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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, January-February 2015.
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
Moira Buffini's Adaptation of Nicolai Erdman's Suicide, now known as DYING FOR IT [****] *
Nick Payne's CONSTELLATIONS [****] *
Halley Feiffer's I'M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD [***] *
Edward Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE [****] *
Joe Pintauro's THE SNOW ORCHID [****] *
Jonathan Christenson's NEVERMORE: The Imaginary Life & Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe [*****] *
Christoph Willibald Gluck's IPHIGENIE EN AULIDE [*****] *
Alan Govenar's TEXAS IN PARIS [****] *
Ronald Keaton's Adaptation & Performance of CHURCHILL [*****] *
Andrew Bergman & Jason Robert Brown's HONEYMOON IN VEGAS [*****] *
Stephen Adly Guirgis' BETWEEN RIVERSIDE & CRAZY [*****] *
Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine's INTO THE WOODS [*****] *
Gene O'Neill's THE ICEMAN COMETH [****] *
Ferenc/Franz Molnar's FASHIONS FOR MEN [*****] *
Chris Marlowe or Bill Shakespeare's A WINTER'S TALE [**] *
Jennifer Haley's THE NETHER [****] *
Joel Drake Johnson's RASHEEDA SPEAKING [***] *
Report for The Months of January & February 2015
THESE WERE THE MONTHS THAT WERE…
The First Ritual of any New Year, for Your Roving Arts Reporter, is collating all the Notes, Letters, Jottings, Missives, & Printed Out E Mails that have reached my Formica Clad Door as Desk.
These are then Logically Arranged from A to Zed.
Usually, however, they form Two Volumes: Loney Correspondence: A L & Loney Correspondence: M Z.
Then they are bundled up & sent off--via UPS or USPS--to The Library of the University of California/Davis.
Once they reach Darryl Morrison, Chief of Special Collections, they will be added to the now nearly Two Hundred Running Feet of GLENN LONEY PAPERS.
It may well astound some Regular Readers, but this On Going Loney Collection was instituted at the Urgent Request of the UC/Davis/Library, way back in the 1970s.
What moved the University Librarian to make such an Odd Addition to the "Special Collections," you may well ask?
Who would want--Fifty Years or so hence--to read Boring Old Loney Letters?
Letters to Glenn Loney--from his Personal Pen Pal, the Murdered Playwright Joe Orton--are now in the Berg Manuscript Collection of the New York Public Library, where they can be examined by Qualified Scholars & Researchers, on request.
Only Xerox Copies of the Orton Letters were sent to UC/Davis…
Unfortunately, I never made Carbon Copies of the Loney Letters to Joe, which he had to destroy immediately after reading, for fear that his Jealous Lover--who later bashed in his Drugged Head with a Hammer--would find them.
So--unlike Goethe & Schiller--there is No Published Orton/Loney Briefwechsel.
That Teutonic Term stands for a Letter Exchange or Correspondence.
Nonetheless, Commercial Publishers are still printing Letters of Famous Men such as TS Eliot, William Carlos Williams, & William Faulkner.
Now that we are in the Digital Age of Internet Exchanges, wouldn't it be more interesting to read On Line the E Mails of TS Eliot?
Thanks to Edward Snowden & the SONY Hackers, we have recently been treated to some Very Interesting E Mails.
Just Imagine! SONY's Amy Pascal & Producer Scott Rudin referring to Angelica Jolie as a "Minimally Talented Spoiled Brat…"
Do Not Hit the Send Key!
As for Joe Orton's Letters to Loney, you soon will not have to go to the NYPL's Berg Collection to read them.
They will be available On Line on the Glenn Loney Arts Archive Bookshelf, along with all the Stories & Reports I wrote about the Oscar Wilde Witty Author of Entertaining Mr. Sloane & What The Butler Saw…
PASSING GLANCES AT SHOW SCENES SEEN:
At The Atlantic Theatre:
Moira Buffini's Adaptation of Nicolai Erdman's Suicide, now known as DYING FOR IT [****]
Stalin's Socialist Realism Didn't Include Surreal Suicidal Soviet Satire: Siberia for Erdman!
How To Become a Local Hero: Commit Suicide as a Form of Political Protest!
Behind the Frenetic Farcicalities of the Atlantic's current production of Dying For It, lurks a Sense of Comic Desperation: This Dramatic Fiction is so Absurd that we really have to Go Over the Top to keep from Losing the Audience.
Coarse Acting raised to the Ninth Power…
Nonetheless, the Excellent & Energy Charged Cast--which includes Mary Beth Peil, Patch Darragh, Peter Maloney, Mia Barron, Robert Stanton, & Joey Slotnick, as the Everyman Slob, Semyon Semyonovich--presents a Microcosm of 1920s Soviet Sensibilities.
Now, in 2015, we are a Long Way Off from the Police State Aftermath of the 1917 Russki Revolution, so Younger Viewers may be puzzled about all the Neighborhood Hysteria which erupts in the Shabby Interior of a Stairway Dominated Soviet Tenement House.
In the 1920s--in the early years of Soviet Communism--there was an amazing Avant Garde Artistic Ferment, which also affected Russian Theatre, both in terms of Playwriting & Stage Design.
Nicolai Erdman wrote The Suicide in 1928, shortly before Stalin was to clamp down on all forms of Artistic Expression that did not Glorify the Soviet Worker.
So Suicide didn't have a Russian Production until 1990, the Soviet Experiment having effectually collapsed in November 1989.
Nicolai Erdman had already been packed off to Siberia by Stalin in 1933, so he missed seeing his Socialist Satire at Moscow's innovative Taganka Theatre, staged by the inventive Yuri Lyubimov.
Even though Lyubimov had already astonished Soviet Censors & Taste Makers with almost Surreal Stagings of such Russian Classics as Crime & Punishment--which toured in Western Europe as well--he did wait until the Soviet Imperium was fracturing to produce the Erdman Classic.
Russians--especially Muscovites--had to wait until 1990 to witness Erdman's Satirical Genius, but it was my Good Fortune to have seen Der Selbstmord, as well as Erdman's Das Mandat, in West Germany already in the 1970s.
