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Glenn's Report for March 2014

April 4, 2014

Report for The Month of March 2014

 

©GLENN LONEY 2014

 

 

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…

 

This Past-March of 2014 must have been one of the Most-Weather-Challenged ever.

 

Talk about Global-Warming

 

Republican-Lawmakers were laughing at this seemingly Idiotic-Idea, even as they Froze-Their-Toes, their Hard-Hearts having been Frozen years ago.

 

Epic-Snowstorms followed All-Engulfing-Snowstorms.

 

Banks of Filthy-Black-Snow piled-up along the Central-Park-Walls on Fifth-Avenue, laced with Salt that failed to melt them.

 

Mini-Snowplows came along to vault the Iced-Drifts over the Walls into the Park, where the Salt will surely Poison-the-Earth where the Daffodils are supposed to spring-up any minute now…

 

Mythically, Poetically, Rhetorically, & Optimistically, March is supposed to "Come in Like a Lion & Go Out Like a Lamb.”

 

Well, that didn’t Work-Out as hoped-for…

 

Nonetheless, the Robust-Irish-Paddies marched Up-Fifth-Avenue on the Seventeenth-of-March—which is ordinarily One-Way in the Other-Direction.

 

Unfortunately, there is Only-One-Way for Irish-Catholic-Male-Sexual-Urges, so, once-again, the Proud-Paddies forbade Gay-Irishmen to March alongside Real-Men!

 

There may have been some Irish-Priests marching—I didn’t watch, even though the Parade-Route passes my Doorway: seen one Paddy-Day-Parade & you’ve Seen-Them-All—but then Pedophilia isn’t quite the same thing as Homophilia, is it?

 

In response to the Perceived-Irish-Homophobia, the Italianate-Mayor & the Italian-American-Governor refused to March along…

 

Fortunately—at Higher-Levels-of-Government—neither the Pentagon nor the State-Department Drone-Bombed Contested-Crimea.

 

Nor did John Kerry attempt to replace Vlad-the-Impaler-Putin with another Shah-of-Iran, as we have run out of Replacement-Rulers. Hamid Karzai has proved a Multi-Billion-Dollar-Disappointment…

 

Anyway, March was also a Disappointment, but "April-Showers Bring May-Flowers,” followed by "Rough-Winds Do Shake the Darling-Buds of May.”

 

Please, Poets & Weather-Watchers! Give Us a Break!

 

Were it not for some All-Star-Broadway-Productions, March would have been a Total-Loss!

 

 

PASSING-GLANCES AT SHOW-SCENES-SEEN:

 

Who could have guessed that—in the Frantic-Run-Up to the Major-Drama-Awards—there would be so many Outstanding-Premiers & Impressive-Revivals?

 

Here are just a Few of the Amazing-Shows more-fully-discussed Below:

 

Quiara Alegría Hudes’ THE HAPPIEST SONG PLAYS LAST  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Robert Askin’s HAND-TO-GOD  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Chris Marlowe or Will Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Robert Schenkkan’s ALL THE WAY  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Victor Hugo’s Musicalized LES MISÉRABLES  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Chris Marlowe, Ben Jonson, or Bill Shakespeare’s KING LEAR  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Brian Richard Mori’s HELLMAN V. MCCARTHY  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

John Van Druten’s I REMEMBER MAMA  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

Lorraine Hansberry’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

All of these Imaginative-Productions had, as usual, Outstanding-Casts.

 

But it must be said that even the Less-Than-Wonderful-Ones generally had Excellent-Actors who were desperately doing all they could to Save-the-Show.

 

No-Matter-What—it’s Better than Being in Philadelphia!

 

Or Anywhere in New-Jersey…

 

 

The Bard’s ANTONY & CLEOPATRA  [ÖÖ]

 

Cleopatra Was a Greek-Ptolemy, Not an African-Queen, Nor an Imperious-Sexpot from Barbados…

 

Whether actually crafted by Will Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe, Antony & Cleopatra is ingeniously-structured to achieve Maximum-Dramatic-Effect.

 

Although its Historical-Basis is sound, it is a Romantic-Tragedy, rather than a History-Play.

 

John Dryden tried to improve on its Emotional-Effects by rewriting it as All for Love, or, The World Well Lost.

 

The Language, the Rhetoric, the Poetic-Imagery of Antony & Cleopatra are among the most Powerful & Moving in all the Bardic-Canon.

 

So it is an Epic-Disappointment that what once began—under Joe Papp—as fundamentally a Shakespeare-Theatre is now more interested in offering Trendy-Productions of both Classics & Modern-Inventions, notably the current Caribbean-Deconstruction of what was long, long ago a Doomed-Love on an Epic-Scale.

 

Of course, what the Aging-Public now is seeing down at the Public-Theatre is not exactly Antony & Cleopatra as originally imagined & written.

 

No Indeed! This A-&-C has been "Edited & Directed,” as though Shakespeare/Marlowe’s Original needed some Restructuring to make it more Accessible to Dumbed-Down Modern-Audiences.

 

This Thoughtless-Dismantling is augmented by the Perceived-Need to integrate New-World Ethnic-Influences into what once could have been regarded as a Disastrous-Passion in the midst of a Mediterranean-Power-Struggle.

 

So it is that Queen Cleopatra—supposedly enthroned in Alexandria [Egypt, not Virginia]—is surrounded by Haitian-Voodoo & Bahamian-Drumming.

 

Nonetheless, Octavius Caesar & His Roman-Entourage are not Regally-Garbed, as befits an Imperious-Emperor—who was soon to declare himself Augustus.

 

No Indeed! They seem to be Refugees from some Regional-Theatre Gilbert-&-Sullivan Production of HMS Pinafore.

 

This could have been intended as a Costume-Suggestion of the former British-Mandate over Egypt?

 

Or perhaps Eighteenth-Century-Brits lording-it-over Bermuda & the Bahamas?

 

It was not a Good-Idea to have some Actors double in Other-Roles, as A-&-C is sufficiently complex that it helps to be able to see Who-is-Who.

 

The Innate-Majesty of some Regal-Expressions & the Passionate-Poetry of some Vibrant-Exchanges between Cleo & Tony—not to overlook the Inimitable-Phrasings of Enobarbus—are worthy of the Best-Dramatic-Diction that Metropolitan-Mimes can muster.

 

Only some in this Cast passed-muster in that regard, notably Chukwudi Iwuji, Ash Hunter, & Samuel Collings.

 

But then, they are on-loan from British-Actors-Equity, as this Production was premiered in November at Stratford-upon-Avon, in the Swan-Theatre of the Royal-Shakespeare-Company.

 

So also is the current Antony, Jonathan Cake, whose Pecs have also taken Center-Stage in other productions at home & abroad.

 

If the Bard wrote Stage-Directions in the Margins of his Scripts, we will never know, as no Shakespeare-Play-Manuscripts survive.

 

But some Staging-Instructions are implicit in the Lines: When Caesar has to query which of the Three-Ladies is the Egyptian-Queen, it is clear that Cleo has asked one of her Handmaids to impersonate her.

 

This Intended-Illusion was entirely ignored by the Stage-Director/Editor.

 

For that matter, some of the originally Amusing-Exchanges between Charmian & Iras are also lost in this Misguided-Production.

 

So, finally Oskar Eustis—the Public’s Chief-Honcho—is not entirely to blame for this Caribbean-Transformation.

 

No, that must be laid at the Doorstep of the RSC & Whoever is now In-Charge over there in Stratford, where the Corpse of Billy-Shakespeare must surely be whirling in its Parish-Church-Tomb.

 

Long, long ago, Kenneth Tynan—one of the wittiest Drama-Critics ever—said that Shakespeare’s Misfortune was that he was not only Dead, but he didn’t have an Agent to protect him either.

 

 

On a More-Personal-Note:

 

I am probably one of the very few US-Based Drama-Critics who has ever visited the Shores of the Bay-of-Actium, where Caesar’s Ships defeated the Forces of Antony, after Cleopatra’s Egyptian-Sails deserted him.

 

This was an Accidental-Dividend of my Journey to the Ancient-City of Megalopolis, where I watched an Athenian-Ensemble—dedicated to performance of Classic-Dramas in Classic-Greek-Theatres—who were offering The Trojan Women to Local-Peasants.

 

The Real-Reason the Name of this Fatal-Bay resonated in Memory was my Hands-On-Experience with Antony & Cleopatra—when I designed & executed the Stage-Lighting for a University-Theatre-Production at UC/Berkeley way back in 1947.

 

Of course, I’d already read this Resonant-Drama in High-School, but following the Play-Text in Rehearsals, I soon Knew-It-By-Heart & so could also Prompt.

 

This is a Major-Reason that I was so aghast at the "Editing” & Omissions of the Current-Staging.

 

Another Berkeley-Memory of our own Antony & Cleopatra was the Subtle-Performance of the Eunuch-Mardian.

 

This Intriguing-Neuter was played by Anderson Cooper’s Father!

 

My Chum, Wyatt Cooper—who went on to marry Gloria Vanderbilt…

 

 

Quiara Alegría Hudes’ THE HAPPIEST SONG PLAYS LAST  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

In Iraq, Death; In Jordan, Regret & Film-Making; In Philly, Love in Old-Age; Overall: Redemption!

 

Premiered at Chicago’s Goodman-Theatre, this complex & fascinating Generational-Drama is enriched by a Latino-Cantina Musical-Accompaniment.

 

But it is Not a Musical.

 

Instead, it dramatizes the drastic-effects of Our-Intervention in Iraq—in the Aftermath—on Two-Families, one of them Iraqi, Refugees in Jordan; the other, Puerto-Rican, surviving in Philadelphia.

 

Lefty, a Gung-Ho-Marine, is working on & in a film about that Middle-East-Crisis.

 

Ali, who has fled Iraq with his family to Jordan—trying to look & sound Jordanian—is assisting the Unseen-Cinema-Director.

 

Ordered to Iraq—ostensibly to win the Hearts & Minds of Iraqis—the Militant-Lefty shot an Iraqi in the face, keeping his Passport.

 

Now, on set, working with a young Actress, Shar, to recreate scenes of Middle-Eastern-Mayhem, he is stricken with remorse & asks Ali to return the Passport to the Family of the Dead-Man…

 

Meanwhile, back in Philly, Lefty’s sister, Yaz, is able to stay-in-contact thanks to Electronic-Technology.

 

She has her Own-Problems, not least of them being an Aged-Suitor, Agustín—who lives next-door with his Aged-Wife—but who wants to Plant a Belated-Seed in her Womb.

 

If this sounds a bit Strange, it certainly is, but its Working-Out—thanks to the Genius of Playwright Hudes—is both Heart-Wrenching & Heart-Warming.

 

As is usual at 2econd-Stage [yes, that’s the way they like to spell it], the Cast is excellent, with Anthony Chisholm especially forceful, yet naïve, as Lefty & Dariush Kashani wonderfully rueful & open as Ali.

 

Annapurna Riesco—although named for a formidable Himalayan-Peak—is an East/West-Wonder, with Lauren Vélez—holding-the-fort back in a Philadelphia-Barrio—finally won by the Fervent-Musical-Entreaties of Tony Plana, as a charming Agustín.

 

TS Eliot once suggested that the Way the World Ends is Not with a Bang, but a Whimper.

 

Fortunately for Hudes’ Embattled-Humans, the Happiest-Song indeed does Play-Last.

 

Lefty, thanks to Ali, also gets to see the Magic of Nabatean-Petra, as well as fly-off to Cairo to savor the Arab-Spring & the Ouster-of-Mubarak…

 

The estimable Ruben Santiago-Hudson—recently seen as August Wilson at Signature—lovingly staged this admirable Engagement of East & West.

 

 

Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Nora’s Door-Slam—Heard Round the World—Resounds Again Over at BAM!

 

Way back in 1879, North-European-Audiences were shocked by Nora Helmer deciding to Slam-the-Door on her Doll-House-Home, Patronizing-Husband, & Nanny-Cosseted-Children.

 

"Women can’t think for themselves!”

 

"Women need the care & guidance of Loving-Husbands!”

 

In these Times of Women’s-Liberation, Ibsen’s once Hotly-Disputed Domestic-Drama could seem a Quaint-Artifact of a Male-Dominated-World that no longer exists.

 

Thanks to the remarkable Young-Vic-Production briefly at BAM—especially to the Nora of Hattie Morahan—this Male/Female-Conflict seems entirely Fresh & Real, even in its Ever-Revolving Period-Setting.

 

Skillfully supported by Director Carrie Cracknell, Hattie Morahan is radiant as the Flighty-Young-Wife of the Doting—but entirely Paternal—Bank-Manager, Torvald Helmer, strongly embodied by Dominic Rowan.

 

Although Nora seems to both Family & Friends as something of a Pretty but Lightweight Wife & Mother—more like a Post-Teen, who needs a Fatherly-Husband, an Adult-Admirer, the doomed Dr. Rank, a Maid, & a Nanny to survive in Small-Town Norwegian-Society—she has actually Saved-Torvald’s-Life.

