February, 2014

Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

Will Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe’s KING LEAR [***]
Clare Coss’ DR. DuBOIS & MISS OVINGTON [**]
John Patrick Shanley’s OUTSIDE MULLINGAR
Donald Margulies’ DINNER WITH FRIENDS [*****]
Greg Edwards & Andy Sandberg’s CRAVING FOR TRAVEL [****]
Juilliard & the Met Opera Present A CONCERT OF COMIC OPERAS [*****]
Eric Simonson’s BRONX BOMBERS [**]
Benjamin Britten’s BILLY BUDD [High Winds/Deep Snow]
Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS [***]
Nilo Cruz’s SOTTO VOCE [*****]
Caryl Churchill’s LOVE & INFORMATION [***]
Carole King & Friends’ BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical [****]
John Van Druten’s LONDON WALL [*****]
Thomas Keneally & Larry Kirwan’s TRANSPORT [**]
Charles Busch’s THE TRIBUTE ARTIST [****]
Douglas Lackey’s DAYLIGHT PRECISION: An American Tragedy [****]
David Rossmer & Steve Rosen’s THE OTHER JOSH COHEN [*****]
Scott Siegel’s BROADWAY BY THE YEAR: Broadway Musicals of 1915 1939 [*****]
Paddy Chayefsky’s MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
At the Juilliard School:
JUILLIARD ORCHESTRA Conducted by Hans Graf [Austrian] [*****]
BEYOND CARMINA BURANA: Carl Orff Commentaries--
Creating Prometheus & Ein Sommernachtstraum

Report for The Month of February 2014



Considering the Epically Cold Weather, it was a Heaven Sent Blessing that February was & is The Shortest Month.

That also meant that Performing Arts Critics didnt have to go out into the Freezing Manhattan Nights as many times as they will when Tony Time approaches

Of course, by March--even coming in Like a Lion--the Metaphoric Mercury should begin to rise in the Metropolitan Thermometer.

Some New Shows did have to be cancelled for a Night or Two, owing to the Extreme Weather.

But for those Hardy Perennials that have been running for Years & Years, neither Snow nor Sleet nor Dark of Night could keep the Tourists from the Swift Completion of their Appointed Entertainment Itineraries



As usual, even if the Previewing Play was clearly already a Washout in Script Stage, the generally Excellent Manhattan Casts gave it Their Best Shot.

Even if the Euphemistically Categorized "Emerging Playwrights" arent quite ready for the Big Time, they will certainly experience their Dramatic Fantasies in the Best Possible Light, thanks to the Performance Skills of Card Carrying Equity Members.

But it must be a Bit Daunting to those who have just earned an MFA in Playwriting at Yale or Stanford to realize that some Broadway Producers would rather bring back Raisin in the Sun & Les Misérables than take a Chance.

This Season we have had entirely too much of Romeo & Juliet in various Forms & Versions.

But what is it with the Powers That Be over in Brooklyn?

First, BAM imports a British Production of King Lear, although featuring a Native American--that is, he was born here.

Then--just across the street, so to speak--BAMs New Neighbor, Theatre for a New Audience, imports another British Production of King Lear.

Is this Bardic Overkill, or what?


Will Shakespeare or Chris Marlowe’s KING LEAR [***]

Yes! Every Inch--Even Every Centimeter--A King! Frank Langella Scales an Elizabethan Everest!

Its all very well for an Admired American Actor to want to show Audiences what he can do with the Role of Willy Loman, but--on both sides of the Atlantic--Male Stage Stars must show their Chops in Major Shakespearean Challenges.

From Burbage to Booth, from Olivier to Langella, they have to begin by scaling Lesser Heights than the Theatrical Everest of King Lear.

The Scottish Play is an Early Challenge, usually followed by Hamlet. But only in the Wisdom of Age dare one play Lear

Sam Waterston wasnt ready. Richard Thomas has shown No Inclination to essay this Epic Assignment.

But Frank Langella has arrived in Tattered Royal Splendor over in Brooklyn at BAM, at the Harvey Theatre on Fulton!

This Thunderous Production comes to the Metropolitan Area from Britains Chichester Festival!

Not only is there Ear Splitting Thunder, but Lear must perform his Mad Scene, not on a Barren Heath, but, instead, on an oddly designed Wooden Stage Floor, in an Epic Rainstorm.

Frank Langella is certainly Equal to the Task, but that cannot be said of some of the Royal or Noble or Aristocratic Others.

Possibly Your Roving Arts Reporter has seen too many Lear Stagings, with Royal Roles impersonated by too many Famed Stage Stars

At the very Center of the Drama, Lears Beloved Cordelia--who is so Uncompromisingly Honest that she cannot flatter her Senile Old Father, thereby losing both His Favor & a Third of His Kingdom--Isabella Laughland is entirely Too Weak & Unconvincing.

What an Unfortunate Stage Name, as well!

The Sturdy, Stalwart Kent--in Steven Paceys Embodiment--seems rather Too Young, Too Immature, Too Unseasoned.

It also makes No Sense to have Lears Fool played by what appears to be a Mere Boy.

At times, it was difficult to distinguish between the Fool & the Outcast Edgar [Sebastian Armesto], who also seemed much the Junior to his actually Younger & Totally Evil Brother, Edmund--a Commanding Presence in the Person of Max Bennett.

Nor were the Goneril & Regan--Primal Witch/Bitches--of Catherine McCormack & Lauren ONeil as deliciously, maliciously Evil as is the Custom in Major Lear Revivals.

When Lear divided his Kingdom into Thirds, it was unfortunate that there was no Large Map of Britain spread out on the choppy wooden flooring.

But this Useful Prop was avoided by Stage Director Angus Jackson, who possibly wanted to make sure that his Lear didnt look like any Famous Lears that had gone before?

It has been too many years since Ive been down to Chichester for the Annual Summer Festival, but, from the first, under Sir John Clements Direction--in which he engaged such Talents as Maggie Smith & Keith Baxter--the Stagings were both Stunning & Memorable, usually making their way to Londons West End.

Peter Shaffers The Royal Hunt of the Sun was premiered on that stage

The Chichester Festival Theatre has a Thrust Stage, jutting out into an Amphitheatre Seating Conformation, which was rather reduced in the Old Majestic Movie Theatre Balcony Seating of the Harvey.

Chichester has--among other Historic Enhancements--a Roman Wall & a Market Cross.

In fact, the very Name of Chester means that it was once Roman Legion Stronghold.

Worth a Visit--not only for the Festival Productions!

Oh, by the way: Not ony Male Actors aspire to play Lear.

Once upon a time, up in Boston, the Bown Adams School of Drama offered Queen Lear.

Womens Rights, you know


Clare Coss’ DR. DuBOIS & MISS OVINGTON [**]

Kathleen Chalfant Gives Her All in Period Bio Drama about the NAACPs Founders

The Essential Problem with Clare Coss as a Dramatist is that she should be writing Wikipedia Entries instead.

It is quite clear that she admires both Mary White Ovington & Dr. William E. B. DuBois extravagantly.

But, in her Obvious Desire to provide all the Possible Background that Audiences of Aliens might need in order to understand Race Problems in the United States in 1915, she tells us more than we may want to know about The Crisis, Lynchings across the USA, President Woodrow Wilsons Racist Policies, NAACP Board Problems, DuBois Difficult Personality, Ovingtons Family Background, & Affective Attractions between her Two Protagonists.

All this Material could have been organized into an Interesting Book.

As it was, despite Heroic Performances by both Kathleen Chalfant & Timothy Simpson--in Period Costumes, with Period Phones, Phonographs, & Dictaphones--I kept looking at my Watch, hoping it would soon be over.

