December, 2013

Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

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

Lionel Bart's OLIVER! [*****]
Juilliard Songfest's CELEBRATING BENJAMIN BRITTEN [****]
August Wilson's HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED [*****]
Richard Nelson's REGULAR SINGING [****]
Wm. Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe's THE SCOTTISH PLAY [**]
Circus der Sinne's MOTHER AFRICA [*****]
Meghan Kennedy's TOO MUCH, TOO MUCH, TOO MANY [**]
Conor McPherson's THE NIGHT ALIVE [****]
James Lapine & William Finn's LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Gertie Stein & Virgil Thomson's THE MOTHER OF US ALL [*****]
Lillian Hellman's THE CHILDREN'S HOUR [****]
Phoebe Legere's SHAKESPEARE & ELIZABETH I: The Reality Show [****]
The Czech American Marionette's THE REPUBLIC, OR, MY DINNER WITH SOCRATES [****]
Riabko & Seltzer's WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT:Bacharach Reimagined [****]
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER [****]
Sean O'Casey's JUNO & THE PAYCOCK [*****]
George Bernard Shaw's SAINT JOAN [*****/+++++]
Mark Rubinstein, Brett Haylock & et al's LA SOIRÉE
Martha Clarke's CHERI
Stevie Holland Sings Cole Porter's Songs in LOVE, LINDA: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter [*****]
Chris Marlowe or Will Shakespeare's HAMLET [*****]


Report for The Month of December 2013



With Chanukkah coinciding with Turkey Time, instead of coming closer to Christian Christmas--as opposed to Commercial Christmas--Anno 2013 was an Unusual Year in which One Greeting Card did not Fit All.

Of course, it's now almost Comical to connect any previously Religiously Inflected Holiday with its supposedly Original Intentions.

There is so much Holiday Merchandising in play that even Hallowe'en is now a Billion Dollar Business.

Even Old Englanders have ditched Guy Fawkes Day in favor of Witches & Goblins & Ghosts!

Anyhow, Who now worries about Dissident Catholics plotting to Blow Up Parliament?

There's No Danger of a new Gunpowder Plot threatening our own Capitol Hill, for Dissident Lawmakers may well Blow Up Each Other as well as the Two Houses of Congress

What did Shakespeare say? Something about A Plague on Both Your Houses?

Or was it Mercutio who said that

In any case, Who now remembers that Christmas rose out of the Smoking Embers of the Pagan Roman Saturnalia?

Or that Dr. Martin Luther's Weihnachtsbaum--O! Tannenbaum!, O! Tannenbaum!--had its Roots in Druidic Tree Worship?

The Royal Tennenbaums



Time was when few New Shows ever opened in December.

Recovering from Too Much Turkey--as well as Looking Forward to More of the Same--slaked Ravenous Appetites for Theatrical Entertainments

Despite the Escalating Ticket Prices--even for Distinctly Inferior Fare--Speculative Producers now seem determined to Deck Us All with Superfluous Serendipities.

Nonetheless, this Holiday Season was indeed decorated with some Glitter & Sparkle!

Even if one had to get a Visa & go over to New Jersey for an Outstanding Musical Revival


Lionel Bart's OLIVER! [*****]

Please, Sir, May I Have Some More? Audiences Can't Get Enough of Papermill's Oliver Twist!

Lionel Bart! Where are you now that we need you?

Some Major Broadway Musical Playhouses are Empty--or soon to be so, when Big Fish & Annie fold their tents.

Mama Mia! has finally finished its Endless Run at the Winter Garden.

But it's Not Dying! Rather, it's moving to the smaller George Broadhurst Theatre.

Over in Milburn, NJ, there is a Terrific Vintage Musical that ought to transfer to Broadway when its Limited Run is ended, soon after the Christmas Trees are trashed.

This is Lionel Bart's Award Winning Adaptation of Chas. Dickens' Oliver Twist.

This Tuneful but Socially Conscious Show ran for over 2,600 Performances in London & won a Tony in Manhattan in 1963!

They don't write Musicals like this any more--More's the Pity--so it would be a New Year's Mitzvah to transfer Oliver! from the Papermill Playhouse to the Great White Way.

The Horrors of the Lower Depths of Victorian London have been Strikingly Recreated--on a Revolving Stage, no less!--by Mark Morton, with a strong assist from Amanda Seymour, with wonderful Period Costumes.

As with Dickens' Hardy Perennial, A Christmas Carol, Oliver! has a Happy Ending, but, instead of Scrooge, we have the Villainous Fagin, training Lost Boy Street Lads to become Petty Thieves & even Artful Dodgers--as engagingly played by Ethan Haberfield.

Instead of a Pathetically Crippled Tiny Tim--God Bless Us, Everyone!--we have Oliver Twist, a Systematically Abused Orphan, starved by Beadle Bumble in the Workhouse Orphanage & then sold to an Undertaker.

Oliver was born as his Mother was dying. Fortunately, she left a Locket with her Portrait in it

That's all very well, but, in the meantime, Oliver isn't working out very well as a Pickpocket: "You've got to Pick a Pocket or Two"

In fact, this Lively Show is just jam packed with Wonderful Tunes & Engaging Lyrics--all by Lionel Bart!

How About: Food, Glorious Food, Where Is Love? As Long as He Needs Me, I'd Do Anything, Consider Yourself, Oom Pah Pah, & Who Will Buy?

Not only is Tyler Moran Charming, Affecting, & Totally Outstanding as Oliver, but he is backed up by a wonderfully Energetic Ensemble of Orphan Boys & Thieving Lads who can dance & sing as well as any of the Adults on stage.

Even though Dickens infused a Fictional Humanity into most of his Central Characters, they were also often somewhat like Melodrama Stereotypes.

So it is No Surprise to see Bumble, Fagin, Sowerby, & the Murderous Bill Sikes overacting like Music Hall Performers.

Nonetheless, David Garrison has a certain Antic Fascination as the Jewelry Loving Fagin.

Betsy Morgan, as the Ill Fated Nancy--who tries to protect Oliver, paying with her Life--does bring Humanity to what could easily have been Another Stereotype.

For a Broadway Transfer, there would have to be some Boy Pruning.

With some 47 Performers in this Jersey Dickens, it is just Too Big, Too Crowded, & Too Expensive To Operate for Eight Shows a Week.

Mark S. Hoebee, as Director, & Joann M. Hunter, as Choreographer, have brought Oliver! back to Vibrant Life & recreated a Coal Smoke Polluted London that you would never want to visit in Real Time.

Frankly, I do believe Lionel Bart would love this Revival! Of course, wherever he may be Now, he won't earn any Royalties.

Many years ago, it was my Good Fortune to get to know Lionel, when he had unleashed on London Audiences his Musical Recreation of the Wartime German Bombings: Blitz!

I had been safely in High School in the High Sierras, but many of my London Friends had lived through those Dreadful Fiery Nights, when most People slept in the Underground Stations.

They proved to be Good Bomb Shelters, but that put an end to 24 Hour Tube Service

It would be interesting to see a revival of Blitz!, as well as of Lionel's Maggie May & Lock Up Your Daughters.

As a Yank Theatre Prof--teaching in Britain--it never occurred to me that I shouldn't seek out Major Talents & interview them about their Plays, Musicals, Stagings, Set Designs, & Performances.

Sandy Wilson became a Friend--I even encountered him later in Athens, when I was teaching Classic Drama there for Embassy Personnel.

Why doesn't someone revive Sandy's The Boyfriend? We don't have Twiggy, but we do have Taylor Swift!

I also interviewed & got to know Playwrights Robert Bolt, Christopher Fry, & Joe Orton.

Joe's Loot is soon to be revived here. How about Entertaining Mr. Sloane & What the Butler Saw?

Joe Orton & I even became Pen Pals, after Sloane flopped in Manhattan. Our Briefwechsel will soon be On Line


Juilliard Songfest's CELEBRATING BENJAMIN BRITTEN [****]

Had He Lived Longer, Britten Would Now Be 100 Years Old, But He Lives On in His Songs!

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright/In the Forests of the Night

So many of William Blake's Visionary Lyrics long to be Sung, as did the Ancient Bards before there were Printing Presses.

Fortunately, Benjamin Britten--that Most British of Modern Composers--created enchanting settings for Blake's Songs & Proverbs.

Just think of singing such lines as: The Pride of the Peacock is the Glory of God; or To see the World in a

Grain of Sand; or Prisons are built with Stones of Law/Brothels with Bricks of Religion

Well, that last Proverb poses a proverbial Problem, because it is not a Sunny Song. Nor is Blake's Tale of the Poison Tree.

Nonetheless, the admirable young Juilliard Singers--under the leadership & inspiration of Brian Zeger, Curator & Pianist for this fascinating Britten Concert--were indeed Impressive.

They included Jessine Johnson & Angela Vallone, Sopranos; Samantha Hankey, Mezzo; Eric Jurenas, Countertenor; William Goforth, Nathan Haller, Miles Mykkanen, & Michael St. Peter, Tenors, & Theo Hoffmann & Kurt Kanazawa, Baritones.