I was so impressed with both these Hysterical Satires that I enlisted my Brooklyn College Colleague, Prof. Spencer Roberts, to translate both plays into American English.
Spencer was not only a Russian Language Expert, but he also had been attached to the American Embassy in Moscow before returning to the more Democratic Shores of Manhattan.
Unfortunately, neither Spencer nor I was able to interest any Not for Profit Local Theatre Ensemble in mounting either The Mandate or The Suicide.
My copies of those Scripts are somewhere in Storage, over in Brooklyn…
Having already admired some of the always amazing Taganka Theatre Stagings, I finally got to know & interview Yuri Lyubimov in Firenze, at the Maggio Musicale, where he was staging a Really Odd Rigoletto, which opened with Gilda on a Garden Swing, swooping out over the Astonished Audience.
But that's Another Story…
If you hunger for a Blast from the Past, do go see Dying For It down at the Atlantic Theatre!
Walt Spangler's Three Floors of Rickety Stairs are themselves Worth the Price of Admission.
Not to Overlook the Staging Genius of Neil Pepe & the Fearless Over Acting of his Dynamic Cast.
At the Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre--formerly The Biltmore Theatre:
Nick Payne's CONSTELLATIONS [****]
The Multiverse Is Filled with Huge White Balloons, But Jake Gyllenhal & Ruth Wilson Are Comets!
Who is this Roland, who is being Verbally Pestered by the frantic & frenetic Marianne?
Well--as Sexily Played by Jake Gyllenhal & Ruth Wilson--they seem to be Modern Times Inhabitants of a Balloon Inflated Multiverse, in which People & Events slide & glide here & there & Things are not quite What They Seem.
From the Reactions of the Sold Out Auditorium, it was also clear that both Jake Gyllenhal & Ruth Wilson are Shooting Stars!
As written by Nick Payne & staged by Michael Longhurst for London' Royal Court Theatre, Roland & Marianne wonderfully spar in a Multitude of Short Scenes, so it is good that there is No Intermission.
Otherwise--after Coffee & a Facility Visit--you would have No Idea of Where You Were Before…
At The Atlantic Theatre's Second Stage in the Google Bldg:
Halley Feiffer's I'M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD [***]
American Playwrights! Leave Chekhov Alone! Not Being Cast as Nina Is Not a Career Killer!
Maybe I missed something?
The Press Promo Postcard advises: "Ella is a precocious & fiercely competitive actress whose sole aim in life is making her famous playwright father David proud."
As this Theatre Insider Two Hander opens, the hysterically adjulatory Ella drinks in her Foul Mouthed Father's Running Commentary on what's wrong with the Broadway & Off Broadway Theatre Scene.
Not to Overlook Hollywood, from which David got an Oscar.
No! Only an Oscar Nomination, as Ella reminds him.
Apparently, most of the Movers & Shakers--from Play Readers to Producers--are Fags, Fairies, Cocksuckers, & Queens.
How can they not see David's Genius as a Playwright?
That includes all those Faggot/Fairy/Cocksucker Critics as well…
Just look at all those Trophies, Awards, & Globes!
Forget about Arthur Miller!
David's Experience of growing up in Brooklyn--the Feisty Son of Jewish Immigrants--has Miller trumped by a Mile!
In fact, although Ella is crushed that she was passed over for the Role of Nina in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull--instead, being cast as "I'm in Mourning for My Life" Masha--her Potty Mouthed & Self Centered Dad is more interested in Recapping His Own Career than in Consoling his Dependent Daughter.
Indeed, this Epic Rant is more like a Dramatic Monologue--with Female Footnotes from a One Woman Chorus.
David Birney is the somewhat incestuously obsessed David: Seldom has he seemed so Driven, so Outraged, so Drug Dependent…
As Daughter Ella, Betty Gilpin is Birney's Match in the Excessive Emotion Sweepstakes.
Both Gilpin & Birney deserve Nominations for the Lucille Lortel Acting Award!
Director Tripp Cullmann could be Nominated for the Outer Critics Circle's Lucille Lortel Directing Award as well!
The Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award for Young Emerging American Playwrights might also have an Open Nomination Slot for Actress/Playwright Halley Feiffer, who has also "penned" A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Center of New York City.
Edward Albee's A DELICATE BALANCE [****]
Not Only Do Toby & Agnes Have a Dysfunctional Family, But They Also Have Nutty Neighbors!
Early on--with Absurdist One Acters like The Zoo Story & The American Dream--Edward Albee won his Spurs as a Youthful Bronco Buster of the Status Quo.
The Absurdist Vision remained, but it became More Domesticated in later dramas such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
In the current Luxury Revival of A Delicate Balance, Toby & Agnes are not quite yet ready to walk into the Ocean, as did Woolf, but their Family Problems are enough to make Relocating to Tucson seem like a Possible Solution.
Although Agnes--Glenn Close, Magisterial as a Suburban Ice Queen--is not ready to Abdicate Her Designer Throne, she is constantly goaded by her Inappropriately Alcoholic Sister, Claire, who is hilariously mimed by Lindsay Duncan.
The sturdy John Lithgow--between mixing Endless Drinks--is occasionally driven to Verbal Outrage & Castrated Maleness as Toby.
It is Not Enough that Toby has to deal with both Agnes & Claire, but there's also The Psychotic Daughter, Julia--Martha Plimpton, passionately Out of Control--who cannot seem to Stay Married, not matter how Many Men she tries.
For a while, there is a Lot of Elegant Talk about Family Relationships, but Nothing seems to be Happening in Santo Loquasto's equally Elegant Interiors, dominated Upstage by an Elegant Staircase.
Suddenly--Without Warning--Harry & Edna arrive, leaving their own Nearby Home for the Permanent Shelter of the Elegant Roof of their Dearest Friends, Toby & Agnes.
They are Terrified of being Old & Alone…
Although this Absurdist Comedy of Manners was written Long Ago, it now has a Special Relevance, as many of the Ticket Purchasers to a Production such as A Delicate Balance are themselves Growing Old, with No Prospects of a Removal to Tucson anytime soon.
