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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, May 14, 2007
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
August Wilson’s RADIO GOLF [****] *
Peter Morgan’s FROST/NIXON [****] *
David Harrower’s BLACKBIRD [*****] *
Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING [**] *
Stuart Carolan’s DEFENDER OF THE FAITH [***] *
Adam Rapp’s ESSENTIAL SELF-DEFENSE [***] *
Eric Winnick’s REARVIEWMIRROR [***] *
Neil Bartlett’s OLIVER TWIST [****] *
Wm. Shakespeare’s MACBETH [***] *
Wm. Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE [***] *
Eugene O’Neill’s A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN [***] *
Lawrence & Lee’s INHERIT THE WIND [****] *
THE PIRATE QUEEN [***] *
CORAM BOY [***] *
LOVEMUSIK [****] *
LEGALLY BLONDE [****] *
MARY POPPINS [****] *
110 IN THE SHADE [****] *
ORFEO ED EURIDICE [*****] *
IL TRITTICO [****] *
Three Nights at the Opera Missed *
August Wilson’s RADIO GOLF [****]
Radio Golfis the final act of the late August Wilson’s ten-part, ten-decade Cycle of plays about struggling African-Americans in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.
My favorites in the Cycle are Joe Turner’s Come and Gone & Gem of the Ocean—neither of which was responsible for Wilson’s two Pulitzer-Prizes. But Radio Golf is a more mature—if less Poetic—achievement in playwriting: it is deftly plotted & it demonstrates through their actions the character-development of two boyhood chums, one aspiring to be Mayor of Pittsburgh, the other to Make It, using The Man.
The Wilsonian Poetry is still here, but in the person & prophecies of Elder Joseph Barlow, wonderfully played by Anthony Chisholm. He is the link with Aunt Ester, in Gem of the Ocean. A Seer & Sage, she had visions of the City of Bones, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, where dead slaves had been thrown overboard on the Middle Passage to the New World.
Harry Lennix plays the man who would be the People’s Mayor, but who loses it all because of a sentimental sense of guilt about the past. He also loses his dynamic wife, played by Tonya Pinkins.
Roosevelt Hicks, Lennix’s sharp, legalistic partner & the host on the local Radio Golf talk-show, is sharply played by James A. Williams.
Kenny Leon directed this fast-paced, energy-charged show, with designs by David Gallo, Susan Hilferty, & Donald Holder.
Peter Morgan’s FROST/NIXON [****]
Seen initially in London—with the same Frost & Nixon, Michael Sheen & Frank Langella—Peter Morgan’s ingenious drama really seems to work more effectively before an American audience. Especially a New York audience…
Today, younger people have no idea who David Frost once was. Some don’t even know very much about Richard Nixon: "Wasn’t he President, or something?"
Even your scribe never saw David Frost on TV, but then I seldom watch the Tube anyway. And I certainly didn’t bother to go over to someone’s house to watch the Frost/Nixon Interviews on their TV..
The Big Deal about these interviews was that Frost was fast fading from view, and Nixon needed a forum through which he might begin a Political Come-back.
Frost needed Nixon, just as Nixon needed Frost. Frost’s hope was to somehow corner Nixon into confessing that he knew about the infamous Watergate Burglaries—and more!—that Nixon had given orders for them to be set in motion.
Frost had found some forgotten Oval-Office tapes in the National Archives: Nixon could be heard discussing the affair!
This was a coup, and it temporarily restored Frost’s celebrity. It also must have paid his debts. But it also was the end of Nixon’s hopes for Public Rehabilitation.
Of course, you do not craft a Broadway & West End Hit by putting six broadcast-hours of Frost/Nixon TV Interviews on stage, even in condensed form.
The ingenuity of playwright Peter Morgan—who also wrote the screenplay for The Queen—was to focus on the lead-up to the actual interviews, building audience-interest & suspense: Will Frost pull it off; will Nixon incriminate himself on Worldwide TV?
Frank Langella doesn’t actually look like Nixon, but he moves & talks like the ex-President. Those who had seen Frost on TV at one time or another do say Sheen gives a good imitation. Just as he did as Tony Blair in Morgan’s The Queen.
Michael Grandage staged the duo—with various assistants & hangers-on.
David Harrower’s BLACKBIRD [*****]
Your scribe saw David Harrower’s harrowing Blackbird at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, during a recent Festival. Now, in Manhattan—at the Manhattan Theatre Club—it has lost none of its pathetic power, especially with Jeff Daniels & Alison Pill in the two-hander cast.
As an under-age girl, years ago her character had an evening’s liaison on an island. After sex, he went out, but when he returned, she was nowhere to be found. She was scared & looking for him.
In the event, he went to prison for this mis-step, although they both thought there was some love in what they had done. Going their separate ways, this changes their lives—and not for the best.
When the play begins, she has finally tracked him down, years later, in an empty staff-room, where he pretends to be an important employee, although he is apparently only a caretaker.
Her furious recriminations are devastating. His initial denials & subsequent excuses, pitiful…
This certainly is not the Jeff Daniels you may remember from Dumb & Dumber. The ubiquitous Joe Mantello directed.
Knives in Hens is another Scottish play by David Harrower: does he have a Thing about birds & fowls?
Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING [**]
The sad spectacle of the publicly-grieving Joan Didion slouching toward Broadway—to modify one of her best-selling titles—was so Over-Hyped & Over-Reported that nothing on stage could meet Expectations.
Not even Didion as impersonated by the regal & elegant Vanessa Redgrave—characterized in one over-enthusiastic report as: The World’s Greatest Living Actress!—could truly astound & win Audience-Empathy.
In fact, Redgrave often seemed distant, calculating, as if inspecting Didion’s Unremitting Grief.
I never read Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking—or Slouching Towards Bethlehem, for that matter—but what I gleaned from this somewhat monotonous Monodrama was that Didion had the odd idea that her beloved husband, the famous writer John Gregory Dunne, wasn’t really dead.
That, if she followed certain rituals, certain habits-of-thought, drove only down certain streets, he might turn out to be only sleeping? That, somehow, Magical-Thinking could change disastrous Realities.
Then, when their beloved daughter, Quintana Roo, suffered & died, this double-loss was almost more than she could bear. Or recognize & accept & Move On…
A cynical critic-colleague remarked: No one names their kid after a place in Mexico!
But then Didion & Dunnne’s Hollywood screenplays were also sometimes quixotic.
