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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, February 2011.
About Glenn Loney
PASSING GLANCES AT SCENES SEEN:
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
•What To Do About Gruesome Playground Injuries? Close Down the Playground?
•Look! Up in the Sky! It's The Starry Messenger! Galileo Galilei Revisited…
•Other Desert Cities: Ronald Reagan Is Alive But Unwell in Palm Springs!
•You Conned Me Out of My ScreenPlay, But You Didn't Win the Oscar, Did You?
•Ellen Stewart Honored: Ma Yi Theatre's Flipzoids on an Anaheim Beach…
•A Small Fire: Who Will Help You When You Lose Almost All Your Senses, One by One?
•The Archduke of Austria Was Assassinated in Sarajevo: Now, Trouble in Two Kitchens!
•All Fall Down Dead in David Belasco's Haunted Apartment Above His Namesake Theatre!
•Despising Polite Social Lies & Artifice, Truth Telling Misanthrope Ends with No Friends!
•Battle Snow Drifts to BAM in Brooklyn: See Alan Rickman as Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman!
•The Three Sisters Dream of Moscow: But Not of Moscow, Idaho!
•Fly Off to the American Airlines Theatre: See Brian Bedford as the Imperious Lady Bracknell!
•The New York Idea: What's The Big Idea, New Yorkers? Why All These Divorces?
•Venal Publisher Wants Only To Make Money from His Newspapers: Facts & Truth Be Damned!
•Olympia Dukakis Larger Than Life Where the Milk Train Doesn't Stop Anymore!
•Menotti, Ward, & Floyd Show Their Operatic Powers in Mannes' Sinners & Saints.
•As a Stand Up Comic, Rigoletto Wouldn't Make It in Prime Time: Too Bitter, Too Negative…
•Watch Out! Give a Shout! There Are MIMES in Room 17B!
INTRO: Considering the Multi Blizzards of a Manhattan January, almost every night it was wonderful that both Actors & Audiences insisted that The Show Must Go On!
Fifty years ago, the City had a stash of Snow Shovels, which seem to have disappeared. Homeless Men were paid about $6 per hour to clear Sidewalks & Crosswalks.
Whatever became of those shovels, of those men?
Could the Bad Weather that's been afflicting us actually be God's Stimulus Package?
Will it stimulate Mayor Bloomsbury to create Jobs?
Somebody ought to write a "Green" play about Global Warming!
But it needs a more precise Title: something like Climate Change?
What would Oscar Wilde--or, for that matter, Joe Orton--have done with such a topic?
A Comedy of Manners about digging out your car from a towering Snowbank in front of the Met Museum?
Unfortunately, as we do not have Manners any more, frustrated Playwrights cannot be expected to achieve the Comedic Heights of The Importance of Being Earnest, The Misanthrope, or The New York Idea.
Manhattan was very lucky to have had such exemplary productions of these Comedic Classics in such a Dark Month!
Looting the Cairo Museum is hardly One Small Step for Mankind…
Rajiv Joseph's GRUESOME PLAYGROUND ACCIDENTS [***]
Ira Hauptman's THE STARRY MESSENGER [***]
Jon Robin Baitz's OTHER DESERT CITIES [*****]
Scott Brooks' SCREENPLAY [****]
Ralph Peña's FLIPZOIDS [**]
Adam Bock's A SMALL FIRE [***]
Stefanie Zadravec's HONEY BROWN EYES [**]
Gene Ruffini's A PROCESS OF ELIMINATION [Total Eclipse: No Stars…]
Old Plays in Revival:
Jean Baptiste Poquelin's THE MISANTHROPE [*****]
Henrik Ibsen's JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN [*****]
Anton Chekhov's THREE SISTERS [*****]
Oscar Wilde's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST [*****]
Langdon Mitchell's THE NEW YORK IDEA [*****]
Arnold Bennett's WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS [***]
Tennessee Williams' THE MILK TRAIN DOESN'T STOP HERE ANYMORE [***]
Other Entertainments/Other Venues:
Nights at the Opera:
Mannes Opera at the Hunter College Kaye Theatre:
SINNERS & SAINTS [*****]
On Stage at the Metropolitan:
Giuseppe Verdi's RIGOLETTO [*****]
In Line at 559E59:
Parallel Exit's ROOM 17B [****]
SHOW NOTES OVERVIEW:
Accident Prone or Essentially Self Destructive? Gruesome Playground Injuries & Then Some…
Having spent almost half a year in & out of Hospital beds & Rehabs, Your Roving Arts Reporter's blood runs cold when he sees Hospital Beds on stage.
In Rajiv Joseph's Gruesome Playground Injuries, Hospital Beds scoot in & out on cue from either side of the ice block stage environment. Doug [Pablo Schrieber] is either just plain dumb, or he is actually trying to injure himself.
Accident Prone doesn't begin to describe his Serial Disasters. But he is somewhat enabled by his good friend, Kayleen [Jennifer Carpenter], who throws up a lot & likes to touch Doug's wounds. She even thinks she can heal him…
This odd drama is only 80 minutes long, but it moves forward & backward in time. This is somewhat disorienting--deliberately so--but not as destabilizing as the realization that we are in the presence of two of those people who savor pain. For some of them, it's an almost sexual experience…
Both actors are very good--almost too good for comfort--in these roles. But this play is not about Comfort!
The Title--even before my entrance into the Bank Vault Venue of 2nd Stage--put my teeth on edge. When I was only eight years old, I lost my grasp & fell from Overhead Bars in our Public Park Playground.
In a dry summer, they had liberally sprinkled all the grounds. But beneath the bars was no Lawn: only a muddy pit, into which I fell.
I put out my right arm to break my fall. But it broke my arm in four places, so that it looked like a Goose Neck when I ran to my Mother, waving it in the air.
The City Attorney came to see me, "privately," he told my Mother. If I were to Sue, he said, the City would be forced to Close the Playground & everyone would blame me!
So I signed the waiver he waved in front of me. Within the next two years, I broke my arm again three times, all in the same places as before.
Our family physician, Dr. S. Fritz Tobias--who had escaped the Nazi Death Camps--warned me he would cut my right arm right off if I broke it again…
Now, wouldn't that make an unusual play? No Throwing Up either!
Oh! Scott Ellis directed Carpenter & Schrieber--who is Liev Schreiber's Bro!
Bertolt Brecht! Eat Your Heart Out! There's a New Play about Galileo Galilei!
The news that Ira Hauptman had written a new play about Galileo Galilei sent me scurrying down to The Theatre for the New City.
What could he possibly have to say--dramatically speaking--that had not already be been said powerfully by Bertolt Brecht, in one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century?