As played by the Nebbishy Bob Balaban, Harry is a Senseless Cipher, whose ties to Toby include Golf & Country Club, as well as being a Godparent to the Unstable Julia.
As Edna, Claire Higgins--contentedly pricking at her Needle Work--seems Totally at Home.
Unfortunately, Agnes has put Harry & Edna in Julia's Personal Bedroom, to which Julia always retreats when she finds she cannot Endure Married Life once again.
So, when Julia suddenly returns to find Intruders--compared, at one point, to The Plague--in her Sancta Sanctorum, A Delicate Balance really Heats Up.
Remembering the Original Broadway Production of Delicate Balance--featuring the Famed Married Team of Hume Cronyn & Jessica Tandy--in which the sudden appearance of Old & Frightened Neighbors was Absurd But Terrifying, it is astonishing that Delicate Balance has been now transformed into a Laff Riot.
It works--even for Superannuated Broadway Spectators--but I still find that the End of Life Existential Angst of being All All Alone is certainly Nothing to Laff About…
Curious that Edward Albee has always seemed more Sympathetic to his Women Characters than to the Men he Constructs for his Dramatic Fictions.
Tiny Alice, of course, is a Deliberate Oddity, for Alice is that Invisible Spirit who lives in that Chateau Model dominating Central Stage.
[Actually, Tiny Alice is more about Male Sexual Relationships…]
Perhaps it's now time for a revival of Albee's Three Tall Women? Possibly as a Tribute to the Late Marian Seldes?
Pam Mackinnon elegantly staged her Elegant Cast--Elegantly Clad by Ann Roth-- in the Elegant Setting, crammed with a Small Fortune in Antique Totschkes.
What has always especially appealed to me about Albee's Delicate Balance is its German Title: EMPFINDLICHES GLEICHSAMGEWICHT.
German Speaking Audiences--think Austria, Switzerland, & Germany--have long empathized with Albee Dramas & Albee Character Constructs.
Even when Albee could not get American Productions of Later Plays, they always received their World Premieres at Vienna's English Theatre!
At The Lion Theatre on Theatre Row:
Joe Pintauro's THE SNOW ORCHID [****]
Paging Immigration Control! There Are Some Crazy Guineas Over in Brooklyn! Help! Help!
First Off, let me say that I am a Great Admirer of both the Person & the Directorial Abilities of Valentina Fratti, whose Miranda Theatre Productions I've been reporting on from the Time that Valentina even had her Very Own Theatre Space, called The Miranda Theatre…
The Miranda Name has been retained, but its Bare Bones Productions have become--as Ernest Hemmingway used to say--A Moveable Feast.
When I first saw a Listing for The Snow Orchid, I'd just seen an In Flight Rerun of Frozen, so I misread the Play Title as The Snow Queen…
The Orchids referred to in that Title are some Small Potted Orchids brought to Rocco Lazzaro's Shabby Brooklyn Flat by Rocco himself, a formerly Abusive Italian American Husband, now just returned from Treatment for a Nervous Breakdown.
Immigrant Italians--even their Second Generation Italian American Children--have long felt themselves regarded as Outsiders, especially in Rocco's 1964 Brooklyn Community. Even, perhaps, considered a Bit Strange…
Rocco's Old Country Spouse, Filumena--wonderfully embodied by Angelina Fiordellisi--seems herself Almost Certifiable.
Filumena's Eldest Son--also Previously Abused by his Dad--has developed an almost Incestuous Attachment to her.
In one Memorable Confrontation in Pintauro's Possibly Semi Autoboigraphical Family Drama, Valentina Fratti scores an Absolute First in Broadway, Off Broadway, or Off Off Broadway Production History!
The Now Nude Eldest Son drops his Towel to challenge his Baffled Dad to give him a Blow Job!
The Prudently Prurient will be disappointed to learn that Rocco does not take him up on this Insulting Offer.
Valentina Fratti has assembled an All Star Cast--including Broadway Leading Man, Robert Cuccioli--which she has ingeniously helped to make all of Playwright Pintauro's Brooklyn Italian Craziness a Sometimes Amusing, Sometimes Searing Semi Reality.
The Primary Problem is that Joe Pintauro has written a Play & a Half!
Nonetheless, as always, Valentina Fratti has done her Famous Playwright Father, Mario Fratti, Proud.
At One of The Theatre Venues at New World Stages:
Jonathan Christenson's NEVERMORE: The Imaginary Life & Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe [*****]
Or So Croaked The Raven…
Edgar Allan Poe Lives Again in a Tim Burtonesque Musical Fantasy!
This Amazing Staging is what is often called at Awards Time "a Unique Theatre Experience."
Poe's Raven may be Croaking, but everyone else in this Canadian Collage is singing, singing, singing the Sung Narrative of the Multi Talented Composer/Lyricist/Playwright/Director Jonathan Christenson, who now dwells in Edmonton, in Alberta.
But the Visual Impact of Nevermore would be Negligible were it not for the Fantastic Masks, Bizarrely Epic Hats, Darkling Wings, Clawing Talons, & Hoop Skirt Framed Costumes of Bretta Gereke, who designed the Entire Production.
Those New Yorkers who are Poe Fans will be disappointed that there is No Mention of the Poe Cottage in Upper Manhattan. Nor of the way that his poor wife, Virginia, died: to keep her warm, Poe placed the Family Pussy in her Bosom…
But Nevermore is, after all, an Imaginary Life!
How about a Poetic Cask of Amontillado for Jonathan Christenson?
Before the House of Usher falls--leaving in its Wake, Hundreds of Injured Broadway Ushers--how about the House of Shubert moving this Remarkable Staging of an even more Unusual Bio Musical to a Broadway House?
As the Horror Haunted & Alcoholic Author, Scott Shpeley is Superb. That is also the Correct Spelling of His Name!
Scott/Poe graduated from not One, but Two Professional Acting Programs in Canada--at MacEwan U & the U of Alberta.
He has been Posing as Poe since 2008, when Nevermore had its Canadian Premier.