Among Britten's Songs of Sorrowing are The Last Rose of Summer--which has an earlier, more Irish Setting--as well as The Foggy, Foggy Dew, which, somehow, I always associate with Burl Ives & other American Folk Singers.

The Program in Alice Tully Hall began with the Canticle of Abraham & Isaac, sung by Jurenas & Mykkanen.

The Theological Explanation for this essentially Horrifying Tale of a Father ordered to Kill his Beloved Son by his All Seeing/All Knowing/All Powerful Father God is that it is a Message to the Hebrews that Their G d no longer requires Human Sacrifices.

This Cautionary Fable, as set by Benjamin Britten, is still both astonishing & deeply moving in performance.

Millennia Later, however, God again required a Human Sacrifice: This time, of His Only Begotten Son

Of course, it could be argued that, this time, the God in question was a Roman Catholic, speaking in Latin, not in Tongues, so this was not really a Problem for the Jews.

Hearing once again these Britten Songs, I was reminded of those serene summers at the Aldeburgh Festival, where we could join Britten & Peter Pears on stage for Strawberries & Clotted Cream.

Ah! The Maltings, at Snape! How Very English that sounds!


August Wilson's HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED [*****]

Experience May Be The Best Teacher, But You Can Also Learn About Life from Old Black Men!

Ruben Santiago Hudson is remarkable as August Wilson at the Signature Theatre.

But it would have been interesting indeed to have seen this Bio Monologue back in 2003, when it was premiered at the Seattle Rep, with Wilson playing Himself

It was written by the much admired African American Playwright who now has a Theatre Named for Him.

Santiago Hudson's Astonishing Impersonation has to be a Contender for Best Solo Performance!

One of many Wilsonian Aperçus about Life & Race in the Show is this one:

When White Guys see a Wide Screen TV, they want to know how wide it actually is.

Contrariwise, Black Men want to know how much it Weighs!

That is something that Wilson could learn by Observation;

But he also learned from the Wisdom of Old Black Men.

One told him not to go through Life carrying around a Ten Gallon Bucket.

"Instead, carry only a Cup!"

Clearly, this has to do with Expectations

In Wilson's Case--with such brilliant dramas set in Pittsburgh's Hill District as Joe Turner's Come and Gone or The Piano Lesson--one could say, in retrospect: His Cup Runneth Over!


Richard Nelson's REGULAR SINGING [****]

Play Four in The Apple Family Saga: This Is the Final Chapter! Or So They Say

At one point in the Apple Family Evening Discussion--staged by Award Winning Playwright Richard Nelson, who also crafted the Four Cycle Exploration of the Lives of Ordinary People up in Rhinebeck, NY--the Hundred Year Old Dinner Table is apostrophized!

This is rather like Gaev's Gallant Salute to the Family Bookcase in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard.

Is it remotely possible that Richard Nelson was inspired by Chekhov: that he may even think Chekhov's Playwriting Mantle has fallen upon His Shoulders?

If so, could this Family Drama be rechristened The Apple Orchard?

Even though this play is titled Regular Singing, the Apple Family is no match for the Trapp Family Singers of Happy Memory.

The Hills above Rhinebeck are obviously not alive with The Sound of Music

Is it a Crime that Brother Richard Apple is working for Andrew Cuomo in Albany?

His Three Sisters are concerned about his Welfare.

Oh oh! Didn't Chekhov also write a play called The Three Sisters?

But they never got to Moscow & the Three Apple Sisters seem rooted in Rhinebeck.

Will they ever get down to Manhattan, where they might be able to see The Apple Family Plays at the Public Theatre?

Apparently, they--the Plays, not the Apples--are Not To Be Missed, for the NY Daily News has saluted the Cycle as "A Master Class in Acting!"

As Newspapers fade & die, Newsday still has enough Ink & Paper to let the Greater Metropolitan Area know that this Four Play Cycle is "One of the Major American Plays of Our Time!"

But then they said that of those Texas Plays by What Was His Name?

Even up in Albany, they must know that the Other Three Plays in the Apple Cycle are titled: Sorry, Sweet & Sad, & That Hopey Changey Thing.

The Apples are Ordinary People, leading more or less Ordinary Lives, but the Admirable Cast--including Jon Devries, Steven Kunken , Sally Murphy, Laila Robins, Maryann Plunkett, & Jay O. Sanders--are extraordinary in portraying Rhinbeckian Ordinariness.

Regular Singing takes place on the Evening of the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kenney, which was really Nothing To Sing About.

One of the Apple Sisters has saved an Archive of the Newspapers & Magazines that chronicled that Death in Dallas.

But this Play is also a Meditation on Death & its Gradual Approach: Every Day a Step Closer

Hey! That sounds like a Sondheim Musical!


Wm. Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe's THE SCOTTISH PLAY [**]

A Tale Told by an Elizabethan: Full of Sound & Fury, Signifying Mis Casting & Mis Direction

The Most Wonderful Inventions of the new production of Macbeth at Lincoln Center are the Towering Panels that fill the Immense Stage Space.

Designed by Scott Pask, they recall Adolphe Appia's New Stagecraft Designs for Wagnerian Operas.

Given the Roiling Heavens, one almost expected to see the Red Sails of the Flying Dutchman's Ship of the Damned surge across the Threatening Skies.

Considering all the Thunder & Lightning that fills this Cavernous Space, it would seem that the Scottish Highlands had Extreme Weather long before Climate Change was invented to annoy Republicans.

Less Design Felicitous, however, is a kind of Cross Thames Railroad Bridge that goes up & down with Alarming Frequency.

As for the Traditional Three Witches, Director Jack O'Brien has also intimately involved Hecate [Francesca Faridany] & assorted Diabolic Creatures with the Brewing Three--who also do Double Duty in other Roles.

When they threw the Varied Ingredients of the Witches' Stew into the Metaphoric Pot--including some Body Parts from Toads & Adders--one could only hope that the Eye of Newt belonged to Newt Gingrich, giving him Something to do in Public, Post Election

It's sad to see such Admired Actors as John Glover & Byron Jennings reduced to playing 19th Century Melodrama Farce

There's an old Folk Saying: Never send a Boy to do a Man's Job.

Ethan Hawke is sorely Overtaxed as the Thane of Cawdor.

As King, it gets worse, because he does not know how to use his Voice or his Diaphragm properly.

So, he Rants & Shouts himself Hoarse through the Scottish Play

Unfortunately, there is a lot of Rant & Shout in this Ill Fated Production.

Generally, these Scots sound like Vintage German Players, in a National Theater Inzenierung.

At one point in the Drama, Lady Macbeth shouts to the Stormy Skies: Unsex Me!

She already had her Wish, as portrayed by Anne Marie Duff.

What was it that the Thane of Glamis--who, by Foul Play, had become King of the Scots--said?

She should have died hereafter.

But Birnham Wood did come to Dunsinane, right on schedule!

That's not a Tibetan Mandala on the Production Poster & on the actual Stage Floor--from which Overloaded Banquet Tables & Floral Displays frequently emerge.

No! No Indeed!

It is a Medieval Kabalistic Mandala--the so called Seal of God's Truth--which is composed of One Pentagram, Two Circles, & Three Heptagons!

Although it is said to date from the 13th Century, its Magical Connection with O'Brien's Macbeth dates back to Dr. John Dee, who was an Astronomer & Alchemist, as well as he was welcome at the Court of Queen Elizabeth I.

It was supposed--at least to those who knew anything about this Talisman--to enable Magicians to control the Lives of All Creatures!

Excepting, of course, God's Archangels

The Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Playbill suggests that Scott Pask's adaptation of the Dee Device might create a "Magical Space for Acting."

Well, that Hope didn't Work Out.

Further, it implies that this could be a Safe Talisman "for anyone still slightly suspicious of the Reputation of this Haunting, and Haunted, Play."

This Mandala Meditation concludes thusly: "A Company of Actors, standing in Conversation with Angels--whether we believe it or not--can be as Mysterious as it is Beautiful." [Edited for Emphasis!]

Non Angeli, sed Diaboli

Or, as our old Methodist Pastor might have said to Jack O'Brien: "The Devil made you do that!"

Perhaps it was Kabalistic that O'Brien chose a Scott to design this Martial Highland Fling?

Nonetheless, this Staging was more Traditional than that shown at the Edinburgh Festival some seasons ago.

Macbeth's Letter: "We met them on a Day of Success" reached Lady Macbeth by FAX.

The Three Witches stirring their Pot could easily have been mistaken for Girl Guides Matrons at a Cook Out near St. Andrews Golf Course.

The Fabled Banquet at which Banquo appeared featured a Huge Haggis, but the Guests had to BYOB: some had Glenfiddich; No one brought Johnnie Walker.

When the Assassins arrived to Terminate the unsuspecting Lady MacDuff & the Kiddies, she had her Hair in Curlers & was busy at her Ironing Board.

The Kids were playing in an Inflatable Plastic Wading Pond.

She was strangled with her own Ironing Cord!

Macduff's Unfortunate Heirs were drowned in their own Pond

And so it goes, up in Bonnie Scotland.

As for Lay on, MacDuff!--well, he had Cause.