For that matter, had he new insights that had escaped the eagle eye of the late Barry Stavis, author of Lamp at Midnight.
Both these dramas--The Life of Galileo & Lamp--had opened on Broadway within a week of each other years ago. The odd thing about this was that the critics heaped praise on Stavis' version of Galileo's surrender to the Holy Roman Catholic Inquisition, while disparaging Brecht's vision.
Stavis--who was an old friend of mine: I even wrote a Preface for one edition of Lamp--took an almost bizarre pride in having received better notices than Brecht.
Lamp won many awards & was even on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. It also became an Opera, which I first saw in East Berlin at the Staatsoper!
But I warned Barry that Brecht's Galileo would be remembered & his forgotten. Now, few people even remember Bertolt Brecht…
Hauptman's Galileo doesn't add much new to the bio fact of Galileo's discovery that the Earth Revolves Around the Sun. Not the other way round, as the Catholic Church had been teaching for hundreds of years.
The Earth was never the center of Our Universe. Not even of our Solar System. The Planets revolved around the Stable Sun.
Before Galileo, men had been burned at the stake for such Heresies! What a lovely day for an auto da fé!
What Hauptman brings to the Galileo Pageant is the attention paid to Galileo's son & two daughters. This is certainly of interest, but the playwright undercuts this somewhat by indicating that he's not writing History, disguised as Drama.
So how much is True? Does it matter, if we learn that Galileo was not the best of fathers?
Nonetheless, the play works well & Susan Einhorn has strongly staged it, dividing the seating into four Quadrants, so characters can enter, as it were, from the Four Points of the Compass.
David Little was a combative Galileo, with Louis Vuolo & Brian Gagné as a scheming pair of doctrinaire Cardinal Inquisitors.
Considering that the Doctrine of the Earth--not the Sun--being the Center of the Universe was believed on the Authority of the Pagan Aristotle, who was certainly not a Christian, how could it have been, for all those ages, that disbelief--even with observable evidence to the contrary--was a Heresy that threatened the Foundations of the Holy Roman & Apostolic Church?
In Hauptman's drama, Galileo's daughter Livia [Elisa Matula] seems possessed by Demons.
Even though the Curia & the Clergy now agree on a Helio Centric Solar System, they apparently still believe in Demonic Possession.
Concurrent with Starry Messenger, Anthony Hopkins is now appearing on 42nd Street in The Rite, in which he plays an actual Jesuit Exorcist!
There are Devils everywhere! Beware the Mule with the Red Eyes!
It is amazing in this Era of Space Travel, that such Ancient Superstitions are still being taught as Facts. Unfortunately, our most Entrenched Religions thrive on Ignorance, Guilt, & Fear.
But whatever you may think of the Roman Catholic Church, its Heavenly Music & glowing stained glass windows often make some of its Grandest Cathedrals worth a visit.
Where the Old Elephants Hide Out: Republican Family Values in Other Desert Cities…
What a Cast! In Alphabetical Order: Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach, Linda Lavin, Elizabeth Marvel, & Thomas Sadoski!
Jon Robin Baitz has set his hilariously painful new play in Palm Springs, one of America's most famed Desert Cities. Yes, Las Vegas is also a Desert City, but it isn't a hide out for Old Republican Elephants.
Palm Springs is where people like Spiro Agnew go when they Metaphorically Die. Even Discredited Republicans got to play Golf with the likes of Bob Hope.
Lyman & Polly Wyeth [Keach & Channing, both power houses!] have been putting on Brave Faces at the Country Club. He was one of Reagan's Ambassadors--for Services Rendered. Polly still is a ferocious Defender of The Right. To Bear Arms & all those other Talking Points Republicans hold dear…
But it's not easy for them to Hold Up Their Heads among the bronzed & goyishe Palm Springs Millionaires. Not only is Polly--as well as her alcohol addicted sister, Silda Grauman [Linda Lavin]--really Jewish, but Polly's son, also Silda's nephew, has set off a Bomb!
But, unfortunately, it wasn't a Republican Bomb, the good Shock & Awe kind that Donald Rumsfeld used in/on Iraq, to win the Hearts & Minds of those Semitic Arab Desert Dwellers.
No! It was an Audible Political Statement that caused a great deal of Collateral Damage!
This may recall that dire time when the Weathermen blew up a Greenwich Village Town House--by mistake--as they were making bombs for Other Targets, to make a Statement about the Vietnam War.
This bomber son whom Polly & Lyman never mention--even en famile--committed Suicide in the wake of the devastation.
His grieving sister, Brooke Wyeth [Elizabeth Marvel], has written a book about her Family, a Chapter of which will soon appear in The New Yorker. She has passed around manuscripts of this potentially devastating revelation at their Christmas Celebration in the desert, somehow expecting Support, even Approval.
Well, what was she thinking?
There is tremendous energy in their Confrontations--somewhat softened by Brooke's TV Reality Show Producer/Host brother, Trip [Thomas Sadoski]. He presents Trials with Juries of Peers, although we all know there is no such thing as a Jury of Your Peers…
Despite the raw anger on display & the deadly serious nature of crime of the not to be mentioned bomber brother, Baitz' drama has a lot of well earned Laughs.
In fact, it already looks & sounds like a Major Motion Picture.
Its Lincoln Center Theatre Producers want to move it to Broadway, but apparently they'll have to wait till next season. There seems to be no Appropriate Venue available at the moment.
Considering all the crap that's out there, couldn't Mayor Bloomberg force one of those shows to close, to make way for Other Desert Cities? He stopped everyone from Smoking. Only Snow Removal was Beyond his Power…
Oh, Joe Mantello directed, tautly…
Designer John Lee Beatty worked his usual wonders, suggesting a Millionaire's Desert Christmas, with generally stylish costumes by David Zinn.
Badlands Theatre Company Invokes the Sun Dance Film Fest: Scott Brooks' ScreenPlay…
Time was when Star Actors who wrote plays made themselves the Heroes.
Scott Brooks is not yet a Star, but he has written an ingenious drama in which he's featured himself as The Villain! Hiss, hiss, hiss…
Way back in college, Dean [Jonathan Sale] was the Lucky One, winning the affections & the more intimate regions of Suzie [Heather Dilly], while Graham [Scott Brooks], was the Brainy One, losing out in the Sexual Sweepstakes.
Dean has Talent. He can Write. But--later living in close proximity to Hollywood--he seems Paralyzed. He cannot produce. He is not Connected.
He is engaged to the Very Supportive Lisa [Diana DeLaCruz], but her Belief & Encouragement only seem to annoy & irritate him.
Nonetheless, Dean has somehow had the Vision to write a remarkable ScreenPlay he calls The Conductor. Both Lisa & Graham--when they find out about it--think it's about that guy on a train.
