GLENN LONEY'S ARTS RAMBLES
March, 2013

Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.


Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
Johnny Burke & Robert McEnroe's DONNYBROOK [****]
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Liz Flahive's THE MADRID [***]
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Amy Herzog's BELLEVILLE [*]
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At the Met Museum, A Video of NYC Street Scenes, Including the Central Park Wall on 5th Ave
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Let There Be Light at MoMA: Shadow & Light + Structure Brought to Light: Photos & Architecture.
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Light Streams into Labrouste's Bibliothèque St Geneviève: Soaring Cast Iron & Epic Windows!
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Lanford Wilson's TALLEY'S FOLLY [*****]
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Paul Down Colaizzo's REALLY REALLY [*****]
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Guillermo Calderón's NEVA [***]
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THE ART SHOW
Is 25 Years Old & Going Strong at the Armory--for the Henry Street Settlement. *
Anna Khaja's SHAHEED: THE DREAM & DEATH OF BENAZIR BHUTTO [****]
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Brooklyn Museum Art Works Win $830,625 in Christie's First Open Sale!
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Andy Warhol Online Only Sale Achieves Only $2.3 Million
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At the Frick: The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse Lautrec--Art from the Clark
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Go MAD & You Get THE MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE
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Rodgers & Hammerstein & Douglas Carter Beane's CINDERELLA [*****]
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Holland Taylor's ANN [***]
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Bill Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe's HENRY IV, PART I [*****]
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Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM [*****]
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David Henry Hwang's THE DANCE & THE RAILROAD [*****]
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Craig Lucas' THE LYING LESSON [***]
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Handsome Thomas Hampson's Masterful Master Class at MSM: Breathe, Don't Belt
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A Whale of a Show at the American Museum: Not Barnum's Version, but Real Natural History!
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Annie Baker's THE FLICK [****]
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Evenings at the Opera: Although Banned at the Met, a Blessed Reprieve from Belgium!
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Charles Gounod's FAUST [****]
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Riccardo Zandonai's FRANCESCA DA RIMINI [****]
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Giuseppe Verdi's LA TRAVIATA [****]
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Giuseppe Verdi's OTELLO [****]
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Vit Horejs' KING EXECUTIONER [****]
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Karlheinz Stockhausen's OKTOPHONIE [****]
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Wright, Greene, & Anastasio's HANDS ON HARDBODY [***]
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Lanford Wilson's THE MOUND BUILDERS [*****]
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More Millions Earned at Christie's: Asian Art Week Sales Total $80.4 Million!
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Futures at Christie's: Imperial Russian Fabergé & The Collection of the Duchess of Alba!
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Jacques Offenbach's ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS [not rated]
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Nora Ephron's LUCKY GUY [**]
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Richard Greenberg's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S [*]
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Cyndi Lauper & Harvey Fierstein's KINKY BOOTS [*****]
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THIS WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS

The Ides of March weren't so bad this year: Julius Caesar wasn't stabbed in Wall Street by a Consortium of Concerned Citizens.

Unfortunately, following the 15 March Ides, the 17 March St Paddy's Day Parade got rained on.

The Annual Easter Parade--which changes Months from year to year--had only a Misty Sprinkling.

But, Rain or Shine, Determined Producers continued to Open New Shows, both on Broadway & Off & Off Off & even Over in New Jersey!

Ever been to the Paper Mill Playhouse?

As April approached, astonishing numbers of Shows were opening, rather like all those Last Minute Movie Premieres before the Oscar Voting.

From now until 21 April--when the Outer Critics Circle Nominators meet to select The Select--we won't have an Evening or a Matinée free.

It could be Worse: imagine Actually Paying for Aisle Seats!

 

PASSING GLANCES AT SCENES SEEN:

 

Johnny Burke & Robert McEnroe's DONNYBROOK [****]

The Quiet Man Sings Again! Irish Rep Offers Rousing Revival of Jack Cole's Broadway Flop

It was a Great Day for the Irish: 18 May 1961--or at least for Irish Americans--for Donnybrook opened on Broadway.

Eagerly anticipated by Fans of the John Ford Film, The Quiet Man, it had a book by Bob McEnroe--who wrote The Silver Whistle--with a lilting Irish Inflected Score by Johnny Burke.

But what most excited Ticket Buyers in the know was that this New Musical was not only to be Choreographed by the dynamic Jack Cole, but would also be his Debut as a Broadway Director.

Unfortunately, despite Cole's Trip to Ireland--to learn more about the Lives, Hopes, Dreams, Customs, Houses, Superstitions, & Dances of the Lively Peasants of Innisfree--& warm, welcoming Reviews, especially for Cole's Choreography, sad to say, Donnybrook had only 68 Performances at the 46th Street Theatre.

Who Knows?

Perhaps, had Johnny Mercer, instead of Johnny Burke, crafted the Score & drafted the Lyrics, & someone other than McEnroe devised the Book--who now remembers The Silver Whistle?--the Outcome might have been different

What was once the 46th Street Theatre was to become The Richard Rodgers Theatre, so maybe Rodgers & Hammerstein should have been summoned?

If you'd like to know more about the First Ever Production of Donnybrook, check out pp. 164 5 in Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer Choreographer Jack Cole.

I can Strongly Recommend it because I wrote it

But, not only for that Reason, I rushed off to the Irish Rep, where Founder/Artistic Director Charlotte Moore has staged a small scale but excellent Revival of Donnybrook.

Even if you are not Remotely Irish, Irish Rep Productions are always rewarding, even though the Stage Space is very confining.

Nonetheless, Set Designer James Noone has created a Revolving House that ingeniously opens up to reveal Two Interiors.

Both Inside & Outside, the Innesfree Irish feel free to Dance & to Drink

But what they really all love is a Rough & Tumble Donnybrook!

Unfortunately for them & for Bride to Be Mary Kate Danaher [the admirable Jenny Powers], her Man won't fight her Truculent Brother, Will Danaher [Ted Koch] for the 300 in Gold that is her Rightful Dowry.

The imposing Sean Enright [James Barbour] has quit Professional Boxing in Pittsburgh because he killed a man in a Bout.

So he has returned to Innisfree, where he was born, to lead a new & Quiet Life, preferably with a Lovely Young Wife beside him.

But Kate is a Handful, so he finally has to knock down her Brother--who goes Down for the Count with a wonderfully astonished Look on His Face

This is a Delightful Show, not to be missed, especially because it has so many fine Actor/Singer/Dancers in action on that Tiny Stage.

 

Liz Flahive's THE MADRID [***]

Surprize! Surprize! Some Married Adults Are Uncomfortble in Their Relationships!

The Madrid is not a new kind of Hip Hop Spanish Dance

No. It is a Run down Building of grungy Studio Apartments.

This is where Martha [played by Edie Falco, but not in Uniform] flees, after disappearing from her presumably Happy Home, after a Bad Day at the School where she teaches, somewhat unhappily.

The new Family Drama at MTC's Basement Venue opens with her Angry Daughter & her Baffled Husband selling off the Contents of their Formerly Happy Home.

But the Red Canoe does not sell in the Yard Sale, contrary to the expectations of the Abandoned Husband/Father & Deserted Daughter.

Martha's Distraught Daughter is working at Starbucks, where Martha finally makes contact, inviting her to The Madrid. She seems to be Tending Bar & running Open Mike Night, fulfilled at last!

The Solicitous Next Door Neighbors are having Domestic Problems as well--not improved by having a Disastrously Retarded Son

Then there's the wonderful Veteran Actress, Frances Sternhagen, as Rose--not exactly Second Hand, but not thriving in the Old Peoples' Home.

Although The Madrid is--as an Apartment Complex, incredibly Cheap--as a Play, it seems much longer than its Shakespearean Two Hours Traffic of the MTC's David Zinn Designed Stage.

In fact, The Madrid is, in effect, a Made for TV Reality Family Drama: all Six Segments crammed into One Disenchanted Evening

Martha has some Real Problems!

What she needs is Nurse Jackie!

 

Amy Herzog's BELLEVILLE [*]

Two Unhinged Americans in Paris: Surrender Your Passports, Please!

The very next day, after slogging through The Madrid & its Dysfunctional Couples the night before, I suffered--for what seemed an Intermission less Eternity--the apparent Death Agonies of an even more seriously Disturbed Couple: Abby & Zack, Young Americans in Paris, with Four Months Rent Unpaid on their Top Floor Apartment in Belleville.

There was no need for a Senior Assisted Hearing Device because Abby [played by a ditzy Maria Dizzia]--an Hysterical, Meds Overdosing Heiress--began at her Vocal & Emotional Top

Taken together, seeing Madrid & Belleville was rather like working Two Weeks as an Orderly at the Mayo Clinic!

Perhaps because Amy Herzog had done so well with her After the Revolution--which I admired very much, or its Sequel, 4000 Miles, which I didn't much like--she was Commissioned, in 2007, by the Yale Rep, to Write a New Play.

At the end of that year, Herzog went off to Paris, where she "discovered" Belleville.

Her Belleville Inspired Drama underwent a variety of Sea Changes, finally being mounted by Yale Rep in 2011, staged by Anne Kauffman.

On 22 January 2013, the First Rehearsal took place down on East Fourth Street, at the New York Theatre Workshop.

The Intellectual Critic of the NY Times, Charles Isherwood, has called Belleville: "Thrillingly Good A Nail Biting Psychological Thriller."

I was really Biting My Nails, for I feared I'd not make it to the Mens' Room in time, with No Intermission

Several Fellow Critics said Herzog's Doomed Americans should have been in Bellevue--a Manhattan Facility for Reality Challenged People--instead of Belleville.

 

At the Met Museum, A Video of NYC Street Scenes, Including the Central Park Wall on 5th Ave

In the Black Void of the Large Central Chamber of the Met's Galleries for Drawings, Prints, & Photographs, a Rapt Audience of Art Critics sat Spell Bound as they watched some Random People walking by the Fifth Avenue Central Park Retaining Wall--which they could have seen With Their Own Eyes if they were to walk out of the Met & down to East 78th Street & Fifth

I see a Section of This Wall every day as I wait for MTA Buses that never come.

London Born James Nares had the Idea--imitating those Google Map People--to film People on NYC Streets with an HD Camera in a SUV, editing the Resulting Footage into a 61 Minute High Definition Video, which now belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

To flesh out this Odd Show, Nares went into the Met Vaults & plundered Objects & Images which he imagined had some sort of Connection with Streets, if not Street People

Yes, we do have Walker Evans' Photos of Depression Men who could be Out standing in a Street.

But we also have a Limestone Section of an Ancient Egyptian Carving, featuring a Row of Ladies with Great Pre Afro Hairdo's.

Could or should one imagine these Demi Cleoptras standing in the Streets of Alexandria or Giza?

