waters of its Spa.

 

When Dr. Tom has those Waters—which the Locals also drink—tested, he finds them rank with Germs & Bacteria.

 

To him, this means the Baths must be Closed & New-Pipes laid above the Current-System, to remove the Pollution from Upstream-Mills, the most Poisonous of which is owned by his Father-in-Law

 

Because Dr. Tom has Issues with both his Brother & his Father-in-Law, he is not exactly Straightforward in revealing his Findings & his Proposed-Solutions.

 

Rather than instantly-alerting his Brother, he decides to disclose this Scandal with a Searing-Article in the Local-Newspaper.

 

Initially, he believes he has Popular-Support, but this soon melts-away as Various-Self-Interests manifest themselves & the Power-of-Covert-Capitalism asserts itself.

 

Ibsen might be astonished to discover that his Crusading-Stockmann now has a Rock-Band in his Parlor. He might also be surprised to see that Parlor transformed into an Immense-3-D-Blackboard on which Stockmann chalks-up Design-Ideas.

 

At one point, late in the Drama, Leading-Characters come out & begin White-Washing those Black-Walls.

 

This is obviously an Optical-Metaphor

 

As Stockmann grows more & more frantic—convinced that he is Right & that there can be No-Compromise—he convokes a Town-Hall-Meeting, right up there on the Harvey-Stage, directly appealing to the BAM-Audience!

 

Well! The Liberals of Park-Slope, Williamsburg, & Eastern-Parkway all seemed in favor of Transparency, but some were surprised that the previously German-Speaking-Cast was also capable of Understandable-English!

 

My Guest at the show was Dr. Beata Hein Bennett, who grew-up in German-Lindau, near the Austrian-Border.

 

Her Dad was a Professor-of-Medicine at the University in Munich, but, when the Nazis came to Power, they demanded that all the Faculty join the Party.

 

He refused, removing to Lindau, about as far away from the German-Center as one can get. Thus, Beata’s German is not infected with Aryan-Improvements.

 

So, her Judgment that some of the Younger-Actors in this Production need work on their German-Diction—not only on their English—surprised me. I could understand them OK, without the Supertitles

 

But What—both the Program & the Production ask—is the Potential for Transparency in a Commercialized-Society?

 

Bundeskanzler Angela Merkel’s Austerity-Prescription for both Germany & the Euro-Zone also is attacked.

 

Considering that all Berlin-Theatres are in some way or other Subsidized by the City & the State, this may be very Brave-Political-Theatre indeed!

 

Occupy Unter-den-Linden & Flatbush-Avenue!

 

Meanwhile, Back at the Baths: Don’t Drink the Water…

 

 

Bruce Norris’ DOMESTICATED  [★★★★★]

 

How Could a Gynecologist Be So Clueless About Sex-for-Money? Do Not Run for Public-Office!

 

It was High-Time someone should write the Eliot-Spitzer-Play & Bruce Norris has touched almost All-the-Bases in Domesticated.

 

The admirable Jeff Goldblum is Bill, who has been Fooling-Around with Girls-for-Pay.

 

He’s not exactly Client No. 9, but he’s in Big-Trouble.

 

It’s bad enough that he’s a Professional-Gynecologist—who has more than a little Interest in what’s Down-There—but he’s also pushed his way into Politics.

 

So, when a Girl-for-Hire falls down in their Rented-Room, & she hits her Head, resulting in a Coma, this is Hot-Stuff for the Network-News.

 

In the First-Half of the Drama, Bill is so Shame-Faced that he hardly Talks.

 

In the Second-Part, he seems to have become an Idiot-Motor-Mouth.

 

Initially, Judy, his Writer-Wife—strongly played by Laurie MetcalfStands-by-Her-Man, looking a bit like Hillary. Or, perhaps, Huma Abdin

 

But he is an On-Going-Embarrassment: How about Porn on the Internet?

 

How about bringing Home such Unwanted-Extras as Genital-Yeast-Infections?

 

Subsequent Developments & Disclosures make the Anthony-Wiener-Saga look like Child’s-Play.

 

Judy is also a Successful-Author, so she is Extra-Exposed by her Errant-Hubby’s Adventures & Mis-Adventures when she appears on TV for Promo-Purposes

 

Even though Bill & Judy have married because they thought they were In-Love, feckless Bill has increasingly come to wonder what Love actually might be & he feels being Domesticated is to be enclosed in a kind of Prison

 

Judy & Bill have a Loud-Mouthed Teen-Age-Daughter, who wants the World to hear her Opinions on the State-of-Women in Society.

 

Socially-Conscious, her Parents have adopted a Cambodian-Orphan, who gives Power-Point-Presentations to the Audience about Sex-Urges & Gender-Differences in the Animal-World

 

Well! There’s a little bit of Everything in this Norris-Script, but he’s lucky to have such Performers as Mary Beth Piel, Emily Meade, Mia Barron, & Lizbeth MacKay on board.

 

At every Performance, there is an added Production-Cost: a New-Guitar has to be smashed!

 

As for all those Clementinas strewn over the Dining-Room-Floor, the Hispanic-Help can pick them up for use in the next showing…

 

The Mitzi E. Newhouse has been temporarily turned into a Theatre-in-the-Round, adding Seats & different Points-of-View.

 

Director Anna D. Shapiro keeps the Scandals & Confrontations moving briskly.

 

Unfortunately, Norris’ Bill is not like that lovable Ole-Hound-Dog, Bill Clinton.

 

He has no Reserves-of-Charm to fall back on. Instead, he Rants-&-Rages, as though his Problems were caused by Someone-Else

 

Unlike, say, Eliot Spitzer, he is Clueless, Clueless, Clueless

 

Not only does he Not-Listen to Others, but he doesn’t even Listen-To-Himself!

 

 

August & Lippa’s BIG FISH  [★★★★]

 

Agnes de Mille: Eat Your Heart Out! Susan Stroman Recreates the Old-Time-Broadway-Musical!

 

You missed Oklahoma! & all those other Rodgers-&-Hammerstein All-Singing-All-Dancing Classics?

 

Now you can once again revel in Great-Broadway-Gypsy-Show-Dancing such as has not been seen in Years!