Gabrielle L. Kurlander staged.



John Patrick Shanley’s OUTSIDE MULLINGAR [****]

"You Dont Get the Farm Because You Have Too Much Kelly in You & Not Enough Reilly!"

Aged & Angry, the irascible Tony Reilly--furiously embodied by Peter Maloney--is plotting to leave the Reilly Farm to a young, unknown American Cousin.

He will do this to Spite his Own Son--stolidly played by Brían F. OByrne--despite the fact that his Namesake, Anthony, has been stolidly toiling away on the barren Reilly Soil since he was a Wee Irish Laddie.

But there is never a Word of Thanks for all Anthonys Efforts; never a Kind Word from the perpetually angry Widowed Father to his Silently Suffering Son.

Among the Faults he finds with Anthony--no longer a young & hopeful Irish Farmer--is that he "takes no Joy working the Land."

Worse, however, is the Fact that there is more Kelly in Anthony than there is Reilly, for Old Tony still resents John Kelly, his Late Wifes Father.

Since Mrs. Reilly passed on, her once spruce Kitchen has become a wretched Mess. Neither of the Tonys is much at Housekeeping

What they do, day after day, is Plod On, Ploughing & Cursing, never even thinking of a Weekend in Dublin.

An Evening at the Local Pub is the Height of Entertainment

Although Playwright John Patrick Shanley--his Doubt won both a Tony & a Pulitzer--places Mullingar in the Irish Midlands & cites the Time as "Recently," apparently not much has changed in the Countryside since Sean OCasey, Lennox Robinson, & John Millington Synge.

Unfortunately for Young Anthony, however, this is no Playboy of the Western World.

If you have ever been to Eire & wandered on, beyond Dublin, out into its stony, unforgiving Farmlands, you may understand how Desolate & Depressing some of these Stone Walled Fields can be

Yes, they are almost always Emerald Green--when they are not Ploughed Brown--but thats because it almost always Rains in Ireland.

Indeed, during most of Shanleys Contemporary Folk Drama, it is Constantly Raining.

So its No Wonder that Anthony is so Sullen & Devoid of Hope.

Its also No Wonder that he--like so many Rural Irishmen--seems a Perpetual Bachelor.

His Salvation could be found in the pretty, pert Next Door Neighbor, Farmer Lassie Rosemary Muldoon--interestingly inhabited by Debra Messing.

Unfortunately, a Blessed Union is Very Unlikely

Many, many years ago, when they were only Small Children, naughty Anthony pushed Rosemary down on the Ground & she has Never Forgotten, Nor Forgiven.

In fact, that Patch of Land has become a kind of Forty Meter Spite Fence, separating Two Parts of the Reilly Farm, so that both Old & Young Tony have to open & close Two Sets of Gates every time they want access to the High Road.

Old Tony lost this little bit of Land some years ago, when he needed a Loan of £200, which somehow never got Repaid to Muldoon Senior, who has gifted that Forty Meters to Rosemary.

In their Brief Encounters--in Perpetual Downpours--Young Tony is Obtuse & Rosemary is Prodding & Challenging.

Will they ever Get Together?

Not until there has been a Protracted Death Bed Scene, in which Old Tony finally gruffly admits that he Loves Young Tony & wont give the Farm to that American Cousin.

Oh, Well The Irish They are so Sentimental, after all.

What is entirely Incredible is the Discovery that Young Tony thinks of himself as a Bumble Bee!

From all His Previous Conduct during this Leprechaun Free Drama, Who Would Have Thought?

Fortunately for Rosemary--despite that "Spite Fence"--he thinks of her as a Beautiful Flower!

In the handsome Doug Hughes Directed Production--on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, formerly the Biltmore Theatre--Audiences get to see several Depressing Irish Interiors, pivoting into sight, thanks to the Design Genius of John Lee Beatty.

Dearbhla Molloy tartly plays Rosemarys Widowed Mother, Aoife Muldoon.

Aoife is--before her Death & Absence from the Remainder of the Play--acidly able to give both Tonys some Sage Advice.

Incidental Intelligence: Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director of the Manhattan Theatre Club--Current Proprietor of the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre--has just been elected to The Theatre Hall of Fame.

If you wish, however, to see Lynnes Name--enshrined alongside Edwin Booth & Carol Channing--you will have to buy a Ticket to Wicked, as the Halls Pantheon of Famous Names is housed in the Side Lobbies of what was once the Uris Theatre, but has long since been Re Christened as The Gershwin Theatre, in honor of George Gershwin, who did not compose Wicked



What Is It about New Jersey? Why Would Run of the Mill Mafia Need a Philosophy?

Colleges & Universities over in New Jersey should be much more careful about Granting Tenure to Determinists, as well as Logical Positivists.

Fortunately, Humanities seem to be on the Way Out of many College Curricula, so neither Chris Christie nor Mafia Princesses like Callie [Courtney Romano] will so easily be able in the future to Kidnap Philosophy Professors.

In this Odd Multi Media Drama, Audiences down on Theatre Row are invited to watch a Patty Hearst Style Abduction of a Baffled Young Professor [Tom White], who immediately has One Finger Chopped Off by his Raptor Captors.

Bruno Iannone plays the indulgent Grandfather Don who permits College Educated Callie her Fling with Philosophy & Che Style Revolution.

One of their first Revolutionary Outrage Statements is to Gun Down a some Senile Seniors who are involved in a Euthanasia Chat Group.

This may have been intended as Black Comedy?

At least it resolved their Concerns about Assisted Death

Pointless to attempt to describe what else occurs on Sam Becketts Small Stage, but the Production Values are admirable.

Indeed, the Accompanying Videos are so Professional that the Creator/Director Peaks may well want to Rethink their Mafia Philosophy Project as a Major Motion Picture.

At least the Peaks didnt conceive this Strange Show as a Musical, but some Warning Signals might have been covertly sent with the information that the Producers of this World Premiere are Rotten Apples Theatricals LLC


Donald Margulies’ DINNER WITH FRIENDS [*****]

Whose Side Do You Take When Best Friends Break Up? No More Gourmet Dinners in Foursome?

What do you do when your Best Buddy & Lifelong Friend is really an Egocentric Prick?

Post Divorce Situations can be Especially Difficult if You & Your Wife have long been the Best Friends Couple with Him & His Ditzy Spouse, the Kids all playing together regularly

How many in the Roundabout Audience at the Laura Pels Theatre must have found themselves asked or forced to Take Sides when there has been a similar Marital Schism in their Familial World?

So Donald Margulies wonderfully acted Food & Drink Oriented Drama must surely have Rung a Bell.

Jeremy Shamos is both charming & baffled as Gabe, the Gourmet Cook Husband & Best Friend of the Fleeing Father, Tom, rigidly embodied by Darren Pettie.

Marin Hinkle is both charming & sympathetic as Karen, always reaching out to the Reality Challenged Beth, who wants to be Respected as an Artist. Heather Burns eats Karens Goodies, but feels Patronized.

This handsomely designed Family Dinner Show was envisioned by Allen Moyer & it still looks much as it did when it was premiered down at the Humana Festival, at Actors Theatre Louisville.

Pam MacKinnon deftly directed, with all those Mini Stages sliding on & off, plus those Boxed Snowy Windows descending from above.

The Gourmet Food--as seen & described by Those Actually Eating It--sounded like Nectar & Ambrosia in Suburbia.


Greg Edwards & Andy Sandberg’s CRAVING FOR TRAVEL [****]

Sorry, Your Reservations Seem To Have Been Cancelled! Try These Guys: They Have Specials!