At The Juilliard School's Peter J. Sharp Theatre:
Christoph Willibald Gluck's IPHIGENIE EN AULIDE [*****]
Met Opera & Juilliard Young Hopefuls Implore Diana:
Don't Demand a Blood Sacrifice of Iphigenia! The Trojan War Will Occur Anyway…
Although it is customary to credit Operas to their Composers, rather than to their Librettists, in the case of Iphigénie en Aulide, it saves Key Strokes to type Christoph Willibald Gluck, rather than Marie Francois Louis LeBlanc du Roullet, Gluck's fortunate choice as Co Creator.
The Libretto was inspired by Racine's reworking of Euripides' Greek Classic Tragedy, but with a Happy Ending!
In Classical Antiquity, the Trojan War could not take place as long as the Greek Fleet was wind starved & becalmed on the Shores of Aulis.
The Goddess Diana demanded that Agamemnon--Commander in Chief of Greek Forces--sacrifice his Beloved Daughter to fill His Sails with the Hot Air of Aulis.
So the Crafty Crusty Warlord sends for Iphigenia & Wife & Mother Clytemnestra on the Pretext that Iphigenia is to marry the Greek Hero Warrior, Achilles.
Little do either of these Unfortunate Women know that the Wedding Altar will be, instead, a Sacrificial Altar!
Blood Will Flow & the Greeks will rescue the Seduced & Abducted Helen of Troy, who has been having a Great Time over in Trojan Ilium, with Prince Paris of Troy.
In Ancient Greek Mythical History, Agamemnon Gets His Later!
Returning Victorious to his Argive City--with his Captive, the Seeress Cassandra, who is Fated never to be Believed in Her Prophecies--he is brutally murdered by his Vengeful Queen, Clytemnestra.
That is really a Classical Downer, so Gluck had Marie Francois Louis LeBlanc du Roullet rework this Earlier Installment of the Long Running Trojan War: All's Well That Ends Well…
Bavarian Born Gluck deserves Music Historical Attention because he dared to flout the Tired Traditions of Baroque Opera Performance in Paris.
Gluck created Real People with Real Passions--insofar as Greek Gods & Heroes can be imagined as Real--with Passionate Arias, Ensembles, & Choruses.
Fortunately, the Future Opera Stars on stage at the Juilliard School's Peter J. Sharp Theatre--only One of a Number of Peter J. Sharp Theatres in Manhattan & Brooklyn--were not really burdened by all this Back Story.
Nor did they have to don Baroque Period Costumes, for this was an Acted Concert Performance, permitting Achilles to appear in Casual Friday Attire.
A Visual & Sonic Problem was presented, however, in that a Minor Character towered over the Rest of the Cast & was even more Aurally Impressive than some of the Principals.
Jane Glover, conducting the Juilliard's Period Instrument Orchestra--the Juilliard415, visibly animated both the Soloists & the Periodistas.
Ying Fang was a Passionate & Much Put Upon Heroine as Iphigenia.
As her Imperious Dad, Agamemnon, Yunpeng Wang sang strongly but looked rather Small for a Great King.
Not that the Future of Opera in America is going to look like Peking Opera, but there are a lot of Very Talented Young Asians now training at both the Juilliard & the Manhattan School of Music.
In fact, Achille's Best Buddy, Patroclus/Patrocle, was embodied by Takaoki Onishi.
Andrew Stenson was a stalwart Achilles, determined to Protect & Wed the Doomed Argive Princess.
At the Close, a Good Time Was Had By All--not least by the Enthusiastically Applauding Audience.
At The York Theatre in The Citicorp Bldg:
Alan Govenar's TEXAS IN PARIS [****]
French Culture Hounds Import Two Texas Folk Artists--Who Find a Home in the City of Light…
Broadway Musical Star Lillias White is irrepressible as Osceloa Mays, invited to Paris to give the Locals a Taste of Texas in Story & Song.
The Historical Osceola finds herself paired with Old Rodeo Stiff/Lonesome Cowboy John Burrus, touchingly played, guitar strummed, & sung by Scott Wakefield.
Osceola is Black; John is White.
She has Bad Memories of Whites, which she is Eager to Share, along with Soul Stirring Renditions of such Gospel Hymns as All God's Children Got Shoes & When The Saints Go Marching In.
The Often Baffled John plays Harmonica & Guitar just like my Dear Old Dad--a Farmer, not a Rancher or Cowboy.
I grew up hearing--also singing along with--Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie & Git Along Little Dogies.
Scenic Design was by James Morgan, York Theatre's Artistic Director.
It consisted of Two Unmatched Chairs, backed by Videos of Paris. I thought, for a moment, One of those Streets was Ours, only half a block from the River Seine…
A Most Unusual Evening of Remembrance & Song!
Ronald Keaton's Adaptation & Performance of CHURCHILL [*****]
Son of an American Heiress, Sir Winston Saves Britain in Her Darkest Hour…
Having just returned from being Blizzard Trapped in Morocco's Atlas Mountains, I was surprised to find myself watching Sir Winston Churchill painting that Fabled Mountain Range, studying its Vast Stretches from a Window Vantage in Marrakesh.
After Britain's War Time Saviour was forced out of Public Life by Clem Atlee & the Labour Party, the Former Prime Minister spent a lot of time painting Various Scenes on Aristotle Onassis' Luxury Yacht, as well as Back Home in his beloved Chartwell Estate.
Painting, Churchill early discovered, Calms the Mind & helps bring a Sense of Order to Persistent Problems.
Not only Impersonating Sir Winston, but also virtually Embodying this Feisty Political Bulldog, Ronald Keaton is an Amazement!
Center Stage is a Speakers Table, equipped with Cigars & Liquid Refreshment, backed by a Triple Section Window.
Through this Picture Window, we variously see Churchill's Beloved Mother, the American Heiress, Jenny Jerome--born over in Brooklyn in Cobble Hill, as well as Sir Winston's Beloved Wife, "Clemmie," who kept him Centered during his Tumultuous Career.