No! The Scene is Nazi Germany! But this is, amazingly enough, not a Holocaust Film!
[Your Arts Reporter thought immediately of the exceptionally talented young conductor, Herbert von Karajan, & the beautiful young soprano, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, both of whom would not have worked, had they not joined the Nazi Party. There is certainly a ScreenPlay in their stories…]
Graham appears on the scene, discovers Dean's ScreenPlay, buys him out for a paltry $250,000, removing Dean's name from any connection to the Hit Motion Picture he then makes, using the Ill Gotten Gains he won in London with other devious practices.
He also beds Suzie to show Dean he's won at last.
Now famous as a ScreenWriter, Graham is in Trouble. He cannot really write.
Enter Stage Right: Dean…
Jenny Greeman directed this small scale but dynamic cast.
Inspired by LaMaMa, ELLEN STEWART, Ma Yi Theatre Studies Three Filipinos on a Beach.
One of the Seminal Forces in New York, American, & even International Avant Garde Theatre, Ellen Stewart [7 November 1919 13 January 2011] was honored on 19 January 2011 with that day's performance of Ralph B. Peña's Flipzoids.
It's devoutly to be hoped that there will be many more Observations to honor Ellen & all that she has done, over the years, to help New Voices to sing, to dance, to act, design, & even sell tickets in box offices!
Some of today's more famous Performers--as well as Playwrights, Directors, & Composers--Got Their Start at LaMaMa ETC. The ETC stands for Experimental Theatre Club.
Ellen was the very first to create astonishing new theatre Off Off Broadway.
Where many ambitious young founders of similar Theatre Ventures wore out after ten years or so, struggling to Raise Money, Battle their Boards--who often wanted only Broadway watered down, & to Entice Subscribers, Ellen Stayed the Course.
Your Arts Reporter was there with Ellen when she started out, reporting & helping.
When she invited 33 Artists from 33 Third World Countries to come down to LaMaMa on East Fourth Street for some months of Showing & Sharing--including in the schools of Bedford Stuyvesant--I helped facilitate the work, winning Brooklyn College Graduate Credits for our Artists.
Once Upon a Time, Ellen took me along when she flew down to Venezuela for a World Premiere in, of all places, Maracaibo!
At the Caracas Airport, we were greeted by a host of LaMaMa Caracas artists & supporters, with banners & placards hailing LaMaMa Ellen! What an Outpouring of Love!
Then there were also the Tokyo Kid Brothers, inspired by Ellen, as she had done so often in other cities in other countries…
Tisa Chang's Pan Asian Theatre got its start down at LaMaMa, as did so many other groups, some still surviving even these dire economic times.
So I wish I could be more admiring of the efforts made by the Ma Yi Theatre to focus on some problems of Filipinos in America, notably three unhappy Flipzoids on a beach near Anaheim.
When this play was produced originally, way back in 1996, down at the Theatre for the New City, Ching Valdes Aran--who has a very long list of Professional Credits in the current program--won an OBIE Award for her performance.
As a Displaced & Disoriented Filipino Mother, doing her thing on a Southern California Beach, she still performs with a strange, fierce concentration.`
Her daughter [Tina Chilip]--who is struggling to improve her English & her Nursing Skills, seeking some kind of Assimilation--is embarrassed by her. As well she might be, considering some of the odd actions unveiled onstage.
Playwright Peña provides what was, for me, a Dramatic First: this was the first time I'd seen onstage an Isolated Men's Toilet--where gents clearly come for Quikie Sex.
But, instead of providing Sexual Release for Anonymous Strangers, young Redford [Carlos Alban] seems intent on holding one way Philosophical Conversations. This seems to be a Turn Off, but we don't get to see who is in the next booth, so…
On Ellen Stewart's Evening, the house was sparsely peopled, though some were eager supporters. But, at the close, there was only one round of applause.
Ching started to come out for a second round, but there was no more Applause & people were putting on their coats, leaving. Did someone pull her back? I was a bit embarrassed for her…
If I understood aright, FLIP stands for Funny Little Island People? Is that really it?
Sense Deprivation Somewhat Assuaged by Sensual Gratification: A Small Fire Still Burns…
Michele Pawk is affecting as Emily Bridges, a tough Boss on her Construction Sites & also tough on her alienated daughter Jenny [Celia Keenan Bolger], who is marrying an Unsuitable Mate.
Her ineffectual husband, John [Reed Birney], generally placates her, but when she loses her Sense of Smell--she fails to notice A Small Fire in the kitchen--they both begin to Lose It.
Adam Bock has made his play wonderfully Compact, in that Emily soon rapidly loses her Sense of Taste, her Hearing, & her Sight, one after another. Does it really happen this way?
John is desperate: he cannot Cope.
Fortunately, Emily can still sense Body Contact & Penetration. At the dimly lit close, she tenderly removes John's shorts & they embrace naked in bed…
Trip Cullman staged.
Cooking with Hate & Fear & Rock & Roll: Two Endangered Kitchens in Post Tito Bosnia…
If you've never heard of the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play, well, now you have!
It was awarded way back in 2009 to Honey Brown Eyes, a fraught drama of Muslim Genocide in Bosnia, by Stefanie Zadravec, first produced by Theatre J, at the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theatre, in Washington, DC--which is the font of all good things, so they say:
When the Cold War was still hot on the US Military Stove, Yugoslavia--under the firm hand of Marshall Tito--was the one Communist Country where it was really a pleasure to enjoy an Inexpensive Vacation.
In fact, several of Manhattan's Closet Reds had Summer Houses on the Adriatic Coast. [I mention no Names…]
Even Your Roving Arts Reporter visited the Dubrovnik Festival, in what had long ago been the Republic of Ragusa, a Sea Power once rivaling Venice & Almafi. Split & other ancient cities were also well worth a Look Around.
The Centuries Old hatred of Roman Catholic Croats for their Orthodox Catholic Serbian neighbors was always simmering on the Cold War's back burners, but Tito Kept the Lid On.
Even more important, he saw to it that the Muslims in Bosnia were not harassed by either of their Christian Fellow States.
Actually, Yugoslavia was a Construct, not a geographically or socially homogenous State. Post World War I, it was created--like Czechoslovakia--by Western Winner Politicians, remaking the Map of Europe.
Sarajevo--which plays an important situational role in the current drama--was, in fact, the Spark that set off the Conflagration of the First World War.
An Anarchist--or was he a Serbian Patriot?--shot & killed an Austrian Habsburg Archduke in his open carriage. Along with two Royal Ladies…
Even though Serbs & Croats had age old Religious Differences--as well as the more recent support of the Nazis by the Croats & the countervailing support of the Soviets by the Serbs--they were both somewhat United in their disdain for those Fellow Slavs who had converted to Islam, during the centuries long Occupation of the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire.
