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DIARY 9369


Alan Ayckbourn has come up with one of the funnier comedies I've seen in a long time. It helped that it was a good free ticket in row G with a lively audience, including Art who positively loves Geraldine Page, so I kept looking at her incredible face: screwed down when she was unhappily in her cups, screwed up when she gave lines as "He's not looking for a little nut, he's looking for a---a SCREW---hahaha," and staring with pained regret at a dollop of gin that got frightened out of her glass onto the floor when Larry Blyden turned on her with a Groucho Marx nose-mustache-glasses mask. Sandy Dennis has a hilarious second act where she does nothing (does she even have a line before she starts singing "On the First Day of Christmas"?) but grimly writes suicide note after suicide note, finally nailing one to the table, and finally giving up. Tony Roberts was totally offensive as the woman-winning wife-losing husband, terrifyingly subjected as the curtain fell with him jogging around dancing to Larry Blyden's piper with forfeits hobbling him literally, morally, and spiritually. Richard Kiley had one of the funniest stints on any stage when he got electrocuted, grimacing, grinding his teeth, flipping his hands up, even when they clothe him in wash-basket remnants, a black slip wrapped about his gray head, a pair of jockey shorts on his lap jumping frenetically up and down in his shockedness. Oh, and Geraldine Page's constant insistence of turning everything she handled into a phallus, playing with every not-quite-double entendre until it DID turn; finally drunkenly lurching open-armed toward Tony Roberts, who pushed her away THEN, but possibly not later. Her fright-wigged hair, makeup-pinked negligee, and totally ruined face in the last act were marvelously funny and pathetic at the same time. Carole Shelley was mediocrity reinified with her golden Christmas-party crown on her head, playing the music and passing out the forfeits, the triumph of the kitchen-table scrubber of the first act who had to wait outside because her militaristic husband wouldn't dream of letting the guests know she hadn't gotten in enough tonic for the party. A VERY funny, but terribly human and believable play.

DIARY 9426


Veronica Tyler is sweetly good as Ilia, the imprisoned princess, and Gary Glaze is fairly pretty as Idamante, and then I'm surprised when the Elektra turns out to be Maralin Niska rather than Beverly Sills. But it's another Callas-type scenery-chewer, except that dear Mozart is so gently and respectfully done that there's barely a bit of emotion in the whole evening, except when Elektra smirks when her enormous colorful cape gets caught on the stairway just before she'd directed to WALK over it to get back to the front of the stage. The modular set is rather a bore, and the wing of the sea monster was visible when it shouldn't have been, and when the thing DID rise out of the sea, it rose so high I couldn't see it, as the Neptune in the final scene was so tall that all I could see was from the pubis down. But the shape of the legs didn't particularly make me want to see what the top looked like. The singing was sweet, almost bel canto, though that's not what I would have expected, and the Richard Taylor Idomeneo was so much a tattered and torn piece, it was hard to say just how old or how good he WAS. But Niska did some nice things when she cursed everyone at the end, bringing the only applause from me for the evening, and I kept sitting there wondering why on earth I was looking at this thing that I knew NOTHING about, with totally uncharacteristically drab Mozart music (though I guess it was very early, and George Allen said that the recording "knocked him out." Well, it was all I could do to stay awake, too). But I've seen it, I can talk about it, I can wait for the raves for the Callas-like acting of Niska, and can appreciate FINALLY having a total cast whose singing didn't EMBARRASS me with anyone's mistakes, maltraining, or sheer bad voice, as so many in the past have done. Ming Cho Lee should get some scene changes going, however, The movements of the chorus, particularly, were ludicrous in the extreme, and the mini-ballet at the end summed up EVERYTHING that's wrong with opera today: stilted, dated, mock-faithful to original, sexless, passionless, silly, tacked-on, and quite uninteresting---though the males had the ONLY costume changes in the whole thing, even to four DIFFERENT costumes. Can easily tell where SOMEONE'S interest lies: but Theoni Aldredge for costumes?

DIARY 9501


Checked back to DIARY 9478 (!), just before the spate of the last 23 pages, and found that what WAS to have been on DIARY 9480 now has to be on 9501! John Alexander is quite marvelous as Paul, though his face doesn't look the least bit familiar to me after his great jobs with Sutherland in both "La Sonnambula" and "Daughter of the Regiment." He sings strongly, clearly, and his high notes seem totally unstrained. Carol Neblett is almost impossibly bosomy as Marietta, but she really hits a low point with the Zoya Leporska movements that have her whipping around Marie's hairpiece like a stripper's last veil. There are many ALLUSIONS to Bruges: the hair is kept in a coffer that looks the same shape as the Coffer of the Precious Blood in the picture books of Bruges---and what THAT might have to say about old blood and menstrual fluids and rapes is not to be gone into, and that old building is used, without explanation, as the backdrop for some of the settings, and the parade (religious procession) is the Procession of the Sacred Blood, probably, that threatens him for reasons that aren't made clear in the program but which might be harrowingly clear in the libretto. But the films of Frank Corsaro totally ruined it: first there was the scrim over the orchestra and stage, deadening the sound, which might be the same effect as Frank Lloyd Wright designing the Guggenheim to take all the attention away from the paintings and concentrating it on architecture, so Corsaro detracts from the music and singing to concentrate on his staging. A poor bargain! Nothing of the SETTING of Bruges comes across, it could have been filmed in the Harlem River for all the beauty of the settings. The men at the end were an unidentified mélange, except for John Lankston's blondness and femininity that seemed to show up in "Idomeneo" AND here. But the music was lyrical, the songs and singing seemed to be quite beautiful when one wasn't concentrating on the staging, and the use of the fifth ring for children's and adult's choirs and a brass chorus made my center seat at THEIR level quite a spectacle in its own right. But there was nothing MEMORABLE about it: it was merely less of a bore than "Idomeneo" and again I questioned my going to operas at ALL, since most of the time I spend idly sitting thinking about OTHER things.

