April , 2013

Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:

63rd Annual Awards: Outer Critics Circle Announce 2012 13 Season Nominees *
THE 37th HUMANA FESTIVAL: Showcasing New Plays on Main Street in Louisville
Theatre Journalism & Drama Criticism Re Invent Themselves in the Digital Age!
THE PANEL: Charting the Course: New Play Directors in Conversation
A Big Kentucky Welcome To the Humana Festival: Greetings!
Branden Jacobs Jenkinsí APPROPRIATE [
★★★] *
Mallery Avidonís O GURU GURU GURU, or why I donít want to go to Yoga Class with you [
★★★] *
Jeff Augustinís CRY OLD KINGDOM [
★★★] *
] *
Will Enoís GNIT
[Minus Stars] *
Rinnie Grof, Lucas Hnath, & Anne Washburneís SLEEP ROCK THY BRAIN [
★★★] *
★★] *
Emily Schwendís HALFWAY [
★★] *
★★★★] *
Re Fighting the Civil War at the Met Museum: But in Vintage Photos, Not with Pot Shots
Islamic Art: Making the Invisible Visible--
SALVAGING THE PAST: Georges Hoentschel & French Decorative Arts from the Met Museum
CONFLUENCES: An American Expedition to Northern Burma, 1935
At the Leslie & Lohman Museum: Paul Thek & His Circle in the 1950s
At the Met Museum: Diego Velázquezí Portrait of Duke Francesco I díEste
At MoMA: CLAES OLDENBURG--Seminal Works: The Street, The Store, & the Mouse Museum!
At the Galerie St. Etienne: FACE TIME: Self & Identity in Expressionist Portraiture
Sam Maloof at Bonhamís: Iconic Rocking Chair Sells for $43,750!
Meanwhile, Over at Christieís in Rock Center: the delighted eye Sets Man Ray Record!
The Show of Shows over at the Park Avenue Armory: The Annual NY Antiquarian Book Fair.
Bill Irwin & David Shinerís OLD HATS [
★★★★★] *
★★★★] *
★★★] *
Tanya Barfieldís THE CALL [
★★] *
Berry Gordyís MOTOWN [
★★★★] *
Douglas Carter Beaneís THE NANCE [
★★★] *
Richard Greenbergís THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES [
★★★] *
David Byrne & Fatboy Slimís HERE LIES LOVE [
★★★★] *
Frank Wildhorn & Leslie Bricusseís JEKYLL & HYDE [
★★★★] *
Alan Cummingís MACBETH [
★★★] *
Lyle Kesslerís ORPHANS [
★★★] *
Clifford Odetsí THE BIG KNIFE [
★★★] *
★★★★★] *
★★★★★] *
John Loganís IíLL EAT YOU LAST: A Chat with Sue Mengers [
★★★★★] *
Stephen Schwartzís PIPPIN [
★★★★★] *
At Christieís: The Power of Pink: The Princie Diamond Sells for $39,323,750
Speaking of Christieís: How About $5 Million+ for Russian Works of
Building the Blue Box--with White Ribbon--over the Rock Center Skating Rink!
Silent Stone Sentinels Stand Tall Behind Rock Centerís Blue Box
August Strindbergís THE DANCE OF DEATH [
★★★★★] *
Jacques Offenbachís LA PÉRICHOLE [
★★★] *
Five Major New Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum:
Bright Orange Walls for the Delicate Watercolors of John Singer Sargent!
What To Do with Old Tin Can Lids! Monumental Works by El Anatsui!
Considering Life, Death, & Transformation in the Americas
Braddock, PA, in Decline, Documented by LaToya Ruby Frazier in A Haunted Capital
From the Archives: Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum.
Not To Worry: There Are Even More Brooklyn Museum Special Exhibitions On Offer!
Bonhams & Christieís Stage Unusual Auctions:
The Treasures of the Late Larry Hagman, Better Known as JR Ewing, On Sale!
How About A Palladian Villa, by Michael J. Smith, at Christieís?
Bert Brecht & Kurt Weillís MAHAGONNY [
★★★★★] *
Jonathan Tolinsí BUYER & CELLAR [
★★★★★] *
Wright & Forrestís SONG OF NORWAY [
★★★] *

Report for The Month of April 2013




Almost every April, I have to agree with TS Eliot, who once famously said--or wrote: April is the Cruelest Month

It began with the Annual Hadj--not to Mecca, but to Louisville--for the Humana Festival, noted below.

But it came to an Almost Hectic Close, with what amounted to not one, but two, Crunch Weeks, in which Nominators for the Outer Critics Circle Awards had to cancel everything else in order to see the Plethora of New Productions, both On & Off Broadway, that now make the run up to the Tonys seem more like Oscar Frenzy in LA.

Seven Days a Week, New Shows Every Night, Mondays included. With Matinées on Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays

Yes, it is a Treat to have Two Seats on the Aisle, but after a while, it all becomes a Blur.

Nonetheless, as Historian/Nominator/Board Member of the OCC, I believe we have made some Intelligent Choices, among many Deserving Candidates

Although--as almost a Charter Member of the Drama Desk--I vote for the Drama Desk Awards, I do not have to be a Nominator, as I once was: Time Consuming!


63rd Annual Awards: Outer Critics Circle Announce 2012 13 Season Nominees

Pippin Heads the List with 11 Nominations! Followed by Kinky Boots with 9 Nominations + Chaplin: The Musical & Cinderella with 8 Nominations!

The First Broadway/Off Broadway Award Nominees of the Season!

Outer Critics Circle--the Organization of Writers & Commentators covering New York Theater for Out of Town Newspapers, National Publications & other Media beyond Broadway--announced today [22 April 2013] its Nominees for the 2012 13 Season in 24 Categories.

Broadway Stars Robert Cuccioli [Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark] & Laila Robins [Dance of Death] presided over the [11am] Announcement Ceremony at Manhattanís Friars Club.

Based on a recommendation by the OCC Executive Committee, a Special Achievement Award will be given to the Irish Repertory Theatre [Charlotte Moore, Artistic Director, & Ciarán OíReilly, Producing Director] in recognition of 25 Years of producing Outstanding Theatre.

Celebrating its 63rd Season of bestowing Awards of Excellence in the Theater, the Outer Critics Circle is an Association with Members affiliated with more than Ninety Newspapers, Magazines, Websites, Radio & Television Stations, & Theatre Publications in America & Abroad.

The Winners in the Categories listed below will be announced on Monday, 13 May, & the Annual Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, 23 May [4pm] at the legendary Sardiís Restaurant.



Lucky Guy

The Nance

The Testament of Mary

Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike


Chaplin: The Musical

A Christmas Story

Hands on a Hardbody

Kinky Boots

Matilda the Musical


Bad Jews


My Name is Asher Lev

Really Really

The Whale


February House



Here Lies Love

Murder Ballad

OUTSTANDING BOOK OF A MUSICAL: [Broadway or Off Broadway]


Chaplin: The Musical


Kinky Boots

Matilda:The Musical

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE: [Broadway or Off Broadway]

Chaplin: The Musical


Hands on a Hardbody

Here Lies Love

Kinky Boots

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY: [Broadway or Off Broadway]

Golden Boy


The Piano Lesson

The Trip to Bountiful

Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf?




The Mystery of Edwin Drood




Pam MacKinnon--Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Nicholas Martin--Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

Jack OíBrien--The Nance

Bartlett Sher--Golden Boy

Michael Wilson--The Trip to Bountiful


Warren Carlyle--Chaplin: The Musical

Scott Ellis--The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Jerry Mitchell--Kinky Boots

Diane Paulus--Pippin

Alex Timbers--Here Lies Love


Warren Carlyle--Chaplin: The Musical

Peter Darling--Matilda: The Musical

Jerry Mitchell--Kinky Boots

Josh Rhodes--Cinderella

Chet Walker--Pippin


John Lee Beatty--The Nance

Rob Howell--Matilda:The Musical

David Korins--Here Lies Love

Scott Pask--Pippin

Michael Yeargan--Golden Boy


Amy Clark & Martin Pakledinaz--Chaplin: The Musical

Gregg Barnes--Kinky Boots

Dominique Lemieux--Pippin

William Ivey Long--Cinderella

William Ivey Long--The Mystery of Edwin Drood


Ken Billington--Chaplin: The Musical

Paul Gallo--Dogfight

Donald Holder--Golden Boy

Kenneth Posner--Cinderella

Kenneth Posner--Pippin


Tom Hanks--Lucky Guy

Shuler Hensley--The Whale

Nathan Lane--The Nance

Tracy Letts--Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

David Hyde Pierce--Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike


Tracee Chimo--Bad Jews

Amy Morton--Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Vanessa Redgrave--The Revisionist

Joely Richardson--Ivanov

Cicely Tyson--The Trip to Bountiful


Bertie Carvel--Matilda: The Musical

Santino Fontana--Cinderella

Rob McClure--Chaplin: The Musical

Billy Porter--Kinky Boots

Matthew James Thomas--Pippin


Lilla Crawford--Annie

Valisia LeKae--Motown: The Musical

Lindsay Mendez--Dogfight

Patina Miller--Pippin

Laura Osnes--Cinderella


Danny Burstein--Golden Boy

Richard Kind--The Big Knife

Jonny Orsini--The Nance

Tony Shalhoub--Golden Boy

Tom Sturridge--Orphans


Cady Huffman--The Nance

Judith Ivey--The Heiress

Judith Light--The Assembled Parties

Kristine Nielsen--Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

Vanessa Williams--The Trip to Bountiful


Will Chase--The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Dan Lauria--A Christmas Story

Raymond Luke--Motown: The Musical

Terrence Mann--Pippin

Daniel Stewart Sherman--Kinky Boots


Annaleigh Ashford--Kinky Boots

Victoria Clark--Cinderella

Charlotte díAmboise--Pippin

Andrea Martin--Pippin

Keala Settle--Hands on a Hardbody


Bette Midler--Iíll Eat You Last

Martin Moran--All the Rage

Fiona Shaw--The Testament of Mary

Holland Taylor--Ann

Michael Urie--Buyer & Cellar


[Presented for a New American Play, preferably by a New American Playwright, but as Originally Conceived, this was intended to Recognize & Encourage an Emerging Young Talent, not a Single Play]

Ayad Akhtar--Disgraced

Paul Downs Colaizzo--Really Really

Joshua Harmon--Bad Jews

Samuel D. Hunter--The Whale

Aaron Posner--My Name is Asher Lev


Irish Repertory Theatre: Charlotte Moore, Artistic Director, & Ciarán OíReilly, Producing Director--in recognition of 25 Years of producing Outstanding Theatre.

Nominations Talley for 3 or More:

11--Pippin; 9--Kinky Boots;  8--Chaplin: The Musical, Cinderella; 6--Golden Boy, The Nance; 5--Dogfight, Matilda; The Musical; 4--Here Lies Love, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Trip to Bountiful, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; 3--Bad Jews, Hands on a Hardbody, The Whale.

NOTE: The Nominating Committee attended all of this Seasonís Broadway Productions prior to the OCC Awards cut off date. [The Other Place was considered & nominated last season, when it was produced Off Broadway.]

2012 13 Outer Critics Circle Executive/Nominating Committee:

Simon Saltzman [President]

Mario Fratti [Vice President]

Patrick Hoffman [Corresponding Secretary]

Stanley L. Cohen [Treasurer]

Glenn Loney [Historian & Member at Large]

Rosalind Friedman [Recording Secretary]

Aubrey Reuben, Thomás Gentile, & Harry Haun [Members at Large]



Previously, Your Roving Arts Reporter has given the Humana Festival its own Separate Slot, but this time, itís included in the April Report because, well, I attended in Early April!


THE 37th HUMANA FESTIVAL: Showcasing New Plays on Main Street in Louisville

Not only does the Actors Theatre Louisville produce a variety of New American Plays each Spring Season, it also welcomes the American Theatre Critics Association [ATCA] to present the Annual Harold & Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award.

This Award is, of course, Memorialized by Plaque, but Jim Steinberg--in Memory of His Parents--writes a Check for $25,000. This is one of the most munificent Playwriting Prizes out there.

This Spring 2013, the Winner is Robert Schenkan, for his Lyndon Johnson Meditation, All the Way, dealing with LBJís No Holds Barred Campaign to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But thatís not all of the Steinberg New Play Encouragement: There are also Two [Runner Up] Citations, with checks for $7,500 each!

One year, Arthur Miller was one of these Runners Up, with a failed drama called The Ride Down Mount Morgan

This Yearís Citations were awarded to Johanna Adams, for Gidionís Knot, & to Lucas Hnath, for Death Tax.

[He should, perhaps, have a Special Citation for the Spelling of his Family Name. That is not a Spelling Error, no matter what your Microsoft Spell Check tells you]


Theatre Journalism & Drama Criticism Re Invent Themselves in the Digital Age!

Just in case you didnít Know What To Think about the New Plays at the Humana Festival, the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism provided, "the pop up newsroom."

