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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, Report for The Month of May 2015
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
THIS WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS… *
PASSING GLANCES AT SHOW SCENES SEEN: At Playwrights Horizons on Theatre Row:Jenny Schwartz & Todd Almond’s iOW@ [***] *
At The Proshansky Theatre of the CUNY Graduate Center: Paul Krugman & Jeffrey Sachs Discuss Current Social Problems… *
At MoMA’s Cullman Education & Research Building in Theatre 3: World Monument Fund & MoMA’s LATIN AMERICAN MODERNISM AT RISK *
At Carnegie Hall in The Isaac Stern Auditorium, On The Ronald Perelman Stage: Kurt Weill & Franz Werfel’s THE ROAD OF PROMISE [****] *
At The New York Theatre Workshop: Dael Orlandersmith’s FOREVER [***] *
At The Public Theatre: Lemon Anderson’s TOAST [*****] *
Scott Siegel’s BROADWAY BY THE YEAR©: The Broadway Musicals of 1966 1990 [*****] *
At The Caspary Auditorium Rockefeller University:Dr. Andrew Solomon Discusses OUTWARD OPULENCE FOR INNER PEACE: The Restoration of the Emperor’s Private Paradise in the Forbidden City *
At The Borden Theatre of the Manhattan School of Music: Steve Sonheim’s A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC [*****] *
At The Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row: Dan Lauria’s DINNER WITH THE BOYS [*****] *
The Godlight Theatre Company at The 59E59 Theatre: Donn Pearce’s Novel--Adapted by Emma Reeves--COOL HAND LUKE [*****] *
At Studio 54: David Javerbaum’s AN ACT OF GOD [*****] *
Target Margin At The Connelly Theatre--Between Ave A & Ave B: David Greenspan’s WHEN THIS YOU SEE, REMEMBER ME [****] *
THIS WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS…
The Poet has said: Rough Winds do shake the Darling Buds of May…
That was 400 Years before so called Global Warming, but what did those Elizabethans Know, anyway?
Nonetheless, neither Chris Marlowe nor Bill Shakespeare would have known What To Do had they been confronted by an HP Printer Produced Direction Sign recently seen at the Jewish Community Center:
Yoga and Cancer This Way
Thinking about Mothers’ Day: Would the History of Western Civilization be Somewhat Different had they had Condoms in Roman Occupied Palestine?
Well, It’s Like This: iOW@ Is a Long Way Off from Oklahoma!Or Should We Recall: All I Owe I Owe To Ioway, So I Think I’ll Move to Californiay…
Jenny Schwartz & Todd Almond are, both of them, Immensely Clever!
But What To Make of Their New Show, down at Playwrights Horizons?
It not only has Live Music--Very Lively, at times--but it also has Production Values Out the Wazoo!
Central seems to be the Problem of the Lost or Missing Mother or How To Solve a Female Identity Crisis?
Actually, the Book is a Tissue of Eclectically Elliptical Conversational Clichés:
What you hear Everyday in Common Comments--Every Day of Your Life--if you are a Conventional American Woman, with Social Issues on Your Mind, you will find Reprised & Reworked by Schwartz & Almond’s Tireless Cast, Constantly Changing Costumes.
At least, Schwartz & Almond have not Revived & Resuscitated Why, Oh Why Oh, Did I Ever Leave Ohio?
There was a Fair Amount of Furniture Moving, but, at last, A Rear Curtain parted to reveal what could well have been an Iowa Scene--in Miniature--as it might have been Imagined by Thomas Hart Benton.
Or, perhaps, Grant Wood?
But certainly not Rockwell Kent…
At BAM’s Harvey Theatre: No! Not Henry Gibson! Henrik Ibsen’s GHOSTS [*****][*****][*****]
The Uninsured Orphanage Is Burning! Let’s Use the Rest of the Cash for a Seamen’s Home! Sins of the Fathers Not Visited on Wives or Daughters…
In the Good Old Days of Ibsen & Chekhov, Audiences liked a Full Evening of Dramatic Action--Four Act Plays were The Rule.
Amazingly, Adapter/Director Richard Eyre has been able to Compress all of Ibsen’s Ghosts into One Devastating Exposure.
Leslie Manville is both Distraught & Devastating as Helene Alving--Widow of a Dissolute Norwegian Sea Captain--whose Legacy she seeks to Preserve as an Orphanage.
Unfortunately for Mrs. Alving & her Beloved Son, Oswald, Captain Alving’s Real Legacy is Syphilis, from which Oswald--newly returned from Paris--is Dying.
Pious & Prejudiced Pastor Manders is not only Mrs. Alving’s Spiritual Advisor, but he’s also in charge of Constructing the Home for Orphans.
But Manders is such a Credulous Religious Fundamentalist that he has not bothered to Insure the Orphanage!
How could a Loving God allow such a Pious Project Go Up in Flames?
As Mrs. Alving, Leslie Manville is a Great Lady, Greatly Distressed, but she seems to have Done Everything Wrong…
Indeed, she will soon have to give Oswald a Death Dealing Dose of Morphine, when the Horrors of Paresis begin to Wrack His Body.
In the Meantime--to Pass the Time in Provincial Norway--Oswald’s Amorous Impulses tend toward Regina, Mrs. Alving’s Harrassed Servant Girl.
Unfortunately, Regina is actually His Sister…
Regina has been raised to believe that she is the Daughter of the Mealy Mouthed Handy Man, Jacob Engstrand, who is Looking after the Orphanage Project.
But he’d rather be using His Time & Mrs. Alving’s Money to build a Shelter for Homeless Seamen, in which Regina will be a Kind of Hostess.
A North Sea Norwegian Brothel would be Closer to the Mark.
This is the Very Best Production of Ghosts that I’ve ever seen, even though I’ve seen it Many Times, including in Oslo, in Norwegian; in Copenhagen, in Danish; in Munich, in German, & even in Italy, in Italian, at the Spoleto Festival, where Anti Genius Director Lucca Ronconi, placed All the Furniture against the Stage Left Wall, Extending Far Upstage, with the Stage Right Wall completely Furniture Free…
This was, apparently, Designed to make the Rising of the Morning Sun--at the Cataclysmic Climax all the more Impressive.