DIARY 9515


Marvelous evening, with the two act-enders carefully chosen to be Toller Cranston, undoubtedly the most exciting single performer with his FOUR excerpts at 10 minutes of skating being even more than one would see of him in competition. Starting with a super-emotional "Veste la giuba," going into a Russian dance that started him side-skipping over the ice, then into another loaded number that concentrated on anguished head-holding, back-leg lifts, and high-kicks that about touched his nose, he caused the most sheer skating chills of the evening. Then Rodnina and Zaitsev closed the second act with their unbelievable spins in the air, closeness of skating, and sheer virtuosity. HE could undoubtedly be superb on his own, probably the entirely sexiest person of the whole evening, and as a pair there were tear-raising and gasp-lifting, and THEY performed for a lovely 8 minutes. Those got four stars, along with the silver-medal pair of Kermer and Osterreich, who were certainly not as athletic as the Russian pair, but had a beautiful liquid style and beauty and grace that FAR outshone the Russians on the basis of movement-beauty alone. If they got athletic, they'd surely be the top. Three four-stars and four three-stars: Gordon McKellen isn't the handsomest, but he has fun pieces and caused chills, the first of the evening. Militano and Johns did almost collapse when it appeared he held onto her when he should have thrown her out, but then they came back with some gaspable feats. Silver-man Vladimir Kovalev was un-Russianly dressed in VERY tight trousers and did some nice things, actually more exciting than the televised program I saw on the winner, Sergei Volkov, who was in the program but who didn't perform. Then Dianne deLeeuw seemed to merit the best woman's title, looking much better than Dorothy Hamill, who gave the best performance I'VE ever seen from her on TV or live. Others were forgettable, and no stars went to Christine Errath, who spun, poked the ice a couple of times, and recovered miraculously, and Beritowsky and Porter from Canada, who weren't even in the program. The final skate-through by the 4 men, women, pairs, and dancers was very impressive, as was the funny introduction of the administrative staff on this, the last night of their four-weekend tour.

DIARY 9521


Jennifer Warren is the first bad thing, stiff and unpleasant, giving an unpleasant impression of the Keir Dullea who would have loved her. Then Dullea enters and does some things that seem the epitome of bad acting: seeming to laugh with great falseness, having problems with timing, so that some of the speeches seem delayed, and mugging a bit too much. The other characters don't help much, except for Mary Hamill as a fag hag who loves eating when stoned. Stonedness, in fact, provides about the only good bit of acting by Dullea: he gazes mildly at the audience with his pale blue eyes and just STANDS there as the grass obviously takes effect when he's inhaled it for the first time (and what did they USE that smelled so MUCH like grass?). But a lot of the humor is ugly, particularly in New York where so many of the people HAVE been robbed and would LOVE to terrorize a burglar that terrorizes so many---and in such unforgettable ways as stealing a BOOK that someone has been working on. When Dullea puts down the phone after the predictable (indeed, MOST of the jokes are predictable, and even some of the oldest, like the "turd in a punchbowl," get prolonged laughs bordering on a smattering of applause from the sycophantic audience) wait, I begin to disbelieve him. He just wouldn't DO that. Musante has a better part in that he's tied down most of the time and can just react as most of us would react, with disbelief and an attempt at cajoling the other person to let us go. The fact that he's gay adds nothing except discomfort, and the unbelievability of Dullea saying he's 38 and unmarried and not-at-all gay. It was very much a 50s play, which is why Bob Grossman loved it, and Arnie even pictured it a bit as a woman tenant capturing the male burglar. But Dullea does such a bad job that I'm glad I saw Zaslow in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and I can't imagine Musante being terribly good in anything, except as a straight-eyed Peter Falk. Peter White played his SAME "amazed straight" role as he did so long ago in "Boys in the Band." There were some FEW good lines, but the sadness of the whole thing by far cancelled it out. It wasn't outrageous, barely funny, quite ugly, and much, much too long.

DIARY 9536


Duro Ladipo's National Theatre of Nigeria seems a showcase for the posings of Duro Ladipo as Sango (pronounced "Shango"), AKA Alafin Shango and Oba Koso---the men behind us who talked through the performance said that it was just another of the many names of Shango. The staccato of the drumming at the start seemed to promise a good evening, and even the appearance of the first women with their elbows shaking from their shoulders, emphasizing the heavy beats, led me to think that it cold improve. But then the first warrior came out and pittered his feet back and forth without hardly moving his torso, and the second one seemed not even young enough to move his feet quickly, and the women KEPT doing the same motions, it became clear it was going to be a rather boring evening, and Arnie fell asleep. The drummers were even the best dancers, and each one initiated each scene with a free-style fast-step before the audience that got the biggest applause of the evening. Some of the use of costumes, where they would billow to the side when they turned, was nice, but the women's height of originality was only to bend way over and waggle their asses in the audience's faces. Shango came on and off in various costumes, then his voice, amplified, sent down the thunder at the climax. Some of the scenes which would be good with a special sort of African naiveté are simply done with blackouts: the killing of the one, the beheading of another, the suicide of Oba Koso by wrapping a fragile string of shells about his neck. Oya was short and fat, but she had the best voice of the evening, trying for glottal stops that worked most of the time, singing high without really threatening to tear out her throat, and with her kohl-rimmed eyes acting better than anyone but Oba. There were other ministers and people whose positions weren't clear. The settings were highly colored draperies suspended between two poles, but the drumming didn't change from civilization to civilization, and the drummers took the last bows to the audience's greatest applause. It was a wonder they could hear: the primarily black audience talked, whispered, cracked gum, said "Shit" so loudly everyone could hear, and generally ALMOST kept Arnie from sleeping through the whole thing---the shrinking-dancing tower was a nice touch, I almost forgot about it.