There used to be a Midtown Ticket Agency named MacBrides.

When a Production was really rotten, Critics would warn: Lay off MacBrides!.

In a Shakespearean Context, what best becomes O'Brien's Staging as an Apt Analysis is: Untimely Ripped!


Circus der Sinne's MOTHER AFRICA [*****]

US Premiere of Talented African Performers Who Trained at the Artists' College in Tanzania!

Eat Your Heart Out, Cirque du Soleil!

The Best Contortionist Ever is now performing at the New Victory Theatre!

He is Ersi Teame Gebregziabher & he is from Ethiopia & his Bones must be made of Rubber!

It is Biologically Not Possible to have your Head positioned below your Rectum

But what about the Amazing Unicyclist called Baraka Juma Ferouz?

One of his Unicycles looks about Three Inches High off the floor.

Another has Three Wheels mounted one above another, but the Highest Unicycle needs a Step Ladder to Mount at all.

Among the other Amazing Acts are the Foot Juggling of Sewasew Alemu Truneh; the Chair Act of Yusuphu Ramadhani Fuko, and the Stilt Dancer, Jean Marc Kouassi Agbogea.

Had Winston Ruddle not set up the Circus School he calls The Artists' College in Tanzania to train Young Potential Talents from all over Africa, these Dazzling Exploits would probably not exist.

Had not Hubert Schober devised the Circus der Sinne Framework & organized International Tours, Cirque du Soleil would certainly already have contracted these Attractive Performers.

But Mother Africa is not at all about the Spectacular Stagings of Cirque du Soleil.

It focuses on the Performers in Smaller Spaces.

Nonetheless, it does have some spectacular Production Values with colorful Graphic/Photographic Projections upstage: in a Cut Out Frame of the Dark Continent, we see such Icons as a Beobab Tree, the Pyramids, a Noble Lion, Parched Earth

Considering the Tribal Conflicts that are periodically tearing some African States apart, Mother Africa is not so Unified nor so Nurturing as this Show may suggest.

In fact, training at the Tanzania Artists' College has been the Road out of Poverty for many, as well as nurturing an Artistic Kinship that flows across Borders.

If you want a change from the Rockettes over at Radio City, this is the Holiday Show to see!


Meghan Kennedy's TOO MUCH, TOO MUCH, TOO MANY [**]

Two Woman Recluses, One Non Pastor, A Dead Dad Who Drowned Himself, & An Apt Title!

Although James Rebhorn is already dead in Meghan Kennedy's curious new Family Drama, as Emma's Dad, James [they never have Last Names in Many Modern Plays, it would seem], he keeps coming back into her Kitchen, often like a Madman.

Emma's Mother, Rose [Phyllis Somerville], has Closed the Door on Emma & the World.

Perhaps it was Husband James' Suicide by Drowning that caused this, as she later apparently also Drowns Herself. [Both these Implied Events happen off stage.]

Emma makes Muffins in her Kitchen from a Family Recipe, but her Mother withholds One Important Ingredient.

How her Mother manages to Eat, over those years of Voluntary Isolation, is a Mystery, as she never opens her Bedroom Door to Emma, who must sit Outside in the Hall.

Then a Mysterious Minister appears, sent over from the Church, telling Emma that they are concerned that she doesn't come to Church.

He also wants Rose to Open the Door.

But he is Not What He Seems. He does get Rose to talk to him.

He has had his own Family Tragedy.

Rose hopes he will bring Emma out of her Own Isolation.

Her Final Message to Emma is that Missing Ingredient, on a Note pushed under the Bedroom Door.

So the Muffins will be OK & so will Emma [Rebecca Henderson] & Fake Pastor Hidge [Luke Kirby].

Sheryl Keller staged & Real Water came out of the Kitchen Tap!


Conor McPherson's THE NIGHT ALIVE [****]

Ireland's Enfant Terrible Stages His Own Dublin Gothic Tale: Knives & Hammers In Play

This is the Original Donmar Warehouse Production of Conor McPherson's Night Alive, with the Original Cast [on Equity Waiver], including the Beloved Irish Actor, Jim Norton!

Norton plays Maurice [which here sounds like Morris], who owns an Edwardian Era Mansion in Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Downstairs, in a mess & muddle, lives Tommy [Ciarán Hinds], whom he more or less raised.

Tommy brings home Aimee [Caiolfhionn Dunne], who is apparently famed for her Hand Jobs. Tommy gets one

His Friend & sometime Co worker, Doc [Michael McElhatton], is a frequent Mooch & Crasher.

But he gets Crashed in the Head with a Hammer by Kenneth [Brian Gleeson], who drops by.

Ken isn't quite right in the Head, but when he attacks Tommy & Aimee gets involved, it would seem that it was Aimee who plunged that Kitchen Knife into Ken's Back.

How & where they disposed of the Body is unclear at the close, but Maurice is leaving the Whole House to Tommy when he passes on

This is not an Irish Version of The Lower Depths, but it does suggest why Eire is in such an Economic Mess in the Euro Zone.

Good Thing I didn't get that Irish Passport back when they were handing them out: My Grandfather was born in Ireland way back in 1832, so I qualified.

Curiously, in the Extensive Bio of McPherson in the Playbill©, there is No Mention of his Cripple of Innishman.



James Lapine & William Finn's LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE [****]

Push Your Wagon--Don't Paint It: Dysfunctional & Dyslexic Family On The Road To Redondo!

Unfortunately, I never saw the Cinematic Version of Little Miss Sunshine, so I have No Idea how well this new Musical Incarnation represents the Original Inspiration.

From what transpired on the Transformed Stage of 2econd Stage, however, reminded me of one of those Christopher Guest Movies, like Waiting for Guffmann.

But the Only Credit given for Filmic Sources is "written by Michael Arndt."

So Arndt is a Lucky Man to have such Innovative Talents as Director/Book Writer James Lapine & Antic Composer William Finn create Musical Magic for his Intellectual Property.

Finn came to Show Biz Prominence way Off Broadway with In Trousers & March of the Falsettos, among Other Tonal Astonishments.

Lapine's Lapidary Production profits greatly from the Design Ingenuity of Beowulf Boriit, who has transformed the 2econd Stage Auditorium into an Enveloping Route Map, covering the Arrid Territory between Albuquerque, NM, & Redondo Beach, in SoCal.

The Stage itself is the 3 D Culmination of the Travel Map, with some Upstage Openings that are either View Windows of the Great Southwest or like TV Monitors.

The Insane Reason for making this Picaresque Trek from NM to Redondo is that Ambitious Young Olive wants to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant.

She has been Diligently Coached in All The Moves by her Randy & X Rated Grandfather--recently ejected from a Senior Enclave--who unfortunately Dies along the Interstate.

The Extended Family decides to Make Her Dream Come True, but the Van dies along the way, so they end up pushing it through the Desert & Mountains to the Pacific Coast.

This is Ingeniously Achieved with Kitchen Chairs on Rollers, Cleverly Choreographed by Michele Lynch.

As Teens, Mother & Dad were passionately In Love--or maybe Just Hot--but she got Pregnant, so they had to Tie the Knot.

Mom is the Glue that Holds the Family Together.

Dad is a very Decisive Guy, an Idea Man, an Entrepreneur--which means he doesn't have a Daytime Job

Family Life--not to say Family Travel, as well--is complicated by the Awkward Presences of not only Granddad, but also Mom's Brother, who is recovering from Slashing His Wrists.

He was the Proust Expert at Brown University in Providence, RI, but he made the Academic Mistake of inviting another Proust Expert to Lecture.

This Distinguished Professor promptly fell in love with the Designated Grad Student Lover of Mom's Brother.

What's with Brown anyway?

Don't the Faculty up there on The Hill know that you never Hit on one of your Grad Students?

Not only will Said Students expect an A, they may also demand Significant Other Status

At least Uncle Frank wasn't the Oscar Wilde Expert.

But Suicide Attempts are sure to Cancel Tenure.

Oddly enough, along the Van Route, we come to a Service Station where the Off Broadway Audience is exposed to Men's Room Urinals.

Oh oh! At the Next Urinal is standing none other than that Fatal Grad Student, who exposes his Phenomenal Abs for all to see.

Anyway, along the way, we also get to see some Twinkling Pre Teen Meanies, who taunt Olive with their Talents & Glittering Get Ups.

But this is Nothing--even though they do emerge from a Trap Door in the Stage Floor--compared to the Talent Contest on Redondo Beach. Where there's even a Miss Costa Mesa!

It is a Mini Miss America Show, but you would never have seen Bess Myerson in Cowgirl Garb prancing in on a Pogo Stick Horse.

Anyway, the Valiant Olive--wearing her Mother's Wedding Dress & doing a Gypsy Rose Lee Strip--ultimately does Not Win.

But this Entire Funny Family has Learnt a Lot about Love & Life along the way

Stephanie J. Block heads an Admirable Cast that includes Rory O'Malley, Josh Lamon, David Rasche, & Hannah Nordberg as the soon to be Sun Ripened Olive.

If they still Publish Sheet Music, you might want to get some of these Lively Songs to play on your Cell Phone!