A Major Reason that Eyre’s Visual & Emotional Concept is So Powerful is that he has not seen Ibsen’s Doomed Norwegians as Victims of Circumstances & Buttoned Up Good Manners.
Instead, the Usually Poor Mouthed Engstrand is Angry & Violent.
Regina is not to be Pushed About.
Nor is Oswald going gently into that Good Night:…
The Power of the Production is also Magnificently Magnified by having all the Alving Walls--Interior & Exterior--Transparent!
Not only does this make the Flaming Orphanage vividly visible--when it is usually some Red Glares, Glowing in the Wings.
But the Transparency also floods the Stage with Red Skies at Morning, as Mrs. Alving prepares to give Oswald the Morphine Pills.
Kudos to the Entire Cast, with Nods to Tim Hatley [Design], Peter Mumford [Lighting], & John Leonard [Sound].
It’s Worth Noting, once again, that Henrik Ibsen did not write Doll’s House, Ghosts, & Master Builder anywhere near Norway.
He wrote most of His Best Dramas from the Safe Distance of Munich, writing home for More Money, as he Excoriated & Skewered Norwegian Narrowness…
Incidental Information: Some Seasons Ago, we had in Manhattan an Ibsen Society.
For one of our Monthly Meetings, we had a Photo Report from a Professorial Member who had been to Chicago to Photograph the Site of the First Production of Ghosts in America.
Because of its Disgusting & Objectionable Subject Matter, Ghosts could not be Premiered in Manhattan.
So it was Initially Mounted in the Second Floor Hall of a Norwegian Society.
But when Our Lady finally found it, the Social Hall had long since become a Norwegian Laundry.
Our Ibsen Event was sponsored--for some Obscure Reason--by Japan’s Suntory Whiskey.
Fellow Critic John Simon had been invited to comment on the Chicago Findings, as well as on the Production History of Ghosts in America.
As we had both been the Last Surviving Critics for Theatre Arts, John asked me for an Ibsen Closer?
Oswald’s Last Pathetic Words are: Mother! Give Me The Sun!
So I mimicked both Oswald & Ibsen: Mother! Give Me The Suntory!
At The Polonsky Shakespeare Center of The Theatre for a New Audience Over in Brooklyn: Chris Marlowe or Bill Shakespeare’s TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA [*****]
Fiasco Theatre Is No Theatre Fiasco! Fresh from the Folger, Two Gents Amble Over to Brooklyn!
I am a Great Admirer of Fiasco, whose Dramatic Roots drive deep into the Slavery Soiled Soil of Brown University, whose Founding Family Got Rich from the Slave Trade in Providence.
Quite Aside from the Creative Geniuses of Something Rotten--that Fictional First Shakespearean Musical--Joe Papp may well be the First American Shakespearean Producer to have turned Two Gentlemen of Verona into a Musical.
Joe brought his Light Hearted Staging from the Public Theatre to Broadway, no less!
From what I could See--as the Polonsky Shakespeare Center Producers had placed me way up on the Second Balcony, way on the Side, so I could Hardly See Anything--Fiasco’s Two Gents was both Charming & Hilarious, as well as Ingenious & Inventive.
From what I could Hear--for the Fiasco Voices were Loud & Clear--Every Member of the Ensemble Spoke & Sang Shakespeare’s Iambics as though They Really Meant What They Said!
Apparently modeled on The Cottesloe, a Modern Version of a Jacobean or Carolingian Court Theatre--an Adjunct Afterthought of London’s National Theatre--the Polonsky Shakespeare Center is like a Narrow Elongated Box, with Two Levels of Balconies…
Only Those Lucky Playgoers on the Main Floor & Front & Center Upstairs can really see well.
Derek McLane Designed, but he didn’t have to do Too Much, confining himself largely to Two Columns which bloomed as Trees in Their Tops. There were also Lots of White Crumplings on the Stage Box.
Jesse Austrian--both Shakespeare’s & Fiasco’s Julia--also co directed with Ben Steinfeld.
Guess What! Income Gap Likely To Increase! Poor Kids Do Better in Good Schools!
But Those in Charge Are Not Likely To Help Us Out! Can Education Be The Magic Key To Something Or Other…
Paul Krugman for President!
Since that CUNY Graduate Center Evening when Princeton Professor Paul Krugman & Mass Senator Elizabeth Warren--a Powerful Personality in a Powerful Red Jacket--Discussed the Mess We Are In, it became Clear To Me that Either of These Functioning Intellects would be a Better Choice as US President than Any of the Current Suspects.
Including Dynastic Bushes & Clannish Clintons…
But it was a bit of a Letdown to hear both Krugman & Sachs endorse Education as Good for What Ails Us.
No One actually defined Education: What does that Loosely Used Buzz Word really mean?
There are, after all, both Bob Jones University & the Late Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University busily in the Business of Education.
Or, more likely, they are Involved in Inculcating Superstition & Prejudice.
Do Not Forget: Ignorance Is Catching!
You can get it from watching Fox News or from reading The Congressional Record…
Unfortunately, There Is No Cure for Stupidity!
There are No Helpful Hormones, No Vegan Vitamins that are going to Add Points To Anyone’s IQ…
Currently--in addition to being the Chief Economics Nostradamus down at Princeton University--Krugman is the Resident Economics Expert at The New York Times.
But in 2016, Krugman will add another Star to His Crown, becoming a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate School.
In Addition to Many Perks as a Distinguished Professor, Krugman can also eat in the CUNY Graduate School Cafeteria!
They say the Caesar Salad is Palatable…
But it is certainly Not Imperial!
Fidel Castro--Among Other Latinos--Not a Good Conservator of National Patrimony…
It was Amazing & Astounding to see what had been Created on Cuba’s Arts Campus in Havana.
But, despite Che Guevara & Fidel Castro’s Initial Infatuation with the Performing Arts, Building Socialism seems to have Taken Its Toll.
Down in Venezuelan Caracas, Hugo Chavez obviously Had No Interest in Arts or Architecture.
Unfortunately, the Decaying Modernist Remains of Once Handsome Arts Projects in Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico DF, & Venezuela suggest not only Government Indifference, but also Generic Poverty which leads Locals to Strip Historic Buildings of Plumbing, Furniture, & Copper Roofings.