DIARY 9543


Starts about 8:20. Awful fellow introduces tall Zaney Blaney who tells some of the oldest jokes in the world and introduced Ger Cooper, who does amazing things with large coins and glittering ruby-balls between his long fingers. Max Hapner and Salli start with her appearing in a plastic sphere in the center of the stage, and the effect of producing many bits of paper that he fans into the air fills the auditorium with snow, a great production number. Count Artell is quite old, but he does nice card things and some of the silks begin to look the same, until finally Blaney's daughter REPEATS the "here's the flag, no blue? Oh, I dropped the blue silk, HERE'S the flag" trick but everyone applauds respectfully anyway. Cutting people in thirds, salt in shaker, rabbits and doves and pug-nosed bulldogs and BIG pigeons and hares. BUT I'm sitting on the SIDE, so I SEE the black tube from the sleeves for the salt, SEE the fumbling in the tails for the magically-appearing cubes, DETECT the hand under the coat for the magic clocks. Some awful guy gets up and wastes 10 minutes, and he says he'll present the award of the year to Russell Swann after intermission, so we're across for ice cream and hear Tom Tryon, he of marvelous hands, talking loudly of Betty Bacall and Shirl Maclaine to a gray-haired man, and we're back in 25 minutes to STILL see the end of the 15-minute intermission. The place is CROWDED, one of the fullest times in Hunter College, and everyone is VERY appreciative. Lou Lancaster changed to Chinese Lou, or something, and sardonically went through some of the same tricks. Frank Scalzo had the most expensive show, with large doings, though the floating board where the hoop went EVERYWHERE was really the hit of the show: I just don't have the foggiest idea how they did most of the things, even though I WAS in a perfect seat to detect side-effects. Doug Hennings came in late at 11:15, Arnie recognized him, and everyone agreed that his show was TOTALLY the large mystifying effects, and it's still fun to be fooled, though you have to sit through some awful patter to just get to the jokes. Speechless ones like Ger Cooper are some of the best, but a charming evening anyway, thanks to the seat positions!

DIARY 9556


The title is beautifully appropriate, but some of the effects were better than others. "Guitar Music" (from the bottom of the iceberg) and the subtitle is marvelously evocative of the glacial plinks and plonks on the single-string twanging, and Bill Hellerman was ablaze in a sequined jacket, but his technique lacked a bit in exactness, and the sounds of the traffic outside were distracting. "Madrigal" had a soprano that sang above me so that I could see the new notations of the music, and I thought of telling Sergio that he should display the notations, which might help those appreciate BOTH the music AND the innovation of the notation, and see how much was marked, how much improv. "Aria Suspendida" had some electrifying moments when Bryant Hayes played some notes that I didn't think existed, and the overtones and accidental beats and woof tones (if that's what they are) were marvelously thrilling. During intermission I chatted with Joan Schwartz, who said that her john, Avi, stopped dancing with Elizabeth Keen to give his muscles a rest after all that partnering, and with Cathy Johnson, and with Arnie and Bob, both of whom disliked it. And I stood in line for the unisex john. Then back for Twyla-Tharp-like gyrations and pauses and changes of direction by Kenneth Rinker for "Alberti Bass-Alberti Bounce," and then everyone gathered for "From the Earth," which wasn't as amorphous and understated as I'd remembered from the first time, except that maybe the nine musicians had more of a chance to define themes more. Not nearly as satisfying as the first hearing. In to talk to Sergio and give him the Trinidad and Tobago stamps that I kept by mistake, and there's William Whitener, who'd given me a big "HI" when I walked in, and he hadn't noticed me on the subway with his sister the last Wednesday, and he asked what quiz shows I'd been on, telling me of his girlfriend that won $10,000 on the $10,000 Pyramid! I thought the guitar music was the best, but loved the breathlessness of the whole thing, divorcing the instruments (even the winds, thanks to tapes of four OTHER clarinets) from the phrasing of the breath, and creating new worlds to sort of move around in with infinite time to explore. Felt that I'd changed quite a bit in my expectancies and appreciation of music, thanks to John.

DIARY 9560


Art's waiting in the emptying lobby as we pay $5 to get in. Upstairs is another lobby where free wine is being given out, and we have about 5 between us to try and get stoned, which I do mildly. Some of the audience is stunning, Cal Culver is frozen, a blond with a white feather is beautiful and male at the same time, and others are there to look at. Then Tammie Temptation does a campy "testing, one, two, three" number with the microphone, stripping down to silver pasties for some reason, and then they let us into the space, which seems to have been a theater before: tin-molded walls, a real stage, and the balconies are Truck and Warehouse constructed so that you can sit on the floor on cushions and hang through the slats, which we do, getting a bird's eye view from above the whirring movie cameras and videotape machines. Denise Delapenha is frowsy-haired as Persephone, carried off by a great number in black leather, of whom there were six in "Sergeant Pepper," says Art, and I DO wish I could have seen it. Alaina Reed is also from that, tall and black in white as Ceres, the moaning mother, and Serge Gubelmann is accented both voicewise and bodywise as a silver-coated Eros. Then a beautiful young Jeffrey Hillock threatens to masturbate right there on the stage, in a teasing thing by Frank Wedekind, and then Divine comes out in black, pot bobbling, as Kali, walking the length of the stage, and then they start into the Thomas Tallis number. Other things happen, not too interesting, and Divine appears again as a dusty old man, William Parry comes out of a half-shell and climaxes with a black-gloved hand reaching past his crotch, Dolores Hall brings the only encore for "Law and Order" and a snappy dance-walk routine, Shelley Plimpton is wistfully quiet in a second part of "Spring's Awakening" and then Divine comes out of the ceiling in white as Isis, and everyone starts dancing to very loud music. There were nudes for a bit, too, and a LONG blond boy is just totally beautiful. Down to chat with Joan, who's appearing in something called Rituals that she'll send me an announcement for, and Art leaves at 12:15 and I stick around for the orgy, but the band stops at 12:25, things seem to be dying down, and I trudge home to have myself off for the second time.