But why not let the Met explain its Rationale this Show itself--with some Editing to avoid Total Textual Boredom?

Street, a new Video by Artist James Nares, will have its New York Premiere as the Centerpiece of an Exhibition by the same name at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, from March 5 through May 27, 2013. A Recent Acquisition of the Museum, the mesmerizing 61 minute high definition Video--which was shot on the Streets of Manhattan, over the Course of a Week, in September 2011--will be shown continuously on a Large Screen in the Central Gallery of the Museum's Drawings, Prints, & Photographs Galleries.

The Exhibition Street will also include 77 Works of Art--selected by the Artist from the Met's Encyclopedic Collections--that situate his Video in relation to Earlier Works that capture the Spirit of the Street.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, said: "James Nares' Street is a Microcosm of Contemporary New York that makes accessible the Countless Individual Moments, Gestures, & Interactions that are normally Too Fleeting to take in all at once. Because its Underlying Subject is People, Street is also fascinating to view in a[n] Historical Context.

"The Relevant Works of Art that Nares selected from across [why not "from among"?] the Met's Vast Holdings range from a Striding Figure, made in Sumer, around 3000 BC, to Walker Evans' Jars of Pull Tabs & Bottle Caps, pocketed off the Sidewalk. These Works are Eclectic & Often Surprising, & provide a True Lesson in Close Looking, across Geographic & Temporal Boundaries."

James Nares commented: "My Video, New York, & the Met are all tied together for me. I moved here in 1974, & since then, I have come to this Museum regularly--like most Artists I know--to Refuel Creatively & to be Surprised, Challenged, & Inspired. Street is a Piece that I've wanted to make since coming here--a Love Letter to my Adopted Home. So, to be able to 'raid the icebox,' as [Andy] Warhol once put it, & gather around My Work all these Old Friends & New Acquaintances, is One of the Happiest Occasions of My Career."

To make Street, Nares shot 16 Hours of Footage, with a High Speed Camera that is normally used from a Stationary Position to capture Fleeting Subjects, such as Hummingbirds & Speeding Bullets, at a Rate of between 500 & 1000 Frames per Second. Nares reversed this Process by positioning the Camera to Film out the Back & Sides of a Moving SUV. He recorded his Footage in Six Second Snippets, the Maximum Length of Time that the Camera can record at such a High Resolution. He then greatly slowed his Source Material, & edited down the Results to 61 Minutes of Steady Continuous Motion--which, if Shown in Real Time, would last Only Three Minutes. Nares' Friend, Guitarist, & Sonic Youth Co Founder, Thurston Moore, composed & performed the Video's Musical Score on a 12 String Acoustic Guitar.

So much for Text Editing. Here is the remainder of the Press Release as it appeared on the Preview CD:

"The street and street life have served as inspiration for painters and poets, filmmakers, and photographers since the birth of modernity. Nares' inspiration for the film came from viewing actualité films by the turn of the century pioneers of cinema Auguste and Louis Lumière and Thomas Edison--who themselves used the moving image technology that they invented to magically capture the street life of their own time. In the early stages of the development of Street, the artist considered subtitling the piece 'A film to be viewed 100 years from now'; this desire to record the present, as if from a great distance in the future, resonates with earlier chroniclers of the street, such as Walker Evans. Nares' inventive use of the most modern technology available at the time of production resulted in a distinctive visual look that harkens back to the simulated three dimensional effects of 19th century stereographs, while also being utterly up to date in its evocation of increasingly isolated, virtual, and image suffused existence in the 21st century."

About the Artist:

James Nares (born London, 1953) lives & works in New York. His Oeuvre encompasses Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Film, & Video. In his Paintings, he seeks to capture the Very Moments in which he is creating them; Individual Paintings are most frequently made in single

Here, the Press Release failed to Copy Further on this Software.

 

Let There Be Light at MoMA: Shadow & Light + Structure Brought to Light: Photos & Architecture.

Bill Brandt's Lights & Shadows in Shadow & Light: British Lives from 1930s Onward

Bill Brandt worked for a while in the Paris Studio of the noted Surrealist Photographer, Man Ray.

Initially, Ray's Images of Female Nude Backsides--with Violin 's on them--didn't seem to affect his Brit Based Subject Matter.

Indeed, he made his name, in the Depression Era 1930s, with interesting shots of Real People, doing Real Things: a Chamber Maid "drawing a bath," an East End Girl, doing The Lambeth Walk

His almost Documentary Images of Londoners during the "Blitz" provide a valuable record: Masses sleeping in the Tubes of the Underground. Fortunately, No Trains in sight--

Brandt could be called the Annie Liebowitz of his day, but, unlike Annie, with her elaborately staged Celebrity Portraits--although he was also shooting on assignment for Major British Publications--many of his Images seem more like Candid Camera: caught in an instant, the Subjects often unaware.

The MoMA Brandt Retrospective is divided into Six Sections: 1930s London; Depressed Workers, Factories, & Pits in Northern England; Britain in World War II; Portraits; Landscapes, & Nudes.

That last Section suggests that what he learned from Man Ray finally paid off.

On Assignment, Brandt photographed such Notables as Francis Bacon, Harold Pinter, Martin Amis, Vanessa Redgrave, Tom Stoppard, Dylan Thomas, Henry Moore, Evelyn Waugh, & Barbara Hepworth.

None of these looks as contrived as Annie Liebowitz Celebrities

My Favorite is Brandt's Portrait of Edith Sitwell & her brother, Sir Osbert. But not only because I wrote my MA Thesis on Sitwell & her Synaesthesiac Poetry.

Brandt was much admired for his Darkroom Work, achieving the best Print Effect from his Negatives.

Curators have made every effort to find the best quality Brandt Prints for this show.

Because Brandt's Work is regarded as so Influential, interesting Images--made by some Contemporaries & a variety of Those Who Came After--extend this Exhibition into Neighboring Galleries.

 

Light Streams into Labrouste's Bibliothèque St Geneviève: Soaring Cast Iron & Epic Windows!

Until the Advent of the Innovative Parisian Architect, Henri Labrouste, most Libraries were primarily fairly Dark Places, where Books & Manuscripts were preserved, safely saved from Damaging Sunlight.

Using New Industrial Technology, Labrouste flooded the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève with Light, filling the Outside Wall of the Vast Long Reading Room with Immense Windows, but also providing a Gas Lighting System, so Parisians could come to Read & Research, even in the evenings!

Central to Labrouste's Structural System for Sainte Geneviève & also for the even larger Bibliothèque Nationale, were his use of Iron, Cast Iron, Ceramics, & Glass.

Before the creation of Iron that could bear Heavy Loads--think of Iron bridge, in England!--Stone, Bricks, Mortar, & Wood were the Primary Materials of Construction.

In the Great Square Reading Room of the Bibliothèque Nationale, a Sense of Immense Open Space & Cascades of Light is created by Labrouste's use of Four Slim 33 Foot High Iron Columns, which hold aloft Nine Square Domed Bays, crowned by Ceramic Vaults!

Although there are Design Elevations & Photographs of Noble Buildings that were either designed by Labrouste or influenced by his Practice--including the Boston Public Library, a McKim, Mead, & White Design--it seems Odd that the Long Ago Demolished Pennsylvania Station has not been included

Early in his career, Labrouste spent time in Rome & elsewhere on the Italian Peninsula, studying Ancient Roman Ruins & Greek Temples: the Sea Faring Greeks built some in Paestum. Even Etruscan Tombs fascinated Labrouste.

Not only did this ground him in the Essences of the Elements of Classical Architecture--long Colonnades of Classic Columns, for instance--it also impressed him with the Delicacy, Geometry, & Color of the Ornamentation & Decoration used by both Greece & Rome.

The Drawings of Classical Sites that he made are remarkable in their Simplicity & Elementality, quite unlike the Elaborate 19th Century Renderings of the Actual Ruins made by his Contemporaries.

[Many of these Drawings had, for me, a Special Interest, for I had myself made a point of visiting them & photographing them in detail, when I was stationed in Naples, teaching at NATO HQ, in Pozzuoli, a Site featured in Labrouste's Ouevre.]

Not only does Structure Brought to Light flood into many MoMA Galleries, but it is also enhanced by a number of Wide Screen Monitors, with Looped Images, or even Touch Screens for Self Selection.

Most impressive of all, however, are the actual Architectural Building Models, themselves Models of the Artists' Craft of Model Building.

The Construction Methods involved in both the Bibliothèques are wonderfully detailed in Excellent Models, as is the more practical Interior Construction & External Decoration of the Menier Chocolate Factory.

The Most Amazing Model is the Many Vaulted & Domed Project for a Public Great Hall, a Visionary Creation of Anatole de Baudet, not a Labrouste Confection.

Had this actually been constructed--had the Suspended Vaults been able to be realized--this would be one of France's Biggest Tourist Attractions

No Matter: Paris still has stunning Labroustes for all to see!

Lanford Wilson's TALLEY'S FOLLY [*****]

Sally Talley in Her Folly: Should a Well Bred Southern Girl Run Away with an Ost Jüde?

Both Danny Burstein & Sarah Paulson are both Superb & Heartbreaking in Roundabout's Revival of Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly.

Matt Friedman has survived Pogroms & Anti Semitic Horrors, both in Eastern Europe & in France, before & during The War To End Wars.

Now America is in the thick of World War II, but he has not enlisted, which makes Sally Talley wonder about his dedication to his Adopted Country.

But there is a Bigger Problem in his Curious Courtship of the reluctant Sally: He is not only Older; He Is Jewish!

How Matt finally wins Sally is well worth the Seeing & Hearing: Danny Burstein is a Force of Nature as he initially wows the Audience & eventually dazzles Sally.

Jeff Cowie has designed a Spectacular Gazebo/Boathouse Folly, which almost upstages the Romantic Sparring of Matt & Sally.

Sally's Unseen Talley Family are Old South--even here in Missouri, on the Long Compromised Border--with Textile Factories to protect from Rapacious Workers, with their Unfair Demands on Capitalist Work Providers.

An Illness has prevented Sally from ever bearing Children, so she is no longer of any Value to her Family, in joining Two Fabric Fortunes.

Reading Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class got Sally fired from teaching Sunday School.

Matt sees Real Value in a Woman with such a Frame of Mind: Sally is the One for him!

So much so, that Matt values vibrant Verbal Volleys in the Valley of Sally Talley's somewhat silly Folly

Michael Wilson orchestrated [directed] their Passions

Paul Down Colaizzo's REALLY REALLY [*****]

College at Mid Term Time Isn't What It Used to Be: Life Equations Changed Overnight

When I look back at life at Bowles Hall, at UC/Berkeley, way back in 1948, I have to realize that Student Sexual Interaction has really, really changed

Our Fraternity/Sorority Mixers were tame Tea Parties, compared with the Wild Partying in Really Really--which results, among other Shockers, in a Miscarriage.