But, both in Cuba & in Mexico, Bad Bricks & other Defective Building Materials have doomed some Marvelous Modernisms to Early Decay.
This Panel Program--featuring Enrique Vivoni Farage, on the Henry Klumb House; Claudio Vekstein, on Casa sobre el Arroyo; Javier Ramirez Campuzano, on the Colorful Sculptures of Ruta de la Amistad, & Paulina Villanueva Arismendi, on the Ciudad Universatria--was inspired by MoMA’s Current Show: Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955 1980.
There were some Documentaries & Photo Shows, which you might find using #modernismatrisk.
This was a World Monuments Fund Initiative, so why not Check Out Our Website?
Having Long, Long Ago been to both Maricaibo & Caracas with LaMaMa Ellen Stewart, I told Paulina Villanueva Arismendi of my Admiration for El Ateneo de Teresa Careño.
Sra. Arismendi does not Share My Enthusiasm, but she does agree that it was a Good Idea to Name Something after Teresa Careño--who was the First Venezuelan to have an International Career as a Concert Pianist.
I couldn’t resist reminding Sra. Arismendi that--although the Simon Bolivar Memorial Tower now towers over Downtown Caracas--The Liberator Died in Exile in Far Off Bogotá!
Venezuela only brought back His Now Venerable Bones when he was Safely Defunct…
Depression Era Judiasm--with Hints of Weill’s Broadway Hit: Knickerbocker Holiday…
When the Great Viennese Director/Producer Max Reinhardt staged The Eternal Road at Radio City Music Hall way back in 1937, he joked that it was a Project of Three Euro Jews, one of whom was, in fact, a Roman Catholic!
Franz Werfel had been Converted, thanks to the Industrious Nagging of his Famous Spouse, Alma Mahler Werfel.
In effect, she gave him his Greatest Hit: The Song of Bernadette…
So Werfel’s Libretto for The Eternal Road--now Recycled by the Always Admirable Collegiate Chorale as The Road of Promise--is Conceptually & Textually something of a Pre World War II Artifact. Or an Oddment…
Although there were initially some Problems with Sound Balances among the Soloists, eventually Anthony Dean Griffey, Mark Delavan, Ron Rifkin, Lauren Michelle, Megan Marino, & others found Ground Zero, ably aided by Conductor Ted Sperling & the Orchestra of St. Lukes.
In 1933--when Der Führer, Adolf Hitler, came to Power in Berlin--Max Reinhardt was dismissed as Director of the famed Deutsches Schauspielhaus, so he could already see the Biblical Handwriting on the Wall.
Kurt Weill had already fled to Paris.
Being a Catholic Convert--under the Nazi Race Laws--did not protect Werfel either.
So The Eternal Road aka The Road of Promise is ostensibly about a Jewish Synagogue being Endangered by Unseen Enemies.
Way back in the 1930s, the Irksome Pre Teen Lad--who Knows Nothing about His People’s History--may have seemed Essential to Telling The Story of The Jewish People, up to & including the Roman Conquest of Palestine, as Israel was then known…
Now, this is something of a Textual Nuisance & a Vocal Annoyance.
Ordinarily, the Collegiate Chorale performs Chorally in Concert in the Clean, Well Lighted Space of Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium, with No Sets or Props.
Unfortunately, Someone had the Not So Bright Idea of Illustrating much of what Christians call The Old Testament, with Random Religio Historical Artworks, as well as Chunks of Chagall.
Had this been All Chagall or Hoary Historicism, the Effect might not have been so Unsettling…
This is an Annoying Distraction from the Work in Performance.
It also Militantly Mitigates against Exciting the Imagination!
Please! Let Audiences Listen & Imagine!
Shall I Compare Thee To a Shakespearean Sonnet?
Let Our Wild Visual Wanderings Put Us in the Picture: Don’t tie down a Bardic Verbal Image to a Keane Composition…
As now Everyone Knows, Kurt Weill escaped not only from The Third Reich but also from Paris to Manhattan, where he gave Americans The Gift of Lady in the Dark, as well as of the Anti War Jonny Johnson.
As for the After Life of Max Reinhardt, he was Dead in Deutschland, but Very Much Alive in Austria, where his Baroquely Sumptuous Stagings or Jugendstil Stylings Made Him Master of such Famed Playhouses as Theater an der Wien, the Wiener Burg Theater, & Theater in der Josefstadt.
Max Reinhardt also famously created Jedermann--the Medieval English Everyman--to be performed before the Great Baroque Façade of Salzburg Cathedral, during the Salzburg Festival, for which he was also, in effect, Artistic Director, Producer, Planner, Promoter, & Fund Raiser.
The Croesus Rich Banker, Otto Kahn, it is said, helped Reinhardt purchase that Remarkable Baroque Estate, Schloss Leopoldskron, where he lived in almost Renaissance Splendor.
This is the Actual Palace from which you saw Christopher Plummer & Julie Andrews escaping from Gestapo Guards!
The Nazis would march into Vienna in 1938--the so called Anschluss that helped Hitler & Himmler create Grosses Deutschland.
Fortunately for Max Reinhardt, his Manhattan Debut with Rosalinda--a Reworking of the Viennese Operetta, Die Fledermaus--helped him to Hollywood, where he could chat with Kurt Weill’s Famed Twenties Collaborator, Bertolt Brecht!
He was also engaged to Direct a B&W Movie Version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring no less a Young Talent than Mickey Rooney!
So Max survived WWII, returning to Vienna & Salzburg, where he found American GIs bunkered down in Schloss Leopoldskron…
On an Opera Safari to the Salzburg Festival way back in 1963, I requested an interview with Helene Thimig, Reinhardt’s Widow, herself a Famous Actress from an Austrian Theatre Dynasty.
She had returned to Salzburg to Stage Jedermann as Max used to do it…
"Frau Thimig, why didn’t Professor Reinhardt make another Movie, after the Sensational Success of Midsummer Night’s Dream?"
"Reinhardt wanted to stage a really more serious drama, so we brought them a copy of Danton’s Death.
"They had no idea who Danton was. They thought we meant Dante’s Death…
"Reinhardt bought a copy of The Divine Comedy. We both read it, but it was immediately clear to us that it could never make a Studio Box Office Hit.
"So that was the end of Hollywood for us."