Indeed, Winston's Window permits us to Follow His Footsteps along Paths to Greatness: Captured in the Boer War in South Africa; Presiding over that Vast Mistake in World War I in Gallipoli; being Elected to The Commons in Parliament & later, Shoved into the Lords; Steeling his Countrymen to survive the Blitz & defeat Hitler, not to Overlook that Famous Speech in Fulton, MO, in which he Coined the Phrase for the Soviet Domination of Eastern Europe: The Iron Curtain…
Keaton has based this Memorable Churchill Evening on Churchill's Own Words, as well as a Teleplay, aptly titled: Winston Churchill.
Long an Admirer of Sir Winston--who was also My Kin, thanks to a Relation by Marriage, who was Sir Winston's Indifferent Step Father--I was especially interested in Keaton's Reconstruction of the Events Leading Up to World War II, as I lived through that Depression Era Prelude.
[Bonus Report in Different Format]
MY KIN: WINSTON CHURCHILL!
NOTES ON DANGERFIELD BUSHER FAMILY CONNECTIONS!
BY GLENN LONEY
©GLENN LONEY 2008
[RECORDED IN RESPONSE TO FAMILY REQUESTS FOR GENEALOGICAL INFORMATION!]
Through Grandma Alice Dangerfield Busher, we are related to George Cornwallis West, a Direct Descendant of General Cornwallis, who surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown.
Called "the Handsomest Man in Europe," George was Alice's First Cousin.
He married Jennie Jerome, Widow of Lord Randolph Churchill--who supposedly died of Syphilis.
This made him Sir Winston Churchill's Step Father, even though he was ten years younger & Winston disliked him intensely.
Because of this Family Connection, I was once allowed to photograph the Great Portrait of Sir Winston which graces the 400 year old Speech Hall at Harrow on the Hill, the historic Public School where both Winston & George Gordon, Lord Byron, were "Old Boys" & had carved their names in the wall of an Ancient Classroom, which I was also permitted to photograph.
When Jennie tired of George--who was apparently something of a "lounge lizard," sleeping around, as the Married Edwardian Elite so often did, Jennie supposedly having had a liaison with King Edward VII--he then married the celebrated Actress/Manager, Mrs. Patrick Campbell.
"Mrs. Pat" was famed for her Dictum about Sex: "It's all right, as long as you don't do it in the street & frighten the horses!"
When Mrs. Pat tired of George, she divorced him, but he was still in play, so he married a Teen Age Heiress, Georgette Hirsch.
She was not Jewish, but had married a very old Jewish Financier, who promptly died, leaving her very rich. George used some of this Dowry to restore the Cornwallis Family Castle, in Denby, Wales.
I would never have found out about our Cornwallis West Connection had I not needed to have a Xerox Copy made of one of Mrs. Pat's Prompt Scripts, preserved in the Victoria & Albert Museum's Theatre Collection.
This Prompt Script was of a play by our celebrated American Novelist, Edith Wharton, which I discovered Mrs. Pat had virtually re written for London, after its failure in New York.
I needed to document her Revisions, but the Theatre Curator said the Manuscript was too fragile to put on the Photocopy Machine.
Defeated--although the V & A would have permitted me to copy it out by hand over several weeks!--I went up to Yorkshire to visit Uncle Arthur & Aunt Margaret Dangerfield.
Uncle Arthur was Alice's Brother.
Years ago--his Health having been adversely affected by his Medical Studies at the University of Edinburgh--his Professors had advised him to emulate Theodore Roosevelt, author of The Strenuous Life.
President Roosevelt had recovered his own Health by going out West to work on a Cattle Ranch in Montana.
Uncle Arthur became a "Limey Cowboy"--he used this title on a BBC Broadcast about his romance with the State of California!--on the Black Brothers' High Sierra Summer Cattle Range.
Curiously, the Black Pastures were next to the Loney Bros. Summer Range & the Blacks were also our Cousins.
But at that point, Uncle Arthur could have had no idea he'd eventually have a kind of Family Connection with the Loneys! As it happened, this Connection was established on my First Visit to the Yorkshire Dales.
Uncle Arthur returned to Britain, but he had no money to "buy a practice," as young doctors had to do at that time: see AJ Cronin's The Citadel for Background.
So he came back to California, taking the first day of the State Medical Exam on 17 April 1906.
That evening, he went to see Enrico Caruso at the San Francisco Opera.
In the middle of the night, the Front Wall fell off the Rooming House where he was staying.
It was the Great San Francisco Quake & Fire!
Uncle Arthur was immediately certified as a Surgeon & appointed by General "Black Jack" Pershing to serve at the Presidio of San Francisco, overseeing the Chinese Refugee Camp there.
I have given Pershing's Orders in Chinese & other Dangerfield Artifacts to the Bancroft Library at UC/Berkeley, but I also deposited some items in the American Museum, in Bath, England.
These include his Western Saddle & Bridle from the High Sierras!
Subsequently, Uncle Arthur set up a Surgery in North San Juan, above Nevada City.
Aunt Margaret actually came out to California to see her Intended Mate, but she had to return to England to care for her Aged Mother, so Uncle Arthur also had to go back to Britain, to marry his Sweetheart.
But his Tombstone in Sinnington, in the Yorkshire Dales, records him as a Citizen of California!
On my annual summer visit to the 18th Century "Overbeck Cottage" in Sinnington--the Dangerfield's Home in Retirement--I mentioned my Problem with the V & A Xerox Machine.
"Now that Stella is dead, you are as close as anyone in the family to Mrs. Pat!"
i was astounded: "I am related to Mrs. Patrick Campbell & her Actress Daughter, Stella Patrick Campbell?"
"Yes," Aunt Margaret said. "George Cornwallis West was your Grandmother's First Cousin!"
Neither Uncle Arthur nor Grandma Alice had ever mentioned Cousin George.
"He was a Cad! An embarrassment to the Family…"
The next summer, when I arrived in Sinnington, I was reading the Sad Memories of Princess Daisy, Officially Known by the Style & Title of Princess Henry of Pless.
Daisy was married to Queen Victoria's Son, Prince Henry of Pless, who was the Nominal Ruler of a Principality somewhere in Germany.