David Cromer fiercely directed a Hyper Charged Cast: Lauren Culpepper, Zosia Mamet, Kobi Libii, David Hull, Matt Lauria, Evan Jonigkeit, & Aleque Reid.

Some of these Crazy Conflicted Kids, it seemed, were destined to be FLA--not Florida, but Future Leaders of America.

I was content with being an FFA, or a Future Farmer of America.

That obviously didn't Work Out

 

Guillermo Calderón's NEVA [***]

The Secret Life of Olga Knipper Chekhova: If Anton Were Alive, He'd Just Die

Ich sterbe Ich sterbe

Those were the Last Words of Russia's Great Playwright, Anton Chekhov.

He was in a Sanitorium in Badenweiler, where he had hoped for a Cure from his Terminal Tuberculosis

I'm dying I'm dying

If Chekhov could only see what Guillermo Calderón has done with his Last Words--as well as with his Widowed Wife, Olga Knipper Chekhova--he'd die all over again.

But Neva is not only about the Death of Chekhov, his Wife's removal to St. Petersburg, the Moscow Art Theatre, the 1905 Bloody Sunday Massacre, the Resultant Russian Revolution, the Stanislavsky Method, but it is also about the River Neva, into which Russian Tragic Heroines so often jump.

That certainly happens at the close of Queen of Spades, but that Plot is not included in Calderón's Hysterical & Hilarious Farce Trio logy, that is a Metaphoric Omelet of Russian Social History & Drama at the Jahrhundertwende.

At the center of this Metaphoric Stew is the tempestuous Moscow Art Theatre Star, German Born Olga Knipper, the rather younger wife of Anton Chekhov, who seems to have recently died, leaving her grieving but free to move to Petersburg & the Neva.

The entire Production--at the Public Theatre--has been staged himself by this famed Chilean Playwright. It is played on a small central Platform, with a Great Chair for the Great Actress, now giving some terrifying Lessons & Examples of The Acting Craft.

Bus Delays prevented me from witnessing the Opening Minutes, but when I did enter, high up, in back, I saw Three Performers writhing in front of what looked like either a Space Heater or a Tele Prompter.

Free Standing Space Heaters didn't seem quite right for The Period, but that, indeed, was what it seemed to be, while it was also made to seem the Sole Source of Illumination for Checkhova [a frenetic Bianca Amato], Aleko [Luke Robertson], & Masha [Quincy Tyler Bernstein], who couldn't seem to decide whether she was a Character from a Play by Chekhov or Christopher Durang

What is that Holocaust Survivors are fond of saying? Never Again!

But here, at the Public, it's Neva! Again & Again!

The Public Audience laughed heartily, so I must have missed something

Or was it, perhaps, that I was once a Student of The Stanislavsky Method--at UC/Berkeley--where I studied with the Heirs of Maria Ouspenskaya.

I also directed Anton Chekhov's The Boor for my Thesis Production.

In the Play Text of this Three Hander, the Tzar is blamed for the Bloody Sunday Deaths of Peaceful Protest Marchers.

In the Wake of the recent Sandy Hook Shootings, perhaps we should remember, Historically Speaking, that Russki Tzars don't kill People; Sabers & Muskets kill people--especially in Petersburg in 1905

Who knew--aside from Guillermo Calderón, perhaps--that it would one day be called Leningrad!

What is it about Chekhov as a Playwright, with Other Playwrights?

No less an American Eminence than Neil Simon once honored Anton with The Good Doctor.

But this could have been viewed, instead, as a Love Letter to Marsha Mason--who would become "Doc" Simon's Second Wife.

Mason--as an innocent young Country Girl, who has just fallen in love with The Theatre--gets to Try Out with three Important Chekhov Verbal Arias.

The Marriage didn't work out. Chekhov did die in Badenweiler.

But Chekhov is still very much Alive. Metaphorically Speaking

 

THE ART SHOW Is 25 Years Old & Going Strong at the Armory--for the Henry Street Settlement.

Almost Everything was On the Table at the Park Avenue Armory for the Annual ADAA ART SHOW.

Actually, On the Table was the Title of a Collection of Wonderfully Bizarre Sculptures by John Newman, presented on a long narrow white table in the Booth of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

There are a lot of Dealer & Gallery Shows at the Armory in any year, but this is really The Show of Shows.

Not only were the Historic Corridors, Lobbies, & Ornate Chambers of the Armory ablaze with Banners, Posters, & Color in General, but there were fascinating Booths set up by no less than 72 of America's Leading Art Dealers.

Forty of the Booths were devoted to Solo Artists, but there were also 32 Thematic Presentations. This exactly adds up to 72!

So No Member of the Art Dealers Association of America--or ADAA--had a Booth that was just a Collection of Rag Tag Artworks it had brought to Manhattan from, say, San Francisco or Chicago

Most Impressive, however, were the Works of Wim Delvoye, especially his Scale Model of a

Caterpillar Bulldozer, which looked, at first glance, to be constructed from a Gothic Erector Set.

Indeed, the Laser Cut Steel Elements are modeled on Gothic Cathedrals, with both Arches & Lancets.

Delvoye has done the same Cathedralizing for a Scale Model of an Industrial Issue Concrete Mixer: just think of Chartres or Notre Dame full of Industrial Grade Cement!

But that's not nearly all the Artistic Arrows that Delvoye has in his Artist Quiver: How about a Tattooed & Taxidermied Pig, named Eugénie?

Not to overlook some drawings from Delvoye's Cloaca Series--inspired by his Unforgettable Sculptural Machine that simulated the Human Digestive System, manufacturing Excrement--vulgarly known as Shit--from Food

This Industrial Monstrosity so impressed Katharina Wagner & Eva Wagner Pasquier--the Sister Act running the annual Bayreuth Festival--that it filled that Hallowed Stage for the current production of Tannhäuser!

Delvoye hails from Ghent, in Flemish Belgium--which was once the Spanish Netherlands--so he knows about Cathedrals

You don't have to go to Flanders to admire his Genius, however. The wonderful Objects on view at the Armory can easily be seen down on the Bowery, at the Sperone Westwater Gallery.

So Many Booths. So Little Time

But the Photo Experiments of Eadweard Muybridge--rotating madly to create the impression of Continuous Looped Movement--were an Astonishment at the Laurence Miller Gallery.

Muybridge got his start, thanks to California's Governor, Leland Stanford--when he used Stop Motion Photography to discover whether All Four of the Hooves of Stanford's Prize Thoroughbred, Occident, were ever completely off the ground at the same time.

This Experiment led to a Stop Action Commission from the University of Pennsylvania: Men, Women, Children, Horses, & Animals in the Philadelphia Zoo!

The Gallery has a fine example of the Published Portfolio. If you want to know more, check out: LaurenceMillerGallery.com

But you can also see these Photo Series outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they are reproduced on Waterproof Panels, which conceal from the General Public the Construction of Multi Million Dollar Fountains, which will further Memorialize the Fabled Generosity of David H. Koch, who has renamed the New York State Theatre--a Gift to the City, during the 1964/5 World's Fair--to Honor the Name of David H. Koch!

Almost reminds one of Shelly's Ozymandias: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty of the Earth & despair!

Oh! Not to Forget: The ADAA Gala + an attendant Art Auction are always for the Benefit of the Henry Street Settlement. This is not one of those West Bank Settlements, but a relict of attempts to relieve Manhattan Immigrant Misery down on the Lower East Side.

The Settlement House Complex is now the Abrons Arts Center, where Woodie King once had his New Federal Theatre.

But Woodie could no longer pay the Rent on the Settlement House Theatre, so he's now over on New 42, at the Castillio Center

 

Anna Khaja's SHAHEED: THE DREAM & DEATH OF BENAZIR BHUTTO [****]

Assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistani Patriot Benazir Bhutto Lives Again

Former Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a Lot to Answer for:

Did you know that she sent Former Pakistani Premiere Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan, where she faced almost Certain Death?

Bhutto was a Beautiful Pawn in America's Worldwide Great Game of Thrones

Currently, down at the Culture Project, at 45 Bleecker Street, the remarkable Anna Khaja is bringing Benazir back to life--only to kill her off again, at the close of Shaheed, which she also wrote.

Considering that B B's Father, Zulficar Ali Bhutto--an earlier Pakistani Premier--was betrayed a Power Hungry Associate & Hanged, Harvard & Oxford Educated Benazir Bhutto might have Thought Twice about seeking Election as Premier herself?

But that's why her Father sent her to the Best American & British Universities: he wanted her prepared to Carry on the Battle to Democratize & Stabilize the "First Islamic Republic," an Untimely Creation of the British Partition of India

In fact, B B was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan: both times dismissed by the then Presidents of Pakistan.

The fact that her father--Zulficar Ali--bore both the Name of the Mythical Sword & that of its Owner, the Imam Ali, meant that the Bhuttos were Shiites, deathly enemies of the Sunnis in a Politically Created Country, with no Long Traditions of its own

In the immediate aftermath of her Father's Execution, B B was arrested & put into Solitary Confinement. Following that Ordeal, she remained under House Arrest, until 1984.

Not exactly Nelson Mandela, but still

The Action of Shaheed takes place entirely on 27 December 2007: the Fatal Day that B B was Murdered in her Motorcade.

Was the Weapon a Baby wrapped in Explosives

With a Folding Screen, a few Props, & some Costume Changes, Anna Khaja plays Eight Roles, one of them Secretary of State Rice, who regards both B B & herself as Women of Color who have Something to Prove.

Khaja's performances are effective, but--unless one had read the Program thoroughly beforehand--it was not immediately clear who Sara, Daphne Barak, Quasim, Shamsher, & Afshan actually were.

The Charge was made by Some--who had Axes to Grind, or who were Observing only from a

Safe Distance--that the Bhutto Family was Corrupt!

It is made clear, however, that without an Intimate Knowledge of How Things Really Work in "Emerging Third World Nations," No one, not even Benazir Bhutto, could have achieved what she hoped for her Country.

This was a Great Loss--not only for Pakistan--of a Remarkable Woman Leader.

 

Brooklyn Museum Art Works Win $830,625 in Christie's First Open Sale!

No! It was a Mistake!

The Brooklyn Museum was not getting rid of Superfluous Art Works in Christie's recent Open Sale!

Instead, 23 Artists donated their Works to raise Money for the Museum's Artists Space Program, which is designed to encourage & exhibit Young Brooklyn Artists.

Richard Serra is not exactly a Brooklyn Artist--he now Belongs to the World!--but his After, a work on paper, brought $218,500 at auction. This money surely can help some Young Emerging Artist in Park Slope, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn Heights, or even Brooklyn College!