Mother’s Day Down on East Fourth Street: Ranting & Raving about an Abusive Mom?
The Stage is essentially Bare, but not exactly Barren.
There’s a Table & Two Chairs, which sit on a Raised Platform that can be Illuminated from Below for a Moment of Special Emphasis.
Around the Naked Interior Walls of the NYTW are Wooden Runners on which are Posted: Old Photos, Vintage Letters, Handwritten Notes, & even Comments from the NYTW Audience, written in response to Dael Orlandersmith’s Heartfelt Appeal.
For This Auditor, the Essential Takeaway was that Dael Orlandersmith’s Abusive Mother had Slapped Her, Beaten Her, Berated Her, Humiliated Her, Denigrated Her, & Generally Destroyed Any Sense of Self Worth, so that she was Glad to Escape to Paris, where an African American Girl from the American South could be treated like a Real Human Being!
Not quite like Josephine Baker--years before her--but at least the French she met were Welcoming & Friendly.
What seems to have Most of an Impression on Dael Orlandersmith in Paris was her Experience of the Grand Cemetery of Père Lachaise.
Here, she saw the Memorials of Jim Morrison, Fred Chopin, Richard Wright, & Edith Piaf.
Interesting that Dael Orlandersmith did not even mention the Looming Tomb of Oscar Wilde!
Essentially, this Solo Show is a Coming to Terms with a Difficult Mother--in Life & in Death.
The Irish Rep at the Daryl Roth Theatre: Nate Rufus Edelman’s THE BELLE OF BELFAST [*****]
Bless Me, Father, For I Am in Love with You! Outside: Riots & Death To Unite Broken Ireland…
No, this is not your basic Belle of Amherst at all…
Emily Dickinson may have been expert at brewing both Tea & Poetry in Amherst, but, in Northern Ireland,
Repeated Shots of Irish Whiskey keep the Crusty Old Cleric, Dermott Behan, in Survival Mode.
Pastoral Duties are more Complicated for baffled Ben Reilly, an Earnest Young Priest, who doesn’t want to Hear the Confession of Anne Malloy, a Feisty & Foul Mouthed, Almost Adult, who is in Love with Her Confessor.
Outside, in the Streets of Belfast, Irish Catholics & Irish Protestants are killing each other.
No, this is not "The Troubles," when Eire was struggling to be Free of the English Yoke.
Instead, it’s 1985, & the IRA is fighting for Belfast & The North to become part of a Roman Catholic Ireland.
Anne Malloy--passionately played by Kate Lydic--has lost her Parents, thanks to the Civic Unrest.
Unfortunately, Anne now has Only One Relative, her Aged & Border Alcoholic Auntie, Emma Malloy, who likes to come to Confession to Denounce the Sins of Others.
Patrica Conolly is a delightful Irish Gossip as Emma, but she cannot match Dermott in Throwing Them Back. Billy Meleady does Dermott’s Drinking as if he can’t wait for the Next Shot.
Outside, in the Streets of Belfast, the Shots are For Real.
But Father Ben is having a Crisis of Faith: he is powerfully drawn to Anne--not just because of what She Has Lost or What Lies Ahead.
Anne’s Best Chum, Ciara [Arielle Hoffman], is also Lonely & Frustrated, but there are Lonely Married Men out in the Streets of Belfast.
Claudia Weill tautly staged her Wound Up Cast in a Cramped, Divided Setting: almost a Scenic Metaphor for the Divisive Social Catastrophes Outside.
Oddly Enough, this Vision of Irish Angst has not been Imagined by a Native Irishman.
Nate Rufus Edelman is proud to be a Member of the Choctaw Nation, with an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU.
He’s also been to Trinity College in Dublin, so he may be Irish by Degrees?
Attica Remembered--With Iconic Toasts from Dolomite, Annabelle, Stackolee, & Jesse James…
Lemon Anderson’s Prison Lockup--filled with Angry, Baffled Black Men--is No Lemon in Performance.
Grim Metal Gates rattle & slide, while Toasters Rap & Ready for Riot & Rebellion.
Elise Thoron stages a Dynamic Cast, including John Earl Jelks, F. Hill Harper, Armando Riesco, Keith David, Jonathan Peck, Teddy Cañez, & Phillip James Brannon.
The Attica Riots made Many more aware of Prison Abuses but did not much Alter or Reverse the Corrosive Conditions of America’s Massive Incarcerations.
Since Attica in 1971, our US Prison Population has increased by 700%: One in 99 Adult Americans is now Behind Bars…
At least as Recreated by Anderson’s Toasts, there is No Effort at Rehabilitation.
Returned to a Hostile Outside World, where will these Branded Men find Homes, Jobs, or Hope?
At Town Hall:
Patrick Page as Cyrano, Including That Nose! Plus Mary Testa, Bobby Steggert, & Kevin Earley!
Considering the Great Number of Savvy Seniors, Golden Agers, & Entitled Pensioners in the Town Hall Audience, the Hit Number from Zorba must have Hit Home!
This Lonesome Lyric warns us that: Life Is What You Do While You’re Waiting To Die…
Well! There You Have It!
Not really Something To Sing About, but Lorraine Serabian made it seem Worth the Effort!
With Hamilton a Big Hit, it was Serendipitous that the Founding of Our Country should be revisited by 1776, with Molasses to Rum, sung by Kevin Earley.
That Old Heartbreaker, Bring Him Home, from Les Mis--which seems to have Run Forever on Broadway, with Two Long Running Revivals--is still a Tear Duct Teaser, especially as passionately pleaded by Bob Stillman.
Despite some Last Minute Cancellations--some kind of Bug on the loose in Manhattan--Broadway Stars stepped in to Crown a Regal Evening of Golden Oldies.
The Charm & Erudition of Scott Siegel--who Creates, Writes, Directs, & Hosts these Popular Broadway Singing Surveys--is Legendary.
How Does He Do It? All That Talent Onstage?
Well, of course, these are always Broadway Mondays, when the Hit Shows are taking a rest for 24 Hours.
Speaking of Hours--these are Not Yours; they are Hours!--Scott Siegel saluted his Theatre Mania Spouse, Barbara Siegel, who, he said, Clocks about 80 Hours a Week, working on or in or about New York Theatre.