 

Snappy-Routine after Snappy-Routine—all clothed in the Fabulous-Costumes of the extremely-inventive William Ivey Long—make Big Fish the Holiday-Show for the Whole-Family.

 

The Elaborate-Production-Values must have cost the Producers a Bundle!

 

Special-Effects are rampant!

 

At the center of all this Frantic-Activity is, essentially, a Dying-Man, who may have been a Big-Liar, or a wonderful Tale-Teller, who actually lived some of his Dreams

 

Animating this Fable-of-Family & a Boy-Growing-Up are the admirable Norbert Leo Butz, the lovely Kate Baldwin, & the energy-charged Bobby Steggert, long a favorite at the York-Theatre.

 

The Print & Cinematic-Origins of this New-Musical—by John August & Andrew Lippa—are rooted in the Big Fish Novel by Daniel Wallace & the Movie-Screenplay by August himself.

 

Somehow, I missed them both, so I was not so Previously-Invested in the Material as others may be.

 

Despite the Hyper-Active-Performance of Butz—a dynamic Actor/Singer/Dancer—who often triumphs over the Plotting in which he is involved, I was not charmed by the Character of Edward Bloom, the Big-Mouth-from-Alabama, nor or intrigued by the many Exploits he recounts & often relives, before Our-Very-Eyes.

 

The Entire-Evening seems inexorably-moving toward Bloom’s Death-in-Hospital.

 

But, at the Inflated-Prices you have to pay for a Broadway-Show—especially one as Costly as this must have been to Produce—you cannot bring down the Final-Curtain on the Death-of-Little-Eva, no matter how Tear-Inducing such Death-Bed-Scenes may be On-Stage.

 

It remains for Ed’s Son, Will Bloom—can this be a Name-Metaphor: despite his Childhood-Tsuris of having an Embarrassing-Dad, he is eventually going to Bloom into a Good-Dad himself?—to discover who Ed-Really-Was.

 

Some of the possibly Fictional-Characters from his Lavishly-Decorated-Boasts seem to have come to Ed’s-Funeral!

 

Unfortunately, we did not walk out of the Neil-Simon-Theatre, humming the Show’s-Hit-Tunes, as they were not Memorable-Enough.

 

The ever-changing, ever-mutating Video-Based-Scenery of Julian Crouch—remember his Shock-Headed-Peter?—is projected on a Base of Horizontal-&-Vertical Slat-Boarding that  moves Up-&-Down, inducing a kind of Vertigo: Maxfield Parrish on Speed

 

Holiday-Audiences are sure to Love-This-Show: It is Life-Affirming & it sure looks like it Cost-a-Lot.

 

How did I miss the Novel of Big Fish—with that Witch who knows about Death & that Mermaid & that Big-Old-Fish—which we actually get to see in what used to be the Orchestra-Pit

 

Was I then too-busy reading Kant’s Critique of Pure-Reason?

 

Nota-Bene: The Closing-Notice for Big Fish has just been posted!

 

 

Merle Good’s THE PREACHER & THE SHRINK  [★★★]

 

If There Is a God, He or She Should See This Play: Mere Humans Left Floundering…

 

What should a Rigidly-Self-Controlled-Minister do when his Hysterical-Daughter threatens to Destroy the Career of His-Junior-Pastor—with a Charge of Sexual-Harassment—unless he Recants his Belief-in-God before his Congregation?

 

What if he seeks out a Psychiatrist—who is already working with his Troubled-Daughter—for Advice, only to discover that they had a Fleeting-Relationship years & years ago?

 

What if the Disraught-Daughter commits Suicide, just when it looks like everything is going to work out all right?

 

This is Merle Good’s First-Play to be produced in New York & it has received a First-Class-Production on Theatre-Row at the Beckett-Theatre.

 

Dee Hoty is excellent as the Challenged-Shrink, with Tom Galantich very restrained as the Preacher.

 

Adria Vitlar—as the Mood-Swinging Parson’s-Daughter, Constance—plays the Role as though she’d thrown-away her Meds

 

As the Play progresses & the Characters reveal more & more about themselves, not only does the Plot-Thicken, but they become more & more Believable.

 

Nonetheless, Constance’s Sudden-Suicide doesn’t seem somehow earned, dramatically.

 

The Drama poses some very interesting Questions about Belief & Faith—including the presumed Power-of-Prayer.

 

Also: about the Possible-Need for Open-Manifestations of Grief, for the Benefit-of-Others, if not for Oneself

 

The TitleThe Preacher & The Shrink—suggests that this Drama is essentially about That-Man & That-Woman, but it is surely concerns much more than that.

 

Confrontations with his Daughter do force the Preacher to re-examine what he has been Preaching-from-the-Pulpit for years.

 

He could become like Ralph Waldo Emerson, who One-Sunday-Morning told his Congregational-Congregation that he No-Longer-Believed & left the Pulpit for Good.

 

So he was not invited to speak at Harvard for Thirty-Years!

 

This left him Time to write Emerson’s-Essays.

 

Oh, Crazy Connie is a Would-Be-Poet who has just received a Letter-of-Rejection.

 

She is also a Literature-Professor at a Local-College, which makes you wonder about Standards?

 

Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach is aptly quoted in the Drama!

 

Ignorant-Armies are still Clashing-by-Night, but Matt probably never received a Letter-of-Rejection.

 

Hey! He was Head-Master at Rugby, after all: The School, not the Game.

 

 

At Alice Tullly Hall: THE JUILLIARD ORCHESTRA  [★★★★★]

 

Standing-Ovation for Brilliant Young Pianist Kevin Ahfat! Ditson-Award for Jeffrey Milarsky!

 

It looked like there was a Forest-of-Cellos on the stage of Alice-Tully-Hall, when the Combined-Forces of the Juilliard-Orchestra presented a Program-of-American-Eccentrics.

 

Actually, there were only Ten-Violincelli—plus Eight-Double-Basses—but the Strings certainly sang-out, loud & clear, under the Magisterial-Baton of Jeffrey Milarsky.

 

John Adams was once commissioned to compose a Fanfare, but, being a Contrarian—as usual—Adams instead created an Anti-Fanfare: Tromba lontana.

 

The Two-Trumpeters were hidden-away in the deep recesses of the Student-Orchestra.