"Princess Daisy" was a Belle of Aristocratic Victorian/Edwardian Society, but her Goatish Husband treated her Swinishly.
Her Painful Marriage was rather like that of her American Counterpart, Consuelo Vanderbilt, who had been married off to the piggish Duke of Marlborough, Sir Winston's Cousin.
Consuelo freed herself eventually, to marry an Admirable Frenchman, Jacques Balsan, becoming Consuelo Vanderbilt Marlborough/Spencer Balsan!
When I told Aunt Margaret how moving I had found Princess Daisy's Memoire, she told me Daisy was George's Sister!
The next summer in Yorkshire, I was reading about the Duke of Westminster's Yacht, in a scene from Noël Coward's comedy, Private Lives.
I shared this with Aunt Margaret, who said: "George & Daisy's Sister was Constance, Duchess of Westminster!'
So our Remote Relatives--the Cornwallis Wests--seem to have done very well for themselves in the Edwardian Marriage Market!
In addition to the Cornwallis Connection, the Dangerfields were also related to Sabine Baring Gould, who is most famous for writing Onward, Christian Soldiers!
This Rousing Protestant Hymn has now taken on New Meaning with American Involvement in Middle Eastern Affairs…
Andrew Bergman & Jason Robert Brown's HONEYMOON IN VEGAS [*****]
Hurray for The Flying Elvises! Hurray for True Love!
Hurray for Those Disappointed Mother Jungle Goddesses!
Hey! What Happens in Vegas no longer Stays in Vegas!
No! No! No!
Instead, it's Singing & Dancing at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre, inspired by a Movie of the Same Name, namely Honeymoon in Vegas.
Among its Chief Delights are the Lively Performances of Off Stage Buddies Tony Danza--playing Tommy Korman, a Casino Crook & Rob McClure--amusing as Jack Singer, a Man Who Cannot Commit, haunted by a Dying Mother's Curse!
The charming & talented Brynn O'Malley is Betsy Nolan, who loves the Nebbishy Jack--who loses her for an Hawaiian Weekend with the Lecherous Tommy, to pay off a Gambling Debt.
This Rousing Laff Riot--staged by Gary Griffin & choreographed by Denis Jones--comes to Broadway from the Paper Mill Playhouse, over in Milburn, NJ.
Initially, this Show looked like an Excuse for Las Vegas Flash & Feathers Production Numbers: Who would care if Jack finally hooked up with Betsy?
Only after the Intermission did Honeymoon in Vegas finally Catch Fire, its Production Values giving us the Lost Valley of the Disappointed Mothers, Pagan Idols beyond the Imaginings of American Explorers.
Thanks to that Silver Clad Team of The Flying Elvises, Jack hurtles through Space, down to Vegas, to stop Tommy from Marrying Betsy!
So it is that Jack & Betsy can finally have their All Singing/All Dancing Honeymoon in Vegas…
Stephen Adly Guirgis' BETWEEN RIVERSIDE & CRAZY [*****]
Crazy Old Foul Mouthed & Bourbon Fuelled Pops Won't Vacate Rent Controlled Hudson View…
Talk about Production Values!
Wheelchair Bound Pops lives in one of those Fabulous Riverside Drive Apartments that are now worth a Couple of Million.
But--as Lavishly Designed by Walt Spangler--you'd have to get a Stepladder to reach the Above Stove Pots & Pans.
I once had a Brooklyn Heights Top Floor with Sixteen Foot Ceilings, but Pops' tops them all: His Ceilings --one of them hung with a Crystal Chandelier--look to be at least Twenty Six Feet High.
But Pops has some Problems, one of them being that he should have Vacated this Fab Pad long ago: He should have Taken the Money & Run, as they say.
As Pops, Stephen McKinley Henderson is an African American Force of Nature: a Joy to Watch!
But Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis is No Respecter of Persons: He has Characters disparage "America's Mayor," Rudolph Giuliani, as a "Pretentious Guinea"…
A former NY Policeman, Pops was once shot up by a White Policeman. He nurses a Grudge--which now has a Certain Resonance, when White Cops are still attacking Black Americans.
There are Father Son Issues in involved, including a Jailbird Addict to whom Pops has Given Fatherly Shelter.
Pops' Own Son, Junior [Ron Cephas Jones], is involved in some Illegal Activities, of which Two Police Officers are aware, but Hold Off out of respect for Pops, who abuses their Friendly Overtures.
Curiously, Between Riverside & Crazy was premiered Off Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre.
Now it has moved, thanks to Scott Rudin--Not to Broadway--but still Off Broadway, at the 2econd Stage Theatre, on its Peter J. Sharp Stage.
Austin Pendleton has staged his Lively Cast with Appropriate Irreverence.
At the Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre in the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre
Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine's INTO THE WOODS [*****]
Musical & Mimetic Magic from the Fiasco Ensemble Brings New Light to Darkest Sondheim!
This Rewriting of some of the grimmer Grimm Fairy Tales is initially interesting as Various Iconic Characters leave their Mythic Turfs to Interact with Others in Odd Ways.
But it really doesn't work in the Second Act.
Indeed, some Movie Critics Pinpointed the Problem in the Current Cinematic Version of Into the Woods: Sondheim's Long Time Collaborator, James Lapine, is not an effective Drafter of Narratives.
When a Very Dark Production of Into the Woods initially opened on Broadway, I noted that if one took the First Act of Sunday in the Park with George & the First Act of Into the Woods, Sondheim would have an American Musical Classic.
Neither of those Second Acts really worked.
Some Busybody immediately alerted Sondheim about my Published Critique--which had appeared in an Obscure High School Thespian Journal.
Steve promptly called me to say that he was No Longer Speaking To Me. Nor would he come to my CUNY Theatre Seminars to discuss His Work, as he had previously so generously done…
Well, the Second Act of Into the Woods still doesn't work, but the Fiasco Ensemble somehow makes it Interesting.
In fact, this Into the Woods--which comes to the Laura Pels from far off Princeton's McCarter Theatre--is anything but a Fiasco!
It should move from Sixth Avenue & Forty Sixth to Broadway--for an Extended Run.