 

Unbeknownst to him…

 

How she had the Courage to do this—even unto Breaking-the-Law—was a Cautionary-Tale way back in 1879, but even now, it has its Resonances.

 

Not that we might equate the Egotistical Torvald Helmer with the Reality-Challenged Donald Trump, but there are still Pig-Headed-Husbands out there, often outsmarted by their "Better-Halves,” who know how to conceal their Intelligence & Capabilities.

 

Were this Young-Vic-Astonishment not limited to relatively Few-Performances over in Brooklyn, it would surely have a Real-Run on Broadway, where Well-Made-Plays are in Short-Supply.

 

Especially Admirable is the Revolving-Doll-House of Ian MacNeil, for it enables the BAM-Audience to get to know the Daily-Life of the Helmers as they are seen—often silently—moving from room-to-room, sitting quietly or in Flurries-of-Activity.

 

Ibsen broke with the Melodramatic-Tradition of his Day by not introducing an Unprincipled-Villain to threaten the Domestic-Bliss of the Helmers.

 

Instead, Nils Krogstad [a stalwart Nick Fletcher] has had his Reputation-Ruined but is trying to Restore his Social-Credit.

 

When Helmer dismisses him from the Bank—to replace him with Kristine Linde [a strong Caroline Martin], Nora’s Childhood-Friend, just arrived, Widowed, from a Loveless-Marriage Up-North—he fights-back, threatening Nora with Exposure for Forging a Signature on the Loan that helped her save Torvald from Death.

 

If you missed Doll’s House in Brooklyn, you surely must have read it years ago? It is, after all, one of the Great-Classics of the Modern-Theatre.

 

Nonetheless, seeing this Young-Vic-Version—newly-Englished by Simon Stephens—was like the Experience-of-The-First-Time!

 

London/Brooklyn Footnote: This is not the First-Time that BAM has brought the Young-Vic to New York.

 

Founded years ago by Director Frank Dunlop—just down the Avenue from London’s Old-Vic—the Young-Vic specialized in mounting New-Visions of Theatre-Classics for Young-Audiences with Young-Performers!

 

Years ago, BAM’s Harvey Lichtenstein brought the Young-Vic over from London with Jim Dale in Frank Dunlop’s Innovative-Production of Molière’s Scapino.

 

This was such a Huge-Success that it had to move across the East-River to Broadway!

 

It helped make Jim Dale a Broadway-Star!

 

It also helped make the Glenn-Loney-Bank-Account a bit more Secure.

 

I was commissioned by Dramatic-Publishers to prepare an Official Young-Vic Acting-Edition of Scapino.

 

This is a Companion-Piece to the Authorized Royal-Shakespeare Acting-Edition of Peter Brook’s Production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

This was also commissioned by Dramatic-Publishers, whose Proprietor, the late Chris Sergel, had been tremendously-impressed by Brook’s Staging when it came to BAM, also imported by Harvey Lichtenstein.

 

This Initial-NYC-Interaction with Peter Brook—whom I already knew from his Co-Founding of the RSC with Peter Hall & Michel St. Denis—later led to an Opera-News Cover-Story when he brought his Innovative Carmen to Lincoln-Center.

 

As well as a CUNY-Grad-Center Peter-Brook-Seminar, based on his BAM-Production of The Mahabharata, but actually surveying Brook’s Entire-Career, closing with a Two-Hour Loney-Brook-Interview before a CUNY-Audience much larger than the Seminar.

 

This, in turn, resulted in a Book-Record of that Seminar: PETER BROOK: From Oxford to Orghast.

 

 

Marsha Norman & Jason Robert Brown’s THE BRIDGES OF MADISON-COUNTY  [ÖÖ]

 

Musical-Chairs, Dancing-Fences, Flying-Architecture: Madison-County Is In Trouble…

 

How can a Musical-Adaptation of a Best-Selling-Novel—with more than 12-Million-Copies in print, in more than 40-Languages—go so Wrong?

 

The Movie-Version of Bridges starred Meryl Streep & Clint Eastwood!

 

Could they have Saved-This-Show had they been invited to replace Kelli O’Hara & Steven Pasquale?

 

Streep & Eastwood singing? Don’t be Ridiculous!

 

O’Hara & Pasquale sing just fine & they both have Attractive-Physical-Attributes: Pasquale often sheds his shirt so the Matinée-Ladies can admire his Pecs.

 

A number of the Show’s Songs are OK, though there’s a Certain-Sameness about Jason Robert Brown’s Musical-Lines & Arrangements.

 

The Major-Problem is Pulitzer-Prize-Winner Marsha Norman’s Book-Adaptation of Robert James Waller’s Best-Seller which begins in 1965 & follows the Heroine to the Graveyard, where they all have Black-Umbrellas, just like that Scene in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.

 

Thus is Focus destroyed & Songs are inserted here & there along the way, even if there is No-Dramatic-Need for them.

 

Playing Wife & Mother on a Flat-Iowa-Farm—in a Boring-Landscape, with Boring, but Nosy-Neighbors—Kelli O’Hara does her best to suggest an Ex-Neapolitan-Sexpot, whose True-Love, one of Mussolini’s Soldiers, was killed in World-War-II.

 

So she marries a Genial-GI, who is in Reality an Iowa-Farmer—played by Sutton Foster’s Brother, Hunter—to raise a Contentious Son & Daughter & Cook & Sew way out in the Plains.

 

Far off from Naples…

 

Which has been recently Photographed—in its Post-War-Reconstruction—by a National-Geographic-Photographer, who has just come out to Iowa the Photograph the Covered-Bridges of Madison-County.

 

Kelli & Pasquale have a Brief-Fling, but Life-Goes-On, with Songs-Along-the-Way…

 

So the Audience gets, in a sense, Snap-Shots of Engagements, Weddings, Baby-Birthings, Anniversaries, & Funerals—with Thornton Wilder’s Black-Umbrellas.

 

This is Less-Than-Riveting. I was not On-the-Edge-of-My-Seat with Anticipation of the Next-Random-Plot-Development.

 

Not having read Waller’s Best-Seller, nor even having seen the Movie, I could see no Necessity for trying to turn this Material into a Broadway-Musical.

 

Nonetheless, there is an Extended-Interview in the Playbill-Program with Norman & Brown, who gush about their Admiration for Bridges.

 

What was really Most-Impressive about Bridges were not the Three-Inverted-U-Frames which descended from the Flies from time-to-time, but that Great-Tree upstage.

 

It deserves the Outer-Critics-Circle’s Special-Achievement Arborial-Award, if ever a Stage-Tree did…

 

However, the Special-Appeal of Waller, I suspect, has largely been to Middle-Aged-Women, who feel Unfulfilled in Their Lives & Loves.

 

Not My Problem.

 

But I do understand that Marriage to an Iowa-Pig-Farmer is preferable to Growing-Old as a Prossie, looking for Lonely-Americans along the Riviera-de-Chia in Naples.

 

 

David Henry Hwang’s KUNG-FU  [ÖÖÖ]

 

Chinese-Opera & Kung-Fu Combine To Provide a Bruce Lee Bio-Dance-Experience…

 

The Production-Values & Martial-Arts-Choreography make this Signature-Production visually-engaging.

 

But I was never all that Curious about the Cinematic-Career of Bruce Lee.

 

The Admirable-Author of The Dance & The Railroad has told me much more than I ever wanted to know. But I am glad that Bruce finally agreed to Sell-That-House.

 

Kudos to the Cast for their Dynamic-Synchronized-Performances, staged by Leigh Silverman & drilled by Sonya Tayeh & Jamie Guan, who specializes in the Ritual-Movements of the Peking-Opera.

 

Seeing that Dream-Scene of Bruce Lee’s Father as an elegant Chinese-Opera-Clown made me long for those wonderful Peking & Cantonese-Opera productions that used to be offered at Fashion-Institute-of-Technology, or FIT.

 

As the frenetic, driven Bruce Lee, Cole Horibe is a Powerhouse.

 

Obviously, Bruce Lee’s Talent was Too-Big for Hong-Kong, especially under the British-Mandate…

 

Did you know that there’s not only a Bruce-Lee-Foundation, but also a Bruce-Lee-Museum?

 

Chartered as a California Public-Benefit-Corporation, the Foundation "seeks to preserve, perpetuate, & disseminate Bruce Lee’s Life-Example, Philosophies, & Art of Jun-Fan-Jeet-Kune-Do©…”

 

Thanks to David Henry Hwang & Signature-Theatre, this Clockwork-Precision-Production certainly advances those Admirable-Aims.

 

But Watch-Out for Bruce’s Flying-Feet!

 

 

Jean-Paul Sartre’s NO-EXIT  [ÖÖÖ]

 

Exit-Doors Are Clearly-Marked at the Pearl-Theatre, If Parisian-Existentialism Is Not-Your-Thing.

 

"Hell is Other-People…”

 

Jean-Paul Sartre may have got this Existentially-Right, returning to Occupied-Paris from German-Imprisonment, when Swastika-Flags were still flying in the City-of-Light.

 

Fortunately, Sartre did not have to deal with the Mormon-Concept that Heaven is All-Our-Relatives, Forever & Ever, Amen!

 

For Sartre, Hell appears to be a Multi-Floored-Hotel, with Elevator & Bellboy & Claustrophobic-Rooms, each equipped with a Modernist-Sculpture, Chaises that do not permit Lying-Down, & a Bell-Rope that does not summon Anyone.

 

There are No Whips-&-Chains, No Instruments-of-Torture…

 

It is quite enough that there will Never Be Night or Day in this Odd-Room, where the Doomed-Dead can never Sleep nor Eat.

 

What they can do is to Talk. To Themselves: How did I get Here? What did I do Wrong?

 

They can also Argue with Each-Other.

 

Or attempt Seduction, which proves a Problem, as the Pathetic Coward Cradeau [Brad Cover] really cannot get-it-up, although the Slutty & Voluptuous Estelle [Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris] is ready-for-action, also inflaming the Lesbian-Passions of Inez [Jolly Abraham].

 

So, is Hell really about Existentially-Frustrated-Sex-Drives?

 

Or is there something Existentially-Philosophical also at stake?

 

Only Simone de Beauvoir—Sartre’s Soul-Mate—may have known the Answer, for it is far from Certain that Sartre himself knew…

 

Paul Bowles—who translated Sartre’s Huis clos from the French—may have had an Inkling.

 

Linda Ames Key staged No Exit for The Pearl Theatre Company Way-Out-West on Forty-Second-Street, but it is Harry Feiner who must be awarded The-Laurels for Collecting & Collaging So-Much-Junk behind the increasingly Transparent-Walls of Sartre’s Room-of-Doom.

 

This Random-Detritus looked like Leftovers from the Set-Decorations of the Pearl’s recent Terence McNalley Classic-Drama-Mash-Up.

 

 

Sarah Ruhl’s STAGE-KISS  [ÖÖ]

 

Deliberately Coarse-Acting in a Deliberately-Disastrous Audition-Rehearsal-Performance-Cycle…

 

There was a time when Sarah Ruhl was hailed as an Important-Emerging-Young-Woman-Playwright.

 

Now, she certainly has the Awards, Nominations, & Citations to Validate this Initial-Estimation.

 

Ruhl is even one of those MacArthur-Genius-Grant Winners!

 

Women’s-Concerns have engaged her Authorial-Attention in such Dramas as The Clean-House & The Vibrator-Play.

 

But what was she thinking when she decided to Focus on a Ditzy-Actress [Jessica Hecht, playing "She”] who arrives Late for an Audition for a Role in an Appalling-Play by Three-Unknown-Authors, to be Directed by a frazzled Old-Fuddy-Duddy, whose Schlumpy-Assistant was a Former-Drama-Student, but now his Main-Squeeze?

 

As for Late-Auditions-Dramas, Playwrights-Horizons would have done well to bring back Nina Arianda, whose flustered Audition-Late-Arrival in Venus-in-Furs was a Portal to a Dynamic-Performance.

 

As for Backstage-Foul-Ups in the Performance of a Disastrous-Script by Inept-Actors, how about a Revival of Michael Frayne’s Noises-Off?

 

The Acting-Style that Stage-Director Rebecca Taichman has elected for her Ragtag-Ensemble is called "Coarse-Acting” by the Brits.

 

Coarse-Acting in a Coarse-Play is not easy to accomplish.

 

Good-Actors trying to Act-Badly can be amusing, as in Noises-Off, but the Danger is that they may be mistaken by the Audience for Really-Incompetent-Actors.

 

The Dramatic-Premise in the Play-within-the-Play in Stage-Kiss is that "She” was once Desperately-Devoted to "He” [Dominic Fumusa], but they Split-Up, with Her going-on to marry an Investment-Type [Daniel Jenkins as "The Husband”] & bear a Child.

 

Now, both Cast as Lovers in the Play-within-the-Play, they must begin Making-Love all over again, starting with a Stage-Kiss.