This was touted as "New Journalism for the New Culture: Your go to site for everything about HumanaFest plays."

Among those Blogging about the Plays & their Actors Theatre Productions were: Suzi Steffen of OregonArtsWatch, Lou Harry of the IndianapolisBusinessJournal, Chris Klimek of WashingtonCityPaper, Douglas McClennan of, & Steven Leigh Morris of LA Weekly.

Of course, anyone with a Cell Phone or an iPad could register His or Her Opinions Online, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, & the ActorsTheatreLouisville Website.

With the Sudden Deaths of some Newspapers & the Slower Demise of some Famed Magazine Titles--Newsweek is Dead; No one wants to buy Time--Schools of Journalism, especially Graduate Schools of Journalism, are having rapidly to re tool for Ether Journalism.

Forget about Stop the Presses!

Forget about Copy Desks!

Forget about Fact Checkers!

Especially: Forget about Investigative Journalism

As for Ethics in Journalism--or in Criticism--who is going to Monitor the Hordes of Blogs on the Internet?


THE PANEL: Charting the Course: New Play Directors in Conversation

How can you have a Theatre Festival without having a Panel?

Panels lend a Serious Academic Air to what otherwise might have been mistaken for just a bunch of Theatre Loving Hired Hands trying to explain What It Is That They Do.

Among the Panel Participants were Les Waters--the Award Winning Artistic Director of ActorsTheatreLouisville & Owner of a Fabulous Left Forearm Tattoo [Maori ?]; Tom Dugdale--of the fabled La Jolla Playhouse, as well as a Guest Lecturer in Graduate Directing at the University of California at San Diego; Amy Attaway; Meredith McDonough; Lila Neugebauer, & [as Moderator] Kwame Kwei Armah--Artistic Director of Baltimoreís CENTER STAGE & Chancellor of The University of the Arts London!

A Question: How is Graduate Directing different from Undergraduate Directing?

For those who could not be Present for the Panel, it was Digitally Recorded by a Large Electronic Device up in the Seating Area, while the Panel Participants--down in the Playing Area of the Bingham Theatre--played Musical Chairs, to make sure that everyone would get some Face Time


A Big Kentucky Welcome To the Humana Festival: Greetings!

Artists, Agents, Authors, Directors, Producers, Fund Raisers, Play Reviewers, & Drama Critics!

Every Humana Festival begins with a Thursday Evening Get Together at one of the Palatial Mansions of Louisville, with an Open, Friendly Generosity that defines Hospitality & Good Living in the Bluegrass State.

On Mockingbird Lane, we were YUMily Welcomed with a Bountiful Buffet. But no Col. Harlan Sanders Original Recipe Chicken Wings, alas.

Everyone on the ActorsTheatre Staff--from the Top down--seemed eager to Aid, Inform, Facilitate, & Amuse.

Although there had been a Saturday Get Acquainted Breakfast in recent years, this Spring there was Breakfast available the Entire Weekend.

Oddly enough, the Breakfast Buffet was down in the Basement, but the Donated Coffee was Upstairs in the Ornate Sarah Schellenberger Lobby.

With No Elevators for the Handicapped, this was a bit Tricky: Combining Coffee with Cheese Grits

As a Tribute to Welsh Poet/Playwright Dylan Thomas, the Temp Restaurant was named Milkwood. Not Silkwood

Shades of Under Milkwood!

But nothing like Manhattanís White Horse Tavern, where Dylan liked to tipple a bit.

Why couldnít they also have Biscuits & Gravy, if they can manage Grits?


Branden Jacobs Jenkinsí APPROPRIATE [★★★]

Oh! Look! I Just Found Grandpaís Old Ku Klux Klan Hood!

Quite aside from the Sensations produced when Three Siblings meet to divvy up their Ancient Sireís Possessions, the Scampering Antics of the Stage Crew--rapidly Un Dressing the elaborate Plantation Manor House setting of Antje Ellermann--were a Show in Itself!

Naturally, the One Who Stayed to look after the Dying Father believes she has More Rights than her two Brothers: One, Feckless; the Other, Up Tight.

The Lafayette Inheritance includes the rotting Arkansas Mansion & its Dusty Drapes.

But thereís also a disturbing Scrapbook: It is crammed with Picture Postcards of Negro Lynchings.

Yes, Indeed!

In the Good Old Days, the Good Old Boys used to photograph these Extra Legal Events, selling the Ghastly Black & White Images on Regulation Size Post Cards that you could send through the US Mail to let Relatives & Friends know what you were up to way down in the Unreconstructed Southland.

Some of the Characterizations & Motives in the Appropriate Script need some fine tuning, but this rather Inappropriate Family Reunion should prove to be a Winner in Regional Theatre.


Mallery Avidonís O GURU GURU GURU, or why I donít want to go to Yoga Class with you [★★★]

Does Julia Roberts Know That Sheís Been Seen Onstage at the Humana Festival?

Julia Roberts doesnít actually Levitate in Guru Guru Guru &&&&&, but she is featured, Lotus Position & all that

This is an Hilarious Spoof of the Varied Brands of Yoga now on offer for those who feel that the Asian Way is better than Western Medicine.

Itís all about the Pelvis!

On entering, Audience Members are encouraged to Check Their Coats, depositing them on Hangers on the Rolling Racks Center Stage. These are wheeled off when The Lecture begins.

Unfortunately for the Projected Slide Show, no Photos of Famous Gurus can be shown, owing to Copyright Protections. So we are looking at a Blank Screen

Not to Worry: Soon, some Intrepid Spectators will take off their Shoes--not for Airport Security, but for greater Yoga Comfort, as they explore Pelvic Power. They kneel on attractive Silken Pillows.

There is also an instructive Shadow Puppet Play that explains how Parvati saved her child by replacing his own Severed Head with that of an Elephant, making him into Ganesh, the Hindu Equivalent of the Roman Catholic St. Jude.

This is such a Fun Show that it surely must come to Manhattan, Pelvis & all


Jeff Augustinís CRY OLD KINGDOM [★★]

Papa Doc Is Now Long Gone, But Ghastly Memories Linger On

Perhaps the On going Horrors of Haitiennes still trying to survive that Devastating Hurricane are worse than what they experienced under the Ton Ton Macoutes & Papa Doc Duvalierís Disastrous Dictatorship.

Then, again, perhaps Not!

Edwin--now a Walking Ghost, but once a successful Haitian Artist--discovers a young man on the shore, making a Boat that surely wonít float, to escape to America.

This Vision re animates Edwin as an Artist. But, when his wife gets caught in an Anti Duvalier Protest, he saves her by betraying the young man

Too bad Edwin didnít live next door, in the Dominican Republic. Oscar de la Renta--who has a fabulous Estate there--could have collected his Paintings



You Slept on My Couch & Stole My Ideas, So Now I Want a Blurb for My Book!

Now that the Era of the Printed Book is coming to a Digital End, Authorial Problems like those exposed in The Delling Shore will soon be a Thing of the Past.

The Summary of the Play offered by ActorsTheatre suggests that Words Become Weapons in this Duel between Authors, One Successful; the Other, Not

Frankly, I didnít believe in the Character of Frank Bay, the Desperate Failure, nor in the Premise of this Play.

Publish On Line, Frank. Forget about the Blurbs. Itís the Blogs that count now!

Get Your Face on Facebook! Dump your Old Manuscripts on


Will Enoís GNIT [Minus Stars]

No Song of Norway Nor Ibsenís Words Set To Edvard Griegís Peer Gynt Suite

In the Bio, it says that Will Eno has never been to Norway.

Nor will he soon be summoned there by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture

Eno, enough!

Write Your Own Play: Donít waste your time on Reductions of Modern Classics.

Gnit isnít even an effective example of Frenchified Jacques Derrida Deconstruction of Texts.

Nonetheless, Antje Ellermannís Cartoonish Cutout Fir Trees were charming.


Rinnie Grof, Lucas Hnath, & Anne Washburneís SLEEP ROCK THY BRAIN [★★★]

I Dreamt I Dwelt--Not in Marble Halls--But in The Lincoln Performing Arts School!

Although there are seemingly Endless Blocks of Old & New Buildings with Retail Space Available for Lease on Louisvilleís Main Street, one Bright Spot in all this Urban Discouragement is the Brand Shining New Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School--with its Relentlessly Industrial Design Concept.

The Schoolís Slogan is: Where the Arts Start

Thatís Very Brave: to create another School of The Performing Arts in a time of Digital Revolution--when the Theatre of the Future may very well be visible on your Wrist Watch, performed by Robots programmed in Bangladesh.

But Lincoln is not another High School of The Performing Arts

No, Indeed Not!

It is an Elementary School, a Magnet for Kids in Kindergarten up to Fifth Grade!

Are these Kids in training to replace the Broadway Kids in Annie, Matilda, & even Newsies?

Nonetheless, it was instructive to discover how the Industrial Strength Machines & Electronics of the Lincolnís Black Box could be put to the Uses of Plays about Sleep & Brain Functions!

As Americans--as well as Other Kinds of People--spend as much as One Third of Their Lives in Sleep, it is certainly a Challenge to Imaginative Playwrights to devise Scenarios for Mapping Sleep, Removing Sleep Dysfunctions, Studying What Goes On in Sleeping Brains, & even Sending Astronauts Aloft in a Dreamscape.

These Three Dream Plays deftly interlocked, with the Overhead Tracks permitting some Cirque du Soleil Gyrations that should give the Actors Theatre Acting Apprentice Company--who animated these Scenarios--a chance to Audition for the Cirque School up in Montreal. Or is it in Québec

This Sleep Safari is Multi Disciplinary, also involving the University of Louisville School of Medicine & ZFX Flying Effects, among others.

Not only was there the Actual Show, but there was also a Panel: Sleep & Dreaming: From Neuroscience to Psychoanalysis.

Not to Overlook the Sleep Rock Thy Brain Art Contest, inspired by Francisco Goya y Lucientesí The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Nor to Forget the Dedicated you can share your Stories about Sleep & Dreaming!



When John Jory was in charge of Actors Theatre Louisville, the Humana Fest always included Telephone Plays, which could be overheard on the Mezzanine on some of those Old Fashioned Bell System Pay Phones.

Now Long Gone

But the fabled Ten Minute Plays remain on the Program.

Once Upon a Time, they really did seem to last only Ten Minutes.

But Not Now!

Some seem Interminable--but that may just be a Matter of Perception.

There are at least Two Ways to pronounce Minute: Min Ut & My Newt--as in Very Small.

The Best Ever Ten Minuter at the Humana was surely that one about the Pillsbury Doughboy.



Thank God, They Didnít Have In Flight Meals on Their Trays When They Crashed!

This Four Hander was a disappointment, being the Handiwork of such a Talented Playwright. No hints of the Ingenuity shown in her Vibrator Play


Emily Schwendís HALFWAY [★★]

Pecan Squares? Is That All You Know How To Cook? What Kind of Person Are You, Anyway?

You cannot really repair the Damage done long ago. Not even with Food Offerings in a Halfway House.


Jonathan Josephsonís 27 WAYS I DIDNíT SAY "HI" TO LAURENCE FISHBURNE [★★★★]

Let Me Count the Ways You Could Say "Hello" to Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman?

This was Hilarious, offering a number of Comic Walk Ons, as Josephsonís Alter Egos parade across the stage, before an Astonished Stand In for Laurence Fishburne!


Re Fighting the Civil War at the Met Museum: But in Vintage Photos, Not with Pot Shots

Actually--although you can follow the Progress of what Southerners still prefer to call The War Between the States--The Met Museumís Civil War Image Blockbuster is also very much about the Development of American Photography during the Four Year War.

But, even today, some Americans regret that Matthew Brady & others took no Actual Battle Photos.

Given the fairly Primitive Circumstances required for developing Metal or Glass Plates in a Photography Studio, consider how difficult it would have been to Halt the Battle of Gettysburg so that Brady could pose the Blue & Gray Combatants.

"General Grant! Are you ready for your Close Up?"

Speaking of that very Battle, the Met Show coincides with the Battleís Sesquicentennial, dated from 1 3 July 1863.

Open until 2 September 2013, Photography & the American Civil War presents not only Battlefield Slaughter Shots: Platoons of Dead Bodies, but also Portraits of the Leaders: Abe Lincoln, Jeb Stuart, as well as smaller Daguerreotypes & Tintypes of Great Generals & Common Soldiers.

There are more than 200 Photographic Images on view, some made by Unknowns, but many from Matthew Bradyís Studio, which employed other Photographers as well.

Thirty Six Striking Photos are Prints from Negatives housed at the Library of Congress.

Hereís General William Tecumseh Sherman on Horseback at Federal Fort No. 7, Atlanta, Georgia.

Next in Sequence is Shermanís Men Destroying Railroad, Atlanta, Georgia.

But Not in Color, like David O. Selznickís Film, Gone with the Wind

The Grim Hanging of Mrs. Surratt & the Other Assassination Accomplices are documented in several sets of images.