Scott suddenly apologized: Oh, oh! I’ve ruined her Makeup!
But 80 Hours may well be Right on Target, considering the Masses of Shows Barbara sees in her Demanding Job as Nominator in Chief for the Drama Desk Awards.
A Pavilion of Women, as well as a Treasure House of Gems & Uncomfortable Furniture…
Thanks to the World Monuments Fund, Dr. Solomon was able to provide an Exemplary Slide Show of What Has Been Done & What Needs to Be Done to Repair & Restore the Quianlong Garden Complex in the so called Forbidden City.
When The Sky Is Red was the Watchword under Chairman Mao, there was No Interest in Preserving any Remainders or Reminders of China’s Dynastic & Imperial Past.
When I first toured the Garden Complex--Decades Ago, shortly after Mao had Passed Over, replaced by the Infamous "Gang of Four"--it was indeed in a Sorry Shabby Condition.
But now, when China seems On Top of The World--Eating Our Lunch, Economically--it does seem Politically Odd that WMF is helping out on the Imperial Restorations…
As a Dues Paying Member of World Monuments Fund, I am often Surprised--whether in Portugal, Cambodia, or Poland--to find Us at Work, when Many of the Locals do not really Seem to Care…
Every Day a Little Death? Despite Those Despairing Lyrics, Night Music Is Very Much Alive!
This Three Evening Performance of Steve Sondheim’s Night Music at MSM is as Stunning, Professional, & Emotionally Charged as any Stevian Incarnation I’ve ever seen on Broadway or in London.
Not Only Those MSM Voices! Met Opera Ready! Covent Garden, Here They Come!
As Singing Actors--admirably inhabiting their Stage Roles--such Talents as Clayton Brown as Fredrik Egerman, Luke Sikora as Henrik Egerman--his Super Pious Son, Agness Nyama as Désiree Armfeldt, & Addie Hamilton as Countess Charlotte are All Outstanding.
Even, on occasion, Heart Breaking…
As a Venerable Mistress of Amorous Ceremonies, Famed Soprano Catherine Malfitano is Marvelous, recalling all her Wonderful Encounters with Very Wealthy Aristocrats far from the Land of the Midnight Sun.
In fact, there’s something of Gigi in Hugh Wheeler’s Adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Famous Film.
Madame Armfeldt’s Daughter, Désiree, has Gone on the Stage & Entertained Handsome Men, but she does not have her Mother’s Genius for extracting Jewels & Real Estate from her Conquests.
Désiree has that Proverbial Heart of Gold. She also bears the Beloved Name of a Famous Queen of Sweden.
"Ingo" Bergman--with whom I became Friends on Summer Visits to Svensk Film in Stockholm--would, I’m sure, have loved this Charming Confection, produced almost in the Shadow of Grant’s Tomb.
Yes, there is very much a Mantle of Mortality floating just above Director Carolyn Marlow’s Spare Swedish Staging.
Still, the Throbbing Life of Young Lives about to Begin, heralds a Rising of the Sun.
So, Applause also forJulia Suriano, Joseph Sacchi, Samantha Williams, Nickolas Miller--the Rapier Ready Count Carl Magnus, & Victoria Falcone--who is going to Marry the Miller’s Son.
Colleen Durham Ingeniously Choreographed this Excellent Ensemble, nimbly moving to the Baton of Shane Schag.
When Hal Prince was preparing Night Music for its Broadway Debut, he came to my CUNY Grad Center Music Theatre Seminar to talk about Production Challenges.
Hal was later followed by Steve Sondheim, who explained why his Sensationally Sad Song, Send in the Clowns, has such a Limited Range.
Glynis Johns--for whom it was created--had a Viable Option of Only Four Notes!
Not only was this Night Music as Admirable & Excellent as any Broadway Revivals you are ever apt to see, but it was also Free!
The On Going Loss for Potential Audiences at both MSM & the Juilliard Opera Theatre is that, Free or Pay, there are Only Three Performances possible.
No matter how Outstanding, these Shows cannot Move or Extend…
At The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre: Peter Morgan’s THE AUDIENCE [*****][*****][*****]
Pomp & Circumstance! Her Royal Highness Helen Mirren: Your Undoubted Queen!
In her Various Official Audiences with a Wide Variety of often Awkward Prime Ministers, HRH Helen Mirren is, as they used to say: Every Inch a Queen!
On Broadway--instead of in Buckingham Palace--Queen Helen receives no less than Nine Primes.
Actually, there were Twelve Primes in her Time, but Peter Morgan has exercised Editorial Discretion to keep this Prime Time from becoming Over Long.
Morgan’s Princely Pageant--or Royal Perp Walk--begins with a Crusty Old Churchill, who knew Queen Elizabeth II when she was still little Lillibet.
In fact, we get to see the Future Queen as a Pre Teen, being Groomed for her Role as a Divinely Ordained Parliamentary Monarch.
Playwright Morgan has Structurally Ordained that QEII move Backward & Forward in Time, with Quick Costume Changes one of the Many Treats of this Lavish Production.
Indeed, Bob Crowley’s Richly Regal Sets & Costumes set the Stage for some Elegant Spectacles such as the Magnificent Coronation in Westminster Abbey.
More often, however, Two Historic Chairs--flanked by Towering Columns--focus attention on the Historic Encounters.
Beyond the First Monumental Portals, we glimpse a Receding File of no less than Eight Similar Royal Doorways, culminating in Two Mini Thrones in the Middle Distance.
Not only is there a Traditional, Ritual, Formal Etiquette for Primes to Report to the Queen every Tuesday Evening on what’s Happening in Parliament & in the Cabinet, but they also have to Observe an Elaborate Code of Etiquette: You Do Not Sit When the Queen Is Still Standing…
For Modest Men of Humble Backgrounds--such as Harold Wilson--initially, this was an Agony.
Even More Difficult: No One turns his or her Back on The Queen!
To see PM Harold Wilson Exiting the Audience Chamber--Inching Backward & desperately trying Not To Trip--is an Amusing Moment.
The Wonder of Her Majesty--at least as ingeniously presented by Peter Morgan & impeccably performed by Helen Mirren--is that She is remarkably Sympathetic & Understanding, despite Her Upbringing, Her Sense of Herself, Her Extremely Deferential Staff, & Her Historic Chambers, Furniture, Chandeliers, Tapestries, & Tea Service.