 

This was somewhat Embarrassing-to-Watch, but some Audience-Members—unfamiliar with How-Plays-Are-Produced—may have been fascinated to watch the Stage-Crew at Work…

 

 

Red-China’s THE RED-DRESS  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Under Chairman-Mao, the Show To See Was The-Red-Detachment-of-Women

Now, Under Chinese-Communist-Capitalism, It’s More Sartorial: The Red-Dress

 

If you have never heard of the Port-City of Ningbo, in Southern-China, you are not alone among Globe-Trotting-Americans.

 

If you already are familiar with the Performance-Traditions of Peking-Opera or Cantonese-Opera, you still may have No-Idea of the differences in Ningbo-Area Production-&-Performance involved in mounting such a Splendid-Spectacle as The Red-Dress, recently seen at Lincoln-Center, in the David-Koch-Memorial-Theatre.

 

So, if you didn’t have Tickets for The Red-Dress, you missed the Opportunity to learn more about the Folk-Customs & Celebratory-Rituals cherished in the Ningbo-Area for Centuries.

 

But then there were only Four-Performances, sponsored by CAEG, better-known as the China-Arts-&-Entertainment-Group, a Creative-Enterprise under the Administration of the Ministry-of-Culture for the People’s-Republic-of-China.

 

The Red-Dress is the Third-Production that CAEG has brought to the Koch-Theatre, developing an On-Going-Relationship, showcasing China’s Historical-Contribution to World-Theatre.

 

This is entirely Admirable as Chiang-Ching—Madame Mao—did everything she could to stamp-out Traditional-Chinese-Opera, replacing it with Stage-Works such as Red Detachment of Women & The Taking of Tiger-Mountain by Strategy.

 

More than 45 Skilled-Dancers appeared in The Red-Dress, clad in Periodic-Changes of Traditional-Costumes, all handsomely-crafted of Beautiful-Fabrics.

 

The Red-Dress tells the ultimately Sad-Story of a Young-Maiden who falls in love with a Young-Man who goes off to find Fame-&-Fortune, as was the Custom before the Thought-of-Chairman-Mao taught Youngsters of The-Red-Guard more Constructive-Forms of Discipline-&-Behavior.

 

Although they have been Formally-Engaged, He eventually marries Someone-Else, breaking her Heart.

 

But, at the close, She still Dreams of her Longed-for-Wedding-Ceremony, the Red-Sedan-Chair & the Red-Wedding-Dress.

 

This Tale is told in Four-Acts: Dream-Love, Dream-Farewell, Dream-Return, & Dream-Wedding.

 

The Dance-Routines, wonderfully-performed, have a Certain-Sameness, but it is a Joy to see so many Petite-Performers scurrying across the Stage with hundreds of Tiny-Steps.

 

As well as to Admire the Athleticism of the Male-Dancers…

 

The Set-Changes are also magical, framing so many Handsomely-Costumed-Dancers.

 

But you really needed to read the Program-Notes beforehand to understand the Significance of the Distinctive-Southern-Chinese-Customs being celebrated in The Red-Dress.

 

How about the Daughter’s-Wine of Shaoxing, the Rolling-Silkworms of Jiaxing, or the Descendants’-Bucket of Ningbo?

 

They raise Silkworms in Eastern-Zhejiang-Province, so it was long the Custom for Young-Girls to put Papers containing Silkworm-Seeds [sic] in their Bosoms, to warm them so they can grow better [sic].

 

In March of the Chinese-Lunar-Year, Boys & Girls come together to Stroke & Touch Each-Other, so that makes the Girls’ Hearts beat faster, helping the Silkworm-Seeds along. [Or so says the Press-Release.]

 

Considering the Concentrated-Efforts that were made during the so-called Cultural-Revolution to eradicate Old-Ideas, Old-Philosophies, Old-Superstitions, Old-Forms, Old-Values, Old-Rituals, & Old-Customs, it is encouraging to discover that not Everything-Old has been destroyed by Maoism.

 

Ancient Burial-Grounds were destroyed so Crops could be Grown.

 

Ancient Temples were dismantled, to discourage Traditional-Worship.

 

But Mao never demanded that The Red-Guard tear down The Great-Wall…

 

Now, his Heirs & Successors are wisely trying to Restore some Elements of What-Was-Lost.

 

 

Robert Askin’s HAND-TO-GOD  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Pornographic-Puppetry in The-House-of-God! Make That Yapping-Puppet Shut-Up!

 

The Holy-Bible tells us Many-Wise-Things.

 

Isn’t there something about Not Letting Your-Right-Hand know what Your-Left-Hand is doing?

 

Seriously-Troubled Jason—the remarkable Steven Boyer—has a Devilish-Puppet welded to his Left-Hand.

 

His Right-Hand cannot control this Trash-Talking-Tyrone-Hand-Puppet.

 

This is Altogether-Unfortunate, for Jason is supposed to be helping his Troubled & Sex-Starved-Mother [Geneva Carr] mount a Religious-Puppet-Show for the Congregation of Pastor Greg [Marc Kudisch] who Piously-Lusts after this Unhappy-Lady.

 

She seems to be running a Puppetry-Workshop with Difficult-Kids.

 

One of them, the Lusty-Timothy [Michael Oberholtzer], is really Not-Into-Puppets, but, very soon, he is Into-Jason’s-Mom.

 

The Remaining-Novice-Puppeteer, Jessica [Sarah Stiles], would like to Connect with Jason, but he is Oblivious, completely Glued-to-Tyrone.

 

Jessica gets the Bright-Idea of making a Girl-Hand-Puppet to engage with Jason’s Left-Hand-Occupant.

 

Jim Henson would probably be Astounded to see what Rogue-Muppets can do…

 

The Holy-Bible does not give us much Advice about Faces & Noses.

 

So it must have been Poor-Richard—in his Almanac—who suggested: Don’t cut off your Nose to Spite your Face…

 

Poor Jason! Instead of his Nixing-His-Nose, he decides to Terminate-Tyrone by smashing his Left-Hand with a Claw-Hammer.

 

Not a Good-Idea!

 

If you don’t mind Dirty-Talk from a Strong-Minded-Hand-Puppet, Hand-To-God is the Show-for-You!

 

Moritz von Stuelpnagel staged in the Ingeniously-Unfolding-Settings of Beowulf Boritt.

 

 

Will Eno’s THE OPEN-HOUSE  [ÖÖ]

 

This-Property-Is-Condemned: You Do Not Want To Buy Will Eno’s Play House—Very Bad-Vibes!

 

Oliver Butler staged Will Eno’s The Open-House for Signature-Theatre with an Admirable-Cast.

 

Unfortunately, the Play itself is a kind of Drama-Stunt, in which the Actors all Switch-Characters after the First-Section.

 

It is also, apparently, intended as a Comedy, for almost all the Golden-Agers around me were shaking with Guffaws.

 

In the First-Section, we were introduced to an almost Schematically-Designed Dysfunctional-Family.

 

Dad is Dyspeptic & Wheelchair-Bound, Indifferent & Cruel by turns…

 

Mom is a Mindless-Ditz. She does not know that Dad is planning to Sell-Their-House.

 

The Psychologically-Damaged Son & Daughter are home for the Parental-Anniversary.

 

In the Second-Section, Dad is still in his Rollstuhl, but the Rest of the Clan seem to be at or in the Hospital, where Dad is soon taken, after something like a Seizure.

 

The Super-Dynamic Real-Estate-Agent was the Distraught-Daughter in the First-Section.

 

The Dim-Son has now become a Home-Improvement-Contractor, who peels off the Bland-Wallpaper to show the Design-Glories behind it.

 

The Potential-Home-Buyers—well, you get the Idea…

 

Dad even returns as an entirely Different-Kind-of-Person!

 

Nonetheless, this Signature-Production is not without Production-Values!

 

When the Front-Door is open, you can see what look like Red-Leafed-Maples in the Yard.

 

A Real-Live-Dog then appears onstage, being the Dog that Ran-Away in the First-Section.

 

This Coup-de-Théâtre reminded me of that long-ago Play, The Dog Ran Away, by the Late Brother-Jonathan, a Franciscan-Monk, with anything but Monkish-Instincts.

 

This Play was produced by the Actors-Studio, when it was busy, years ago, encouraging Young, Emerging-Playwrights.

 

If you Rework the Name ENO, you will get NEO & ONE.

 

So, will Will Eno finally be recognized as One-Neo-Eno-Playwright?

 

He certainly owes a Vote-of-Thanks to the Hard-Working-Actors who animated his Doomed-Housing-Project.

 

 

Randy Sharp’s NOTHING ON EARTH CAN HOLD HOUDINI  [ÖÖÖ]

 

A Nice-Jewish-Boy Wants To Contact His Dead-Mother, But Harry Houdini Is Out-of-Luck…

 

If you are too young to have seen Harry Houdini perform one of his famed Great-Escapes, get down to the Axis-Theatre on Sheridan-Square where you can witness two of those Houdini-Showpieces.

 

The stocky George Demas—robustly & loudly impersonating Harry—frees himself from Multiple-Handcuffs & Leg-Chains, as well as wiggling-out from a Straight-Jacket.

 

But Nothing on Earth Can Hold Houdini isn’t about his Celebrated-Stunts.

 

No, Indeed…

 

It’s about Spiritualism, Mediums, Ectoplasm, Automatic-Writing, Table-Rapping, & Spirit-Photography, among other Paranormal-Crazes of the Late-19th & Early-20th-Centuries.

 

Harry Houdini had Unresolved-Issues with his Departed-Mother, so he was always searching for some way to Contact-Her-Spirit.

 

But every Afterlife-Avenue became closed to him as he Unfailingly-Exposed a variety of Mediums & Spiritualists as Frauds & their Spirit-Messaging as Hoaxes.

 

Houdini’s Incessant-Search brought him into contact—not with his Defunct-Mother—but with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an Ardent-Advocate of Various-Spiritualists.

 

The fabled Creator of Sherlock Holmes was, himself, something of a Sherlock in his own Unrelenting-Search for someone who could help him contact His-Dead-Son.

 

He even married a woman who could do Automatic-Writing, her Hands guided by the Spirits!

 

Credulity, Thy Name is Mankind!

 

Since Primal-Times, People have been desperate to Read-The-Omens: What do those Sacrificial-Entrails Foretell?

 

If you cannot make Direct-Contact with the Gods or the Spirits-of-Your-Ancestors, why not have a Shaman or a Priest throw down the Sacred-Bones or raise up a Chalice & Incense-Censer?

 

Is it so very different when a Football-Team prays to the Holy-Virgin—also existing in an Invisible-Domain—so that Notre-Dame can have Victory over Holy-Cross?

 

Or how about consulting an Astrologer to know the Outcome in order to Place-a-Bet?

 

So it is hardly surprising that even a Dour-Scotsman like Sherlock’s Creator could have been so foolish, so driven.

 

When some Spirit-Raisers are exposed—early-on in this drama—their Excuse is that they Provide-Assurances that Desperate-People need to hear.

 

The same may well be said of Ordained & Professional "Spirit-Raisers,” who pray daily in Houses-of-Worship all over the World, passing-on Their Divinely-Inspired-Insights to Hungry-Believers.

 

But neither Harry Houdini nor Playwright Randy Sharp—who also directed—is trying to expose Historically-Entrenched-Spiritualism.

 

The Intimate-Space of the Axis-Theatre makes the Ferocity & Passion of her Cast—especially Demas, as Houdini, & Spencer Aste, as Conan Doyle—almost bounce off the walls.

 

The once Questing-Friendship of Houdini & Doyle is ruptured when, in 1922, Scientific-American offers a Cash-Prize for the first Scientifically-Vetted-Clairvoyant.

 

No one wins in this Contest.

 

The Contesting-Clairvoyants should have seen that coming…

 

The Major-Problem with the Play is that there’s not enough Back-Story about the Psychic-Needs of both Houdini & Conan Doyle.

 

But the Kaleidoscope of their Extended-Efforts to Speak-To-The-Spirits is a bit confusing, as well.

 

Why are they both so desperately driven to Make-Contact with a Dead-Mother & a Dead-Son?

 

Randy Sharp is the Artistic-Director of Axis-Theatre, receiving a Grant for this Show from the Peter-Jay-Sharp-Foundation.

 

The Axis-Theatre now occupies a Cellar-Space that once welcomed Everett Quinton, keeping alive the Late Charles Ludlam’s Theatre-of-the-Ridiculous.

 

Initially, it had a Greek-Theatre-Conformation, having been created for revivals of Classic-Greek-Dramas.

 

Unfortunately, there weren’t that many Greenwich-Villagers dying to see The Trojan Women

 

 

Chris Marlowe or Will Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Duke Leaves a Sexually-Corrupt-Vienna: Will Power Corrupt His Appointed-Deputy?

 

Oscar Eustis is Joe Papp’s Current-Stand-in as Custodian of Shakespeare-in-the-Park & Shakespeare down at the Public-Theatre.