If you find a Photo of the Corpse of John Wilkes Booth anywhere in this show, it must be a Fake someone stuck in for a Joke.

Booth was supposedly Burned to Death in that Barn he was hiding in

Nonetheless: Thinking about Six Degrees of Separation, I--once in Childhood, at a Side Show--actually saw the Dried, Shrunken Mummy of Boothís Body, with the Rope Marks of a Later Hanging on his Neck!

For that matter, My Great Aunt Euphemia was able to recall for me her Witnessing Lincolnís Funeral Train on its way to Springfield!

They sold Picture Postcards of the Black Draped Train: Another Advance in American Photography!

I also have a Vestige of Mrs. Jefferson Davis: Her Signed Calling Card, from her Later Days in New York Society, after that Disastrous War.


Islamic Art: Making the Invisible Visible--

Complete with Airport Security Style Bag Checks at the Metís Front Door: No Jihadists Welcome!

The compact new show in the Met Museumís Islamic Galleries is not an instance of: Now You See It; Now, You Donít.


If it were not for the Metís Skilled Conservation Experts, many Design Details that Faded from Sight Decades or Centuries ago would not now be able to yield up Their Secrets, including the Materials that were used to create them.

We see only Visible Light, but the Met can use Ultra Violet & Infrared Radiation, as well as X Rays!

The new show not only offers Examples of Art Restored, but also explains how Methods have been developed to Preserve Priceless Carpets or Mend Fractured Ceramics.

But what do you do when an Ancient Manuscript--illustrated with a Copper Based Pigment--begins to be eaten through by the Toxic Oxide?

In an Advanced State of Deterioration, some Handsome Historic Calligraphy, over time, will begin to look like Stencil Patterns for Writing that is No Longer There.

What Visitors do not get to see in this Exhibition--aside from some instructive Photos & Videos--are the Many Conservation Mechanisms in the Metís Lower Regions, where Ancient Carpets can have Lost Sections recreated or re woven.

Many years ago, it was Your Roving Arts Reporterís Good Fortune to have the Grand Tour of the Metís Netherworld, guided by the brilliant Stuart Silver, the Mastermind Designer for many of the Metís Galleries, Cases, & Exhibition Strategies.

Watching the Missing Colored Silk Threads of a badly frayed Prayer Rug being delicately replaced--interwoven with Faded Silk Threads that wouldnít clash with the Old Threads--was Instructive. It takes a Good Eye, a Steady Needle, & a Lot of Time!




SALVAGING THE PAST: Georges Hoentschel & French Decorative Arts from the Met Museum

The Vaults of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are crammed with Treasures that the Ordinary Public will never ever see.

Researchers, Artists, Interns, & Scholars, perhaps

The tremendous Paris Hoard of Bits & Pieces of French Decorative Arts--as displayed by Georges Hoentschel, in 1906, Floor to Ceiling in a Vast Salon--was never going to get such a Display when JP Morgan bought the Lot.

Morgan certainly didnít have space in his already Over Decorated Library. So he gave it to the Met, which had to build an Entire New Wing, designed by McKim, Mead & White.

There were, after all, more than 3,000 Objects--including Medieval & 18th Century Furniture, Paintings, Sculpture, Tapestries, & Ceramics--in the Hoentschel Collection.

Hoentschel was not only a Leading Gallerist, but also a Major Collector of French Decoration.

Eventually, Tastes changed, so the Wing of Decorative Arts now houses Arms & Armor.

So Met Curators put HoentschelĎs Hoard away for Safekeeping or something like that

Morgan kept a few small Bronzes for himself, now also loaned to the Bard Exhibition.

One of the most striking Metal Figures may look like an Old Friend to many New Yorkers: It is on loan from the Frick--Jean Barbetís Angel.

Even showing only some 200 Objects--reduced from the Original Three Thousand--the Bardís Chambers seem stuffed with Golden Beauty


CONFLUENCES: An American Expedition to Northern Burma, 1935

Like Byzantine Constantinople, Itís not British Burma anymore.

Nonetheless, no one had any idea of a Land called Myanmar, way back in 1935, when the Vernay Hopwood Chindwin Expedition set off under the Auspices of the American Museum of Natural History.

If you want to see a Yak Saddle or a Naga Basketry Helmet, this is your show. Also visually enriching are the Vintage Photos & Film Footages. How about Bird Skins?

Interesting that both new Bard Shows are from Major Institutions on opposite sides of Central Park!


At the Leslie & Lohman Museum: Paul Thek & His Circle in the 1950s

They were Golden Boys & also Artists & Gay: Paul Thek, Peter Harvey, Wilbur Pippin, Joe Raffael, & Peter Hujar.

In the interesting Window into the Past that Artist/Designer Peter Harvey has co curated down on Wooster Street, it is instructive to see how Relatively Carefree they all seemed, after the Depression Era & Second World War Repressions.

There are a number of Vintage Artworks & even more Photos--some of which suggest that Paul Thek was a bit Self Absorbed.

Thek became famous--even perhaps Infamous--for his Meat Pieces, Handmade Slabs of realistic looking Flesh, encased in Plastic

But hereís a Photo of The Golden Boys, all in Terry Towels, embracing Tennessee Williams, who looks like heís just been in the Steam Room with the Boys in the Band

That was a Gay Play that Peter Harvey designed!


At the Met Museum: Diego Velázquezí Portrait of Duke Francesco I díEste

The Estense Dynasty moved from Ferrara to Modena, but their Reign was imperiled in the Thirty Years War, when France & Spain were contesting Influence on the Italian Boot--which was Centuries Away from becoming Italy.

So, to solidify an Alliance with Spain, Duke Francesco I traveled to Madrid, where King Philip IV not only hosted him in the Buen Retiro Palace, but also made him Viceroy of Catalonia, Admiral of the Fleet, & Member of the Council of State.

Soon after, Duke Frank was invested with the Order of the Golden Fleece!

Were those not Honours Enough, King Philip commissioned his Court Painter, Diego Velázquez, to paint his Portrait, which is now on view at the Met Museum.

It is certainly a Handsome Likeness, in its Ornate Golden Frame.

But itís Not Very Big

The Reason this Estense Duke has a Room of His Own at the Met is that a Devastating Earthquake in 2012 destroyed Churches, Museums, Famous Buildings, & Art Collections in Modena, Mantua, other fabled cities in the Po Valley.

Modena wants to make us aware of its History & Treasures & would certainly like some Tourism & Financial Assistance in Rebuilding


At MoMA: CLAES OLDENBURG--Seminal Works: The Street, The Store, & the Mouse Museum!

Looking down two floor levels into MoMAís cavernous Atrium, you can see the Black Outlines of the Head of Mickey Mouse.

When you arrive at this Construction, you will find it crammed with all the Stuff that Claes had collected over time, including some Cute Pieces he made himself.

Upstairs, on the Sixth Floor, a Major Gallery is stuffed with Vintage Oldenburgiana: the Seven Foot Diameter Floor Burger & the Eleven Foot Long Floor Cone, among other Astonishments!


At the Galerie St. Etienne: FACE TIME: Self & Identity in Expressionist Portraiture

Even famed German & Austrian Expressionist Painters needed Portrait Commissions from the Wealthy & Powerful--who might be taking their chances if they hoped for a Photographic Likeness.

But such Talents as Egon Schiel, Oskar Kokoshka, Käthe Kollwitz, Gustav Klimt, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, & certainly George Grosz were increasingly interested in drawing & painting Ordinary People.

Not only is this show Visually Striking, it is also accompanied by Jane Kallirís fascinating Verbal Exploration of Expressionist Portraiture.

Gallerist Kallir doesnít actually talk to you, but her printed Essay is masterful. Look for it Online:


Sam Maloof at Bonhamís: Iconic Rocking Chair Sells for $43,750!

In the recent Los Angeles Bonhamís Auction of 20th Century Decorative Arts, my dear & late Friend, Woodworking Artist Sam Maloof was featured with several Important Pieces.

Samís Walnut & Ebony Rocking Chair--which sold for almost $44,000--was made as late in time as 2000.

So what must my Sam Maloof Rocking Chair now be worth?

Sam made it for me way back in 1972, burning his name & mine into the Under Rail of the Chair.

At that time, a Maloof Rocking Chair cost $250. The Music Stand that Sam made for me was a bit more: $750

Also in the Bonhamís LA Sale, Harry Bertoiaís Giant Dandelion was the Leader, being bought for $47,500.

The Sales Total was $1.5 Million, hardly what Christieís Auctions often achieve, but Bonhamís is an Auction House worth watching--which Your Roving Arts Reporter does every week, stopping by its Handsome Quarters in what used to be the IBM Gallery on Madison Avenue.

In fact, Bonhamís in London has just sent me the beautiful Catalogue for its 17 April Auction in Knightsbridge of Decorative Arts from 1860.

This is a Keeper!

If you would like to own such Catalogues, contact Itís that simple


Meanwhile, Over at Christieís in Rock Center: the delighted eye Sets Man Ray Record!

US Born but Paris Acclimated Man Rayís Untitled Rayograph sold for $1,203,750, a Record, in a Christieís Sale that earned $7,654,125 for the entire the delighted eye Collection.

Under a Million, but still Up There were Vintage Photos by Paul Strand, Laslo Moholy Nagy, & Edward Weston.

Robert Frankís Trolley--New Orleans won $663,750 in a separate sale simply titled Photographs.

Important Photos by Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, Peter Beard, & William Eggleston also did well.

As for Arthur & Charlotte Vershbowís magnificent collection of Rare Books, Engravings, & Prints, the Total was almost $16 Million!

Francisco Goya y Lucientesí 33 Prints of Tauromachia was bought for nearly $2 Million. Followed by $843,750 for Goyaís Los Caprichios

Other Artists included in the sale were such Varied Talents as Hans Holbein, Otto Dix, & Piranesi.


The Show of Shows over at the Park Avenue Armory: The Annual NY Antiquarian Book Fair.

Anyone who loved The Catcher in the Rye or The Grapes of Wrath so much that he or she read & re read these Instant Classics so much that their Dust Jackets were finally In Tatters might now regret that.

Top Prices for Steinbeck, Salinger, & Scott Fitzgerald at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair!

Every Year, in fact

But, if you do happen to have a Mint Copy of the Nürnberg Welt Chronik--printed in 1493--you wonít have to worry about New Shoes for the Kids.

Even a Pristine Sheet from the Gutenberg Bible is not just another Old Piece of Paper.

As Facebook, Twitter, & other Online Substitutes for Reading & Writing take over, handsomely designed, printed, & Bound Books will be ever more rare & valuable.

Even if one could not afford some of the Rare Tomes--or even a battered Catcher in the Rye--at the Book Fair, many of the Dealers were generously offering their Handsome Catalogues free to Visitors to their Booths.

Here are some of the Leading Dealers, with some of their Treasures that were On Sale--with the Caveat that most of these Titles are probably still available by Post or On Line:

The hand sized Dealer Guidebook for this, the 53rd Annual, has room for few Ads, but it falls open easily at the Center Fold to disclose Facing Ads for Walt Whitmanís Own Copy of Leaves of Grass, the 1855 First Edition, & Sir Arthur Conan Doyleís Autograph Preface to The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes.

These Rarities were available from Estate of Mind, at Booth A12

There were more than 200 Dealer Booths stuffed into the Park Avenue Armory.

Not only were Rare Book, Print, & Autograph Dealers on hand from all over America, but there were also some Leading British Book Sellers, as well as Rarity Experts from France, Italy, Germany, & The Netherlands.

I couldnít afford even a Second Edition of Leaves of Grass, but, years ago--when there still was a Fourth Avenue, with Second Hand Bookstores on its Lower End--I did find a rather Negative Review of the First Edition in a tattered old Boston Newspaper.

Rather than merely list some of the Major Dealers--all of whom surely by now have their own Websites--Iíd like to mention some of the Handsome Catalogues given me by some Notable Dealers, who surely have additional copies of these, if youíd like to come close to Owning a Rare Book, even if only by Picture Proxy.

Just down the street from me, on Madison Avenue, Ursus Rare Books has a Shop full of Treasures.

If you arenít a New Yorker, you might want to get copies of Ursus Catalogues 305 & 311. Both of these are so handsomely illustrated--in Full Color--complete with Detailed Descriptions of each Rarity, that they are valuable additions to any Bookshelf.

How about Pierre Avelineís Views of Versailles, Marly, et al, with over 50 Full Page Horizontal Engraved Views, Hand Colored & heightened with Gold?

Only $45,000

Maggs Bros, of Berkeley Square, had a large scale Counterculture Catalogue [No. 1462], featuring The Gay Traitor, Tom of Finland, & The Spanish Civil War, among other Cultural Alternatives.

From Santa Monica, came Eric Chaim Kline Bookseller, with Flavius Josephusí Antiquities of the Jews, published in Basel, in 1589.