That Is: If you have the Piano Keyboard App


Gertie Stein & Virgil Thomson's THE MOTHER OF US ALL [*****]

Votes For Women! But The Suffragettes Have To Suffer: Putting Susan B. Anthony on a Pedestal!

Gertrude Stein made a Literary Career out of Simplistic Linguistic Formulations.

But that's Part of the Fun in watching or listening to The Mother of Us All!

The Rhymes are so Simple, so Obvious, so Repetitious, you can guess what they will be before they are Out of the Mouths of the Actor/Singers.

This Pleasure is, however, Doubly, Triply, even Quadratically Enhanced by the Accompanying Score of Virgil Thomson, that most Quintessentially American of Composers.

Unfortunately, Mother is seldom Performed, even in Concert.

So both Fans of Votes for Women & of American Folk Opera should be grateful for the Patriotically Handsome Production recently offered up at the Manhattan School of Music.

Not only were Susan B. Anthony, her Supporters, her Opponents, & the Entire Cast magnificently costumed in Period Garb, but they were surrounded by Noble Greek Fluted Columns & Upstaged by an Immense Stars & Stripesian Banner in Repose.

Noragh Devlin was both Stately & Unflinching as the Unmovable Proponent not only for Women's Suffrage, but also for Women's Rights in general.

As the Much Put Upon Titular Susan of this Opera, she was in Excellent Voice, but so were most of the Large Cast, deftly staged by Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director of the MSM Opera Theatre Program.

Unfortunately, just as with those remarkable productions imported to BAM & Student Opera Productions at the Juilliard School, there were only Three Performances

I wasn't even born when Gertrude Stein was in her Heyday in Paris, in the Rue de Fleuris, being painted by Pablo Picasso--whose Stein Portrait graced the MSM Stage--as well as enjoying Hash Brownies with Life Partner, Alice B. Toklas.

But it was my Good Fortune to come to know Virgil Thomson--in residence at the famed Chelsea Hotel--late in his life & to learn about the influence of American Folk Music & Scottish Imports on his own Compositions.

Virgil was always very Generous of his Time & his Knowledge with Young Aspiring Artists & even with Enquiring Reporters & Interested Academics.


Lillian Hellman's THE CHILDREN'S HOUR [****]

Banned in Boston Pre Production: Concert Reading of Lesbian Themed Drama at CUNY Grad Ctr

Amanda Goad looks like a Very Attractive Young Man, Hair neatly parted, but All Business in Business Attire.

Actually, she is a Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, dealing with its National Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/AIDS Project.

She was onstage at the CUNY Grad Center to comment on the ACLU's First Gay Rights Case!

This was part of the Program--arranged by Dr. Frank Hentschker--to examine The Censorship of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour.

Although Hellman's Controversial Drama had already had a Long & Successful Run in Manhattan, it was Banned in Boston before it could even be produced there.

One of those Early Instances of: "I don't have to look at Porn to know it's disgusting."

In Children's Hour, a spoiled, willful Teen Age Liar destroys the Lives & Careers of Two Dedicated Teachers, who are operating a Girls School for the Privileged Class.

She says she saw them Kissing!

To put this All in Context, Hentschker--who is Exec Director & Director of Programs for CUNY's Martin Segal Theatre Center--had the Ingenious Idea to bring the Play back to Life in a Concert Reading, together with Courtroom Testimony from the Boston Banning Hearings.

Not the Whole Play, you understand: Only the Climactic Scenes

Combined with the 1936 Court Case, this was Titled: The Intermeddlers.

Ashley Kelly Tata directed an Excellent Cast, so effectively, indeed, that it seems a Good Idea for her to stage the Entire Drama in a Major Off Broadway Venue.

Way back in the Depression Era, most Decent, God Fearing People had No Idea that Women could Fall in Love with each other.

At least, No One talked about such Subjects: Perverted, Unnatural, Disgusting, a Crime Against Nature!

Oh, up in Beantown, they did have something called "Boston Marriages," in which Two Ladies lived together, often wearing Coats & Ties, instead of truly Feminine Apparel.

Frankly, when I first read The Children's Hour in High School, I was also shocked: I thought Everyone who could do so, had to Get Married & Raise Children, so that the White Race would not Die Out

As for all those Old Maid Aunts, my Censorious Mother explained that No One had asked them, so they had No Chance to become Child Bearers for God & the Nation




No! No! No! The Press Reports of Marina Abramovic's Death Have Been Artistically Pre Mature!

Jesus may be said to have made His Life a Work of Art.

At the very least, it was an Heroic Effort to Save Humanity from Original Sin.

As for Unoriginal Sin, that's why there are Internet Porn Sites

Considering the recent Over Exposure to the Life, Loves, & Body Politic of Marina Abramovic at the Park Avenue Armory, it might be imagined that the Patriarch Abraham--backed by Isaac, in the Jesus Role--was the First Performance Artist.

But, going back that far into Historical Fiction, wouldn't Adam & Eve qualify as the Original Performance Artists--backed, of course, by The Serpent!

The Obvious Problem with such Speculations is that The First Family--not to overlook the Performance Art of Cain & Abel!--as well as that Heaven Sent Injunction for Israelis to End Human Sacrifice had No Public Audience & also No Box Office Receipts!

Wait a Minute. Or a Millennium

Couldn't One say--or Speculate--that God the Father was giving all these Human Body Performances something that might be called Heavenly Oversight?

Anyway, the Ubiquitous Robert Wilson has worked his Customary Formulary Visual Magic on the Life, Loves, Tsouris, & Public Exposures of Marina Abramovic.

Your Roving Art Reporter's First Awareness of the Potency of the Art of Marina Abramovic was experienced at the Salzburg Festival, where Marina Abramovic had installed on a Grassy Greensward, hard by the Main Bridge over the River Salzach into the Old Town--where Julie Andrews once heard The Sound of Music--some Towering Silver Metal Tiny Chairs, on which only a Dwarf could sit, if only he could find a Ladder Tall Enough to reach them.

[Tough Luck, Bilbo Baggins!]

The next Reporter Sighting--I guess I don't Get Out Enough--was at MoMA, better known as the Museum of Modern Art, where Marina Abramovic was On View in the Atrium Round the Clock.

The Park Avenue Armory Press Release notes that this Public Exposure went on & on & on for some Seven Hundred Hours.

Does MoMA really stay Open that long at a Stretch

The Object of this Exercise, apparently, was to see if any Ordinary Person--who had Paid Admission to MoMA--could Break Her Concentration!

The Press Release also notes that Marina Abramovic has established--in Hudson, NY, where that old Nabisco Factory has been transformed into an Art Premises--The Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art.

Short of actually Preserving or Embalming the Human Body of Marina Abramovic in some Artistic Posture, only Still Photos & Videos can really do that, n'est ce pas?

Oh, well. It is True that both The Whitney & MoMA do often let Curious Visitors look at Notebooks, Jottings, & Sketches of Proposed or Completed Performance Works.

What could be More Revelatory than a Glance at the Journals & Occasional Letters of Keith Haring!

Actually, both Christo & Robert Wilson sell their Project Sketches & Jottings for Big Bucks.

That's how Christo has financed most of his Major Projects, like those Magical Gates in Central Park!

On the Occasion of the Umpteenth Anniversary of The Oberammergau Passion Play--although not an Oberammer Gauner--Robert Wilson created some Astonishing Dioramas of The Stations of the Cross.

These so alarmed those Devout Alpine Catholics that the Wilsonian Images were hidden well behind the Passionspielhaus

The Current Apotheosis of Marina Abramovic--On Tour, so only briefly over at the Park Avenue Armory--was shown at the Manchester Festival, as well as at the Salford Festival & at the Teatro Reál in Madrid, currently presided over by Gerard Mortier, once famed as the Bad Boy of the Salzburg Festival.

It is to Alex Poots--Artistic Director of the Manchester Festival, as well as of the Park Avenue Armory Programming--that we have to be Grateful for THE LIFE & DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC

There is, Visually & Aurally, a Great Deal for which to be Grateful!

The Signature Wilson Tropes are all On View: Silhouetted Figures against a Stark White Cyc; Stately Figures slowly gliding across the Stage; Grotesquely Garbed Figures whirling about; Figures in Repose; Figures soaring aloft

Near the Close, the Wide Wide Stage began to fill--from Both Sides--with a Dense Low Lying Fog!

Staging Jessye Norman in an Opera at one time, Wilson advised her to think of herself as a Great Ocean Liner, gliding across the Stage. At least that's what the Press Release said.

One Interesting Figure was that Guy who stood there Masturbating--even during the Singing.

Then, he let it All Hang Out, flopping the Fake Cock around & around.

Did this Military Figure represent a Soldier in Kosovo or only one of those Spoil Sports at the MoMA Atrium who were trying to distract Marina Abramovic in her Deep Concentration?

From the Very First--when Harvey Lichtenstein began to Sponsor the Astonishing Productions of Robert Wilson over at BAM--I was in Abject Admiration: Robert Wilson had put on stage the Landscapes of My Dreams & Nightmares.

His A Letter for Queen Victoria, as well as The Life & Times of Josef Stalin & Einstein on the Beach--with that One Two Three Threnody of Philip Glass--were Magical.