Sorry, but I could hardly hear the Travel Arrangements being made down on the Stage, as a Pack of Jackals seemed to be sitting right behind me, laughing uproariously at every Scheduling Misfire.

Or maybe they were friends of the hilarious Michele Ragusa & Thom Sesma, who played Two Harried Travel Agents & Thirty Demanding/Ditzy Travelers all by themselves.

Edwards & Sandberg should now qualify for a lot of FAM Trips, having done Yeoman Service for the Travel Industry in crafting this show--which was sponsored by no less than Nine Travel Oriented Operations, including Four Seasons Hotels & Holland America Line.

I did not know that it might be possible to Charter the Landmarked Intrepid for a Cruise Round Manhattan, but it apparently can be done if you have the Right Connections!

Having nearly missed a Wonderful Trip to Fátima & Santiago de Compostella because of the Epic Incompetence of a Manhattan Travel Agent, however, I was less than amused by some of the Sales Ploys & Scheduling Disasters satirized in this otherwise Clever Show.

Co Playwright Andy Sandberg directed, effectively using the Two Handsome Side by Side Offices designed by Charlie Corcoran.


Juilliard & the Met Opera Present A CONCERT OF COMIC OPERAS [*****]

James Levine Conducts Juilliard Students & Future Met Opera Stalwarts in Mozart & Others.

For most of the Audience at Juilliards Peter J. Sharp Theatre it was a Thrill just to see "Jimmy" Levine driving his Wheelchair up the Ramp to conduct Act One of Mozarts Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Even Wheelchair bound, however, Levine was not only Sovereign in his Light Hearted Interpretation but also Engagingly Supportive of the Young Actor/Singers.

The Reason for the Met Opera crossing West 66th Street to come over to Juilliard is its on going Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Ryan Speedo Green was a resonant Osmin in Mozarts "Turkish Opera," but he was also properly devious as Dr. Dulcamara in LElisir dAmore.

Benjamin Bliss was a lively Pedrillo in Abduction from the Seraglio, as well as being a Love Smitten Hussar in Stravinskys Mavra--which required him to Cross Dress.

Ying Fang was amazing as Konstanze, but equally astonishing in her Upper Registers as Teresa in Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini.

As Mozarts Turkish Potentate, Pasha Selim, handsome Jake Alan Nelson did not have to sing at all: Its a Singspiel Spoken Role.

There were, of course, Super Titles but all the Singing Thespians were so Clear & Precise in their German, Italian, & even in English that they were thoroughly Understandable.

Because the Center of the Sharp Stage was dominated by the Podium & Ramp for Maestro Levines Rollstuhl--flanked by the Julliard Student Orchestra--the Opera Scenes were nominally "staged" on either side of that Imposing Structure, with a Chair or two as Set Props.

Nonetheless, the Student Singers made Every Effort simulate Actual Emotional Engagement.

Alexey Lavrov, as Belcore in Elixir, was impressively both Amorous & Militant: a Strong Voice & Personality

James Levine--during the Tumultuous Applause at the Close--was especially gracious to Mario Chang, who was the hapless Nemorino in Elixir of Love.

Also Honored & Applauded were other Student Hopefuls: Andrew Stenson, Mary Jane Lee, Margaret Lattimore, Lacy Jo Benter, Brandon Cedel, Anthony Kalil, Pureum Jo, & Yunpeng Wang.

The Juilliard Orchestra was especially energetic during the Bumptious Workout that Berlioz Overture provides in Benvenuto Cellini.

But even the Small Sample offered helps explain why that Opera is so seldom performed.

As for Igor Stravinskys satiric/eccentric Mavra--a Flop at the Paris Opera way back in 1922, even though he thought it was "the best thing Ive ever done"--he must have been in a Post War Time Warp.

His previous Masterpieces, Firebird & Rite of Spring, have stood the Test of Time, while this little jeu despirit now seems Strangely Dated.


Eric Simonson’s BRONX BOMBERS [**]

If You Root for the Green Bay Packers, This Is Not Your Show

Peter Scolari is presented as Yogi Berra by--among others, according to the Program Credits--"Primary Stages, in Association with The New York Yankees & Major League Baseball Properties."

But you really have to Love the Yankees to sit still through this Seemingly Endless Evocation of Yankee History.

If you loved Yogi for "Its déjà vu all over again," this could by Your Play.

How about "Taking the High Road to get to the Bottom of the Matter"?

Yogi is concerned about the Yankees, so, in Act I, he invites Billy Martin & Others to a Hotel Room Confab. There are some Harsh Words. Billy cries

In Act II, Carmen Berra serves a Fancy Banquet--largely composed of North Dakota Potatoes-- to Living & Dead Yankee Greats, including Lou Gherig, who seems to have some sort of Disease.

Babe Ruth also turns up, with Joe DiMaggio already at the Festive Table, so this must be some sort of Dream Fantasy that Yogi is having.

Yankee Stadium is evoked with a Hanging White Cut Out, running round above the seats at Circle in the Square, where once there was a really interesting drama about Lombardi & the Green Bay Packers.

Post Mortem: Forget about ordering Bomber Tickets online. This Doomed Show closed almost before it had a chance to Open. I saw a Preview


Benjamin Britten’s BILLY BUDD [High Winds/Deep Snow]

From Glyndebourne To BAM, Captain Vere Sails into Port, But Poor Billy Still Has To Die

Many years ago, I took a Course in Playwriting from Robert Chapman at UC/Berkeley.

Bob had come to Berkeley from Elitist Harvard on the strength of the Broadway Drama he had recently written with Louis O. Coxe.

It was called Uniform of Flesh & it was inspired by Herman Melvilles Tortured Tale of British Justice on the High Seas.

British Composer Benjamin Britten surely must have heard about this Play--possibly even have actually seen it--so it was not long before Billy Budd became an Opera.

But Chapman & Coxe werent asked to turn their Drama into a Libretto for Britten.

Instead, he enlisted Eric Crozier & E. M. Forster, famed Author of Passage To India.

My Good Fortune was to have seen the Premiere Production at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as well as the first American Incarnation.

I thought Nathan Gunn was born to be Billy

Now celebrating Brittens Centenary, BAM decided to import the Glyndebourne Opera Production.

This Monumental Staging--directed by Donmars Michael Grandage & conducted by Sir Mark Elder--runs Three Hours, with Intermission.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra & the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus crossed the Atlantic to animate what the Press Material describes as "Lilting a capella Sea Chanties" & "Bombastic Choral Juggernauts."

Poor Billy Budd!

Deliberately Taunted & Tormented by Master at Arms Claggart, he Strikes Back.

Condemned to Death, Billy dies, crying: God Bless Captain Vere!

Unfortunately, High Winds & Epic Snowdrifts prevented me from reaching the Howard Gilman Opera House of the Brooklyn Academy of Music

But at least I know How It All Ends!


Bob Marley’s THREE LITTLE BIRDS [***]

Actually, Michael J. Bobbitt Wrote & Choreographed This Colorful Show, Using Marleys Songs

With Colorful Puppet Birds on their heads Three Lively Dancers bring to Young Audiences at the New Victory a Very Colorful Vision of Island Paradise Jamaica--all Abstract Forms in Boldly Basic Colors.

Montego Bay doesnt really look like the Unit Set Scenery of Jos. B. Musumeci, Jr, but its certainly Arresting, complementing as it does the Vibrantly Colorful Costumes of Kendra Rai.

Among the Reggae Ditties from the Bob Marley Songbook that the Talented Performers share with the Victory Kids are One Love, Riding High, Natural Mystic, Please Dont Rock My Boat, So Much Trouble in the World, I Know, Brown Girl, & the Title Song, Three Little Birds.