Listening to Didion/Redgrave—I really didn’t want to stare at her in her Memorized Grievings—I noticed how often she referred to her bi-coastal homes in Malibu & on the Upper East Side.
Then it did occur to me that she & Dunne had lived a very privileged—even celebrated—life together. Perhaps, had their circumstances & successes been rather less like Life at the Top, it would have been easier to come to terms with her terrible, devastating losses?
Had the Dunnes lived, say, in Long Island City, on the East Coast, and in Bakersfield, in SoCal, would it have been Different for Didion?
A recent celebratory-magazine from the University of California at Berkeley gives Didion a full page, along with all UC’s Nobel Laureates. For fund-raisers at UC/B, she is effectively the J. Robert Oppenheimer of UC Grad Authors!
Grief notwithstanding, Joan Didion’s Literary Reputation is secure.
Brit playwright David Hare—just on Broadway with The Vertical Hour—directed Joan/Vanessa on an essentially bare-stage. To suggest Movement, or, possibly, the Passage of Time, a series of grayish silken drops fluttered to the floor, in receding-order from the forestage. Once again, the stage-design of Bob Crowley! [See also Disney’s Tarzan & Mary Poppins!]
Stuart Carolan’s DEFENDER OF THE FAITH [***]
Charlotte Moore’s Irish Repertory Theatre is a tremendous Resource of Irish Experience & Essential Irishness—whether it’s Irish at Home in Eire or Irish in America. From Meet Me in Saint Louis to the dramas of Brian Friel, all kinds of Irish share their hopes, dreams, & even tragedies with New York audiences who are not by any means all Irish.
But Irish Theatre is not all Synge & Yeats: not all Myth, History, & Poetry. There’s still all that nasty business about the IRA and those stubborn Protestants up North. 9/11 & Bush’s War on Terror may have temporarily put a lid on blowing up the Brits, but there is still Bad Blood & Old Scores To Settle…
Stuart Carolan’s Defender of the Faith is set on a dairy-farm near the border between Northern Ireland & the Republic of Ireland. And the time is 1986, when Terrorist Activity—and reprisals—were much much worse than in recent years.
In Carolan’s drama, the thing is to discover & execute Informers. You shoot them in the back of the head, then you strip them of shoes & socks. An Ultimate Irish Humiliation…
The foul-mouthed owner of the farm is suggesting that his hired-help is in fact an Informer. But he’s not the only man with a mouth full of "Feckin’ this" and "Feckin’ that."
What he is, however, is the Real Informer. His son kills him when he finds this out. To rape your neighbor’s daughter might be eventually forgotten, but an Informer in the family shames your kin forever. At least in County Armagh.
For your scribe—who grew up on a dairy-farm in the High Sierras, milking 25 pure-bred Guernsey cows by hand, not by machine—the most interesting visual-aspect of Ciarán O’Reilly’s production was the detailed onstage washing & disinfecting of all the parts of real Milking-Machines!
Adam Rapp’s ESSENTIAL SELF-DEFENSE [***]
Imagine going to a kind of Self-Assertiveness Clinic where you pay to be allowed to KO a defenseless man dressed in a padded-suit. With an appreciative audience and even a Rock-Group.
That’s what Sorrell—Cheryl Lynn Bowers—does to boost her confidence. Unfortunately, in one bout she knocks out the molar of Yul, the paid Man-to-be-Hit. She is so embarrassed. She wants to make it up to him. Even invite him home for a gourmet-dinner!
This amusing confection is a Long Way Off from the modern-classic, He Who Gets Slapped. But it might have been inspired by that odd play…
If you loved Adam Rapp’s Red Night Winter—I did not—you will surely be amazed at what he has imagined in this new play-with-music.
I also didn’t admire his Finer Noble Gases—seen in Louisville, at the Humana Festival—but I thoroughly enjoyed the craziness of Essential Self-Defense, as staged by Carolyn Cantor.
This antic Absurdist show will surely have many productions around the country, especially with college-theatre groups.
Eric Winnick’s REARVIEWMIRROR [***]
These triple-interlocking-monologues could be Offensive to Orthodox Jews, especially the pious Hassidim.
Seated on stools at 59E59 is a raffish young man, flanked by two initially-silent young women. He confides to the audience that the sight of a modest Orthodox Jewish Virgin arouses him. It even inspires him to Pursuit—and Conquest, where possible.
Then the two young women have their say about their encounters with him. And how their lives were changed, their perceptions & dreams altered.
In such a summary, this sounds fairly banal, but Winick makes it interesting, even evocative. Carl
Forsman directed the compelling cast of three: Mark Alhadeff, Sarah Nina Hayon, & Audrey Lynn Weston.
Neil Bartlett’s OLIVER TWIST [****]
No, this Oliver Twist is not an Old Play in Revival. Nor is it the fabulous Lionel Bart musical-version, Oliver! Although a revival of that rousing show—"You’ve got to pick a pocket or two"—would now be politically very timely.
What adaptor/director Neil Bartlett has done is to return to Charles Dicken’s novel and concoct a digested-version of its complex-plot—all the Big Scenes preserved—narrated by the Artful Dodger. But this is not another Royal Shakespeare Nicholas Nickelby, however.
Instead, Bartlett’s stage-model seems to have been that remarkable British production of Shock-Headed Peter, featuring the Tiger-Lilies. The riotously damaged box-set is replete with trap-doors and other stage-tricks, as with Peter. And, yes, the characters also play musical-instruments!
Presented way over at the John Jay College Gerald W. Lynch Theatre—not really convenient for most audiences, especially kids, who would love this show—Oliver Twist was nonetheless well worth the effort expended to see it. Arriving early, I was treated like a Taliban Suspect, but then this is the CUNY College of Criminal Justice—whatever that means.
A co-production of New York’s Theatre for a New Audience—together with Berkeley Rep & Cambridge’s American Repertory Theatre—this looks like a show designed to tour. And tour it certainly should!
Considering the potentials for Tony Nominations at the last minute, it is surprising there were not more Late-Entries in the New-Drama Best-Play Sweepstakes. Where are the Great American Playwrights of yester-year, who could be counted on for a new script almost every season? Even Neil Simon in no longer on the ramparts… Or waiting in the wings…
Old Plays in Revival:
Wm. Shakespeare’s MACBETH [***]
I am a great admirer of the innovative productions of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, so I rushed off to the New Victory on New 42nd Street to see how they could combine their own estimable ensemble with an Historic Italian Puppet-troupe, all in the service of producing "The Scottish Play."