Josephus--who was a Jew who became a Roman General--is one of the few known Published Authors who was actually alive at the time of the Jewish Rebellion.

This will cost you only $4,000.

[My own richly bound Josephus is in two volumes & has full page woodcuts, including the Second Temple in Jerusalem--destroyed when the Romans put down the Rebellion.]

From Paris, came J F Fourcade, whose fascinating catalogue of Autographes et Manuscrits features colorful illustrations & facsimiles of Autograph Letters of the Great & Famous, including Jean Cocteau & Sacher Masoch.

From Oxford, came the Bookmen from Blackwellís Rare Books. Both the catalogues for Sciences & Antiquarian & Modern--though small format--are rich troves of Book Info.

From the Lowlands, came the Dutch from Asher Rare Books, with monthly catalogues. That for April 2013 lists Jose de Acostaís 1605 Survey of America, with 20 full page engraved Maps, for $62,000

From McMinnville, Oregon, came the folks from Phillip J. Pirages, whose Catalogue 63 is lavishly illustrated & heavy as the Weighty Information inside.

From Beverly Hills, CA, came Heritage Books with--among other Titles--a First Edition of Oscar Wildeís An Ideal Husband, one of only a Thousand Copies printed

Other Keeper Catalogues--all richly illustrated & crammed with informative texts--include those of Librairie Benoît Forgeot in Paris, with Fêtes & Entrées; Ian Brabner, Bookseller, with Catalogue 9: Printed & Manuscript Americana; Clive A. Burden, of Hertfordshire, with Rare Cartography; Raptis Rare Books, of Brattleboro, VT, & Baltimoreís own Kelmscott Bookshop Rare Books, featuring some actual Kelmscott Press imprints, among them William Morrisí Chants for Socialists: The Day Is Coming


Bill Irwin & David Shinerís OLD HATS [★★★★★]

Vaudeville Lives Again! Old Hat Tricks & Women Sawed in Half!

Actually, the Woman in Question seemed to have been Not Sawed, but Sliced, but Not Exactly in Half

Two Thirds of the Way down the Long Red Box into which the cheerful Audience Volunteer had been enclosed, a Sheet of Steel with a Razor Blade Sharp Edge was pressed firmly downward.

In the Final Third of the Red Box, the Audience could see the Two Pink Soxed Feet of the Apparent Victim still wiggling!

Actually--as you may already have guessed--the Woman was not Cut in Half. Or even into Thirds

This was a Classic Magicianís Illusion.

But it did require an Elaborate Prop to achieve the Desired Effect--which was, one hopes, not to Destroy Womankind, but to Astonish the Audience

For many of their Sleights of Hand, however, the Veteran Clown Mimes, David Shiner & Bill Irwin, pulled things out of their Black Top Hats--when they were not Talking Through Them.

One Old Hat just wouldnít stop spewing out endless Curlicues of Paper!

Both Irwin & Shiner work very well with Audience Volunteers: especially in a Silent Film Making Scene.

Kudos to Wendall K. Harrington--the Award Winning Video Auteur--who devised some initial Full Screen Moving Terrors, against which Shiner & Irwin romped frantically.

The marvelous Tina Landau orchestrated all this Fun & Foolishness.

It should Move to Broadway--even though Irwin & Shiner have BeenThere Before.


Mark Janas & DISCOVER OPERA!ís MUSILDA [★★★★]

Have You Guys Talked To Roald Dahlís Agent? Thereís Already a Musical Matilda

Unfortunately for those who Cannot Afford Tickets to Broadwayís New Musical, Matilda, the Manhattan School of Musicís New Musical, Musilda, was a One Night Only Treat.

It was charmingly paired with an Amato Opera in Brief, Jules Massenetís Cendrillon.

Think of what you have missed! You could have saved the Ticket Money for Rodgers & Hammersteinís new Broadway Cinderella, by making do with Massenet!

Whatís more: Farther Up Broadway--just beyond Columbia University--you will see & hear the Stars of Tomorrow: Charming Kids with Great Voices, Fantastic Moves, & a Total Joy in Performing for Folks.

Gordon Ostrovsky staged the two shows, which were funded by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation--with special funding from Sally & Anthony Amato for Cendrillon, to keep the Name of the famed Bowery Based Amato Opera alive.

Gordon Getty, it may be remembered, loved Opera so much that he even effortfully created such works as Plump Jack, based on Christopher Marloweís Falstaff. Or was that Shakespeareís invention


Roald Dahlís MATILDA, THE MUSICAL [★★★]

The Kids Are Great! But Is This Show Caught in a Time Warp?

If you loved the Kids in Annie--with their Hard Knock Life--or even the More Grown Up Newsies, you may have a sense of Déjà Vu when you rush off to the Sam S. Shubert Theatre to see Matilda.

The Youthful School Friends of the Super Intelligent--but Unloved by her Rascal Father [Gabriel Ebert] & Sluttish Mother [Lesli Margherita]--Matilda [Oona Lawrence] work very hard to make this show Work.

But the Songs of Tim Minchin donít have that Original Quality that would make this Show stand out.

The Entire Proscenium of the Newly Restored Décor of the Shubert is overlaid with Giant Scrabble Squares, which actually spell out Different Words, if you become bored with whatís happening on stage.

There is, however, a Laser Show of darting Green Beams that should win some Special Electronic Effects Awards from the Drama Desk. If Theatre Crafts were still alive, possibly Iíd write a Feature about the Lasers

All comes right at the End of the Show, when the Pathological School Tyrant--Crossed Dressed in the Drill Sergeant Persona of Bertie Carvel--is Foiled at Last, with the kindly Miss Honey [the long suffering Lauren Ward] finally adopting the lonely but Much Too Bright Matilda.

In Private Life, Ward is actually married to the Director, Matthew Warchus!

There are actually Four Matildas!

It was suggested--for Awards Purposes--that it might be a Good Idea to have the Awards Nominators see All Four Matildas.

This was Enough of a Strain when we had to see All Three Young Billy Elliots.

Iím sure the Other Matildas are just fine in the Role, but Once Was Enough

Although Designer Peter Darling did devise some Interesting Effects for this Royal Shakespeare Company Generated Production, there was a certain Visual Condescension--that goes all the way back to the 1950s--in Comic Conceptions about Working Class Taste.

How about Three Ducks Flying Skyward on the Living Room Wall?


Tanya Barfieldís THE CALL [★★]

Why Do They Want To Adopt Black African Babies When There Are Unwanted Orphans Here?

The Time is The Present. The Place is "A Metropolitan Area."

The Title of Tanya Barfieldís new Play is The Call.

The Titular Call will let a Childless Young White Couple know that their longed for African Baby is ready for them to Adopt.

The Metropolitan Area might well be Local: perhaps the Couple lives in Park Slope?

They live in an Unusual Apartment, which keeps revolving, to show Various Rooms, including what is to be the Longed For Babyís Bedroom--complete with a Self Assembly Crib, Made in China.

She apparently runs an Art Gallery, although--as played--she seems Not Really On Top of Things.

He was in Africa on some kind of Aid Mission some time ago.

Their Best--possibly their Only--Friends appear to be a lively Black Lesbian Couple, who have been to Africa on a Safari.

Their Next Door Neighbor is an Oddly Laughing African Gentleman who cannot return there

When The Call comes--with a Pixilated Image on a Cell Phone--it becomes apparent that she will become The Parent of a Four Year Old Orphan, whose Entire Family has Died

Who wants a Black Orphan who might well have AIDS

So The Adoption is Off

The Sub Text of this Drama is, of course, about the AIDS Scourge, sweeping Sub Saharan Africa & also about Contaminated Needles: In Africa, not in Park Slope

Playwrights Horizons & Primary Stages jointly produced The Call, which was staged by Leigh Silverman.

But why these estimable New Play Workshops felt it necessary to Join Forces remains a Mystery.

Even in the Elevator--taking various Handicapped Oldsters down to Street Level, including Your Roving Arts Reporter--several Golden Agers asked me what I made of the Evening?

They were baffled

But, only minutes later, we had some real Street Theatre at the Ninth & 42nd MTA Bus Stop:

A Little Old Lady was standing out in the Street, in the Bus Lane, looking toward the Hudson River, for the 42 Crosstowns that never come.

A Tropicana Truck nosed into the Bus Stop, to make a Late Night Delivery.

But, to position his Orange Juice Vehicle closer to the Curb, the Unseen Driver began to back up, almost slamming into the Lady Unawares.

We all shouted & screamed & someone pulled her out of the way.

Apparently, Tropicana Truck Drivers do not have Rear View Mirrors.



See All the Wonderful New Shows Now Vying for Awards Nominations!

Every April, the Executive Board of the Outer Critics Circle--who are also the Nominators for the [coveted] Annual OCC Awards--spend every available Performance Slot studying the Final Entries for the Current Season.

That means that thereís a Pile Up of Playbills on my Desk, so I want to break the Log Jam by noting each show as briefly--but cogently--as possible.

Founded decades ago by Fellow Critics John Gassner--who was my Critic Mentor--& John Mason Brown, the OCC was created as a kind of Theatre Forum for those Critics & Reviewers who wrote for Venues that were not Mainstream Manhattan or that were in New Jersey & Connecticut.

Even though the Drama Desk--which is rather older than the OCC--wants to get its Possible Picks out there before the Tony Nominations, we at the OCC need to be even earlier for our Choices to be useful.

As a Voting Member, since the 1960s, of both the OCC & the Drama Desk--which originally only offered One Prize, the Vernon Rice Award: Who was Vernon Rice?--I was a bit surprised to receive an Urgent E Mail DD Bulletin which contained the Following Information:

"Drama Desk Awards reflect both enthusiasm for all aspects of New Yorkís Professional Theatre & a level of Erudition & Theatrical Experience unparalleled in our Industryís other Prize Giving Organizations."

This came from the Keith Sherman Publicity Shop, but who actually made the Statement above I do not know.

Frankly, I think our OCC Electors are as Erudite & Theatrically Experienced as my Colleagues sitting behind the Drama Desk


Berry Gordyís MOTOWN [★★★★]

All You Ever Wanted to Know about Berry Gordy! And Much, Much More!

It may be difficult to imagine, but there are some People in the World who do not know who Berry Gordy was & is, even today

The Narrative Spine of Motown is a Musical Chronicle of Berry Gordyís Life Line, focusing on the Founding of Motown Records, as well as his Marriage to Diana Ross, of The Supremes.

Bio Musicals--even when they are Juke Box Inflected--can be a Slow Drag: Then I wrote & then I wrote & then I wrote.

Berry Gordy, however, not only wrote Songs, but he was Recording other Song Writing & Performing Talents, as well as Showcasing them & Creating Legends: How about Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, & Michael Jackson!

Not only does Motown blaze Spotlights on All Those Stars & the Motown Catalogue, but it also dazzles with Famed Groups recouping their Triumphs of Yesterday, in fabulously sparkling Costumes by Eosa.

Brandon Victor Dixon is a somewhat Self Absorbed Barry Gordy, but then heís acting out a Character invented by Barry Gordy, who wrote the Showís Book--which is based on Barry Gordyís printed Book!

Outstanding: The Big Voiced young Raymond Luke, who instantly recalls the young Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson, as well as Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross

There is even Audience Interaction: You could find yourself dancing in the dark with Diana!


Douglas Carter Beaneís THE NANCE [★★★]

Itís Curtains for Minskyís Burlesque, As Well as for "Nancy Boy" Comics

Long before Rudy Giuliani became "Americaís Mayor," Fiorello H. LaGuardia was at least Americaís Most Moral Mayor.

They even memorialized him in a Musical called Fiorello

In The Nance, however, Mayor LaGuardia is a Menace: He wants to shut down all Minskyís Burlesque Houses & put a stop to the Smutty Comic Routines of the likes of Chauncey [Nathan Lane], who not only plays but is a well dressed Queer or Fairy.

This wonderfully designed show--Revolving Sets by John Lee Beatty & Period Costumes by Ann Roth--revives the Last Days, not only of Burlesque, but also of the Irving Place Theatre, later replaced by Zeckendorf Towers.

The resourceful Jack OíBrien has staged an Admirable Cast--including Lewis J. Stadlen, Cady Huffman, Jonny Orsini, Jenni Barber, & Andréa Burns--recreating Sexually Provocative Routines & Randy Burlesque Comic Set Ups that once had Sad Old Men wanking off under their Overcoats.

The Irony of Chaunceyís Situation--being a fastidiously clad Middle Aged Homo, who flaunts it on stage--is that he is also a Rigidly Conservative Republican, who cannot believe that the World he has constructed for himself is about to vanish.

Back in the days when the Police Vice Squad regularly beat up Queers & often arrested them for Loitering with Intent, being a Registered Republican is not the kind of Identity Chauncey should maintain.

Even today, the GOP is not hot for Gay Marriage.