Not only do the Fiasco Players play a Variety of Instruments, they are also able to assume an Interchangeable & Hilariously Gender Bending Variety of Characters.
Although the Stage is elaborately cluttered with the Sounding Boards of Trashed Grand Pianos & framed by a Proscenium of Trashed Keyboards & Felt Hammers for Missing Strings, the Fiasco Troupe is able to improvise Costumes & Set Props from the Most Unlikely Artifacts.
A Curtain Rod with Two Patterned Curtains instantly becomes the Ball Gowns for Cinderella's Two Unkind Step Sisters!
Who are Temporarily Impersonated by Gents with Moustaches…
This Magical Into the Woods has been staged by Noah Brody & Ben Steinfeld, who are both In the Cast.
Lisa Shriver choreographed, with Design by Derek McLane [Settings], Whitney Locher [Costumes], Chris Akerlind [Lighting], & Darron L. West [Sound].
End of Season Awards for Best Musical Show & Ensemble!
At BAM's Harvey Theatre
Gene O'Neill's THE ICEMAN COMETH [****]
Wagner Needed an Editor--So Did O'Neill:
Goodman's Iceman Almost as Long as Götterdämmerung…
There's a certain Chromatic Charisma in O'Neill's selection of Alcoholic Types to inhabit Harry Hope's "Greenwich Village" Bar & Flop House.
Each has a Story to Tell--some of which are Endlessly Replayed…
Unfortunately, even though O'Neill won Pulitzers & the Nobel Prize for Literature--in the Process, becoming an Icon of American Playwriting--he never knew when to Bring Down the Final Curtain.
Consider Mourning Becomes Electra, a Modern Version of that Classic Greek Trilogy, The Oresteia.
Then there's A Long Day's Journey into Night--which is often, in performance, a Very Long Journey indeed.
BAM's Capacity Audience settled down--with most Cell Phones Off--at 7 PM, but they were not released into the Snowy Brooklyn Streets until Midnight!
At least, although this is a Bar Play, it is not like that Victorian Temperance Classic, Ten Nights in a Barroom.
Initially produced in Chicago in 2012, at the Goodman Theatre, Iceman has Scott Rudin to thank for bringing it to BAM in 2015--with plans to move it to Broadway later on.
The Much Admired Stage Director Robert Falls--Current Artistic Director at the Goodman--is the Go To Guy for Rediscovering American Classics.
But he certainly could have Made Some Cuts in the Original Script. Or in the Four Hour Forty Five Minute Playing Time…
Will Broadway Audiences sit still for what now seems An Eternity?
What I liked best about the Falls Staging were the Subtle Lighting Changes, which Focused Attention on Certain Scenic Moments.
But there never were Bowery Flophouses with such Towering Walls: Designer Kevin Depinent has No Ceilings in Sight.
Everyone in this Very Large Cast worked very hard, but Nathan Lane--as the Dapper Hope Bringer, "Hickey"--was the real Energizer Bunny--Over the Top & then some…
Although some of the Bowery Drunks were Muted in their Complaints, one did not need a Hearing Aid to get the Message from Hickey: His Ever Forgiving Wife was "in Bed with the Iceman."
Brian Denehy played Larry Slade--described as a One Time Syndicalist/Anarchist--but Larry seemed another one of those Dour Irishmen that Denehy favors.
Jason Robards! Where Are You When We Need You?
At The Mint Theatre
Ferenc/Franz Molnar's FASHIONS FOR MEN [*****]
A Visual Triumph of Hungarian Jugendstil Interiors & Costumes: Art Nouveau in Budapest!
But Also Excellent Acting As Usual, As a Holy Fool Finds True Love Between European Wars…
There is a Problem--Several Problems, in fact--at Peter Juhász' Fashionable Men's Boutique in Post War Budapest.
The charming, courtly Peter [Joe Delafield], smartly attired in Tailcoat, is Too Kind, Too Generous, Too Trusting for his Own Good. Not to mention for his Shop, which is teetering on Bankruptcy.
"Fashions for Men" is patronized by a Select Clientele & served by a Post Imperial Habsburg Staff, which borders on the Küss Die Hand Servile.
Unfortunately for Peter, his Beloved Wife, Paula [Rachel Napoleon], has fallen in love with his Cleverest Clerk, Oscar [John Tufts].
They go off to Berlin, to open their own Boutique, funded by the Saintly Peter, who can ill afford such Largesse…
Losing his Menswear Emporium, Peter returns to his Previous Employer, an Autocratic Count [Kurt Rhodes], who is a Rural Cheese Maker, with a Courtly Letch for the Sexy & Manipulative Adele [Annie Purcell], Peter's former Book Keeper in Budapest.
Of course, these are Not Real People. This is, after all, a Molnar Social Comedy. Not Nitty Gritty like his Liliom--later to be Set to Music as Carousel.
Alls' Well That Ends Well, with Peter being Saved & Loved by Adele, who really knows How To Run a Boutique.
For the Mint Theatre Audience, not only the Delightful Performances of Jonathan Bank's Always Admirable Actors were Studies in Social Standing, but the Jugendstil Decors of Daniel Zimmerman & the often Striking Art Nouveau Costumes of Martha Hally were Visual Treats.
Awards Time is Fast Approaching, so Davis McCallum's artfully staged Production should win for the Mint yet another Drama Desk Scroll. Not to overlook Lortel & OCC Nominations!
This Handsome Staging was especially interesting for me because I had regularly been visiting Budapest during its Communist Incarnation, photographing its Amazing Architecture & Lavish Interiors, as well as reporting on its Two Operas, One Operetta, & Multitudinous Theatres for The Christian Science Monitor, Theatre Arts, Theatre Crafts, After Dark, Dance, Modern Drama, Art Deco News, The Modernist, & Other Publications.
Budapest has not One, but Two Iron & Glass Railway Stations designed by Prof. Gustav Eiffel, famed for that Tower on the River Seine in Paris.
Buda is on the Castle Hill side of the River Danube, with Pest on the Flat Land Side, boasting--along with Glasgow--one of Europe's First Subway Lines!