Your Roving Arts Reporter would have been more than satisfied had the Colorful Cast merely Danced & Sung, but they also had to Animate a Dumb Narrative that involved a Sulky Jamaican Lad who wont go Outside & see whats Going On, preferring to watch the One Channel of Television that was then available to Native Jamaicans & Tourists.

This Arcane Fable--based on a Story by Cedella Marley--went on & on, well beyond the Attention Spans of a number of the Increasingly Restless Juniors in the Auditorium.

Nonetheless, the Costumes & the Musical Performances were worth the Snowbound Trek down to Broadway & Forty Second Street.


Nilo Cruz’s SOTTO VOCE [*****]

Remembering the Doomed Voyage of the USS St. Louis:

Jewish Refugees--Refused Refuge in Cuba--Returned To Nazi Germany & Certain Death

Way back in 1939, many Americans still had no Inkling of the Abuses & Terrors daily being heaped upon German Jews by the Virulently Anti Semitic Nazi Regime.

Many Americans were still Ardently Isolationist, unwilling even to help their Embattled British Cousins.

In the White House, in Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, however, was well aware of what was happening Overseas.

But he was also acutely Politically Aware that admitting Boatloads of Undocumented Refugee Jews would not be acceptable to Isolationist Lawmakers.

This meant that--when the USS St. Louis arrived in Havana Harbor, with a Human Cargo of Desperate Jews--the Cuban Government, pressured by Washington, refused to let them Land.

Finding No Friendly Port in Cuba, America, or Canada, the St. Louis sailed back across the Atlantic, bringing 937 Doomed Jews to their Date with Destiny.

Now, Cuban Born Playwright Nilo Cruz has staged his own Fantasy Drama of the Emotional Aftermath of that Infamous Voyage: Sotto Voce.

At its Tormented Center is the Blocked Best Selling Novelist, Bemadette--brilliantly embodied & en souled by Franca Sofia Barchiesi--who lost her Jewish Beloved on that Ship of the Damned.

Her Self Enforced Manhattan Seclusion is suddenly invaded Telephonically by Saquiel [Andhy Mendez], a Cuban Jew, whose Grandaunt was also on the St. Louis.

This begins a kind of Metaphysical Love Affair, abetted by her Colombian Maid, Lucila [Arielle Jacobs] who also has her Own Demons to defeat.

Finally, Saquiel breaks through Bemadettes Barriers, freeing her to begin to write again: to write about that Epic Love & Enormous Loss.

This is a Heartbreaking Drama, sensitively Brought to Life, but not without Humor.

Nilo Cruz--who himself escaped Castro Cuba, to be later encouraged by the Playrights Irene Maria Fornés [Fellow Cuban] & Paula Vogel [Non Cuban]--won the Pulitzer Prize for his Anna in the Tropics.

Cruz also won the prestigious ATCA Steinberg Playwriting Award for Anna, in which Jimmy Smitts starred on Broadway.

[Personal Note: As a Board Member & Longtime Funder of FACTA--the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association, which gives this Award, along with Jim Steinberg, of the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Charitable Trust--I take a Personal Interest in Cruzs Ongoing Career, as well as that of Jimmy Smitts, who long, long ago was a Theatre Student of mine at Brooklyn College.]

Speaking Sotto Voce--or in a kind of Undertone--I also take a Personal Interest in the Pre War History of Cuban Landings of Refugee German Jews.

Some--like my Late Friend Eva--were fortunate enough to obtain a Landing Visa, which not only permitted her to Debark in Havana, but also to travel onward to San Francisco, where her Cousin & my UC/Berkeley Chum, Ruth Schwabacher & her Schwabacher Frey Relatives were able to welcome her.

My US Army Draftee Squad Mate at Fort Ord, CA, Ken Rosenthal, also had the Good Fortune to escape with his Family. But they settled in Guatemala, not the Bay Area.

Similarly, other Longtime Friends--only met & embraced after World War II--came over Cuba, initially to settle in Salvador or Colombia, before migrating to the United States.

But it remains a Black Mark that Isolationist or Openly Anti Semitic American Politicians refused to save Thousands of German & East European Jews from the Holocaust.


Caryl Churchill’s LOVE & INFORMATION [***]

Little Likely Love But Obvious Information Overkill in Royal Court Inspired NYTW Staging

Remember Cloud 9?

It was produced Everywhere. Every College, Community Theatre, & Regional Rep loved it.

So also did Their Audiences!

Not to Overlook the Attractions of Churchills Fen, Mad Forest, Traps, & Top Girls--but that was so Very English, wasnt it

Nonetheless, this Brit Playwright has come a Very Long Way from Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, seen in Manhattan long, long ago at the Perry Street Theatre.

Unfortunately, Love & Information--first seen in London at the Royal Court Theatre--is Two Hours Long, with No Intermission, composed of a seemingly Endless Series of Short Takes about Human Relationships.

Some of these Love/Hate Themes are so Bromidically Basic that only a One Minute Set Up is enough to Get the Point.

All the Short Scenes are set in a Claustrophobic White Cube, with the occasional Visual Novelty of seeing Actors Upside Down or Vertically in Bed.

Not only are many of these Comedic Problem Relationships unnecessarily Repetitive, but they are also Media Clichés.

The Box Office Bonus is that those Experimental Theatre Lovers who slogged down through the Epic Snowdrifts to the Minetta Lane Theatre got to see such Beloved Talents as Maria Tucci, Randy Danson, John Procaccino, & Karen Kandel valiantly Do Their Stuff on cue, guided by Stage Director James MacDonald.

Each Mini Scene--rather like 3 D Animated Snapshots--was introduced by Deafening Sounds.

Behind that Cute White Cube, there must have been an Epic Jumble of Set Props, the Rapid Fire Changing of which may account for all that Sound & Fury.


Carole King & Friends’ BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical [****]

Greatness Not Thrust Upon Her: Carole King Achieved Greatness: Top of the Charts Albums!

Neil Sedaka makes momentary Brief Appearances, but this Song Crammed Show is really a Musical Bio of the Climb to Fame of Songwriter/Performer Carole King.

It has all the Usual Production Values of Juke Box Musicals such as Motown & Jersey Boys, but it becomes Incandescent with the Dynamic Song Plugging of Jessie Mueller as Carole, abetted by her Sometime Hubby Lyricist, Gerry Goffin [Jake Epstein] & Competitive Colleagues, Barry Mann [Jarrod Spector] & Cynthia Weil [Anika Larsen].

Huge Metal Scaffolds scoot back & forth across the Mechanized Stage, suggesting Recording Studios at 1650 Broadway.

No, this is not the Brill Building, & we are a Long Way Off from George Gershwin & Irving Berlin.

Frank Loesser & Rodgers & Hammerstein dont even come close

No, no! We are way beyond Tin Pan Alley, into Rock & Stuff.

Mueller is a Dynamite Performer, but Carole Kings Troubled Home Life becomes a bit of a Slow Drag.

I cannot honestly say that I was on the Edge of My Seat, waiting to see if Gerry would come back to her.

But we do learn that Carole became Happy when she moved to LA & Laurel Canyon, making Hit Albums for the Big Time.

We get to see the Shirelles, who have also appeared in another recent Bio Musical.

Also: Little Eva, The Drifters, The Righteous Brothers, & Lou Adler!

Marc Bruni staged, with Deft Choreography by Josh Prince. Douglas McGrath was tasked with drafting a Carole King Lifeline

I was delighted to recognize Some Kind of Wonderful, among the many King/Goffin & Mann/Weil Hit Songs.