Honey Brown Eyes plays out in two Bosnian kitchens, with the Unifying Thread--amidst Savage Violence, including Pillage, Rape, & Killing--of two men, the Hunter & the Hunted, having once been buddies in a Rock & Roll Band!
Perhaps it's because I was never a Big Fan of Rock & Roll, I didn't find this focus compelling.
I do understand the Playwright's intention to deal with the Epic Cataclysm in a disintegrated Yugoslavia on a Domestic Level, but the Ultimate Horror of it all needs to be limned on a much larger Dramatic Canvas.
Even a play about the late American Intellectual, Susan Sontag, going to Sarajevo to help quell the rampant disasters by staging a play--with bullets whizzing around her ears--wouldn't be personal enough. I can't remember what the play she chose was. Something by Pinter or Beckett, perhaps?
When Trouble between the Croats & the Serbs first broke out, when Yugoslavia was breaking up, neither Austria--whose vast Imperial Territories had once included all these lands--nor Germany took any decisive action. The Initial Outrages were dismissed as "Internal Affairs."
Neither they nor their NATO Neighbors realized that their Metaphorical Back Porch was on fire…
Nor did the United States pay any attention, until Kosovo demanded some intervention.
The Cast of Honey Brown Eyes was admirable, given the acting tasks they were required to perform.
But I must admit that I was not sitting on the edge of my seat during the show.
My Web Editor, Colleague, & Friend, Scott Bennett, suggests that the play would play out with more interest & impact if the Second Act preceded the First!
But Honey Brown Eyes has already won the Prestigious Helen Hayes Award, so why would the Playwright want to improve on a Proven Prize Winner?
By the way, I do know who Helen Hayes was--in fact, I interviewed her for my column, In the Words of… for Cue Magazine, years ago--but I have no idea who instituted this Award in her Honor. Does it carry a Cash Honorarium, or is it merely a Scroll or Certificate?
The current production at the Clurman, on Theatre Row, is presented by the Working Theatre, whose aim is to provide plays about Working Class People, at prices Workers can afford! Ticket Prices are pegged at only $25!
Of course, if you are Out of Work, you may not be able to buy even a Big Mac! Let alone a Latte…
The Fatal Danger of Channeling David Belasco: Avoid Invitations to His Apartment!
As Your Arts Reporter was invited to photograph--from the tops of the Scaffolds--the extensive Renovations the Shuberts have recently made in the Belasco Theatre, I was eager to see Gene Ruffini's new drama, A Process of Elimination.
Mainly because the Press Release noted that it was set in David Belasco's Historic Apartment, above the Belasco Theatre…
I had been in the apartment several times with the late Brooks McNamara, Founder & Curator of the Shubert Archive, which is now preserved in Producer Daniel Frohman's similar apartment, located above his Lyceum Theatre.
In the event, the Stage Environment at the Theatre for the New City didn't look much like the Restored Actuality. But what can you do when you have a low, low budget?
Of course, Ruffini may have been imagining an Apartment in the 1900 Vintage Belasco Theatre on 42nd Street--now handsomely restored as the New Victory Theatre--because this theatre's later name, The Republic Theatre, was mentioned.
The Belasco Apartment I know is, however, over on West 44th Street, where Women on the Verge recently puzzled or dazzled theatre goers.
Although it now bears the Belasco Name, it began life as the Stuyvesant Theatre, at a time when one of Broadway's most fabulous producer/directors had two playhouses.
A special feature of this apartment were the sliding panels in Belasco's Bedroom. These innocent scenes slid back to reveal some Erotic Images, with which David Belasco hoped to inflame the Passions of Young Starlets, hoping for a Big Break on Broadway.
Those images had already disappeared the first time Brooks showed me Belasco's Upstairs Quarters. But the Confessional in which Belasco was said to have interviewed Potential Female Performers was still on site.
Although San Francisco born David Belasco was of Portuguese Jewish Descent, he always dressed in Roman Catholic Clerical Garb. These & other quasi religious affectations earned him the name of "The Bishop of Broadway."
If you are reading this report on GlennLoneyArtsArchive.com, you can click here to see a Slide Show of the photos I took of the on going Restorations, including the ruin that Belasco's Apartment had become.
But I had never seen the Autographs of Famed Actors & Playwrights, shown in this production, scrawled on the wall beside Belasco's Parlor Fireplace. Gene O'Neill's name was there, but I don't believe he was any relation to Gene Ruffini?
The name of Henrik Ibsen was also inscribed, but he never visited Belasco's apartment, as far as I know. In fact, Ibsen never came to the United States, not even to Newark!
[He left Norway as soon as he could afford to get out, spending much of his writing career in Munich & Rome. He preferred to summer in Berteschgaden, not far from the spot where Adolf Hitler later built his Obersalzburg Chalet. So much for dropping by Belasco's apartment…]
Puccini was also on the wall. This proved to be very Timely, as Puccini's La Fanciulla del West has been having its Centenary Performances at the Metropolitan Opera, which commissioned this vision of the California Gold Country from Giacomo Puccini One Hundred Years Ago!
Actually, Belasco staged the opera for the Met, as it was based on his big Broadway Success, The Girl of the Golden West!
Belasco had already inspired an earlier Puccini opera, based on his Broadway mounting of Madame Butterfly!
The Belasco has been said to be Haunted. That may include both Belasco Theatres, but they are not the only Broadway Theatres in which Ghosts have been glimpsed…
Are there really Witches in Farmingdale?
This is--in terms of the play--not an Idle Question. A young Man/Witch from Farmingdale proves to be a Callous Killer…
Gene Ruffini imagines a Witch's Coven conducting an Initiation, with the visible Ghost of David Belasco crossing on an upstage balcony, occasionally admiring his Framed Photo. We see him, but the Actors do not.
Actually, they have done very, very well to have memorized all the difficult--even improbable--lines that Ruffini has imagined for them to deliver with the Illusion of Belief.
Or is this drama more about the Willing Suspension of Disbelief?
There were a great many Shakespearean Fragment Quotes, readily identified by others on stage. Perhaps this was to suggest that these Theatre People, led by a self willed Reincarnation of the "Bishop of Broadway," were Classically Trained?
The Witch Initiation seemed to have borrowed a few elements from the Masonic First Degree. But the experience of the Total Production was more like the Third Degree…
At the close, all the actor/characters were Dead!
Ashes, Ashes! All Fall Down!
A Consummation Devoutly To Be Wished…
If you missed this show, Ruffini is "putting the finishing touches" on a "Satiric Musical about the Christmas Truce of World War I."