In 1937, they put Gays in Jail, even for flouncing on the street. Especially for flouncing on the street

Playwright Douglas Carter Beane--who betrays an Unhealthy Familiarity with what might now be called The Gay Scene way back in Pre War Manhattan--does give Chauncey an unlikely Young Male Lover, whom he Meets Cute at the Horn & Hardart.

The day after I saw the show at the Landmarked Lyceum Theatre, a Baffled Woman--who regularly rides the 42 Crosstown Bus & knows me as a Longstanding Theatre Critic--stopped me on 44th Street to ask:

"What does Nance mean? I couldnít find it in the dictionary."

If she had gone Online & Googled, she might have come up with John Nance Garner, FDRís initial Vice President.

Actually, the Name comes from the Brit Phrase: Nancy Boy.

The English Equivalent of Americaís Sissy Boy

Way back in the Depression Era 1930s, the favored Epithets were Queer & Fairy.

No one thought that Furtive Men who hung around Greyhound Bus Station Menís Rooms were especially Gay.

If you See Something, Say Something!


Richard Greenbergís THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES [★★★]

Christmas Meets Kosher: But Judith Light Brings Light into Familial Darkness.

This Spring, we are having a Festival of Revolving Stages: Not only The Nance, but also The Call

Santo Loquastoís Elegant Settings for The Assembled Parties are almost as interesting as what goes on inside them.

We see the Bubble Headed Shiksa, Julie [played by Jessica Hecht] only on Christmas Day: first in 1980, then in 2000 AD.

Somehow, a Jewish Guy fell in love with her Craziness, resulting in a Son, Scotty, [Jake Silbermann] whose Best Friend [Jeremy Shamos] has a Crush on him.

For me--not Consumed with Interest in the Fates of these Folks--every appearance of the Acidic Faye of Judith Light was a Positive Delight.

Linda Lavin may have been the Jewish Mother from Hell in The Lyons, but Judith Light is the Essential Bitter Truth Teller: You donít want to get in her Line of Fire


David Byrne & Fatboy Slimís HERE LIES LOVE [★★★★]

Donít Cry for Me, Mindinao! The Imelda Marcos Musical--Without Thousands of Her Shoes

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Eat Your Heart Out!

Your Essential Evita has been Air lifted from Argentina to Manila

As Documented in the Historical Record & re imagined by David Byrne, First Lady of the Philippines, Ismelda Marcos, is indeed a Beauty Queen. As dynamically played & sung by Ruthie Ann Miles, she is also a Force of Nature, whom you would not want to Cross.

Somehow, David Byrne--whose Concept & Lyrics animate Here Lies Love--has managed to avoid any mention of Imeldaís Thousands & Thousands of Shoes.

Nor does he offer a Marcos Post Mortem, in which Imelda had her husband, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, frozen in a Coffin with a Glass Window, so she could celebrate His Birthday with him, even after Death

Nor do we get to see Philppine President Corrie Aquino, who succeeded the corrupt Marcos Regime.

We do, however, virtually participate in the Murder of Ninoy Aquino, a Marcos Antagonist, who tried to Unseat the Tyrant.

In fact, most of the Audience down at the Public Theatre participate in almost every Day & Month of the Imelda Marcos Story--which is vibrantly recalled in Newsreel Footage & Song & Dance.

Spectators cannot stand idly by, looking on: they have to keep moving, not to be hit by the various Platforms that are scooted about the Confined Floor Space--with two Stages, at either end of the Crowded Chamber

What a Joy: to look down from a Cramped Box Seat--with my Crippleís Cane--to see Drama Critics dancing, singing along, & waving their arms along with the General Public at the Public!

This is not only an Interactive Musical, but also a Multi Media Marcos Indictment. The Rentals for all the Technical Marvels must be costing the Public an Electronic Bundle!

Outstanding in this Talented Cast are Jose Llana as Marcos, Conrad Ricamora as Aquino, & Melody Butiu as Estrella.

Confined Choreography was created by Annie B Parson, with the ingenious Alex Timbers directing.

Timbers has grown tall on Broadway with such unusual shows as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson & Peter & the Starcatcher.


Frank Wildhorn & Leslie Bricusseís JEKYLL & HYDE [★★★★]

Do We Get Our Wedding Gifts Back, When the Mad Doctor Commits Suicide at the Altar?

Talk about Production Values!

The Jeff Calhoun Directed Revival of Frank Wildhornís Jekyll & Hyde has them in Spades!

Itís worth the pricey Price of Admission just to admire the Almost Always In Motion Scenic Effects of Set & Costume Designer Tobin Ost.

There was a time when some Theatre Critics insisted that Frank Wildhornís Horns were not all that Wild.

In the cavernous Marquis Theatre, however, all the Orchestral Instruments, as well as Solo Voices & Chorus are so Outrageously Amplified, that itís almost impossible to discern the Actual Melodies that lurk below the Outpouring of Sound.

Nonetheless, Constantine Maroulis is a splendid Dr. Jekyll, who could obviously match his Spirited Singing with his impressive Physical Presence--without all that Amperage.

Deborah Cox--as Jekyllís Intended, Lucy Harris--is also both Attractive & Vocally Able.

Oddly enough, nowhere on the Title Page of the Playbill Program does it mention who might have created the Original Horror Story of Dr. Jekyll--A British Dr. Victor Frankenstein, whose Experiments might well make you want to avoid his Prescriptions.

Still, a Show well worth Seeing.

Touts from the Jekyll & Hyde Establishment--festooned with Skeletons--over on West 44th Street are also surging outside the Marquis Box Office, urging Prospective Spectators to have Pre or Post Theatre Drinks & Snacks.

But you might want to take an Official Taster with you: Who knows what Henry Hyde might have put in your Cocktail?


Alan Cummingís MACBETH [★★★]

One Flew Over the Thane of Cawdorís Nest: Three Witches & Three TV Monitors!

Alan Cumming--playing almost all of the Roles in The Scottish Play--received a well deserved Standing Ovation, although some People seemed to be just putting on their Coats.

This Reduction of the Original Script is set in what seems to be a Green Ceramic Tiled Observation Room in some kind of Facility for the Mentally Disturbed.

Although there are also Two White Clad Medical Attendants to help out with some of the Scenes & prevent this Man/Woman Macbeth/Lady Macbeth from doing Excessive Physical Harm to him/herself, this effectual Acting Stunt is really Cummingís Solo Tour de Force.

He has tremendous Energy & Concentration, but, somehow, this Oral Interpretation did not reveal any previously Un Mined Depths in this Legendary Tale of a Failed Dinner Party.

Who would have believed that this Old Play had So Much Blood in it?

A Little Water clears us of this Deed! [Fiji or Poland?]

Out, Damnèd Spot! Out, I say!


Lyle Kesslerís ORPHANS [★★★]

Eugene OíNeill! Eat Your Heart Out! Orphans Is Beyond Beyond the Horizon!

If itís Energy & Fury you are wanting, the new production of Lyle Kesslerís Orphans may be Just the Ticket for you.

See, there are these Two Orphan Brothers, whose Mother has gone & died on them.

Ben Foster, as the Elder Bro, Treat, thinks he is protecting his possibly Retard Brother, Philip, wildly played by Tom Sturridge.

Into each Life some Rain must Fall, so Alec Baldwin--as Harold, also once an Orphan--arrives on the Scene, in North Philadelphia, to destroy Treatís Closeted Paradise--their Scruffy Apartment--from which Philip dare not leave.

Things change dramatically, but All Goes Wrong at the End, when Harold is Murdered

The estimable Daniel Sullivan staged, in the Scruffy Apartment, designed by John Lee Beatty, who usually provides Over Elegant Décor.

Watching this Play in Action, I had the disturbing sense of Déjà Vu--not for what was happening on stage, but from a Dim Memory, years ago, of seeing Steppenwolfís John C. Mahoney play what is now the Alec Baldwn Role.


Clifford Odetsí THE BIG KNIFE [★★★]

Hollywood Exposed! A Major Movie Star Has Career Doubts & Woman Problems!

Following closely on the Heels of the Revival of Clifford Odetsí Golden Boy, the Revival of The Big Knife suggested that a Revival of The Country Girl might not be far behind.

Could Broadway be preparing for a Clifford Odets Festival?

Forget about Awake & Sing--too Immigrant Yiddish Retro

Why anyone would want to revive The Big Knife, however, would have remained a Mystery, had not Roundaboutís Todd Haines explained in Playbill:

"the play is a searing look at the choices we make when the temptations of fame & money prove all too irresistible, & the consequences that we may or may not be able to live with

"What excites me about The Big Knife is how it gives us a window into the Odets who was no longer a young phenom but rather an established talent living with the choices made by his younger self."

Odets, of course, was not the only Broadway Name seduced by Big Bucks in Hollywood, only to discover that his Writing Talents were not to be in service of Art or Truth.

Think of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Revisited now--in the handsome 1948 Beverly Hills Period Setting of John Lee Beatty--The Big Knife looks rather like an Innocent Outline for a future Quentin Tarantino Movie, but without all the Gushing Blood, Ingested or Injected Drugs, Gratuitous Violence, & Salacious Sex.

Yes, there is Blood, on the dress of Marion Castle [an admirable Marin Ireland], after her Errant Husband, Major Movie Star Charlie Castle [a somewhat affectless Bobby Cannavale] has killed himself upstairs.

But in this, Odets is like those Great Greek Tragic Poets, who kept all Scenes of Actual Violence Off Stage

Quentin Tarantino has changed all that: Just imagine what The Big Knife would be like if it were another Pulp Fiction?

Did Tyrone Power or Errol Flynn do Drugs? Did they really do Each Other, as Hollywood Confidential once suggested?

For Broadway Audiences, Clifford Odets was not about to suggest that some Bad Hollywood Choices were Drug Inspired.

Alcohol & Off Stage Sex were Strong Stuff enough way back when.

Nonetheless, Odets did make it clear that Hollywood Moguls were not above having Troublesome People killed to protect their Biggest Investments

Doug Hughes directed a generally strong Cast, including the excellent Richard Kind & Chip Zien.


Colm Toibinís THE TESTAMENT OF MARY [★★★★★]

Fiona Shawís Fierce Jewish Mother Is Not the BVM Catholics Have Been Taught To Worship!

As re envisioned by Irelandís Colm Toibin, Mary, Mother of Jesus, did not raise her boy to be The Son of God.

As fiercely embodied by Irelandís Fiona Shaw--who recalls the Raising of Lazarus & the Wedding Feast at Cana as slightly different events than they have been described in Holy Scripture--Mary did not want her Son to die for the Sins of the World.

At the close, it is clear that Mary believes the World wasnít worth that Sacrifice

Nor did she ever really like that Crew of Misfits that gathered around Jesus, to be His Disciples.

But, rage as she may, she cannot stop them from creating The Greatest Story Ever Told

Shaw is fantastic: she seems to be Mary, not merely playing Jesusí Mother.

Shawís Director, Deborah Warner--with whom she has collaborated on a number of memorable Theatre Projects--permits Mary to smoke Cigarettes, something Mayor Michael Bloomberg would never allow, had he been Mayor of Nazareth centuries ago.

Warner also allows the Audience at the Walter Kerr Theatre to come up on stage to admire the wonderful Vulture with an amazing Wing Span, the tall tortured Tree of Golgotha, surmounted with a Wheel & Vultures, & The Virgin Mary herself, seated in a Clear Plastic Box.

Actually, although All Catholics & most Protestants are supposed to Believe in the Legend of the Virgin Birth, Fiona Shawís Earthy Mary clearly has Seen It All.

Will the New Pope deny Colm Toibin the Absolution & Extreme Unction--on his Death Bed--that His Soul so desperately needs to Enter into The Kingdom of Heaven?

The Testament of Mary will surely be seen by some as not only Apocryphal, but also Heretical!

Nonetheless, Catholic Convent Schoolgirls are sure to love this show.


Horton Footeís THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL [★★★★★]

"You Canít Go Home Again," Said Thomas Wolfe; Horton Foote Says, "Yes, You Can."

Cicely Tyson is both a bit Crazy & a lot Radiant as Mrs. Carrie Watts, a very old Widowed Lady, living in a Cramped Apartment with her Son Ludie [a woman pecked Cuba Gooding, jr] & her Beauty Parlor Addicted Daughter in Law, Jessie Mae [a justly Hair Proud Vanessa Williams].

Having previously seen The Trip To Bountiful only with Casts impersonating Poor Southern Whites, I was at first dubious about the wisdom of changing Horton Footeís small scale story of Economic & Social Impoverishment in Houston, TX, from White to Black.

Truth to Tell, The Trip now seems to have been written about Black Folks, just trying to Survive, stifling in an Unwelcoming Urban Environment.

Although Ludie & Jessie Mae need Carrieís Pension Check to pay the Bills--Ludie isnít earning enough, especially with Jessie Maeís Personal Needs & Whims--Carrie is ordered about by her impatient, demanding Daughter in Law.