 

Why oh why oh did he import that Appalling-Brit-Staging of Antony & Cleopatra when he could have so easily brought the Hilarious & Ingenious Measure for Measure of those Talented-Bardians from Trinity-Square up in Providence?

 

Not only have the Six-Geniuses of Fiasco-Theatre reduced the Stage-Settings to Six-Doors, but they have also streamlined the marvelous Marlovian-Text so that they can Play-All-the-Roles, changing Character & Costume-Props in an instant!

 

Of course, the Bedlam-Ensemble has presented Hamlet down on Bleecker-Street with only Four-Actors, but Hamlet is not as much Fun as Fiasco’s Measure for Measure, which is by no means a Fiasco!

 

Curious that this Season we have had at least Four-Stagings in which the Actors had to change Roles swiftly, showing Their-Chops in Acting-Varietals.

 

Will Eno’s The Open-House required radical Character-Switches, as did Caryl Churchill’s Love-&-Information.

 

The Big-Difference between these Two-Shows & Fiasco’s Measure for Measure is that the Role-Changing seems more like an Acting-Stunt or even a Method-Exercise in the first two.

 

As with the Bedlam-Ensemble, the Fiasco-Players really Inhabit their Roles, even as they don a Head-cloth, a Cap, or a Friar’s-Hood in full-view of the Audience, the Character-Change is both easy & instaneous.

 

They also perform at Full-Force of Energy & Intention. The Edited-Action moves along swiftly, aided by the Rapid-Fire Focused-Diction of the Ensemble.

 

The Transformation of the seemingly Angelic-Angelo—who proves a Sexual-Predator—into the Rascally-Elbow, a Raucous, Rough Police-Officer, is amazing to behold.

 

Kudos to Paul L. Coffee for his Angelo/Elbow. But also to Emily Young, who easily transforms from the Saucy-Bawd, Mistress Overdone, into the Saintly Isabella.

 

Jessie Austrian is also admirable as both the Honest-Escalus & the Wronged-Mariana.

 

Noah Brody is both Claudio, doomed to Die, & Pompey, a Shallow-Fellow.

 

Most amazingly Flamboyant & Energy-Charged, however, is Ben Steinfeld, who is both Light & a Delight as Froth, but Devastatingly-Funny as the Braggart, Lucio.

 

Lucio should, by his name, be a Light-Bringer, but this Lucio is anything but…

 

Andy Groteleuschen is the Absent-Duke, who somehow has let Vienna descend into Immorality, but leaves Angelo to Restore-Morals.

 

He returns, disguised as a Friar, to Observe & Monitor & at the end, Make-All-Right.

 

The Unfortunate-Isabella has had her Virginity repeatedly threatened in all this Moral-Topsy-Turvy, but the Duke, impressed with her Virtue, offers Marriage.

 

The Drama ends with No-Resolution: not a joyous Ducal-Wedding.

 

In a memorable Ashland-Oregon Shakespeare-Production of Measure for Measure, Isabella seemed both appalled & offended by the Duke’s Proposal. How could she accept, after all he had put her & her Brother Claudio through…

 

 

Polly Pen & Victor Lodato’s ARLINGTON  [ÖÖÖÖ]

 

New Musical-Genre at The Vineyard-Theatre:

Not a Monologue But an Innovative Singalogue—Even a Singalong- Singalogue…

 

The Scene is a Conventional-Living-Room. We could be in Suburbia or in a Play by Will Eno.

 

Sara Jane has just put out some Fresh-Flowers, but she fears Her-Mother won’t like them.

 

She has a Pot-of-Soup on the Stove in the Kitchen.

 

Alexandra Silber, as Sara Jane, sings to us as she bustles about. She does not speak.

 

She is accompanied—behind a Permeable-Scrim—by Ben Moss as Pianist.

 

From Time to Time, he Joins-In so that Sara’s Singalogue becomes either a Singalong or a Duo-Sinaglogue.

 

Although Sara initially seems Chatty & Matter-of-Fact, she has a Terrible-Story to Tell.

 

As she does so, the Light on the Pianist becomes Brighter, so we can see the Devastated-Room in which he sits.

 

This is not exactly Opera-Nuova, but it is an Unusual-Experience!

 

 

Disney’s ALADDDIN  [ÖÖÖ]

 

Flo Ziegfeld! You Would Love This Show! The Ziegfeld-Follies Alive & Well at the New-Amsterdam!

 

Before Florenz Ziegfeld had his Art-Deco-Ziegfeld-Theatre—designed by Vienna’s Joseph Urban—constructed on Sixth-Avenue, the New-Amsterdam on Forty-Second-Street was the World-Famous-Venue for his equally-famed Ziegfeld-Follies.

 

Now it once again swarms with Follies-Girls in Flashy-Costumes & Headwear: Thousands-of-Sequins, thanks to Costume-Designer Gregg Barnes.

 

But these Lovely-Chorus-Girls are not Parading-Around in some long-forgotten Ziegfeld-Revue!

 

No! They are working wonderfully & well as Costumed-Backup to the Main-Characters in this Stage-Version of Disney’s Film-Musical, Aladdin.

 

It used to be that Broadway-Hits would become Major-Motion-Pictures, but Disney-Theatrical-Productions has reversed All-That: Think Lion King & Mary Poppins!

 

Whether a Muslim-Inspired-Show—NSA, Are you Droning-down on Aladdin?—can run as long as Singing-Lions & Airborne-Umbrellas remains to be seen. [Hey! Wasn’t that also a Movie: Remains To Be Seen?]

 

Certainly there is No-Shortage of Elaborately-Filigreed-Middle-Eastern-&-Asian-Scenery & Elaborate-Transformations, thanks to Design-Genius Bob Crowley.

 

I thought I saw the Taj-Mahal in the Middle-Distance. Indian-Agra is a long-way-off from War-Torn-Arabian-Nights-Territory.

 

At a Time when we are all being Very-Careful to Report-All-People with Suspicious-Names like Al-a-Din & Al-Queda, one hopes that there won’t be any Incidents at the New-Amsterdam-Theatre.

 

Yes, Aladdin is a Lavishly-Handsome-Show, with lots of wonderful Stage-Filling-Choreography, devised by Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw.

 

Flo Ziegfeld would have been Proud!

 

What it Lacks is an Onstage-Comic like the Laconic Will Rogers or Juggler W. C. Fields.

 

What it has is a Bulky-Genie as its Effective-Star in the Genial-Person of James Monroe Iglehart.

 

Unfortunately, the Central-Love-Interest doesn’t Generate-Any-Sparks.

 

If the Joyous-Closing of the Dramatic-Sung-&-Danced-Narrative is to be the Union of Street-Rat Aladdin [Jonathan Freeman]& Princess Jasmine [Courtney Reed], I was not exactly On-the-Edge-of-My-Seat to Find-Out how it would Come-Out…

 

Original-Music is by that Old-Disney-Favorite, Alan Menken, with Original-Lyrics by another Old-Disney-Favorite, Howard Ashman, abetted by Tim Rice, who once collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Superstar & Evita.

 

Don’t Get Me Wrong: This is certainly a Lavish-Production, with lots of Lively-Production-Numbers & Distinctive-Production-Values.

 

But, had I Aladdin’s Magic-Lamp, I’d rub it Three-Times…

 

My First-Wish would be for a Revival of Kismet, as choreographed by Jack Cole!

 

My Second-Wish would be for a New-Disney-Musical based on Ali-Baba & the Forty-Thieves, Starring Ellen De Generes as a Cross-Dressed-Ali, with the Forty-Thieves recruited from Dance-Capable-Prisoners on Riker’s-Island.

 

How about a Reunion of Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber for the Score & Lyrics?

 

My Third-Wish would be—well, that has to Remain-a-Secret…

 

 

Robert Schenkkan’s ALL THE WAY  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Hey! Hey! All The Way With LBJ! How To Be a Powerful-President, Tell Tall-Tales, Win Civil-Rights

 

No-Question! The Tony for Best-Actor goes to Bryan Cranston!

 

He wins Hands-Down for his Brilliant-Performance as Lyndon Baines Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s Brilliant-Political-Drama, All The Way.

 

Cranston even looks a bit like LBJ & he certainly can Cuss & Tell-Tall-Tales the way Lyndon loved to do, when winning-over an Opponent or an On-the-Fence "Rail-Bird,” whose Vote he needed to get Legislation passed by a Notoriously-Constipated House & Senate.

 

Barak Obama could take Lessons from Cranston’s LBJ in this regard: also in Lyndon’s Rousing-Speechifying, which moved both Voters & Law-Makers to Action!

 

John F. Kennedy was a Great-Speaker & he had the Good-Looks that Johnson lacked.

 

But he lacked Johnson’s Savvy in how to Get-Things-Done in Congress—where JFK was despised by Some & dismissed by Others as a Pretty-Boy-Son of a Very-Rich-Dynastic-Father.

 

Lyndon Baines Johnson achieved all that Kennedy had dreamt-of-doing & very much more in trying to create a really Great-Society.

 

Using the Backstage-Details of Johnson’s efforts to achieve Passage of the much-threatened Civil-Rights-Act—including the necessity of dumping the Voting-Rights-Amendment—Playwright Robert Schenkkan excitingly demonstrates what a Great-President Lyndon Baines Johnson actually was.

 

Scenes are swiftly Intercut, with the Action rushing rapidly forward, in a Courtroom-like-Setting, designed by Christopher Acebo.

 

DC-Photographic-Backgrounds by Shawn Sagaday are so arresting that they sometimes take Attention away from the Downstage-Action

 

Period-Costumes are by Deborah M. Dryden; that is: if you think of the Mid-1960s as an Historical-Period.

 

Not only does Cranston resemble LBJ, but others in this admirable Large-Cast are also almost Look-a-Likes.

 

As the Ever-Cautious Hubert Humphrey, Robert Petkoff’s HHH-Impersonation certainly Rings-a-Bell!

 

As does John McMartin as the Segregationist/Conservative—but nonetheless Democrat—Senator Richard Russell, of Georgia.

 

Brandon J. Dirden certainly recreates Martin Luther King’s Passions & Problems, dogged as he was by the Phone-Tappers of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, with Michael McKean playing the Closeted-Homosexual who was Keeping-Files on Everyone, including the President-of-the-United-States.

 

Nor is the Total-Dedication of Presidential-Top-Aide Walter Jenkins—accommodatingly-embodied by Christopher Liam Moore—allowed to escape Scot-Free of the Morality-Taint of being Entrapped in the DC-YMCA-Men’s-Room, once a Popular-Meeting-Spot for those who enjoyed Oral-Sex.

 

Thanksgiving approached just as Jenkins was caught, so the General-DC-Joke was:

 

"There’s going to be No-Thanksgiving at the White-House this year: Their Old-Gobbler is Gone!”

 

Robert Schenkkan didn’t include that Detail, but he certainly has created a Richly-Woven-Fabric of Intricate-Governmental-Intrigues.

 

Director Bill Rauch—who so ingeniously interwove all of the many Mini-Scenes, with no loss of Dynamics—obviously drew on his Previous-Staging-Experiments with Cornerstone-Theatre—an Ensemble with an Agenda—which he ran for Twenty-Years.

 

The Sequel to All The Way has been titled by Schenkkan as The Great Society, an Almost-Forgotten-Triumph of LBJ’s Political-Manouvering.

 

It will premiere, as did All The Way, in Ashland, in July, again staged by the altogether-remarkable Bill Rauch, now Artistic-Director of the Oregon-Shakespeare-Festival, one of America’s Oldest-Bardic-Fests.

 

Lyndon achieved what JFK only Aspired-to-Achieve, but could not, because he lacked the Political-Chops to Work-with-Congress effectively.

 

But all LBJ’s Achievements in the Domestic-Sphere were swallowed-up in the National-Memory by the Tragedy-of-Vietnam, in which he was only continuing a "Communist-Containment” begun by Kennedy.

 

Unfortunately, both Johnson & the American-People were lied-to by Their-Generals, especially General William "Light-at-the-End-of-the-Tunnel” Westmoreland, & misled by Robert McNamara, the Grand-"Domino-Theory”-Architect of our Asian-Disaster.

 

The Career of Robert Schenkkan—note the Doubled-KKs—has also had an Interesting-Trajectory.

 

Early-on, he won the Pulitzer-Prize, plus Tony, Drama-Desk, & Outer-Critics-Circle-Award-Nominations for his Kentucky-Cycle.

 

Other, perhaps Odder, Dramas have included By the Rivers of Babylon, Lewis & Clark Reach the Euphrates, Handler, Final Passages, & The Devil & Daniel Webster.

 

In 2013, Schenkkan won the ACTA/Steinberg-Award for Best New-Play—which was, of course, All The Way, initially produced in Ashland.

 

I take a Personal-Interest in this Award, as I am a Board-Member of FACTA, the Foundation of the American-Theatre-Critics-Association, which Funds this Award, of which, in effect, I am a Substantial-Donor.