If you had been in the Trenches on the Marne, you'd know that was Nothing To Sing About…
Ruffini is also "working on a new novel," which seems more Forward Looking than trying to fix up an Old Novel!
Watch Out for Truth Tellers: "I Want You To Be Really Honest! Is My Sonnet Brilliant? Or Not?"
Anyone among le Beau monde of Louisian Paris who knows Alceste--the knee jerk Misanthrope--should know better than to ask a Question like that.
He will tell you in detail what's wrong with your Pentameter & Rhyme. For good measure, he may also critique your elegantly curled Peruke & your richly gold threaded Breeches…
The admirable Sean McNall--sternly outfitted in sober dark green velvet, as befits his rejection of the Styles, Artifices, & Social Posturings of the Court & the City in the Glittering Reign of King Louis XIV--is a wonderfully animated & angry Alceste.
Jean Baptiste Poquelin would have been proud of him!
In fact, at the opening of this handsome new production at the Pearl Theatre, it is offered to the enthusiastic audience as the handiwork of M. Poquelin, better known to the French Court & City of his day as Molière.
Alceste's misfortune--if misfortune it be to have fallen hopelessly In Love with the ravishing 20 year old beauty, Célimène [the truly beautiful Janie Brookshire]--is that he cannot Break the Bonds in which his Passion has ensnared him.
Nonetheless, he courts her by constantly criticizing & insulting her. But then, he spares no one, not even his constant friend, Philinte [patiently played by Shawn Fagan], who is desperately attempting to rescue Alceste from Social Suicide.
It is remarkable that--in a desultory Theatre Season--three of the most admirable productions thus far are Comedies of Manners, including also The Importance of Being Earnest & The New York Idea.
This is amazing, in a Debased Era, when no one seems to know what Manners are or were…
Despite this democratization of Civil Discourse, almost anyone in the audience knows that Sense of Dread when your best friend asks you for your Honest Opinion of a Poetic Trifle he or she has just penned. Or texted on a Blackberry…
That is the Genius of Molière: that his Satiric Portraits of Deluded, Preening, Hypocritical, or downright Idiotic Men & Women resonate over the centuries!
We may have no Concept of Manners or Self Knowledge, but audiences can still recognize the lack of those qualities in Others. If not themselves…
At the Pearl, audiences can also admire the artistry of other company members, such as Kern McFadden, Matthew Amendt, Patrick Halley, Robin LeMon, Joey Parsons, & Dominic Cuskern.
Joseph Hanreddy has stylishly staged his exemplary cast on an elemental but handsome raised triangle, backed by a façade of glass doors & mirrors--which reflect actors' faces, for the benefit of those seated on the sides of the stage.
As a long time Pattern Drafter & Tailor of Theatre Costumes, I must pay tribute to designer Sam Fleming for the elegant & accurate costumes he has confected for this production. Even to the apparent Comic Exaggeration in some Outfits, but Period Costume Plates show us that these Period Parisians really did aspire to such Sartorial Excesses.
The elegant design & stitching of the richly red satiny panels of the back of Célimène's bodice--which I could frequently admire, seated on one side of the stage--made me envious of such a talent.
But if a really awful Sonnet is offered for Alceste's approval, how can a brilliant playwright like Molière create such a laughable effort, without briefly rupturing the elegant, seamless fabric of his own poetic invention?
Well, that's why Molière was a Genius!
Fortunately for the Pearl, they have chosen a Pearl of a Translator: Richard Wilbur, whose brilliant Rhymes & Rhythms so cleverly replicate in English the fantastic Tropes of Molière.
The danger for Actors is the temptation to hit hard on the Rhymes, which may draw too much attention to their ingenuity.
Whatever the Meter--Iambic or otherwise--it is not a treat to hear it emphasized in every line.
This is a Trap in any Poetic Drama, especially in the plays of Shakespeare. [Or Marlowe, if you believe The Bard of Avon could not possibly have written all 36 or 37 of the scripts with which he's been credited…]
This may well be why we have so few new Poetic Plays?
Fake Snow On Stage, Real Snow Outside! Frozen Hearts in Nineteenth Century Norway…
Norwegians like John Gabriel Borkman may well have been one of the [many] reasons Henrik Ibsen couldn't wait to leave his Native Country to write his Masterpieces in Germany & Italy.
Borkman, stolidly played by Alan Rickman, is a Christiania [now Oslo] Banker who has embezzled the Monies deposited in his trust. Oddly enough, he has spared the Bank Account of his wife's sister, Ella Rentheim [Lindsay Duncan]. Well, they were once lovers, so…
After serving a term in Prison, he has returned to the Rentheim Estate, where he confines himself to the Second Floor, pacing about the parquet, awaiting the Restoration of His Reputation. There is no suggestion that this will--or should--ever happen.
Agonizing on the Ground Floor--driven almost mad by her Certifiably Mad husband's pacing--Gunhild Borkman [Fiona Shaw], lives only for One Thing: the Love & Comfort of her handsome young son, Erhart [Marty Rea], who, oddly enough, wants to be free to love whom he chooses & Have a Good Time!
Both his mother & his aunt are locked in a struggle for Erhart's fleeting Affections.
But he disappoints them both by running off with a shameless Divorced Woman, Mrs. Fanny Wilton [Cathey Belton]. She has a Sleigh with Silver Bells, suggesting that she fortnately did not bank her money with John Gabriel Borkman.
Actually, although the play is set in Norway & the production comes to BAM from the Abbey Theatre in Eire, Borkman's Peculation & Fraud have Bernie Madoff Resonances…
From the look of the production--designed by Tom Pye--the Borkmans have lost nearly everything, save a few pieces of Victorian Furniture & a small Cast Iron Stove which, nonetheless, has a super thin Stove Pipe that extends way up into the fly gallery!
But their Creditors have taken away All The Walls. The Borkmans are surrounded by Snow Banks. Just like outside BAM's Harvey Theatre!
James MacDonald staged this passionate cast.
[Many years ago--way back in 1948--I did the stage lighting in California Hall for a University Theatre production of John Gabriel Borkman at UC/Berkeley. There were also no Walls, but we did have snow banks made of white painted cardboard cartons.
[Even then, I thought the drama was Bleak, but Cautionary.
[When Borkman's only friend, Vilhelm Fodal, comes to visit him, expecting to read a Scene from the Play he's been writing & writing, hoping for some friendly, supportive Comment, John Gabriel is curt, dismissive, downright Rude.
[This was not a Good Idea, as it leaves Borkman with Absolutely No Friends At All. I think I learned something from that. Thank you, Henrik Ibsen!]
To Moscow! To Moscow! Anton Chekhov & Austin Pendleton Keep the Dream Alive!