To say that the acting of the puppets of the Compagnia Marionettistica Carlo Colla e Figli was wooden is to fall back on an old, old joke. Nonetheless—even though these interesting character-marionettes are not entirely of wood—their movements in the vintage Toy-theatre settings were jerky, to say the least.
The live actors from the Chicago Naval Pier—all garbed in black—entered the orchestra-pit, where they enunciated the lines of the Thane of Cawdor & Lady Macbeth. This worked fairly well, as the puppets gesticulated above them.
Watching marionettes strip prop-branches off stage-trees—so Birnam Wood could come to Dunsinane, as prophesied—was a visual delight. Even better, however, was the deft cutting of this shortest of all the Bard’s dramas into a virtual Tab Version! Ideal for Young [restless] Audiences…
Wm. Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE [***]
Cymbeline is seldom staged and for a very good reason: it is not a very good—or interesting—play. You do get a Severed Head, but this late drama is certainly no Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Or even Timon of Athens, also seldom seen on stage.
That has not deterred director Declan Donnellan & his team-mate designer, Nick Ormerod, from reviving it with his cutting-edge Cheek by Jowl ensemble. Nor did the play’s weaknesses prevent BAM’s artistic-director, Joe Melillo, from importing this energetic, if elemental, staging from across the wide Atlantic.
Shakespeare’s Imogen—daughter of Cymbeline, King of the Brits—was played by Jodie McNee, while her royally-interdicted husband, Posthumous, was impersonated by Tom Hiddleston, who also doubled as the doltish Cloten, whom Imogen should have married. But refused to do so, thereby making possible a full evening’s theatre. Guy Flanagan was the treacherous Iachimo.
BAM’s Harvey Theatre was by no means full, and a number of wrist-watch-watching viewers left at the Interval.
Having studied Cymbeline—along with all the other Masterpieces in the Canon—at UC/Berkeley and also having seen more than sufficient productions, I already knew how it would End. But that is also true of Hamlet & The Scottish Play, which are usually worth seeing in their respective Entireties.
What made this Cheek by Jowl production work, at least minimally, was the tremendous energy & concentration of the cast.
Eugene O’Neill’s A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN [***]
I thought the revival of Moon for the Misbegotten, with Colleen Dewhurst, was already enough exposure to this very late Eugene O’Neill drama of American Irish & their Irish Immigrant parents in New England. If I have mis-remembered—and that was its American Premiere—it was still too soon for a revival, at least in my Playbook.
In any case, O’Neill had left this & other final plays under lock & key at his death—so he must have had some misgivings about the drama. But we do have to thank Carlotta Monterey, his disobedient widow, for releasing Long Day’s Journey into Night. And Stockholm’s Dr. Karl Ragner Gierow for giving all these Restricted Dramas their World Premieres at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre.
Nonetheless, even in his much earlier dramas, O’Neill—like Richard Wagner before him—could have used an Editor! Think of the length of Strange Interlude, or the Epic Proportions of Mourning Becomes Electra.
The current Broadway revival—originally mounted at London’s historic Old Vic, by its Artistic-Director, Kevin Spacey—is obviously intended as a Showcase for Spacey. Fortunately, it serves the same purpose for his co-star, the dynamic Eve Best, a fascinating Josie Hogan.
Also impressive is Colm Meaney, as Josie’s feckless Da’, Phil Hogan. But he & Josie live in severely sideways-leaning shack that couldn’t withstand one winter’s Nor’easters. This is another Bob Crowley set!
Spacey—who also brought O’Neill’s barfly-lament, The Iceman Cometh, to Broadway—exudes a curious sense of How Lucky You Audiences Are To Be Able To Enjoy My Performance Tonight! He is obviously very self-assured—both as actor & character—but as O’Neill’s alcoholic, womanizing younger-brother Jamie, he has no reason for such cockiness.
Howard Davies staged, but certainly with Input from Stacey…
Lawrence & Lee’s INHERIT THE WIND [****]
It seems like Only Yesterday we had a Broadway revival of Inherit the Wind, but that one starred George C. Scott, who Passed Over some time ago—as did Ms. Dewhurst, the sometime Mrs. Scott. With the current Creationist outrage at the teaching of "Evolution-Theory" in America’s classrooms, it must have seemed High Time for another revival. At least to the producers…
Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee’s stage-fictionalization of the actual Scopes "Monkey-Trial"—in which Leftist lawyer Clarence Darrow effectively destroyed Free-Silver’s Standard-Bearer, the "Champion Boy-Orator of the Platte," William Jennings Bryan—also demolishes the Biblical arguments of the anti-Evolutionists of that time.
It should do the same for the proponents of "Intelligent-Design" today, but they are surely not going to pay Broadway prices to be mocked historically as Ignorant Tennessee Rednecks.
The program sets the action in "a small town," with no geographic-location indicated. The Time is "not too long ago." Actually, almost a century has passed, give or take a decade or two. But the program’s point is surely that Nothing Much Has Changed among Religious Fundamentalists and Small-Town Bigots!
As Darrow/Drummond, Christopher Plummer is superb: an Old Fox at the Height of His Game. Bryan Dennnehy is no match for him in the role of Matthew Harrison Brady. There is little sense here of the man Bryan still was when he came Defend the Bible in this famous 20th century trial.
Doug Hughes directed the fine cast, which also included Dennis O’Hare, Byron Jennnings, & Matthew Nardozzi, as the irritating newspaper-reporter/narrator, E. K. Hornbeck.
Jerry Lawrence & Bob Lee—among many plays & movie/TV-scripts—also wrote The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. It was played all over the United States at the time of the Post-1968 Student Protests & General Unrest.
As the Occupation & War in Iraq goes from bad to worse for the United States of America, it may also be the time to revive this potent Protest Play.
Personal Disclosure: The late Jerry Lawrence invited me out to his cliff-hanging California ranch-house, overlooking Malibu, to talk about the strongly individualistic Henry David Thoreau and the play he and Bob had crafted. The report appeared in After Dark.
When I also interviewed Bob Lee about the drama at his Santa Monica home, he and his actress-wife, Janet Waldo, took me to see the house in which Bertolt Brecht had lived in his American Exile: where he wrote his greatest play, The Life of Galileo.