 

Personal LBJ-Note: I also take a Personal-Interest in this Two-Part-Drama about Lyndon Baines Johnson.

 

My beloved Aunt Katherine Loney was Lyndon’s First-Schoolteacher, in a One-Room-School on the Pedernales-River in Texas.

 

When LBJ signed his famed Education-Bill, he invited his Beloved "Miss Kate” to be with him in front of that Old-Schoolhouse.

 

After he signed the Bill at the Bottom, he gave Miss Kate the Pen & went off for Press-Interviews.

 

My Aunt Kate ran after him: "Lyndon, Lyndon, you forgot your Pen!”

 

Aunt Kate & her husband—my Uncle Chester Loney—were flown-off to New York, where she was on I’ve Got a Secret, complete with a Month’s-Free-Stay in Manhattan.

 

I asked her if I could do an Interview with her about Young-LBJ.

 

Aunt Kate was eager to talk about Those-Olden-Times.

 

But: "Don’t you ever tell Lyndon I didn’t vote for him!”

 

The Loneys—as well as those who Married-into-the-Clan—were always Knee-Jerk-Republicans: "Fried-Rats & Pickled-Cats are good enough for Democrats!”

 

Here is the Text of the Interview, as published in 1968, in LIFE-Magazine, for which I was an Occasional-Correspondent:

 

LIFE INTERNATIONAL/ 19 FEBRUARY 1968/p. 36  

 

GUEST COLUMN by Glenn Loney  

 

 

Another View of LBJ

 

In recent months, President Lyndon Johnson has been called many things by many people.  Few of the names have been complimentary. No doubt this has been painful to him and to his family. But there is someone else who has been hurt—out of love and sympathy for the President.

            That person is Miss Kate, Mr. Johnson’s first schoolteacher.

            Some months ago, as Kathryn Deadrich Loney lay in a hospital room, recovering from serious surgery, she thought back over the years she had known Lyndon Johnson.  Near her bed was a large colorful spray of flowers from the White House.  In her hand was a long telegram, urging her in typical Johnsonian phrases to make a speedy recovery.  Later, regaining her strength in her California ranch home, she received a handsome portrait of the presidential grandchild, with a fond note from the proud grandfather.  They were only the most recent in a long line of letters, photographs, autographed books and mementos from her former student.

            And as Miss Kate, as the President still calls her, mused about the past and mulled over the present anti-Johnson invective, she resolved to tell about the Lyndon Johnson she knows: a man who does not forget old friends, a man who honors his obligations, a man who, as a former teacher of impoverished Mexicans in Texas, believes in the value of education for building the future.

            Back in 1912, Miss Kate recalls, nearly 30 children crowded into the little one-room Junction School near Johnson City, Texas.  They were scattered through all eight primary grades. A number came from German families in the area, so some classes had to be taught in German, which Miss Kate had learned from her German- horn father.

            School had been in session for about a month when Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was then 4 years old, ran away from home to join the classes and insisted on remaining.  "Finally, his mother, Miss Rebekah, asked if I would take him as a regular student.  I told her one more wouldn't make any difference." But because he was below school age, Miss Kate had to get the school board's approval. A friend of the Johnson family, she knew she had a bright child on her hands. "He knew his ARCs when he was only 2, and   he could recite all the nursery rhymes," she says.

 

Miss Kate was already giving special attention to Hugo, a little boy who had just started the first grade. Since he was so small, Miss Kate always stopped at his house on her three-mile walk to school. There Hugo and his sister would join her, Hugo insisting that he be allowed to carry teacher's lunch pail. His parents spoke German at home, so he had language problems. He was eager to learn English, however, and little Lyn- don Baines was just as eager to master whatever Miss Kate would teach him.

            "They always tried to outdo each other," she recal1s. "What a pair! Hugo could hardly talk English, and Lyndon had his own very special way of talking.  It took me a few days to understand him." Soon each child was vying for Miss Kate's attention and affection. "After a while, Lyndon decided he would not read unless I held him on my lap. Then Hugo refused to read unless I did the same thing for him. So every day, when time for their lessons came, I had a little hoy on each knee!"

            The Junction School was on the banks of the Pedernales River, across the stream from the Lutheran Church.   A post office and a store completed the community. Although the Johnson family lived near the school, most of the children had to walk anywhere from one to three miles to reach it, and rains often turned the roads into mud.

            Despite the difficulty of keeping clean, young Lyndon took a great pride in his appearance. "One day he would come to school in his little red Buster Brown suit. The next he might dress like a cowboy, wearing his father's Stet-son," Miss Kate says.

            Even at the age of 4, President Johnson seems to have impressed those around him. Miss Kate recalls, "All the children respected Lyndon's wishes, but he never took advantage of them.   He was so eager to help with the chores.  He wanted to bring in the wood and help carry the water."  He was something of a tease, though. "Lyndon used to come up to me and look so shy and cute and then he’d say, "Miss Kate, I don't like you one bit!'   I would be so shocked," Miss Kate says. "Then he would laugh and say, 'I just love you!'

            "On Saturdays I would walk over to the Johnson house," Miss Kate continues, "to see Lyndon's mother and play with her two babies. Lyndon always had to sit on my lap and read to me."

 

President Johnson's father was at the state capital in Austin much of the time, so Miss Kate's memories of him are hazy. She does remember his habit of saying of the young Lyndon, "Miss: Kate, we're raising a Senator!" Johnson's mother, Miss Rebekah, and Miss Kate would laugh at this and insist he was setting his sights too low.

            As a small child, President Johnson was fond of dolls, Miss  Kate says. After a year at Junction School, Miss Kate moved to California and sent her favorite pupil a cowboy doll from there.  His carefully printed thank-you note was one of her most valued keepsakes until a hurricane in 1933 destroyed all her possessions.

            Johnson never forgot her. He invited Miss Kate to attend his inauguration as Vice President in 1961, and when he was inaugurated after his 1964 election as President, she was invited again, with her husband Chester Loney and two of her grandsons, and all were President Johnson's special guests. Three times in the week preceding the festivities the White House called to make certain Miss Kate would he on hand, at the President's expense. At the Inaugural Gala, the Loneys sat with Governor and Mrs. John ConnalIy of Texas. Later in the week, they had a personal visit with the President. He put Miss Kate "on tape" for the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin.  Miss Kate was hardly home again before New York was calling. CBS-TV wanted her to appear on I've Got a Secret.

             "As soon as I left the stage (after the program) someone took hold of my arm, saying, 'The President wants to talk to you!' So many newsmen were there.  When 1 just said, 'Hello, Lyndon,' they looked amazed. I suppose I should have said, 'Hello, Mr. President,’ Lyndon said I looked beautiful and seemed so poised, so at ease.  He said he wished he could do as well. Then he said, 'Take care of I yourself, Miss Katie!'

            "I am very proud—and humble at the same time," Miss Kate says, "to think that one of my pupils has become such a famous man. That he has remembered me over all these years makes me very happy…And yet, when I see him on TV, looking so very tired, I can still see the little boy who used to sit on my lap."

 

 

Author Glenn Loney, an associate professor at Brooklyn College, is a nephew of Kathryn Deadrich Loney, President Johnson's first teacher

 

 

The Editors of LIFE loved the Interview so much that it was published in the Asian-Edition, the European-Edition, & the South-American-Edition!

 

But it never appeared in the American-Edition at all…

 

When I questioned my Editor at LIFE about this Omission, he explained that the Editorial-Board believed that there was so much Anti-American-Sentiment abroad that my LBJ/Miss-Kate-Report would do much to defuse it—because it showed Lyndon as a Thoughtful, Caring Mensch.

 

But the Vision of Young-Lyndon as an Eager-Schoolboy & as a Struggling-Schoolteacher—working with Spanish-Speaking-Kids—who never failed to ask his Beloved-Schoolteacher for Advice; as a Man who never forgot Miss Kate & who cared very much about the General-Welfare of All-Americans?

 

The Editors of LIFE-Magazine did not want this Lyndon to appear in their Popular-&-Influential-Pages.

 

They feared that Miss-Kate’s-Memories might turn-the-tide in Popular-Sentiment, helping Lyndon Baines Johnson to win Re-Election.

 

Another Term of LBJ was something LIFE-Magazine wanted to prevent, at all costs.

 

By suppressing Miss-Kate’s-Memories they may have helped defeat Johnson, but they also saved $4,000—which is what they usually paid me for the Loney-Reports, titled The-Scene.

 

Nonetheless, Miss Kate & I moved-forward on a Project to Publish a Book of Her-More-Extended-Memories of LBJ & their On-Going-Relationship over the years: Miss Kate Remembers LBJ

 

Unfortunately, the Vietnam-War Continued-Unabated & Apparently-Unwinnable, so there was No-Market for Our-Opus.

 

Now, Thanks to the Miracle of the Internet, this Memoir will soon be On-Line on the Glenn-Loney-Bookshelf at Arts-Archive.com.

 

Even if the Editors of the Now-Defunct-LIFE didn’t dare to publish My-Short-Report Stateside, President Johnson was grateful for its Appearance-Abroad.

 

He sent me a Handsomely-Mounted-&-Framed-Personally-Inscribed-Portrait-Photo.

 

His Personal-Secretary, Juanita Roberts—Miss Kate’s Longtime-Friend from Johnson-City—sent an Accompanying-Letter, informing me that this Left-Side-Shot was the President’s Best-Side.

 

Considering what we now know of LBJ, you certainly didn’t want to get on His-Bad-Side…

 

 

Sly Stallone, Tommy Meehan, Stephen Flaherty, & Lynn Ahrens’ ROCKY  [ÖÖÖÖ]

 

A Ringside-Romance Almost Engulfed by Tons of Mechanized-Scenery—But Rocky Wins!

 

No, Fight-Fans, I did not see the original MGM/United-Artists-Talking-Picture, Rocky, as watching Grown-Men beat each other Senseless—for the Entertainment of the Likes of Donald Trump, sitting Ringside—seems to me only a Domestic-Reduction of the Couch-Potato-Entertainment of watching Our-Boys [on TV, of course] Beat-Our-Enemies-Senseless with Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction. Or with Unmanned-Drones…

 

So, I cannot tell you, Point-by-Point, how the new Million-Plus-$$$$ Stage-Production of the Musical-Version of Rocky Differs-From, Hews-To, or Totally-Exceeds-in-Wonders the Film which is said to have starred Sylvester Stallone, who is a Co-Author of the Musical-Book.

 

What is Wonderful-to-Behold is the Tons of Endlessly-Moving Heavy-Metal Scenic-Constructions going Up & Down, Sideways, Revolving, Swiveling, & Jack-Knifing—without any of the Large-Cast getting Cut-in-Half or Losing-a-Leg…

 

Fortunately, this Production-Concept was initially developed in Hamburg, in a Specially-Equipped-Theatre, where it is still running Full-Stride!

 

The Videos are also Terrific. Live-Action-Interviews on-stage instantly viewed on Multiple-Monitors!

 

Production-Values-Galore! With Tons of State-of-the-Art Stage-Lighting, also Constantly-in-Motion.

 

Flashy-Costumes, with No-Sequins-Spared, for World-Champion Apollo-Creed & His Sexy-Entourage…

 

Neither Rocky Balboa [Andy Karl], the Unsure but Brave-Hearted-Challenger, nor Apollo [Terence Archie], the Cocksure-Cocksman, seems to Pull-Punches. You can hear some of them Land with a Thump or a Whomp!

 

If they are actually doing this Eight-Times a week, there must be some Bruises here & there?

 

Fortunately, the supposedly-fixed Championship-Match—Apollo proposes to tease Rocky for Three-Rounds, so the Fight-Fans can get something for their Admission-Money, then Drop-Him-Cold—has been Elaborately-Choreographed by Stephen Hoggett & Kelly Devine.

 

Best of all, this Grand-Sports-Spectacle has been Imagined, Envisioned, & finally Staged & Traffic-Managed by Alex Timbers, the Theatre-Genius who gave us Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, both at the Public-Theatre & again On-Broadway.

 

Alex also gave Broadway Peter & the Starcatcher, which began its Kooky-Life down on East-Fourth-Street, at the NY-Theatre-Workshop.

 

Alex Timbers has Come-a-Long-Way from the Ohio-Theatre—down on Wooster-Street—where he featured Rabbits, alive & stuffed, in Even-Kookier-Productions for Les-Frères-Corbusier

 

Although Margo Seibert, as Adrian, is initially a Mousey, Timid, Shy Love-Interest for the Equally Shy & Self-Doubting Rocky, she eventually Blossoms & Sings really well!

 

But a Real-Problem with the First-Act is that it is Too-Elongated, trying to Tease-Out the Growth-of-Romance & Self-Confidence. We-Get-The-Message early-on…

 

The Songs of Flaherty & Ahrens are Typical & certainly Singable, even Danceable.

 

You will remember some like them from My Favorite Year, Once on This Island, A Man of No Importance—with Roger Rees, & most Award-Winningly, Ragtime!