When I entered the intimate space of the Classic Stage Company, I was amazed to see an immense table set for a formal meal, with Flowers, Crystal, Dishes, & Cutlery.
This was the way I'd first seen Chekhov's Three Sisters in--of all places--Moscow, to which great Metropolis they so fervently wish to return.
Although this wonderfully detailed production echoes the directorial attention to Realism of Konstantin Stanislavky, it is, in fact, the work of Austin Pendleton!
His staging--in a translation by Paul Schmidt--is even more effective than the admirable Uncle Vanya he did for CSC.
But Pendleton is blessed with such a Trio of Sisters: Jessica Hecht as Ólga, Juliet Rylance as Irína, & Maggie Gyllenhaal as Másha.
Her Másha was, to me, a Revelation. Usually--even among the Soviets--actresses playing this role have taken their Cue from her habitual Black: "I'm in mourning for my life…"
So what begins as a Tragic Outlook remains that for four long, long acts: a Russian Downer.
Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, has fleeting moments of Charm & Wit. She is--in these almost desperate attempts to overcome the Death Sentence of her marriage to the Most Boring Teacher this side of Minsk--a delight!
But what a cast! Roberta Maxwell, Josh Hamilton, Louis Zorich, Peter Sarsgaard, & Marin Ireland--who does wonders with the initially dismissed & mocked "common" fiancée of the Sisters' beloved brother, Andréy.
As Natásha gradually gets the Upper Hand in this troubled household, her take over is as smilingly iron willed as is the Sisters' worn down Surrender.
This is a remarkable production.
Thank God, when I saw Three Sisters in Moscow all those decades ago, the Soviet Censors had not seen fit to have the Sisters long to go off to Leningrad…
Today, you couldn't find that on the Map.
The Importance of Being Lady Bracknell!
Earnests are almost interchangeable, as long as they have Posh Accents. But Oscar Wilde's "Trivial Farce for Serious People" will surely misfire if the Director has not cast a really Majestic, Imperious Lady Bracknell.
Fortunately for the splendid Roundabout Theatre production, the Director--Brian Bedford, fearsome in Drag--has cast himself in that Pivotal Role. Even his Entrances can strike fear into the hearts of Wilde's handsome pair of Young Lovers…
BB or Before Bedford, Dame Edith Evans had seemed the most magnificent embodiment of this Arrogant Arbiter of Social Conduct among London's Belgravia Aristocrats.
But now the Crown--or Diadem--passes to Bedford, who created this attractive Arts & Crafts Style vision of Life Among the Edwardian Upper Classes.
For the past 27 years, Bedford has been Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival of Canada--located, appropriately enough, in Stratford, Canada. Not far off from Toronto…
If you are able to see Earnest during its Limited Run on 42nd Street--or on its Extended Tour--you may want to visit the Stratford Festival as well. One of the current hits in its Rep stars Brian Bedford in Molière's The Misanthrope! Directed, of course, by Brian Bedford!
Dana Ivey & Paxton Whitehead also make an excellent team as the forgetful Miss Prism & her adoring, but Celibate, Anglican Parson, the Rev. Canon Chasuble.
The wonderful settings & the stunning costumes are the work of Desmond Heeley. [Long ago--after I'd interviewed Heeley for Theatre Crafts-- we had teamed up to create an Art Nouveau/Art Deco Living Museum for a New City in Japan. But our Sponsor died suddenly…]
In this production, you actually get to see Miss Prism's well worn Handbag in which the infant Jack Worthing was left in a Cloakroom at Victoria Station. The Brighton Line…
Considering the Shelf Life of some Late 20th Century Comedies--are Neil Simon's plays still Laff Riots?--it is amazing that The Importance of Being Earnest can still have Audiences in the Aisles with Laughter!
We have had a handsome production of Wilde's An Ideal Husband on Broadway, but Style & Manners are not everything when bringing Wilde's characters to life…
It would be very interesting to see a Brian Bedford staging of Wilde's much neglected A Woman of No Importance. There is a meddling young American Girl to complicate that plot!
As for Sub Standard Lady Bracknells, the worst I ever saw was Sylvia Sydney, who threw a four foot Red Feather Boa around her neck to signify her Social Status. Sylvia also insisted on carrying her Pet Pekinese on stage with her.
This staging was mounted years & years ago at the Oakland Repertory Company, in Oakland, CA, just across the Bay from Don't Call It Frisco. The ORC no longer exists, but it was created at a time when every American City was going to have a Subsidized Rep Theatre. On the European Model!
Well, that didn't work out, did it?
These New Yorkers! Women Getting Divorces! Is that the New New York Idea?
Speaking of Repertory Theatres, BAM once had a Repertory Theatre!
Because its Founder, Harvey Lichtenstein, had enjoyed such success importing great productions from major European Repertory Theatres--notably the Royal Shakespeare Company--he invited Frank Dunlop to create a BAM Rep Company over in Brooklyn.
In the company were such luminaries as Meryl Streep & Rosemary Harris.
One of the aims of the troupe was to give New Life to some undeservedly forgotten Old Plays. One gem they unearthed was Langdon Mitchell's charming Comedy of Manners, The New York Idea…
Unfortunately, the ensemble didn't last long, although the productions were splendid.
It seemed that Manhattanites didn't want to go traipsing over to Darkest Brooklyn to see old plays. Unless they were imported from Europe…
Now the Atlantic Theatre Company has discovered The New York Idea anew.
But they asked David Auburn to "adapt" it. I do not have Langdon Mitchell's original version in front of me, so I cannot point out where or how he has improved on it.
[When I retired from teaching Theatre at the CUNY Grad Center, some twenty years ago, I gave all my Collections of American Plays to my PhD students. Not a volume remains for reference, alas.]
With the taut comedic direction of Mark Brokaw, the play proves still a charming Period Comedy of Manners. The Time is 1906; the Locale is Washington Square, but not the Washington Square of Henry James. Far from it!
James lacked the Sense of Humor Mitchell so abundantly possessed.
They don't write comedies like this anymore, not because Neil Simon had no Sense of Humor, but because no one has any Manners anymore.
How can you write a Comedy of Manners when you are being walked into on the street by some Park Avenue Dowager who is texting frantically, not looking in front of her, to avoid crashing into you?
The very Conservative New York Judge, Philip Philimore [Michael Countryman], doesn't even have a Telephone in his Washington Square Town House.
He has recently divorced the Outrageous Vida Philimore [Francesca Faradany], hoping for a more Serene Life with the also recently divorced Cynthia Karslake [a dynamic Jamie Ray Newman].