But the Open Sale was not just a kind of Benefit for the Brooklyn Museum: Major Works from Important Artists were also On the Block,

Even some Small Sized Abstract Expressionists did well: A Total of One Million Dollars for works by Mark Tobey, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, & Richard Pousette Dart.

Held in a Private Collection & Unseen for Twenty Years--except, of course, by its Private Collector--Gerhard Richter's Ohne Titel was bought for $782,500.

This Work on Paper is regarded as "among the most ambitiousin Richter's Oeuvre, in terms of both Scale & Execution."

Although Ohne Titel may sound Darkly Mysterious, it's merely German for Untitled, one of the Most Popular Titles for Modern Artworks ever

The Total of Totals for this First Open Sale was a gratifying $12.3 Million!

 

Andy Warhol Online Only Sale Achieves Only $2.3 Million

Considering the Staggering Millions Andy Warhol's Works have won at recent Christie's Auctions, it may seem disappointing that the first Online Only Sale of Andy Warhol @ Christie's--a kind of Brand Name for the contract Christie's has with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, selling off most of the Archives--did not earn more.

Not to worry: there were not all that many Lots for Sale--unlike the recent Major Major Warhol Sale at Christie's--but many of the Unique Drawings & Paintings had not been seen widely, if at all, before.

Some of the Works were on view at Christie's before the Sale, but all were On View On Line.

These attracted some 65,000 Website Visitors & 263 Bidders, with more than 1,500 Bids from 36 Countries. The Lots were 99% sold.

On Line Sales may well be the Wave of the Future.

For some First Time Bidders, this was also the First Time they had ever seen some of Andy's off hand Sketches & his Candid Photos of such Buddies as Bob Rauschenberg.

You do not now have to come to Christie's in Manhattan or in London to look at the Artworks & make a Bid

In April 2013, the next Andy Warhol @ Christie's Sale will feature "Andy's Legacy at the Infamous Nightclub Studio 54."

Google Christie's to find out What's Up!

 

At the Frick: The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse Lautrec--Art from the Clark

If New Yorkers cannot drive up to Williamstown to enjoy the Collections of the Clark Art Institute, then some of the finest French Impressionist Drawings & Prints from the Clark have come down to New York.

There are 58 works on view, including some delightful sketches Edgar Degas made of Horses--Thoroughbreds, like his Ballet Girls--as well as an impressive quasi classical drawing he made when a student at the École de Beaux Arts.

The Exhibition focuses only on Works on Paper, but with special attention to the Changes being brought about in the latter half of the 19th Century in Subject Matter, Composition, Renderings

Millet is cited for Expressive Execution, rather than Virtuosity: see The Sower.

Pisarro challenges the Notions of Finish

Gauguin experiments with Printmaking Techniques: How about Zincography?

But Henri de Toulouse Lautrec develops such skills in Lithography that his subtle Line & Coloration in Posters & Prints of Music Hall & Cabaret Stars become almost Universally Collectible.

What would you rather have: an Original Degas Sketch of a Horse? Or a Signed Lithograph Poster of Jane Avril?

 

Go MAD & You Get THE MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE

OK!

So it's High Time to Move On beyond Old Fashioned Museums!

Looking very Far Ahead, it may well be that the THE MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE will be able to be Viewed on Your Wrist Watch, where you will also see Major Met Opera Productions & Sports Events.

In the meantime, however, a variety of Young Artist Designer Imagineers have conspired over at MAD on Columbus Circle--where Chris Columbus was recently at home to Visitors--to show us how Things Will Be, once we have got over staring at Old Masters on Pristine Walls.

In What Me Worry? 2013, Aaron Anderson & Eric Timothy Carlson have moved MAD Director Holly Hotchner's Directorial Chair from Her Office to the Second Floor, where Visitors are supposedly able to sit in it & Play Director, but limited by the Chair's Actual & Symbolic Attachment to the Wall by a Cable.

Unfortunately, at the Press Preview, one could not sit in it, as it was Festooned with Balloons & protected by some Floor Tapes, implying Keep Out or Keep Off

Nearby was a Standard Issue Picnic Table with Seats set on its Trusses.

Part of its Title is Colored Wood & Shape Benefit, 2013.

Once again, Aaron Anderson & Eric Timothy Carlson have come to the rescue of Antiquated Museums by producing an Aestheticized Utilitarian Object: They have saturated the Wood of the Table with Colors!

Now--to more or less Quote--This Form serves as a Meeting place & represents the Role of a Museum as a Point where Various Communities can Communicate, Blend their Ideas, & Enrich their Cultures

Well, you Get the Idea. If not, get on over to MAD!

Also on the Second Floor: some Super Modern Jewelry, including a wonderfully wispy Garlic Necklace--very good for warding off Vampires, unless, of course, they are Handsome Young Post Teen Artist Designers!

Rodgers & Hammerstein & Douglas Carter Beane's CINDERELLA [*****]

Stuart Weitzman Made Cinderella's Glass Slippers! Talk about Product Placement!

"The Prince has Beautiful Balls," enthuses one of the Lavishly Clad Guests at the charmingly choreographed Festivity in the Fabulous Production of Cinderella, now at the Broadway Theatre.

Unfortunately, the Enthusiastic Standing Ovation Audience only gets to see One of the Prince's Balls.

There is also a Princely Banquet, later on, but that's Off Stage, possibly because this Lavishly Produced Musical Revival already has Too Many Props to take care of

Although there is more than just a hint of previous Richard Rodgers Scores--Think Shall We Dance, from The King & I--Mark Brokaw's scintillating staging of Cinderella is like a Revival Compendium of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Greatest Hits.

With Production Values to spare

Who but Multi Award Winning Costume Designer William Ivey Long could have created so many

Dazzling Ball Gowns & Richly Royal Apparel?

Could any Broadway Set Designer other than Anna Louizos conjure up a Forest that seems often On the Move, with Little Animals popping out of Holes where Branches once were?

Laura Osnes is a lovely, compassionate Cinderella, with Victoria Clark an often Airborne Fairy Godmother.

Their Instant Transformations--from Rags to Riches--are astonishing, thanks to Long's Genius & some ingenious Stage Craft.

Turning the Pumpkin into a Fairy Coach was also an Astonishment, as was the Transformation of Woodland Animals & Mice into Coachmen & Horses--who were wonderfully articulated by what seemed to be Bicycle like Pedal Power

[Many years ago, in a London Christmas Pantomime, the Fairy Godmother said: "Cinderella, run quickly to do my Bidding! Bring me a Pumpkin! I'm going to make you a Fairy Coach!"

[Cinderella, who seemed to be an East Ender, responded: "What's 'e goin' to teach me?"]

Santino Fontana--who looks a bit like a Fairy Prince in his elegant costumes--was charming as the Prince, who learns to take an interest in His People, from which he previously has been dissuaded by his Regent Advisor, Sebastian [the wonderfully pompous Peter Bartlett].

In the end, even Cinderella's Two Unkind Step Sisters & their Doting Mother turn out to be Not So Bad, after all

Watching Josh Rhodes' Old Fashioned Choreographies brought back Wonderful Memories of the Good Old Days of Broadway Musicals!

How about bringing back some of those Agnes de Mille Choreographies for Landmark Rodgers & Hammerstein Musicals?

The late Lee Theodore used to do that with The American Dance Machine

 

Unnecessary Speculation:

Did you know that the Original French Cinderella did not have Glass Slippers?

No, indeed! In French, the Slippers were of Fur--once long ago denoted by a now Archaic word that sounded a bit like Verre, which means Glass. So Cinderella really had Fur Slippers!

PETA Alert!

Nonetheless, if you are looking for French Words that sound a bit like Verre, how about Fer, which means Iron?

Consider the somewhat similar Furrier & Ferrier: A Ferrier puts Iron Shoes on Horses.

Imagine Cinderella with Iron Shoes? No Way

Holland Taylor's ANN [***]

Too Bad for Texans That They Now Have Governor Rick Perry--Instead of Ann Richards!

Ann Richards was, herself, a Force of Nature!

Holland Taylor--who is currently impersonating her, White Wig & Texas Twang, at the Vivian Beaumont--is also something of a Natural Force.

But, in collating what appear to have been Hundreds of Anecdotes, Remembrances, & Affairs of State, the Total Effect--delivered with Passion, Anger, & Impatience--is rather like Ten Ted Talks

The Narrative Framework of this show is a Commencement Address, in which Ann is Looking Backward: which magically summons the Appearance of the Governor's Office in Austin

My favorite Ann Richards Remembrance is following her down the Garden Path in Central Park, when she was helping Christo open his fabulous Gates Project.

A Remarkable Lady & Holland Taylor is to be admired for attempting to share her with us--directed by Benjamin Endsley Klein.

 

Bill Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe's HENRY IV, PART I [*****]

Wars of the Roses Not Yet Over: Future Henry V Must Vanquish Hot headed Hotspur!

What an Amazing World Director Davis McCallum & Designers Dan Zimmerman [setting] & Whitney Locher [costumes] have created on the Open End Stage of the Pearl Theatre!

With a central Stage Platform--like a Boxing Ring, without the Ropes--this astounding staging of Henry IV, Part 1 can contain Royal London & its Lowlife Taverns, as well as various Castles & Battlefields.

With any Luck--if the Pearl continues with the Shakespearean Sequels, Henry IV, Part 2 & Henry V--it will eventually contain "The Vasty Fields of Agincourt"

But for the Globe Theatre Players that was a "Wooden O."

What really made the recent Pearl Production such a Gem, however, was the Pearl's Priceless Acting Ensemble, with John Brummer as the Vagabond Prince Hal & Dan Dailey as his mischievous Mis Leader, Falstaff, the famously Fat Knight.

Others in the Ensemble have to encompass more than One Role: Shawn Fagan is remarkable as the Hot Headed & Splenetic Hotspur, but he is also charming as the feckless Serving Man, Francis.

Often the Pearl's Leading Man, Sean McNall, this time out, played Poins, Northumberland, & Douglas with equal ease.

Chris Mixon made a feisty Dame Quickly, but was also adamant as Worcester, opposing King Henry IV, even more intransigent in the interpretation of Bradford Cover.

The entire Company was admirable, in a variety of Roles, but Dominic Cuskern, Ade Otukoya, Lee Stark, & Ruibo Qian were especially interesting.

Whereas Distinguished Brits often speak Shakespeare's Liquid Lines with Authoritative Articulation, the Pearl's Players made them Real: Passionate, Angry, Satiric, Ferocious, Ironic, Puzzled

The Battle Scenes & the Mano a Mano Combat of Hotspur & Prince Hal were wonderfully choreographed by Rod Kinter.