Unfortunately, my Aural Familiarity with Top of the Charts Favorites of so called "Popular" Music came to a close when the Lucky Strike Hit Parade faded away

After that, my Listening Experiences were confined to the Radio Station of Good Music, WQXR.


John Van Druten’s LONDON WALL [*****]

Underpaid & Overstressed Office Staff in London Legal Chambers: Avoid The Masher!

Once again, The Mint Theatre has revived--in 1930s Period Style--a Forgotten Winner!

This is John Van Drutens London Wall, set in the Reception Room of a Prestigious Legal Firm in the "City."

Although the Dramaturgical Apparatus in the Program quotes the Playwright as not being a Man of Messages, a Primal Fact of Life for the Young Stenos & Secretaries in this Bittersweet Romantic Comedy is to Use Your Beauty before it Fades.

But be sure to Get Married, not just Get Laid

This Point is clearly made by a Crazy Old Lady [Laurie Kennedy] who counsels a Confused Beginner [Elise Kibler], who is in Dire Danger from a Handsome Sexual Predator [Stephen Plunkett], who is a Stylish Solicitor in the London Wall Offices of Walker, Windermere, & Co.

The Impressionable Pat Milligan has a Flustered Best Friend [Christopher Sears], but they do not Understand--until prodded by an Older Secretary [Alex Trow], devastatingly disappointed in the Man She Loved--that they are Soul Partners & ought to do something Positive about it.

Suddenly Deserted after Seven Years Commitment--over the Telephone, not In Person--the Super Efficient Miss Hooper hands in Her Notice to her Crusty Old Boss [Jonathan Hogan], with no Future Prospects aside from the Newfound Freedom of Going Abroad to Make a New Life.

As is Customary at the Mint, the Entire Cast is Exemplary, especially as directed by Davis McCallum, in Marion Williams fusty Office Settings & Martha Hallys Period Fashions.

Indeed, these Mint Players so thoroughly Inhabit Their Roles that you could well believe that McCallum had somehow opened a 1930s Era Time Capsule & suddenly brought this Often Frustrated Office Force Back to Life.

Perhaps its High Time for the Mint to mount a Van Druten Drama Festival?

Consider the Canon: Bell, Book, & Candle, Old Acquaintance, Young Woodley, I Am a Camera, Voice of the Turtle

In fact, Van Drutens I Remember Mama is soon to be revived in Manhattan by The Transport Group.

Not to overlook the Impending Revival of the Musical Version of I Am a Camera, better known as Cabaret


Thomas Keneally & Larry Kirwan’s TRANSPORT [**]

Congratulations, Desperate Irish Women! Youve Just Won a Free Trip to Australia!

It must have seemed a Great Idea to turn the Tragic Tale of the Enforced Transportation of Irish Women Convicts from Ireland to Australia into an All Singing, All Dancing Musical Entertainment.

Look! Isnt this just the Right Moment for the Ships Surgeon to have a Love Duet with that Feisty Lassie?

How about a Seriously Introspective Sung Monologue by that Exiled Priest?

Do we have enough Irish Jigs in the First Section? You know how American Irish eat up Irish Jigs!

But were not doing River Dance here. We have only Four Women to do the Jigging in the Rigging

Thomas Keneally--Author of the Book of Transport--has a Family Connection to this On Going Epic of Brutal British Resettlement of Hardened Convicts & Troublesome Irish Women to the Wide Open Lands of "Down Under."

His Wifes Great Grandmother was Transported at 20 Years for Stealing a Bolt of Cloth!

These are the Kinds of Things that the Irish do not easily Forget

The Time recreated in Transport is 1838, shortly before The Great Hunger--the devastating Irish Potato Famine.

The Four Women in Transport represent some 40,000 "Young Undesirables," shipped off to Australia to propagate with Thousands of Hardened Criminals already transported there to British Penal Colonies.

Australias First Families are largely descended from such Patriarchal Antecedents!

What about the Rupert Murdoch Clan

The Estimable Tony Walton was enlisted not only to Design the Mainmast of "The Whisperer," a Female Convict Transport Ship, for the Intimate Space of the Irish Rep, but also to Stage the Show.

As almost All the Action occurs in the Confined Spaces of the Ships Dank Holds or on its Darkened Decks--despite the Walton Design Ingenuity--this makes for a generally Dim & Depressing Theatre Experience.

Not only that: Jig Music, in general, has a Jolly Sameness about it that only the Irish can Love

Oddly enough, over at BAM in Brooklyn, just days before, New Yorkers could see Benjamin Brittens Billy Budd, an Operatic Tragedy on a British Man o War.

Sea Chanties & Dancing Sailors, yes; but no Broadway Musical Leftovers

Nonetheless, as always, the Irish Rep Cast is Admirable, Erse Accents & all that!

At least, this Singing Show is not about the Horrendous Potato Famine, which deserves a Serious Opera, rather than Song & Dance Routines.


Charles Busch’s THE TRIBUTE ARTIST [****]

No No! Not Just a Drag Queen! A Drag Empress: Sovereign of All She/He Surveys!

What actually is a Tribute Artist you may well ask?

As defined by Jimmy--in Fabulous Drag, with an Iridescently Shimmering Gown by Gregory Gale--this Coveted Title is really a "Celebrity Tribute Artist," which involves miming the Manners & Modes of Famous Ladies.

But Jimmy--who in "Real Life" is the fabulous Playwright Artiste Personality Charles Busch--needs his Side Kick Adriana [Cynthia Harris] to identify the Fabulous Stars he is, in each Precious Instant, impersonating.

Adriana fortunately has seen all Their Forgotten Films, so she is able to identify Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, & Joan Crawford as well as The Maltese Falcon, Chicago, Now, Voyager, ad infinitum.

Aged & Infirm Seniors in the Audience, who have long followed the Fabulous Career of Charles Busch--beginning many years ago at Club Limbo--of course have actually seen those Movie Classics.

A Younger Generation knows them not, unless it be addicted to Late Nite Net Flix, or whatever.

The Central Problem in Tribute Artist is that the Fabulous West Village Townhouse in which the Imperious Rita [Julie Halston] has lived & ruled did not really belong to her.

Jimmy has been her Occasional Guest, but she has just gone & died on him without any Apparent Will.

Putting the Body in a Basement Fridge, Jimmy & Adriana--conveniently a Real Estate Agent--plot to Sell the Lavishly Decorated Townhouse for Millions.

Anna Louizos should get Special Awards for finding all those Elegant Furnishings!

The Real Owner suddenly turns up with her Gender Challenged Daughter, Oliver [Keira Keeley].

As played by Mary Bacon--in spite of her frequently proclaimed Low Self Esteem--Christina is Super Hyper.

Oliver has Twittered or Face Booked to contact Rodney [Jonathan Walker], an Old Flame of Rita, who is an expert in Cutting Up Corpses.

Among Other Things.

Jimmy forces Adriana to go down on him, to achieve Their Ends.

Do not forget, however, if you get Cross with Cross Dressers, they can certainly Cross you, even putting a Cross on your Door!

What eventually happens to the Fabulous Townhouse requires the Reprise of Great Moments from Film Monuments--which is what Fans of Charles Busch really came to see anyway


Douglas Lackey’s DAYLIGHT PRECISION: An American Tragedy [****]

"Bomb Them Back To The Stone Age" vs Precision Bombing of Strategic Military Targets

General Curtis LeMay prevailed at the end of World War II: The Blasted Remains of Tokyo, Hiroshima, & Nagasaki were his Hideous Monuments.

Had the more Scholarly & Scientific General Haywood Hansell remained in charge of Strategic Missions of the Army Air Corps, those Devastating Destructions would surely never have been Sanctioned.