DIARY 9611


The two best lines I jotted down: "You can't count on anything for tomorrow; you have to wait till today's over." And "No joints, no strength in them." The translation by Ezra Pound varies between being camp and high literature, and it's played exactly the same way: the chorus does everything but shake pompoms as they cheer about the football helmets of the messengers and the sweater and knickers and two-tone shoes and tennis racket of John Genke as the gadabout son. Everyone agrees BEFOREHAND that Martha Schlamme is someone, and she rather reminds me of Lisa Malsin with her delicate blondness-turning-to-gray and her gentle accent and weepy eyes. But she doesn't sing, she acts so naturally that it's not very impressive, and Henry Smith is kept dressed up most of the time so that, as Bob says "You don't even get much tit," but his shoulders show to good effect, and he's a lot better than the rat-faced Ari Darom as the messenger and co-football player in the rest of the play. The play IS straight, as checked by Masterplots, but there's so much time given to: well, this is the way it was---no, that's a lie---OK, THIS is the way it was, that it seems a thin plot indeed. The shirt of Nessus kills Hercules in what COULD be an effective scene, but when Yusef Bulos, camping all the way, pulls off his tunic he looks like a deluxe pizza with all the red and green trimmings, and everyone in the audience just laughs. The drumming and fluting are good, as usual, but not even the body of Henry Smith could make it interesting. The third of the trio is from Robert Frost, who never turned me on, and doesn't have the Smith body, so that's obviously off the list. The singing was lousy, too, the dancing was ghastly, and the idea of having the voice of the chorus over the loudspeaker is about as far away from any good idea as one can get. The words, indecipherable over the system, don't even make sense when READ in the sheets handed out, and we just sort of waited for it to be over. But another play by Sophocles hits the dust, and I can see why they wouldn't have done it. The gods don't RULE, they play dirty games, and since real life isn't THAT bad (bad, but not THAT bad) it's just uglier than necessary at a time when we need more beauty, not more ugly.

DIARY 9617


The people were so fabulous that I just had to take notes on EVERY ONE OF THEM: Renee Baughman: NOT a comic, though she did a good "Sing" with "her husband" Al. Carole Bishop was at LEAST 32, a sort of strong Joan with a LOUSY voice and sex.
Pamela Blair has a PRETTY face and blond hair, and kept singing she wanted TITS!
Wayne Cilento is a small middling-attractive fellow with good projection of voice.
Clive Clerk is a "stagehand" with a NICE pair of arms and a nice face and body.
Kay Cole has a GREAT swinging high voice, really carrying "At the Ballet." Pretty Ronald Dennis is a GREAT little black with flashing eyes, good voice, neat bod.
Patricia Garland is TALL and gawky, not really talented, but interesting in a fey way.
Ron Kuhlman is the biggest tallest blond there with a HUMPY body, but no great talent.
Nancy Lane looks like a small Cher with her eyes and frizzy hair, maybe at Fannys?
Baayork Lee WAS in King and I, the plump short Chinese gal, cute singer and actress.
Priscilla Lopez is Diana, one of the finds of the show, singing about "nothing" and bringing tears to my eyes, with a GREAT voice and projection and acting. She'll GO!
Robert LuPone is the voice from the back and the "director," so he's not on much.
Cameron Mason looks rather like David Sears, plain handsome face, not outstanding.
Donna McKechnie says "I've been in two shows and I'm still not a star. I can't act." And it's all very true, but they had her talk and talk and TALK until I thought, masochistically, the people had decided not to LET her dance at all. Then when she DID, it was frumpy and unexciting, not even as good as the leapy turny number they did for ALL of them, and though she had the stage to herself, she didn't do ANYTHING with it, even though the audience went wild with cheering for her and both Bobs said that I was crazy for not ADORING her.
Don Percassi looks VERY much like Art O., too old, obviously, for the chorus line.
Michel Stuart is the curly-haired, hooked-nosed, hard-oned gay with black pants.
Thomas Walsh is about the worst, too young and stuck on himself for NO good reason. Sammy Williams is a doll of a little sexy number who is THE face next to Lauren Bacall in all the "Applause" pictures, and he breaks my heart with his dad's saying "Take care of my son," and breaking up. The by-far-best of the whole evening.
And then the CLIMAX was good, telling everyone to step forward, then making a MISTAKE with Diane and saying "No, step back," and then telling those who stepped FORWARD that they can go, and THEN they ALL came out for "A CHORUS LINE" and the whole place went up for grabs with the loudest applause of the entire Broadway season.

DIARY 9619


"Razzle Dazzle" sums up the play when it says that "If you give it enough glitter, maybe no one will notice there's no talent there." We noticed, we noticed. Bob even suggested that Bob Fosse was mad at his former wife Gwen Verdon and decided to make a fool of her. Someone's a fool, including all those who paid $13.50, as we did, and upward for a ticket. In fact, at the point that someone said "You're paying enough for these seats," someone shouted down "Rip-off!" They seemed to be throwing EVERYTHING into it: the first number by Jerry Orbach has him taking his clothes off for ABSOLUTELY no reason. Then "M" (Michael) O'Haughey does a typical Monty Python transvestite part, getting her wig and dress ripped off. "EVERYONE GETS THEIR EXIT music" repeated a couple of times to milk more applause from the audience. Then there was the glitter of the set with the showing band, the revolving stairway, the extraneous flashing rims and displays of neon, and the "Cabaret"-like bizarre chorus people. They were wrong from the START: when the two killers tried to get the audience on their side, the audience WASN'T on their side. Maybe if they'd been a black audience on 42nd Street, they would have cheered for the murderers. But not these grand dames from Westchester. THEY haven't gone that far toward murder and circuses YET, and they can still recognize a bankrupt performance with lots of gimmicks thrown in. "Mr. Cellophane" was about the best number, but the poor guy looked like a fat Lou Costello. The jokes with the babies were awful, the numbers were totally undistinguished, only Chita Rivera getting a good number off now and then, but they BOTH looked VERY old, and the stocking around Gwen's recently sprained right ankle was very apparent, as were the body mikes all over. They threw everything in but a good show, and even Bob admitted it was a bit off-base. Even the trying to bring it up to moral date with references to payoffs and cops didn't work, and the funny lines could be counted easily: I think there were four, but I don't remember any of them. Chris Chadman looked sexy in bed before he was shot, and it was nice to have him back after being with Chita at the Grand Finale, but having Mary McCarty as a dyke named Diesel didn't even get laughs and probably offended lots of people. Just a big off-color dirty joke told to the totally wrong audience.