Unfortunately, Al Einstein was not then actually Alive, so there had to be a Stand by standing on that Metaphorical Beach.

Although Einstein's Family Life had Its Own Problems, it's Unlikely that he would have Exposed Himself on stage in the Manner of Marina Abramovic.

She has made an Entire Career out of her Body in Motion & In Repose

Who would have thought--way back when Marshall Tito was holding together all those Balkan Entities, such as Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, & Croatia--that a Simple Young Girl, with a Tyrannical Mother, both of which Marina Abramovic plays in this Wilsonian Epic, would fascinate Audiences of Thousands with her Life & Loves?

But Marina Abramovic isn't the Whole Show: there is also the White Faced Willem Dafoe, who acts like a Wise Cracking Clown in moving the Narrative Along.

Not to Overlook Antony--of Antony & The Johnsons--whose Resonant Voice enhances the Proceedings.

Indeed, the Music & the Singing are Major Charms.

The Musical Cries & Calls & General Hubub of any Balkan Village is often recalled in this Evocation of Marina Abramovic.

Oh! Did Robert Wilson also stage The Secret Life of Juanita Castro?

Or was that one of those Ronnie Tavel Exposures down at LaMaMa--back in the Golden Days of the New York Avant Garde

Too Bad that Robert Wilson was not Born in the Time of Lola Montez & Franz Liszt!

Lola--with her Sensational Spider Dance--was famed for Self Exposure.

Indeed, her most popular Performance Art Presentation was the Life & Loves of Lola Montez!

What Bob Wilson could have done with Lola & Her Stuff!

Actually, Max Ophuls has already Done the Honors in a his Magnificent Film, Lola Montez, which features Peter Ustinov as Ring Master of the London Circus in which she Re Enacted her Life & Loves.

Thinking about Performance Art--inspired, of course, by the Example of Marina Abramovic--would it be Unfair to cite Jesus Christ as one of the most Outstanding Performance Artists of All Time?

The Crucifixion was certainly a Very Public Performance, although it was Orchestrated by the Romans

But Consider the Staging of Jesus' celebrated Passover Week Entrance into Jerusalem!

He chose to Ride into the Holy City on the back of an Ass--just as the Holy Family had done on the Flight into Egypt!

But He was deliberately fulfilling Biblical Prophecy, regarding the Coming of the Messiah, Palm Waving & All.

As for The Last Supper--surely a Catered Affair?--it could be somehow related to the Gourmet Gala at the Armory, honoring Worthy Patrons of the Arts & Marina Abramovic.

But no Bitter Herbs for Lovers of Performance Arts, it's to be Hoped?

Note: From 10 13 July 2014, one of the most Impressive Opera Productions will be presented at the Armory.

This is David Pountney's handsome Bregenz Festival Staging of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Auschwitz Inflected work of Musik Theater, Die Passagiere.

A former Female Guard--who decided who would Live & who would Die, on a Daily Basis--is on a Luxury Ocean Liner, bound for a New Life in South America.

Suddenly, she sees on board a Veiled Woman who escaped Her Clutches

It was my Good Fortune to see this Stunning Production on Rails at its World Premiere in Bregenz in 2010.

Not only that: I was able to interview Festival Director Pountney--whom I already knew from years ago when he was Head of Production at ENO, the English National Opera--as well as to record the Memories of Zofia Posmysz, an Auschwitz Survivor whose Semi Autobiographical Novel provided the Basis for Weinberg's Harrowing Libretto.

For a Full Account, check out my Arts Rambles Bregenz Festival Report for July 2010. This should be Archived on NYTheatre, as well as on GlennLoneyArtsArchive.Com.

This Memorable Music Drama is Not to be Missed this coming July!


Phoebe Legere's SHAKESPEARE & ELIZABETH I: The Reality Show [****]

The Elizabethan Era Lives Again, Set To Music, Thanks to Multi Talented Phoebe Legere:

With Period Costumes, Armada Cannons, & The Bardic Canon--Wherefore Art Thou, Dudley!


Shakespeare or Someone of That Name did not write the Plays commonly attributed to him.

No, indeed!

It was The School of the Night, empowered by Queen Elizabeth I, herself a Notable Writer Poet Translator Linguist.

The Altogether Remarkable Phoebe Legere--who wrote & composed the Dynamic Music for this Merry Ride of a Reality Show--is the Sole Begetter of this Rapid Romp through English Spanish Relations in the Elizabethan Era.

How many On & Off Broadway Productions this season have invoked Romeo & Juliet?

Well, here's One More--but With a Difference: It is Hilarious!

Not only Elizabeth, but also Most of the Cast are quoting from the Bardic Canon.

But then, the Rejected King Philip of Spain decides to Get Even with Liz, by Invading England with--what else?--the Spanish Armada.

So the Audience is suddenly Blindsided by Two Booming Cannons!

There's also Canon Law to consider: How can a Bastard Queen sit on a formerly Catholic Throne?

It is well known that Mary Queen of Scots--despite her Extra Marital Sexual Romps--is the Legitimate Roman Catholic Heir, not only to the Scottish Crown, but also to the Orb & Scepter of Merrie England.

So, it's Off with Her Head

The Queen's Astrologer, Dr. John Dee, has a Prominent Role, as he also does over at Lincoln Center, not OnStage, but as the Creator of the Mysterious & Mythical Mandala that informs their Misbegotten Mounting of The Scottish Play.

Huzzahs for David Mansley, who is a Man of Many Faces & Facets in this Elizabethan Romp.

But Nowhere is Christopher Marlowe mentioned in a Major Way, although he may well have written all those Comedies, Tragedies, & Chronicles, leaving the Sonnets to Edward de Vere?

Only One Aspect of this Production is a bit Out of Kilter: There is an Amateur Black & White Film Intrusion that adds nothing to the General Hilarity

The Designated Run of this Delightful Show--with Period Instruments, no less--at Theatre for the New City was All Too Short, but it did give Crystal Field, Chief Honcho at TNC, the opportunity to Lop Off Heads as Bloody Mary, Liz's Legitimate Royal Sister.

Alex Bartenieff--Field's Son--designed the Lighting, with Mark Marcante on Sets & Jennifer Anderson providing those Hand Sewn Gowns & Doublets.

Google or Wikipedia or Facebook or Twitter for More Info on the Award Winning, Path Breaking, Multi Talented Phoebe Legere!

She plays a Mean Accordion, as well as Keyboarding


The Czech American Marionette's THE REPUBLIC, OR, MY DINNER WITH SOCRATES [****]

Thank Zeus! Dinner with Socrates Is Nothing Like My Dinner with André--Starring Wally Shawn.

In Effect, Dinner with Socrates was rather like The Last Supper for the Sorrowing Disciples of Athens' Greatest Philosopher.

Jesus had Wine, but Socrates had Hemlock to drink: this was the Athenian Idea of a Definitive Last Goodbye, way back in the Fifth Century BC.

Jesus could turn Water into Wine, but Socrates couldn't, wouldn't, turn Hemlock into Nectar & Ambrosia.

Entering Socrates' Mythical Cave & sharing Choice Socratic Dialogue about the Nature of a Just Society--as Outlined in Socrates' The Republic--is quite a Challenge, even for Human Actors, but it's even more difficult for Marionettes.

Of course, it's a Cheap Shot to say that their Acting was Wooden

Actually, with the Visible Puppet Manipulators taking part in the Final Chapter in Socrates' Memorable Life, this New Production of Vit Horejs' Czech American Marionette Theatre is fraught with Amazing Allusions to Modern Times--especially to the Way We Live Now: in what appears to be an Unjust Society.

This Stark Contrast is High Lighted by stunningly designed Rear Lit Shadow Puppets & Current Newspaper Headlines.

As for the Philosopher King that Socrates envisioned, such an Impartial Autocrat was not to be found, then or now. Mitt Romney certainly didn't fit the bill

As most College Educated Americans must know, Socrates was Condemned to Death for "Corrupting the Youth of Athens."

His Real Crime, however, was Challenging them to Think for Themselves.

The Socratic Dialogues, as recorded by Plato--we don't have any Carved in Stone Copies from Socrates himself--are sometimes Heavy Going for University Freshman, so it's to the Credit of both the Wooden & the Live Actors that the Issues Raised are not Boring.

It's been suggested that the Athenians who Hated--possibly, even Feared--Socrates would have been satisfied if he had departed for Corinth, Thebes, or Sparta.

But he was an Athenian Born & he was going to Die an Athenian.

He believed that the Soul is Immortal, so he thought he was going to a Better Place, as he told his Disciples--as well as his Distraught Wife, Xantippe, who is always off stage in the Actual Dialogues.

The Ground Floor Theatre Space of LaMaMa ETC was turned into a Cave, thanks to Tom Lee, with Shadow Puppets & Costumes by Theresa Linnihan.

The Major Marionettes were the Creations of Jakub Krejicí, with the Toy Marionettes--including Racks of Troops--made by Milos Kasal.

Clifton Hyde devised & performed the Accompanying Music, with Lighting by Federico Restrepo.