 

But the Real-Reason to spend All-That-Money on Tickets for Rocky is the Final Coup-de-Théâtre, when the Boxing-Ring—which has already Revolved, Turned-Upside-Down, & Served as a Projection-Screen—Zooms-Right-Out Into-The-Audience!

 

Those Lucky-Duckys in the Front-Rows having already been Relocated up on the Stage, on the Other-Side-of-the-Boxing-Ring…

 

Those on the Orchestra-Side-Aisles guarantee a Standing-Ovation as they Spring-To-Their-Feet for Better-Viewing, as do many in the Wide, Wide Balcony.

 

The handsomely & elegantly-decorated Winter-Garden-Theatre—constructed for Al Jolson’s Revues, on the former Site of a Horse-&-Carriage Rental-Stables—was built both Wide-&-Shallow so that Everyone could have a Premium-Views of the Stage-Splendors.

 

Before Rocky, it also had a Conventional-Stage, with an Overhead-Fly-System to change Conventional-Scenery.

 

Obviously, the Entire-Stage-Area had to be rebuilt to accommodate the Mechanistic/Electronic-Wonders of this Amazing-Staging.

 

Unfortunately, for those who Love-Historic-Theatres, when the Winter-Garden has a Long-Running-Hit—like its Recent-Occupant, Mama, Mia!—they may not get to see those Elegant-Interiors for Ten-Long-Years…

 

When was the Last-Time you saw the inside of The-Majestic, where Phantom has been running for How-Many-Decades?

 

If the Revival of Les Mis runs as long as it did Originally at The-Imperial, it could also be Years before Members of the Theatre-Historical-Society will be able to view its Lovely-Interior, unless they Purchase-Show-Tix!

 

 

Terrence McNalley’s MOTHERS & SONS  [ÖÖÖ]

 

Tyne Daly Is an Angry-Texas-Mother Who Has Lost Her Son To AIDS & Feels Left-With-Nothing:

Yet She Discovers New-Meaning in Her Life By Finding a New-Family, Including a Grandchild!

 

Well, That About Covers It!

 

Tyne Daly is excellent as the Baffled-Texas-Mother whose Dead-Son, André, was Everything to her, but who turned-out to be Gay & left for New-York, where he Died of the Plague.

 

If you are Gay, why would you want to hang-around Dallas anyway?

 

Macho-Texans are such Homophobes…

 

André’s Bereaved-Mom turns up Unannounced at the Fifth-Avenue-Apartment of Cal Porter [Frederick Weller], André’s Bereaved-Lover.

 

He gives her an Out-the-Window-Tour of Nearby-Landmarks, including the Met-Museum & 1040-Fifth-Avenue, where Jackie Onassis lived.

 

André’s Mom really Understands-Nothing about being Gay, falling in Love with Another-Man, contracting AIDS, & desperately Dying.

 

It is also difficult for her to Understand—if Cal loved André so very much—how he could have taken a New-Lover [the winning Bobby Steggert], complete with a Small, Cute, Boy-Child [Grayson Taylor], who needs a Grandmother.

 

She thinks it’s Impossible-to-Change, but—as she is really now All-Alone-in-the-World, André having been Her-Entire-World—she discovers that she can abandon all Those-Old-Gay-Stereotypes & Move-On!

 

Along-the-Way, Playwright Terrence McNalley has scattered a smattering of Insider-Gay-Jokes, at which a Knowing-Broadway-Audience can Easily-Laugh.

 

Unthreatened as they are by Ingrained-Religio-Oriented-Sexual-Prejudices…

 

Sheryl Kaller staqed in John Lee Beatty’s spacious Pre-War-Apartment.

 

 

Victor Hugo’s Musicalized LES MISÉRABLES  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Ah, Those Periodic-French-Revolutions!

The Revolting-French Cannot Seem To Win Any of Them Decisively, But This Show Is a Winner!

 

Yes, Les Misérables has been on Broadway before!

 

In fact, it’s Right-Back-Where-It-Belongs—at the Imperial-Theatre, which has a Brass-Plaque in the Frontal-Sidewalk, featuring that World-Famous-Urchin-Image & celebrating its seemingly Endless-Original-Broadway-Run.

 

The Original-Production—when I first saw it in London—was a bit like Story-Theatre, with its Essential-Central-Clutter-Construction on a Revolving-Stage, so it could serve for Many-Locales & even the Revolutionary-Barricades.

 

It was also rather Brightly-Lit, with Actors on the Sidelines, waiting for Cues or to Assume-New-Identities…

 

Now, in Fabulously-Rich-Producer Cameron Mackintosh’s Fabulous-New-Production, it is altogether Dark, Mysterious, & Threatening, even Magical.

 

But its Real-Glories are its Wonderful-Cast, headed by the Jean Valjean of an altogether Heroic Ramin Karimloo.

 

When he sings the Heartbreaking-Plea, Bring Him Home, surely Every-Heart in the House is breaking with Jean Valjean.

 

But this is not the only Show-Stopper in Boubil & Schönberg’s Colorful-Kaleidoscope of Musical-Hits.

 

How about Master of the House, Lovely Ladies, Who Am I?, One Day More, Paris, or In My Life?

 

The Show’s Always-in-Motion Solid-Squalid-Underclass-Paris is the Design-Inspiration of Matt Kinley, who got his Haunting-Projection-Image-Inspiration from the Paintings of Victor Hugo!

 

And here you thought that Vic Hugo was only a Best-Selling-French-Novelist!

 

Initially, seeing Dark-Smoking-Factory-Chimneys against a Night-Sky, I though they had been inspired by Francisco Goya…

 

But then, a Night-Along-the-Seine looked almost exactly like an Impressionist-Abstraction by James McNeil Whistler.

 

Goya & Whistler were soon swallowed-up in Piranesi-Visions of the Side-Streets of Medieval-Paris, before Baron Haussmann destroyed them to build the Imperial-Paris of Napoleon III.

 

So, Hugo’s Artworks could be mistaken for Goya, Whistler, or Piranesi?

 

If you want to know more about Victor Hugo’s Paintings—not to mention his Best-Selling-Novels—you had better Google Wikkipedia, for Hugo doesn’t even get a Program-Bio in the Playbill!

 

There are, however, Bios for both Trevor Nunn & John Caird—whom I interviewed Years & Years ago in London, even before they had made this Stage-Adaptation.

 

I never interviewed Fellow-Theatre-Critic Herbert Kretzmer—who devised the English-Lyrics for this Initially-French-Language-Musical—but I used to see him at Caprice & say Hello, when my Christian-Science-Monitor-Colleague, Sir Harold Hobson, would give me Luncheon at this Most-Fashionable-Restaurant.

 

Cameron Macintosh has made Several-Fortunes producing the Collected-Works of Andrew Lloyd Webber, but his Initial-Offering of Les Mis, in London, on Broadway, on-Tour, & Around-the-World has surely made him Millions as well.

 

There is really No-Point in attempting to describe how this Show works on Stage, nor to List all the Wonderful-Cast-Members, with all kinds of Acting, Singing, & Dancing-Skills.

 

You can probably find all kinds of Video-Clips on You-Tube anyway. Not to mention Profiles on Facebook

 

Hey, Wait a Minute! How about clicking-onto the Les Misérables Website?

 

You could probably Order-Tickets On-Site as well, but Hurry, for the Show is Selling-Out!

 

Oh! For those who are History-Challenged—or who Cannot-Keep-Up with All-Those-French-Revolutions—this is Not the Head-Chopping-Revolution of 1789.

 

Nor, again, the Failed-Revolution of 1848.

 

Nor, yet again, the Failed-Revolution of 1870—with the famed Paris-Commune, about which Bertolt Brecht wrote an Agit-Prop-Play: Die Tage der Commune.

 

No, indeed! Les Mis concerns the Failed-Revolution of 1832.

 

The On-Going-Problem—Historically-Speaking—with French-Revolutions is that they have never really changed anything Fundamental in the French-Character.

 

This is hardly Anything-to-Sing-About, but, nonetheless, Les Mis does make a Very-Moving-Musical-Attempt.

 

Recent French-Presidents of the likes of Nicolas Sarkozy & François Hollande seem rather Proper-Subjects for Satirical-Cabarets…

 

As for General Charles De-Gaulle, there’s always Jean Anouilh’s Fighting-Cock!

 

 

Casus’ KNEE-DEEP  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Talk About Walking-on-Eggs! Cirque-du-Soleil: Take Notice!

Emma Serjeant is a Past-Master at Egg-Walking! Is Emma Also an Egg-Whisperer?

 

Want to see some of the Best-Circus-Acrobatics & Amazing-Aerial-Feats ever?

 

Well, if you are reading this after 30 March, Knee-Deep & the Astounding-Casus-Ensemble has already left 42nd-Street’s New-Victory-Theatre to Continue-Its-National-Tour.

 

These Super-Strong-Youths are from Aussie-Brisbane, where they came together to create a Contemporary-Circus-Company.

 

Like Cirque-du-Soleil, they do not have any Elephants, Lions, or Tigers.

 

But—unlike Cirque-du-Soleil—they do not have any Distinctive-Themes, Glittering-Production-Numbers, Colorful-Costumes, Funny-Hats, or Song-&-Dance-Routines.

 

In fact, Casus doesn’t even have a Huge-Ensemble & a Pit-Orchestra…

 

There are just Four-of-Them: Samoan Natano Fa’anana, Lachlan McCaulay, Jesse Scott, & Emma Serjeant, who is the Egg-Walker.

 

The Amazing-Emma is also the Company-Manager, but she really knows how to Buy-a-Dozen-Eggs, because they do not Break when she puts her Full-Weight on them!

 

Their Acrobatics are less Circus-Stunts than Body-Poetry-in-Motion.

 

On the Stage-Floor, or Aloft, their Muscular-Interactions are Athletically-Astounding.

 

This is their First-Touring-Show, but surely not their Last, unless they are Contracted by Cirque-du-Soleil.

 

This, however, would be an Artistic-Disaster for Casus, for what they can do Aloft or on Terra-Firma can also be performed by Platoons of Artists with the many, many Ensembles of the Ever-on-Tour Cirque-du-Soleil.

 

Aside from some Mini-Orgami-Folding—enlarged by a Mini-Video-Camera—the Camus-Routines do become a bit Routine after while in this Understandably-Intermissonless-Show.

 

Perhaps some Funny-Hats from back home in Brisbane?

 

How about some Colorful-Costumes from Melbourne?

 

Or some Aboriginal-Dances from Alice-Springs or Ayers-Rock?

 

Surely there’s Something they could import from Adelaide or Perth?

 

In any case, Good-Luck, You Plucky-Aussie-Kids!

 

 

Chris Marlowe, Ben Jonson, or Will Shakespeare’s KING LEAR  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Look-Where-It-Comes-Again! No, Not Hamlet’s-Father’s-Ghost, But Another Lear from England!

 

Hey! Great-Idea for a New-Theatre-Awards-Category!

 

How about Most-Outstanding-New-Production-of-King-Lear-from-Britain-Over-in-Brooklyn-Across-the-Street-from-Each-Other?

 

Almost Yesterday, we had Frank Langella as Lear over at BAM.

 

Today, we have Michael Pennington as Lear at the nearby Polonsky-Shakespeare-Center, better-known to Cognoscenti as the Theatre-for-a-New-Audience.

 

Performed in the Cockpit-Style-Theatre—which is inspired-by, if not copied-from—Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Swan-Theatre & London’s Cottesloe-Theatre, the New-Audience sits around its Open-Stage on Three-Sides, with the Upper-End of this Stage-Rectangle featuring what appears to be a Looming-Iron-Wall, threateningly-suspended over the Playing-Space.

 

Initially—as staged by Arin Arbus—the Tall-Figures & some Pawns, set out on a Bare-Surface, with a Minimum of Props & Distinctive-Costumes, look rather like Chess-Men, being Moved-Around, rather than Taking-Action of Their-Own-Volition.

 

But that Image soon dissolves, as Pennington’s Magisterial but Quirky-Lear decides to Divide-His-Kingdom into Thirds among His-Three-Daughters—with the Best-Part reserved for His-Beloved-Cordelia.

 

Historically, Kings were supposed to Die-with-Their-Boots-on, but Lear—not having the Modern-Option of Moving-to-Florida or Palm-Springs—plans to spend a Retirement-Month with each of his Spawn in Rotation.

 

Plus an Appropriate-Suite-of-Armed-Retainers, as befits a Monarch who is later described as "Every-Inch-a-King.”

 

Well, even in Elizabethan-Times, Audiences could sense that this Plan-Had-Flaws.

 

This Drama was drafted long before American-TV-Quiz-Contests, in which a Lucky-Contestant might win a Buick or a Trip to Alaska or Stratford-Upon-Avon.

 

In King Lear, the Big-Surprise is not for a Lucky-Royal-Contestant, but for Lear himself, as he furiously discovers that Cordelia has not been Properly-Prepped by the Show-Manager.