Hilarious Hi Jinx ensue, for Cynthia & John Karslake [Jeremy Shamos] are still in love. But they don't know it…
She has a genius for Handicapping Horse Races. Her judgments of Fillies, Yearlings, Jockeys, & Tracks are never wrong. John, however, has been miserably failing as a Lawyer, ignoring his true calling as a Horseman.
The Wild Card in this New York Pack is the Debonair Brit, Sir William Cates Darby [Rick Holmes], who is so fascinated with these stylish, independent New York Women, that he's about to take a wife. But will it be Cynthia or Vida?
There's not a Weak Link in the entire cast: all are Excellent. They recall a time when People of Quality had Servants who knew how to behave. Except for the pert French Maid, Jacqueline [Mikaela Feely Lehmann].
Not only does the cast look variously splendid in the Period Costumes of Michael Krass, but they also move majestically or agitatedly in the ingenious Period Settings of Allen Moyer. Taking his cue from the Ancient Greek Theatre, Moyer has been able to evoke three different scenes with a Periaktoi.
This is a three sided Set Unit that revolves to reveal three separate locales. It's worth seeing this wonderfully evocative & laugh packed revival just for the sets & costumes!
Resonances of Rupert Murdoch! Edwardian Editor Knows What the Public Wants…
Way back before World War I, there were British Press Lords who believed in Giving the Public What It Wants, rather than carefully reporting & honestly analyzing the actual News.
That Arnold Bennett's Period Drama--handsomely recreated & costumed at the Mint--suggests some resonances with that Aussie Brit American Press Lord, Rupert Murdoch, is purely co incidental. How could Bennett have anticipated Murdoch?
Sir Charles Worgan--the Proprietor of a variety of Daily & Sunday Newspapers--knows his judgment is sound. He has no Moral or Social Agenda: he plays to the prejudices of his varied Readerships.
But the zooming numbers of News Stand Sales tells him he's right to do so.
Rob Breckinridge is the handsome, hard driving Sir Charles. He has, it seems, more Energy than Principles.
Unfortunately for his Self Esteem & despite his apparent Success, he's not asked to join the Best Clubs. Nor is he seen in the Best Circles. He doesn't even know anything about The Arts.
He, like his long absent younger brother Francis [Marc Vietor], comes from the Five Towns. But not the ones on Long Island…
A wonder that anyone could rise above that kind of background!
Sir Charles needs a wife, someone who can manage his household & help win them both a Place in Society. Marrying Emily Vernon [Ellen Adair]--a young beauty, but an untalented & penniless actress--could be the Answer.
Matthew Arbour staged, but he might have done well to engage individual actors for each role.
It was a bit much to ask one actor to play three roles. Mussing your hair doesn't instantly create a new character. Rather, it was like reviving that old English Period Tradition of Coarse Acting…
Milk Trains Not Only Don't Stop Anymore: They Don't Even Exist…
During what he ruefully called his "Stoned Age," Tennessee Williams wrote some rather peculiar plays. After the huge successes of Glass Menagerie & Streetcar Named Desire, he was never again to recapture those ruptured raptures of Down & Out Southern Life.
But--as he told me once in an interview: "You can't retire from being an Artist."
Tennessee wrote almost daily, even when Hung Over.
When he wrote Small Craft Warnings, I feared that title itself might be a warning about the small Craft involved in the writing. Indeed, it didn't really work.
From the Characters & Events involved in The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, it is, however, clear that Williams was all too familiar with the "International Set." Those roving Glitteratti--some Depraved, if not downright Deranged--who cluttered the "Watering Spots" of Europa after World War II.
Some were Heiresses; some were Famous for Being Famous: some were Movie Stars: some authentic Authors, & some shared--or Offered Up--their Available Charms for a Free Ride.
That is, until the metaphoric Milk Train stops making stops…
Tennessee Williams' Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here proved a disaster on Broadway, even with Paul Roebling, Scion of the Builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, in Male Hustler role. Against all sense, it was reproduced & returned the following season, with no better result.
The film was called Boom. As I remember, Noël Coward played the wicked old Witch of Capri.
Frankly--aside from an Over the Top starring role for an Actress of a Certain Age, who, herself, was also Over the Top--I thought Tennessee was creating for himself a Wet Dream, in the person of the Presumed Poet & Mobile Maker, Chris Flanders.
In the Roundabout's current revival of Milk Train, Olympia Dukakis is certainly Over the Top! There were several moments when I feared her Breasts would also be Over the Top of her Bra…
Maggie Lacey was interesting as Flora Goforth's frustrated Go For.
As Chris Flanders, Darren Pettie was an odd combination of defeat & the desperation of a once beautiful boy whose attractions are fast fading. Tennessee would have found him vulnerable…
But being Known as the Angel of Death is not a Good Recommendation for Flora, who is, in fact, dying…
Jeff Cowie's forced perspective setting almost overwhelmed the proceedings. But why didn't Roundabout revive one of the better Stoned Age plays?
Bring Back Gian Carlo Menotti, Robert Ward, & Carlisle Floyd to our Major Opera Stages!
The exciting & altogether admirable Mannes Opera offering of Sinners & Saints at the Kaye Playhouse should galvanize Peter Gelb at the Met to bring the American Operas of Carlisle Floyd, Robert Ward, & Gian Carlo Menotti back to the opera stage, after so long an absence.
The handsomely mounted & brilliantly performed program was subtitled: Three Masterpieces of American Opera.
Actually, only scenes from Susannah, The Crucible, & The Saint of Bleecker Street were staged, but these were so powerful, both Visually & Audially--when are these splendid young voices going to be heard at the Met?--that it's difficult to realize that they are not in the Permanent Repertory.
Of course, these operas used to seem More at Home at the New York City Opera--now desperately trying to be Reborn at the David H. Koch Memorial Theatre--but they all deserve First Class Revivals.
Possibly featuring some of the Mannes Talents who brought them back to life?
Not to overlook other operas by Floyd, Menotti, & Ward.
Floyd's adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men was a Big Hit at the Bregenz Festival. But why should American opera lovers have to go to far off Austria to see & hear American Classics?
Religion was the Unifying Principle in the Mannes programming. Roger Hanna's set design, featuring brooding Crosses for all three operas, was simple but effective.
The Tickets were free, so the Kaye Auditorium was thronged with Opera Lovers, many of whom greeted each other as Old Friends, or at least as Friends of the Mannes School of Music, which, unfortunately--unlike Juilliard & the Manhattan School of Music--does not yet have its own theatre.
It was also unfortunate that, excellent as were the performances, there could be only two presentations, with important roles often double cast.
In Susannah, the Evangelical Parson, Olin Blitch [Robert Balonek], lusts for the luscious Susannah [D'Ana Lombard & Ashley Harrington].