Now occupying what was formerly the Signature Theatre, way down on West Forty Two, the Pearl has come a Long Way--Physically, Metaphorically, & Spiritually--from its Former Quarters & Productions down on East Eighth Street

 

Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM [*****]

It's an Immense Meat Pie! No! It's an African Hut! No, No, No! It's a Giant Turtle!

Wow!

Totem not only showcases some Major Major Major Circus Talents, but it also celebrates Evolution: Mankind's Irresistible Rise from the Primordial Slime!

Even Evolution & Big Bang Denying Republicans ought to take delight in the Evocation of many Tribal Customs & Colorful Ethnic Costumes, brought to Life with Elegant & Energetic Dances, as well as with breathtaking Acrobatic Acts.

The Multi Talented Robert Lepage--whose base is in Quebec City--has conceived, written, orchestrated & directed Totem, already seen by Two Million People, in 18 Tours since its Premiere in 2010.

Not that New York City is the Last on its List. Not at all: Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana played two summers running at Radio City Music Hall & several of its other Endlessly Touring Shows have been seen previously on Randall's Island & over on the Jersey Coast.

Among the Astonishing Acts on view in Totem are the Foot Juggling of Marina & Svetlana Tsodikova; the Hand Balancing of Pavel Saprykin; the Trapeze Acrobatics of Guilhem Cauchois & Sarah Tessier; the Roller Skating Magic of Massimiliano Medini & Denise Garcia Sorta, as well as, the High high high Unicycles of a remarkable Troupe of Chinese Lovelies, who toss Golden Bowls onto each others' Heads!

Aside from the charming evocations of Traditional Tribal Costumes, many of the Individual Costumes of Dancers & Stage Aides are remarkably Colorful & Complicated: There should be a Style Show at Armani or Bergdorf's

The Costumes are by Bob & Bill, who do not seem to have Last Names.

If you cannot get enough of the Genius of Robert Lepage, his Clanking Version of Richard Wagner's RING is currently on view at the Metropolitan Opera

David Henry Hwang's THE DANCE & THE RAILROAD [*****]

Practicing Peking Opera on the Donner Summit: Time Off from Blasting Through Solid Rock

When the Great California Gold Rush was announced in 1849, & Single Chinese Men began crossing the Pacific to The Golden Mountain--which was their Generic Name for the Gold Fields--an Immigration Pattern was established.

In hopes of Making a Pile & returning to China as Rich Men, they endured all kinds of Hardships & frequent Insults from the Hated White Devils who let them do their Laundry.

So, when The Big Four--Governor Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, & Chas. Crocker--decided to build their Central Pacific Section of the Transcontinental Railway, from West to East, meeting the Union Pacific, building East to West, Work Starved Chinese Men seemed an excellent source of Very Cheap Labor.

They also enlisted the Irish, but multi award winning playwright David Henry Hwang is not celebrating their Contribution to Driving the Golden Spike at Promontory, Utah, in 1869

Instead, he focuses on an Adept of the Peking Opera & an Eager Young Chinese who wants to learn the Moves as well: both of them helping blast through the Unforgiving Rock of the Donner Summit in the High Sierras.

In a stark setting of Abstract Geometric Rock Forms, with subtly changing Light, Lone [Yuekun Wu] & Ma [Ruy Iskandar] bond through the Harsh Discipline of the Traditional Movements of Chinese Opera.

Lone was sold by his Parents--when he was only a small boy--to train for the Peking Opera.

But, faking Fatal Illness, his Mother calls him home, only to send him off to the Golden Mountain.

But he won't be running a Chinese Laundry, as so many "Chinamen" then did in California.

No--he'll be Working on the Railroad

Many Chinese--employed & exploited by The Big Four never returned home: They died on the Mountain Tops, tunneling through the Sierra Summits.

The Transformative Experience of Lone & Ma--dancing on the Mountain Top--is wonderfully evoked by Wu & Iskandar, surely ensured by Director May Adrales, with the aid of designers Mimi Lien [set], Jennifer Moeller [costumes], & Jiyoun Chang [lighting].

 

Craig Lucas' THE LYING LESSON [***]

Whatever Became of Joan Crawford? Bette! Watch Out! That Gun Is Loaded!

Yes, I got it: that Carol Kane is supposed to be Bette Davis--in a frumpy old house in a Coastal Town in Maine, in Summer, 1981

But why would Director Pam MacKinnon suggest that she should have what sounded like a Polish Accent?

Mickey Summer played Minnie Bodine.

Craig Lucas penned this Hommage to Baby Jane in Late Age, but it's not another Reckless, alas.

 

More Art & Design at MAD: What Can We Make Out of Wood? Against the Grain & Then Some

There are some Chairs in the new Wood Show at MAD, but none of them looks really comfortable to sit in, nor really Innovative as examples of Functional Furniture Design.

Only Francis Cape's Utopian Benches look functional, although a Spartan Test to sit on long with No Backs.

China's famed Arts Provocateur, Ai WeiWei, has provided a group of Wooden Stools, joined in a clump at their Seats. This he calls Grapes

Famed American Wood Sculptor Wendell Castle is represented with Ghost Rider, a kind of Post Modernist Sexually Inflected Rocker.

Even the famous Frank Ghery is on hand, with what look like very small Wooden Fish, but are called Pito Wood Essences.

How about a Porcupine Cabinet or an Oak Chair made of Scrapwood?

Making an Eiffel Tower out of Toothpicks is Old Stuff now, so Willie Cole has, instead, made a Large Chicken out of Massed Matchsticks!

Sofia Maldonado has performed a Public Service by retiring some Decorated Skateboards from Street Actions--where they might become Instruments of Mass Destruction of Old People

If you are Fan of Alt Wien & Jugendstil, you may be amazed to see a Vintage Thonet Bentwood Chair wrapped & rewrapped in Steam Bent White Oak

Then there's a tall painted box that opens up to reveal a Tree Struck by Lightning, with a Chair & a Stool that blend into the Image so well they don't seem, at first, to have 3 D Personalities of their own.

But Laurel Roth's two highly polished Skulls--Vera Wood & Swarovski Crystals--were Exemplary!

Gone are the days when the long gone American Crafts Museum--which was folded into MAD--showed Works in Wood which weren't quite so Far Out.

Wendell Castle, George Nakashima, & Sam Maloof were in their heyday.

In fact, I wrote about Sam's wonderful Rosewood Furniture for Craft Horizons, among other topics.

So it is that I now have a Vintage Maloof Rocker & a specially made Maloof Music Stand

 

Handsome Thomas Hampson's Masterful Master Class at MSM: Breathe, Don't Belt

Although Thomas Hampson is a Nominal Baritone, he can sing in Higher Registers when he is showing a Novice Mezzo Soprano or a Fledgling Tenor how to make an Aria something both deeply felt & physically experienced.

His recent Master Class at the Manhattan School of Music was a Podcast, so it will be available on your iPhone or your iPad.

But Hampson made the point that singing an Aria or an Art Song is not really about pushing the Melodies out into the Audience. No: it's all about You, feeling right in your Body & singing with an Intelligent Technique that will reach the Audience without extra effort.

The Young Talents learning from the Master included Kurt Kanazawa--figuratively fondling Mélisande's long hair; Mingjie Lei--overcome with the Loveliness of Princess Pamina's Painted Likeness; Gina Perregrino--longing for Lindoro, & Margrethe Fredheim--fearfully wandering in a Richard Straussian Night.

This was the first time I've ever seen a Master Teacher also work with the Piano Accompanists: He helped them to help their Singers!

Thomas Hampson is such a Charming Performer & Raconteur himself that he should have His Own Show! His Insights--in using the Body most effectively in Singing--sound also sound for other Human Activities.

The Master Class began at 4pm but did not draw to a close until after 7pm. At one point, a Message was brought out to him on stage: Your Audience Is Leaving

But only those Students & Old People departed who would rather have Soup & Salad in the Cafeteria than share in Hampson's Memories & Advice!

 

A Whale of a Show at the American Museum: Not Barnum's Version, but Real Natural History!

For those who do not believe in Evolution, the Tale of the Whales should be even more confusing.

Millions of years ago, they walked on the Earth as other did Mammals, but they found that there was so much Good Chow in the Sea Water that they reversed Evolution by sinking back down into the Water.

Of course, if you don't believe in Evolution, you also probably are certain that the Earth is only some Six Thousand Years Old & was Created by God in Six Days, with the Seventh Day off for Good Behavior.

Now, at the American Museum of Natural History, you may see such Religious Beliefs confounded with Ancient Whale Skeletons that have come all the way to Manhattan from New Zealand & its Maori Museum.

In fact, to open this wonderful show--Whales: Giants of the Deep--a Maori Delegation from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa even performed an Ancient Blessing Ritual, with Songs & Dances.

Rhonda Paku, the Senior Curator of the Museum, was on hand--as Acting Kaihautu & Biocultural Leader--to share Ancient Backgrounds such as the Tale of the Whale Rider.

You have, no doubt ,heard of Boys on Dolphins? Well, Maori Boys have ridden Whales!

Not only is the History of Whaling explored, but the Scrimshaw Carvings of Whaling Men are also on view. Not to overlook a Whaling Ship Log & a copy of Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

The Skeletons are the most awesome objects in the show, but there are many Photos, Text Panels, & Video Screens to draw even Young Visitors away from their Cell Phones for a while

Actually, if you cannot get to the AMNH, you can probably get a very good idea of the show on your Cell Phone, as the AMNH Website is much more interesting than any Report with Photos that Your Roving Arts Reporter could hope to file.

In fact, a recent Installation about the putative Museums of the Future suggests that Museums won't any longer need Actual Artifacts: these can all be Digitally Scanned & Available On line!

Nonetheless, it is admirable that Richard & Karen LeFrak have made the new Richard & Karen LeFrak Exhibition Hall possible--along with Funds to further Education Projects at the AMNH.

This Space has been so compactly designed for Whales: Giants of the Deep that it's amazing how much Material & Information has been shoe horned into the Room.

Still, it's a bit of a walk to see the Museum's famous & fabulous Blue Whale, in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

Museum President Ellen Futter pointed out to the Assembled Press that--from all over the World--People coming to the AMNH want most of all to see the Blue Whale!

 

Annie Baker's THE FLICK [****]

David Belasco! Eat Your Heart Out! A Real Live Movie Theatre Onstage at Playwrights Horizons!

Annie Baker is the Admirable Author of Circle Mirror Transformation & Body Awareness, so why would she step back into the Metaphoric World of Turn of the 20th Century Realism?

Actually, the Time is more or less The Present--2012 in Worcester County, MA--but showing a Movie House Auditorium onstage in Complete Detail really harks back to the Golden Era of David Belasco & Stage Realism.