 

Adams had hoped for a Placement on Opposing-Balconies, but Alice Tully does not permit that: all that Sculptured-Wood!

 

The Highlight of an entirely Admirable-Evening was Kevin Ahfat’s stunning performance of Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Piano, Op. 38.

 

This is a Fiendishly-Difficult-Challenge, with many Clashing, Crashing-Chords & Flying-Fingers racing up & down the Keyboard, hands often crossed.

 

Canadian-born Kevin Ahfat is a slight young man, so even more amazing was the Tremendous-Power he demonstrated in this Dazzling-Concerto.

 

They must have had to Cool-Off the Steinway, after it was wheeled Off-Stage?

 

Barber’s Beloved-Sister died while he was composing this Concerto, so possibly that Sad-Event may have influenced some of the Tsuris in the Allegro-Molto

 

There were Repeated-Ovations for Kevin Ahfat, a Name you will surely be hearing a lot in Major-Concert-Halls.

 

As for the Juilliard-Orchestra’s Brilliant-Conductor, from Morningside-Heights, Columbia-University had sent down the Renowned-Pianist, Gilbert Kalish, to confer upon Jeffrey Milarsky the 2013 Ditson-Conductor’s-Award.

 

Not only does Milarsky Conduct, but he also Bangs on the Tympani: he is Director of the Manhattan-School-of-Music’s Percussion-Ensemble.

 

As if Juilliard & MSM weren’t enough Music-Pedagogy, Milarsky also is Senior-Lecturer-in-Music at Columbia, where he also conducts the Columbia-University-Orchestra!

 

It’s good that there are so many Symphony-Orchestras in Manhattan, but it is to be hoped that the Ever-Aging-Audience does not die-out…

 

This Eclectic-Eccentric-Concert closed with Charles Ives’ amusing & occasionally thundering Orchestral Set No. 1: Three Places in New England.

 

Taking us musically & metaphorically to the Boston-Common, Redding, CT, & The Housatonic at Stockbridge, Ives playfully incorporated some Once-Popular-Tunes.

 

Amazing what an Insurance-Executive could do in his Spare-Time

 

What did seem a bit Odd, set in the midst of Three-Eccentrics, was the Programming of Richard Strauss’ Dance of the Seven-Veils, from his initially-shocking Salome.

 

Vienna is surely a long way off from the Housatonic, but the Juilliarders did not disappoint. As this was a Concert-Version, there was no Actual-Unveiling.

 

A Critic-Colleague—seated in front of me—reminded me that Carol Vaness had, in fact, once shed all Seven of the Veils. That must have been in the Glory-Days of the Now-Defunct & sadly-missed New-York City-Opera?

 

My Guest—who know more about Dance than she does about Piano-Soloists—was astonished that Kevin Ahfat was playing Barber without Sheet-Music on the Steinway.

 

"He learned all that by heart?”

 

Well, yes. Any Great-Piano-Virtuoso has to have it all In-His-or-Her-Fingers, after all.

 

Except, possibly, when they reach a Great-Age

 

Way back in the 1940s, when I was Head-Usher at UC/Berkeley for all Lectures, Drama, & Music, I was asked to be the Page-Turner for Dame Myra Hess.

 

She was to play before an Audience of nearly 10,000 in the Men’s-Gymnasium—with a Band-Shell behind her.

 

In her Dressing-Room—before we went out to the Stage—I expressed my astonishment: "Don’t you know that Concerto by heart?”

 

"I am now very old and I must wear glasses. I do not want to forget a passage or even a note. I cannot disappoint so large an audience.”

 

Next Case!

 

 

Rhythmic Circus’ FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!  [★★★★★]

 

Red Is the Right-Color for These Dynamic-Dancers: Tapping, Rapping, Stomping, & Storming!

 

Ricci Milan, wearing a Red-Jacket, opens this Danceteria-Thunderstorm of a Show with a Virtuoso-Tap-Routine that would make Fred Astaire collapse in Fatigue, just watching it, not doing it.

 

Never has the Historic-Interior of the New-Victory-Theatre resounded to so much Audience-Enthusiasm, including Swinging-&-Swaying, Clapathons, & Dancing-in-the-Aisles.

 

Some Parents were even more Dance-Engaged than their Kids.

 

But how could Anyone resist the Pounding-Onslaught of all those Taps!

 

Taps is definitely Tops with the Rhythmic-Circus-Ensemble, but they can do Soft-Shoe, Box-Thumping, Chair-Banging, & Disco-Babble with the Best-of-The-Pros.

 

Against a Blood-Red-Background—with Signature-Reds emblazoning their Dance-Duds—the Rhythmics generate the kind of Fevered-Excitement that Waving-a-Red-Cape makes a Sleepy-Bull wake-up & charge.

 

There’s only one Woman among the Many-Men, but Kaleena Miller can out-dance & out-tap any of the Red-Males.

 

Anyone can Bang-on-a-Drum, but it takes Real-Glottal-Talent to be a Vocal-Percussionist like Aaron "Heatbox” Heaton. He’s the Guy in the Red-Hat

 

This is the New-York-Premiere of the Rhythmic-Circus—who surely will be invited back again & again, judging from Audience-Response.

 

But they are only at the former Belasco-Theatre, on New-42, until 1 December, so hurry…

 

The New-Vic was David Belasco’s Flagship, way back in 1900.

 

Ever the Impresario-of-Hits, Belasco would surely have Extended-the-Run!

 

 

Marlane Meyer’s THE PATRON-SAINT OF SEA-MONSTERS  [★★]

 

Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road Meets Theatre-of-the-Absurd Somewhere Out-West…

 

Marlane Meyer grew up in San Pedro [CA] in the 1950s, in fairly Tempestuous-Household, which explains a Lot.

 

Thank St. Martyrbride that she did not have to Learn-the-Facts-of-Life in Bakersfield or Modesto!

 

Oh! St. Martyrbride is an Invented-Saint—not in the Canon—imagined by Aubrey, a Flaky-Obstetrician with a Free-Clinic, who longs for a Soul-Mate.

 

Her Election rests on Calvin Little, wasted & destroyed by Drugs & Drink, plus Dyslexia & Dispepsia.