But Witchcraft haunts the Salem house of the Puritan Parson, the Rev. Samuel Parris [Theo Lebow & Paul Han]. His daughter & Abigail Williams [Suzanne Vinnik & Emily Duncan Brown] may have danced naked in the woods with the Devil!
As for the Religiously Afflicted Annina [Mithra Mastropierro & Natalie Aroyan] in Menotti's Saint of Bleecker Street--she even seems to suffer from St. Francis of Assisi's Stigmata!--she dies after becoming a Nun.
At least they didn't shave off all her hair, as they once did. Only a lock…
If you are to become a Bride of Christ--who, it seems, was actually Jewish, not a Christian--you have to lose all your Crowning Glory, just like Orthodox Satmar & Lubavitcher Wives!
This prevents Other Men than your Husband from looking at you & lusting after you…
An overhead reproduction of the Bleecker Street Tile Sign from the actual Subway Station set the visual tone for the initial scene.
[Actually, we are no longer allowed to take photographs in Subways, for fear our photos will give Aid & Comfort to the Taliban…]
Laura Alley is to be complimented--possibly even engaged by the Met?--for her ingenious stagings of all three operas. The scenes were conducted, in sequence, by Susan Woodruff Versage, Ted Taylor, & Joseph Colanieri, the Guiding Light of the Mannes Opera.
In addition to the Religious Thread linking all three operas, Your Arts Reporter found another linkage: I have known & interviewed all three composers.
When Mice & Men was produced at the Bregenz Festival, I had breakfast every morning with Carlisle Floyd, a charming & thoughtful artist. But I did tell him I feared that he would be--like Carl Orff, with Carmina Burana--remembered for Susannah, rather than for his other operas.
Long ago in Minnesotan St. Paul, the Opera Company, with a Rockefeller Grant, had invited Opera People & Opera Critics to a Workshop to find new ways of funding & encouraging Regional Opera in America. Robert Ward & I were teamed in one panel!
The pièce de resistance of this event was the World Premiere of Dominic Argento's Casanova's Homecoming, a co production with the New York City Opera.
Beverly Sills--at that time the NYCO's Artistic Director--was worried. She asked me: "Do you think this is going to work in New York?"
"Beverly! Is it working here?"
As for Gian Carlo Menotti, I had talked with him at his Spoleto Charleston Festival, as well as at the original Spoleto Festival in Umbria.
But when I met with him in Manhattan to tape him for my projected book, Opera Theatre, or Concerts in Costume, he panicked when I took out my trusty SONY tape recorder.
"Turn that thing off! I thought you were going to take notes of our interview! I don't want to be taped!"
"Gian Carlo! I can't write that fast & I cannot read my own handwriting. I want this to be in Your Exact Words."
He sat there for a while, unsure how to proceed. His Assistant--a young Israeli named Mooky Dagan--suggested we leave the interview for another time. Which never came…
Laugh, Clown, Laugh! If You Can… But Rigoletto Is No Pagliacci.
Newly revived at the Met, the current production of Verdi's Rigoletto doesn't make Mantua look like a place you'd like to visit.
In a box in the program is this Visual Caveat: "…the Met is presenting an alternate version of Zack Brown's original scenic design. This configuration was last seen on the Met stage in 1990."
It is not explained in what way or ways the Courtyard of the Court of the Duke of Mantua has been altered, but Your Arts Reporter--who goes back a long way with Met productions--was wondering why the elegant façade of the Duke's Renaissance Palazzo is angled away from the audience.
Was this done to prevent Architecture from detracting from the Many Splendors of Zack Brown's marvelous Renaissance Costumes?
In Victor Hugo's original play--on which the opera is based--the bitter, angry Hunchback, Rigoletto, is the King's Jester. In Verdi's opera, he's been demoted to a Ducal Fool.
Nonetheless, in the person of Giovannni Meoni, he becomes a truly tragic figure. Well, that's already in the Libretto & the Score, but he brings it painfully alive. Nonetheless, he could have had a Bigger Hump: in the Crowd Scenes, he looks as though he only has Bad Posture…
As the innocent but Love Stricken Gilda, his beautiful, virginal, trusting daughter, Nino Machaidze was splendid: Heart Breaking, but foolish…
Although the Duke--passionately sung & played by Joseph Calleja--is instantly smitten with Gilda's modesty & beauty, he knows that Women Are Fickle. He has the Charm & Equipment to make this so.
As for Women being Mobile, the advent of Mobile Phones gives this famous Aria a new meaning. Some women in the audience were, in fact, working with advanced versions of the Primal Mobile Phone!
The sexy but dangerous Brother & Sister Act of Sparafucile & Maddalena was darkly intriguing as portrayed by Stefan Kocán & Kristin Chávez.
Paolo Arrivabeni--who has arrived well at the Met--briskly conducted.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine, But Four Mimes in Room 17B Have Entire Audiences in Stitches!
There was a time when you could hardly walk past the New York Public Library on 42nd Street without seeing a Black Leotard Clad White Faced Mute Performer on its steps.
It was then said that if someone took a pot shot at one of these Ubiquitous Mimes, No Jury Would Convict!
These Elitist Buskers may well have been Graduates of Jacques LeCoq's Mime School in Paris, but, back in Manhattan, they often had--metaphorically, of course--to Sing for Their Supper. Mutely, needless to say…
The four wonderfully talented Performers now at 59E59--who call themselves Parallel Exit--are excellent Mimes, but they can also grunt, sing, & play both the Marimba & the Tuba.
Two of them--Brent McBeth & Danny Gardner--also perform potted Peking Opera, in the Masks of the Monkey King & the Tiger Prince!
Room 17B is an odd chamber whose walls are endlessly rising shelves of File Drawers.
This Bureaucratic Grayness is pierced by three glass windowed doors, which heighten the tensions of Office Autocracy & Pecking Orders by providing not only Entrances & Exits, but also BLOCKAGES…
If you are longing for the good old days of the white faced clown, Marcel Marceau, fuggedaboudit! You won't see Mr. Bip Walking into the Wind.
This Mime Quartet is completed by Joel Jeske & Mike Dobson, who gets to read from Note Cards, hit a Chinese Gong, & play that Marimba!
There is, however, one Mime Staple that is now Archaic: Pretending to type & return the carriage on an Imaginary Typewriter.
"Please, Dr. IQ, what is a Typewriter?
"Is it anything like an Apple Computer? Is trying to change a Typewriter Ribbon anything like changing the Toner Cartridge on your Brother Printer?"
[Why not put a Cartridge in your Brother?]
The hilarious elements of this show have been orchestrated by Mark Lonergan, who charmingly affects a cute Mini brimmed Fedora.
These Funnymen have to be seen to be Believed! So don't miss them when they come your way On Tour!
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