She has already tried to run away: her Dream is to return to the Rural Family Home she knew as a child, in Bountiful--a tiny Texas Town that has since fallen off the Greyhound Bus Route Map.

On her Runaway Journey, Carrie is compassionately assisted by Thelma [an affecting Condola Rashad], a War Bride, returning to her Parental Home for the Duration.

When the Sheriff [Tom Wopat] of Harrison, TX, drives Carrie out to whatís left of Bountiful--her Oldest Friend there having just died--she finds the Vine Overgrown House in Ruins.

Nonetheless, the Birds still sing--as they do not in Houston--nor is the Farmed Out Land lacking in a Beauty of Its Own.

A Family Healing takes place, one in which the Joyous Audience also seems to share

Oddly enough, the Front Drop Curtain--by Designer Jeff Cowie--looks less like Houston than Pittsburghís Hill Section in an August Wilson Inner Urban Drama.

Michael Wilson sensitively staged this Admirable Cast: a Must See this Spring Season!


John Loganís IíLL EAT YOU LAST: A Chat with Sue Mengers [★★★★★]

Better Dish Than in the Womenís Magazines at the Gristedesís Check Out Counter!

The Celebrity Agent Sue Mengers is dead, but the Memory Lingers On, at least at the tiny little Booth Theatre, where the redoubtable Bette Midler is wickedly recycling Sue.

As the Divine Miss M was reclining, or literally sinking into, a wonderfully upholstered Sofa Complex--created by Jammal Upholstery, whose Proud Owner sat behind Your Roving Arts Reporter--Bette/Sue was smoking simultaneously on a Joint & a Cigarette

Mengers was notorious for her devotion to various kinds of Stimulants, not least to Hollywood Gossip--much of which she generated--Choice Bits of which get strewn into the Audience.

Her devotion to the Career of Barbra Streisand is a Centerpiece, but her admiration for Client Julie Harris knows No Bounds.

Mengers even reads Shakespeare & other Greats, just to be able to talk intelligently with Julie.

Nonetheless, sheís unable to get Julie cast as Mary Todd Lincoln, because Harris is "Not Sexy Enough."

Well, Hollywood Moguls, what do they know?

Sally Field had to Put on Weight, in order to get Cast as Mary in that Daniel Day Lewis Special

Mengers likes to have Elton John as a Guest, because "He will eat anything."

Except, she adds, "Snatch."

For those who are easily offended by Plain Speaking, Strong Language, or Naughty Tidbits about the Great & Famous of LaLa Land, this may not be the Solo Show for you

Did you know that Steve McQueen was an Abusive Drunk? That he destroyed the Career of Ali McGraw?

Unlike a number of New Broadway & Off Broadway Shows, Scott Paskís handsome Beverly Hills Home for Mengers/Midler does not Revolve.

But--like several new Blockbusters--Audience Participation is encouraged.

One Cute Putz is invited up on stage--but he has to take off his Shoes before treading on the Sacred Carpet--in order to fetch a Silver Box of Cannabis Ciggies from the opposite side of the Stage.

The Genius Director Joe Mantello orchestrated Betteís Sue Impersonation--which was devised by the obviously admiring John Logan, who won an Outer Critics Circle Award for his Mark Rothko Meditation, Red.

Hey! Logan also wrote Martin Scorseseís fantastic Hugo, as well as The Aviator & Daniel Craigís latest Bond Vehicle, Skyfall


Stephen Schwartzís PIPPIN [★★★★★]

Flower Power & Love Generation Coming of Age Musical

Returns to Broadway & a Different World

Some years ago, Dancer, Director, Choreographer Bob Fosse invited me to talk with him about an Up coming Project, which he was not viewing with Especial Excitement.

"Glenn! How do you deal with a Singing Dancing Show which has a Nonentity at its Center?"

Or Words to that Effect

Bob was not only Not Crazy about Stephen Schwartzís Melodic Songs, but he really didnít like Roger O. Hirsonís Cartoonish Book, in which Charlemagneís Ineffectual Son, Pippin, seeks to Find Himself, a Major Love Generation Activity.

The Fosse Solution was to have Ben Vereen as a kind of Dancing Master of Ceremonies.

In the Current Revival, Diane Paulus has staged Pippinís Picaresque Journey through Life in a Circus Tent, where Broadway Gypsies outdo Cirque du Solieilís Aerealists, Acrobats, & Magicians.

Instead of Vereen, we now have Patina Miller as a feisty Ring Mistress, with Matthew James Thomas as the Charlemagne Heir--who was known as Pippin the Foolish.

But Schwartzís Pippin is really a Clueless Love Generation 1968 Hippie.

Fortunately, Thomas can Sing & Dance with the best of them--also, heís a Whiz at Circus Skills--but his Character still a Dancing/Singing Vacuum.

Fortunately, this Lively Show--with Lots of Players in the Aisles!--also features Terrence Mann, Charlotte díAmboise, Rachel Bay Jones, & the wonderful Andrea Martin--who stops the show with Gusts of Applause.

Among the Circus Side Show Magic Tricks, thereís the old Knife Thrower Routine, practiced by Charlemagne himself.

[This same Knife Routine turned up the very next evening over at City Center, where it was used on La Périchole, a Street Singer in what was supposed to be 18th Century Peru, but looked more like a Downscale Version of the Las Vegas Strip]

Cirque du Solieil, Eat Your Heart Out!

We donít have to go all the way up to Citi Field to see Totem!

We have all the Circus Spectaculars right on Broadway, with Chet Walkerís Fosse Derivative Choreography.


At Christieís: The Power of Pink: The Princie Diamond Sells for $39,323,750

Shah Jahan built the fabulous Taj Mahal as a Memorial for his much beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

He was one of those fabulous Mughal Muslim Emperors who had more Jewels & Treasure than they knew what to do with

The Maharajah of Baroda was so fabulously Wealthy that he was--on occasion--photographed running his Fingers through Bins of Diamonds, Rubies, Sapphires, & Other Precious Stones.

Once, it is rumored, he even offered Edwina, Lady Mountbatten--whose hubby, Prince Charlesí Uncle, was then Viceroy of India--a Handful of Jewels.

The fabled Nizam of Hyderbad was no less generous, but he was not about to give away his fabulous Golconda Diamond. Instead, he sent it for Auction in 1960, where it was bought by Van Cleef & Arpels.

When this Remarkably Faceted Stone was shown in Paris--at the shop of Van Cleef & Arpels--it was "christened" the Princie, in honor of the Teen Age Prince of Baroda, who was in attendance, along with his Mother, the Maharani Sita Devi.

At that time, Van Cleef & Arpels paid £46,000 for the Princie, equivalent of $1.3 Million today.

Considering how many Millions were then starving in India, it makes you wonder--as the Mughal Emperors were Nominal Muslims--why they were not obeying The Prophet & giving Alms to the Poor?

Giving a Handful of Gems to the Vice Reine of British India was not exactly the same thing as giving Alms to starving Cobra Tamers

[It was whispered about that Edwina was having an Affair on the Side with Nehru, but thatís Tabloid Stuff. It was thought that Lord Mountbatten--born a German Battenberg--was sexually indifferent, if not Gay.]

Anyway, when the Princie was on display at Christieís--in a small Black Box of a room--its Ingenious Faceting, seen from various angles, made it seem magically to Change Colors.

The Security Guard sternly told me that I was to take No Photographs.

Not of the Princie, nor of any of the other valuable Jewels, Rings, Necklaces, Earrings, Brooches, Tiaras, Diamond Settings, or even the fabulous Parure, in its own Special Case, that must have once belonged to a Lady of Title.

The Princie was purchased by "an Anonymous Collector, bidding by Phone."

The Previous Record for fabulous Diamond Sales at Christieís was the $24.3 Million, paid in 2008, for the fabulous Wittelsbach Diamond.

The House of Wittelsbach--the Longest Ruling Dynasty in Europe, Monarchs of Bavaria--lost it all after World War I, by backing the Prussian Kaiser. But the Heirs still have a Suite of Apartments in Schloss Nymphenburg.

Sales Totals, including the Princie, were a fabulous $81,358,700

Other fabulous Sales included $4.5 Million for a Rectangular Cut D Color VVS1 Diamond, followed by the $3,259,750 paid for a Harry Winston Diamond Ring--by Graff Diamonds--who have a shop up on Madison Avenue.

Seven other Jewels & Set Gems sold for more than a Million Dollars!

This makes the Otherwise Impressive $5.3 Million Gem & Jewelry Sale over at Bonhams on Madison--in the IBM Building--pale in comparison.

Nonetheless, Tales of Fabulous Mughal Wealth do not always have Happy Endings.

Shah Jahan was ripped from his Throne by his Second Son, Aurang Zebe, who first poisoned his Elder Brother, the Rightful Heir.

Mumtaz Mahalís Loving Husband lived out his life imprisoned, but Aurang Zebe permitted him a Cell with a View of the Taj Mahal

Ben Jonson wrote an Elizabethan Tragedy about this.


Speaking of Christieís: How About $5 Million+ for Russian Works of Art?

If you had bid $500,000, you could have taken home a Magnificent Silver Mounted Porcelain Imperial Presentation Vase, created for Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna.

Or one of those Imperial Romanov Grand Duchesses: I may have read the Info Card incorrectly

But at least I was allowed to photograph all the Impressive Russiana on display.

Including a Collar Of The Order of St. Andrew The First Called, which sold for $315,750.

Not, you understand, an Order of the Garter, but nonetheless

Then there was that Opulent Eye Auction, with a superfluity of Gold Ormolu: Total--$4 Million!

Who says the Economy is not Recovering?


Building the Blue Box--with White Ribbon--over the Rock Center Skating Rink!

At least Employment was recently being provided for Technicians & Construction Workers over at Rockefeller Center, where an immense Blue Box was constructed over what should have been the Skating Rink, available to New Yorkers & Tourists alike.

But, No!

No Skating!

I couldnít even get close enough to make a Photo, as Uniformed Police & Police Barriers kept out Ordinary People while the Black Tie & Couturier Clad Crowd thronged down the Promenade for a One Night Only Tiffany Bash.

The Goodie Bags must have been Fabulous, for Tiffanyís clearly paid for the Fabulous Presences of Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, & Kate Hudson.

These Glamor Girls have better things to do than stand about looking Fabulous for the Admiring Eyes of the Wealthy & Super Wealthy. You have to Pay for their Presence

Who says the Economy is not Recovering?

Nonetheless, even Ordinary People can now admire the Fabulous Art Deco Fountain Motif that has been hand taped all over Tiffanyís Mother Building on Fifth Avenue.


Silent Stone Sentinels Stand Tall Behind Rock Centerís Blue Box

By the time you read this, the Tiffany Blue Box & White Bow will be gone from the Rockefeller Center Skating Rink.

But--even more impressive!--Ugo Rondinoneís Nine Stone Two Legged Monoliths will be standing above the Skating Rink Level.

This is another one of those Very Costly Public Art Installations--like that Cute Elevated House for Chris Columbus on Columbus Circle & the Collapsed Spiral Staircase near the Plaza Hotel on East 59th Street, called Fir Tree, for some reason.

Rondinone--who is Swiss Born, but NY Based--calls these Tons of Stone HUMAN NATURE.

If you missed the Rock Center Christmas Tree, these Archaic Figures now stand where the now Firewood & Mulch Holiday Symbol once stood.

Massive Slabs of Bluestone were quarried by Rondinone, leaving their Surfaces as they existed in Nature, but re conformed in a kind of Post & Lintel Balance, to suggest the Main Elements of the Human Form, such as Legs, Torsos, & Heads!

Just in case--if you wander by & wonder what this is All About--these Figures are "Mythic in Scale & Imagery, Visceral in Character & Impact," reconnecting "the Contemporary World with our Most Ancient Origins."

Tell that to Hassidic Jews.

Or even to Evangelical Christians--who take the Bible literally: Where does it say in Holy Writ that we are descended from a Race of Stone Giants?

Nonetheless, you cannot say that the Public Art Fund is not Doing Its Job!

Didnít we already have Jeff Koonsí immense Floral Dog at Rock Center, even though it was first shown outside the Railroad Station in Kassel, Germany?

Or was that the Railroad Station in Hannover?

How about Jonathan Borofskyís Walking in the Sky in Rock Center?

It, like all that Murakami Stuff, is now gone, but another copy of Walking in the Sky still stands outside the Railroad Station in Kassel, a Relic of a long ago Documenta Exhibition.

The Best of these Rock Center Artworks was Anish Kapoorís Sky Mirror: In its Concavities & Convexities, you could get Great Photos of the Skyscraper Skyline


August Strindbergís THE DANCE OF DEATH [★★★★★]

Swedish Sparring Partners Make the Most & the Least of Their Marriage from Hell

Years & years ago, up at the Yale Drama School, a very young Christopher Durang--after reading August Strindbergís Dance of Death--thought that the Disastrous Marriage of Edgar & Alice was more like a Boxing Match than Wedded Bliss.

