April, 2012

"Newsies" at the Nederlander, Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," Artists from Shanghai at Asia Society, Masterworks at the Frick and more!


Yes! April is still the Cruelest Month!

A Thought for Holy Week…

Watch Out for Blood Libels in this Easter/Passover Season!

Super Orthodox Jews DO NOT eat Easter Bunnies in Revenge for the Holocaust!

What Would Jesus Do? He certainly would not be Rolling Easter Eggs on the White House Lawn!

Crunch Week & Other Theatrical Overloads…

By now, we're all familiar with that Old Ploy of Opening Major New Films five minutes before the Oscar Nominations.

This Season, something similar has happened on Broadway.

Who now remembers a Potentially Best Musical that opened Last October?

Of course, we all know what the Best Musical of the Century is: Ben Brantley, of the NY Times, insists that it is The Book of Mormon.

But Century 21 is still Young: something better could be down the road—or Spawning Upstream—by 2020? That's going to be The Year of Good Vision: 20/20

Your Arts Reporter is a Nominator for the Outer Critics Circle, as well as a Voter for the OCC Awards & a Voter for the Drama Desk Awards.

For anyone to even Notice the OCC Nominations, we need to be out there before the Drama Desk & the Tonys.

So here's what's scheduled for the First Three Weeks of April & a bit Beyond:

Newsies at the Nederlander, Being Shakespeare at BAM, Obama 44 at LaMaMa, Regrets, The City Club, The Moroni Strad, The Big Meal, Now.Here.This., Gore Vidal's The Best Man, at the Schoenfeld, End of the Rainbow at the Belasco, Evita at the Marquis, 4000 Miles at the Newhouse, The Lyons at the Cort, One Man, Two Guvnors at the Music Box, A Streetcar Named Desire at the Broadhurst, Ghost: The Musical at the Lunt Fontanne, Nice Work if You Can Get It at the Imperial, The Columnist at what was once the Biltmore, Leap of Faith at the St. James, Don't Dress for Dinner at the American Airlines Theatre, Magic/Bird at the Longacre, & Satan's Whore: Victoria Woodhull down at Theatre for the New City…

Friends often ask: Why don't you watch Television?

All of the Above!

Important Bulletin:

For anyone planning to mount an Authentic New Musical—based on a Best Selling Book or a Hit Movie about Airports & Flying, such as The High & The Mighty—there is Absolutely No Truth to the Widespread Rumor about Enhanced Security Measures at America's Major Airports!

President Obama has definitely Not Mandated that Airport Security Specialists conduct Rectal Searches for Concealed Handguns!

But Tea Party Republicans are adamant that Vaginal Searches for Potential Aborted Fetuses should be immediately instituted.

This may not affect future revivals of Carrie, but it could spell trouble for any Theatre Producer contemplating another Musical Version of Little Women or Valley Girls



Noël! Noël! Noël! Singing the Praises of Noël Coward in STAR QUALITY in Lincoln Center…

From the Evidence on view in the Oenslager Gallery of the Shelby Cullom Davis Museum at the NYPL's Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Noël Coward never threw anything away.

Certainly not his Dressing Gowns & Celebrity Autographs!

The Whole Record is here, in Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward, on view until 18 August 2012.

For some unexplained reason, Your Roving Arts Reporter seems to have fallen off the NYPL's Press List, so I wasn't invited to the Press Preview of this show, nor of Shelley's Ghost, down at the NYPL on 5th & 42nd.

Nonetheless, this Exhibition offers the Grand Tour of the Career of the Multi Faceted Genius who said of himself that he had "a Talent to Amuse…"

Sir Noël was a Composer, Lyricist, Playwright, Screen Scripter, Actor, Artist, Painter, Director, Raconteur, Fabulist, & You Name It.

My Late Good Friends, Ray Mander & Joe Mitchenson, were close friends of the man they called The Master & they were Chroniclers of the Coward Career. So, it was through them that I made the acquaintance.

Although Sir Noël spent a lot of time in Jamaica—to avoid Taxes at Home—he maintained a Flat in Bayswater, with a matching apartment next door for his Good Friend, the handsome actor, Graham Payne.

Although I was never one of Sir Noël's Intimates, I did get to know his Private Secretary, Cole Leslie, who wrote a book about The Master.

Cole's Bedroom—across the stair landing from the other two apartments—was covered almost completely in Mirrors: on the Walls & the Ceiling.

Obviously, The Master couldn't have Mirrors in his own Bedroom, entertaining the Likes of Gertrude Lawrence, Elaine Stritch, & my old friend, Irene, Baroness Ravensdale of Kedelston, daughter of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India & Lord Cinque Portes

One aspect of the Lincoln Center Show that caught my eye: Color Reproductions from Play Pictorial.

This was a weekly/monthly Illustrated Theatre Magazine that essentially included the Lobby Programs from all Major West End Productions.

I have a Complete Run of Play Pictorial from inception to its Final Publication in the 1930s. The Worldwide Depression killed it off…

This important Archival Resource will soon be in the The Arts Archive physically & eventually—when we can afford to Scan all the volumes—on line at

Stop the Presses! Pulitzer is a Prize Asshole, Abusing New York's Newsies!

News Flash! Newsies has just won Seven Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations!

Initially, the Constant Perambulations of the Three Steel Stairway Towers that dominate the stage of the Nederlander Theatre—now featuring Disney's Newsies—threaten to turn this fascinating, Dance Crazed Show into a Musical about Nuts & Bolts.

For a moment, I feared that the Designer of the Metallic Scenery Cursed Jesus Christ Superstar had come down to West 41st Street.

Not to Worry! Tobin Ost—working with Stage Director Jeff Calhoun—has ingeniously made this Trio of Steps into something almost Brechtian!

Not quite Mother Courage, but what can you do when you have a Score by Disney's House Composer, Alan Menken & a Book by Harvey Fierstein?

The Site of the Action is Lower Manhattan.

The Time is 1899, the Turn of the Century, with Costumes to match, by Jess Goldstein, no less!

Those were the Days when Homeless, Motherless Kids sold Newspapers on the Streets for a Penny apiece. What they didn't sell was a loss to them, but not to the Newspaper itself.

They were all exploited by Publishers such as Joseph Pulitzer, for whom that Journalism Prize is now named…

In the so called "Gilded Age," Under aged Boys & Girls—many of them Orphans—worked for almost Nothing in Dangerous "Factories" & other Establishments.

Governor Theodore Roosevelt—who appears like a Deus ex Machina, to save the Leader of the Newsies—later, as President Roosevelt, helped protect these Street Kids with Child Labor Laws.

The Chorus of All Singing, All Dancing—Taps is Tops in this lively production!—Newsboys are almost the Ensemble Stars of the Show, but Jeremy Jordan, as their Leader, Jack Kelly, is Dynamite!

He's well backed up by the quasi intellectual Davey, ably played by Ben Fankhauser.

The Plutocratian Pulitzer [John Dossett] has a Reporter Daughter, Katherine, charmingly impersonated by Kara Lindsay.

Guess What? She falls in love with Jack Kelly, who is also a Talented Artist!

[If only Patti Hearst had been working for Hearst's San Francisco Examiner, instead of fooling around over at the Red School at Berkeley…]

Print Is Dying: Long Live the World Journal Telegram & Sun!

Your Roving Arts Reporter has, over time, had the Boy on the Burning Deck Sensation of being on staff when the following Publications Went Under: Theatre Arts, Theatre Crafts, The Educational Theatre Journal, Theatre Week, Other Stages, Opera Monthly, Ballet News, Cue Magazine, The New York Herald Tribune, etc, etc, etc, etc…

One Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: One Photograph Can Be Worth Thousands of Dollars!

The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is selling off incredibly memorable Vintage Photographs at Christie's.

Over at 450 Park Avenue, at Phillips de Pury, Photographs that are, by now, indelibly etched on the Memories of anyone who loves Fine Photography are up for grabs

At Phillips de Pury, two splendid catalogues show what's on offer: The Face of Modernism—A Private West Coast Collection & more simply, Photographs.

By the time you read this, the Dual Auctions will already have taken place: 4 April 2012, to be exact.

So, if you'd like to see what Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Peter Beard, Cindy Sherman, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Rodchenko, Brassai, André Kertéz, Cartier Bresson, Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus, Lisette Model, Weegee, Horst P. Horst, Bert Stern, Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, Carl Van Vechten, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evens, Adolf Sander, Philippe Halsman, Lee Friedlander, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts, Chuck Close, Bruce Weber, Louise Lawler, William Eggleston, Anonymous, Nan Goldin, Andres Serrano, Larry Clark, Larry Sultan, Gilbert & George, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Robert Polidori, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Elliott Erwitt, Andreas Gursky, Edward Burtynsky, David LaChapelle, Loretta Lux, William Wegman—he of the Weimariner Dogs, & Annie Liebovitz had to offer Auction Bidders, get these two handsome Catalogues from Phillips de Pury

The Phillips de Pury Catalogues are so ingeniously designed & splendidly produced that they are Keepers!

They are always much more impressive than the Catalogues of Christie's, Bonham's, & Sotheby's.

Oddly enough, most of the same Photographers are also on offer over at Christie's. Some, in fact, in larger Formats than at Phillips de Pury…

Would you like to find out how much that Snapshot your Dad took of Albert Einstein down at Princeton is now worth?

Get the Auction Results from either Phillips de Pury or Christie's. They both had the same shot.

Google for their respective Websites & Auction Results.

Christie's Bulletins:

At Christie's, the 19th Century European Paintings Auction brought in more than Six Million Dollars. Among the Artists: Eugène Delacroix, Arnoldus Bloemers, & William Adolphe Bouguereau.

The Auction for Prints & Multiples brought nearly $8 Million!

A complete set of Andy Warhol's Flowers—10 screen prints—was sold for $266,500.

One plate of Andy's Marilyn fetched $218,500, with a Roy Lichtenstein Two Nudes going for $206,500.

Picasso's Femme au Corsage à Fleurs placed far behind Warhol, Lichtenstein, & even Marc Chagall, going for only $110,500…

In a special gallery, where Violinists could try out the amazing range of Violins, Violas, & Bows, the sales totaled nearly $2 Million.

There were no Strads or Amatis on offer, but a 1690 Guarnarius sold for $302,500.

For Connoisseurs, there's nothing like a French Bow, apparently.

A Gold & Tortoise Mounted Violin Bow, made by FX Tourte in Paris set a World Record for a Tourte Bow, at $182,500.

Some of the fine Bows on offer sold for more than some fine Violins…

Despite the absence of any Amatis or Strads, there were Violins from Landolfi, Rogeri, & Lupot.

Gustav Klimt in Vienna: MAK Shows His Designs for the Mosaic Frieze in Palais Stoclet!

In Vienna, it's officially the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst, or MAK.

Originally, this name applied to the Applied Arts, as in Architecture, Design & Decoration

But now the focus is more on Contemporary Arts, as in Amsterdam, at the Stedlijk Museum.

This is the Centenary of Vienna's famed Artist/Designer Gustav Klimt.

Klimt's the Genius who painted that Portrait of Adèle Bloch Bauer, for which Ronald Lauder paid Millions for his Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue.

When he bid for it, Die Schoene Adèle was the most expensive Modern Portrait ever.

But they still have Lots of Klimts in Alt Wien.

To celebrate his Birthday, MAK is now showing his fascinating Designs for the Mosaic Frieze in the Dining Room of the Palais Stocklet in Brussels.

This splendid Villa—still surviving with all of the Wiener Werkstätte designed Carpets, Furniture, Fabrics, Hangings, Crystal, Ceramics, & Silver—was commissioned by Adolphe Stoclet from Viennese Architect Designer Josef Hoffmann.

The Concept of a Basic Style of Design for every aspect of furnishing a specially designed house was introduced in Vienna by such Architects as Otto Wagner & Josef Hoffmann.