This Magic Imperial Habsburg City is still well worth The Visit, even if its Politics are lurching Dangerously Right Ward.
At The Pearl Theatre
Chris Marlowe or Bill Shakespeare's A WINTER'S TALE [**]
Enter Camillo, Pursued by a Bear! Ignore Those Stage Directions: We Are Not in Bohemia…
On the Small Stage of the Pearl Theatre stands a Handsomely Executed William Morris Art & Crafts Period Interior that could be either Victorian or Edwardian.
It is almost as Elegant as the Budapest Jugendstil Interiors now on view over at the Mint Theatre.
Designed by Brett J. Banakis, it would not look out of place in either Kensington or Knightsbridge!
What it does not remotely suggest is either the Court of The King of Sicily or the fabled Seacoast of Bohemia, where the Aged Sicilian Courtier, Camillo, is killed by a Bear, as he tries to deposit a Rejected Royal Bastard on the Coast of a Country that, historically, never had Access to the Seas.
Why Stage Director Michael Sexton thought it was a Good Idea to set Winter's Tale--a Fantastic Fairy Tale Folly--in a Space & Imagination Limiting London Drawing Room is a Puzzlement.
In fact, the Effect is Dead Wrong, as is having the Soon to Be Dead Child Prince played by a Prancing Adult Clown…
Whatever they may have done to Pass the Royal Time in the Palace of The King of Sicily, it surely was not sitting around an English Dining Table, tossing off Shakespearean Lines with the casualness of Idle Conversation.
The Core Company of the Pearl Theatre can play Shakespeare or Marlowe: they have done so before.
But, this time out, they have Badly Miscalculated, with some Able Actors in Roles that are Not Right for Them.
Even a Casual Reading of the Play might have suggested to the Director that, as Paulina, the customarily capable Rachel Botchan lacks the Seniority & Authority that Camillo's Widow must have in order to bring Her King to His Senses.
As a Roving Shakespeare Critic--across America & around Europe--I have seen many Ingenious Stagings of Winter's Tale, including some Magisterial Productions by the RSC in Stratford upon Avon.
At the Colorado Shakespeare Festival--Many Moons Ago--I even saw Sicilian Royals descend from a Space Ship.
Oddly Enough, this Worked. William Morris Dining Rooms do not.
So, as I already knew how Winter's Tale comes out in the End, I left at the Interval, hoping for Better Luck when the Pearl revives Molière's Don Juan.
At The Lucille Lortel Theatre
Jennifer Haley's THE NETHER [****]
Pursue Forbidden Perversions w/o Consequences: Virtual Reality Porn on Christopher Street…
Lucille Lortel would be both Surprised & Shocked at what the MCC has cooked up down at what was once the Theatre DeLys.
Peeking through the Illusion of the Fourth Wall, we see a stark black Interrogation Chamber.
"Papa" is being metaphorically grilled by an Angry Young Woman.
He is operating in a Subterranean Den of Virtual Reality--The Nether--in which it is possible for Clients to indulge their most Perverted or Bloody Fantasies with No Consequences in the Real World.
When we are permitted to see The Nether, the Black Walls of the Interrogation Chamber slide back to reveal a Secret Garden & a Victorian Interior.
Here, a Dapper Young Man approaches an Alice in Wonderland, who raises her Victorian Skirts, eager to be ravished by this Amorous Gent.
There is also an Axe, but we do not get to see it In Action.
Apparently, this Virtual Reality Girl, named Iris, can be endlessly restored for Carnal or Murderous Desires.
But it may be that Papa & Doyle--an Angry Old Man, who is also Interrogated--are actually Erotically Interacting with Their Period Avatars.
But even if we are here dealing--not with Holographic Sex--but with some Previously Unknown Form of Post Google Sexual Satisfaction, is there a Moral Problem involved with showing a Young Girl onstage in a Virtual Porn Fantasy?
Virtual Pedophilia is obviously Less Harmful to Live Children--who, with any Luck, will never see The Nether--but what about that Axe?
Do some Male Fantasies involve the Brutal & Bloody Axe Murder of a Loved One? Or of a Rejected Persona?
The current Movie Spy Sensation, Kingsman, features a Master Spy sinking an Axe into the Throat of a Hate Frothing Fundamentalist Preacher, as the Entire Congregation slaughters each other.
Will Sexy Axe Murderers replace the Blood Lusting Zombies of Yesteryear?
The Magic Settings were created by Laura Jellinek: They were Real, not Virtual.
Anne Kauffman staged…
A Program Insert alerted the Audience that there are No Cell Phones in The Nether.
At The Pershing Square Signature Center's Romulus Linney Theatre
Joel Drake Johnson's RASHEEDA SPEAKING [***]
Getting Even for Four Hundred Years of Slavery? Is That What Rasheeda Is All About?
Cynthia Nixon staged this Somewhat Hateful Office Scene for Scott Elliott's The New Group.
The Somewhat Spineless Dr. Williams [Darren Goldstein] so much admires the Secretarial Efficiency of the Somewhat Timid Ilene [Diane Wiest] that he makes her Office Manager.
But she is soon reduced to a Quivering Jelly by the High Handed Antics of the Other Office Employee, Jaclyn [a dynamic Tonya Pinkins], who seems to Channel Rasheeda, who has a Lot of Anger about Whitey & knows How to Show It.
Rasheeda is not just Passive Aggressive in her Steam Roller Attacks: She is downright Aggressive Aggressive.
As the Extremely Timid Patient, Rose, Patricia Connolly is a Study in Insufficiency.
But she really does have Rasheeda's Number.
Joel Drake Johnson might be considered a Bit of a Racist, in the way that he has structured this play.
But it is more Serious than most of the Audience seemed to Understand…
Most of the Viewers around me were Laughing Like Jackals at Jaclyn's Take No Prisoners Tactics.
As Jaclyn/Rasheeda, Tonya Pinkins looked Fabulous!
The Rest of the Cast looked like they'd made their Clothing Purchases at Goodwill.
Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.
Copyright © Glenn Loney 20015. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney Arts Rambles." Reproduction rights please contact: email@example.com.
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