DIARY 9625


Jack Mallory as Mrs. Maggot starts off by "accidentally" getting her skirt lifted to show her decidedly male---and decidedly red---genitals. The "third sex" as epitomized by the squeaker of Mario Montez and the chicken-leg-in-a-hornet's-nest cunt of black-eyed Susan at the end wasn't worth the whole play. John Brockmeyer as Sheemish has some marvelous bits where he slouches up to someone and suddenly expands to his full skinny height, and then when he makes a flying leap and clutches a huge pillar. His constant jerking-off through the play is fun, too, as is his smile of anticipation for "The House of Pain," that causes Mrs. Maggot to clutch her crotch. Mario Montez was even worse than Maria Montez at her palmiest, singing off-key, talking like his mouth was full of coke, slouching like her panther-platforms were glued to the floor. Charles Ludlam has an Avi-body that probably helps explain my dislike of him, but nice genitals that flop out of his net covering when he rapes the over-abundant body of Lola Pashalinski as Miss Cubbidge, down to her blond cunt and rollicking tits for the rape scene, which Art says is in EVERY play. Black-Eyed Susan looks like Joyce Ostrin, and has nice tits at the end, but Bill Vehr is the prettiest of the lot with his pink nipples showing through his torn shirt, hairy calves appearing atop his down-rolling puttee-socks, and what LOOKED like a large crotch. Larry, the serpent, also acted as if the stage was his. Art talked about how faithfully they portrayed "the reality" of the 40s films, saying "You BELIEVED them, didn't you?" and saying that Ludlam's gone back to the INNOCENCE that characterized us at that age and the films at that era. I guess I can UNDERSTAND it, but that doesn't make it GOOD: since all the jokes are obvious, every eye-roll that can be there IS there, every off-color reference, every opportunity to use spittle, every campy possibility is explored, and I could only feel sorry for the girl to my right who'd seen it starting at Christopher's End and for 30 times since, and now that it's "hit its perfection of sophistication" in the Evergreen (per Art), it should go on forever. I suggested I was jealous that this no-talent schmuck could be doing what HE wanted to do while I wasn't being paid to continue with WRITING for the rest of my life by being PUBLISHED. He thought I was courageous to even ADMIT that's what I might be feeling, happy that I didn't mind the success of people who had TALENT, as he does. So much for THAT page, no?

DIARY 9660


Jeffrey Werbock said that the Kamancha originated on Noah's Ark, and is the "oldest instrument of its type." It has a fish-skin head, tuned F, a fifth below F, which the audience said would be Bb, and the F and Bb of the next octave. It has a tone-box that is a PERFECT parabola, just like the onion domes in the churches, a perfect acoustical reflecting surface. The first part went on from 7:05 to 7:30 (Tom and Cathy Johnson smiled on seeing me, saying that didn't expect to find anyone they knew there), and the Marche Orientale by Vartan Mangassarian was GREAT, reedy, whiny sound, for a fabulous invocation of the exotic, foreign, and strangely timeless music. I'd gone to see what the Caucasus (Kavkas) that produced Gurdjieff would produce in the line of music, and it was a combination of Indian, Greek, Iranian, and Persian that was very charming. The Mugam, pronounced ma-KAM, is the basis of all symphonic music, and they're so well known that they're numbered, and the SHUR was deeper, more of a solo, and much more virtuosic than the first piece. VERY strange that the "spike fiddle" is played on the upper thigh, rotating to get from string to string, and when the knee goes up and down, or when the fingers vibrate to produce a vibrato, the whole instrument agitates up and down. Cecen Lezginka was more of the same, and Werbock introduced the people and Zevulon Avshalamov, who put the whole thing together after Werbock heard the music one evening in his apartment and decided to devote the rest of his life to it. Deli Ceyran proved that Werbock plays better than he sings in Azeri Turkish. "Grung" means "Crane," though there was nothing bird-like about the kamancha here. The dance of the Shamila Lezginka was a VERY aborted Russian-style leg-kicking, running kicks, stoop-kicks, split leaps not quite split. Loudest applause for the least apt (but most visual) part of the evening. There are also SLIDING tones, trills, GREAT sounds, and many of the songs end with a pert "Tink, tink." The intermission is over at 7:33 and the Kerami is MARVELOUS, the best rhythm, tune, and repetition motif of the evening, and then I had to leave before the final number, but delighted that I heard one of the most fascinating instruments since the sitar.

DIARY 9661


Since everyone said how lavish the sets are, I'm not astounded as the rest of the audience is at the full "Showboat" set that glows redly as the curtain swings up. Then she's dragged in in a clam shell, and since we can hardly hear the words of "Moon of Monakura" I think it might be an awful evening, but then she starts mugging with her incredible face, opening her mouth to show her outrageous teeth, and bumping across the stage on her rather shapely legs with her undoubtedly huge boobs, and she's suddenly a performer of note. "Delta Dawn" goes on and on, though her voice sounds somewhat ravaged and she more rasps into the high notes than floats them across, but the energy and enthusiasm is totally undeniable. Eddie said he heard that the whole thing is down pat, but by the time the evening was over, everyone was convinced that they wee seeing THE show to see, from the telling of the "only if you warm up" joke of "talking into the microphone" of American Bandstand's Dick Clark's Dick, a lot of raunchy Sophie Tucker jokes that Sophie never would have been able to tell, and some responses to probably planted ("Sing it sister," "If I was your sister, I would!" and "Take if off," "You'll have to pay a lot more to see THAT.") shouts from the audience---though I would have loved to shout that St. Vitus is no longer a real saint, but I didn't know for sure. She kept talking about the boredom of doing a show for 89 weeks, how she was trying something different tonight even it if killed us, and going on SO long that even I began to get tired and looked forward to leaving. It wasn't the typical audience: lots of out-of-town types catching up, but there were some BEAUTIFUL boys in tight blue-jeans, body-shirts, and hairy chests and curly heads that I couldn't take my eyes off, and no one particularly LOOKED at me in my Indian shirt, and I was VERY conscious of the age gap that seems to have concretized (yeah, around my middle). Eddie loved it, thought the seats were great even though they WERE only about four rows from the back, and agreed with me that the Lionel Hampton sections were the worst of the lot. But the climax had EVERYONE standing on their feet and shouting and clapping, and she ran to the top of the platform, scooted around on her ass, and smiled down on everyone that just LOVED her---a GREAT evening in the theater, no MATTER it was $15.