In Germany & Austria—at the Jahrhundertwende—this was called Jugendstil. In France, it was l'Art Nouveau: The New Style, the Style of Youth…

Frank Lloyd Wright adopted this Concept in designing & furnishing his own Prairie Houses.

Wagner & Hoffmann created some splendid Villas for the Wealthy of Vienna—especially on Himmelstrasse before World War I—but the Palais Stocklet was something more special, having been commissioned so far away from Vienna.

When Your Roving Arts Reporter was writing, editing, & photographing for The Art Deco News—later, The Modernist—he photographed Palais Stocklet from the street on several visits to Brussels.

But it was not Open to the Public & I didn't know anyone in the Stocklet Family.

I was assured, however, that all the Décor, Furnishings, China, Silver, & Crystal remained as they were when Hoffmann had finished his Masterpiece. Showing, perhaps, a bit of wear, over time…

Perhaps the Palais will be opened for Klimt's Anniversary?

If not, you can still see his Mosaic Designs at MAK in Vienna…


Amsterdam's Stedlijk Museum Comes to Time Warner: Magnificent Modern Enlargement!

When next you visit Amsterdam—as surely you must, now that the historic old City Museum has been enlarged & modernized—you may well be astonished to see a huge sleek white hulk hugging the fin de siècle façade of the 1895 Stedlijk Museum…

This Aerospace Inspired Exterior—contrasting with the Brick & Mortar of the older building—is made of a Synthetic Fiber named Twaron©. The same stuff they use for Boat Hulls & Hockey Sticks!

Mels Crouwel—of Benthem Crouwel Architects, designers of the new Museum Addition—was on hand recently at Time Warner's Landmarc Restaurant [no k] to make a Power Point Presentation of the results.

These include repositioning the Museum's Entrance—formerly facing away from the great lawns of the Museumsplein—so that it joins the Ring of Culture that includes the Concertgebouw, the Van Gogh Museum, & the Rijksmuseum.

Ann Goldstein also greeted the Press at Time Warner as the Stedlijk Museum's new Director.

Almost all Dutch speak excellent English, but Ms. Goldstein has even a whiff of LA in her speech. She was previously at the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum, a fiefdom of Eli Broad.

Not only will the Stedlijk's Permanent Collection be easy to view, but emerging Netherlands & Foreign Artists will have their Day on the walls as well.

Opening on 22 September 2012, the Museum will feature Beyond Imagination, a showcase for International Artists who have found Amsterdam a welcoming home in which to experiment.

A Mike Kelly Retrospective is coming up, but Robert Rauschenberg & all the Usual Suspects are already in the Museum's Collections.

It's getting so that you can find Jeff Koons, Franz West, Keith Haring, Anselm Kiefer, & Robert Motherwell anywhere you rove.

Amsterdam is the City with Three White Crosses on its Coat of Arms. These are Welcoming Symbols.

In many American Cities, you need to watch out for the Double Cross

Just in the Post: Handsome Brochures from Kunsthaus Bregenz—where Koons & West are Great Favorites—news of Herstory, shown originally at the Brooklyn Museum in the Liz Sackler Feminism Galleries.

Her Story—in case you were baffled—is not His Story, or History. Get It?

No Menotti at the Manhattan School: Kent Tritle Offers Mendelssohn, Brahms, & Merryman…

Looking forward to a performance of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Unicorn, The Manticore & whatever just downhill from Grant's Tomb, Your Arts Reporter was a bit dashed to discover that the estimable Kent Tritle had changed the MSM's Chamber Choir Program to some minor Mendelssohns & Brahmsian Gesänge & Lieder.

Leider Lieder, as they say in Deutschland

Nonetheless, this offered the Opportunity for Tritle's Grad Assistants to conduct.

Sophia Vastek was companionable at the Keyboard, with Mezzo Gina Perregrino, interpreting Lass', o Herr, mich Hilfe finden.

Do you think the Lord was really listening in during Felix Mendelssohn's Time on Earth?


Plethora of Press Previews at Met Museum: Ancient Egypt, Al Dürer, Naked Ladies, Rembrandt.

If you think you've seen some of the quaint Primitive Egyptian Sculptures & Inscriptions now on view in the Met Museum's Lehman Wing, you may well be right.

They are from the Museum's Own Vast Holdings. But it might be wiser to refer to them as Archaic, rather than Primitive, as that word so Offends these days…

The Dawn of Egyptian Art will be on view until 5 August 2012.

Dürer & Beyond will close 3 September 2012.

This is a fascinating Introduction—at least for some who know little about Renaissance Wood Blocks & Dry Points in Nuremberg & Beyond—not only to some works by Albrecht Dürer, but also to Fellow Artists working in the same period, with similar Concerns & Commissions.

Also on view: Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Altdorfer, Urs Graf, Hans Holbein the Elder, Joseph Heintz the Elder, Wenzel Hollar, & Joachim von Sandrart the Elder,

Dürer once made a kind of Walking Tour westward from Nuremberg to the Lowlands.

So there's at least a Land Link between his works & those of Rembrandt, whose Self Portrait is in the Met Museum.

But now—until 20 May 2012—the Met has Two Rembrandt Self Portraits!

The Visitor is from England's handsome & historic Kenwood House, now undergoing Preservation Measures.

Kenwood is one of those Stately Homes that are so Grand, they can hardly be called either Houses or Homes

If you cannot really afford Hefty Dutch Lady Models, it is a Money Saver to paint your own face, provided you have a good Mirror at hand.

We do have Flemish Nudes, but it's perhaps a Blessing that Rembrandt & his Peers didn't paint themselves in the Nude.

Instead, the Met is now offering Naked before the Camera, some Vintage Akt Fotos that owe their existence not only to Esthetic Prurience but also to the Development of the Camera!

Nude Photos of Women far Outweigh those of Naked Men.

Considering the Heft of some of the Nude Ladies & the Spare Muscularity of the relatively few Men on view, Weight does come easily to mind.

Of course, we have Male Nudes by Eadweard Muybridge

But only until 9 September 2012, when they must go back into the Acid Free File Boxes.

Ana Tzarev Pre empts Masterpiece Theatre for Kabuki Visions…

For Your Roving Arts Reporter, one of the most interesting things about Ana Tzarev's Painterly Exploration of Japan's Traditional Kabuki Theatre is that she invited an Old Brooklyn College Colleague of Mine—Prof. Dr. Samuel Leiter—to pen the Forward & the Exhibition Catalogue!

Titled Masterpiece Theatre: Legends of the Japanese Kabuki Stage, this colorful, vibrant, explosive show of Ana's vivid Kabuki Portraits owes nothing to the TV Dramas of the same name.

Founded by the fabled Okuni in the 17th Century—under the Tokugawa Shogunate—Kabuki has since developed into an almost Rigid, Ritualized Performance Style, in which the rich Costumes are as important as the Dance Movements & Chanted & Ranted Texts.

A Bonus in this show are actual Kabuki Costumes & even the long, flowing Wig for the Lion Dance.

Ana Tzarev has been watching & studying Kabuki in Japan for four decades. She is especially close to the Kabuki Family of the Ichikawa.

Nothing to do with Bunraku, the Puppet Dramas, with their Black Clad Handlers

This fascinating show will be on view at 24 West 57th only until 5 May. For more Info & Images, see the Website: Or call: 212 586 9800.

Being Shakeseare at BAM—But What About Being Chris Marlowe in Exile?

Simon Callow is anything but Callow, or Shallow.

He brings a Lifetime of Experience as an Actor in the Dramas & Comedies of that Man from Stratford Upon Avon.

Using The Bard's "Seven Ages of Man" Monologue from the Forest of Arden play, he imagines Shakespeare's own Lifetime Experience, with Apposite Quotes from various dramas, including the Inspirational Henry V. Once more unto the breach…

In the First Section, three trees are dimly glimpsed in the background of the Harvey Theatre at BAM. Some leaves flutter

In the Second Section, three rather different trees stand bleak, white, & leafless in the background.

They may recall that Passage about "That time of year thou mayest in me behold, when…," as the Poet compares himself to a bare or leafless Tree.

Still, it must have cost Money to fly those six tree props over from London!

The Immortal Lines do not need Propping Up, do they?

Nonetheless, the Audience Loved It, congratulating themselves with Laughter or Sighs, on recognizing Lines they must once have read aloud in School


Obama 44 at LaMaMa—My Mama Done Tole' Me:

Mario Fratti has gone & written yet another Play!

This one is about Our President: Baruch Obama.

Oh oh! Wrong Hard Right Israeli Jewish Name: That should be Barak, as in Ehud Barak

Unfortunately, on the Appointed Evening—when I arrived at LaMaMa on East Fourth Street—there was No Performance.

An Auto Accident & No Understudy

As soon as Obama 44 recovers, you will be the First to hear about its Mysteries!

Well, no, in fact.

The Actress was out for a week, but no one notified me when she returned.

The Anyway Limited Run production is closing even as I write this…

But there's another Obama Play coming up at LaMama—or is it Theatre for the New City?—called Obama in Napoli. Or is this a Musical?

Regrets Underneath the Shrine Temple: Reno Quickie Divorce for Young Commie?

There are these plain Wooden Cabins on stage at the Manhattan Theatre Club, down in the basement of New York City Center.

Four quite Disparate but Desperate Men are waiting out Reno Quickie Divorces. It's 1954, so Reno was the place to go…

The newest & youngest is married to a Rising Hollywood Starlet, but he's a Commie—amazing as he's only 18 years old—so he wants to protect her by divorcing.

The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number, as Karl Marx used to say…

If you are too young to remember The Red Scare, consider yourself fortunate.

Are you now or have you ever been…

Words to Strike Terror into American Hearts, especially those in the Performing Arts!

Excellent Ensemble in Matt Charman's Divorce Charade, staged by Carolyn Cantor.

Buried in Southwark Cathedral, Victoria Woodhull Is Exhumed at Theatre for the New City!

To do Justice to the amazing Career of Victoria Claflin Woodhull would require a Major Motion Picture.

As Children, both she & her sister, Tennessee Claflin, were presented by her Snake Oil Peddling Father as Clairvoyants.

He may have been More Than a Father to Victoria, who, over time, had Sexual Congress with an astounding array of Men, some Very Influential, like Commodore Vanderbilt.

Long before Hillary made the Effort, Victoria was the First Woman Candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

But Free Love was not a Platform Plank many American Men were willing to endorse. At least, not in Public

Victoria made Common Cause with Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Stanton, demanding Votes for Women. Also a Platform Plank most Men viewed with Distaste, even Horror.

As Your Roving Arts Reporter left the New City's Premises, an Older Woman said to him: "That was a Terrible Play!"

Her Friend added: "Too many Scenes. For what?"

Playwright Richard Geha's Problem was/is that Victoria's Life was Too Complicated for just one Play.

Many Scenes had to be introduced by what were, in effect, Lantern Slides, explaining Location & Date. Or were they supposed to be Silent Film Titles?

The Most Effective of these many Scenes was Victoria's Trial in Manhattan for publishing Naughty Things in her Weekly Newspaper, brought into Court by the Ferocious Foe of Pornography & Smut, Anthony Comstock [Robert Colpitts].

Even worse, she had—it was alleged—besmirched the Saintly Reputation of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the famous Pastor of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, over in Brooklyn Heights.

The Good Reverend—slyly & sexily played by Richard A. O'Brien—was, in fact, Guilty as Charged. He'd debauched the wife of his Dear Friend, Theo Tilton [handsome Robert Homeyer].

Among many other Good Christian Ladies that he had consoled outside his Pulpit

Kate Tenekto was both sexy & vibrant as the Crusading Victoria.

But, even though she'd been pilloried as Satan's Whore, Victoria died a Lady!

She is buried in Southwark Cathedral, near Shakespeare's Third Globe Theatre.