At least there are No Horses onstage, as in Belasco's celebrated production of Girl of the Golden West

In fact, the Girl in this drama of Cleaning the Auditorium Post Show is an Unhappy Projectionist, not a Cowgirl.

Matthew Maher plays Sam, in charge of Clean Up, with Louisa Krause as Rose, upstairs in the Projection Room, when she is not downstairs with Her Problems.

They are both having Problems with the New Hire, Avery, sensitively played by Aaron Clifton Moten.

Film Fans will surely enjoy the Games of Identifying Bygone Flicks & their Now Historic Casts.

The Running Time of The Flick is Three Hours, somewhat less than Gone With the Wind, but still a bit too long. Director Sam Gold could, perhaps, have edited some of the Unspoken Pauses?

In fact, sitting still for Three Hours--well, there is an Intermission--seems a bit like an Endurance Contest: Will the Audience Stay the Course?

Nonetheless, the Epiphany is worth the wait

 

Evenings at the Opera: Although Banned at the Met, a Blessed Reprieve from Belgium!

For many years--especially when Your Roving Arts Reporter was a Contributing Editor to Opera News & Opera Monthly & Opera & Theatre Crafts--I regularly had Press Tickets for New Productions as the Metropolitan Opera.

Last Autumn, however, Jennifer Cooper--of the Met Opera Press Office--informed me that I would no longer be on the Press List: "Our Ticket Allocations are very limited."

So it was with great gratitude that I welcomed the arrival in Our Fair City of the President of the Belgian Music Critics, my old friend & colleague, Erna Metdepennighen, who invited me to share her Press Tickets!

Seeing some of these Productions for the First Time, I was once again reminded of what a Great Show the Met can present the Public! The Stage is Huge & so--often--are the Casts, especially when the Chorus Army of the Met is called up for Vocal Service

 

Charles Gounod's FAUST [****]

Ghosts of The Great War! Medieval Doktor Faustus Trapped in Bomb Factory!

In the on going effort to keep Opera Alive for Modern Audiences--who already have their Attention Spans sharply curtailed by Constant Texting & playing Video Games on their Cell Phones--Stage Directors & Designers are relentless in their Quest for Ingenious Updatings of the Old War Horses.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe would surely be astonished to see his Medieval Johann Faustus, Dr. phil. rummaging around in what eventually seems to be a World War I Bomb Factory

What Composer Charles Gounod might think is Anyone's Guess, even though his Music & the Barbier/Carré Text have not been tinkered with.

The Met's Faust actually came across the Atlantic, from ENO--the English National Opera--where Stage Director Des McAnuff & Set Designer Robert Brill decided to move the Tale from Medieval Germany to what looks like a Very Large Frame Structure in the Early 20th Century.

This Epic Empty Frame is equipped with two Towering Spiral Staircases at each side--rising out of sight into the Flies above--so that Faust & Méphistophélès are required to do a lot of Ascending & Descending--not to mention the Stair Scramblings of other members of the cast

As the Overture begins, an Immense Projection of the Face of Dr. Faustus, PhD, looms very large on the Fore Screen. Later, the Giant Face of the Unfortunate Marguerite is seen both Fore & Aft, also on a Rear Projection Screen.

As the Overture continues, War Ruins are projected on the Rear Screen, as War Refugees file across the stage.

The Aged Doctor Faust is discovered in his Dust Cloth Draped Laboratory. As he pulls off the Cloths, White Smocked Lab Assistants flock in from the Wings.

As for the Old Image of Gretchen am Spinnrad, McAnuff provides the simple, virtuous Marguerite with a Singer Sewing Machine, instead of the Historic Spinning Wheel!

Both the Rear & both Sides of the Structural Frame are equipped with Projection Screens--which can appear & vanish--providing rapidly scudding Clouds or Piles of Roses, among other Video Treats.

When the Stage filled with Home Town Troops, going off to War, I thought this was the Franco Prussian War, as the Women's Costumes didn't look Early 20th Century.

Nonetheless, the Big White Bombs certainly looked Great War Worthy

In the midst of all this Semi Modernization, Piotr Beczala was a very handsome Young Faust--in excellent voice--with the superb John Relyea a dapper, Sleight of Hand Trickster Mephisto.

As the bewildered & beleaguered Marguerite, Marina Poplavskaya seemed appropriately Overwhelmed by the Magical Events that were Overtaking her Body & Soul. But her Voice was, at times, strained in ways that had nothing to do with the Ordeals the Character was Undergoing.

Alexey Markov was excellent as the Doting Brother, Valentin. But his Sword play was not equal to the Challenge of both Faust & the Devil.

At the Close--although she's already doomed by the Devil--an Angelic Chorus of White Smocked Attendants announces the Salvation of poor Marguerite.

But, to reach Heaven, she has to climb all those Metal Stairs in the Rear, where the Bomb Factory used to be. Fortunately, she was able to climb back down in time for the Curtain Calls!

Alain Altnoglu conducted with an attention to detail that both Gounod & Field Marshall Foch would have admired.

Riccardo Zandonai's FRANCESCA DA RIMINI [****]

Paolo & Francesca's Doomed Love Not Quite the Wagnerian Equivalent of Tristan und Isolde

As the Met's Great Gold Curtain rose on the Opening Scene of Riccardo Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini--revealing an almost Pre Raphaelite Vision of Gauze Clad Maidens frolicking in a Maxfield Parrish Art Nouveau Palace Hall--Your Roving Arts Reporter had a Yogi Berrish Sensation of Déjà Vu!

Where had I seen that Lovely Vista of a Leafy Tree almost filling the Open Window of Ezio Frigerio's remarkably Opulent Set, featuring Semi Gothic Walls of Rich Dark Woods?

Well, actually way back in 1984, when this handsome production--staged by Piero Faggioni--debuted at the Met!

Unfortunately--despite the Valiant Talents of Renata Scotto & Placido Domingo as the Doomed Lovers--the Met's Demanding Subscribers were not seized with Admiration for the Score or the Libretto, so the Production was withdrawn after the 1986 Season.

Fortunately, the Met doesn't have to pay Storage Charges to a Do It Yourself Storage Facility, so the Ponderous Sets have been slumbering all these Decades.

It was wonderful to see these Scenes again, especially the Second Act Vision of the Portals of the Malatesta Castle under Siege, with Great Siege Machines bowing in from either side of the stage.

Now, in 2013, Francesca--the lovely Eva Maria Westbroek--is back, once again falling in Illicit Love with Paolo--the handsome Marcello Giordani--the handsome Younger Brother of her Legal Husband, the Malformed Giovanni Malatesta [Mark Delavan].

Despite the Energetic Conducting of Marco Armiliato, this Revival may have to go back to Storage again, for there were many Unsold Seats in the Orchestra on a Friday Evening.

It did not help that the Evening was unduly extended with Three Intermissions, permitting Opera Lovers to flee in Three Increments

The Fundamental Problem with Francesca da Rimini--as with the other largely forgotten Operas of Zandonai--is that he was deliberately abandoning the Traditional Set Pieces of Italian Opera: Arias, Duets, Trios, Quartets, & Sextets, in favor of a more Wagnerian Form of Through Composition.

That meant that Italian Audiences at the Premiere, in Turin, in 1914--nor Met Audiences way back in 1916--did not leave the Opera house humming Hit Tunes. Nor did they rush off to Music Stores to get the Sheet Music.

At the turn of the Last Century--the Twentieth, not the 21st--the Great Days of Verdian Opera Composition were Long Gone. But the new works of Giacomo Puccini promised much, in a New Direction.

The fabled Music Publisher, Tito Riccordi, began championing a New Generation, including Zandonai & Montemezzi.

When was the last time you saw a production of Montemezzi's L'Amore de Tre Re?

How about Ermanno Wolf Ferrari, Umberto Giordano, Franco Alfano, or Idelbrando Pizzetti

[News Flash! Pizzetti's Assassinio nella Cattedrale has just been revived this month by the San Diego Opera. The Libretto is based on TS Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral.]

There are perhaps Two Problems with Francesca: although the Libretto alludes to the Doomed Love of Tristan & Isolde--as well as that of Lancelot & Guenevire--this Fable doesn't rise to those Mythic Levels.

Nor does the Score even remotely suggest the Soaring Majesty of Richard Wagner's Liebestod.

Instead, in Climactic Moments, it sounds rather thumpingly like a John Williams Film Score

Giuseppe Verdi's LA TRAVIATA [****]

From the Salzburg Festival To Lincoln Center: Travita Takes a Trip

The fearlessly Post Post Modern Willy Dekker Staging of La Traviata made Anna Netrebko a Star when it premiered at the Salzburg Festival some seasons ago.

At the Press Party later, Anna graciously posed for photos for Your Roving Arts Reporter. I told her I hoped I'd soon see her in that very production at the Met.

She pursed up her mouth in a grimace: "You know they won't ever do anything this modern!"

Well, in the event, the Met Opera's General Manager Peter Gelb did import the Salzburg Traviata, ingeniously designed by Wolfgang Gussmann.

But Violetta Verdy is no longer a Starring Role for Anna Netrebko, who has moved on to Other Starring Roles at the Met.

In fact, when I was finally able to see it at the Met, the marvelous Diana Damrau was frenetically interpreting Verdi's Stand In for Alexandre Dumas' doomed Grand Courtesan, Marguerite Gauthier.

Dekker's Avant Garde Vision at Salzburg was to place All the Action--no matter what the Scenes dictated in the Libretto--in a Long Blue Room, with a Swooping White Bench around the Upper Wall, punctuated by a Large Clock Face, ticking off the Remaining Hours & Minutes of Violetta's Brief Life.

At Salzburg, this Production Vision was presented on the Wide, Wide, Wide Stage of the Grosses Festspielhaus, where it looked like Cinemascope in 3D.

The Immense Met Stage, however has a very High Proscenium Opening, so Gussmann's Set Concept has shrunk on the sides, but expanded Upward. It now has the effect of a Huge White Parabola, set against Outer Darkness above, where the Figure of Death silently observes Violetta.

Both Euros & Dollars were saved on the Costume Budget: the Entire Chorus--both Women & Men--are dressed in Tuxes, ready for Gambling, Singing, Sport, Dancing, & Riotous Fun.

Unfortunately, at Flora's Party, this has the Effect of making the Hostess visually disappear

Instead of a Bucolic Scene--when Alfredo & Violetta escape Paris for the Countryside--the Blue Room is filled with Squarish Sofas, covered with a wildly colorful Floral Pattern. This Floralia also appears up above, greatly enlarged, erasing the Black Void.