Philosopher Ethicist Playwright Douglas Lackey is Chairman of the Philosophy Department at CUNY Baruch, but he is also acutely aware that Humanistic Philosophical Formulations seldom carry over into Civilian Life.

There are the "Tough Minded" & the "Tender Minded": Categories theorized by Harvard Prof William James, brother of the Novelist Henry James.

Cigar Chomping & Power Hungry Curtis LeMay had his sway, while the more professorial Haywood Hansell was virtually swept away in the High Level Power Struggle to Decisively Defeat Japan.

As Lackey has imagined the Unfolding of Events--in Five Acts & Twenty Five Scenes & a Coda--Gilbert & Sullivans Mikado is a Leitmotif, as well as Puccinis Madama Butterfly.

We understand that Hansell--unlike most of his Army Staff Colleagues--is an Educated, Cultured, Sensitive Gentleman.

He is even given Imaginary Encounters with Vera Brittain, a celebrated British Pacifist Author.

For American Bombing Squadrons--trying to bring the Nazis to their Knees--Night Bombing often meant that they could not really see Their Targets.

Daylight Precision Bombing, on the other hand, could Score Precisely. Unless there was a thick Cloud Cover

Hansell had marked out important Strategic Military Targets such as Ball Bearing Factories in the Heart of Germany. Armies roll forward on Ball Bearings

Power Plants & Oil Fields were also Obvious Targets.

But Britains "Bomber" Harris believed that the Destruction of Entire Cities & their Civilian Populations could bring the War to an Early End.

So Hamburg was enveloped in a Devastating Fire Storm, something never seen before & certainly not envisioned before the Attack.

The Art City of Dresden was subsequently Bombed into the Ground & even far below that.

But it did give the Western World the Ex Soldier become Author, Kurt Vonnegut, & The Slaugterhouse Five

Lackeys Entire Cast--Our Officers & Lads all appropriately Uniformed in 1941 US Army Issue--is excellent, deftly directed by Alexander Harrington, son of the famed Truth Teller, Michael Harrington.

The Point is made that our Bombers often lacked Fighter Air Support.

When it was Available--not already having been shot down by the Luftwaffe--our P 38 Fighters had Different Ranges from our B 17 Bombers.

A Pilot explains: The P 38 is made by Lockheed. The B 17 is made by Boeing

Nonetheless--possibly because the Multiple Wall Projections of the Same German Targets--Living Through the Air War in Europe does become a bit Wearing.

The Effect is rather like having been Drafted, the Selective Service belonging to those who bought tickets for Daylight Precision way down at Theatre for the New City, on First Avenue.

The Production Values are generally Exemplary, as are the Generals in what LeMay & others were scheming to turn into the US Air Force, free of Army Restraints & Constraints.

Having experienced Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, & Nagasaki vicariously in a California High School--informed only by Radio Reports & the Sacramento Bee--I thought The Allies had done what Needed To Be Done.

Years later, collecting Presidential Autographs on Official Portrait Photos, I wrote to Harry S. Truman, in Retirement in Independence, MO, telling him how I respected him for making--in his "Dark Night of the Soul"--that Fateful Decision to end the War with Japan so abruptly.

He wrote in Bold Black Ink, right on the Photo by his Face: To Dr. Glenn M. Loney, Kindest Regards from Harry Truman, 8 11 65.

There was also a Letter in which he wrote: I hope this doesnt bring you any bad luck

Did this refer to the Surge of Public Anger at his Approval of Dropping the A Bomb?

Other Air War Leftovers: My British Cousin, Col. Tony Dangerfield--later Russian Expert for MI 6--was British Air Marshall Tedders Liaison Officer with Supreme Commander Ike Eisenhower.

My American Cousin, Jimmy Adcock, was Personal Pilot for General Jimmy Doolittle & helped establish our first APO, when we invaded North Africa, on our way up into Italy

I, however, had to wait to be Drafted--as a US Army Private--to serve at Fort Ord, in the Korean "Police Action."


David Rossmer & Steve Rosen’s THE OTHER JOSH COHEN [*****]

Flooded Out by Hurricane Sandy, Josh Cohen Lives Again Over at Paper Mill Playhouse!

Just like Once--which began Way Off Broadway--so also should The Other Josh Cohen Make the Move to Broadway.

Actually, there are more than Two Josh Cohens--just look in the Phone Book!--but the First Version of The Other Josh Cohen began even farther Off Broadway than Once, which was once upon a time on East fourth Street.

The Two Josh Cohens--in this hilarious Musical Romp through the Lovelorn Libido of Josh One--first Vocalized down at the Soho Rep, to Rapturous Reviews. Including one from THE NEW YORK TIMES!

Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy wiped them out, with no help from FEMA, Obama, or Chris Christie to put them back in business.

Nonetheless, New Jersey has Come to the Rescue: The entirely admirable Paper Mill Playhouse has just opened a New & Improved The Other Josh Cohen

No longer a real Paper Mill, the Playhouse still uses Tons of Paper for all those Theatre Programs it needs for its Hordes of Subscribers, for it is a Broadway Sized Venue.

It was Packed to the Rafters for the Opening Night of The Other Josh Cohen, whose Audience leapt to its Collective Feet in a Thunderous Ovation at the Joyous Close.

Yes! This is a Musical with a Happy Ending! Schlumpy Old Josh finally Gets the Girl!

With a Lot of Lively Songs & Comic Routines in between

As the Audience assembled, some kind of Sneak Thief was busily removing all the Set Decorations that Designer David Korins had so diligently discovered to create the Impression of a Single Mans Sloppy Squat.

The Last Treasure to go was a Framed Willy Wonka Poster!

So, when an already depressed Josh entered, the Cupboard Was Bare, but not quite like Old Mother Hubbard.

Josh is a Good Guy, perhaps something of a Loner, but Inept, Awkward, unable to Get Girls.

Nonetheless, he is Really OK & you want to Root for Him, especially as theres also Another Josh Cohen onstage, a Kind of Post Depression, Post Theft, Post Failure, Josh Cohen of the Future!

Just when Things could not Look Darker, Josh gets a Letter addressed to Josh Cohen.

It contains a Check for $56,000.

But Who could/would/should send Josh a Check for So Much Money?

Not his Mother, of course. Are you Kidding?

Josh is Afraid [musically] to Cash the Check.

Oh, Oh! Theres Another Josh Cohen in Manhattan! [Probably more than the Two onstage & the One offstage, whom we never see.]

The Check was wrongly delivered to the Wrong Zip Code!

Josh Cohen would like to meet Josh Cohen, but this Guy is a real Upscale Zip Code Snot & tells Josh just to leave the Check with His Doorman.

The wonderfully entertaining Show you can now see over in New Jersey--Traffic Stoppages permitting--has Evolved since Soho & is still Unfolding, as the Cast works together, taking Stuff from their Own Lives & Frustrations.

Everyone is an Onstage Musician as well as an Actor Singer Dancer, with a Variety of Identities to Assume, aside from the Two Josh Cohens, who play Themselves: in the Persons of Steve Rosen & David Rossmer, who take Credit for the Book, Music, & Lyrics.

The Lyrics are some of the most Witty & Clever you will hear on Broadway, this Season or Next, depending on when they can find an Intimate Musical Theatre thats not already taken by Epic Long Runs.

The Booth Theatre would be Ideal. No Competition from Phantom, Lion King, or Les Mis

Ted Sperling staged, over in New Jersey.

If you cannot wait for Broadway, Paper Mill is the place to see the Two Josh Cohens & the Rest of the Crew.