A handsome Heraldic Shield on a Pillar of the Church attests to Her Ladyship. This is near a Memorial to Oscar Hammerstein II, who was too young to have been Seduced by Lady Victoria.


The Morini Strad Is Not a Guarnarius! Nor Is Its Aged Owner Going Gently into That Good Night…

The former Child Prodigy Violinist, Erica [Mary Beth Piel], needs her Stradivarius repaired.

She's very Old, so she doesn't want it to fall into the Hands of a Collector, for then it will never be played again.

Michael Laurence plays a testy but brilliant Restorer of Fine Instruments. But he'd rather be making Violins than refurbishing them.

In Willy Holtzman's drama—complete with the Young Prodigious Erica playing in the background: Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto—Erica dies in a Hospital Bed, not knowing that the Almost Priceless Strad has disappeared from her apartment…

Primary Stage's Founder, Casey Childs, staged sensitively.

Now, The Morini Strad can join that Long List of Plays that feature a Hospital Bed as a Major Prop: The Lyons, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, & Wit, among others…

Don't Eat at Ollie's Before The Big Meal at Playwrights Horizons Across the Street: Nosh After

It's a bit like Thornton Wilder's The Long Christmas Dinner. Or Pete Gurney's The Dining Room.

Even—in some Endless Moments—suggestive of The Last Supper

Generations of a Family meet to eat, to interact, & to act up, either in what look like Cheap Restaurants or At Home.

A lively Cast of Nine makes this work—very noisily at times—in Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal, ingeniously staged by Sam Gold.

When it's Time for Someone to Die, a Big Meal is plonked down before Him or Her. Each eats slowly, in dead silence, brightly spotlighted.

Then the Plate is yanked away…

The Production has been selling out at Playwrights Horizons. Some believe this to be the Best Play, so it will surely transfer to a larger Venue.


May The Best Man Win! Splendid Production! Outstanding Star Turns! Dirty Politics!

Gore Vidal's The Best Man was extremely Topical in the Election Year of 1960.

Now revived at the Schoenfeld Theatre, it seems almost Quaint, considering the Vast Quantities of Mud & Slime that are being dumped on the Nation's TV Screens.

Thanks to a Corrupt Supreme Court ruling that Corporations "are People," Billionaire Fascists like the Brothers Koch can now fund Million Dollar Superpac Attacks on Candidates they wish to Destroy.

Central to Vidal's fictional Nomination Convention in Philadelphia is the Character of William Russell [an imposing John Larroquette], who—although he has the Documents to Destroy his sleazy Opponent, Senator Joseph Cantwell [Eric McCormack, who cants very well indeed!]—finally refuses to Stoop That Low.

Throwing his Delegates to a virtually unknown Third Presidential Aspirant, he thwarts the Power Hungry & Desperately Dishonest Cantwell.

It is his Finest Hour!

This is a Star Studded Cast. It includes Candice Bergen, as the estranged wife of Russell, who is a former Secretary of State.

James Earl Jones plays the blustery—but Dying—former US President, Arthur Hockstader.

Angela Lansbury adopts a smothering Southern Accent, as Sue Ellen Gamadge, representing the Party's Women's Division.

How about Rudy Giuliani's abandoned Wife, Donna Hanover!

"America's Mayor" may have made a Big Mistake by dumping her. The Lady can Act!

Jefferson Mays—who once played a famed German Drag Queen on Broadway—is affecting as the Gay Man who will Blow the Whistle on Cantwell's own Homosexual Dalliances.

Director Michael Wilson keeps the Scenes Fast Moving & the Tension Taut.

But the elegant Hotel Suites & the red white & blue garishness of the Campaign Scenes are Powerful Political Statements in themselves. Kudos to designer Derek McLane!

This is such a stunning & timely Production, that its Limited Run should be extended.


Judy! We Love You! Even at the End of the Rainbow! Tracie Bennett Is Terrific!

My Nomination for Most Amazing Broadway Debut is Tracie Bennett, now channeling Judy Garland at the Belasco Theatre.

Because we are seeing Judy at the End of Everything—including that Wizard of Oz RainbowPeter Quilter's unsparing Book is a bit of a Downer. Judy is willfully Self Destructing before our eyes…

The only Human Glue to hold her together during her Last Engagement—at London's Talk of the Town—is her long suffering & unpaid Gay Accompanist, Anthony [Michael Cumpsty] & her Husband to Be, Mickey Deans [Tom Pelphrey].

This is, essentially, a Play with Music, but it has so much of Judy Singing, that it ought to classified as a New Musical!

Although Judy knows she needs to stay Dry & off the Pills, she's always cheating—effectually, On Herself.

Bill Dudley—who designed Peter Hall's Bayreuth RING many seasons ago—has confected a Lavish Suite at the Ritz, with Talk of the Town behind its back wall.

The sensitive staging of Terry Johnson lets it all Hang Out, with Judy on a Rampage or Collapsing in Fear of Performing. She's Losing It & she knows it.

Tracie Bennett delivers Eight Times a Week!

[But it's reported that Bennett has been doing this show—or previous versions of it—for some seasons in Britain…]

The Loving/Worshipping Anthony wants to protect Judy. Arrogant Mickey thinks he has found a New Meal Ticket.

At the close, Judy dies of an Overdose of Seconal…

But she may well have died by stealing Someone Else's Pills.

When Judy & Mickey Deans were in Copenhagen after a Brief Appearance—before flying back to London & Her Death—Danish Radio's Hans Vangkilde invited them out to his farm house in the Suburbs for a late night Interview.

Hans was The Man to interview Important English Speaking Celebrities when they came to Denmark's Capital. He taped Josephine Baker & Teddy KolleckMayor of Jerusalem—among others.

That Fatal Evening, when he chatted with Mickey & Judy—What a Team, like Rooney & Garland!—Judy was ebullient, looking forward to a Renewal of her Fading Career & to Married Bliss with Potential Husband, Mickey.

On the Tape—which Hans gave to me, along with the Tapes of Baker & Kolleck—Judy is always pushing Mickey forward.

He was, she said, launching a Fashion Line! As if His Career were more Important than hers…

She also consumed two entire bottles of Vodka.

Before they departed, she used Hans' Bathroom to "freshen up."

When he went to get his Essentially Toxic Pain Pills, they were gone.

Judy had stolen them. The next day, she was found dead in London.

For years after, Hans felt that he had Killed Judy Garland

These were not Ordinary Pain Killers. They were Real Killers.

During the Nazi Occupation of Denmark, Hans Vangkilde was one of the brave young Danes who risked their lives to ferry Danish Jews over the waters to Neutral Sweden.

One night, however, the Gestapo caught him, with a small boat full of fearful Jews.

The Jews were Disappeared, but Hans was punished in an especially vicious way.

He had trained as a Concert Pianist, so the Gestapo Torturers shoved Wooden Splinters into each Finger, between the Nail & the Flesh.

Then they set fire to each Splinter, one at a time.

Hans was never able to play again. Even Typing was an agony for him, with his Ruined Fingers

The only Pain Killer strong enough to ease the Constant Pain—which grew worse, over time—was so strong that it would be Toxic to anyone not so afflicted.

These were the Pills that Judy found in Hans' Bathroom…

That Judy Tape is now in my Bedbug Storage. I need to dig it out & put it On Line while End of the Rainbow is still running!


Don't Cry for Me, Andrew Lloyd Webber! Evita's Doing Just Fine at the Marquis!

When Hal Prince originally staged the Bookless Evita for Broadway, he made it a very simple, even bare bones, production.

Director Michael Grandage has made this revival at the Marquis considerably Grander. Monumental, even, thanks to the designs of Christopher Oram.

Where Hal had the Argentine Colonels fight for Power by playing Musical Chairs, in this incarnation, they do Arm Wrestling.

In the Original, you knew who Che Guevara—the Narrator—actually was. Ricky Martin is excellent, but he doesn't suggest Che, or what he meant to Audiences at that time.

Michael Cerveris is a cold & calculating Peron, but the Evita of Elena Roger is Naked Ambition personified. She is slight & even a bit shrill, but this may have been the Director's calculation.

Rob Ashford's Choreography is central to the smooth functioning of this complicated production.

Many years ago, when I interviewed Lloyd Webber about both Evita & Jesus Christ Superstar, he asked me what song in Evita I liked most.

For me, Night of a Thousand Stars was the most Outstanding.

He laughed, not the least bit disappointed that I'd not chosen Don't Cry for Me, Argentina, the Show's Hit Song.

Andrew explained that, because Pit Orchestras no longer played all the tunes from a Musical's Score as an Overture to the show, he wanted Audiences to feel that they'd always known the Big Number.

So Night of a Thousand Stars is Don't Cry for Me, Argentina upside down & backward…

To enlarge on the Book lessness of Evita, let me recycle what I wrote last month about Superstar:

Years & Years Ago, the Editor of Opera News asked me to do an Interview with Andrew Lloyd Weber about the New Operas he was composing for Broadway & London's West End.

I'd already planned to talk with him about Evita & Superstar for After Dark, so this would be metaphorically Killing Two Birds with One Stone. Or One Interview…

Andrew received me in his Suite in the Carlyle Hotel. He'd already read some reports I'd written for After Dark on Broadway Musicals.

He was both amused & flattered that Opera News believed he was composing Operas.

Why did my Editor think he was intentionally composing Operas?

Well, because there's no Book. No real Dialogue, aside from what's sung. No Recitative

Truth was, when Andrew & Tim Rice were working on Jesus Christ Superstar, they didn't think it would ever get a Professional Production, owing to its Concept & Content.

So there was no real Book: just an Outline.

Actually, they really did have a Book. It's called The Good Book!

Their Best Hope was, they thought, to make a really excellent Recording.

The Superstar Album took off, with Worldwide Consequences.

So the Producer Robert Stigwood approached them about a commercial staging.

Tim Rice told him there was no actual Book; that he'd get to work to create one.

"No," Stigwood told them. "The Songs tell the story. It doesn't need a book."

The Rest is History: Tom O'Horgan gave Superstar a totally Trendy Treatment for Broadway.

The same thing happened with Evita.

Although they had thoroughly researched the Life of Evita Peron, once again the Team feared that the unusual story of this Third Rate Actress eventually becoming the Dictatress of Argentina would not Make It at the Box Office.

But as an Album, it was, once again, a Worldwide Success.

But this time, the ingenious Stage Direction of Hal Prince took the place of a Conventional Musical Book.

Icebergs Ahead! Auctions Afoot: Souvenirs of R. M. S. Titanic! Centenary of Its Sinking!

The great Cunard White Star Line Unsinkable Ship, the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast, 31 May 1911.

It went to the Bottom of the Ocean one hundred years ago, in 1912

A Victim of Icebergs & Incompetence

Belfast now has its very own Titanic Museum.

Exhibitions of Artifacts reclaimed from the Sunken Hulk seem to be on Constant Tour, rather like those Human Body Parts shows.

If you are eager for a Titanic Souvenir, however, some of the Items up for Auction at Bonhams are, instead, Relics of Major Motion Pictures. Not dredged up from Davey Jones Locker

But there are also actual Marconi Cables, Newspaper Front Pages, Photographs, & other Period Survivals.

For many, the Best Souvenir could be Bonhams' Catalogue: R. M. S. Titanic: 100 Years of Fact & Fiction.

It is richly illustrated: the Cables alone tell a Terrifying Story.

That handsome brass Titanic Bell, however, comes not from the Unsinkable Molly Brown's Collection, but from the 1958 Movie, A Night To Remember.

For more information about the articles up for auction—as well as the Jerry Garcia Collection & the forthcoming Space History Sale—you can Google Bonhams!


UBS—Undamaged by Financial Disasters—To Fund Guggenheim MAP Global Art Initiative!

MoMA: Watch Your Back!