 

Calvin has already disposed of a Previous-Wife, complete with a Hidden-Burial

 

The Littles are the Jukes-Family-from-Hell. They wouldn’t look out-of-place in any Central-Californian Trailer-Court.

 

There is a Variety-of-Styles in both this Play & this Production—which also includes Animals prowling in the Forest nearby.

 

The Initial-Presentation of the Little-Family makes them seem Outrageous-Grotesques: this is partly in the Writing, but even more in the way that the Director, Lisa Petersen, has encouraged the Actors to embody them.

 

La-Grande-Guignol doesn’t seem the kind of Influence that one would acquire from writing for TV, but some of the Plot-Incidents—having made a Map to find where you buried the Wife you Murdered—are both Grotesque & Guignolesque.

 

The Cast-of-Six—playing a Multiplicity-of-Roles—is Exemplary & often very Funny!

 

In an Interview with Tim SanfordMagus of Playwrights-HorizonsPlaywright-Meyer describes her Drama as "Sprawling,” in response to Tim’s proffered "Unfettered.”

 

There are, for instance, Sudden-Insertions of Liberal-Indictments of Recent-Political-Economic-&-Social-Disasters. Out of Nowhere

 

But there are also Heart-Breaking-Assessments of how We-Live-&-Love: Calvin, near the close, makes a Wonderful-Summation.

 

Marlane Meyer earned her Spurs as a Writer-Producer for Law-&-Order & CSI.

 

But that’s All-Over, so she has more time now to concentrate on Playwriting-Structure!

 

Let’s Light-a-Candle to St. Martyrbride, praying for a Deft-Revision of a Vision-of-Sea-Monsters & Human-Monsters that has such a lot of Good-Stuff in it!

 

 

Julie Taymor’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM  [★★★★]

 

"We Are Such Stuff as Dreams—No! No! No!  as Spectactles—Are Made Of…”

 

Yes, They do fly in Julie’s Dream, but No-one has a Spiderman-Crash.

 

Inaugurating the handsome New-Theatre of the Theatre-for-a-New-Audience—which seems a Direct-Steal from the Cottesloe-Court-Theatre at the National-Theatre in London, on the Banks of the ThamesJulie Taymor has confected a Dazzling-Dream & Quasi-Nightmare that is Quivering, Shivering to be Seen, despite its All-Too-Short-Run over in Brooklyn, just a Katzensprung from the BAM-Opera-House.

 

Years & years ago, Shakespeare-Production-History was made at BAM with Peter Brook’s celebrated & stripped-down Staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

Unlike Julie—who has pulled-out All-the-Stops & Technical-TricksPeter’s aim was to strip the Drama down to its Essentials: to let the Words-Speak-for-Themselves.

 

Theseus & Hippolyta—as well as Oberon & Titania & the Amateur-Theatre-Rustics—occupied his Empty-Space, with only a few Props to create a Circus-Atmosphere.

 

One Innovation was the Whirling of the Freekahs, those Plastic-Tubes that whine & sing when twirled & whirled.

 

These Julie has borrowed from Peter, but hers are Black & his were White

 

The Difference of Night-&-Day, but this is, after all, a Night’s-Dream, is it not?

 

In the Center of the Thrust-Stage is a Bed—into which the Dwarf-like-Puck of Kathryn Hunter curls-up for a Deep-Sleep.

 

Suddenly, the White-Sheet begins to ascend, growing & growing until it becomes a Tent-like-Cover for the Stage.

 

It also serves as a Horizontal-Overhead-Projection-Screen for some Stunning-Video-Effects, as well as a White-Wall to conceal some Transformations, such as the Miraculous-Appearance of Queen-Titania in her Fairy-Bower with Bottom as an Ass—wearing one of those Signature-Taymor-Masks, complete with Hand-Controls for the Asses-Ears & his Babbling-Mouth

 

The Anti-Romantic-Dust-Ups of the Drugged-Young-Lovers in the Athenian-Forest occasion a lot of Athletic-Activity before Puck puts the Magic-Drops into the Right-Eyes.

 

Striking-Scenes, Stunning-Visuals, & Teasing-Transformations are The-Rule.

 

This is not The Lion King, although there are some Hapless-Deer who do get Hunted by Ferocious-Hounds.

 

Nor is this Magic-Show another Spiderman-Fiasco

 

Although the Immortal-Words of The-Bard are often Clearly-Spoken—even, on occasion, accompanied by the Music of Elliot Goldenthal—the Charms of this Dream are not so much Verbal as Visual.

 

The Very-Large-Cast—often fantastically-costumed by Constance Hoffman—disports itself in a Airy-Environment designed by Es Devlin, with Lighting by Donald Holder, Sound by Matt Tierney, & Projections by Sven Ortel.

 

The Varied-Roles are Embodied—rather than Inhabited—by generally Admirable-Actors, but Max Casella’s Bottom is working entirely Too-Hard.

 

Not for a Moment did I believe that these Moving-Figures were "…such Stuff as Dreams are made of…”

 

 

Harold Pinter’s NO MAN’S LAND  [★★★★★]

 

Pinter in Rep with Beckett: Star-Turns for Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellan at the Cort-Theatre…

 

Broadway’s Cort-Theatre is a long-way-off from the Royal-Court-Theatre on Sloane-Square, where I first witnessed Harold Pinter’s curious confrontation of Two-Old-Men.

 

Patrick Stewart plays Hirst, a Patrician & a Poet, who has somehow picked-up the shambling & shabby Spooner, played by a rumpled Ian McKellan, who also pretends to Poetry.

 

Hirst is ageing & forgetful. Spooner is eager to provide Convenient-Memories.

 

I first saw Pinter’s The Caretaker, years & years ago, in London—also at the Royal-Court.

 

Oddly enough, it also features a Shabby-Old-Man, eager to make a place for himself in a Flat occupied by a Young-Man who is not quite right in the Head.

 

Hirst is also not quite right, but he has Young-Two-Retainers who are not eager for Spooner to join their Ménage-a-Trois.

 

Billy Crudup is spiffy & feisty as Foster, a Street-Smart-Comer, toying with Spooner—who doesn’t know what to think…

 

Foster’s Partner is the menacing Briggs, stoutly played by Shuler Hensley.