Years before this, however, I won a California Oratory Contest for delivering William Jennings Bryan’s most famous speech, which closes with the defiant Free-Silver slogan: "You shall not crucify Mankind on a Cross of Gold!"
In his heyday, Bryan must have been Something to Behold!
Considering how many hundreds—even thousands—of Ancient, Old, & Modern Drama-Classics are on the bookshelves, it is surprising that we do not have more revivals. Especially of Royalty-free plays by long-dead playwrights! In addition to Shakespeare, that is…
THE PIRATE QUEEN [***]
Considering the amount money that has obviously been poured into the Production-Values of The Pirate Queen, it needs a Long-Run to recoup. But then, almost any musical now needs an open-ended run. Pirate Queen also employs a small army of actor/singers, whose Unemployment Benefits you will be directly or indirectly paying if it closes too soon.
The Monumentality & Complexities of the settings—how about a Pirate-Ship in a furious storm in High Seas, all sails flapping?—by themselves make this show something worth seeing. But, if you are longing for a glorious new musical-score, you may be in for a disappointment.
As I had only recently seen the nearby Broadway revival of the same musical-team’s Les Misèrables, it was disturbing to keep detecting elements of Master of the House & other hits from their other show.
So, although the themes, locales, & characters are almost entirely Irish—some moments feel Victor Hugo-ian. Or Belgian—which I have heard is the native-land of Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg.
Our very own Richard Maltby Jr also had a hand—or a pen—in the construction of the book & lyrics.
As some RiverDance people are involved in the production, there was some lusty Irish Step-dancing, but the producers really needed an Irish playwright to draft the book. And, certainly, the lyrics need something…
Alas, Sean O’Casey & William Butler Yeats are no longer with us. But Brian Friel might have been just the Man for the Job!
The Time is the Late 16th Century. The Place is somewhere on the Irish Coast, as the Pirate King of a rebel Irish Clan leaves the Leadership—or she seizes it—to his daring daughter, Grace O’Malley.
As the British are—as always—trying to Suppress the Irish, Grace’s attacks on English Men-of-War & Merchant-ships are not Regarded with Favor by the Virgin Queen.
Actually, the best scenes in the entire show are those at the English Court. Each time Queen Elizabeth appears, she is wearing an even more sumptuous be-jeweled panniered-gown & elegant ruff. For my ear & eye, Linda Balgord’s Elizabeth is the best vocal & character-performance in the musical. Well worth the price of your ticket!
As Grace, Stephanie J. Block is certainly energy-charged & vocally-equal to the score’s not-so-varied challenges. But she is not to be confused with Stephanie J. Blythe—now so impressive at the Metropolitan Opera.
I will refrain from citing all the refrains of the Hit Songs. You can check them out for yourself when you buy the sheet-music for your pianoforte. Or actually see the show…
But I do have to salute the talents of set-designer Eugene Lee, costume-designer Martin Pakledinaz, and lighting-designer Kenneth Posner.
Dramatic staging was by Frank Galati, with Graciela Daniele responsible for Musical-Staging.
CORAM BOY [***]
Before you buy your tickets for Coram Boy—now at the Imperial Theatre, but imported from London’s Royal National Theatre!—you really should read the original children’s-novel on which it is based. It has been opportunely made available by Bantam Paperbacks, to complement this complicated show.
The producers kindly sent me a copy of Coram Boy—but only after my first exposure to this curious tale on stage. So I read it rapidly—it is a Quick Read—on the flight back from Thessaloniki, where I had witnessed the awarding of the XI European Theatre Prize to Canada’s Robert Lepage.
As I read Jamila Gavin’s fairly straightforward prose—although she does try for Picturesque Descriptions on occasion—gradually all the things that had so puzzled me onstage fell into place. They made Narrative Sense, and they reminded me not a little of Charles Dickens’ novelistic-exposures of the horrors of daily-life for many Unfortunates in and out of London a century later than Gavin’s Coram Boy.
Although there is a lot of Music & Choral-Singing in Coram Boy, it is technically not a Musical, but, instead, a Play-with-Music. The large choral-forces have been drawn from some of Manhattan’s most distinguished church-choirs: two of them are from the admirable Kent Treitel-trained Saint Ignatius Choir!
The essential problem with Helen Edmundson’s stage-adaptation of Gavin’s fascinating fable is that she has attempted to cram almost all the characters & plot-developments of the novel into an evening in the theatre. Lord of the Rings in Toronto had the same problem: the show-book tried to summarize the entire series, but the result was only more complexity & confusion.
Nonetheless, this is an impressive production that you should make every effort to see—and bring your own children, or borrow someone else’s kids!—not least because kids will surely be caught up in the stories of Abused & Privileged Children, some sold into Slavery, some condemned to Hard Labor in Dangerous Factories.
The book & the show’s title refers to those lucky mid-18th century Orphan-boys who were accepted into the Coram Hospital Foundation in London, where they were educated, prepared for a trade, & sang in the Coram Choir. Which once gave a famous performance of Handel’s Messiah, prepared & conducted by Handel himself! You get to see & hear this onstage!
But there is Evil & Villainy afoot outside London. In the Provinces, the "Coram Man" travels about, selling pots & pans, but also accepting money from poverty-stricken women to take their babies or young children to London to the Coram Home.
He also takes Newborn-Bastards from elegant young ladies, who would be disgraced if their Sexual-Transgressions became known. He later blackmails them or their families, as well. But, most often, the babies & children soon die, and the Coram Man has his idiot-son, Meshak, bury their little bodies in the forests.
Not having read the novel, I was initially baffled when a pathetic, ragtag lad called upon his "Angel" in the High Heavens. And there she was, able to swoop down on wires—almost like Mary Poppins!
The novel explains this quite clearly: the production, not so clearly: you have to figure it out for yourself as the evening progresses…
But understanding what was going-on was not aided by having Meshak suddenly leap a small span of years, to be played by an older performer who looked nothing like the Young Meshak. That was also true of other Coram Boys some years later…
I was also confused at the identities & affiliations of all the matrons & young ladies seemingly resident in the great Country House of Lord Ashbrook. The novel makes all this clear.
Ashbrook’s young son & heir, Alexander, has been permitted to study & sing in the Choir of Gloucester Cathedral: rather like a Coram Boy, in fact, though not an orphan, as most of the other boys are.