The Guggenhiem may be stealing your Thunder

The Big Wigs at the Guggenheim have joined forces with UBS—represented at a recent Press Presentation by Jürg Zeltner—to launch a Five Year Project to Identify & Support a Network of Curators & Artists from South & Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East & North Africa.

Identified Curators are to have Residencies at the Guggenheim.

Identified Art Works that they have selected will the shown in the Focus Regions, plus "A Major City elsewhere in the World," after being first unveiled at the Guggenheim.

Both Hong Kong & Singapore are "Target Cities."

Extensive "Audience Driven" Educational Opportunities are also envisioned.

Three Exhibitions are to visit Three Venues each, for a Total of Nine Exposures!

Then all the Artworks will enter the Guggenheim's Permanent Collections

The Guggenheim seems to have an Affinity for Banks & Bankers. Its Berlin Incarnation is a co effort with the Deutsche Bank, not far from the Brandenburg Gate!

Then there's that Bilbao Frank Gehry Guggenheim. I've not been there yet, so I do not know what Bank may be Bank Rolling it.

The efforts of the Guggenheim's former Director, Thomas Krens, to have a Salzburg Guggenheim sited inside the mighty Mönschberg, were, however, frustrated.

Had he enlisted the Financial Support of The World Bank or the IMF, who knows what Might Have Been?


Night at the Museum! 2 Boys & 2 Girls Defy Creationists! Evolution Also Involves Growing Up!

The Charming Quartet of Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, & Jeff Bowen open their new Musical—down at the Vineyard Theatre—in the American Museum of Natural History.

Creationists will be horrified to learn that they evoke the Darwinian Notion of Evolution to take a closer look at the Problems of Growing Up & Being Yourself.

If you can figure out who You really Are

They also invoke the words of Thomas Merton, the famed Trappist Monk who insisted that we should try to Live in the Now. Each Minute, each Moment needs to be savored, experienced, Lived

Or: Now.Here.This.

Trappists don't Talk. They have a Vow of Silence. They also bake Good Bread

Silence does not prevent Monks from Meditating or Writing.

So Merton wrote that Best Seller, The Seven Storey Mountain.

The Hopalong Freud Satirist, Ira Wallach, parodied it as the 14 Carat Molehill

Once upon a Time, I made a Pilgrimage to Merton's Monastery, Our Lady of Gethsemane.

The Bread was Good, but the Music for the Mass was Glorious: Trappists are allowed to Sing!

So, also, the Now.Here.This. Quartet.

It's not easy Growing Up, especially if you can never seem to meet your Parents' Expectations. Or you may be Gay but are still trying to be OK

Walk a Mile in Someone's Moccasins, But Just Try Cycling 4,000 Miles: Left Over Hippie…

"Hey! Werner Herzog's written a play!"

Thus Spake a Colleague, who had not carefully read the Press Release.

Actually, 4,000 Miles is the fiction of Amy Herzog, who has imagined a Hippie Type [Gabriel Ebert] from Long Ago, in Greenwich Village in "September of a recent year."

The lanky ingenuous Ebert plays Leo, who has cycled all the way from Seattle to Manhattan, losing, along the way, his Friend, Micah, who is reported to have suffocated in some mud by the Roadside.

He has taken, briefly, as he thinks, Shelter with his Widowed & Lonely Grandmother, Vera [tartly played by Mary Louise Wilson].

He has Women Problems, represented by Zoë Winters & Greta Lee.

Lauren Helpern designed a commodious Rent Controlled Village Apartment to contain the Play's Activities.

There was No Intermission, so, after a while, it seemed like the Play might go on for 4,000 Miles itself…

How about walking 4,000 Miles in every pair of Imelda Marcos' Shoes?

I admired Amy Herzog's After the Revolution—which showed us Vera when she was still an Unrepentant Communist—so I don't know what went wrong here.

How About $133,000 for the Nuremberg Weltchronik, Printed 1493? Rare Books at the Armory!

A Touchstone for the Ever Climbing Prices for Rare Books—at least for Your Roving Arts Reporter—is the Latest Figure demanded for Hartmann Schedel's Nürnberg Weltkronik, printed in 1493, the Year after Columbus made that Famous Voyage…

At this year's New York Antiquarian Book Fair—at the Park Avenue Armory—it was priced at $133,000.

Long, long ago—in 1956, to be exact—I could have bought a Pristine Copy of the Weltkronik in Barcelona, for only $250. But I was saving up to buy a Volkswagen Blue Beetle, so I passed up this Golden Opportunity.

This Spring's Book Fair had more Dealer Booths than ever before, with a Cornucopia of Rare Books, Modern First Editions, Medieval Illuminations, Authorial Manuscripts, Vintage Photographs, & Antique Maps.

This year's Fair was the 52nd, which must mean that it began way back in 1960?

If so, I've been a Regular for most of those years, but—although Mightily Tempted—I've never bought a Rare Book at the Fair.

The Reason being that I have, over time, acquired a considerable Collection of Early Printed Books, including a huge Two Volume Josephus' History of the Jewish Wars.

Not only is it a thrill to be able to see & handle Famous First Editions, but it's also gratifying to be given handsomely designed recent Catalogues from Famous Booksellers.

When the Books, Maps, or Manuscripts are richly illustrated in bright Colors, complete with Comprehensive Descriptions of their Content & Provenance, having the Catalogues is almost as good as owning the books.

Especially if you don't have any more Shelf Space in a tiny Manhattan Apartment

If you want to know Who was exhibiting at the Book Fair, go on line to


But, for the Record, I'd like to mention some of the handsome Catalogues I was given:


's Books & Pamphlets: 1522 1817 offers reproductions of often titillating Title Pages of Long Forgotten Books, but the summaries of Content & History are also rewarding.

When you are next in London, you'll find Jarndyce across from the British Museum.

From Antiquariat Winfried Geisnheyner comes the fascinating Kinderbuchkatalog XXXV, with many colorful illustrations of German Children's Books, as well as famed titles from France & England.

Librairie Benoît Forgeot

in Paris offers a handsome Catalogue of Fêtes & Entrées. Some of the Royal & Imperial Celebratory Floats make your average Fourth of July Floats look laughable.

The Princely Pleasures of the Divinely Ordained were once Super Splendid indeed…

But here, all the way from Beverly Hills, is the Heritage Book Shop Holiday Catalogue 2011. The impressive Book Bindings are especially attractive. From Don Quixote to Christmas Carol & beyond…

By far the Most Impressive of all the Catalogues I collected are Omnium Gatherum & Pictorial Blake, from John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller, whose shop is on San Francisco's Theatre Street, the Geary.

Even if you don't have the Cash to buy Rare Books & Prints, you might well want to have the Blake Catalogue, as it has some excellent reproductions of Blake's Plates for The Book of Job, The Grave, Night Thoughts, & Blake's Plate of his famed Fresco of The Canterbury Pilgrims

San Francisco was once excited by the Discovery of Drake's Plate—later exposed as a Fraud—but Windle's Blake's Plates are not fakes.

Windle's Omnium Gatherum is richly illustrated with colorful pages of Medieval Manuscripts. Not to overlook remarkable Book Bindings

For your copies of either—or both:

For Printed & Manuscript America, you may want to contact Ian Brabner, Bookseller, of Wilmington, Delaware, where the Air is full of DuPont & Joe Biden, noted for Hot Air.

You may be appalled to read a Poster for a Slave Auction. But it's amusing to read about a Two Headed Lady. Much more interesting than a Two Faced Politician

To obtain a copy of Brabner's Catalogue 9, try:

If you happen to have $45,000 lying around, you might just get a fine copy of Profiles in Courage, allegedly written by Senator John F. Kennedy, from Raptis Rare Books.

I once knew a Georgetown University Professor who tearfully claimed he had drafted this book for Our Martyred President. But, then, everyone needs to have 15 Minutes of whatever…

Raptis is located in Brattleboro, VT, in an Italianate Villa—far from the Action in Our Nation's Capitol—but they have some other Book Bargains as well:

For only $37,500, you could perhaps purchase James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice.

In these Troubled Times of E mail & FedEx, he doesn't need to ring at all, as the Post Office seems about to Go Under.

Ian Fleming's Goldfinger is priced at $29,500.

If you would name your First Born Son after Novelist Ayn Rand, you might well want to have a First Edition of Atlas Shrugged, priced at a reasonable $3,000.

Other Book Bargains: Philip Roth's Goodbye, Columbus, for $4,000; Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, for $6,500; James Joyce's Ulysses, for $25,000, & Noble Laureate Milton Friedman's Price Theory, for $3,500.

Next time you buy a New Book that might just take off, be careful to remove the Dust Jacket, so it won't be soiled or torn when, many years later, you sell it for $55,500.

Just think of the Money you could have made if you had bought five hundred copies when Catcher in the Rye first appeared!

There isn't enough Space to list all the Book Bargains or all the Important Booksellers at the Armory.

Well, actually, On line on the Internet, there's All the Space in the Ether, but I'm tired of typing & not Paid, either, so here are a few other Outstanding Book Dealers:

Ars Libri ltd; High Ridge Books, Inc; Meda Riquier Rare Books, Inc; Studio Bibliografico Paolo Rambaldi; Adrian Harrington Rare Books; Paul Foster Books; Jeff Hirsch Books; Eric Chaim Kline Bookseller; Libreria Comellas Barcelona; Librarie Nicaise Pierre Walusinski; Lorne Bair; Susanne Schulz Falster Rare Books, & Aleph Bet Books.

Not to Overlook such Manhattan Outlets as Bauman Rare Books & the Old New York Bookshop.

The estimable London Firm of Maggs Bros stirs Distant Memories.

Long, long ago, I bid against Maggs for a First Edition of Nahum Tate's Tragedy of Brutus. I wanted to own a First Edition of a Play from the Restoration.

I won the book, as one page was missing & had been replaced with a Photo Copy


At the New Vic: DO JUMP! Circus Arts Kids Astonish & Delight in Ahhhh…Ha!

Even if there were no Cirque du Soleil Performance School up in Canada, you cannot stop bright, attractive, talented, Young People from doing Circus Turns on stage.

Robin Lane—Founder Mentor Director Choreographer of DO JUMP!—likes to call her Co Workers Actorbats.

Not only do the Standard Circus Skills such as Aerial Turns, Hoops, Juggling Bar Bells, Somersaults, Jumping, Leaping, & Balancing come into play, but there's also a lot of Ballet involved.

One of the most amusing sequences has the Ballet Dancing Legs of one set of Performers seen below the Upper Bodies of different Performers. There's a Blue Bar in between.

When the Wrong Legs become attached to a Different Dancer, hilarity ensues.

This segment is aptly titled: Divided We Fall.

The shaggy Dog Walk—with two performers in Sync—is charming. At times, it recalls those Tiger or Lion Dancers of the Kabuki or the Chinese Opera.

The varied Acts are greatly assisted by the Klezmocracy Musical Accompaniment of Ralph Huntley & Joe Janiga. Without this lively music, some of the Turns would not be so interesting.


Linda Lavin Is Back on Broadway: As Nicky Silver's Appalling Jewish Mother in The Lyons

Here's what Your Roving Arts Reporter wrote about The Lyons when it was showcased down at the Vineyard Theatre, months ago:

Linda Lavin Creates the Quintessential Jewish Mother from Hell!

This Tony Time, there should be a Special Award for Jewish Motherness.

Unfortunately, the hilariously voluble Rita Lyons of Linda Lavin won't be eligible

Unless Nicky Silver's no holds barred Dysfunctional Jewish Family, The Lyons, moves to Broadway.

The Tonys©™© are reserved for Broadway Shows, even though the best of Manhattan Theatre is often to be found Off Broadway, in Limited Runs

That's certainly true of Lavin & the entire Lyons Family, whose bitter, mean, angry old Dad [a fiercely amusing Dick Latessa] is dying of Cancer in a sparely appointed Hospital Room, while Rita rattles on about redecorating their Ugly Living Room as soon as Dad is dead.