Get there early so you can have Prime Rib at Charlie Browns, at the foot of the hill, just below Paper Mill.

When I used to go over to Millburn & Paper Mill on my own--before I discovered theres a Press Bus--I always took NJ Transit early so I could have Prime Rib & Horseradish at Charlie Browns.

Its the Best Ever! Also, try the Homemade Key Lime Pie


Scott Siegel’s BROADWAY BY THE YEAR: Broadway Musicals of 1915 1939 [*****]

Broadway All Star Cast Lights Up The Town Hall Sky With Multi Voltage Classics!

Before there were really important Broadway Book Musicals, most of the Jazz Age Broadway Classics were created for Musical Revues & Operettas.

So the inimitable Scott Siegel has rampaged through the Archives of such Vintage Shows as the Ziegfeld Follies, George Whites Scandals, the Music Box Revues, the Passing Shows, & Earl Carrolls Vanities to collage a Musical Panorama stretching from the Outbreak of The Great War to the Eruption of World War II.

Fortunately, such All Time Hits as Begin the Beguine, Look for the Silver Lining, & Ol Man River have nothing to do with World Wars, but Everything to do with making Broadway Audiences so joyous that theyd go out of the Theatres humming the Hit Tunes.

After a resounding Standing Ovation, thats also what the Capacity Crowd of Town Hall Musical Fanatics did, savoring the Artistry of such Treasured Talents as Karen Akers, Tonya Pinkins, Mark Nadler, Lari White, & Stephanie J. Block.

A wistful Karen Akers musically wondered Whatll I Do?

But the hilarious Mark Nadler--pummeling the Steinway Keyboard--gave New Meaning to I Love a Piano.

The enchanting Ms. Block gave some Passionate Thought to My Man

Two Americanized Visions of Viennese Operettas--The Student Prince & The Vagabond King--gave Dillon McCarthy & John Easterlin [Unplugged] ample opportunity to show what Manly Tenors can do when Deeply in Love.

If you love Irish Tenors, then Dillon is definitely The Man, singing The Serenade, even if not actually in Old Heidelberg.

But Easterlin was even more Romantic with Only a Rose.

Scott Siegel--who Creates, Writes, & Hosts the Broadway by the Year© Series--is a Genius, not only in his Apt Choices of Vintage Classics but also in his Amazing Ability to assemble such Dynamic Casts of Headliners as Joshua Henry, Carolee Carmelo, Karen Mason, & the charming Chip Zien.

One of my Favorites is Carole J. Bufford--who recently dazzled on the Town Hall Stage with Je ne regret rien--returning for this show with Love for Sale.

Noah Racey choreographed himself in Ill Build a Staircase to Paradise, but he joined Danny Gardner for Friendship, from DuBarry Was a Lady, in which these Light of Foot Song & Dance Men co choreographed.

There are no Broadway Production Values in Scott Siegels Broadway Musicals, but none are needed when he has such Attractive Performers--who know how to Dress for the Occasion--with a Handsome Chorus as well & The Band onstage: Ross Patterson, Don Falzone, & Jared Schonig.

If you missed out on The Jazz Age--as well as World War I--there are Three More Shows which will give New Yorkers a Grand Total of 100 Years of Broadway Musicals this Season:

The Broadway Musicals of 1940 1964 [31 March], The Broadway Musicals of 1965 1989 [12 May], & The Broadway Musicals of 1990 2014 [23 June].

Who Could Ask for Anything More? [To borrow a Song Title]



Paddy Chayefsky’s MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT [*****]

Can An Old Jewish Garmento Find Happiness If Married To a Twenty Four Year Old Shiksa?

Yes, he can & he should!

As engagingly played by Jonathan Hadary, the Widowed Jerry is both Kind & Thoughtful.

But hes also a very Lonely Mensch, who deserves a Companion who needs Companionship.

Playwright Paddy Chayefsky, in crafting this "Heartbreaking Romantic Comedy"--as it is described in Keen Company Press Materials--must have been thinking in Everyman Terms.

Chayefskys Cast List designates him only as "The Manufacturer," with the Unhappily Wedded Young Wife as "The Girl."

Others are, variously, The Mother, The Kid Sister, The Widow, The Neighbor, The Husband, The Son in Law

Jerrys Unmarried Sister has been trying to "Fix Him Up," which is where the flighty, over eager Widow comes in.

The Girl has been married off to her High School Sweetheart, who seems to think that Sex with his Wife is all thats needed in a Marriage.

He is centered on His Career & prefers His Mates for Small Talk & Fun.

The Girl--affectingly played by Nicole Lowrance--wants a Man she can Talk To, Confide In, & with whom she can feel Safe & Loved.

Jerrys own Marriage was apparently Barren in several Senses.

They are Drawn to Each Other.

The Age Gap--which appalls Jerrys Sister & The Girls Own Family--is a Bridge this Odd Couple will pass over when they come to it.

The altogether admirable Jonathan Silverstein--who is Artistic Director of the keen Keen Company--sensitively Staged his Ensemble.

Visually, it was remarkable that Jerrys Apartment was furnished exactly like that of The Mother of The Girl!

Ceiling Lighting Fixtures--descending & ascending--let the Audience know in whose Abode the Action was occurring.

The Marriage of May to December is, of course, an Old Theme. Even an Old New York Theme.

Paddy Chayefsky surely knew about the Aged & One Legged Peter Stuyvesant, one of the Earliest New Yorkers?

As a Young Jewish Lad in the Bronx, Chavefsky may even have hummed September Song?

But writing another Knickerbocker Holiday wasnt his Style.

You dont win Tonys with Historical Musicals; The Tenth Man came close, however, with at least a Tony Nomination.

As for Academy Awards, Paddy Chayefsky won Three Oscars!


At the Juilliard School:

Two Concerts with Austrian Influences--

[These Events were part of Carnegie Halls Vienna: City of Dreams, a Three Week, City Wide Festival, saluting Viennas "Extraordinary Artistic Legacy."]

AXIOM Interprets Knussen [Brit], Andriessen [Dutch], Lang [US], & Haas [Austrian] [*****]

Carl Orff, Eat Your Heart Out! Percussions & Xylophones Galore in Eclectic Program!

Jeffrey Milarsky has succeeded in creating an Outstanding Young Ensemble, dedicated to performing the 20th Centurys "Classic" Repertoire of Contemporary Music.

To Lovers of Bach, Brahms, & Beethoven, the Klonks & Klangs of some of the works offered at Alice Tully Hall must have seemed Alien indeed. Hardly "Classic," but then, who knows what Audiences will relish in 2050 AD?

Georg Friedrich Haas Monodie did have a certain Single Focus, but it was resoundingly performed. The Composer came forward for the Resounding Applause.

Also on the Program: David Langs cheating, lying, stealing; Oliver Knussens Two Organa, & Louis Andriessens Zilver.

Long a Musical Mainstay of the Holland Festival, almost every summer Andriessen would come forward with some new Musical Treat.

My Favorite was the Nine Symphonies of Beethoven, in which Andriessen managed to consolidate all those Famous Themes.


JUILLIARD ORCHESTRA Conducted by Hans Graf [Austrian] [*****]

Major Works Include Britten [Brit], Hindemith [German], & Brahms [Austrian]

Hans Graf may be an Austrian Born & Bred--as well as Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg--but he was Music Director of the Houston Symphony these past Twelve Years, so he could be an Honorary American, at least by Acclimation/Acclamation.

Perhaps he could be called a UN Citizen, for his Bio shows that he has conducted Major Symphonies all over the World.