 

There is a faint whiff of Homoeroticism in the air…

 

Ultimately—after a Great-Deal-of-Whiskey is downed—Spooner’s desperate Audition to be Hirst’s Private-Secretary fails.

 

But—unlike the luckless & homeless Caretaker—he cannot "go down to Sidcup to get me Papers.”

 

Sean Mathias has staged both the Pinter & the Beckett.

 

 

Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT  [★★★★]

 

After Godot in Yiddish Off-Off-Broadway, Now Godot in English, Though It Was Written in French!

 

No, Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart are not making Personal-Appearances in Sam Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: they are really inhabiting the Roles of Estragon & Vladimir.

 

But—judging from the Enthusiastic-Applause greeting the Entrance of each Theatre-Knight—you might well think that this was a 21st-Century-Version of Sarah Bernhardt’s famous Farewell-Tours.

 

Didi & Gogo are not Interchangeable-Characters: Gogo gets beaten; Didi consoles him.

 

Gogo’s Shoes Stink. Didi’s Breath is Lethal

 

Aside from these Differentiating-Qualities, they seem to be just Two-Old-Homeless-Bums, waiting for a Godot who never comes. Tomorrow, perhaps?

 

When my late friend, the Stage-Director Alan Schneider, became the American-Apostle of the Gospel-According-to-Beckett, he was initially at a loss in devising Stage-Activities for Didi & Gogo.

 

Should they just be sitting under that Tree—the only Prop required to stage Godot?

 

Or should they be Doing-Something? Smelling Gogo’s Shoes, perhaps?

 

That Essential-Irishman, Sam Beckett, told Alan they should do English-Music-Hall-Routines!

 

In fact, one time when Beckett was invited to stage Godot himself, he drew on his Early-Experiences of Music-Hall—known in the States as Vaudeville

 

Both Stewart & McKellen are Old-Time-Troupers, so they are expert with that Two-Men with Three-Hats-Routine.

 

Nonetheless, their Broadway-Stint may well be a Farewell-Appearance, at least for McKellen, who is now 74.

 

Indeed, in New-York-Magazine, he just told an Interviewer that, for him, This Is It! He has reached that Age when, if you cannot get up out of a Chair, you are not Going-On

 

Stewart, who is only 73, made it clear that he’s not yet ready to close the Make-Up-Box.

 

If this is really McKellen’s Farewell-to-Broadway, I am glad that I got to see him in both Pinter & Beckett, though, oddly enough, he plays a Shabby-Bum in both plays.

 

In Pinter’s No Man’s Land, the Knights are enclosed in a handsome Wood-Paneled-Architectural-Shell, but, in Godot, they are in a Wasteland of Splintery-Planks, with Gaping-Holes in the floor.

 

The One-Scenic-Given for any Godot-Production is that there must be That-Tree, standing alone in a Barren-Wilderness.

 

In the First-Act, it is itself a Barren-Tree.

 

In the Second-Act, it has Three-Leaves, which suggest Hope.

 

As Didi says: "I can’t go on.” Then: "I’ll go on.”

 

Not only am I a Veteran of Alan Schneider’s Godot & many other Schneider/Beckett-Collaborations, but I have seen Godot all over Germany, when it was In-Vogue.

 

Each German-Godot-Tree was different.

 

Didi & Gogo, not so different. German-Actors tended to Rant

 

At the end of one Fraught-Season in West-Germany, Theater-Heute ran a Two-Page-Spread of all the Different-Godot-Trees, from Hamburg, Hannover, Bremen, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, & Augsburg, on down to Munich.

 

The best Godot I’ve seen recently was the one in Yiddish, down on New-42, staged by Moshe Yassur, who got his MFA-in-Directing at Brooklyn-College, where I was one of his Grad-Advisors.

 

[Moshe recently revived Yiddish-Theatre where it began, in his Native-Romania decades ago. He fled the Nazis for Palestine, eventually ending-up in Manhattan!]

 

One of the more bizarre Godot-Incarnations was that staged at Lincoln-Center, with Steve Martin, Clown-Extraordinaire Bill Irwin, Robin Williams, & F. Murray Abraham.

 

Steve Martin was, well, Steve Martin.

 

Bill Irwin clowned. Robin Williams—who was completely out of his depth, did Shtik.

 

F. Murray—who was the only really Serious-Actor in the Ensemble—was Brilliant!

 

Of course, I may be Partial because Murray was my Brooklyn-College-Theatre-Department-Colleague, where he was a Distinguished-Professor!

 

Looking back on that Lincoln-Center-Adventure in Stagecraft & its Excesses, I think that Shuler Hensley’s Outsized-Pozzo, in the Present-Production, is rather similar.

 

He’s not playing The-Whale this time, but his Outsized-Costume makes him look Stuffed & his Outsized-Performance—complete with what sounds like a Col. Harlan Sanders-Accent—overwhelms all else on stage.

 

The Pathetic/Anemic-Lucky of Billy Crudup, however, makes an interesting contrast to his Street-Smart-London-Laddie in No Man’s Land

 

 

Georg Frideric Händel’s RADAMISTO  [★★★]

 

Even Way Back in 1720, It Was a Good-Idea To Keep the Troops Out of Armenia!

 

Stage-Director James Darrah has reduced the Martial-&-Marital-Problems in Handel’s Operatic-Vision of Historic-Troubles in the Middle-East to a Game of Armenian-Musical-Chairs.

 

Worse yet—despite all the Glorious-Singing of Ornate-Arias & Duets—the Color-Palette of this obviously Low-Budget-Production has been restricted to Sandy-Desert-Shades.

 

The Military-Melodrama is stretched-out along a Distressed-Wall, with Major-Players standing In-Line, like so many Singing-Heads on Easter-Island.

 

It would have been more Optically-Interesting & Spectator-Friendly to have attempted either to set this Story of Love-&-Gory-Glory in a Mythical-Historical-Thracian/Armenian-Past or to have imagined how Handel himself would have mounted it for the Royal-Academy-of-Music in the King’s-Theatre, Haymarket.