And so it was that Durang wrote Play Strindberg, performed in a Boxing Ring, with a Gong to indicate the Rounds. There was even a Referee, Aliceís much abused Cousin Gustav

At Yale, at that time, the Stars of the Future were in training. Among them, Sigourney Weaver & Glenn Close, as well as Chris Durang.

Now, down at the Lucille Lortel, the Red Bull has mounted a production that is certainly No Holds Barred, but, nonetheless, with No Gloves On.

In Beowulf Borritís Period Setting--dominated by a painting of Alice, the Actress, who gave up her Career to marry Edgar, the Gruff Captain of a Military Garrison on an Island off the Mainland--Verbal Mayhem & occasional Physical Assaults are the rule.

So itís good that the Children are going to school on the Mainland

Enter Gustav, who has been in America--of which we hear no more during the entire play. He has, perhaps, been the Matchmaker for this Ill Matched Couple, but he also has cherished a fondness for Alice.

Between the two of them, Edgar & Alice contrive to reduce Gustav to Spiritual Rubble.

The Captain--even with his Bad Heart--is fond of Dancing, or Stomping, about their Parlor, hence the Dramaís Title.

Directed by Joseph Hardy, Daniel Davis was an excellent Captain, with Laila Robbins a vibrant, vindictive Alice.

Quite a contrast the Laila Robbins weíd just seen at the Friarsí Club, announcing the Nominees for the Outer Critics Circle Annual Awards!

Derek Smith was a much put upon Gustav: He should have stayed in America


Jacques Offenbachís LA PÉRICHOLE [★★★]

If Youíre the Viceroy of Peru, You Get To Take Off Your Clothes a Lot

Entering what was once an Intricately & Arabically Decorated Shrine Mosque--former home of the New York City Ballet & the New York City Opera--I was astounded to see, instead of a Great Golden Curtain, a Green Drop, with an Inca Death Mask on it.

That could well served as a Symbol--or a Warning--of what Stage Director Christopher Alden did to what is essentially a Period Tale of Street Singers who Make It Big in Spanish Vice Regal Peru, a Mountain of Gold at that time.

First, the Singing was very good, especially the Périchole of Marie Lenormand & the Piquillo of Philippe Talbot.

But the Grotesque Antics which Alden conjured up for them & the Rest of the Cast to perform must have taxed their Voices, not to overlook their Bodies.

Itís a wonder the Viceroy himself [a long, lanky Kevin Burdette] didnít catch cold, so often was he stripped to his Jockies.

If the Production had been stripped of all the Gratuitous Clowning, it could have been mercifully shortened by at least a Third.

Among the Unnecessary Side Shows was subjecting Périchole to that old Circus Favorite to Throwing Knives at a Glamorous But Helpless Victim, bound to a Target.

[Just the evening before, the same Trick was used in Pippin, over on Broadway--but with far better results. Here, it looked like just one more Dumb Stunt]

Paul Steinbergís Basic Set was an Enclosure decorated with what looked like Fractured Tile Fragments, alleviated by Cactus & Llama Shaped Piñatas that bounded up & down above the Frantic Action.

Unfortunately, what Alden does not understand about the City Center Stage vs Auditorium Conformation--learnt long ago when Maestro Julius Rudel & Beverly Sills were creating the NYCO--is that the Center of Action has to be confined to a Triangle--with the Point Upstage--in the Center, or those up in the Mezzanine & Balcony cannot see what may be going on at the Downstage Sides.

There are two Alden Brothers, both Post Modernist Stage Directors, whose often bizarre productions suggest that they do not Trust either the Operas they are staging or their Audiences.

David Alden--very popular in Europe, where they are supposedly bored with the Original Narratives--is the most Ingenious. But still

Offenbachís La Périchole has some wonderful Melodies, but they work more effectively in Period Productions, which Iíve seen both in Paris & in Munich.

At least the current Périchole brings the NYCO back to its Original Home, having been thrust out of what is now the David H. Koch Memorial Theatre, at Lincoln Center.


Five Major New Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum:


Bright Orange Walls for the Delicate Watercolors of John Singer Sargent!

Considering the Delicacy of some of John Singer Sargentís Watercolor Visions of Formal Gardens, itís puzzling why the Curators permitted the Exhibition Halls at the Brooklyn Museum to be painted Orange.

Except for a few well known Portraits, the Watercolors cannot fight the Walls.

This otherwise Handsome Show will continue until 28 July 2013.

Bring Sun Glasses!


What To Do with Old Tin Can Lids! Monumental Works by El Anatsui!

The various Tribes of Ghana & Nigeria must be eating a lot of Canned Foods!

Not to overlook the Gallons of Liquids they have been drinking

Ghana born El Anatsui loves to make immense & colorful Wall Hangings & Floor Sculptures of discarded Bottle Tops & Tin Can Lids.

The Met Museum has one hanging in its African Section, but one of the most striking in the Gravity & Grace show over at the Brooklyn Museum is on loan from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi!

There are also what look like Huge Lead Shopping Bags on the Gallery Floors: These are made of Scrap Sheet Metal Fragments.

Found Objects are the Working Materials of El Anatsui, so Street Cleaners in Lagos [Nigeria] should be thankful to have this Unusual Artist using what they otherwise would have to throw on the already Mountainous Dump Heaps.

If you cannot get over to Brooklyn before 4 August 2013--the Closing Date for this Shimmering Show--click onto the Museumís Website for a Closer Look


Considering Life, Death, & Transformation in the Americas

Ben Franklin once said that there are Two Certainties: Death & Taxes

But, in order to Die, one first has to be Born, so it makes sense to deal with both & some In Betweens in the fascinating exploration of Life, Death, & Transformation in the Americas, recently installed at the Brooklyn Museum as a Long Term Exhibition.

Drawing on the Museumís extensive collections of Cult & Cultural Artifacts from Hopis, Aztecs, Incas, Tlingits, & other diverse Tribal Hoardings--the Finds from many Anthropological Expeditions made by Museum Scientists--this Domestic Exploration of varied Concepts of the Rigors of Human Life, over time, in North, South, & Meso America brings Forgotten Treasures up from the Museumís Vaults.

Study an Inca Death Mask

Admire a Hopi Ceremonial Kachina

Keep Your Distance from some Objects, for they may contain Ancient Magic that is still Potent!

Although the Powers That Be have determined that New York Cityís Second Greatest Museum should be known as the Brooklyn Museum of Art, it has, from its Foundation, also been engaged in Expeditions & Research Worldwide.

In effect, over on Eastern Parkway, they have a combination of the Met Museum & the American Museum of Natural History!


Braddock, PA, in Decline, Documented by LaToya Ruby Frazier in A Haunted Capital

Pennsylvania is a formerly Industrial State, whose Dead Steel Mills are not the only Casualties of Globalization.

Pittsburgh is just one of the Biggest Economic Disaster Areas

The now desolate Town of Braddock--once Home to one of the Stateís First Steel Mills--has, over time, lost 90% of its Population.

Artist/Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier has documented the Losses by photographing Her Mother, Her Grandmother, & Herself as "a Metaphor for the Townís Decay."

Well, itís actually more complicated than that Strange Statement in the Promo Material, because the Forty Frazier Photos are said to deal with "Complex Intergenerational Relationships."

Frazier was not only featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, but she also teaches Photography at Rutgers University


From the Archives: Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum.

Most of these Arresting Images are Rarely Seen--not only because there is simply not enough Wall Space to show all of the Hundreds & Hundreds & Hundreds of Drawings, Prints, Lithographs, Engravings, & Wood Block Prints in the Vast Archives of the Museum--but also because Prolonged Exposure to Light, whether Daylight or Artificial, can be devastating.

Among the American Masters now on view are Stuart Davis, Eastman Johnson, Marsden Hartley, John Singleton Copley, William Glackens, Benjamin West, Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Edward Hopper, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent--also on hand with a Whole Floor of Watercolors, & Georgia OíKeeffe.

But hurry off to Brooklyn! These stylistically varied Portraits & Scenes go back into the Storage Vaults after 26 May 2013


Not To Worry: There Are Even More Brooklyn Museum Special Exhibitions On Offer!

ē"Workt by Hand": Hidden Labor & Historical Quilts [Closing 15 September 2013].

ēKäthe Kollwitz: Prints from the "War" & "Death" Portfolios [Closing 15 September 2013].

ēAesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett & Brooklynís Faience Manufacturing Company [Closing 16 June 2013].

ēRaw/Cooked: Michael Ballou [Closing 7 July 2013].

In the Lobby Area, there are also some Colorful Foldings of Wood, Window Screens, Joint Compound, & Acrylic Paint, confected by Marela Zacarias, one of which is called 163 213 Manhattan.


Bonhams & Christieís Stage Unusual Auctions:


The Treasures of the Late Larry Hagman, Better Known as JR Ewing, On Sale!

How many fans of Dallas knew that JR Ewing had such Good Taste?

For that matter, how many knew that JR offstage--the Admired Actor, Larry Hagman--was also the son of Mary Martin?

Mary had Very Good Taste indeed, having married Gilbert Adrian, the famed Hollywood Designer.

So it should come as No Surprise that Larry owned such Admirable Collectibles as a George III Yew wood Secretary Bookcase, soon to be Auctioned in Los Angeles by Bonhams.

Most of the Items on sale, however, relate to Hagmanís TV Shows, including "Jeannie Bottles," one of them personally designed by JR, before he was JR.

How about Leather Bound Scripts?

In fact, Hagman had a lot of Custom Made Leather Stuff, as well as Signed Portrait Photos of Co Stars like Barbara Eden, Linda Gray, & Patrick Duffy!

But thereís also a Sterling Silver Picture Frame that Carol Channing gave to Mary Martin & a Book autographed for Mary by Truman Capote.

Oh oh! Larry also had a Collection of Antique Firemanís Helmets!

When you die, will Your Heirs want to keep All Your Stuff, or will they send all those Signed Photos from the Second Cousins to Bonhams for Auction


How About A Palladian Villa, by Michael J. Smith, at Christieís?

Speaking of Antiques in the Style of the English Georges, one of the Treasures assembled by Michael J. Smith for his Palladian Villa Installation for Christieís was a George II Giltwood Mirror!

Christieís had the Idea to encourage the said Smith to create an Palladian Environment for Contemporary Paintings & Antiques that would then be auctioned, after touring Christieís in London, San Francisco, & New York.

Well! What a Good Idea!

Possibly, even Andrea de Palladio--of Vicenza, Italy--would have been pleased

The Sale--including a Painting by Sean Scully [born 1945, so not yet an Antique]--fetched nearly $6.5 Million!

Scullyís Dead Sea was bought for $603,750, a Goodly Sum, but not as much as Israelis are making from selling Dead Sea Salt for American Complexions.


Bert Brecht & Kurt Weillís MAHAGONNY [★★★★★]

From Weimar Republic to Berliner Ensemble to Upper Broadway: Anti Capitalist Satire!

For Starters, Dona Vaughnís gritty staging of the Brecht/Weill Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny is on its Own Merits--with an Outstanding Student Cast from the Manhattan School of Music--both Deeply Depressing, yet Entirely Stunning!

But this is also a Vintage Production--designed by Beowulf Boritt, Tracy Dorman, & Tyler Micoleau--that Brecht himself would have admired.

Audiences entering the Art Deco Borden Auditorium up at MSM are confronted with a Grungy Half Curtain strung across the stage. Not with the customary Great Gold Curtain

Bertolt Brecht--inspired by Erwin Piscator & his Epic Theatre--wanted to strip away all Theatrical Pretense & show the Facts of Life as they really are--at least from a Marxist Perspective.

Although his Sometime Partner in Weimar Republic Berlin, Kurt Weill, was more interested in American Jazz than in Marxist Theories, Brechtís Dreigroschenoper & other essentially Anti Capitalist Teaching Plays, gave him an excellent opportunity to show what he could do with Original Tunes & Purloined Melodies.

These Collaborations also got them Shut Down by Adolf Hitler & the Nazis: Both fled to Amerika.

Weill built a New Career on Broadway: One Touch of Venus, Knickerbocker Holiay, Johnny Johnson, Lost in the Stars.

Brecht & his Retinue of Admiring Women escaped to Denmark, only to realize that there was No Safety there.

So they fled Eastward to Vladivastok, where they took ship for Hollywood, settling in Santa Monica, where Brecht railed against Capitalism & wrote his Great Classic, Das Leben des Galileo, premiered in LA & on Broadway by Charles Laughton.

Unfortunately, there was a Red Scare on Sunset, as well as Across the Nation, so Brecht was summoned to testify before HUAC, the House Committee on Un American Activities.

He essentially mocked the Committee, already having a Plane Ticket for Switzerland in his Pocket. As well as a Swiss Passport & a Swiss Bank Account.

Forbidden by US High Commissioner John J. McCloy from establishing a Brecht Rep Theatre in West Germany, he accepted instead the invitation of the Soviet Sponsored East German Government to set up his famed Berliner Ensemble in East Berlin.