DIARY 9716


The first scene is striking: the stage looks SMALL because it has so many people on it, and the chorus is VERY loud and Russian-sounding, and even the soloists sound just GREAT, and the orchestra is good. Settle back for a FABULOUS performance. The second scene draws applause for the brilliantly lit red and gold of the Uspensky Cathedral, but then a hat rolls off a Cossack coming through the low door and three standards and an icon get all tangled up. Boris comes out into a spotlight that sets his jewels AFIRE and it's akin to the Mystical Vision in brilliance and dazzle, but then he seems not to be in very good voice, and I have to search through the book ($3) for awhile before I find a picture of the Nestorenko who's Boris. The Pimen of Mark Reshetin is a droning bore, as they all are, but Eisen and Vlasov are very Russian and funny as Varlaam and Missail, and the hostess is plump with the "Russian quaver," and not that bad, played by Nikitina, but it just doesn't catch fire vocally. Saw Warhol earlier and Rudel during the intermission, but the audience isn't very stunning. Lots of familiar faces, it seems we're a constant audience, and who knows how often they go when I DON'T if they're always there when I am? The second act is blessedly only a half-hour, but the son-daughter's a bore, and the daughter doesn't have anything to sing, and I'm reminded AGAIN that, as an opera, it isn't really the most melodic or entertaining. The third act ball is just GRAND, again, with a high-jetting fountain, a makeup-pinked fan for the Marina of Obratsova, and GRAND costumes and processions, but Grigori of Atlantov looks JUST like Brigit Nilssen with high-red hair and a pudgy feminine face, and again the simpleton of Maslennikov is about the best part of the whole thing, with the chorus posing and strutting and turning in the background. The Kromy Forest scene has a horse, but a bore, and then the final scene gets some good acting from Boris, fleeing from the child, and his fall is dramatic, as is Shuisky's blocking the son from the throne, but the SINGING of Sokolov is nonexistent, though he's a down-turn-mouthed good actor. So I'll still look forward to the next PRODUCTIONS and hope they can get some better SINGING, and almost agree that the ORCHESTRA is worth all the applause it's been getting. Nice to know the AUDIENCE liked them, anyway.

DIARY 9750


There are so many people in the opera, and the synopsis is so dry and confused, that there's almost no possibility of isolating the male characters aside from the tutor, sung and acted well by Alexei Maslennikov; the general, acted with the only comic eye-popping and stutter of the evening by blue-eyed Alexander Ognivtzev---and all the others fall into poses and aimless chantings to the music that seems to rise and fall in timbre, pitch and volume quite at random. Makvala Kasrashvili is reasonably effective as Pauline, if she would only get her shaggy hair out of her face; Tamara Sinyavsk is pretty and Parisian as Blanche, and Larisa Avdeyeva is as striking as the "Pique Dame" as the Grandmother, with her spectacular entrance on a litter on the shoulders of eight men-servants, a retinue of about another eight hefting suitcases and packages and boxes along with her entourage. The whirling circle of the stage is interesting enough, as are the entrances that we can see coming, and the actions of the actors after they've left, expanding the whole thing into a whole community of movement, with the scenes changed with a rotation of the wheel. The dummies along the side of the stage looked merely tacky, as did the set pieces of "the town" with the lights clearly visible in front of them in the Met's very deep stage, but these were improved when the CAST would freeze in entrances or exits, adding to the tableaux. The "manic" scenes had stroboscopic flashes; Alexei posturing atop the prompter's box; projections of what looked like revolving airplane propellers, while the stage whirled around like a merry-go-round, on which two opposite-rotating inner circles made it almost into an amusement-park ride. The music, here, was by far the worst part of it; the acting was reasonable, and the singing was hard to judge: when everyone had to sing notes that went up and down unmelodically, how can you judge who's singing well, on pitch, at the right time, or to a dramatic point, since it's done in Russian and seems to DEPEND on a knowledge of what's being said at any one point? Thank goodness it was short: the first act of 10 episodes just an hour; the second of 10 just 70 minutes, and again the audience (filling only 3/4 of the house) seemed overly enthusiastic, but that's OK.

DIARY 9815


Forgot to make this the page 9804 it should have been, probably because I'd left the program at Art's so that I wouldn't have to carry it (and the paper-doll ballet book that I LOVE from Art) to the museum. It was the best thing yet, and the only person I remember was Atlantov as Lensky, and not even the enthusiastic Michael though much of his voice: merely adequate. The Tatiana, Milashkino, though she looked much too old and was much too plump, was a good-enough actress in the old style and had some of the most affecting moments available from the Bolshoi with her gentle, delicate pianissimo notes of the letter-writing scene, though the Onegin, Mazurok as usual, seemed left in the lurch and was downright turned OFF during the curtain calls, almost sneering with a grimace at the audience, and using his hands as karate choppers to go through the motions of acknowledging the applause he seemed not to feel he deserved. The older maids Avdiyiva were good, the first ball in Larin's house a marvel of country bumpkins (sexy crotches with tights without proper support) a funny tenor, Arkhijeiv and silly people on a wooden framework with a wooden balcony above, in great contrast to the DEEP set of the Gremin's ball, with dozens of dancers, lots of awkward looking chorus girls trying to be princesses and coming nowhere NEAR, and the "typical" floor covering of butterscotch lozenges and diamonds. The country scenes were beautiful in their soft lighting and detail, but the snow-scene of the duel was one of the most unconvincing scenes I've seen on that stage. Olga Sinyavskaya was deep-voiced and blond, not bad, and the music was without DOUBT the best of the season, though the orchestra seemed sometimes to go out of bounds in their enthusiasm for some melody or other. It seemed like a short evening, too, which was nice. Actually, the Larin's ball probably used a bigger set, because there was the front area, the balcony, a large back area, and I could see tables set for MEALS and FOOD and the heads of people just at the bottom of the sightlines from the top of the curtain, so it DID go back, though they used the first of "tiny green bits" beside the gate to indicate that the whole THING was grass, as they did again in the "War" with a hummock for a whole battlefield. Sadly, they had no real BALLET, only country-style dancing in EVERY opera so far, so there's nothing to rave about THERE. Could be better.