 

In fact, that is just what Munich’s Gärtnerplatz-Theater did some seasons ago, giving us Handel-in-the-Strand, complete with Proscenium-Stage, Backstage, Under-Stage, & Handel’s Office on a Revolving-Stage that could sink to show us the Flies-Above or rise to show us the Actor/Singers preparing below.

 

Handel, after all, was not only a Hanoverian-Composer of Imitation-Italian-Opera-SeriaHappy-Endings, guaranteed, plus Castrati—but also a Showman who had to fill the Seats.

 

When Opera-Seria stopped bringing in Audiences, he switched to Oratorios.

 

Indeed, Radamisto—as performed—was very like a Concert-in-Costume.

 

Nonetheless, all the Principals were excellent, though some of them looked a bit Bulky for Grand-Opera as it is now more Sexily-Sold.

 

Daggers were vigorously-brandished, with Murder, Martyrdom, & Suicide often threatened—but not Achieved, despite a Long-Evening of Serial-Singing.

 

After the Interval, there were Vacated-Seats

 

Jullian Wachner conducted the Juilliard415-Orchestra, which included some Authentic-Instruments!

 

Well, actually All-Instruments were Authentic, but some looked really Period.

 

 

Lemieux Pilon 4D’s LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE  [★★★]

 

Jean Cocteau! Where Are You Now That We Need You? The Frenchies Have Lost It!

 

Merci, Mille-Fois!

 

It was only Ninety-Minutes-Long!

 

But, at one point, the Narrateuse advised the Girl in the Castle of the Beast: "Leave! And never come back!”

 

Not all that easy for many in the BAM-Audience who had come all the way over to Brooklyn from Gotham…

 

This Ghost-Video-Version of the Age-Old-Fable of Beauty-&-the-Beast, however, made one long for that Magnificently-Enchanting-Film of the Same-Name made in Black-&-White by Jean Cocteau, way back when.

 

As Jean Marais said, as the Beast: "Ma Robe et mes Gants, Beauté, son les Secrets de ma Puissance…”

 

Or something like that, but in Better-French.

 

In the Lemieux-Pilon-Remake, however, the Girl seems to be a Post-Post-Modernist-Artist, whose Signature-Brand is splashing broad swaths of Red-Paint over earlier Art-Efforts.

 

She would be a Shoo-In for the Whitney-Biennale, were she American, instead of French.

 

Unfortunately, neither she nor the Beast/Monster/Man-in-the-Mask excite any kind of Interest or Sympathy, so why get Overworked about her Visit to the Castle, here evoked in B-&-W-Projected-Images?

 

What is most fascinating about the Lemieux-Pilon-Project’s Projections is the way that White-Horse seems to canter through a Ghostly-Space in the Heart of Real-Stage-Space.

 

 

World-Premiere of Terrence McNally’s AND AWAY WE GO  [★★★]

 

Whirlwind-Tour-Collage of Theatre-History & World-History, But No Plautus & Terence?

 

You’d really have to be a Theatre-PhD-Candidate to properly appreciate And Away We Go—which takes Pearl-Theatre-Audiences by leaps & bounds & Varied-Backtracks from the Festival-of-Dionysus in Fifth-Century-Athens onward to Modern-Theatre-Tsouris.

 

Some of the Supportive-But-Aging-Spectators, however, seemed Baffled

 

At times, so was Your Roving Arts-Correspondent: What Play Is This? What Century Are We In Now?

 

Why are we Moving Backward-&-Forward? Why aren’t Women Acting-on-Stage? Why aren’t there More-Women-Playwrights?

 

As McNally’s Given-Name is Terrence, why didn’t he include Terence, a Playwriting-Giant in Ancient-Rome?

 

Frankly—although also a Theatre-PhD, specializing in Theatre-History & Dramatic-Literature—I was at times baffled by the Historical-Snippets & Intramural-Sniping: Why did McNally write this? Why did the Pearl choose to produce it?

 

Is this his Last-Hurrah?

 

In any case, Lots of Set-Dressers must have been employed by Sanda Goldmark, the Scenic-Designer—who loaded the Thrust-Stage with all manner of Theatre-Props, Costumes, & Domestic-Junk.

 

With Scores of Varied-Lighting-Devices overhead…

 

There was No-Intermission.

 

The Production was said to be only Ninety-Minutes-Long.

 

It seemed Longer

 

But the Pearl-Ensemble soldiered gallantly onward!

 

 

MSM’s Opera-Scenes: LOVE & OTHER MISTAKES  [★★★]

 

Ned Rorem & Gertrude Stein Not Quite in Same Class as Haydn, Gluck, & Hindemith…

 

As usual, Opera-Aspirants at the Manhattan-School-of-Music were admirable in their Fully-Staged-Scenes.

 

Dona D. Vaughn is Artistic-Director of the Opera-Theatre-Program, so she must have had a hand in selecting the Scenes.

 

Christoph Willibald Gluck’s vision of Handsome-Paris courting the Already-Married-Helen—in Paride ed Elena—was charmingly set & archly-acted, with Helen breaking Pure-White-Arrows in twain.

 

Paul Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna embodies a Lurid-Legend of Illicit-Desire & Dire-Punishment.

 

Stage-Director Richard Gammon could have made this Scene a bit less Ritually-Formalistic

 

Still, it’s interesting to speculate—seeing a Loin-Clothed-Jesus hanging high up on the Cross—what’s really Under that Long-Stretch-of-Fabric?

 

Or, when Cloistered-Nuns spend so much time on their Knees, looking up at the Loincloth, what are they really Adoring?

 

The most charming, most amusing of the Love-Explorations was Joseph Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, wherein an Adamant but Foolish-Father is tricked into believing he’s been transported to the Moon.

 

As ingeniously-realized by Set-Designer Carolyn Mraz, this Modernized-Moon looked nothing like that Old-NASA-Moon.

 

Who to Blame for choosing Ned Rorem’s repetitive-setting of Gertrude Stein’s deliberately-idiotic Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters: Vaughn, Gammon, or Conductor Marcello Cormino? Or All Three…

 

This was hardly worth Singing-About.

 

Ned did better later with Miss Julie. But he remains most infamous for his Tell-All-Diaries.

 

Still, it must have cost MSM some Bucks to equip the Entire-Cast of Murderers-&-Murdered Sisters-&-Brothers with all those Orange-Wigs.