If not before

Rita never loved Ben Lyons. She even vomited when they had Sex

That may be why their Daughter [Kate Jennings Grant, as an Alcoholic] & Son Curtis [Michael Esper, as a feckless, talentless Gay Would be Writer of Short Stories] have turned out so badly. Detested by their Father…

Mark Brokaw staged.

I stand by what I wrote then…

Except that the Subsequent Scene in which the Crazy Curtis has trapped his Fantasy Peter [an Imaginary Lover, for Family Consumption], embodied in an Unemployed Actor/Real Estate Agent, Brian [Gregory Wooddell], seems an Add On.

But it does permit Curtis to end up in his Dad's Hospital Bed—deserted by both Mother & Sister—but learning to Make Nice with the all suffering Nurse [Brenda Pressley].

It is often said—mostly by Chinese—that One Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words.

But to be up close & watch Linda Lavin's Facial Expressions is to understand that One Lavin Grimace is worth a thousand words of Silver Dialogue.

I was so close—on the far left side, in Row B—that I could also see the Gilded Plaster of the Cort Theatre's Proscenium Frame in great detail…

Way Down on Minetta Lane: The City Club as a Memphis Clone?

The Time is said to be 1934, when Prohibition had bit the dust.

Chaz Davenport is re opening his Dad's destroyed Club—possibly once a Speakeasy—seeking to make it really Fine & Attractive to Big Spenders.

The Best Thing about this new Musical Show—with Noirish Overtones—is the Piano Player, Parker Brown [Kenny Brawner], who sees all & says little.

In fact, all the Musical Numbers are just fine—even in Context—& could almost Stand Alone, without the Complicated Plot.

Apparently, this show was a Big Hit at the Edinburgh Festival, but it looks more like a Festival Fringe Entry.

The Big Problem—at least for Your Roving Arts Reporter—was the fact that Chaz was almost completely lacking in Charisma.

Yes, he can sing & dance, but I didn't really care whether he succeeded with his Club & the Women Who Love Him. If you are not rooting for the Protagonist, why bother?

As for the Plot, with almost Everyone Dead at the End—it seemed like a Parody of Old Italian Melodramas: Il Trionfo della Morte

The Songs—by James Compton, Tony De Meur, & Tim Brown—were generally Period Effective. But Boogie Wooogie Fever seemed out of place for 1934?

I was born in 1928 & I remember Boogie Woogie as much later than 1934.

How about The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B, as we were preparing for the Second World War


British Humor at the Music Box: Hilarious Clown James Corden Spews Soup in Goldoni Rewrite!

Max Wall, Knockabout Farce, Buster Keaton, Arthur Askey, Music Hall Memories, The Marx Bros, Willie West & McGinty, Jim Dale, Servant of Two Masters, Harold Lloyd, Coarse Acting, Tits & Ass, The Three Stooges, Vaudeville Turns, Buskers, Mixed Up Letters, Boobs & Bums, Dual Identities, Sub Beatles Combos, Noises Off, Washboards, Chromatic Honking Horns, Freud's Feces Comedy, Pride Before a Fall, Seaside Brighton in 2D

All of the Above?

These are all Names & Terms that come readily to mind in attempting to describe the Sure Fire Hit Laff Riot that's now playing at the Music Box Theatre.

James Corden stars in the National Theatre of Great Britain's Nicholas Hytner staged rewrite of

Carlo Goldoni's Classic Italian Farce—inspired by the Commedia dell'ArteThe Servant of Two Masters.

This Hilarious Show comes to Broadway on a Tsunami Wave of Bravos from Leading London Newspapers:

It has garnered Five Stars [*****

] from both The Times & The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph [or Torygraph, to some Liberals…], The Daily Express, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Independent, & even Time Out.

In a City & a Nation in which Newspapers are dying out, this Unanimous Praise for One Man, Two Guvnors excites Interest, not so much for the Kudos, as for the Astonishing Fact that London still has at least Eight Major Print Media Outlets!

In London, People still read Print

What's more, both London & Theatre Goers in the Provinces still love Knockabout Farce, Coarse Acting, & Smuttily Suggestive Visual & Verbal Comedy.

For Your Roving Arts Reporter, this is Old Stuff, as I've been a West End & Provincial Regular since 1956, making a Point of seeing Christmas Pantos, where Knockabout & Sexual Suggestiveness are Staples: Coarse Farce for the Kids, with Smut for the Grown Ups.

I won't even attempt to describe all the Antics on view at the Music Box.

A current Back Grounder, by John Lahr, in The New Yorker, will do much to Fill You In.

John—although a native American [but not a Native American]–has spent most of his Mature Years in London.

So he knows whereof he writes.

Not only that: His Hilarious Old Man, Bert Lahr, was one of our own Most Famous Clowns!

But, perhaps a Word is in order, regarding Sigmund Freud's Concept of Feces Comedy?

It is also called the Comedy of Befoulment

Pride, it is often said—if not exactly in these words—Goeth Before a Fall.

Even in Imperial Vienna, Freud understood how much Ordinary People loved to see the Rich, Pompous, & Famous step into Dog Shit.

Or to have their Impeccable Suits, Gowns, & Hairdos ruined by a Bucket of Paint dropped from above. Tripping on a Brick & falling face forward in the Mud was also Hilarious.

We like to believe that even the Greatest have Feet of Clay, so it's always rewarding to catch them with their Flies Unzipped or their Bras & Panties drooping.

Think of the Great Satisfaction many New Yorkers have already had from the Unsavory Antics of Anthony Weiner & Eliott Spitzer, the Governor that Was

Wouldn't it be Load of Fun to see Newt Gingrich fall into a Manure Pit!

How about an Animated Cartoon—featuring Mitt Romney's Famous Poochletting loose on Our First Mormon President?

Among my Critic Colleagues—most of whom were doubling over with Gusts of Laughter & Bopping Along to all the Musical Interludes—the only Reviewers who were, clearly, Not Having a Good Time were Brit Born Celebrity Photographer Aubrey Rubin & Bloomberg News' John Simon.

John & I go back a Long Way

All the way back to the Death of Theatre Arts Magazine, for which John was Broadway Critic & I was Theatre Book Reviewer.

That famous Journal died because the Publisher was a Crook, who didn't pay the Printer.

He took John's Press Tickets & my Reviewer's Book Copies for himself.

John bought his Own Ticket & I read the Jacket Screeds of new books on the Doubleday Counter


Look Where It Comes Again! Streetcar Arrives on Schedule, But With a New Look!

Guess What?

Tennessee Williams' Basic Polack, Stanley Kowalski, is now Black!

The Broadhurst Theatre Program simply Cast Lists him as Stanley.

Although Blanche identifies herself as a Du Bois on stage, the Program gives No Indication of her actual Provenance. Or Familial Descent

Some Fellow Critics—or would it be More Accurate to call them Play Reviewers?—were horrified by Director Emily Mann's Decision to re imagine the Ethnicity of some of the Residents of a really run down section of the French Quarter, in New Orleans, circa 1952.

It was a Stroke of Genius to have all the Central Characters of Streetcar Named Desire—excepting Eunice & Steve—be Vibrant, if occasionally Violent, Desperate, & Challenged, African Americans!

As a Radiantly Illusionary Blanche, Nicole Ari Parker is both Beautiful, Delusional, & Heartbreaking!

Her beloved, but baffled, Sister, Stella for Star is wonderfully embodied & en souled by Daphne Rubin Vega!

Blair Underwood is a Force of Nature as Stanley, his Home & Marriage—as he sees things—threatened by all those Airs & Graces trailing Blanche's every movement in their cramped & cruddy Flat.

Wood Harris is also excellent as the Lonely & Love Lorn Mitch.

We even have the great Carmen de Lavallade, selling Flores para los Muertos

This Production is one of the most moving I've seen all Season. It's even better than most Streetcar Revivals I've seen in years.

[In a recent Salzburg Festival staging, Stanley, Mitch, Steve, Eunice, Stella, & Blanche all ended up in a Motel Room, on a fold out bed, watching American TV!]

Some Colleagues rejected Mann's Vision because, as they insisted, Blacks could not have Owned a Plantation like Belle Rêve.

Guess What?

There were actually Free American Blacks who did own Plantations, complete with Black Slaves


Our Man in Venice: Painter Peter Harvey Glides Serenely by, à la Gondola

In the Theatre, Peter Harvey is already in the Record Books. He long ago designed Dames at Sea & Boys in the Band.

More importantly, he also designed George Balanchine's Jewels for the New York City Ballet.

Then he was invited to the former Leningrad—now restored to Imperial Glory as St. Petersburg—to replicate those Stunning Settings.

More recently, he did the same feat for La Scala, Milan

But, last summer, he outdid himself: Peter Harvey had a glorious Residency in La Serenissima, the former Republic of Venice!

His Painterly Achievements from this Fabulous Adventure are now on view down at 537 Broadway @Spring Street, in the Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery.

There are Sepia Visions of Venice that recall 18th Century Views. There are miasmic Floods of Color, evoking some Great Façades & Historic Canals.

My Favorites, howevere, are those ingenious Geometric Abstractions that make both Canals & Churches seem shot through with Angles & Curves of a Pythagorean Divine Geometry.

I bought one of them & also the Centerpiece of Peter's Show, featuring the Campanile, flanked by San Marco & the Doges' Palace. I love its blocks of Gold Leaf, highlighting that splendid brick Bell Tower.

Peter Harvey's Finding Venice will be showing Tuesday thru Saturday, 1pm 6:30. But only until 28 April!

So, do call 212 925 7651

As I write this, I'm looking at Peter's Painting of the Death of Garcia Lorca: Colorful, Beautiful, & Desperately Sad…

This is one of a Series of Canvases Peter painted to Remember not only Victims of AIDS, but also those Men & Women who have been savaged by various Morally Main Stream & Sexually Correct Societies.

Yes, I'm not only an Old Friend of Peter Harvey, but I also collect his Remarkable Works when I have Wall Space & Cash on Hand.


At the Lunt Fontanne, There Are Ghosts, But Not Those of Alfred & Lynne…

Digital Madness might be a good way to describe the Stage Make Over of a Paramount Pictures Film called, I believe, Ghost.

I cannot remember seeing this Movie, but—while watching the Fantastic Digital Dances on stage of Ghost: The Musical—I had the haunting sensation that I'd already seen this.

Could it all have been a Dream? Déjà vu, all over again…

Anyway, the Digitals are astonishing: worth the Price of Admission in themselves, thanks to Designer Jon Driscoll.

Then there's that Haunting Tune, Unchanging Melody

Both Richard Fleeshman—who rapidly becomes a Ghost—& Caissie Levy sing Very Loudly, thanks to the Sound Design of Bobby Aitken.

In the Whoopie Goldberg Role of the quasi fake Clairvoyant, Oda Mae Brown, the gaudily attired Da'vine Joy Randolph is both a Joy & Divine!

Although Whoopie is not involved monetarily in this Production, her nearby show, Sister Act, is saluted when Oda Mae drops a check for $10,000,000 into the Begging Bucket of a pair of Black Clad Sisters.

One exclaims: Holy Shit!

Bryce Pinkham sneakily plays the False Friend Financial Manipulator Murderer

He could be working for Goldman Sachs Fifth Avenue!

The famous Matthew Warchus staged, with Design by Rob Howell.

Actually, Whoever is at the Controls of the Computer is the real Star of this Show.


Recycling The Gershwins: Nice Work, If You Can Get It! Pastiche Parody of Twenties Musicals…

Important News Flash: Nice Work won Nine Nominations for the Outer Critics Circle Awards!

OK, already!

Matthew Broderick is just fine as a kind of Song & Dance Man in a Vintage Pastiche of a 1920s Flapper Era Musical.