Nonetheless, he conducted the Juilliards Young Instrumentalists with a Firm but Loving Hand. It was clear that they also responded to his Love & Understanding of the Compositions, especially the Hindemith Symphony, Mathis der Maler.

The Program opened with Brahms stormy Tragic Overture, a Companion Piece to his Academic Festival Overture, a Musical Thank You to the City of Breslau [now Polish ed as Wroclaw] for awarding him a PhD Honoris Causa.

It was a Big Night for the brilliant young Juilliard Cellist Khari Joyner, who soloed in Brittens Symphony for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 68. This was originally composed for the famed Russian Cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich.

Khari Joyner is a Musician of Ferocious Concentration, so focused on performance of the work that he even Stomped the Platform on occasion. Britten has given Cellists a fiendishly difficult Challenge

Joyners Bio is almost as impressive as that of Hans Graf. He has just given a Private Performance for President Barak Obama in the Oval Office!

Few Americans have ever journeyed to Colmar--in French Alsace--to savor Matthias Grünewalds Medieval Issenheimer Altar, but Paul Hindemith certainly captured some of its Soaring Visual Drama in Mathis der Maler.

My Guest thought we were going to hear something by Mahler [Gustav], but Maler means Painter.

Paul Hindemith was one of those Unfortunate Artists who fell afoul of Nazi Art Diktats.

He was fortunate to make his escape from Germany, eventually teaching at Yale

Personal Note: When I was teaching the US Troops in Verdun back in the 1950s, on Fridays, Id drive over to Strasbourg to Audit Seminars at the University, after which Id motor on down to Colmar to study the Great Panels of Matthias/Mathis fabled but long forgotten Altarpiece, now separated from their original Hinged Conformation.


BEYOND CARMINA BURANA: Carl Orff Commentaries--

Creating Prometheus & Ein Sommernachtstraum

Anyone who has ever been fascinated by the Thrumming Rhythms of Bavarian Composer Carl Orffs Carmina Burana may well have wondered why none of his other equally engaging Operatic Works is ever heard in Mainstream American Concert Programming.

There is a Reason

So, if you have never heard--or even heard of--Orffs Prometheus, you might be interested to know that the Orff Zentrum München has recently issued a Monograph that explores almost every aspect of its Antecedents, Creation, & Performance, including photographs of the Schlagwerk that is so necessary to its Stage Life.

This Engrossing Study--by Werner Thomas--is, however, also illustrated with frequent Musical Citations. But if you cannot read Music--not to mention German--you are in Trouble

Many years ago, it was my Bona Fortuna--as Professor Orff termed it--to experience the World Premiere of Prometheus in Munich at the Bavarian State Opera.

I still have the Production Photos.

For the Entire Opera, the Central Character is chained to an Immense Rhomboid high up Central Stage.

Not only does Prometheus never get to move around in the Stage Space, but he has to sing his Entire Agony in Classic Greek!

Of course, theres also that Eagle gnawing at his Liver the whole time

Well, thats what you get for Giving the Gift of Fire to Mankind!

Zeus--just like that Old Testament Deity--is an Angry God. He will not be Defied!

How many Male Opera Stars want to learn a Role thats entirely sung in a Dead Language, one that only some select University Professors can understand?

After the Premiere, I asked Professor Orff what would become of this very Expensive Production.

Obviously, it wouldnt find a place in the Regular Repertory, alongside Carmen & Traviata.

"Oh, its really a Festival Opera," Orff explained. "You can only perform it as a Special Event."

He also pointed out to me that--like many of his works--its Orchestration required many kinds of Percussion Instruments, not least Multiple Xylophones.

If you would like to know more about Orff & his Operatic Inventions, Google the Orff Zentrum in Munich.

Its Genial Director, Dr. Thomas Rösch has also prepared a Monograph on Orffs Musik zu Shakespeares Ein Sommernachtstraum.

Near the close of his Vibrant Life, Carl Orff transformed this Score into a wonderful Ballet, ingeniously choreographed & amusingly performed by the Ballet Corps of Munichs marvelous Gärtnerplatz Theater, Orffs Essential Home in the Bavarian Capital.

Dr. Rösch does more than discuss the Dream Music itself: he also outlines Orffs Beginnings as a Theatre Man in Frankfurt & in Munich during the Free Wheeling Years of the Weimar Republic, when Munich was The Arts Center in Germany.

Orff was able to work with the much admired Avant Garde Director Otto Falckenberg at the Münchner Kammerspiele, where the Young Composer learnt much about how Theatre Works are effectively staged.

Inspired by composing for Falckenbergs As You Like It--Wie es euch gefällt--production, Orff began work on his First Version of Midsummer Nights Dream in 1917.

He finished his Zweite Entwurf in 1928.

In 1939, Orffs Frankfurter Fassung for Shakespeares Midsummer Nights Dream was ready for performance.

It was a Critical Success, but Orff always dreamt of this Score as being more than just Enhancement for a Bardic Classic.

There were later Versions as well: 1944, 1952. 1964

Thats why it ultimately became a Ballet.

After the Nazis seized Power in 1933, the Beloved Mendelssohn Music for Shakespeares Midsummer Nights Dream was banned.

But Carl Orff did not compose his Sommernachtstraum to replace Mendelssohn, as some may think.

With the Nazis dictating German Cultural Standards, many Creative Talents--especially those who were Jewish--found themselves falling afoul of the Censors.

Bert Brecht, Kurt Weill, Thomas Mann, & other German Artists, Performers, & Authors fled to London, Manhattan, & Hollywood.

Carl Orff, whose Mythic World was rooted in the Bavarian Soil--often aloft in the Alps--did not leave.

This was held against him.

Early an Admirer of Orff, his Operas, & his Schulwerk--an easy System for Teaching Kids to Make Music--I enlisted our Mutual Friend, Dr. Fritz Kracht, to make American Librettos for Die Bernauerin & Astutuli, or The Wise Ones.

The Unmarried Augsburg Bathhouse Attendant, Agnes Bernauer--Pregnant with the Child of the Heir to the Bavarian Throne--is Drowned in the River Isar on the Orders of Herzog Georg.

Fritz Kracht called his New Version The Ballad of Agnes Bernauer.

He staged its World Premiere--with Orffs Enthusiastic Approval--at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

Thats the Last that was ever heard of The Ballad

Astutuli--which is in essence The Emperors New Clothes--is effectually an Attack on those who Supported the Rise of Adolf Hitler, but Orff didnt dare have it performed until after World War II.

Kracht moved the Venue from somewhere near Oberammergau to Harlem, rechristening it as Salt of the Earth.

It has Never Been Performed.

When Julius Rudel was Chief of the late, lamented New York City Opera, I brought both Ballad & Salt to his attention, Scores & Librettos in hand.

Although the NYCO Production of Carmina Burana was a Repertory Regular, always popular, Maestro Rudel passed.

He told me: "I dont want Orff to be competition for Orff."

The next Summer, when I visited Orff in Sankt Georgen, I told him this, showing him the NYCO Schedule.

There were Five Verdi Operas in the Repertory.

"So, is Verdi competition for Verdi at your City Opera?" Orff asked me, somewhat annoyed.

When Beverly Sills took over the Artistic Direction of NYCO--after Rudel retired--I once again brought the Scores & Librettos for her to study.

Sills also passed.

But she said to me: "Carl Orff didnt leave Germany. The Others did…"

So, I finally understood that many in the Music Business thought Carl Orff was a Nazi.

Or at least a Sympathizer--because he did not abandon his Native Ground, which so thoroughly permeates his Life & Work.

Anyone interested in the American Versions of Bernauerin & Astutuli should contact Schott Musik in Mainz. Try Googling their Web Site.



Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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