 

 

Dennis Kelley’s TAKING CARE OF BABY  [★★]

 

Some Names Have Been Changed & Transcripts Edited, But This Is What They Said…

 

Margaret Colin was Lynn Barrie in Taking Care of Baby, with Reed Birney as Dr. Millard.

 

Kristen Bush was an often-hysterical Donna McAuliffe.

 

She was Under-Suspicion for the Death of her Five-Month-Old-Son, so, No-Wonder.

 

Critics were given only One-Press-Ticket.

 

This seemed odd, as the tiny Theatre-Space behind the real downstairs MTC-Theatre on West-55th—where the Manhattan-Theatre-Club is presenting the Harold-&-Mimi-Steinberg New-Play-Series—was only half-full.

 

At the Interval—with still an Hour to go—many left, including two Fellow-Critics.

 

At least this Total-Recall-Reconstruction was not about the Heartbreak-of-Abortion

 

 

Vladimir Jurowsky Conducts Juilliard-Orchestra in EARLY-SHOSTAKOVICH  [★★★★★]

 

How Can An Authentic Russian-Genius-Composer Survive with Killer-Stalin as His Music-Critic?

 

In the earliest days of Communism in Soviet-Russia, one of the Greatest-Composers of the 20th-Century got his start earning Pin-Money by playing Piano-Accompaniments to Silent-Films.

 

This was, of course, Dmitri Shostakovich, who soon composed Specific-Music for a Sovkino-Epic about the destruction of the Paris-Commune of 1870, called New-Babylon.

 

As vividly-described by Program-Notator James M. Keller & as astoundingly-conducted by Vladimir Jurowsky, this Reconstructed-Score—only Three-Reels-Worth in Alice-Tully-Hall, alas—makes one want to see the Reconstructed-Film with the Original-Shostakovich-Music.

 

The Dynamic-Juilliard-Orchestra—which also serves as Pit-Orchestra for Juilliard-Opera-Productions—caught its Collective-Breaths long enough to launch into Shostakovich‘s Hypothetically-Murdered Orchestral-Suite.

 

These Jazzy-Melodies—including Thé-Dansant-Tunes—may well astonish us today, recalling the Epic-Horrors of the Workers-State in action.

 

This Score is Pure-Music-Hall, inspired by its English-Predecessors.

 

But True-Proletarians soon Put-a-Stop to such essentially Bourgeois-Entertainments in the Soviet-Union.

 

Years ago, my late Colleague & Friend, Peter Higgins—who was VP & A&R-Manager for EMI-Records—played me some 1920s-Russian-Recordings of this Art-Deco-Vintage Shostakovich.

 

Commies dancing to Tea for Two? How could that be?

 

Oddly enough, in the earliest days of the Great-Proletarian-Experiment, there was a fantastic burgeoning of Modernist-Arts in Performance, Spatial, & the Graphic-Arts. Think Suprematism

 

This amazing Juilliard-All-Shostakovich-Concert concluded with a Rousing-Rendition of Shostakovich‘s Symphony No. 1, completed when he was still in his Teens.

 

Once that Murderous-Georgian, Josef Stalin, had made himself Dictator, all Soviet-Artists were in danger if they did not serve Socialist-Realism.

 

With Serge Prokofiev, Shostakovich was one of the Two-Leading-Soviet-Composers, but, with Stalin as State-Music-Critic, Shostakovich was frequently In-Trouble.

 

I do wish I’d had James M. Keller’s fascinating Program-Notes before the Concert, so helpful are they in understanding & enjoying these Scores.

 

Is this the same James M. Keller whom I once knew as a Berkeley-Poet, who gave Culture-Lectures at the Berkeley-Public-Library?

 

At first, I was a bit puzzled: why had they given me Tickets right-up-front? I was looking up at the Shoes of Female-Violinists!

 

Stranger yet: all the Basses & the Celli were on my side of the stage—Stage-Right, rather than on the traditional Stage-Left.

 

Tiring of studying Spike-Heels, I looked to my right where the very intense Vladimir Jurowsky was conducting the Juilliarders with a Fervent-Passion that was astonishing.

 

Jurowsky is on-loan to the Juilliard-School from the Met-Opera, where he is currently conducting, when he is not in London, with the London Philharmonic, of which he is the Principal-Conductor.

 

From his Amazing-Bio, he seems to be conducting all the Major-Symphonies of the World, not to overlook his work with the Glyndebourne-Opera-Festival, etc, etc, etc.

 

On the Podium, he is a Wonder-to-Watch!

 

Sensitively—rather than Magisterially—wielding the Takt-Stock, he seems to be looking at each Orchestra-Member in turn.

 

But it is with his agile Left-Hand & Arm that his sensitivity to Individual-Contributions becomes apparent.

 

There is a Choreographic-Poetry in the Movement of his Left-Hand: especially the Fingers!

 

Each Individual-Digit has a Mind-of-Its-Own & a Subtle-Suggestion to impart.

 

Anyone fortunate enough to have savored this Shostakovich-Evening will surely want to get CDs of the Selections played, as well as any Jurowsky-Recordings available.

 

Bravo Juilliard & Vladimir Jurowsky!

 

 

Mark St. Germain’s BECOMING DR. RUTH  [★★★★★]

 

The Good-Doctor Is Still Giving Sex-Advice, Even Though She’s Now 85-Years-Old!

 

It is thanks to the Swiss-Kindertransport that Dr. Ruth was saved, to help save Us from our Sexual-Hang-ups.

 

Born into a loving German-Jewish-Family in Frankfurt-am-Main, this Young-Girl was spared, when the rest of her Kin were being transported to Deadly-Destinations.

 

When the Nazis began rounding-up Non-Aryans—which included Jews, Gypsies, & Homosexuals—the Neutral-Swiss offered Sanctuary to some 300 Jewish-Children, who would leave Germany on a Special-Train, called the Kindertransport.

 

The ebullient if dimunitive Force-of-Nature—who eventually became Dr. Ruth Westheimer—is now on-view over at the Westside-Theatre on West 43rd.

 

On-Stage, she is wonderfully-embodied by Debra Jo Rupp—who could also double as Bette Midler, when it comes time to do a Middler-Bio-Show.