Obviously, now having read the novel & understanding the narrative in its entirety, I very much want to see this richly textured, challenging show again. And I’m sure most audiences will love it for itself alone, even if they aren’t always able to figure out who is related to whom…
Besides, Coram Boy offers rewarding performance-opportunities to what looked like a Cast of Thousands. Keep them at work doing what they are trained to do: not languishing on Unemployment!
You do not have to be an Expert on the Theatre of Bertolt Brecht or a Fanatic for the Music of Kurt Weill to enjoy LoveMusik. But it could help…
Essentially, this charming Period-Evocative Bio-Musical is based on the letters of Berlin Cabaretiste Lotte Lenya & German-Jewish composer Kurt Weill. She was Christian: he was not. She was saucy, sexy, & bold: he was awkward, shy, & unsure.
Their strange Lifelong Love Affair—as Alfred Uhry’s book reveals—was punctuated with affairs on both sides, Lenya’s apparently having been the most frequently unwise & doomed.
What is most amazing about this handsomely-designed & brilliantly directed show is Donna Murphy’s performance as Lenya. If you are a Big Donna Murphy Fan, you may not at first recognize her, she seems so much like a young Lenya. When she sings Weill’s melodies, she sounds like Lenya: a bit rough & raspy. Not like the Award-Winning Donna we all know & love!
But Michael Cerveris—remember him as John Wilkes Booth, in Assassins?—is also compelling as Weill. What did not work for me was David Pittu’s characterization of Bertolt Brecht. The Tough-Guy stereotypes were there, but it didn’t ring quite true.
Of course, I only got to see Brecht & Helene Weigel up close in East Berlin, at his celebrated Berliner Ensemble—where Frau Weigel once told me their son, Stefan—living in Manhattan, was "crazy." [Because he could have been living in the DDR!]
What life was like in the Brecht Menage in Santa Monica—during his World War II Exile—was something else entirely…
Those who loved Lotte Lenya on Broadway in Cabaret will surely want to see this interesting show. My good fortune in those days was often to have pre-theatre dinner at John’s Restaurant—with Lenya only two tables away. She was always gracious, often amusing…
[When Lenya was old & infirm, opera-star Teresa Stratas dyed her hair Lenya-red & often spent time with her, later recording some of the great Kurt Weill songs! Stratas also spent time with Sister Teresa in India…]
In addition to the visible talents of director Hal Prince, choreographer Patricia Birch, & designers Beowulf Boritt, Judith Dolan, & Howell Binkley, you will also enjoy a wonderful sampler of Weill songs!
Although the Alabama Song is reprised too often, there are also such treats as September Song, It Was Never You, Speak Low, and Brecht’s Surabaya Johnny.
LEGALLY BLONDE [****]
As I seldom have time to go to the Movies—or watch TV—I had no idea there had already been an MGM film titled Legally Blonde. Thus, I could not disparage this thoroughly enjoyable musical—as did some of my esteemed colleagues—as being Not as Good as the Movie…
Some of them even dismissed the film-version as being unworthy of Broadway-Musicalization.
Frankly, I think Jerry Mitchell has done a terrific job of staging & choreographing this charming, colorful, energy-charged, & very amusing show. And Laura Bell Bundy is a wonder as a SoCal UCLA Sorority-Girl who makes it into Harvard Law School!
David Rockwell’s ever-changing settings are also worth the admission-price!
How about songs like Omigod You Guys, Daughter of Delta Nu, & of course Legally Blonde?
MARY POPPINS [****]
This Musical-based-on-a-Movie has already been reviewed by your scribe—who initially was not all that enchanted by the Period Whimsy. But the producers invited him to see Mary Poppins again—as producers often do shortly before Awards-Voting begins.
This also happened with Spamalot: an invitation to "refresh your memory" of the production. I must admit that—in both cases—I liked the shows much better the second time around.
With Mary Poppins, however, it is entirely possible that I was so overwhelmed by all the seeming tons-of-moving-architecture, that I felt the effects eclipsed the musical-narrative, if not the dynamic dances of choreographer Matthew Bourne.
Where these frenetic dance-interludes seemed initially Bourne-Generic, I now see how cleverly they have been devised to support the plot-developments & enhance the atmosphere of Period & Place.
What is more, I have also become a huge fan of Gavin Lee, as Bert, the charming Chimney-sweeper, and of Ashley Brown, as the No-Nonsense Mary with the Flying-Umbrella!
Thank you again, director Richard Eyre & designer Bob Crowley!
Of course, it is nice to have Evenings at Home in December & January—when few, if any, new Broadway shows dare to open. But it runs critics ragged to have so many Major Musicals & Plays debut in late March & early April, just in time for Nominations for the Tonys, the Outer Critics Circle, & the Drama Desk Awards.
The reason for this desperate end-to-end scheduling is the fear that—had you opened way back in October—the critics will already have forgotten how wonderful your show & your stars are continuing to be.
It is always nice, however, to be invited back to "remember" a play or musical you saw months ago, in hopes you will want to nominate it for something, even if not Best Supporting Actress…
I liked The Producers immensely at its Broadway premiere, and I always wanted to see it again. But there never seemed to be an open-slot in the endless review-schedule. Now it has closed Forever… Unless it is revived—like Les Mis—a few years hence. The movie was a visual-disaster, so renting the DVD is not the answer.
As noted above, seeing both Spamalot & Mary Poppins a second time greatly increased my admiration & enjoyment of these handsome productions. First Impressions are not always to be trusted!
Old Musicals in Revival:
110 IN THE SHADE [****]
Audra McDonald is simply wonderful as Lizzie Curry in 110º in the Shade!
Adapted from N. Richard Nash’s drama, The Rainmaker—with Tom Jones’ lyrics & Harvey Schmidt’s tunes—this now-vintage musical is also something of a classic. It certainly magnified the effect of Nash’s tale of the roving Con-Man, Starbuck, who gives a homely girl, her "slow" brother, and, indeed, an entire town the power to Believe in Themselves. Not least because it actually begins to rain!
What is visually most astonishing—at first glance—is the casting of the show. For years, theatre-people have been calling for Color-blind Casting, but with the talented Audra McDonald for his daughter, the venerable John Cullum seems to have been in a very happy Mixed-Marriage. One of his sons is African-American, but the youngest & perkiest—Jimmy, the lively Bobby Steggert—is white.