What’s More: both Queen Elizabeth & Queen Helen have what is often lacking in the Great & Famous: A Sense of Humor!
Queen Elizabeth is considered to be the Richest Woman in the World, but--at least, in The Audience--she Wears It Well.
The Most Ferocious of all the Nine Primes on view was unquestionably PM Margaret Thatcher, here Archly Angry at British Do Nothings who Want Everything.
Judith Ivey makes a Marvelous Margaret.
When Maggie was Campaigning for the Tories, much was made by the Loyal Opposition that her Dad was a Grocer: Horrors!
Later, when John Major was On Offer, much was made that his Dad had been a Circus Acrobat!
Prime Ministers are Not Elected to That Office: only if the Political Party of which they are the Current Head Wins at the Polls, do they get to Meet the Queen Every Tuesday.
So: Send in the Clowns!
Having first come to Britain in 1956--when I was Teaching Our Troops for U of Maryland Overseas--I more or less Lived Through the Lot of PMs Morgan has so deftly dealt with in The Audience.
Sir Winston I glimpsed only once: Painting in Retirement, on Aristotle Onassis’ Yacht.
Much Later, I discovered we were Related by Marriage: My Relative, George Cornwallis West, married Sir Winston’s Widowed Mother, Brooklyn Born Jenny Jerome Churchill Cornwallis West…
But here are Nine of The Primes: Sir Anthony Eden--think Suez, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Maggie Thatcher, Sir John Major, Tony Blair--who later became a Roman Catholic, Gordon Brown, & David Cameron--who is still On Deck, when last I checked.
Missing from this Parliamentary Line up are Sir Alec Douglas Home, Harold Macmillan--of the Publishing People, & Ted Heath, who was Dead Keen on Yachting…
There was a Time when a Reigning British Monarch could not be represented as a Stage Character.
Good Thing that they Got Over That…
Stephen Daldry performed an admirable achievement in Directorial Deployment.
Unfortunately, The Audience is a Limited Run at the Gerry Schoenfeld Theatre.
It would be a Mitzvah if HBO or the BBC could digitize The Audience, but you should really see Helen Mirren Live in 3 D.
Failing that, do see Mirren as Maria Altman, the Niece of Adele Bloch Bauer--Die Goldene Adele--who is always On View on Fifth Avenue at the Neue Galerie, where you can get a Ticket Bargain to see the Actual Golden Mosaic Klimt Portrait & The Woman in Gold, now at the Paris Cinema, for a Limited Time.
Gourmet Dining on Body Parts of Mafia Murdered Mobsters? Please Pass the Cayenne Pepper!
Dan Lauria’s Dinner with the Boys is a Long Way Off from Arsenic & Old Lace, with its Old Lady Poisoners.
With Lauria himself in the Principal Role of Charlie--who murdered His Best Friend & Fellow Mobster, Leo, on the Orders of a Brooklyn Based Crime Family--this Well Oiled Production looks like a Prime Time TV Sit Com.
Except we get to see Charlie & his Gourmet Chef Side Kick, Dom, in 3 D!
Almost Every Line is Surefire Comedy!
Almost like Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Dinner with the Boys gives us an Odd Pair of Old Boys.
But, this time out, they aren’t Frustrated Comedy Writers.
When he has Made a Kill--or a Wipeout--Charlie is very handy at Cutting Up The Remains.
It then remains to Dom--wonderfully Camped Up by Richard Zavaglia--to make Tasty Treats from the Varied Body Parts.
Dom delights especially in Drowning & Smothering Tempting Titbits in Exotic Sauces.
Dom’s Vivacious Veggies have grown Nutrient Strong from the Boney Remains of Leo, now deep down in Charlie’s Garden.
Dom has but Two Interests in Life: Whipping Up a Culinary Masterpiece & Pleasing Charlie.
They are Hiding Out in New Jersey--Effectually Dead, but dreading the Threatened Arrival of Big Anthony Jr.
Big Anthony, the Crime Family Kingpin--for whom Dom & Charlie are only Foot Soldiers--has come with Death in His Pocket.
But first: How About Some Highly Spiced Shrimp?
As Big Anthony, Ray Abruzzo is an Over the Top Mob Boss--who should have Laid Off the Sauces.
Frank Megna staged this Supercharged Cast of Three, in a Basic New Jersey Living Room Garden Kitchen Setting, designed by Jessica Parks.
At The Romulus Linney Courtyard of The Signature Theatre Complex: Athol Fugard’s THE PAINTED ROCKS AT REVOLVER CREEK [****]
Apartheid Once Again Raises Its Ugly Head: What Are You Painting on My Rocks?
Echoes of The Road to Mecca…
In that Athol Fugard Exposition of South African Intolerance, Outsider Artist Helen insists on filling her Front Yard with Strange Cement Figures.
To the Immense Annoyance of her Decent, Right Thinking, Christian Neighbors.
The Artist’s Shoe is on a Different Foot, however, in Fugard’s Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek.
Old Uncle Nukain--sensing that he is Near Death--paints the Last Stone standing behind his Humble Hut way out in an Afrikaans Apartheid Area.
This is indeed a Noble Stone, standing tall, so Nukain paints on its Naked Face a Primitive Face, which may well Symbolize His Life.
Elmarie--the Patronising Afrikaans Lady who owns the Acreage on which Nukain has toiled for so long--is a bit Appalled at this Artistic Apparition.
The Time is 1981, when Apartheid was still In Force--with Native Black Tribes Subjugated, Harassed, Dispossessed, & Abused.
Nukain is aided in his Primitive Painting by Bokkie, a Spunky Black Lad, who is less than respectful of the Lady Bountiful Gracious Lady Land Owner.
After a Romulus Linney Interval, it is now 2003.
Apartheid Is Over. Nelson Mandela has been Freed!
He has even been elected President of South Africa!
Bokkie--now a Man--returns to re paint the now Faded Face of Nukain’s Soul Vision.
An Embattled Elmarie appears with a Loaded Pistol to challenge Any Intruder on her Afrikaans Land.
Well! There You Have It!
Athol Fugard has won All Kinds of Awards for his Apartheid Inflected Dramas.