The Altogether Admirable Bonnie Sue Stein produced this Philosophical Enchantment.

Not only did Socrates live long before Gutenberg or Scriptoria, he also had to rely on Plato to record what he taught the Youth of Athens.

He worked in an Oral Tradition, always Questioning his Auditors, rather than Pompously Preaching

Indeed, the Great Homeric Epics were shared with the Public & Transmitted Orally by Rhapsodes, who were specially trained to Perform them.

Of course, Athenians could also Learn a Lot by attending the Tragedies, Comedies, & Satyr Plays at the Annual Festival of Dionysus in a Special Stone Theatre at the foot of the Acropolis.

But that was a Once a Year Affair.

Almost any day, you could go into the Agora & hear the Peripatetic Philosophers, as they walked to & fro, Questioning & Propounding

No Registration Fees, as we know them, & No Student Debt!

Oh, you might now & then might want to bring along some Veggies or a Chicken for your Favorite Teacher.

Speaking of Fowl, the last thing Socrates said, before the Hemlock had made him Rigid in Death was: I Owe a Cock to Aesclepius.


Riabko & Seltzer's WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT:Bacharach Reimagined [****]

No Narrative Line, But None Needed:

With Great Bacharach Blockbuster Songs like Raindrops Keep Falling & Do You Know the Way

Kyle Riabko, even as a Youth, was apparently smitten with the Music of Burt Bacharach.

Then, one day, he showed The Master Tunesmith how he had arranged Selected Songs for Performance.

He got the Green Light & the Current Blockbuster Show down at the NY Theatre Workshop is the Foot Stomping Result.

Actually, only the Melodies of such Evergreen Hits as Raindrops Keep Falling, I'll Never Fall in Love Again, Do You Know the Way to San Jose, & Alfie are by Bacharach. He didn't Devise the Words

The often Unforgettable Lyrics are--as cited in the Playbill©--by Hal David & Others.

The Boxy Room that is the Premises of NYTW has been Transformed!

Rather like the Pearl Theatre's current Terence McNalley Show, the End Stage is crammed with all kinds of Lamps & Lighting Devices, Salvation Army Thrift Shop Furniture, & a veritable Cascade of Musical Instruments, descending Center Stage.

But the Walls!

Both Onstage & around the Entire Auditorium, all the Carpet Rejects from Recent Bankruptcies seem stapled in place. One hopes they have been treated with Fire Retardant

Kyle Riabko & Six Other Lively Young Musicians perform with Zest on Two Roundtables, one inside the other, scooting Instruments & Furniture around as Needed.

Four of them are first discovered on Two Battered Sofas, nailed high up on the Back Wall of the Stage.

As with the Globe Theatre Shows over at the Belasco on Broadway, some of the Audience even sits on On Stage Sofas

This is a High Energy & Infectiously EngagingEntertainment.

The engaging & attractive & talented Cast certainly infuses Bacharach's Songs with more Wistfulness, even Passion, than Dione Warwick ever did.

Even without a Narrative Thread, it deserves a Commercial Transfer, On of Off Broadway.

Actually, there is indeed a Thread, but it's in the way that Kyle Riabko has dispersed & re ordered the Lyrics, so there is a Definite Emotional Line.

Unlike the Theatre Workshop's Tony Winning Musical Transfer, Once, you cannot get Drinks up on Stage.

But who needs a Beer when there's so much going on?

How many Broadway Shows will greet you out in the street with an Encore?

As the Happy Crowd surged out onto East Fourth, the Entire Cast was across the Street, in front of LaMaMa, serenading their New Fans!

Way To Go!



Musical Riches in an Intimate Space: Benjamin Britten in an Upper Room

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus!

But, in Manhattan, we tend to celebrate the Holiday Season with Large Scale Musical Events like the Many Messiahs that abound.

Then there's that Christmas Spectacular over at Radio City Music Hall, featuring the Rockettes

Talk about Cultural Throwbacks: Radio City?

How long has it been since Radio was the National Information & Entertainment Obsession?

As for Music Halls, weren't they really more of an English Thing?

We once had Vaudeville & where has that gone?

Fortunately, New Yorkers can Celebrate the Holidays in much more Intimate Settings & on a much Smaller Scale.

So, it was a Seasonal Joy to amble over to West 108th Street & Amsterdam to the Chapel at Grace House to savor the Holiday Concert of Opera Feroce.

They didn't seem all that Ferocious, however, as they shared Giovanni Bononcini's Magdalene's Dilemma & Ben Britten's Ceremony of Carols.

This was the First Time I'd heard them, but I was assured that they are dedicated to Going for Baroque.

As for The Magdalene's Dilemma, she is torn between Earthly Love & Heavenly Love.

This is an Italian Baroque Vision: when the Holy Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church still regarded The Magdalene as a Repentant Sinner.

Rather than as Jesus' Closest Disciple--or possibly even His Wife & The Mother of His Children, whose Holy Blood/Royal Blood Descendants may still be found Close to some Surviving European Thrones

Soprano Beth Anne Hatton sang The Magdalene, with Counter Tenor Alan Dornak as Earthly Love.

You could easily recognize how Earthly he was, for he kept sipping what might have been Champagne & nibbling at Goodies, all the while dressed in a Renaissance cum Baroque Costume.

But, for me, the Revelation was Heavenly Love!

Not because Hayden De Witt kept clutching a Clunky Wooden Crucifix to demonstrate Where She Came From--surely Celestial Realms?--but because Hayden is a Marvelous Mezzo!

Personal Disclosure: Bi Weekly, Hayden comes over to Palazzo Loney--across from the Frick Collection--to help me Bring Order Out of Chaos



Artificial Intelligence Cannot Function If The Batteries Are Not Included: Plug In The PC!

The Playwrights Horizons Playbill© lists Madeleine George as the Author of "A New Play."

After watching some Scenes of Utter Bafflement, it became clear that the Real Author must be someone named Prof. Myecroft Moriarty

How else to account for the Visual & Textual References to Sherlock Holmes & Elementary, My Dear Watson?

But then there's that Other Watson, the One who helped Alexander Graham Cracker develop the Edible Telephone.

Not to be Confused with that Watson of IBM Fame Or was it Main Frame Fame?

Certainly some Members of the Audience were confused, as they packed up & went out into the Snowy Night at Intermission.

Actually, there are some Really Moving Observations about Love & Trust in this Watsonian Exploration.

Jumping Backward & Forward in Time & in Literature is, to say the least, Disorienting.

Possibly, Ms. George or Professor Moriarty has more than One Play in this Script?

Does He or She or an Artificial Intelligence need an Editor? Or some more Workshops

Louisa Thompson's Ever Changing, Ever Transmuting Setting was, perhaps, the Most Fascinating Aspect of this Leigh Silverman Staged Production.

Nonetheless, Amanda Quaid, David Costabile, & John Ellison Conlee were interesting in a Variety of Roles. Or, perhaps, in Variations of the Same Role?

Whether Human or Robot, Conlee comes across as Someone You Could Trust.

In a Seven Page Interview Handout, Tim Sanford--Artistic Director of Playwrights Horizons--explores Ms. George's Influences & Achievements.

She "loves listening to People talk."

She also has "a delight in the Surface Topography of Language as spoken by Human Beings."

This is Good, as she has been able to Transpose that kind of Language into the Vocal Mechanism of a Robot who looks a lot like Dr. Watson or John Ellison Conlee.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge's THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER [****]

Wedding Guests! Beware of Salty Old Guys with a Tale to Tell! Stay Near the Wedding Cake!

When Fiona Shaw was impersonating the Virgin Mary on Broadway recently, she actually received Death Threats!

Possibly some Catholic Action Fanatics were distressed to see the Blessed Virgin smoking Cigarettes?

There should be No Problem over in Brooklyn--at BAM's Harvey Theatre--because she is no longer playing a Virgin & she is Not Smoking.

Indeed, there couldn't be that many Irate People eager to Phone In any Death Threats, for the Entire Balcony & Most of the Mezzanine were Empty.

As the Audience was settling in, Fiona Shaw brought various Laddies up on stage to try on Two Hats & Lean on a Staff.

This Spectator Interaction was but a Prelude to her selection of her Rehearsed Wedding Guest & Significant Actor Other, Daniel Hay Gordon.

Then, as a Great Canvas Sail rose up behind her, Shaw launched into Samuel Taylor Coleridge's English Epic, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Yes, yes!

This is that Very Long Victorian Romantic Poem in Rhyme--or Rime--in which a hapless Wedding Guest makes the mistake of wandering off from the Cake & Punch to encounter an Windy Old Salt who regales him with his Tale of Death & Disaster at Sea.

Yes, this is the Very Poem in which the Garrulous Narrator has shot an Albatross, only to have it hung around his Neck.

That's where we get the Popular Negative Image: Like an Albatross around his Neck

We also get such Maritime Images as: Alone, Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea

As well as: Water, Water Everywhere, nor not a Drop to Drink

Fiona Shaw has not only Memorized the Entire Poem, but she has also--with the aid of Director Phyllida Lloyd & Choreographer Kim Brandstrup--been able to bring the Entire Doomed Adventure to Life on the Harvey Stage.