Once there, he set about Photographing every Scene of every Berliner Ensemble Staging so the World of the Future would know Exactly How he wanted Brecht Productions of Brecht Dramas visualized in Years to Come.

He called these Model Bücher, or Model Books.

Well, that didnít Work Out: as a Theatre Man, what was he Thinking?

Directors outside the Warsaw Pact Area--especially in West Germany--wanted to put their Own Stamp on their Brecht Stagings.

MSMís Dona Vaughn has surely studied the Model Book for the Rise & Fall of the City of Mahagonny, with a few new insights of her own.

But she also had the advantage of being an Intern for Maria Ley Piscator, Erwin Piscatorís Widow.

The Piscators had escaped Nazi Germany, where heíd established the Volksbühne, or Peoples Theatre, to New York, where Piscator established his own School at the New School.

After the Defeat of the Nazis in 1945, Piscator decided to return to his Beloved Berlin, but the Soviets were not about to let him have the Volksbühne back again.

So our High Commissioner made it possible for him to create a Frei Volksbühne, or Free Peoples Theatre in West Berlin.

Your Roving Arts Reporter is offering this Extended Preface because he was an American Professor Abroad from 1956 60--largely in Western Europe--but with Press Access to East Berlin, East Germany, & Soviet Satellites beyond

So I frequently saw Brechtís Original Berliner Ensemble Stagings, as well as those of his Widow, the Celebrated Actress, Helene Weigel, who kept his Tradition Alive.

After Brechtís Death--both he & Weigel are buried in Berlinís Protestant Cemetery--I continued to maintain contact with Weigel, who once asked me if I knew her Son, Stefan Brecht, who lived in Greenwich Village.

In fact, Iíd just done an Interview for Theatre Crafts with Stefanís Wife, who was designing Costumes for Robert Wilson, just then Emerging to Fame with Stunning Stage Stunts like Einstein on the Beach.

"Stefan is Crazy!" said his Mother.

Well, some Villagers did think he was a bit crazed, now & then, but This, coming from His Own Mother?

"Frau Weigel, why do you say that?"

"Stefan could be living here in East Berlin, working in Brechtís Theatre!"

Not only that: I got to know Maria Ley Piscator--not only because Iíd seen her Beloved Husband at work in West Berlin in the late 1950s, but also because she was a Best Friend of the late Mollie Gassner, Widow of my Mentor, the late John Gassner, Professor of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama

Meanwhile, back at the John C. Borden Auditorium: The Brechtian Half Curtain was pulled aside to reveal an Actual Truck onstage.

Wanted for Fraud, Peculation, & other Crimes in Pensacola, FL, Widow Leocadia Begbick [an outstanding Raehann Bryce Davis] is on the run, with her Partners in Crime, Trinity Moses [Gideon Dabi] & Fatty the Bookkeeper [Peter Tinaglia].

Instead of pressing onward, they unload the Truck to create Mahagonny, a City of Nets, that will ensnare Unwary Men & strip them of their Cash & Self Respect, if they have any

Not only will they have Whiskey, Boxing Matches, & Games of Chance, but also Ladies of Easy Virtue, as Jenny & her Girls soon arrive on the scene, singing the famed Brecht/Weill song: Moon of Alabama.

As a Stage Librettist, Brecht had only a sketchy knowledge of English, so the Lyrics are strangely hilarious" "Weíve lost our good old Mama & we must have Whiskey or we must die"

For that matter, neither Weill nor Brecht knew anything more about Ordinary America than they had gleaned from Black & White Hollywood Silent Films.

But Brecht was certain--way back in Americaís Jazz Age Flapper Twenties--that Capitalism was the Root of all Evil.

When everything collapsed in 1929--Mahagonny premiered in 1927--causing The Great Depression, which spread to an Already Depressed Germany, his Mahagonny Vision seemed Prophetic.

Oddly enough, it still seems Relevant!

The Beautiful but Hard Knocks Hardened Jenny [a stunning Amelia Berry] pairs with the Lovable, Trusting Jimmy Mahoney [the lovable Aaron Short], but only for Cash.

When Generous Jim runs out of Money, no one will help him.

Not Jenny, nor the Other Survivor [Justin Griffith Brown] of the Four Lumberjacks who came down from Seven Hard Years felling trees in Snowbound Alaska.

One of them, Jack OíBrien [Scott Ingham], has died from eating Three Roast Calves at a sitting

Along the way, the Audience gets to savor such Brecht/Weill Jazzy Hits as the Mandalay Song & the Benares Song.

Brecht must have loved B Songs & Jennies, as he has Pirate Jenny--in another Seminal 1920ís Work of Musik Theater--sing Das Bilbao Lied.

Kynan Johns conducted with a Jazzy Flair that both Brecht & Weill surely should have admired, but this Landmark Production was on view at MSM for Three Performances Only.



Jonathan Tolinsí BUYER & CELLAR [★★★★★]

Barbra Streisand Currently the Unseen Co Star of Two Sensational Stage Monologues!

Years & years ago, Barbra Streisand--who apparently never threw out anything--must have decided to give her Fabulous Tool Shed a Fabulous New Look.

So she sent her Lawn Mower, Spade, Rake, & Garden Hoses to Sothebyís for Auction.

If you miss her on her Next Fabulous World Tour, you now can at least Hear--if not See--the Fabulous Streisand onstage in New York City.

Well, actually, you wonít really hear Ms. Streisandís Actual Voice

No, alas

The Divine Ms B is being recycled by the Divine Miss M, in Iíll Eat You Last, in which Bette Midler channels the Late--but entirely Fabulous--Mega Talent Agent Sue Mengers.

Both Mengers & the Ugly Girl--who was originally Barbara, before she lost that A--were Unhappy Brooklyn Girls, eager to claw their way out.

Midler looked like an almost Shoo In for Best Solo Performance until the very Fey & Funny Michael Urie debuted in a Church Attic down in Greenwich Village as Striesandís Cellar Vintage Mall Shop keeper, Alex More.

Barbra Streisand was Not Available for these performances, but Playwright Tolins & Fantastic Mime Urie make her a Palpable Stage Presence!

Things get underway when Urie/More shows us a Fabulous Coffee Table Book, with both Fabulous Text & Fabulous Photos by Barbra Streisand!

This Handsome Tome [Copies may still be Available if any Barnes & Noble Bookstores remain Open in Manhattan] documents the Fabulous Good Taste that Ms. Streisand--who is currently Mrs. James Brolin--has demonstrated in Constructing & Furnishing her Fabulous Estate in entirely Fabulous Malibu!

Thereís the Main House & some Guest Houses, of course, but Streisand also has a Vintage Red Barn which, in turn, has a Fabulous Vintage Mall of Historic Shops down in the Cellar.

Thatís the Cellar part of the Showís Title

But Streisand is apparently so dedicated to Authenticity that she must have a Shop keeper down in the Cellar, so she can come down & buy any Fabulous Object that strikes her All Knowing Eye. Even though, of course, she already owns all of them.

Alex More--who claims descent from Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia, which Streisand apparently has been trying to create on her Malibu Estate--charms her, especially with his Knowledge of All Her Greatest Roles, even Gift Wrapping a French Automaton Doll, that she has, on a Whim, purchased in her Own Cellar, owing to his Salesmanship.

Alex has an Unseen Gay Jewish Lover, far from Malibu, who routinely mocks Streisand & Alexís infatuation with her. This is High Camp, far beyond that practiced by Boy Scout Leaders

Well, without giving away more of the Fabulous Streisand Secrets, suffice it to say that Michael Urie is Cute as a Bugís Ear.

As Sue Mengers/Bette Midler might say:


"Iíll Eat You Last!"


Wright & Forrestís SONG OF NORWAY [★★★]

Thanks to the San Francisco Civic Light Opera,

Long, Long Ago, Edvard Grieg Came Back To Life

On the very last day of April, the First Musical I ever saw came briefly back to life--One Night Only--at Carnegie Hall!

This was Robert Wright & George Forrestís Song of Norway, recycling the eminently hummable Melodies of Edvard Grieg in service of an endlessly boring Fictive Bio that had almost nothing to do with the actualities of Griegís stable & successful Life--widely admired by an International Public, while generously subsidized at Home.

The Genesis for such Hit Tunes as Strange Music & Freddie & His Fiddle was the desire of Edwin Lester & Homer Curran to create a New Musical--instead of another Operetta Revival--for the San Francisco Civic Light Opera.

Homer Curran also had a Musical Theatre to fill, up on Geary Street, modestly named the Curran Theatre, now as then, the Major Musical Theatre Venue in the City by the Golden Gate.

When I was an Undergrad at UC/Berkeley, way back in the 1940s, we had a Student Activity called Ushering Signups.

You showed your ASUC Card, to prove you really were a Registered Student, then you signed up for a Specific Production on a Specific Night--Across the Bay--in such venues as the Geary Theatre, the Curran Theatre, or even the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, designed by G. Albert Lansburgh, the man who created the Martin Beck Theatre--now the Al Hirschfeld--in Manhattan.

So it was that I found myself entranced with the Actuality of Musical Theatre: the Gorgeously Costumed Stars, the Choruses of Dancing Boys & Dancing Girls & Singing Boys & Singing Girls.

Not to overlook the Miraculously Changing Scenery & the Colored Lighting!

Other Civic Light Opera Treats included revivals of Blossom Time, Rose Marie, The Merry Widow, & The Student Prince. Who now even remembers what Operetta once was?

Ed Lester & Homer Curran also showed their shows South of the Bakersfield Border, in LaLaLand, or Los Angeles

I even got to be a Stage Super in one of them.

But to create a New Musical/Operetta--at a time when Agnes de Mille was about to Revolutionize the Look of Broadway Musicals, with Oklahoma!--Lester & Curran had to find the Right Talent for the Task.

Bob Wright & George Forrest had been Studio Librettist/Arrangers for MGM, so they already knew how to plunder Famed Themes, Scores, Tunes, Symphonies, Concertos, & Melodies--without Copyright Problems.

Watching Song of Norway in the Curran, I was so dazzled that I had no idea that it was not really the Real Edvard Grieg Story.

Nor did I have any realization then that the Force Rhymed Lyrics were essentially Formulaic & Laughable

The next Musical Mountain that Wright & Forrest had to climb for the Civic Light Opera was the Compositional Oeuvre of Alexander Borodin.

This resulted in Kismet, like Song of Norway, a Big Hit in both New York & London.

The Adaptation Kids also tried to achieve a Hit with Magdalena, but that didnít work out.

The Creator of Jazz Dance--or Theatre Dance, depending on which Source you consult--was Jack Cole--who choreographed Kismet.

When I was writing Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer Choreographer Director Jack Cole, I became Close Friends with Bob & George, whom I already knew when we lived in Brooklyn Heights.

So I never really challenged them about the Lyrics for Song of Norway.

Only on the Last Night of April, sitting there in Carnegie Hall, seeing all those improbably & intricately contrived Rhymes projected on an Overhead Screen, did I realize how Awkward, even Hilarious, some of them actually were.

So it was very brave of the Collegiate Chorale--now in its 71st Concert Season--to choose to do a Semi Staged Revival of Song of Norway.

The Choristers were just fine, but, with so much Staging Stuff going on in front of them & the American Symphony Orchestra--elegantly conducted by James Bagwell--it was at times difficult to know when they were actually singing.

When they were suffused with a Rosy Glow of Overhead Lighting seemed to be a Cue!

The much beloved Comedian Jim Dale--all the Voices for the Tapes of the Harry Potter Books!--worked his way through a Narration devised by Roger Rees.

This helped Set the Stage & abbreviate the Text, which did not, however, make the evening any shorter, as there were numerous Ballet Sequences, as well as Norwegian Kiddies & Fans of Edvard Grieg, seeking Autographs.

Outstanding--also in Elegant Gowns & Colorful Peasant Costumes--was Alexandra Silber, as Nina, the Future Fru Edvard Grieg. Her Voice & Stage Persona are Striking, Memorable--despite the Appalling Amplification.

Taking a Night Off from Cinderella on Broadway, Cinderellaís Fairy Prince, Santino Fontana, was admirable as Edvard Grieg, considering the Textual Idiocies he had to negotiate.

Marni Nixon was indisposed, so the beloved Anita Gillette stepped in as Mother Grieg, a not very rewarding role.

For that matter, the otherwise admirable Walter Charles seemed Out at Sea as Father Grieg, with that Captainís Cap & all the Fish Metaphors.

Fortunately, the wonderful Judy Kaye was indomitable as the Totally Invented Imperious Italian Diva, Lousia Giovanni. She also got to wear some Outfits that seemed to drip Colorful Chopped Fabric

A Special Program Line credits Han Feng as the Designer Responsible

Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

Copyright © Glenn Loney 20013. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney Arts Rambles." Reproduction rights please contact:

Past Loney's Show Notes

Past Loney's Museum Notes