But he's no Fred Astaire

The otherwise excellent Kelli O'Hara is, at times, a bit too Stanislavski Earnest as the Other Side of the Tracks Girl Bootlegger, Billie Bendix:

Does he really love me? Oh, what a Fool I've been to trust him…

What's best about this handsomely mounted & costumed production is—for my taste—the elaborate Sets of Derek McLane & the lavish, even outrageous Costumes of Martin Pakledinaz.

Paul Huntley's Wigs, as usual, are as stylish as the costumes…

The Outstanding Lyrics & Memorable Melodies are the results of Long Ago Collaborations by Ira & George Gershwin.

No, Nice Work If You Can Get It is not a Definitive Revival of a long forgotten Gershwin Broadway Hit.

Instead, Joe DiPietro has collected a number of Gershwin Song Hits & organized them to illustrate the Fable he has concocted from Ideas by PG Wodehouse & Guy Bolton.

Not exactly Bertie & Jeeves, but Michael McGrath—as Jimmy Winter's Dancing/Singing Bootlegger Butler, Cookie McGee—would certainly delight both Bolton & Wodehouse!

As would Judy Kaye, as the Duchess Estonia Dulworth, & Estelle Parsons, as Jimmy's Mother, Millicent, the real Boss of Bootlegging on Long Island Sound.

Many of the 1920s Musicals were little more than Tuneful Excuses for Great Production Numbers, which featured Popular Stars, showcased Fresh Young Faces—especially for Men About Town & Stage Door Johnnies—& introduced New Fashions for the Matinée Ladies.

Of course, we've had Imitation Flapper Musicals before: The Boy Friend was very popular in the 1960s.

But it had a Sandy Wilson Score. Not the Gershwins…

The justly admired Kathleen Marshall both directed & choreographed, but how many variations can you devise on Flapper Era Chorus Routines?

Nonetheless, there was Tremendous Energy surging forward from the Stage, as though the Entire Cast was willing this new show to be a Big Success!

Judy Kaye—swinging & singing from a Chandelier—could be the Signature Image from this show.


Joseph Alsop Was a Powerful & Much Feared DC Columnist, Now Embodied by John Lithgow.

Time was when a Furious Column by the widely syndicated Political Know It All, Joseph Alsop, would make the Mighty Tremble.

A Blue Blooded, Best Schooled, Well Grammared Public Scold, he was both the Mentor & the Terror of Presidents, Secretaries of State, Justices, & Senators.

Joe Alsop was a kind of Neo Con War Hawk before there were Neo Cons. Actually, he was a Democrat, but with a Pugnacious Belief in America's Exceptionalism

But The Columnist—a new Biographic Drama by David Auburn—is not so much about Alsop's Influence on both the Powers That Were & the Reading Public as it is about Homosexuality in High Places.

When Alsop was in Soviet Russian Atheistic Godless Moscow—ostensibly Fact Finding—he was picked up by a young Russian Man with very good English.

This Stupid Act of Alsop's now permits Broadway Audiences to see John Lithgow in a Luxurious Bed, flabby naked to the waist. With a Great Mirror slanted above the bed…

Alsop didn't know he was being photographed in flagrante.

But, back in DC, as Host to the Great & Famous in his Townhouse, he did realize he needed a Hostess.

So, he Married for Convenience.

Margaret Colin is sympathetic, if frustrated, as Susan Mary Alsop.

Boyd Gaines is frustrated, if sympathetic, as Joe's younger brother, the less famous Stewart Alsop.

Stephen Kunken is Truth Telling David Halberstam, with the Soviet Photos & the Power to Destroy Alsop.

John Lithgow gives an almost Monumental Performance as the Overbearing & Mis Understanding Alsop.

But, while Alsop tutors his new Step daughter, Abigail, in Latin, he also learns some Lessons from her.

We should have seen Meryl Streep's remarkable daughter, Grace Gummer, as Abigail, but she was out.

Nonethless, Adria Vitlar, was radiant in the role.

The Multi Moving Settings of John Lee Beatty were, as usual, also remarkable. With Words, Shadows of Words, & Letters floating about.

Daniel Sullivan elegantly orchestrated all this Public & Clandestine Activity.

It is clear in Auburn's play that Joe Alsop listened to no one. Not even to State

The Embassy surely knew of Alsop's Proclivities.

But he should also have realized that, Behind the Iron Curtain, you have Sex with No One who is not your Lawfully Wedded Wife.

Even in Our Nation's Capital—at least way back in the JFK EraHomosexuals had to be careful.

Being Married with Children was no protection.

Consider the Plight of Lyndon Baines Johnson's White House Chief of Staff, Walter Jenkins.

He was caught in a Crapper in the Young Men's Christian Association Basement Toilet

The Local Joke was: "Do you know why there won't be any Turkey at the White House this Thanksgiving?"

"No, why?"

"Their Old Gobbler is gone…"

On Arrest, Jenkins collapsed & had to be taken to a Hospital.

But his Old Friends, J. Edgar Hoover & Clyde Tolson, sent him a big Bouquet of Roses!

When Jack Ruby shot J. Harvey Oswald in Dallas—before he could be definitively questioned—there were those in DC who claimed that Ruby & Oswald had been an Item

Some of these Gay Guys were also frequent visitors to the YMCA Accommodations.

But they knew how to avoid Entrapment by Blond Police Officers: No Wide Stances, while seated!


Raul Esparza—in Snazzy Jackets—Makes a Leap of Faith at the St. James…

No, this is not a Musicalization of the Evangelical Career of Aimee Semple McPherson.

Most people don't even recognize that Name, so why bother?

There are enough Religious Frauds out there right now that need Exposure.

Raul Esparza is a Human Dynamo in Leap of Faith, playing the God Fraudster, Jonas Nightingale.

He Sings & he Dances. He's just terrific & he does this eight times a week!

Jonas is also expected to perform Miracles, but that's really beyond him.

Had he trained as a Roman Catholic Priest, he would have been able to do Two Miracles—Wine into Blood; Matzoh into Flesh!—every day…

Leap was once a Paramount Movie, which I did not see, so I don't know if it also had Music.

At the St. James, however, Alan Menken has provided Gospel Rock, Country & Western, Rhythm & Blues, & All Purpose Stuff, which the foot stompin' Chorus lustily sings.

Jonas' Gospel Bus is stranded in drought parched Sweetwater, TX, where all are Poverty Stricken & Ill Educated: Ideal "Marks" for a Rousing Religious Revival.

The Lady Sheriff—who hates Jonas on sight—has a Crippled Little Boy who believes in Jonas.

But Jonas finally admits he's a Fraud who cannot make the Boy walk nor the Heavens burst with Rain.

Guess What! He's wrong & he gets the Girl!

Jessica Phillips is fascinating as the Sheriff, in a generally Outstanding Cast.

Chris Ashley staged, with the foot stompin' Choreography of Sergio Trujillo.


Don't Dress for Dinner, Especially If You Are Flying at the American Airlines Theatre!

We are now a long way off from the delightful & titillating French Sex Farces of Feydeau.

But with Marc Camoletti's Don't Dress for Dinner, we are even Beyond the Pale of Jasmin Reza.

Sophistication & Wit have been replaced—especially owing to the Bumptious, Knockabout Farce of Director John Tillinger—by Coarse Acting & Rampant Mugging.

The best things about this show are the charming French Provincial Set of John Lee Beatty & the stylish costumes of William Ivey Long.

Indeed: that wonderful Bouffant Dress he made for Patricia Kalember is the only bit of Sophistication on stage.

Nonetheless, Spencer Kayden is hilarious as the Cook who came to Play a Variety of Roles.

Perhaps her Best Moment comes when she is almost stripped of her Maid's Uniform, turning it into a Sexy Frock!

The Time is 1960, for some reason…

This Production was rather like One Man, Two Guvnors, but with less Obvious Zest in Knocking People About.


Not Roasting at the Friars' Club: Instead, the Annual Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations!

When Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara came up to the Podium to present the Outer Critics Circle's Special Award for the New York Shakespeare Festival, no one thought to mention that Anne had once won the Circle's Prestigious John Gassner Award!

Both Anne & Jerrry were hilarious, recalling the very early days of Joe Papp's Shakespeare in the Park.

This was long before the construction of the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park.

Initially, they performed on a Flatbed Truck, which Joe had towed from City Park to City Park: Shakespeare in Summer for everyone!

As soon as the Truck arrived in, say, Mount Morris Park or Prospect Park, a lip on the truck was unfolded to provide a Deeper Stage.

Ming Cho Lee was Joe Papp's initial designer, working with a Budget of virtually nothing. So he began using Scaffolding to suggest Scenery.

In time, he became—as he once told me, in an interview for Theatre Crafts"The Pipe Man."

The generously bearded Oskar Eustis accepted the OCC's Bardic Award.

Eustis is responsible for both Summer Shakespeare in the Delacorte & Year Round Theatre Productions down at Astor Place, in Joe Papp's Public Theatre.

[Does anyone now remember when Joe Papp also took over the so called Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre? It was then thought that Joe could do anything…]

Later—when the charming Lily Rabe & the amusing Richard Thomas were presenting the Nominee Names for the forthcoming Outer Critics Circle's Annual Awards—Anne Meara was sitting by me, in the Edward Albee Chair at the Friars Club.

John Gassner had been my Mentor when I first came to New York & began writing about the Broadway, the Off Broadway, & the Off Off Broadway Theatre.

So I made a point of recalling Anne Meara's winning of the Gassner Award to her. "Why didn't they say something about that?" she asked me.

What we need to do for Arts Rambles is to Videotape a Session with Anne & Jerry, recalling not only their early years as Shakespeareans, but the wonderful scope & span of their work in the theatre.

Last season, after enjoying the work of Lois Smith & David Margulies, in After the Revolution, my Webmaster, Scott Bennett, & I ran into them at Ollie's, across the street from Theatre Row.

We vowed to Videotape a Session with them, but we still haven't had the time to do so, as developing the new Website is taking more time & resources than we had imagined.

But both Scott & I intend to Record the Memories of a variety of Longtime Manhattan Troupers for this new Website…

[Insert List Here!]


At The Astor Gallery: The Great American Revue Passes in Review: Flo Ziegfeld, George White…

Here are the Costume Sketches for all those fabulous outfits for the Ziegfeld Girls

Also, Photos, Posters, Programs, & Props from such long vanished Broadway Revues, as George White's Scandals, Earl Carroll's Vanities, The Shuberts' Passing Parade, & Irving Berlin's Music Box Revues.

Yes! The Music Box—where One Man, Two Govnors is now playing—was built for Revues, not for Plays.

There are also some impressive Set Designs for the Ziegfeld Follies, as well as for other long running Revue Institutions.

Don't forget the Hippodrome Revues, the Midnight Frolics, George M. Cohan's Revue, the Century Theatre Revues, Hitchy Koo, the Garrick Gaieties, & the Greenwich Village Follies

Through 27 July, The Great American Revue will be on view in Lincoln Center, exploring—as its Subtitle suggests—How Florenz Ziegfeld, George White, & Their Rivals Remade Broadway.

At The Asia Society: Inundation of the Arts from Shanghai: Plus Paintings of Wu Guanzhong!

Suited Officials, representing many Aspects of Culture in Shanghai, recently spoke to the Press on the occasion of the Opening of REVOLUTIONARY INK: The Paintings of Wu Guanzhong.

It was impressive to see color photos of the Shanghai Art Museum & its varied Collections—including Western Masters such as Millet & Courbet!—as well as the new Shanghai Contemporary Art Center, on the other side of the Huangpu River.

Actually, the Art Museum is being reconstituted in the astounding Red Beamed China Pavilion, erected for the Shanghai Expo 2010. It is opening 1 October 2012 & We are All Invited!

The Contemporary Art Center will be even bigger, a vast expanse, for which one hopes there will be enough Contemporary Art to fill it.