 

Fortunately, on the Very-Evening that Your Roving Arts-Reporter decided to check-out Becoming Dr. Ruth, the Real Dr. Ruth was on-hand, to sign Autographs in the Foyer & answer Questions on-stage in a Mock-Up of her old Washington-Heights-Apartment.

 

If either your Girlfriend or your Wife gags at the very thought of Oral-Sex, Dr. Ruth suggests coating the Aroused-Member with Whipped-Cream, Chocolate-Sauce, or Similar-Toppings.

 

If those don’t work, she will even endorse a Scoop-of-Ice-Cream. This Good-Advice will also work with Other-Aspects of the Genital-Anatomy.

 

Playwright Mark St. Germain was also on-hand to explain how he’d worked with Dr. Ruth, to tell her Entire-Story in an Intermissionless-Evening, as she is packing-up Beloved-Photos & Collectibles, to leave the Heights.

 

In the Nazi-Era in Mittel-Europa, the Swiss—though resolutely Neutral, like the Swedes: they could sell Arms to Both-Sides—were monitoring the "Labor-Camps,” through the International-Red-Cross.

 

But they were then no great Lovers-of-Jews, although they could offer Sanctuary, if they so chose.

 

The Young-Girl—much more fortunate than that other Young-Girl, Anne Frank—who became Dr. Ruth soon discovered that the Swiss who had saved her really had no use for Jews, other than as Servants & Workers.

 

So she found her way to Palestine, which soon became Israel: at least that Part that wasn’t then considered Jordanian-Territory.

 

Like many European-Born-Israelis, Dr. Ruth soon found her way to America, notably to New York & a PhD. No, she is not a Medical-Doctor

 

The Rest-Is-History: How Dr. Ruth Made Sex Seem OK!

 

This fascinating Bio-Show has been deftly-choreographed by Julianne Boyd, who is Artistic-Director of the Barrington-Stage-Company, where Becoming Dr. Ruth was developed.

 

 

Jack Viertel’s Concept, with Wynton Marsalis’ Cotton-Club-Collaging: AFTER MIDNIGHT  [★★★★]

 

The Cotton-Club Lives Again, Not in Harlem, However: Dancin’ Up a Storm on West-47th -Street!

 

Fantastic! The Revue-of-Revues! The Glory-Days of Harlem Are Back—but in Midtown!

 

Seldom has so much High-Powered Dancing & Singing been seen on a Broadway-Stage in a Revue-Format!

 

Among the Many-Stars are Fantasia Barrino, Dulé Hill, Adriane Lenox, Karine Plantadit, Jared Grimes, & Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards

 

The Living-Spirit of Wynton MarsalisJazz-at-Lincoln-Center!—animates this Lively-Show, but the Spectral-Presence of Duke Ellington is also Manifest.

 

Isabel Toledo just has to get a Tony-Nomination for Best-Costumes: Not since the days of Flo Ziegfeld & The Follies have so many Ostrich-Feathers been On-Parade!

 

From the Composer-Pen of Duke Ellington, we have Daybreak-Express & Braggin-in-Brass, but—worth noting—Dorothy Fields & Jimmy McHugh are represented by I Can’t Give you Anything But Love, with Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler offering us I’ve Got the World on a String & Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, among other Gems.

 

Warren Carlyle staged & choreographed this Powerhouse-of-Talent, with Daryl Waters animating the Jazzy, Bluesy-Orchestra, jamming On-Stage!

 

 

Freedman & Lutvak’s A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER  [★★★★★]

 

Die! Die! Die! All You D’Ysquiths! Jefferson Mays Takes the Fall for a Foul-Dynasty…

 

How can it be that the D’Ysquith-Heirs are dying-off with frightening Regularity?

 

Anyone of a Certain-Age—who long ago saw Kind-Hearts & Coronets—knows the Drill: A Wronged-Young-Man has been sidelined by a Noble-Family, just as his Loving-Mother was disinherited for Marrying-Beneath-Her.

 

Alec Guinness starred as all of the Rapidly-Dying-Heirs to the Earldom.: I shot an Arrow into the Air; it fell to Earth in Berkeley-Square…

 

Guinness was hilarious, but not quite so Virtuosic as Jefferson Mays, who not only Impersonates All-the-D’Ysquiths, but also Sings & Dances with Innocent-Merriment.

 

In fact, the Musical-Adaptation made by Freedman & Lutvak certainly Owes-a-Debt to Gilbert-&-Sullivan, not least in its Ingenious-Lyrics: Patterned-Patter-Songs & all that…

 

Bryce Pinkham, as Monty Navarro, is an Excellent-Foil for Mays, always plotting to remove Successive-Obstacles to his achieving The-Earldom, together with Lands & Castle.

 

Like the recent production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is ensconced inside a Baroque-Toy-Theatre-Frame. As with Drood, it is also played somewhat in the Spirit of the British-Music-Hall: Camp-Plus…

 

The Entire-Cast—most of whom assume Varied-Roles, but not so many as Mays!—is excellent.

 

Multi-Awards-Nominations for Alexander Dodge—not only for his Toy-Theatre-Proscenium—but also for the Visually-Hilarious-Scenes that take place inside it.

 

His-D’Ysquith-Anglican-Lordship, falling down inside the Great-Tower of his Minster, a rapidly-revolving Video behind him, is a Stroke-of-Genius.

 

Awards also for Linda Cho & her Period-Costumes. She must have saved the Producers a Bundle, as so many of the Characters are frequently wearing Funereal-Black!

 

The Walter-Kerr-Theatre is fairly intimate, so you will have this Charming-Spoof almost in your Lap. But it’s sure to be a Hit & with Limited-Seating, you need to Book-Now.

 

You won’t walk out of the Kerr humming Hit-Tunes, however. They are Show-Integral & far too Clever for Random-Remembering

 

Darko Tresnjak staged, as he did for the Hartford-Stage-World-Premiere, but then he is Artistic-Director up in Hartford.

 

Peggy Hickey, as Show-Choreographer, made Good-Use of the Very-Limited-Stage-Space.

 

In short, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is a Jewel-Box-Show in a Jewel-Box-Proscenium inside the Walter-Kerr-Jewel-Box-Theatre.

 

 

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