Fortunately, although the Actual Poem is rather Long, it doesn't seem so, thanks to Shaw & Hay Gordon, who does a very Good Albatross Imitation in Silhouette.

Oddly enough, I found myself Mouthing Shaw's Lines.

Suddenly, I remembered what I had long forgotten: I once also Knew It by Heart!

At the University of Wisconsin/Madison, part of my MA in Oral Interpretation Requirement was the Interpretive Performance of an Epic Poem.

My Mentor, Prof. Harriett E. Grimm, suggested The Iliad or The Aenead.

Too Classical, for my taste. Give me the Romantics every time!

At least, I didn't have to Act like the Ancient Mariner--just suggest

Hey! Didn't Coleridge also write that thing about Xanadu?

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a Stately Pleasure Dome decree

Something like that? I can't find my Oxford Companion to English Verse to check it out.

Wasn't that supposed to have been an Opium Inspired Fever Dream?

Something like that: Long before LSD & Allen Ginsberg.


Sean O'Casey's JUNO & THE PAYCOCK [*****]

Poor Juno! With "The Troubles" Outside in the Streets, Who Needs Domestic Dysfunction?

When you see a Dublin Irish Tenement Family in action--as New Yorkers have recently, down at the Irish Rep, in Charlotte Moore's strongly directed & fiercely acted staging--you will understand why Window Signs with the Warning: No Irish Need Apply were posted all over Boston & New York, when Waves of Irish Immigration first engulfed Our Shores.

The Passionately Pious but Resolutely Realist Juno Boyle [the excellent J. Smith Cameron] is holding her Entire Family together, despite little help from any of them.

Her Boastful, Oft Drunken Peacock of a Husband, "Captain" Jack Boyle [the remarkable Ciarán O'Reilly, who is also Irish Rep's Producing Director] wastes his time with his Best Buddy, the sleazy, treacherous Joxer Daly [the "darlin'" John Keating].

Juno's Son, Johnny Boyle [an understandably sullen Ed Malone] has been seriously maimed fighting for Irish Freedom. Later, he will Pay with his Life at the Hands of Irish Freedom Thugs.

After Centuries of Occupation & Oppression at the hands of English Overlords--despite occasional Futile Uprisings--when Organized Irishmen finally rose up to Oppose the UK in the Wake of World War I, a lot of Innocent Blood was shed.

Some of that Blood was not so Innocent, however

The Action--or In Action--in Juno takes place in September 1922, during the Irish Civil War, which would lead to the establishment of the Irish Free State [so called] that later evolved into the Irish Nation of Eire.

Juno's pretty--doesn't she know it: always primping & making up!--Daughter, Mary Boyle [Mary Mallen] has fallen for a real Anglo Type Gentleman [James Russell], who brings News of a Bequest to Captain Jack, which will make the Whole Clan wealthy.

So their Tenement Neighbors begin loaning them Small Sums, in hopes of a Larger Harvest when the Cash Comes Home.

Juno & Jack rapidly transform their Miserable Two Room Flat into a Marks & Spencer Paradise. Complete with a Gramophone with a Golden Horn!

A Neighborhood Celebration of the Forthcoming Fortune is a Culture Shock for Mary's Boy Friend.

He may well be amazed at the Vocal Talents of Maisie Madigan [Terry Donnelly].

Nonetheless, he Decamps, leaving His Intended unfortunately Pregnant, but Mary is Too Proud--or Too Ashamed--to accept the frequently proffered Love of a Lad who has always admired her

The Will was Improperly Drawn. The Boyles are now Poorer than ever before

Wouldn't you know! Being Dublin & Ireland & all that!

For Captain Jack, this calls for a Drink. What else can he do?

Yes, there is that Popular Irish Slogan that: Guiness is Good for You!

But for Juno's Paycock, One ought to be Enough

Speaking of Guinness, why don't they have a Full Page Ad in the Irish Rep Program?

Aer Lingus does!

If you have never seen one of the always Handsome, Colorful, & Vital Productions at the Irish Rep, please Make an Effort.

They are now Raising Money to have their very own Permanent Theatre Home. You could put Your Name on a Seat--even if you are not Irish or of Irish Extraction!

Sean O'Casey was unsparing in his presentation of Irishmen on stage. This did not make him Beloved, either by Abbey Theatre Audiences or Irish in General.

Nonetheless, he should be greatly pleased by this Excellent Production--with lots of Irish Singing & Erse Dancing--in which the Boyles go from Rags to Riches & back again.

I first read Juno & The Paycock at UC/Berkeley, when Fred Harris--our Drama Department Chairman--decided to stage it on Wheeler Hall Lecture Stage.

It took me a while to understand that there was no such Irish Profession as a "Pay Cock."

Oh! I soon discovered that O'Casey meant that "Captain" Johnny Boyle is a Peacock, always showing off

After we had wrestled with Irish Accents, Irish Angst, & Irish Pretension, I began to understand why Sean O'Casey--having been charged with Defaming the Irish in his Dramas--decided to retire across the Irish Sea, in Torquay in Devon.

So, when I was teaching US Troops in the English Midlands in the 1950s, I decided to drive down to Devon to see Sean in the Flesh.

A Salty Old Charmer, he was.

But O'Casey was similarly surprised to meet an Authentic Californian Irishman, whose Grandfather was born on the Ould Sod way back in 1832


George Bernard Shaw's SAINT JOAN [*****/+++++]

Joan Had To Wait Until 1920 for Sainthood: Will the World Ever Be Ready for Its Saints?

It was, for me, an American Abroad, many, many years ago, an Unforgettable Experience to stand on the Exact Spot in Rouen--near the Cathedral--where Joan of Arc was Burnt at the Stake for being either a Witch or an Heretic.

Take Your Choice: The English Forces in France wanted her Dead, no matter what the Legal or Clerical Excuse.

On the Other Hand, Joan's French Comrades in Arms wanted her Saved, but could do nothing as she was an English Prisoner.

On yet Another Hand, the Holy Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church's Holy Inquisition wanted, above all else, to Save Her Soul. If not Her Body

So, La Pucelle, Joan, The Maid, had to be Burnt Alive at the Stake--more for Political Expedience than for Religious Reasons.

Everything was Reduced to Ashes save Joan's Heart: It did not, would not, could not, Burn!

The Historical Record of Her Military Triumphs & Her Clerical Trial are both the Stuff of High Drama.

So it's Good that that famed Irish Playwright, George Bernard Shaw, brought his Fabian Intelligence to the Daunting Task of dramatizing Her Story.

Saint Joan is nothing like Pygmalion. It's nothing like Man & Superman, although it is a Super Script.

It is such a Super Show, as well, that it really needs None of the Visual Production Values that usually adorn a Major Revival of an Official Modern Classic.

Both Shaw & St. Joan can Speak for Themselves!

That is certainly the Belief of Bedlam--not London's old Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane--who are a Group of Players who do affirm that The Play's the Thing.

What's more--not needing Fancy Costumes, Elaborate Settings, Impressive Props, or Orchestral Accompaniments--they are content to find Odd Spaces & fill them with Thought & Passion in Action.

So it is that Eric Tucker, Edmund Lewis, & Tom O'Keefe, with Andrus Nichols, have banded together to present both Saint Joan & Hamlet in Rotating Rep down at 45 Bleecker Street.

Their Stagings--directed by Tucker--are Right in Your Face.

I found myself sitting right next to Tucker, who, as a Noble Lord, plotted with a High Ranking Cleric to Trap, Condemn, & Execute Jeanne d'Arc, a Simple Village Maid from Domremy, who thought she was hearing Angelic & Saintly Voices, telling her to Free France from the English Invaders by Raising the Siege of Orleans.

This Physical Sensation is even More Potent than seeing an Already Powerful Drama in a Theatre in the Round Confrontation.

What is even More Impressive, however, is being Right Next To or Right in Front of these Dynamic Actors, who are so deeply Inhabiting Their Roles that they do not Break Concentration for a Second.

More Astounding yet is the fact that any of the Four Players can Switch in a Second into a Quite Different Character & then instantly resume the Former Earl, Cleric, or Plebe.

Whether a Seasoned Performer is Method or Pure Stanislavski, once he or she is In Character, it's not easy to Vault right out of it into a Different Body Language & Mind Set.

Not only the Physical Proximity of the Players, but also their deliberate Inclusion of the Audience in various Actions & Arguments raise the Emotional Stakes for all concerned.

These Bedlamers are also High Octane Performers. Their Fierce Energy is infectious: even the Dead would come Awake!

As for the Deaf, you won't need Hearing Aids down at Bleecker Street

After the Saint Joan Matinée, we were originally scheduled to have the Bedlam Hamlet in the Evening.

Considering the Concentration & Energy required for One Show Alone, I cannot quite comprehend how they thought they could play these Two Challenging Dramas back to back.

Frankly, I was so Emotionally Wiped Out that I couldn't have managed Hamlet a few hours later.

Nor could they, in fact: the Sunday Evening Hamlet was cancelled

Please, St. Margaret, St. Catherine, & St. Michael Archangelo!

Protect These Players!