DIARY 9816


"Get" that no one in the program was those pictured in the book, and that the PREMIERE was last night, so this is definitely the second cast. Andrei of Fedoseyev was too grim, Natasha of Kalinina was thankfully young and not a DREADFUL actress (except when she fainted gracefully to make sure her pigtail was neatly laid out behind her) but had a quite shrill voice with no real beauty to it. Amused to note the SAME floor-covering under the first few scenes, and the Yekaterinsk ballroom had that as a base, not quite as grand as the "Eugene Onegin" ballroom, but then I couldn't see nearly all the people on the balcony in the rear. Kept noticing a dark-haired "special extra" who even appeared at Kutozov's battle table: sexy and handsome and graying. The ever-present pillars came to be somewhat of a drag, and the "Peace" music was just not interesting, going on and on, happy that it was only from 7:40 to 9:20, only 1 hour and 40 minutes, but it seemed FAR longer, and the FIRST act was the most boring thing the Bolshoi's done yet. Out for ice cream, watching MARVELOUS lightning flashes from the plaza, and up to hear Bob saying that the second act is MUCH better than the first. And it is: no longer have to watch the UGLY face of the Anatole of Korolyov, the fop-face of the Dolokhov of Pankov, and we get a really great Kutuzov of Nesterenko, who WAS the Boris as Arnie had said, and the best part of the opera BY FAR was the rolling, glorious hymn to the Russian country that he came out with as a solo and as a rousing chorus at the end. The BEGINNING was a dreadful letdown: 8 "mannequins" before the 8 pillars, with a smattering of extras, mostly women, before a huge backdrop of Red Square and towers and thousands of people, and the effect of "continuity" might be good from the ORCHESTRA, but from the balcony it was rotten. The Rajevsky Redoubt is ludicrously small, only two cannons (and one goes off for the loudest sound of the evening), the flames of Moscow in Scene 11 isn't TOO bad, and the windblown silks DO make convincing fires, though the fan for the French flag whose carrier was shot was RIGHT in our line of sight from above. But I was SO glad that it didn't end at midnight, as it had opening night, and all the scene changes seemed to go VERY fast, but the singers were among the worst yet, except, as I said, for Nesterenko, and I wish he'd been THAT good as Boris.

DIARY 9832


Spend $1 for a plate of dry, yellowed potatoes and onions, only vaguely tasty, and $1.85 for a vegetable, meat zamosa, not bad, and a dried questionable shish kebab. Then 504 for some tasty mango ice cream. There are few people in the audience, I stand alongside to listen to the folk songs of India, Darshana in a typical Indian grumble for slight, ripply music, then Anuradha Khanna sings a pretty melody in Puriya, Veena Ahuja does a squawk in Hindi, and Felix and Raji do the increasing rhythm of a speeded-up boat in the Malayalam that finished up THAT part. Then there was a barefoot circle dance with hand-slapping, primitive chants and drumming, very repetitive, called a Gujarati Garba; then 8 melodies from movies, and I'm totally amazed at the SCHLOCK of what passes for entertainment among the so-called "educated" Indians. Second-rate Puerto Rican in their sentimentality, love of garish colors, and wide-eyed children that control the parents totally. Mallika Saraswati choreographs, lead-dances, and trains the gopis for the Thangame Thangam, pretty awful and very amateurish movements, and then there's a fashion parade of modern clothing, again showing the most mediocre colorfulness, and there are constant dreadful comments about how all the men are supposed to be anxious to be onstage with the announcer, panting over the plain women acting as models. There's a TYPICAL Indian audience: people more interested in talking about business, trivia, or families rather than LISTENING to the music or LOOKING at the dance, and the kids monopolize the WHOLE scene, with an awful-faced photographer thinking he's cute by tickling the kids to laugh for his ecxema-nosed camera. The clothing was pants-suit, from Assam dress, Muslim bridal dress; a print dress, a skirt and top, and a black and gold sari. Then they have a group of Punjabi singers who have a guttural tremble, VERY silly sound, and a STUPID look in acidy colors, and the dialogue between a man and a woman gets a DIRTY laugh from the audience, and I leave about 5:30, disgusted but in a certain way charmed by what I've seen: though terribly conscious of how much ABOVE all this sort of thing I consider myself, and look down on all the people who DO enjoy such playings.

DIARY 9844


Finally get to see Valaitis, who seems like one of their better baritones, as Tomsky, and Atlantov has some spectacular singing to do in all the acts, and as someone behind me remarked, "He just kept betting better and better," until at the end he seemed to be actively ENJOYING the performance, and giving a VERY good one. Even Mazurok, as Yeletsky, seemed to agree that he could be applauded, and the sweet face of Tamara Milashkina, as Lisa (and with Sinyavskaya as Pauline, it was the EXACT foursome of the lead of "Eugene Onegin"), seemed also pleased with the applause. Yuri Simonov was the conductor, and I wished I'd known that it was the LAST performance of this opera for this season: it SEEMED like it might be, but it's better to KNOW that this might be the reason for an extra-special performance. The Governess of Nina Grigorieva brought an extraordinary mezzo voice to the stage, but the Countess of Larisa Avdeyeva was too grotesquely made up to be any real fun, and she didn't get NEARLY as petrified as Resnik in that OTHER Met performance. The set for the ballroom scene was a real treat, opening with the gowns walking AWAY from the audience, so we could see all the trains, and the room looked very SUBSTANTIAL with the two enormous columns placed asymmetrically on the stage, and I couldn't see but 5 of the band of choristers on the balcony above the doorway, but there must have been about 50 of them, and with 75 onstage and 75 in the pit, that's 200 people right THERE. There was also a BIT of dancing, shepards and shepardesses type camp, but at least they had the opportunity to be GRACEFUL. The sets were effective, taking somewhat longer to change than for "War and Peace" for some reason, and the orchestra AGAIN came in for the lion's share of the shouts from the audience, but the singing at the end was so good (and the staging of Lisa's dash for the railing into the river was PERFECTLY cut off by the descending curtain) that I was ALMOST tempted to shout a "Bravo," which from the poor beginning was a good thing. The melodies were beautiful, the beginning river-park scene pretty except for squealing American children's choristers, and the enormous knee-height green gambling table for the climax was one of the funnier things in the staging of opera.