My Belgian Colleague--who had also seen the Salzburg Premiere with me--said of Dekker's Production Concept: "Zu viel Deutung; zu wenig Gefühl"

That Nailed It! Too Much Meaning; Too Little Feeling

The excellent Alfredo of Saimir Pirgu may well be one of the few Tenors who look terrific in their Undershorts: Not in Paris, but out in the Country.

But the Outstanding Performance of the evening was that of Placido Domingo, as the imperious Father Germont. He easily dominated the stage & his Still Stentorian Voice was both Powerful & Subtle, by turns.

Yannick Nézet Séguin conducted with a fervor that suited the Wild Rompings on stage.

 

Giuseppe Verdi's OTELLO [****]

Willow, Willow, Willow: Desdemona Dies, But Iago Is Still Alive as the Met's Gold Curtain Drops.

As the Beautiful, Loving, Trusting, & Innocent Desdemona, Krassimira Stoyanova is heart breaking, as Iago [Thomas Hampson] intrigues against her, to destroy Othello [José Cura] as well.

Unfortunately, the Villainous Iago doesn't get the Punishment he so richly deserves, for Verdi must have decided that that would be a Distinct Anti Climax after the Deaths of the Principals: The Strangled Desdemona & the Dagger Suicided Othello.

Rolex made possible the Revival of this Michael Yeargan Designed grandly scaled Vision of Cyprus.

Considering that Cyprus was--at the Mythical Time of Shakespeare's Tragedy of Miscegenation, on which the Opera is based--a Dependency of Serenissima Venice, it is astonishing how many Noble Buildings from Various Architectural Periods dominate the Downtown Landscape Upstage: a Medieval Fortress next to what looks like a Bank of America, but is, instead, surely a Greek Temple

Alain Altinoglu again conducted, following his Thursday Night Faust, but Otello is clearly a quite different Challenge. The Met Orchestra seemed admirable!

 

Vit Horejs' KING EXECUTIONER [****]

Polish Magical Realist Novel by Tadeusz Nowak Adapted for Czech American Marionettes

What was it like, when the Nazis were in Poland & Polish Jews were in hiding, in fear of their Lives?

What was it like, for Simple Village Peasants, before the Nazis invaded Poland & occupied Everywhere?

Tadeusz Nowak's 1968 Novel--A Jak Krolem a Jak Katem Bedzies--has been charmingly transformed into a Marionette Epic by Vit Horejs for his Czech American Marionette Theatre.

This Distinctive Ensemble performs in a Tradition long known to the Socialist Countries of Eastern Europe: with the animated & involved Puppet Handlers in full view of the Spectators, laughing, singing, crying, dying, & dancing with their Tiny to Giant Marionettes.

To American Audiences--brought up on Star Trek & James Bond--it can be an Historic Tonic to be transported backward into a Peasant World that most of us cannot even imagine: Unless, of course, Fiddler on the Roof speaks to you

Speaking of that, there's also Live Klezmeresque Music to accompany the Life Journey of Poor Peasant Piotr, who eventually--when he joins the Polish Resistance against the Hated German Invaders--has to kill Two Collaborators, who are Local Men he's known all his life

World War II now seems a Long Way Off for those of us who lived through it, but for Younger Audiences it can be Cautionary to discover How Things Were in Eastern Europe at that time.

There are Three Rear Lit Panorama Monitors on which Scenes & Backgrounds of the Developing Narrative appear. These are in a striking Black & White Visual Style, so impressive, in fact, that it would be Show in Itself to see All Three Panoramas unroll to Klezmer Music!

The Czech American Marionette Theatre's admirable production of The Golem is even much farther back in time than King Executioner, so the Past Is Not Lost, even if we recover it with Tiny Dolls on Rods & Strings.

The charm & detail with which the various Marionettes have been constructed & costumed is astonishing: Even if it takes Four Puppeteers to animate the Giant--One of them for each Giant Boot!

The Tale of a Peasant boy who dreams of becoming King--only to become a Partisan Executioner--is certainly an Interesting Artistic Artifact.

But there is an Historical Follow Up to the WWII Era: Freed of Nazis, both Poland & Czechoslovakia were overrun by Russki Soviets, creating Communist Systems--subservient to the Soviets--all over

Eastern Europe.

In Poland, this time there was Little Resistance to this Politically Disastrous Take Over.

But the Plucky Czechs didn't capitulate entirely: if they didn't dare shoot Russian Soldiers or Resident Commissars, they at least could use Czech Culture to subvert the Totalitarian Marxism which was forced on them.

Vaclav Havel used the Theatre to suggest the Fundamental Ridiculousness of the Life that Czechs were required to lead, under the Banners of Lenin & Stalin.

Havel's ingenious Satires baffled the Police Censors, but Prague Audiences understood his Social & Economic Critiques quite clearly.

So, when the Warsaw Pact & Communism were dismantled in the wake of 1989, Vaclav Havel was elected the First Democratic President of Czechoslovakia since the Nazi Einmarsch prior to WWII.

How about Havel's The Memorandum or The Increased Difficulty of Concentration as a Marionette Drama?

Karlheinz Stockhausen's OKTOPHONIE [****]

Choreographed Sound Echoes Through the Trusses of the Park Avenue Armory Drill Hall!

Entering the Park Avenue Armory's Drill Hall, Auditors--for there is almost Nothing to See--must remove their Shoes before donning the Compulsory White Robe, with a Hole in the Middle for Their Necks.

Then they proceed to a Great White Circular Platform in the Center of the Hall, where they effectively Sit on the Floor, but with White Backrests.

As the Throngs file inward, the effect is rather like the Grail Knights in Parsifal, or a Gathering of the Klan--without the Hoods.

At the Center of this Great Circle is what appears to be a Cyber Control Center, from which Karlheinz Stockhausen's Complexly Notated Electronic Score is Monitored.

Overhead is an Octagon of Complex Speakers, but there is almost No Illumination, for Stockhausen preferred that this Quasi Sonic Electronic Music be heard in Darkness.

What seems to be a Cantus Firmus of a Low Throbbing Drone is shot through with Crashes, Shrieks, Bangs, & other Sound Shocks.

This makes the Scores of Philip Glass sound Positively Polyphonic

Actually, Oktophonie is the Musical Accompaniment for the Second Act of Dienstag--or Tuesday--in Stockhausen's Seven Opera Cycle, called Light.

What we are hearing, then, is the Epic Battle between Two Angels: Michael & Lucifer.

Even though Audiences do not really see much, the Visual Artist is Rirkrit Tiravanika.

Kathinka Pasveer--a longtime Stockhausen Collaborator & performer of works that he wrote especially for her--is the Sound Projectionist at the Console of the Cyber Controls.

Pasveer--who knows what Stockhausen wanted in performance--carries on his Legacy.

But, as Joseph Conrad might say: "Mistuh Stockhausen, he dead"

 

 

Wright, Greene, & Anastasio's HANDS ON HARDBODY [***]

From Hoover's Two Cars in Every Garage To Winning a Nissan Pickup, with No Garage at all

Talk about Product Placement!

In the new Broadway Musical, Hands on Hardbody, a Cherry Red Nissan Hardbody Pickup sits Center Stage.

It is virtually the Only Prop of Major Proportions onstage & provides most of the Scenery

The Object of the Endurance Contest that is musically on view--onstage at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre--is for Someone to keep his or her Gloved Hands on this Hardbody until Everyone Else drops out--either from Fatigue or Discouragement.

The Winner then gets the Keys & can drive the Nissan Hardbody home, even if there's No Garage there.

This Contest is taking place in Longview, Texas, which--despite its Name, celebrating a Long View of the Texas Landscape--seems to be like Oakland, CA, in Gertrude Stein's famous phrase: There's no There there.

The ostensible Social Value of the Nissan is that it brings together a Raffish Collection of Small Town Losers who would, otherwise, seldom or never meet.

The Entertainment Value, on the other hand, is that we get to see them all Dancing & Singing around the Hardbody, while they tell us & Fellow Contestants about their Often Desperate & Sad Lives.

It was clear--from watching Varied Samples of the Audience, when my Attention was not riveted to the Stage Scene--that many empathized or even identified with the Group Protagonists.

By now--after Two Bush Terms, Two Disastrous Wars, & the Corporate Takeover of America--it has become obvious that the American Dream has become a Nightmare. Even a Pile of Crap

This is what the Doug White Book suggests, but it may not be Something to Sing About.

Nonetheless, such Talents as Keith Carradine, Connie Ray, Allison Case, Jay Armstrong Johnson, & Hunter Foster--Sutton Foster's Brother!--put all their Energy & Belief into the Roles assigned to them.

It's not easy to construct Choreography around a Hardbody--a Truck, that is, not Rita Cansino Hayworth--but Sergio Trujillo does his Best.

Neil Pepe, the Guru of the Atlantic Theatre Company, staged.

In the Old Days, when there were still many Music Stores, I might have bought the Sheet Music, so I could learn to play the Hit Songs from the Show.

But, somehow, Some Enchanted Evening is more My Speed.

Hands on Hardbody seemed, to me, more like Rock of Ages in a Nissan Dealership

Speaking of Product Placement: During many Attention Lulls in the production, I studied the Tires on the Nissan. Oddly enough, there was no Brand Name visible.

Were they Bridgestones or Goodyears or Michelins?

An advantageous Advertising Opportunity missed

 

Lanford Wilson's THE MOUND BUILDERS [*****]

"They Vanished Without a Trace": If That Were Really True, How Do We Know They Ever Existed?

After Days, Weeks, & even Months of dusting away the Dirt concealing the Interiors of the Mysterious Mounds built along & near the amazing Confluence of the Wabash, Cumberland, Ohio, & the Mississippi Rivers--finding mostly Small Fragments of Old Pots--imagine the excitement of the Excavation Team in finally discovering the Golden Death Mask of a Great God/Priest King of the Mound Builders

But the Morning After, in Lanford Wilson's Metaphor Rich Mound Builders--now revived at the Signature Theatre--all the Wonderful Finds have been swept away, Deliberately Destroyed, with even the Actual Site obliterated by a Bulldozer.

To discover why this happened & its Effects on the Family Related Team, you need to see the astonishing production--staged by Jo Bonney & designed by Neil Patel, Theresa Squire, & Rui Rita.

But this Fraught Drama is not just about Digging Up the Past: it is really more about the Betrayals that People who should know better inflict on those they should Love--or at least Respect.

The Entire Ensemble--now interacting in the Romulus Linney Theatre at the Signature--is Outstanding, but Will Rogers is unforgettable as the wild & horny Chad Jasker, who owns the Land on which the Mounds were found & mistakenly expects to make a Fortune when the Site is covered over by an Interstate & a Rising Lake, which he thinks will become a Tourist Trap.