He was even Signature’s 2012 Playwright in Residence!
But--this time out for Signature--he has not only written Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek but he’s also staged His Own Show…
His Chosen Cast includes Bianca Amato, Leon Addison Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, & Sahr Ngaujah.
They do say: Write What You Know!
But what would Athol Fugard’s Writing Career have been like, had he been born in, say, Manchester or Liverpool?
Incidental Intelligence: Shortly after Apartheid ended, I wended my way to South Africa, where I was mugged by Three Black Teenagers on my First Day in Cape Town…
At The Studio Theatre on Theatre Row: Paul Grellong’s MANUSCRIPT [***]
Hey! The Prop Man Found a Real Typewriter! You Can’t Fake a Manuscript with an iPad!
This is a really Mean Play in a very Small Space…
Playwright Paul Grellong may have Scores to Settle with a Female Fellow Writer who just happens to be a Shameless Plagiarist?
David Lewis [Cameron Clark] & Chris Ferrando [Matthew Hansen] have contrived an Elaborate Textual Sting to Humiliate & Professionally Destroy Elizabeth Hawkins [Kimberly Nordstrom].
Is that her Real Name? Or a Stage Name, inspired by the Kimberly Diamond Mines & Nordstrom’s Big Box Emporiums?
In any case, watching the Clockwork Unfolding of these Nasty Lads’ Complicated Agent Scam is Unpleasant, rather than Fascinating.
They seem More Interested in Each Other than in Writing Success…
The Bare Bones Set Design was created by the Joseph Napolitano Group, with Paige Fridell directing this Unsympathetic Cast of Characters.
At The BAM Fisher Theatre: Flamenco Vivo Carlotta Santana’s ANGELES/ALMAS [*****]
Traditional Flamenco Translates Itself into Vibrant Modern Spanish Dance--with a Difference…
At the BAM Fisher for only One Week, Carlotta Santana’s astounding & amazing Angeles/Almas translates into Angels & Souls.
Instead of the Traditional Chinese Takeout of Column One & Column B, Carlotta Santana offers BAM Believers the Choice of Program A & Program B.
My BAM Bill contained the Line Up for Program A, but I now believe we were looking more at Souls than at Angels.
Having long ago traveled to Granada to watch Los Gitanos & Las Gitanas dancing Flaming Flamenco in its Native Habitat, I have long been a Flamenco Fanatic.
At the BAM Fisher, we had a Percussionist, a Flautist, Two Guitarists, & Two Chanters as Back Up for the Dancing Ensemble, which seemed Supercharged, as well as Sexually Hyperventilated.
Traditionally, the Flamenco Males seem Super Proud of their Bodies & their Moves.
They Flaunt themselves for All To See, with Sinuous Slitherings & Pounding Foot Stampings.
This is a Challenge for Envious Male Onlookers & Competing Male Roosters.
But it is even more a Challenge & an Invitation to the Glamorous, Sexually Inviting, Flaming Flamenco Queens--who both Attract & Repel, increasing Male Ardor & Physical Displays.
Yes, there are Shawls & Fans, but we came up somewhat short on Castanets & those Long, Long Gowns with the Acres of Trailing Flounces that traditionally get Swirled Around the Dance Arena.
Moving the Moves of Traditional Flamenco to Modern Times & Modern Morés--Celebrated in Three Premieres--proved both Exciting & Interesting.
But I would have felt Fully Rewarded with a Full Evening of Traditional Flamenco…
Repertorio Español regularly offers Solo Flamenco down at the Gramercy Arts Theatre, which is Manhattan’s Oldest Little Theatre.
But what about Zarzuelas & Tonadillas?
Aha! They are Traditional Iberian Dance Forms, but they don’t have that Whiff of the Alhambra about them.
Forget about Tangos--if you can--because they are Essentially Argentine…
Florida Chain Gang Replaces Indentured Slavery: Don’t Fuss with the Boss Man!
But Shadow of Paul Newman’s Cinematic Luke Looms Large in Bare Bones Drama…
The Paul Newman Film of Cool Hand Luke had a Gritty Realism that Highlighted Major Moments in Luke’s On Going Rebellions against Vicious Prison Authorities.
In Godlight’s Stripped Down Staging, however, the Physical Horrors of Life on a Florida Chain Gang are Acted Out--rather than Visually Recreated.
On a Small Bare Stage, the Godlight Actors Embody--rather than Mime--[Saint] Luke, the Cruel Prison Boss, Dragline, Curly, & Rabbit.
Initially, the Cast stands silently in a V Formation at either side of the stage, stepping out to move Front & Center to Push Prison Life into the Faces of the Audience.
Actually, Luke is No Saint, but Donn Pierce’s Novel certainly underlines a number of Christ Comparisons, which are also Visually Emphasized by the almost Godlike Suffering Luke.
Joe Tantalo has tautly staged a Powerful Cast that includes Lawrence Jansen as a Non Newman Luke.
As with Godlight’s previous Shocker, Deliverance, this is all about Performance, not about Set Decoration.
Luke--who does not know how to Cool It--won his Monicker by Winning at Poker with a No Cards Hand.
Should you wish to know more about the Novel, the Film, or Paul Newman, all you have to do is Google Wikipedia, where All Relevant Info is On Line & On File.
God Knows How Jim Parsons Knows How God Knows: He Wrote The Good Book!
Why did G d permit the Holocaust to happen?
Without that Unmitigated Disaster, there would have been No Production of Cabaret at Studio 54!
This is not really G d speaking, but Playwright David Javerbaum hilariously surveying Uncounted Trillions of Millennia since the First Seven Days.
Seven Days! Is that why we have The Seven Last Words from The Cross?
Is Seven a Magic Number! Like Seven/Eleven?
As Joe Mantello has staged An Act of God, it is rather like a Divinely Solo Performance, with Angels Gabriel & Michael as Winged Side Kicks.
We are reminded that it was Angel Gabriel who appeared to The Prophet [Blessed Be His Name!] way back in the Seventh or Eighth Century!
So much for the Chosen People…
Parsons/God is Very Annoyed with all those Priests & Pastors who Tell Him What To Do in their Sermons & Prayers.
He is also troubled about all the Cries of God! Oh God! God! Oh God! God! Oh God! that Humans utter During Sex.