 

To the Major-Question: Which of you does Love-Us-Most?, the Vain-Old-Lear is pleased to hear Formulary-Responses from Gonerial & Regan.

 

But Plain-Speaking-Cordelia decides not to Flatter-Her-Father.

 

Well, All Hell breaks loose…

 

Freed of Painted or Built-Scenery, this Challenging-Production forces—or Invites—the Audience to concentrate on the Characters & their Interactions, as the Great-Iron-Wall slowly moves Downward.

 

Unlike the Langella-Lear, this Arbus-Lear lays Passions-Bare & celebrates some of English-Literature’s Greatest-Philosophizing in Majestic-Language.

 

Also, unlike the BAM-Lear, this Searing-Unfolding-of-Family-Tragedy has a Goneril & Regan who are truly Evil-Connivers, in Rachel Pickup & Bianca Amato.

 

Because Cordelia—as written—is a bit of a Regal-Goody-Goody, she is often Overshadowed by her Wicked-Sisters.

 

Blonde Lily Englert is better than her BAM-Counterpart, but she still seems only a Runner-Up in the Royal-Sweepstakes.

 

The Rest of the Cast—especially Major-Chess-Pieces—is/are Strong, with the Blinding-of-Gloucester properly Bloody.

 

King Lear has long been an Actorial-Mountain which many Famed-Thespians have been tempted to Climb-to-the-Summit.

 

Few really reach the Peak, but Pennington comes close to Everest or K2.

 

 

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ APPROPRIATE  [ÖÖÖÖ]

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.

Full-Stop—

Well, that’s what I wrote way back in 2013, way down in Louisville, at the Humana-Festival.

I never dreamt anyone would want to bring this show into Manhattan, but then SignatureTheatre [Yes! That’s the way they Style their Name—with no Space between!] has become a kind of Regional-Theatre all by itself.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ APPROPRIATE  [ÖÖÖÖ]

 

They’ve Still Got the Hood & the Photo-Album, But the Clint Ramos Cluttered-Interior is New/Old…

 

One might argue that the Decaying-OId-Plantation-Manor-House is really the Star of this Production, staged by Liesl Tommy.

 

In what seem like False-Starts, the Audience hears the chirping or scratching of Insects, but Light does not dawn immediately on the Stage.

 

We soon learn that the Noise is caused by Cicadas, who are said to come out of the Ground every 13-Years. Or some such Long-Delay…

 

The Play proceeds much as it had down in "Looville.” If Jacobs-Jenkins had tinkered with his Script in the meantime, I have no way of knowing: not having copies of the Kentucky-Version or the Signature-Edition, Nor Photographic-Hearing-Recall.

 

The Manhattan-Cast was generally excellent, considering the Characters that they are required to Impersonate. Maddie Corman & Michael Laurence were notable.

 

But that Old-Manor-House!

 

What an Attention-Getter!

 

Initially discovered with every Surface & Nook & Cranny covered & crammed with a Lifetime of Hoarding by the Dead-Patriarch—who owned the Photo-Album of Lynching-Photos, as well as the Klan-Hood—the Grand-Staircase-Entry-Hall commands Attention.

 

Sorting that Hoard for an Impending-Auction keeps Actorly-Hands busy, but Changing all that Stuff for Other-Bundles at Intermission keeps the Stage-Crew scuttling-about the Ruined-Room.

 

When all the Lafayette-Siblings have at last Departed, then the Old-House begins to Self-Destruct in Several-Quick-Scenes, capped with the collapse of the Grand-Crystal-Chandelier.

 

If you are interested in Supremely-Dysfunctional-Southern-Families, then This-Is-Your-Play!

 

But if you are a Fan of those TV-Shows where they Make-Over or Restore Old-Houses, Appropriate may be just the Ticket!

 

Oh! That Title?

 

It may refer to that Photo-Album & its Contents: was it really Appropriate for Dad to collect Lynching-Photos…

 

 

Brian Richard Mori’s HELLMAN V. MCCARTHY  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

The Real Dick Cavett Stars as Dick Cavett on the Dick-Cavett-Show: War of the Wordy-Women—

Was Lillian Hellman a Liar? Was Pentimento a Fraud? Mary McCarthy Attacks on Nation-Wide-TV!

 

The Aged, Acerbic, Unreformed-Stalinist-Playwright, Lillian Hellman, is pursuing a Devastating-But-Dumb-Lawsuit down at the Abingdon-Theatre.

 

Hellman is brilliantly personified by Roberta Maxwell—whose superb Makeup-Job makes Lillian look Ancient as well as Terminally-Angry-&-Vengeful.

 

The Super-Intellectual Catholic-Girlhood-Scarred Mary McCarthy is tartly portrayed by Broadway’s Marcia Rodd.

 

But Jan Buttram’s Directorial-Coup was to cast Dick Cavett as Himself!

 

Cavett appears in a Type-Cast-Role that he may be said to have Created in Real-Life, had it not been for Playwright Brian Richard Mori having devised this Ingenious-Confrontation of Wit-&-Women without Consulting-Cavett!

 

To those Potential-Theatre-Goers who are Too-Young to remember The-Red-Scare & the Senator-Joe-McCarthy-Era-Blacklists, it may well seem Arcane to Obsess over Hellman’s Libel-Lawsuit, which could very well have wiped-out McCarthy financially as well as Damaged-Her-Credibility.

 

After all, isn’t it Critical-Overkill to say—on Nation-Wide-PBS—that every word that Lillian Hellman had ever written was a Lie, including "and” & "the”?

 

Well, Hell hath no fury like a Vengeful-Woman, or Words-To-That-Effect, so the Age-Addled Hellman launched an Epic-Legal-Action which also included Cavett & PBS.

 

Mori’s Live-Action-Drama is not just a Visual-&-Verbal-Reconstruction of that Infamous-Broadcast.

 

He even imagines a McCarthy-Hellman-Conciliation turned into Crass-Confrontation—which Never-Happened, but Should-Have, at least for Dramatic-Resolution.

 

For The Record: When I was still in Grade-School, somehow I found a copy of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour—in which a Private-School-Girl makes an Accusation that ruins the Two-Women operating the School…

 

So, I followed Hellman’s Career as the Foremost-American-Woman-Playwright.

 

Little did I know that one day I would get to know Lillian Hellman, although only slightly. She was a Witty-Lady, always ready with a Nuclear-Quip.

 

Somehow, I never managed to Interview Hellman: I don’t remember why, because I interviewed many, many Playwrights, Directors, Designers, & Actors over the years.

 

It may well have been that Hellman was Publication-Poison for many Editors: She was a Known-Stalinist & refused to Name-Names when called before the House-Un-American–Activities-Committee.

 

Kazan crumbled; Arthur Miller hid behind his Blonde-Bride, Marilyn Monroe…

 

But many Famous Hollywood & Broadway-Talents were Blacklisted.

 

Lillian Hellman stood up to HUAC, with a Memorable-Statement about these McCarthy-Inspired-Witch-Hunts that was & is so Courageous & Powerful that I included it in Documents of American-Theatre-History, 1945-1985.

 

This was a Publishing-Project of Cambridge-University-Press that was designed to stretch from America’s First-Theatres & Dramas to the Present. It foundered because most of the other American-Theatre-Professors did not provide the Documentation.

 

Soon, however, 1945-1985 will be On-Line, on GlennLoneyArtsArchive.com.

 

My most Vivid-Memory of Lillian Hellman is of her Holding-Forth at a Publishing-Party, wittily-dismissing the Writings of Norman Mailer & Arthur Koestler, as her Cigarette-Ashes continued to drop into her Drink.

 

Mary McCarthy wasn’t the only Literary-Lady who could carve-up the Competition!

 

As for the Charming & Witty Dick Cavett, I once sat next to him at a Broadway-Show. The Production  was Less-Than-Wonderful.

 

Whatever I said about this Dramatic-Disaster made Cavett laugh. He jotted it down: I’ll use it!

 

 

Cirque-du-Soleil’s AMALUNA  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Hey! Kids! Want To Run-Away & Join-The-Circus? Click on CirqueduSoleil.com/jobs…

 

No Joke!

 

Cirque-du-Soleil is Hiring!

 

No-Guarantee that they will hire you as a Clown.

 

Nor will you get the chance to do what ART’s Diane Paulus has done: stage the Fantastically-Spectacular Amaluna, now at Citifield, out on the Subway-Seven-Line.

 

Nonetheless, at every City in which Cirque-du-Soleil arrives with a Show like Amaluna, they hire at least l50-Locals.

 

If you really do want to Run-Away—from a Dysfunctional-Home or from the Catholic-Orphanage, where they won’t teach you about Birth-Control—some 68-Employees travel with each Cirque-du-Soleil Production, working in all kinds of jobs, but most importantly, Setting-Up-The-Tents & Running-The-Show.

 

If you make your way up to Montreal or Québec, perhaps you can go to the Cirque-du-Soleil Circus-School & become one of the Forty or Fifty Highly-Trained-Artists in each Traveling-Cirque who Nightly-Dazzle-Thousands with their Amazing-Juggling, Acrobatics, Balancing, Aerial-Feats, Dancing, Singing, Clowning, & Parading Around the Semi-Circular-Stages in Glittering-Costumes!

 

Think of the Possibilities!

 

There are now no less than Nineteen-Cirque-du-Soleil-Shows endlessly Touring-Around-the-World!

 

When I arrived in Singapore, the first thing I saw was a Motorized-Ad for Alegría, which I had recently seen in Berlin, but initially in Montreal.

 

Currently touring in Arenas are Varekai & Dralion.

 

Dug-into-the-Sands of Las Vegas with Seeming-Permanence are: Mystère, Ká, Zumanity, O, Criss Angel Believe, La Nouba, The Beatles Love, Michael Jackson’s One, & Zarkana, which recently played Radio-City-Music-Hall.

 

Touring under the Blue-&-Yellow-Striped Big-Tops are: Quidam, Corteo, Kooza, Kurios, Totem, Ovo, Michael Jackson The Immortal, & Amaluna.

 

Seen Them All!

 

But—Would-You-Believe!—Amaluna played San José [CA] before Manhattan!

 

This is a Cross-Country-Tour & Amaluna had already played San Francisco.

 

Denver, yes. But San José?

 

Palo-Alto may be the Heart of Silicon-Valley, but San José has more Parking-Spaces.

 

Oh! Time-to-Talk about Amaluna, which can be translated as Moon-Love.

 

As with all of the Cirque-du-Soleil Spectaculars it has Outstanding Juggling, Acrobatics, Balancing, & Aerial-Feats.

 

Yes, Indeed! It has All-of-the-Above Circus-Acts, but, of course, No Lions, Tigers, or Elephants.

 

For Amaluna, however, Director Diane Paulus’ Dramatic-Organizing-Principle—or Theme, as all these Shows have Special-Themes—is an Adaptation of Chris Marlowe or Will Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

 

But this is Shakespeare with a Difference!

 

The King of the Magical-Island in The Tempest has been De-Throned—

 

The New-Regime on that Isolated-Island is Headed by Prospera, who is a Shaman with Magical-Powers. She also plays a Magical-Cello & Sings her way through the Show, as the Circular-Stage Revolves & Stops & Revolves again.

 

Prospera is properly concerned for her Daughter Miranda, as there are really No-Marriageable-Males on the Island.

 

It is—as in the Classic-Play—populated by Monsters, Fairies, Sprits, & What-Have-You.

 

Caliban is a Shakespearean-Monster, of course, but here he has become the Lizard-Tailed Cali, who is one of the most Amazing-Jugglers I have ever seen!

 

In The Tempest, Miranda falls in Love with Ferdinand, but he must have drowned in that Sunken-Ship that was sailing home from Claribel’s Marriage in Tunis.

 

Fortunately, Romeo has turned up as a Replacement-Lover.

 

Both Romeo & Miranda are Expert & Athletic Performers, both Aloft & on the Stage.

 

The Moon-Goddess—Not a Shakespearean—is, however, a Remarkable-Aerialist!

 

Somehow, Richard Wagner’s Valkyries have flown-over from Bayreuth to help Miranda liberate Romeo from Cali’s Vicious-Clutches.

 

They Do-Battle while flying around in Circles above the Astonished-Audience at High-Velocitiy through 360°… This is called the Aerial-Straps.

 

Then there is this Central-Prop, the Water-Bowl, in which Miranda swims, discovering her Physicality & Sinuous-Sexuality.

 

Romeo joins Miranda in the Water-Bowl, where—according the Official-Program—they "Innocently-Play & Tentatively-Kiss.”

 

If Miranda is already Sexually-Sinuous, how can she Pretend-To-Be-Innocent?

 

Underwater, at that!

 

Other Outstanding-Acts on the Enchanted-Island—wonderfully-imagined by Designer Scott Pask—include the Uneven-Bars, the Teeterboard, the Chinese-Pole, the Icarian-Games, & the Watermeteors, not to overlook the Peacock-Goddess, who flies aloft, with Broad-Tailed-Peacocks strutting about the Stage.