That the newly inaugurated Close Cooperation of the Asia Society & the Shanghai Art Museum should be celebrated in Manhattan with an Introduction to the Long Officially Despised Art Works of Wu Guanzhong is, in itself, a Signal of a Sea Change in Chinese Culture, interacting with the Outside World.

Wu—unlike many would be Chinese Artists of his Generation—went to Paris to study.

This was excellent preparation for the Virtuosic Works in Oil & Ink that he would later create back at home.

But his Timing was Wrong: Chairman Mao came to Power & Sino Soviet Socialist Realism swept away Ancient Chinese Traditional Scroll Painting, as well as Decadent Western Influences.

Wu was forced to abandon painting altogether. He burned most of his Oils.

Exiled to the Countryside for "Re education" at Hard Labor, Wu continued to sketch & paint when he could manage to do so.

Now, many of his surviving & more recent works are Central Treasures of the Shanghai Collections!

Nonetheless, at the Asia Society, his Son spoke of his Father's bitter experience under Mao, with some sense of both Loss & Pride.

The Ink Paintings speak for themselves: [see some examples here!] There's not even a hint of Socialist Realism

Wu's Works will be on view only until 5 August 2012 in Manhattan, but you can see them again in

Shanghai, when the new Museum Complex is opened.

Whatever you may have thought of Monolithic Red China, when Mao's Purges of Intellectuals & Artists were at their Height, all that Regimen of Terror seems to have passed.

True, the Authorities did Bulldoze the Studio of Ai Weiwei—but that has only made him More Famous in the West.

I still have my Free Ai Weiwei Red Bag from his big show in Bregenz last summer, at the Kunsthaus.

But it's an Odd Contrast between China & America that the Arts are Honored & Supported there, but they are being starved & denigrated in the United States, with all kinds of Arts Programs being slashed.

The Last Time I was in Shanghai—some seasons ago, when I made the Yangste River Journey to the great Three Gorges Dam—there was already a modern State of the Art Opera, a new Theatre, & a handsome Concert House!

But one wonders what will become of such Maoist Stage Works as The Taking of Tiger Mountain by Strategy, Red Detachment of Women, Raise High the Red Lantern, & other Anti Traditional Entertainments endorsed by Madame Mao, Chiang Ching, & the Gang of Four?


Also at the Asia Society:

The Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe, with The Lanke Mountain & The Monkey King: Journey to the West.

How about excerpts from the new Opera by Huang Rao, titled simply Sun Yat Sen?

Dr. Sun is a National Hero.

His WidowMme. Chiang's estranged Sister, Ai Ling Soong—during her Lifetime, as she never abandoned her Homeland, was kind of Living Hero of the Revolution!

I made a point of visiting her House

I once climbed all those hundreds & hundreds of stairs up the mountain to Dr. Sun's Tomb. I hope the Opera will be a less strenuous experience!

Princes & Painters in Mughal Delhi, 1707 1857 ends 6 May 2012 at the Society…


A Festival of Old Film Clips: Shooting Hoops with Magic Johnson & Larry Bird!

Documentary Playwright Eric Simonson had the idea to somehow dramatize the Friendship of Basketball Heroes Magic Johnson & Larry Bird.

He has been fortunate in having the robust & genial Kevin Daniels as Magic & the tall, stalwart, silent Tug Coker as the Bird.

It's also been his Good Fortune to have an all purpose Gang of Four to play all the other roles in Magic/Bird. They are ingenious in their various Manifestations.

Peter Scolari is especially good, nowhere more so than when he is a Coaching Scold.

Dierdre O'Connell almost matches his Feats of Impersonation

The Downer in this essentially elemental production is the exhaustive use of Old Film Clips of Games Gone By.

Had they been sharper in focus, the Experience might not have been so wearing.

It was rather like watching Tapes of Old Rosebowl Games at New Years, out in California, with The Cousins


Ghost on Broadway, But Also on Upper Broadway: Ghosts of Versailles at Manhattan School.

Too Bad!

You Missed It!

You can still see Ghost on Broadway, but it's too late to see the remarkable revival of The Ghosts of Versailles at the Manhattan School of Music.

Not only was this a physically stunning production—with elaborate Wigs & Gowns from the Last Days of Louis & Marie Antoinette—but it was wonderfully sung & acted by a very large cast.

Composer John Corigliano—who was in attendance & won an Award—long ago had the ingenious Idea to create an Opera Buffa, in which the Ghosts of the Beheaded King & Queen would haunt the stage, Marie Antoinette longing to be Reborn & not make the same Mistakes which led her to the Guillotine.

He was ably assisted in this by Librettist William Hoffman, who was, in turn, inspired by


Caron de Beaumarchais' La Mère Coupable.

This is the seldom performed third drama in the Figaro Trilogy, which includes, of course, The Marriage of Figaro.

In La Mère, Rosina, the Countess Almaviva, has a child spawned by Cherubino, not by the Count.

Corigiliano's Ghosts begins with the veiled Figures of the King, Queen, & Courtiers seated like dusty Statues at either side of the Stage.

Beaumarchais himself attempts to Reverse History, invoking the assistance of Figaro & Susanna, as well as defying Revolutionary Terrorists.

Designed by Steven Capone [sets], Daniel James Cole [the remarkable Costumes & Wigs], & Lee Fiskness [lighting], this amazing production was shown only three times…

The Entire Cast was Virtuosic, almost too numerous to list, but Kudos certainly to Jay Lesenger, as Director, & Steven Osgood, as Conductor.


At the Neue Galerie: Heinrich Kuehn's Pictorialist Photographs—Like Modern Masters…

When you look at some of the Haunting Photographs by Heinrich Kuehn—now at the Neue Galerie—you may well believe that they are not photos at all, but Soft Focus Artworks.

Born wealthy in Dresden, Kuehn won entrée into the Secessionist Art Circle in Vienna. At the Jahrhundertwende, he was aspiring to elevate mere Photography into an Art Form in its own right.

Although he lived until 1944—escaping the rigors of Nazi Volkskunst—his most impressive work was done before The Great War.

Kuehn was influenced by Alfred Stieglitz & Edward Steichen, who urged him to abandon Landscapes, in favor of more intimate photos of his Family.

All well & good, but this may be a reason why we know so little of Heinrich Kuehn…


Look Where Chekhov Comes Again! Three Sisters at BAM: Maly Theatre's Real Russian Version!

Why all this Fuss about going to Moscow?

Leningrad is Lovely at this time of year…

Chekhov's Three SistersOlga, Masha, & Irina—hopelessly dream of returning to Moscow, from which their now defunct Father was posted to a dismal town in the Provinces to command the Tzar's Brigades there.

In fact, Three Sisters now comes to us, at BAM, not from Moscow, but from the former Leningrad, now reborn as St. Petersburg!

It is a Repertory Staging of the Maly Theatre.

Maly means Small, while Bolshoi means Big or Grand.

But there's nothing small about the Conception of this Celebrated Production—widely toured on the Continent—staged by the Russki Genius, Lev Dodin.

The last time I saw Dodin & one of his unusually Spare Stagings was when he was awarded the European Cultural Prize. But I cannot now remember whether that was in Turin or in Thessaloniki

Along with Eimuntus Necrosius—of Lithuanian Vilnius—Dodin is regarded as one of the most important & innovative Stage Directors in Eastern Europe.

Although Three Sisters is fairly often staged in the United States—along with The Cherry Orchard & Uncle Vanya—its essentially unhappy but oddly optimistic Characters are usually portrayed without much imagination.

They often look & sound like Americans in Period Costumes

Dodin's Prozorov Sisters aren't like any Stateside Olgas, Mashas, or Irinas I've seen in recent memory.

This Production was a Revelation of the Intricacies of the Interrelationships that can be inspired by Chekhov's Dialogue & Situations.

The Masha of Elena Kalinia was fascinating. Ordinarily, she's played throughout the drama as being "In Mourning for My Life."

Not so with Dodin in charge: Here, she's Amusing, Wry, Changeable, Passionate

When the Moscow Art Theatre brought its Three Sisters to Manhattan, years ago, much was made of the completely set Dinner Table: Silver, China, Crystal, Samovar steaming.

Dodin's Prozorovs also set the table, in four sections. But they do it behind the Plain Board Façade of their House, so that the Action is sometimes obscured, but also framed in the Four Windows & Doorway of their home.

In fact, so important are these Five Frames that Individual Characters are often highlighted in them, speaking their Lines toward the Audience.

Or to Empty Space, rather than to the Person for whom their remarks are intended.

As the Drama progresses, the Façade moves forward in increments.

Kudos for Designer Alexander Borovsky & Lighting Designer Damir Ismagilov!

Initially, I was surrounded by hordes of Russian Speakers. But—after the Intermission—there were many Empty Seats in the Orchestra of the Harvey Theatre.

Had the Hopeless Travails of Chekhov's Characters worn them out?

Not only the Philosophizing Col. Vershinin, but others, as well, look forward to an Improvement in Human Life that will be realized in 200 Years or so.

In the meantime, They Must Work.

In Uncle Vanya, Work is the Answer, but the Reward will come only when Vanya & his beloved Niece, Sonia, are in Heaven.


Drama Desk Awards Nominations at Michael Feinstein's: But No Michael at the Keyboard…

It was exciting to see Donna Murphy & Brian Darcy James up front, reading the Long List of Drama Desk Award Nominations.

The Events Room of Michael Feinstein's—at the Loews Regency, on Park Avenue—was crammed to Capacity & overwhelmed with Video Cameras & the ubiquitous Cell Phones & other Photo Op Devices that now enable both Journalists & Theatre Critics to share with a Waiting World

Don Giovanni Gets What He Deserves at Lincoln Center: This Time, at the Juilliard School!

The new Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart's Don Giovanni is a stunner: the Wicked Don goes down to Hell in a burst of wild, searing Flames that would do credit to an American Assault on Taliban Forces in Afghanistan!

Across the street at the Juilliard School, however, the ingenious stage director Stephen Wadsworth practices Fuel Economy. His Juilliard Opera Theatre Don Juan is confounded by the Stone Guest & then the Scene blacks out.

You have to imagine the Hell Flames: rather like imagining a Mitt Romney Presidency

Charlie Corcoran's imaginative Drop & Wing Settings lend a charming Period Flavor to one of Opera's most Salacious Tales of Naughty Men exploiting Vulnerable—if occasionally more than willing—Women.

The extremely talented & totally youthful Cast was Outstanding: JeongCheol Cha as a flamboyantly sexual Don Giovanni, Karen Vuong as an outraged Donna Anna, Yujoong Kim as a valiant Don Ottavio, Takaoki Onishi as a baffled Masetto, Ying Fang as a charming but willing Zerlina, Alexander Hajek as a servant for all seasons Leporello, Devon Guthrie as a desperate Donna Elvira, & Ryan Speedo Green as the murdered & understandably vengeful Commendatore.

Although Seville is the Nominal Scene of Lorenzo Da Ponte's intriguing—if now familiar—Libretto, with an able Internationally Ancestored Cast such as this, it might well have been set in some Asian City…

There were some delightful Hi Jinx in the events: it was not all Seduction & Abandonment. As Leporello, Hajek was a charmer: we should soon see him at the Met!

As for the standing tall Ryan Speedo Green, he's already a Met Opera Lindemann Young Artist, in development.

Conductor Gary Thor Wedow & Stage Director Wadsworth used the Vienna version of Don Giovanni, not the original Prague Fassung. But there were some variations in the program, as in Mozart's own time.

Once again—as with the brilliant Ghosts of Versailles at the Manhattan School—it's really unfortunate that there are, every Fall & every Spring, only three performances of these Schools' outstanding Opera Productions.

But those who missed the Juilliard Don could catch the Mannes School's Don the following week…


Did We Need Yet Another Production of Christopher Marlowe's Midsummer Night's Dream?