As He is Omniscient & Omnipresent, He already knows What Is Going On--but what is He supposed to Do about all those Divine Exclamations?
As for God Cries during Acts of Masturbation, after a while, they become Boring…
Hail, Mary! Full of Grace! Blessed Art Thou among Women!
Parsons/God says this Mary, Mother of God Litany has reduced him to Mary’s Sidekick…
As for The Last Supper, when God dropped by, His Son was urging His Disciples to Drink His Blood & Eat His Flesh.
My Son, My Son: both a Vampire & a Cannibal…
Although it has Dazzling Production Values, An Act of God is not a Show for Born Again Christians!
They are the Folks who Believe that Every Sentence in The Holy Bible is the Revealed Word of God.
Parsons/God is quick to point out the Logistics Problems that Noah would have had, had he actually brought Two of Everything into the Ark.
Indeed, Parsons/God finds much in Holy Writ that just doesn’t Make Sense.
Smiting the Wicked & the Blasphemers may be Great Fun & just what They Deserve, but Parsons/God had better Watch His Back!
Rewriting the Ten Commandments won’t sit well with many Catholics & Protestants.
Take Two Tablets has proved Good Advice for many, but when they are the Stones that Parsons/God handed over to Moses--now to be seen in some American Court Houses--Re Carving them is Not an Option.
So Parsons/God Edits & Improves The Decalogue electronically!
Unquestionably, Peter Negrini should be winning a Video Design Award for the Unbelievably Impressive Roiling Clouds & Renaissance God Heads that keep surging up from Scott Pask’s Heavenly Art Deco Stairway to Heaven.
TMT’s Stein Lab Showcases Greenspan’s Stein Readings: What Is a Masterpiece, After All?
At one Fortuitous Juncture in David Greenspan’s Challenging Curatorship of some Gertrudian Texts, Stein calls for Clarity, a Virtue not clearly to be discovered in her Varied Written Rants & Oxbridge Lectures.
Fortunately, Clarity is exactly what Greenspan brings to such Simplistic Steinian Repetitions as Composition as Explanation, What Are Master Pieces & Why Are There So Few of Them, & Identity A Poem--Certainly, Clarity of Diction!
But he also Intones some the Famous Phrases of Gertrude Stein with a Sure Sense of Their Enduring Resonance, even Today…
Unfortunately, Greenspan chose not to give us A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose--or Words To That Effect.
Nor did he share one of the English Speaking World’s Old Favorites: Pigeons in the Grass, Alas!
Visual Dividends in Target Margin’s Stein Celebration are the Three Stein Portraits--one composed of Coins & another made of RX Pills--confected by Noah Scalin, who also devised a Semi Floral Floor Sculpture of Gertrude Stein.
At The York Theatre: Robert Creighton, Peter Colley, & Christopher McGovern’s CAGNEY [*****][*****]
Taps Is Still Tops! Yankee Doodle Dandy George M. Cohan Helps Movie Tough Guy Jimmy Cagney Show Us How!
Talk about Obsessions!
Song & Dance Man Robert Creighton has had a Magnificent Obsession for many, many years.
Ever since an Acting Teacher at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts told Creighton that this Pint Sized Powerhouse reminded him of Cagney.
Over the Years, renting old Cagney Movies & researching All About Cagney, Creighton made himself into a One Man Walking Wikipedia of Cagney Lore.
Reeking of Irishness, Jimmy Cagney initially made his mark as a Vaudeville Hoofer.
But Studio Head Jack Warner, in Far Off Hollywood, got Word that Cagney was the Hot Item on Broadway.
So Warner Bros. imported Cagney to LaLaLand & turned him into a Movie Tough Guy!
No Song & Dance needed in Hollywood Killer Thrillers…
Quite aside from Cagney’s Passion for Performance, he was also a Fierce Proponent of Civil Rights, helping to organize SAG, the Screen Actors Guild.
Supporting Central Valley Lettuce Workers & the Scottsboro Boys got Cagney branded as a Proto Commie, long before Joe McCarthy made a Career out of Red Baiting.
So he Fell Afoul of the Martin Dies Committee--an Earlier Version of HUAC--which did not help his Hollywood Brand.
These are only some of the Cagney Biographical Details which make this Dynamite Musical more than just a Broadway Transfer Hopeful.
Oh, did I mention that--over at the York Theatre--we also get Bob Hope tapping along with Jimmy Cagney!
As well as that Quintessential American Irishman, George M. Cohan!
It is Charitable to describe the York Theatre’s Tiny Stage as Intimate, but Director Bill Castellino & Choreographer Joshua Bergasse have Worked Wonders with a Genius Cast of Only Six Actors playing Multiple Characters.
Shades of Pirandello & Six Characters in Search of…
Some of the Ingenious Production Numbers--when Translated to Broadway--could well be Expanded into American in Paris Epic Dance Dimensions.
The Danger in doing this is that it could Eclipse the Cagney Bio that Creighton so Cherishes.
Actually, Cagney is more than just a Cagney Biopic in 3D: it is also a Mini Survey of the Evolution of Show Business in America.
Early in the Action, there is a Production Number--There’s Nothing I Won’t Do for You--that initially seemed Out of Place, having No Jimmy in it.
But it’s soon Clear that this is an Evolutionary Element in the Cagney Chronicles.
In fact, keeping this Show of Shows Small or Intimate--Even On Broadway--could well be a Saving Virtue…
I loved the Show, Jimmy Cagney/Robert Creighton, the Cagney Family, Bob Hope, & even the Semi Sadistic Jack Warner.
But, most of all, I loved all that Tapping!
When I was a Contributing Editor for Dance Magazine, one of my most Popular Pieces was Taps Is Tops.
Old Vaudevillians would come into Our Offices to beg me to write Yet Another Report on Old Time Tapping.
Nederlanders! Shuberts! Jujamcyns! Daryl Roth!
Help Jimmy Cagney get Back on Broadway!
There’s One Problem about a Potential Transfer, however--
Like a Goodies Packed Christmas Fruit Cake, there’s Too Much Cagney Detail mixed into the potentially Dough Making Musical Drama.
Robert Creighton Is a Sexy Musical Star but he doesn’t have to tell us Everything He Knows about his Irish American Hero…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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