 

The Most-Astonishing-Act was, for me, the Balance-Goddess.

 

One of the Fairy-Creatures of the Magical-Island came out to lay on stage what appeared to be Whale-Bones of Increasing-Lengths.

 

But No! They were actually Palm-Leaf-Ribs!

 

The Balance-Goddess—a Deity unknown to the Greeks or Romans—began picking up the Palm-Ribs, one-by-one, from Smallest to Largest, balancing each in turn until she was balancing what looked like an Immense-Aerial-Skeleton—with No Glue, Staples, or Scotch-Tape to hold it together!

 

All these Wonders & the Union of Miranda & Romeo were Lavishly-Costumed, Brilliantly-Lighted & Imaginatively-Environmented, especially with the Bamboo-Like-Branches that arched over the Stage, thanks to Scott Pask.

 

Not to Overlook Choreographer Karole Armitage, Costume-Designer Mérédith Caron, Lighting-Designer Matthieu Larrivée, Sound-Designer Jacques Boucher, & the Composers, Bob et Bill!

 

So, when Amaluna arrives in your Town or City, Do-Not-Miss-It!

 

But you don’t have to read Shakespeare’s The Tempest before you go.

 

 

John Van Druten’s I REMEMBER MAMA  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Bring a Box-of-Kleenex! Barbara Barrie Remembering Mamma Will Make the Tears Flow Freely…

 

I remember Steiner-Street, but I never lived there, certainly not in the Wonderful-Way that Kathryn Forbes did, with her Entire-Norwegian-Immigrant-Family depending on Mama’s [Non-Existent] Bank-Account.

 

Most American-Baby-Boomers remember Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco; I remember my Home-Away-from-Home on Funston, high atop Craigmont, overlooking the Sunset-District.

 

Much has been written about Haight-Ashbury & the Summer-of-Love, but there was a Different-Kind-of-Love on Steiner-Street.

 

Young Katrin was determined to become an Author, but only after Mama had given Recipe-Secrets to a Famous-Lady-Author, did she get the Homely-Advice that made her also a Best-Selling-Author.

 

Write What you Know; What you have Seen; What you have Experienced; write about the People-Around-You: Who are they? What are Their-Dreams? What have been Their-Defeats…

 

Katrin—who had been under the Romantic-Spell of Famous-Authors, read to the Family every night by an Old-Actor who boarded with them—abandoned Tale-of-Two-Cities for her Tales of Steiner-Street.

 

It became an Instant-Best-Seller, condensed by the Readers’-Digest, adapted as a Broadway-Play, adapted as a Movie, adapted for Television, even turned into a Broadway-Musical…

 

Famed-Playwright John Van Druten—who seems to be having a Van-Druten-Festival this Season, with London Wall at the Mint & Others to come—was so moved by I Remember Mama that he was ingeniously-able to blend all Kathryn Forbes’ individual Family-Memoirs into a Memorable-Family-Drama.

 

Only now—after so many years of No-Revivals, downstairs under Judson-Memorial-Church, in the Gym—a Company-of-Wonderful-Women is lovingly bringing Mama, Katrin, Uncle Chris, Aunt Trina, Mr. Hyde, Nels, Dagmar, Mr. Thorkelsen, & Papa back to Vibrant-Life.

 

When you enter the Gym—if you are lucky enough to get a Ticket, before this Potentially-Award-Winning-Production closes on 20 April—you will find it filled with Dining-Tables, some of them Set-for-Dinner.

 

There are Ten-Tables—possibly symbolic of the Ten-Tablets, or of Many-Family-Dinners—but when I saw them, I thought this would be a Dinner-Theatre-Version of I Remember Mama.

 

But the Table I had picked-out was covered with Family-Photos, not Dinner-Plates, so I found a Wall-Hugging-Seat above the Sea-of-Tables.

 

What a Joy to see Barbara Barrie once again—although a Senior like me—now Transformed into an Eager-Teen-Ager, longing to be a Famous-Writer.

 

I wish I had had a Mother like Barbara Andres’ Earth-Mother-Mama, but a Cranky-Uncle-Chris, like Lynn Cohen, would have been Difficult-to-Deal-with.

 

This is an All-Women-Cast & they are All—Double-Cast or not—very Impressive & very Human.

 

Here’s the Rest of this Role-of-Honor Steiner-Streeters: Alice Cannon, Rita Gardner, Susan Lehman, Heather McRae, Phyllis Somerville, Louise Sorel, & Dale Soules.

 

Times were Tough in Depression-Era San Francisco: Strikes & Lock-Outs erased Pay-Checks; Many had Little-Food for the Table—some didn’t even have a Table, let alone Ten-Tables; & there were those Star-Boarders who paid with Checks written on Imagined-Bank-Accounts…

 

But Mama managed to Dole-Out Enough-Money to fund Each-Week’s-Needs for every Member of the Family.

 

Of course, all Pay-Checks & Errand-Money went into Mama’s Cash-Box, but Not-To-Worry, for there was always Mama’s-Bank-Account to Fall-Back-On!

 

Even College could be Planned-For, somehow. Mama didn’t have to go to the Bank or Write-a-Check.

 

The Astonishment in the Novel, the Play, the Movie, the TV-Series, & the Musical, starring Liv Ullmann, was that there never was a Bank-Account.

 

Mama had never even been Inside-a-Bank!

 

The Transport-Company’s I Remember Mama—lovingly staged by Jack Cummings III—will certainly Transport you, not only to a Magical-San-Francisco & even to Northward-Ukiah, but also to an Almost-Forgotten-Time when there were Mamas like Katrin’s…

 

 

Lorraine Hansberry’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN  [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Denzel Washington Is Dynamic in Revived-Raisin: Dreams Are Deferred—But Not Abandoned…

 

I had just wished for a Mama like Katrin’s Remembered-Mama, when I went to the Ethel-Barrymore-Theatre to see Raisin in the Sun, ravishingly-revived, with Latanya Richardson Jackson as Another-Mother I wish I’d had.

 

The Initially-Feckless Walter Lee Younger—passionately played by Denzel Washington—is Blessed to have the Wonderful-Mother-Younger that Latanya Richardson Jackson embodies: not only for him, but also for his Increasingly-Neglected-Wife, Ruth [Sophie Okoneda], his African-Heritage-&-Medically-Ambitious-Sister, Beneatha [Anika Noni Rose], & his Sunny-Son, Travis [Bryce Clyde Jenkins], all Outstanding-Players.

 

I had forgotten what an Ingeniously-Structured-Drama Lorraine Hansberry gave us when she devised the Socially-Complicated-Confrontations in Raisin in the Sun.

 

Henrik Ibsen could not have done it more skillfully, but then he only had Neurotic-Norwegians to work-with & worry-about…

 

When Raisin first opened on Broadway—with the All-Black Younger-Family preparing to move into the All-White Clybourne-Park in the Chicago-Suburbs—who could have guessed that, Fifty-Years-Later, there would actually be a Play titled Clybourne-Park? With the Black/White-Equation reversed

 

Lena Younger is definitely an Earth-Mother, but her Daughter, Beneatha, aspires Higher: to Heal the Wounds of the Earthbound & Celebrate the Wonders of Mother-Africa.

 

Odd that Hansberry gave her such a Name: Subtract an "a” & you have a Young-Woman who is Beneath.

 

In a very real Sense, however, she is Beneath, because the Youngers are Dirt-Poor, living in a Roach-Infested-Rental, with her Brother, Walter Lee, an impulsive Blowhard-Dreamer, implicitly threatening her own Dreams.

 

But Beneatha is not only Smart: she is also Beautiful, attracting both the Rich George Murchison [Jason Dirden] & the Charming & Articulate Yoruban, Joseph Asagai [Sean Patrick Thomas].

 

Mama Younger receives a Five-Figure-Check: the Death-Benefit from her Much-Admired-Late-Husband’s Earthly-Departure.

 

But she doesn’t have one of those Mama’s-Bank-Accounts.

 

After making a Down-Payment on a Real-Home in Whitey’s Clybourne-Park, she gives the Remainder-of-the-Thousands to Walter Lee, to Open-an-Account & to let him be the Head-of-the-House at last.

 

Unfortunately, Obsessed with becoming an Entrepreneur, Walter Lee gives the Money to a Con-Man, who runs off with it.

 

The Younger-Family-Fortunes could be Repaired by taking the Pay-Off-Money the White-Welcoming-Committee of Clybourne-Park offer the Uppity-African-Americans who dare to take up Residence in an All-White-Enclave.

 

Walter Lee finally shows his Manhood & Courage by Refusing-Their-Offer.

 

The Moving-Men enter to help the Youngers leave the Roaches behind.

 

What is left Unsaid & Unknown by Lorraine Hansberry is what Walter will become & do, once he is ensconced in Clybourne-Park.

 

A Man like Walter—Black or White—does not really make Miraculous-Character-Changes, even though they may make Great-Dramatic-Finales.

 

Kenny Leon staged his Dream-Cast in Mark Thompson’s properly Down-Scale-Rental.

 

 

Scott Siegel’s BROADWAY-BY-THE-YEAR©: The Broadway-Musicals of 1940-64 [ÖÖÖÖÖ]

 

Once-Again, A Star-Studded Memory-Lane Wends-Its-Way Across the Town-Hall-Stage!

 

Just Imagine! All the Tony-Awards went to Music-Man in 1957, but the Hit-Song Scott Siegel chose for that year was Maria, from West-Side-Story, which the Critics somehow didn’t Get or Understand—all those Street-Gangs & their Flashy-Girls…

 

This Maria was hauntingly-sung by Brian Charles Rooney, but it wasn’t the only Maria-Invocation in this Section of Scott’s Hundred-Year-Broadway-Musical-Roundup.

 

How about They Call the Wind Maria, from the 1951 Paint Your Wagon?

 

This was also hauntingly-sung, but this time by Aaron Lazar, fresh from The Wolf of Wall-Street.

 

Paint Your Wagon, though not initially a Successful-Show, is a Favorite of mine because it is based on Bret Harte’s Gold-Rush-Short-Story, The Millionaire of Rough-&-Ready, which is where I come from, in the High-Sierras of California.

 

What a Feast of Lucky-Strike-Hit-Parade-Songs: Melodies & Lyrics well-known to the predominantly Senior-Audience at Town-Hall: Moi included…

 

I Grew-Up & Matured with such Songs as Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered, If I Loved You, I Love Paris, If Ever I Would Leave You, & Climb Every Mountain.

 

What I did not Grow-Up-With was the Amazing-Roster of Broadway-Stars Scott Siegel always assembles. He has promised us 100-Years of Broadway-Musicals with 100-Stars.

 

Of course, it’s wonderful to have Anita Gillette return—after Half-a-Century—to sing again Nightlife, from All-American [1962]. Anita looks & sounds Just-Great!

 

But My-Childhood-Memories date-back considerably before then: I was Sixteen when we all first heard People Will Say We’re in Love—sung Lovingly in Town-Hall by Marissa McGowan—but I had never yet even seen a Broadway-Musical.

 

Although Oklahoma! opened in 1943 & soon began touring—if not to Rough-&-Ready & Grass-Valley—we all knew something New had happened to the American-Musical.

 

I hadn’t even seen a Broadway-Musical on tour in San Francisco yet: Oklahoma! was my first, at the Historic-Curran-Theatre…

 

Thanks to the Golden-Age-of-Radio, however, we knew all of the New-Show-Songs. You could still buy Sheet-Music & learn to play them on your Piano, Guitar, or Harmonica.

 

How about Come Rain or Come Shine [1946], When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love, from Finian’s Rainbow [1947], or This Nearly Was Mine, from South Pacific [1949]?

 

Even though the amazing Marilyn Maye sang on the Johnny Carson some 72-Times, she is still able to Belt-Them-Out today: She gave us both Before the Parade Passes By, from Hello, Dolly! [1964] & Guess Who I Saw Today, from New Faces of 1952 [1952-of course!].

 

Among the Best-Acts onstage in Town-Hall were Patrick Page & Backup-Chorus in Captain Hook’s Waltz, from Peter Pan [1954] & Erin & Jeffry Denman demonstrating that Taps-Is-Still-Tops, in Two Lost Souls, from Damn Yankees [1955].

 

Among the Outstanding-Broadway-Stars & Lesser-Luminaries on-hand & on-stage were Robert Cuccioli, William Michals, Amber Iman, Alexandra Silber, Lisa Howard, Nancy Anderson, Maxine Linehan, & Liz Larsen.

 

When Ben Davis sang If Ever I Would Leave You, I was reminded how badly Camelot was initially-staged.

 

It seemed a really Lame-Show, with some Hit-Songs.

 

For What Do the Simple-Folk Do?, Richard Burton sat at one side of the stage, with Guenevere [sp?] on the Opposite: Ho-Hum, Truly-Dumb!

 

Scott Siegel should do a Print-Out of his Informative-Narration: there’s a Lot-of-Fascinating-Background there that we’d like to Remember.

 

Without having to take Notes while Listening!

 

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