Inventively staged by Lonny Price—with choreography by Dan Knechtges & musical-direction by Paul Gemignani—the show also profits from the spare, elemental stage-design of Santo Loquasto.
What a great season for the admirable team of Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt: 110º in the Shade at Studio 54 & their long-running Off-Broadway Classic—The Fantasticks—now literally on Broadway, at the Snapple Theatre Center!
Rainmaker Footnote: Years & years ago—possibly in the mid-1960’s—"Skipper" Jo Davidson staged The Rainmaker at Brooklyn College, for the School of General Studies evening-students’ theatre-program. [His son, Gordon Davidson, was soon to become Artistic-Director of LA’s Mark Taper Theatre Center, so drama must have been in the Davidson Family DNA!]
I shared a Quonset-hut office with Skipper, so he confided in me—with some concern—that he was going to cast Donald Washington as Starbuck and Susan Einhorn as Lizzie. I knew them both to be talented young novice-actors.
What could prove a problem, however—especially with a largely Jewish audience, at that Unenlightened Time—was that Donald was a very handsome young African-American. Although that was not the PC Usage then. And Susan came from an Observant Jewish home…
The Crucial Scene—when Starbuck tells Lizzie she is beautiful, takes off her glasses, & kisses her—was pure magic. Susan, in fact, in class did look a bit plain, but was always very alert & intelligent. When Donald kissed her, she suddenly became Radiant. The magic of Nash’s play transformed the Gershwin Theatre stage, and Susan as well!
Unfortunately, the night Susan’s mother was in the audience, when Starbuck kissed Lizzie, there was an audible gasp: "Oy, a Schwarzer!"
Susan and Donald just froze. I couldn’t believe her mother had said that. Then they both took long breaths & continued the scene. And from that day forward, Susan never looked or seemed plain again!
Such is the Transformative Power of Drama—especially when you are In It!
It is admirable that not-for-profit Institutional Theatres like the Roundabout & the Manhattan Theatre Club often stage ingenious revivals of important—if sometimes almost forgotten—Musical-Theatre works. But it would be even more admirable if some important Broadway producers would consider major revivals of American Music-Theatre Classics.
Importing them from City Center Encore concert-revivals—as with Chicago—or moving them from MTC & Roundabout venues isn’t quite the same as mounting a Major Broadway Production. Reviving Les Mis does not count…
Other Entertainments/Other Venues:Two Nights at the [Metropolitan] Opera—
ORFEO ED EURIDICE [*****]
Not only is this new Met Opera production a Must-See [& Hear] for anyone who admires outstanding singers, but also for all those who prefer Music-Theatre to Concerts-in-Costume.
In traditional productions of Chevalier Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, the Principals usually Pose Nobly or Move Sedately, while the opera-ballet evokes Elysian Fields, entirely detached in style & substance from the Mythic Narrative: of Orpheus descending into Hades to retrieve his much-beloved but suddenly stricken wife, the lovely Eurydice.
Inviting Mark Morris to stage & choreograph the Met’s new Orfeo production was a stroke of near-genius. And it effectively emphasizes a New Age of Music-Drama at the previously often-fusty Metropolitan Opera.
Under Artistic Director Peter Gelb’s new policy of stressing the theatrical-elements of operas old & new, this stunning Orfeo is a worthy repertory-partner with the new Barber of Seville, staged by Bartlett Sher.
Counter-tenor David Daniels is, of course, both magisterial & heart-rending as the wildly bereft Orpheus, his beautiful young wife taken from him on their wedding-day. But because of the depths of his grief & his fabled powers as a singer and lyre-player, his soaring pleas reach the ears of the Gods.
The Catch-22 in his bargain with Olympus is that he must not speak to Eurydice—nor can he look his Lost Love in the face—but must lead her behind him upward into the light of day. Eurydice cannot understand this strangeness: Is she no longer beautiful to him? Does he no longer love & desire her? What terrible Uncertainties lie ahead for her, returning to the World of the Living?
If Orfeo refuses to turn to look at her—if he is really so unfeeling, so uncaring—then she would rather return to Hades, where she has found a kind of Peace among the Shades of others long dead.
Torn by his Longings & her Need, he fatally faces her—and she is lost to him Forever…
Well, not really. Even in Christoph Willibald Gluck’s day, Vienna & Paris audiences liked Happy Endings.
And, at the Met, thanks to Mark Morris, his Morris Dancers, David Daniels, Maija Kovaleska, & Heidi Grant Murphy, this opera now has the liveliest, happiest of endings.
Morris’ dancers—often in creamy-white suits & skirts—use many joyous extended-arm movements as they swiftly circle about the central-stage. They make Hades seem a place of light & laughter, rather than the dark, grim Caves of the Afterlife of song & fable.
The Purity & Power of Daniels’ countertenor is a constant amazement, considering how effortless it seems—compared with some other countertenors who thinly produce all the notes on pitch, but with ill-concealed strain.
For Canary-Fanciers, Daniels may well be the Cat’s-Meow, so to speak. But for those who want Dynamic Theatre—as well as beautiful voices—this new Orfeo production Has It All!
Not only are the Dancers a show in themselves, but they—and the Chorus—are ingeniously integrated into the over-arching fable of Lost Love Regained. Fortunately, Morris has not created traditional Dance-Interludes. Nor are Paris-Version dance-interpolations invoked.
For those who are fascinated by Innovative Theatrical Spectacle—as well as great singing & dancing—Orfeo is also an Astonishment, notably owing the talents of designers Allen Moyer, Isaac Mizrahi, & James F. Ingalls.
What the audience first sees is no 19th century drop-&-wing painted-muslin Vision of the Underworld, but an almost Spartan Post-Industrial Construction, encased within a beige semi-circular shell.
This is actually two moving sections of metal & mesh balconies—with three curved rows of seating—rising up nearly to the top of the sheltering shell.
In these balconies are the Posthumous Personages of such Greats as Queen Elizabeth I, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Queen Nefertiti, & many other Historic Notables. Costume-designer Mizrahi has outdone himself in these Portrait-Parodies.
Future Met Audiences—returning again & again to see this production—can make bets on who can identify the most of these Dead Celebrities!
But they do not just sit or stand there in the balconies & sing. Mark Morris effectively makes the Chorus part of the choreography: Stiff jabs of their right-arms in unison punctuate similar strong dance-movements on the floor below. Their Body-Language echoes that of the dancers!