Do not let them Go Broadway!

Do not let them go the Way of The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma

Do not let them revive Any Play by Neil Simon, especially not The Last of the Red Hot Lovers.



Mark Rubinstein, Brett Haylock & et al's LA SOIRÉE [****]

Something for Everyone--Except Impressionable Under Agers:

Sally Rand without Her Fans, Gypsy Rose Lee without a G String & So Much More

Who now remembers Sally Rand, that Fan Dancing Semi Stripper Sensation of the Golden Gate International Exposition, on Treasure Island, in San Francisco Bay?

Or, for that matter, who really remembers that Sophisticated Stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee, unless they've seen a Revival of Rose, The Musical

Time was when Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia would have closed down a show like La Soirée.

Among Other Treats, it features a Svelt Stripper who Exposes It All, even extracting a small Red Hankie from her Most Intimate Region.

The Male Acrobats & Aerialist show Stunning White Bodies with almost every Surface Muscle in High Definition.

For the Kinkier Tastes, there is a Round Female Posterior in what looks like Tight Red Rubber or Spandex.

Not to overlook the Soaking Wet Levis of that Man in the Bathtub

Then there's that Long Haired Guy in Motorcycle Black Leather--with a Fake Moustache--who can juggle like a Demon while Lip Synching to Freddy Mercury: he styles himself Mario, Queen of the Circus.

But this Show is not so much about Sex as it is about Cirque du Soleil Style Athletic Prowess & Skill.

I mean, what's Ejaculation Inducing about swallowing the Metal Leg of a Coffee Table?

At least it's a change from Sword Swallowing

That Throaty Artiste is called Miss Behave!

The only real Downer is an Unfunny Comedy Act, in which a Caricature pretends to be an Aspiring Actress.

Nonetheless, it was clear that some Members of the Audience were delighted to have Sexy Performers rub up against them.

When those Amazing Acrobats, the Two English Gents--Denis Lock & Hamish McCann--abandoned their Proper British Attire & Rolled Umbrella for only Bowlers & Union Jack Briefs, there was an Audible Sigh: Is there a Surface Muscle they have not Super Developed?

If you failed to Buy Refreshments during the Show, you can have Free Popcorn on departure. They don't hold it over until the next performance.



Martha Clarke's CHERI [***]

Colette's Cheri Dances Down at Signature; Amy Irving Provides Narration; Clarke's In Residence!

Is Martha Clarke really more of a Choreographer than a Stage Director?

Or is she something More than either of those Job Slots would suggest?

Early on, she helped Moses Pendleton found Pilobolus, but she first came to Critical Notice as a Conceptual Creator with Garden of Earthly Delights, inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's fantastic Medieval Horrors.

Other Performance Pieces that I have extravagantly admired include Vienna: Lusthaus & The Hunger Artist.

Even more impressive was the Miracolo d'Amore that she created for the Spoleto Festival Charleston.

Not only did she have Tiepolo Commedia Clowns in those Odd White Oblong Hats, but she also had Bare Breasted Baroque Beauties on display.

I thought these Images were breath taking, but a very angry Alice Tully stormed out down the aisle, off to Italy, withdrawing her Support from the American Wing of Gian Carlo Menotti's Festival dei Due Mondi.

Not mentioned in her Playbill© Bio is that Civil War/Walt Whitman Inflected show she created over at BAM for the Harvey Theatre.

It featured--for some Unknown Reason--Flora, the Baby Elephant Star of the Flora Kiddie Circus in Charleston.

I was alerted to come to the Third & Last Performance. I met the Avant Garde Composer, Richard Peaslee, outside.

He was disgusted: "This isn't Broadway! This is Experimental Theatre. But we are being closed just like a Commercial Flop!"

Martha Clarke has, however, Survived.

She has staged Opera in Major Houses. What's more, she is a MacArthur Genius & has just won the Dance Magazine Award for 2013!

Now, she is In Residence down at Signature on West 42. Soon, she will stage Bert Brecht's Threepenny Opera for the Atlantic Theatre.

Cheri, at the Signature, stars the Romantic Dancer Herman Cornejo, supported by Alessandra Ferri as Lea, his Older Love.

It is essentially an aspect of Dance Theatre, but Useful Narration is provided by Amy Irving, as Cheri's Permissive Mother.

For Clarke, the Period Music of the Era of The Great War--from which Cheri returns, devastated & destroyed--is of Central Importance.

So Sarah Rothenberg plays the Grand at the side of an Off Kilter Paris Apartment, lending a Special Quality to the dancing of Cornejo & Ferri--with such Composers as Federico Mompou, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc, & even Richard Wagner.

This Vision of Colette's Cheri is quite a Contrast to the Signature's Stagings of Works by Romulus Linney & August Wilson!



Bernie Madoff! The Stolen Cash is OK: Blythe Danner Has Hidden It in the Fridge!

It's bad enough to be the Widely Hated Wife of an Imprisoned Investment Scam Schemer--who bears a Passing Resemblance to Bernie Madoff, even though we do not see him here in her Pensacola Condo--but also to be suffering from Diabetes does seem Loading the Deck against the Unrepentant Judith, better known to her Many Fans as Blythe Danner!

But Danner is Not the Only Star in Amanda Peet's Confrontation Packed Family Drama, set in the Northwest Corner of Florida: Pensacola

No, Indeed!

We also have the Star Power of Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Becca!

Both Parker & Danner were being mobbed by Fans outside City Center after the Show.

Lynn Meadow directed her Excellent Cast in a handsome Santo LoQuasto Condo, the Sliding Doors of which could not be forced open by anyone on stage.

Although Sugar is Death to Diabetics, Judith is always sneaking a spoonful or two of Forbidden Sorbet from her Fridge's Freezer Compartment.

This is also where she has deposited her Stash of Madoff Money: Cold Comfort when you are slowly dying of Diabetes


Stevie Holland Sings Cole Porter's Songs in LOVE, LINDA: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter [*****]

It Wasn't Easy Being Married to a Guy with a Roving Eye & a Gigantic Talent

As the Elegant Socialite, Linda Porter--Hostess with the Mostest in Paris, Venice, Manhattan, & Hollywood--the Elegant Jazz Singer Stevie Holland is Linda Personified.

But this is no Cole Porter Songbook Show, although some of Porter's most Potent Hits are here deployed to Tell the Tale of a Strange Partnership.

Both Linda & Cole--like Scott Fitzgerald & Zelda, if not quite like Gertrude Stein & Ernie Hemingway--were among the Lost Generation, living it up in 1920s Paris.

Linda adored Cole, but There Was a Problem.

Cole Porter was, essentially, Gay: He had a Wandering Eye & a Truant Heart.

The handsome Stevie Holland takes her Audience from Paris, to Venice, to New York, & to Hollywood--where there was a Lot of Love for Sale, even around the Porter's Pool.

Somehow, Linda Soldiered On, until she Fled to Paris & Filed for Divorce.

In a Disastrous Riding Accident, Cole's Horse fell on him, crushing his Right Leg.

This brought Linda back to him, to care for him, even though her Own Health was beginning to Decline.

Cole told her: "Fifty Million Frenchmen can't be Wrong! They don't ride their Horses. They eat them!"

Ultimately, Linda's Saga is not a Jolly Romp, but a thoughtful attempt to explain how she inspired Cole & how they managed to Interact in a very Special Kind of Love.

Not only was she Spiritually Supportive, but Linda also had Elegant Jeweled Art Deco Cigarette Cases specially designed for each of his Broadway Hits.

These were donated to the Lincoln Center Library/Museum of the Performing Arts, where they were once briefly on display. Later, they dispersed, Sold at Auction to raise funding for the Varied Collections.

Backed by a Trio, Stevie Holland shines in such Porter Stunners as Night & Day, What Is This Thing Called Love, So in Love, Love for Sale, I Love Paris, Wunderbar, & Miss Otis Regrets.

After the Accident, Cole was always in Pain, but he continued to compose Haunting Melodies to Ingenious Lyrics that he devised.

It is amazing that Stevie Holland--assisted by Gary William Friedman--has been able to tell the Whole Story so frankly & yet so Elegantly!

She celebrates what Cole Porter created, as well as explaining how a Real Love can run deeper than Passionate Sex.

Nota Bene: No sooner will York Theatre strike the Sets for Love, Linda, than it will be time for Musicals in Mufti.

From Mid January to Mid March, it will offer Celebrating Sheldon Harnick--who is now Ninety!

This will be launched by the World Premiere of Sheldon Harnick's A World To Win--effectively a Shelly Sampler.

Four Shows with Harnick Scores will follow in Rapid Succession: Dragons, Malpractice Makes Perfect, Smiling, the Boy Fell Dead, & Tenderloin.

Malpractice is a Musical Spoof based on Molière's The Doctor in Spite of Himself, or Le Medecin malgre Lui


Chris Marlowe or Will Shakespeare's HAMLET [*****]

Back to Bedlam Down on Bleecker Street: The Fabulous Four Have Done It Again!



Brilliant! BRILLIANT! Brilliant! BRILLIANT! Brilliant! Brilliant!

BRILLIANT! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! BRILLIANT!



Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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