Unfortunately for his Dreams of Riches, the Site has been declared Protected & the Interstate--still to be built--has been relocated

The Photographer Wife of the Archeologist in Charge has been having a Brief Fling with Jasker, but she has photographed all the Golden Treasures the Night before the Site is destroyed.

But the Morning After, she rips all the Film out of her Camera: So the Mound Builders Vanish without a Trace?

Well, not exactly: Not only are there Other Mounds, but any Ancient Culture that we still know something about--even if its Ancient Cities have vanished--still survives in Memory & Tradition

Perhaps this Production might make Spectators wonder whether we will also Vanish without a Trace?

 

More Millions Earned at Christie's: Asian Art Week Sales Total $80.4 Million!

Asian Art Week was celebrated City Wide--even down in Chinatown--with many Galleries putting their best Asian Arts in their Show Windows.

At Christie's, Overall the Sales Totals were Record Breaking!

How about $2,811,750 for Gilt Bronze 9th Century Tibetan Bodhisattva?

The Collection of Heidi & Helmut Neumann was sold for nearly $3 Million, with a "Rare & Important" Tibetan Painting of the Buddha with the One Hundred Jataka Tales being bid up to sell for $1.2 Million.

Fine Chinese Jade Carvings from the Lizzardo Collection--along with other works--brought in nearly $4 Million!

Hildegard Schonfeld's Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles fetched $1.5 Million, even without any Snuff in them

Among the Treasures of Japanese & Korean Art, a massive 18th Century Korean White Porcelain Jar was purchased for $1.2 Million.

A World Record was set for Huanghuali Furniture, with the Auction Sale of a very long & heavy Plank Top Pedestal Table: it brought $9 Million.

It clearly must also have cost a few dollars or so, to move it in & out of the Christie's Showrooms in Rock Center

But not all the Top Prices were paid for Centuries Old Ceramics, Furniture, Snuff Bottles, & Tibetan Bodhisattvas: Someone paid $1,859,750 for an Oil Painting from 1964!

This was the rather charming & wispy Village en Fête, painted by Syed Hiader Raza, whose works will surely now command even Steeper Prices.

 

Futures at Christie's: Imperial Russian Fabergé & The Collection of the Duchess of Alba!

There are many Fabergé Fakes out there in the Market now. Some are so well & so richly made that it's difficult to be certain they are not the Real Thing.

But, if you are bidding at Christie's--in the 15 April 2013 Sale of Russian Works of Art--you can be sure that they are indeed from Fabergé's Workshops.

Not all Fabergés are Imperial Easter Eggs, however.

How about Two Gum Pots?

One is of Aventurine Quartz, bought from Fabergé by the Dowager Empress Maria Federovna!

The other was formerly in the Malcolm Forbes Collection: it is a Gold & Bloodstone Gum Pot!

Then there's the Badge & Collar of the Order of St. Andrew the First Called.

Unfortunately, the Original Knighthood does not come with the Purchase of these two Imperial Objects.

As for the Collection of the Duchess of Alba, this is not the Ducal Lady who was painted by Goya.

No indeed! Instead, she is of the Era of Art Deco & the Treasures to be auctioned were created by the "Legendary French Art Deco Designer, Armand Albert Rateau."

The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow--devoted to Graphic Arts in Books--will be dispersed in Four Sales in 2013, beginning 9 April, with Books from Martin Shongauer to Marc Chagall.

 

Jacques Offenbach's ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS [not rated]

When There Is No Air Conditioning, You Are Very Close to HellOr Hadesor l'Enfers

At the Manhattan School of Music, Opera Director Dona D. Vaughn told the Audience for the Workshop Production of Jacques Offenbach's Comic Opera, Orphée aux Enfers, that the MSM Parents they might have seen Dancing in Lobby had just heard that their MSM Student Offspring decided to choose Med School over a Dubious Career as an Opera Singer.

Not Everyone who sounds just great Singing in the Shower is cut out for a Major Operatic Career

In fact, the Employment Possibilities for any Student Singer or Student Musician are diminishing daily.

Nonetheless, if you think you may have a chance to be the Next Lang Lang or Tomorrow's Maria Callas, it could be a Cultural Crime & certainly a Personal Wound not to try & train. If you don't--even if you don't succeed--you may all your life long regret that you didn't make the Effort.

It was clear from the MSM Workshop that--among a number of Attractive Performers--there were only a few who should be encouraged to go forward with Serious Operatic Training.

Still, some of the Less Than Sutherlands & Thinner Than Pavarottis surely could make Careers in Cabaret & Musicals.

Some, for instance, are Obvious Charmers, but without the Vocal Potential for Wagner or Verdi.

Hello, Andrew Lloyd Weber!

The Senior Student Orpheus was performed on a very narrow stage along one side of the Ades Performance Space.

This made the Group Effort to reproduce the Can Can seem a bit effortful

Somehow, they do it better in Paris.

Unfortunately, the Concrete Walls are not Ideal for Operatic Resonance & the apparent lack of Air Conditioning made for a Less Than Maximal Experience.

 

Nora Ephron's LUCKY GUY [**]

It's Newsies Grown Up--But without the Hit Songs, or, The Front Page [Almost] All Over Again

Stop the Presses!

Clive Barnes just got into a Cab to get over to the Post to file his Midnight Review of Luigi Pirandello's Right You Are, If You Think You Are!

Late News Flash! Walter Kerr fell asleep in an Aisle Seat at On a Clear Day You Can See Forever!

Ah! The Romance of Culture Journalism

But who would want to write a Play about Broadway Critics? How about when Clive got fired by the New York Times for having too many Free Lunches with Broadway Producers?

No. That kind of stuff is only of interest to Insiders.

The same could be said of Hard Drinking, Corruption Exposing, Self Promoting, Hard Driving Irish American Tabloid Newspaper Columnists.

The Big News is that what looks like a Nora Ephron Episodic Screenplay Treatment has made it possible for Tom Hanks to at last have his Long Awaited Broadway Debut!

He works very hard--impersonating the Late Mike McAlary, a New York Newsroom Legend--as does the entire Large Cast, directed by George C. Wolfe, who ran the Public Theatre long, long ago.

This Production has already been lavishly admired by Present & Former Reporters, Columnists, & Editors--especially those who actually appear in the play, Lucky Guy--even as Broadsheets & Tabloids disappear.

Who now remembers the New York World? The New York Journal? The New York Telegram? The New York Tribune? The New York Herald? The New York Sun?

The New York World Journal Tribune?

I even wrote for that Last Amalgam of Dying Newsprint.

Not to mention being the New York Theatre & Music Stringer for the LA Times

So, yes, I do know something about Pitching Stories to Hard Boiled Editors, as well as the Hurly Burly of the Copy Desk, having also written for the New York Times, Newsday, & the New York Daily News.

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, however, was nothing like writing for a Manhattan Tabloid.

So, even though Actual Manhattan News Stories are showcased in Lucky Guy--Out of Towners could be forgiven for not remembering who Abner Louima was. Let alone Walter Winchell

For that matter, Who the Hell was Jimmy Breslin, anyway?

Richard Greenberg's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S [*]

If Truman Capote Were Still Alive, He'd Die a Slow Slow Death, Watching This Bankrupt Breakfast!

Unfortunately, although bearing Truman Capote's Original Title, this Breakfast at Tiffany's was really more like The Last Supper at Hamburger Heaven, where some of the Drama's Un Actions are staged.

Richard Greenberg's Lack Luster Adaptation has, of course, Nothing To Do with Audrey Hepburn, but Emilia Clarke--as Holly Golightly--lacks the Raffish Charm & Outrageous Behavior of Capote's Original Creation.

Nor is Cory Michael Smith--as "Fred"--a Believable Stand In for a Young Truman. One longed for a bit more Tacky Glamour: both in the Leads & Cast, as well as the Scenic Décor.

The Entire Production looked Grey, Washed Out, Faded, Tired

Even the Pre Play Front Curtain Projections of World War II Posters & Vintage Photos were too vague to be enjoyed properly. Especially by those of us who had lived through the Second World War

 

Cyndi Lauper & Harvey Fierstein's KINKY BOOTS [*****]

Wow! A Hit! A Palpable Hit! Kick Up Your Very High Heels with Kinky Boots!

Here's the New Broadway Musical you've been waiting for & how could you go wrong with Sexy Songs by Cyndi Lauper, a Tranny Fable by Harvey Fierstein, & Jerry Mitchell's Dynamic Direction & Supercharged Choreography!

Hairspray Harvey now has Two Blockbuster Musicals on Broadway: both Kinky Boots & Newsies!

The Book is based on a Movie that had the same name as the Musical, but you may not have seen it, as there were No Vampires, Space Aliens, or Zombies

See, there's this Shoe Factory up in the North of England--or wherever Northhampton actually is--but Dad has died & Son wants to Make Something of Himself down in London.

But No one wants to buy the Quality Men's Shoes that the Factory has been turning out, so it will have to be shuttered, as other Shoe Factories have already been.

That means Loss of Jobs & possible Financial Ruin for the Town, so Stark Sands, as Charlie Price--the London Lusting Son--seeks to save the Factory.

But he needs a New Niche in Shoe Manufactory!

Fortunately, he catches the Fabulous Drag Show of Lola [the Entirely Fabulous Billy Porter]--with its Fabulous Costumes & Fab High Kicking Boots by the Fab Gregg Barnes--which leads to the New Line at Price's Shoe Factory: Kinky Boots!

The Human Sub Text in this Fantastic All Singing, All Dancing, All Energy Broadway Show of Shows is the fact that both Charlie & Lola--really the slight, mild mannered Simon, who becomes Charlie's Brilliant Boot Designer--never could please their Fathers.

Charlie didn't want to be an Industrialized Shoe Maker--"Someday, Son, All This will be Yours!"--but Simon's Problem was much, much Bigger: Simon was Different

They share a Song about this Problem--I'm not my Father's Son--but it goes on too long after it has already Made Its Point: You really want more Show Stoppers, not Philosophical Angst.

If this Tale of a Fabulous Drag Queen & Her Fantastic Dragettes were set in the United States, Simon could be described as not only Different, but also as African American. But the Show is set in England, so Simon may be said to be Black or Colored.

Not only will you get to see Lola & Her Girls dance up a storm in a London Club, but also you will get to see how a Shoe Factory really works, not to mention how Lola & her Fabulous Trannies strut the Runway in Milan!

Laurels to all the Designers, but especially David Rockwell on Sets; Gregg Barnes on Boots & Costumes; Kenneth Posner on Lighting; John Shivers on Sound, as well as Josh Marquette on Hair Design, & Randy Houston Mercer who designed the Fabulous Make Up.

Kinky Boots looks like one of those Broadway Musicals that will Run Forever!

Bravo! Harvey, Cyndi, Jerry Mitchell, & Stephen Oremus!


Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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