Not only do Allen Moyer’s two sets of tiered-balconies move around—you can see some Brechtian Stage-hands doing the pushing & shoving through the metal-mesh—but he has other Scenic-Surprises in store.
Of course, it’s fairly simple to have Heidi Grant Murphy—as Amor—descend from above on wires. Mary Poppins does as much on Broadway…
But the next Descent from Above is not a singer, but an immense metal-staircase, of six-flights of stairs, down which Orpheus descends into Hades. This stark black construction is so tall that its lower-levels disappear into the basement under the stage!
That’s not All! As Orpheus begins to lead Eurydice up out of Hades, the rear shell slowly revolves 180º, revealing on its back-side a grim slick slimy black Underground-Cavern wall, with a rising narrow passage up to the Living World.
Talk about Total Theatre! The Met has achieved it! Not least because of the sensitive & dynamic conducting of Maestro James Levine, who helped bring all this visual & vocal wonder together.
IL TRITTICO [****]
Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico—comprising three rather different tales—also offers ingenious stage-directors & designers very special opportunities to devise real Music-Theatre. Of course, these mini-operas can also be boringly staged as routine Concerts-in-Costume.
But—despite the inducements to set his Verismo operas in real three-dimensional Period-Environments—some inventive European regisseurs have made a point of ignoring Puccini’s desires to embed his characters in their proper milieux—out of which their various agonies & joys arise.
This can work fairly well with a Sour Angelica set somewhere Out in Space, but Il Tabarro, set in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, would be an unnecessary Up-dating. Unless, of course, the director fears audiences wouldn’t understand this tragic-tale if it were shown unfolding on a barge in the River Seine.
Not to fear: the new Met production of Trittico is resoundingly three-dimensional, solid-scenery, Historicist Verismo. This is the kind of stage-vision ageing subscription-patrons have always loved at the Met, Old or New.
As designed by the admirable Douglas W. Schmidt, however, the three short operas are almost overwhelmed by the immensity, solidity, & attention-to-detail of their settings. No New Age fantasies here!
The Met audience collectively gasps when the curtain rises on Il Tabarro: a huge wooden barge is angled upstage-right on the Seine. Factories & warehouses line both sides of the river, lights oozing from behind dirty window-panes.
Downstage, overhead, a practical bridge soars high in the air, as various Paris Denizens stroll across, to let the audience see it that actually works, and that we are now in the City of Light! [Although it’s fairly dark down on the docks…]
What somewhat undercuts the Naturalism—the Slice-of-Life décor—of this huge stage-set is the fact that the barge is not floating on Real Water! This could easily have been concealed by having a dock-wall at the foot of the boat, but, no, it is exposed as set in some kind of bluish substance: Certainly not Liquid!
But the Principals were very good—acting & singing with passione—thanks in great measure to the stage-direction of Jack O’Brien. He is, of course, the Master-stager of Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia. Which is just next-door to the Met, at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.
Maria Guleghina was the tormented Giorgetta, Juan Pons her difficult, disappointed husband & barge-captain Michele, with Salvatore Licitra as her lover, Luigi. Very good indeed, guided by the baton of Maestro James Levine, who conducted all three operas.
Barbara Frittoli was moving as the anguished Sister Angelica—whose out-of-wedlock infant son was taken from her by her Noble Family, who then confined her in a nunnery. Patricia Risley was the adamant Abbess, with Stephanie Blythe the cold, imperious, unloving princess-aunt.
Doug Schmidt’s imposing setting for Suor Angelica was even more solid & heavy than that for Il
Tabarro. An upstage-dominating Chapel-façade was flanked on both sides by Cloister-Walls & Arcades, in a not especially attractive style of Italianate Architecture.
During the Intermission Change-over of the two settings, there was a great deal of hammering, thumping, & scrunching coming through the Met’s Great Gold Curtain.
How could this be? Thanks to Germany’s Prof. Dr. Walther Unruh, the Met has one of the most sophisticated mechanized-stages in the world—based, in fact, on Prof. Unruh’s stage for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Entire three-dimensional sets—on electronically-controlled stage-wagons—should be able to slide on and offstage rapidly & silently.
At the close—after the heart-broken, desperate Sister Angelica has poisoned herself with one of her beloved herbs—she is dying, realizing the Terrible Sin she has just committed: Suicide!
But the Blessed Virgin Mary—or BVM, in pious-shorthand—has heard her anguished prayers & appears to her through the now transparent scrim that before showed only a Madonna Fresco.
Stage-Magic straight out of the 19th century!
The Chapel-doors spring open, and there is her Radiant Child, dead to this Earth, but Happy in Heaven, waiting to welcome his long-suffering Mother Home!
If you are not a devout Roman Catholic—or addicted to Soap-Operas—this may seem like Vintage Verismo Kitsch…
Fortunately, both Puccini & Dante save the day with the third opera of the Triad: the hilarious Gianni Schicchi.
But—instead of Renaissance Florence—Jack O’Brien & team have set this charming tale of Young Love & Mature Greed in a dusty fusty old Renaissance Florentine Palazzo, circa 1959.
Why this updatding? Would 1949 have been too near the close of the Second World War, perhaps, and 1969, too late? [Who knows? ¿Qien sabe?]
The over-decorated set is hilarious in itself, but it proves even more amusing as the Avaricious Relatives of the just deceased Buoso Donati hunt for his Missing Will behind every painting, bookcase, & drapery—also acquisitioning various treasures before anyone else gets hands on them.
But the Ultimate coup-de-théâtre is the gradual sinking of this entire & immense setting into the Met’s stage-basement, revealing on top of it the joyous Young Lovers on the Palazzo’s Terrace, looking out over the beautiful City of Florence!
Alessandro Corbelli was a wonderful Gianni—right out of a Fellini film. Massimo Giordano & Olga Mykytenko were the charming young couple: she was superb in "O mio babbino caro" which is what most of the older Met subscribers had been waiting all evening to hear. Then Up the Aisle & Out into the Night!
Three Nights at the Opera Missed
The week your scribe had planned to see the always-interesting Spring Opera-Theatre productions of the Juilliard School & the Manhattan School of Music, he was in far-off Thessaloniki, to witness the awarding of the 11th European Theatre Prize: To Quebec’s Robert Lepage…
As previously reported in Show-Notes 2007.04, the trip to Northern Greece was well worth it, but I still regret having missed the Juillard Opera Theatre’s revival of Mozart’s charming La finta Giardiniera, as well as the Manhattan School’s L’Italiana in Londra.