Having long, long ago edited & introduced the Official Royal Shakespeare Company Production Book of Peter Brook's Midsummer Night's Dream, I thought I'd never have to see another staging of this Crazed Comedy.

How wrong I was…

But I did see a Definitive Staging—by Kent Thompson—at the Denver Theatre Center recently.

This was achieved with a great Simplicity, allowing the Actors to bring the play to life, rather than depending on Unusual Stage Environments & Outrageous Costumes.

In Denver—for the first time in my long Play going Experience—the Agonies of the Quartet of Young Lovers in the Athenian Woods were made Real & Believable. There was real Sexual Chemistry at work…

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the new MSND production at the Classic Stage Company.

As conceived & directed by Tony Speciale, both Helena & Hermia seemed a pair of Shrill Barbie Dolls.

Their Substance Abused Would be Lovers, on the other hand, seemed to have spent a lot of time at the Gym, working on their Abs.

For a moment, when they were grappling, I feared Spontaneous Emissions

How could it be that Seasoned Performers of the quality of Bebe Neuwirth, Anthony Heald, Christina Ricci, & David Greenspan would find themselves so ill used in MSND?

Actually, Greenspan—who is usually hilarious in Drag—seemed more at home in this staging than some others.

Set Designer Mark Wendland's decision to suspend a slanted & sectioned Mylar Mirror over the Peat Moss Packed stage floor was ingenious, at least in reflecting some of the compositions of Folding Chairs & Sprawled Bodies.

At one point, what seemed like a Ton of Fake Rose Petals showered down on the already spongey Acting Surface. The Players had to wade through them…

Every time Puck appeared, he was attired in a different, but intentionally Outrageous Costume.

But, to what Purpose?

Most of Andrea Lauer's imaginative costumes deserve to be in a Costume Museum, but they don't really help expose or enhance the Characters who wear them.

They seem to exist for Themselves Alone

It used to be a Commonplace that even High School Students cannot ruin the Rehearsal of the Rustics in the Athenian Wood.

Somehow, in this staging, it falls flat, despite Volleys of Coarse Acting.

One suspects that this CSC Production is really less about We Are Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made Of as it is about the Conceptual Genius of Tony Speciale, who obviously wants to be seen as Something Special!


Oh My God! Yet Another Chekhov Play! Uncle Vanya, as Imagined by Target Margin.

A Month in the Country [that's by Turgenyev, not Chekhov] with all the Characters in Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard, Seagull, & Uncle Vanya would surely drive you around the bend.

Chekhov was writing in a Naturalist/Realist Mode, but he thought of his works as Comedies, not Tragedies.

But when they were definitively produced by Constantin Stanislavsky—at the Moscow Art Theatre—however, their Tragic Elements were laid bare.

Since those celebrated Moscow Productions, however, many directors have tried to unearth Hidden Subtexts or different ways of looking at the Plays & the Characters.

Lev Dodin—whose vision of Three Sisters was just shown at BAM—is one of the more successful Contemporary Directors to explore the Chekhovian Ouevre imaginatively. His Vanya is spare in the extreme…

Now, down at HERE, David Herskovits has staged a very spare but somewhat strange Uncle Vanya.

In the past, Your Roving Arts Reporter has been, variously, Amazed, Appalled, & Astounded at Herskovits' Re Visions of Classics from the Past with his Target Margin Theatre.

But why he chose to cast Chekhov's Russians as Multi Ethnic & Cross Gender, however, is a Mystery.

It adds nothing to our understanding of the Elemental Characters & the Basic Situation in which they find themselves Trapped.

Why should Vanya's Aged Mother be played by a Grotesquely Costumed Man? How does this Illuminate the Character or enrich the Exploration of the Plot?

Why should the Pedantic Professor—the Father of Vanya's beloved niece, Sonia—be played by a Woman, in another Gender Switch?

The Spoken Text is not actually that of Chekhov in Translation, but a Mash Up created by the Cast, which includes Modern Slang & Expletives rather out of place in a Chekhovian Countryside.

Here's a portion of what David Herskovits has written about Text Creation:

…we devoured every version we could find in English, old, new, and in between, to establish a rigorous foundation for our work. That foundation supported workshops of improvisation, free writing exercises, and structured exercises to force our cast to reforge the language in each moment. We created an enormous reservoir of dialogue, expressing the scenes multiple different ways. All this material was then culled, discarded, revised, and assembled into a cohesive draft for rehearsal. Finally, another round of editing and rewriting grew out of the formal rehearsal process.

Unfortunately, although some of the Characters speak their lines with understanding & conviction, others seem to be merely articulating carefully the words they have crafted. They do not seem to be inhabiting the People they are supposed to be…

If you do not already know Uncle Vanya—either from reading it or from seeing various productions, over the years—you may well wonder just what is going on down at HERE.

Instead of a hitting a Bulls Eye in the Heart of the Target, they do not even seem to be aiming at its Margins


Bring Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt's Fascinating Colette Collage To a Wider Audience!

The bare bones Encore staging of Chicagosans Scenery—was so successful that it transferred to Broadway, where it is still running, after many a year. It's also a Worldwide Success

Over at the York Theatre—in the bowels of the Citicorp Building—the Musicals in Mufti Series bare bones production of Colette Collage has just closed.

Like Chicago, it should attract a wider audience if it could be transferred & fleshed out for Off Broadway.

Colette is far more interesting than Roxie Hart.

Not only was she a successful Novelist, dealing in sexy situations & steamy passions—think Cherie—but she was also a consummate Performer & had herself a fascinating Love Life.

What's more, Tom Jones' Book & Lyrics—with Harvey Schmidt's Captivating Melodies—bring her story to Vibrant Life.

Especially when Colette is being embodied by the vibrant Christine Andreas!

This Mufti Musical was ingeniously staged by Michael Montel & it included such Talents as Jo Ann Cunningham, Peter Land, Patrick Lane, Bill Nolte, & Scott Willis.

This show concluded the 27th Series of Musicals in Mufti, as well as its Salute to the Musicals of Jones & Schmidt—whose epically running Fantasticks is still playing on Broadway at the Snapple Theatre.

Tom Jones was himself in the audience for the Final Performance, after which there was a Reception to which even Critics were invited.

The Lobby Walls of York Theatre were covered with Posters & Memorabilia from the Jones/Schmidt Collaboration: How about I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade, Roadside, Celebration, Harold & Maude, The

Game of Love

Other Events at the York Theatre:

There were only two performances of Villa Diodati at the York.

This is a Chamber Opera, presented by Bank Street Films, which was filming the Stage Action & Libretto & Lyrics of Mira J. Spektor & Colette Inez.

That famous Villa was the haunting Summer Rental of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, & Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein between meals…

York Theatre recently hosted Celeste Holm—one of its first Artists, before it was the York of today. She is now 95 & going strong…

Founded by the late but remarkable Janet Hayes Walker, it was initially a Theatre of the Second Chance for Musicals that had failed on Broadway.

Janet was able to convince Steve Sondheim that she should give Anyone Can Whistle a Second Chance.

For one show, Celeste Holm & Wesley Addy starred in the Nave of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, instead of the Church Hall behind, where most of the shows were mounted…


Masterworks at the Frick:

When they dug up an Antique Bronze Statue of Apollo in Cardinal della Rovere's Vineyard, little did the Diggers realize that this would become famed as the Apollo Belvedere.

The Cardinal became Pope Julius II, placing the Apollo in the Belvedere Courtyard of the Vatican.

Among those Contemporary Artists who were fascinated with this Discovery was Pier Jacopo Alari, who believed that Antique Sculpture represented the Model of Artistic Perfection.

He even adopted the name of Antico, when he began to recreate Classic Works as small bronzes.

Antico's good fortune was to win the Patronage of the Gonzagas, the Ruling Dynasty in Mantua.

The Gonzagas had no access to Ancient Statues, but they certainly could afford the smaller versions that Antico created for them.

Now, at the Frick Collection, almost three quarters of Antico's Known Works are on view—until 29 July 2012.

They include Reliefs, Medals, Statuettes, & Life Sized Busts.

Two rectangular Reliefs are especially powerful, depicting the Labors of Hercules. In one, he is lopping off the Many Heads of the Hydra—who has a Woman's Face.

There is another Woman's Face on a large bronze bust that is a fanciful Image of Cleopatra. Below the Face on the Pedestal is a tiny Snake, supposedly Cleo's Asp.

Cleopatra certainly didn't look anything like this, but no one was digging up Egyptian Antiquities in Cardinals' Vineyards.

The Heroic Marble of Nude Hercules wrestling with Anteus—a life sized Shocker for visitors to the Palazzo Pitti in Florence—Antico reproduced beautifully in miniature.

Antico's remarkable bronzes are on loan from such famed Museums as Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, Firenze's Museo Nazionale del Bargello, London's Victoria & Albert Museum, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Washington's National Gallery, & the Frick itself, which owns a fine Hercules!


This Month's Rational Ratings—

Disney's NEWSIES [★★★]



Mario Fratti's OBAMA 44

[wait for it]

Matt Charman's REGRETS [★★★]



Willy Holtzman's THE MORONI STRAD [★★★]

Dan LeFranc's THE BIG MEAL [★★★]

Gore Vidal's THE BEST MAN [


Peter Quilter's END OF THE RAINBOW [


Andy Webber & Tim Rice's EVITA [★★★★★]

Bell, Blackwell, & Bowen's NOW.HERE.THIS [


Amy Herzog's 4000 MILES [


Nicky Silver's THE LYONS [


The City Club Development LLC's THE CITY CLUB [


Richard Bean's ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS [


Tennessee Williams' A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE [


Stewart, Ballard, & Rubin's GHOST: THE MUSICAL [


The Gershwins & Joe Dipietro's NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT [★★★★]

David Auburn's THE COLUMNIST [


Leight, Slater, & Menken's LEAP OF FAITH [


Marc Camoletti's DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER [


Eric Simonson's MAGIC/BIRD [


John Corrigliano's GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES [


Tony Chekhov's THE THREE SISTERS [


The Juilliard's DON GIOVANNI [


Marlowe or Shakespeare's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM [


Tony Chekhov's UNCLE VANYA

[not rated]

Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt's COLETTE COLLAGE [★★★★★]



Hey! It's not a Book, but it could prove to be even more enjoyable!

It's not yet out in stores, but here's an "Advanced Copy, for Promotional Use Only," of Queen of the Mist!

In case you missed it—in its Initial Incarnation, down in the basement of Judson Memorial Church—this is the Forerunner of the CD of John Michael Lachiusa's admirable New Musical about the Woman Who Went Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel.

She lived to tell about this Feat & to sell Postcards at the World's Fair

Mary Testa is Superb!

How about There Is Greatness in Me for a Show Song?

It could be a Republican Campaign Song for either Mitt or Newt


Other Production Related CDs, Scripts, & Sheet Music from Broadway & Off Broadway:

In the week leading up to OCC Nominations, my Mail Box has been almost literally flooded with Big Packets from Major Theatrical Press Agents!

Among the valued CDs are Death Takes a Holiday, One Man, Two Guvnors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Bonnie & Clyde, Follies, & Once.

Lavish Lobby Programs include: Death Takes a Holiday, Follies, & Jesus Christ Superstar…

I even now have a handsome book with the Sheet Music for Death Takes a Holiday.

Here are the Playbooks for David Auburn's The Columnist, David Ives' Venus in Fur, Lydia R. Diamond's Stick Fly, One Man, Two Guvnors, Relatively Speaking, & Artie Miller's Death of a Salesman [this is the Viking Critical Library Edition, no less].

There are even a couple of Compendiums of ReviewsDeath of a Salesman merits a handsome Large Format Collection!

Once is not neglected, but the fattest of all is the Collation of Playbills, that features the Many Shows represented by the estimable Agency of Boneu/Bryan Brown.

I will have now no difficulty referencing who should be Nominated in Various Categories

Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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