Owing to the recently concluded Mozart-Year festivities, there already have been sufficient revivals of Mozart’s otherwise seldom-exhumed Giardiniera. Nonetheless, it is always rewarding to discover how the Juilliard team will bring forgotten or neglected operas to the stage.
For the record: The Giardiniera leads were sung by Timothy Fallon, Erin Morley, Brenda Rae, Ariana Wyatt, & Jeffrey Behrens. Jay Lesenger staged, with Gary Thor Wedow conducting.
Missing Domenico Cimarosa’s Italian Girl in London was an even greater disappointment. Not only because the Manhattan School’s productions are quite as inventive & professional as Juilliard’s, but also because I have never seen a production of this intriguing comic-opera. Recordings or videos cannot do its eminent musicality & theatricality justice…
Before Rossini, there was Cimarosa—who surely set him a high standard & charming models to emulate. But today—despite his nearly sixty comic-operas—Cimarosa is remembered, if at all, mainly for Il matrimonio segreto.
Possibly the Manhattan School L’Italiana in Londra revival may spark new interest in Cimarosa & his other operas as well…
For the record: The Wednesday/Sunday cast of Italian Girl in London included Stephanie Lauricellla, Colette Boudreuaux, Jorell Williams, Zach Altman, & Sung Eun Lee. Staging was by Albert Sherman, with Steven Mosteller conducting.
As I have often noted of both Manhattan School & Juilliard opera-productions, you may very well be hearing & seeing the Stars of Tomorrow on the stages of the John C. Borden Auditorium & the Peter J. Sharp Theatre.
The recurring difficulty with this is the fact that there are only three performances in one week only of these frequently compelling revivals. They are offered in both Fall & Spring—but you either have to be on the Schools’ mailing-lists. Or read the New York Times’ listings…
On my return from Thessaloniki—repacking between planes, bound for Denver & San Francisco—I found an invitation from the Mannes Opera of the Mannes College of the New School for Music. It was in a heap of unopened-mail, but it caught my eye as it was vividly printed on a large card, with an image of the Act IV Garden-scene of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
I have long felt somewhat guilty at being a Regular at the Manhattan School & Juilliard opera-productions, while not making a point of calling Mannes to find out what they were offering in the World of Opera. After all, Regina Resnik is their Guardian-Angel, as well as their Master Artist-in Residence!
Unfortunately, there were to be only two performances, not three. The Opening-night was to follow my afternoon at the Met, with Mark Morris’ Orfeo. I had not yet packed for the Far West, leaving that for the very time Mozart would be on view at the Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.
The second performance was to be the very next afternoon—no rest for the Countess or Figaro!—when I would be arriving in Denver. Next time, I promise to do better, but I was not forewarned of this event…
I have only the Nozze-card: no background press-release. So I cannot share the names of the young actor/singers. Laura Alley staged, with the Artistic Director of the Mannes Opera, Joseph Colaneri, conducting. Designers were Roger Hanna, Helen E. Rodgers, & Jeff Davis.
Your scribe cannot see Everything—especially as he is Unpaid & often away in Foreign Lands & Venues. Thus, a great many Alternative Performances & Dedicated Small-Ensemble Productions are necessarily overlooked, if not Overseen or Overviewed.
But I did make a point of going to Repertorio Espanol to see what may be Pilar Rioja’s Farewell Performances there, after some 32 seasons on the intimate stage of the Gramercy Arts Theatre.
At Seventy-something, Senora Rioja is as fiercely passionate & regally dynamic as she has ever been. Known as the Queen of Spanish Dance—unlike Carmen Amaya, who was only Queen of the Flamenco—Pilar Rioja is mistress of most of the distinctive Ethnic Dances of Spain: of Galicia, Andalusia, Catalyuna…
The only time-slot available in your scribe’s schedule was an 11 am matinée. The house was crowded with both Seniors & Juniors. An added bonus was Repertorio’s genius stage-designer—Robert Weber Federico—introducing each dance with important background information.
The Flamenco—made famous by the Gypsies of Granada as a visual dance-experience, in its sinuous & passionate movements—may have originated in the time of Alexander the Great, imported to Spain from far-off India! Its Arab-inspired music came from Africa, in the time when the Moors ruled most of Southern Spain.
Weber Federico noted that Castanets are used in Andalusian Dances, but not in Flamenco—where hand-claps provide the percussive-accompaniment to stamping feet. In Andalusia, piano may accompany, but in Flamenco, it is always the guitar that provides the throbbing rhythms.
I also enjoyed the lively antics of Vancouver’s Axis Theatre ensemble at the New Victory, with their athletic & engaging The Number 14. Less compelling was All the Wrong Reasons, a one-man-show, performed at the New York Theatre Workshop by John Fugelsang. [Bird-song, in German…]
This was a curious experience—not only because one expects Cutting-Edge Theatre-Experiments at the Workshop—but also because the program indicated that this essentially Stand-Up-Comedy Monologue had been work-shopped over time & various venues: But why?
The "Hook" seems to be that Fugelsang is the son of a Franciscan Monk, teaching in Brooklyn, who fell in love with a Nun, sent to nurse lepers in Africa. They broke their Holy Vows to marry & give birth to the Monologist.
He also confronted the Klan-Loving Racist, David Duke, on Television, among his other adventures—including being caught at Airport-Security with Contraband Drugs!
Fugelsang is not exactly a Stand-Up-Comedian, as he was often seated, as he moved among his Set-Props, reliving exciting & not-so-exciting moments from his Life.
Even with the Disclaimer that "this is not all about me,"—as with many stand-up monologists—Of Course It Is!
Only very late in the proceedings—and almost en passant—does Fugelsang mention the fact that he is Not an Only Child of a Monk & a Nun: He has some brothers! But his siblings do not figure in his narrative at all…
Unfortunately, this is no Confessions of a Mormon Boy…
Even Michael Feingold—of the Village Voice—seemed at a loss to explain why the New York Theatre Workshop chose to expose Fugelsang’sshow to its subscribers. The show’s title may hold the clue: All the Wrong Reasons…
Copyright Glenn Loney, 2007. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, New York Theatre Wire." Reproduction rights please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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