DIARY 9845


First of all, I'm sorry that the Metropolitan Opera House stage opening is so much smaller than the Bolshoi stage opening, because I keep thinking that the sets and actions are squashed into an unnatural narrowness, and I keep wondering how much it would add to the expansiveness if they were on their OWN stage. But then much of the staging isn't really THAT spectacular: no set has SO much impressed me with depth as the Stuttgart's multi-curtained tunnel in Mahler's Tenth, though the dining room at the BACK of the ballroom in the first ball of "Eugene Onegin" was pretty far back. The singing was a real turn-off, but I have no way of knowing whether it was because we got "old, worn, famous, poor singers" or "new, unused, not famous, poor singers" or whatever combination of adjectives might have applied, but I counted up the casts and I saw 51 out of the 58 listed soloists, and not very many came up to snuff, though it was curious that it STARTED very high with the first act of Boris, crashed to maybe a low toward the end of the same opera, and then went steadily uphill, except for some downs in "War and Peace." With the unimpressiveness of "The Gambler," I'd decided not to see "The Dawns Are Quiet Here," and it was probably for the best. In order, the best was undoubtedly the final "Pique Dame" with Atlantov FINALLY showing himself to be the soloist everyone said he was but that I'd never heard. Next was probably the OTHER Tchaikovsky, "Eugene Onegin" with the same cast, essentially, except for a much poorer performance. Then came the "Boris" mainly on the strength of the beauty of the coronation scene, then "The Gambler," since it did show SOME imagination in staging, and I guess that puts "War and Peace" last, which REALLY should have been FIRST, and even the "Russkaya Zemlya" solo by Nesterenko sort of brought that up to some kind of par. But they really didn't IGNITE the stage, didn't SET FIRE to the critics: it was academically interesting, classically intriguing, and purely intellectual, except for some emotions for the final Atlantov-Milashkina duet. The orchestra is good, and at least I can have a BACKGROUND when I see my first Bolshoi Opera IN Moscow itself, and I can extrapolate these notes to see how right or wrong I was in evaluating them HERE this year.

DIARY 10003


Elizabeth Ashley (the first and last word in this production of this play) comes on first and it looks like it might be a fun evening, even with her mugging, overplaying, and overdone double-takes when something as simple as the set goes flying up into the flies. But then Martha Scott comes on looking VERY old and playing VERY softly, and the Mammoth and Dinosaur are female and black, and played for cutsies, and Mr. Antrobus as Alfred Drake thoroughly sinks the rest of the play. It's too REAL, too emotion-laden to be a fantasy, and too fantastic to be played realistically as CHARACTERS when the set and the stage manager and everything else says that it ISN'T real. The first act is lousy, and Arnie and Norma sleep through it, and even Bob Grossman and his sister Sandy someone don't care for it. The pre-serial newsreel is too long and too blaring and too cutesy, the children are too shrill, and the coming ice age isn't really CONVINCING (wasn't there supposed to be the ominous CRUNCH of the glacier outside??). Then the Atlantic City (Chris Chase take notice) set is rather fun, but the conventioneers are too loud, I feel like booing the HORRIBLE speechifying of Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus at the Mammary Convention (or whatever it was), and again the son as the universal villain is a bit hard to take, Cain or no Cain---and if Cain why do his parents HAVE PARENTS?? Sabina is great, as usual, as the chorine, and the only other good character is Charlotte Jones as the Fortune Teller. But the gongs for "the end of the world by flood" don't seem to jibe, and the light signal isn't pointed to until the END, which is a pity. Then the third act is the worst, with Mr. Antrobus taking pity on his son and not killing him and then saying that he'd hound him to the end of the earth and show no pity in the next speech. And the "actor" coming out of Cain and talking about his father locking him up just doesn't JIBE because I think he's talking about Mr. Antrobus, who obviously wouldn't do such things. And, horribly, I think he SHOULD be killed if he wants it so badly---why should he kill OTHERS and not LET US HAVE THAT PRIVILEGE?? So it was a VERY dated play, rather poorly produced except for Elizabeth Ashley (who was worth $4, but HARDLY worth $12), and I can't WAIT to see what kind of reviews it gets after its SMASH hit in DC.

DIARY 10124


"First time for Ida Rolf back in her "home" in New York in many years." IR is her worst PR person, going on with ERRONEOUS facts: "Gravity is a property of VERY LARGE masses"---no IDEA that it comes from US, too, and she goes ON and ON about the same OLD platitudes published in ALL the papers she'd handed out. Rolfing is not only ALIGNING, she says, but DRAWING ON the energy of gravity. At some angles Werner Erhard IS very handsome. In not-to-bright light and not talking. SAME hair, same SNEER, though. "Feel the additional energy that you are getting from gravity." She wears a MARVELOUS old-fashioned dress: elastic at wrists with black lace, a patterned over-breast in black lace, a white-laced collar over which is a black fur neckpiece. But it IS a pants suit! She talks about the individual and the environment as if the environment of individuals were different. Rolfers are technicians, but [Film title]: "GRAVITY is the therapist." Film from 8:30 to 8:66 (with wiring problems that Michael Blackburn felt awful about, but I said it just made a nice social time, which it did, and gave me the chance to look down at the audience from my center-balcony seat with my binox, and the two brothers Spaulding below me were talking more to EACH OTHER than they were to their female dates. SOME nice bodies, but the rolfed-ones seem to have that strange smooth gliding walk that looks more stiff than flexible. And Werner Erhard introduces and then Ida Rolf goes ON from 9:05 to 9:35. Dr. Virginia Hunt (financed by est), SAYS IDA, FOUND that chakras "exist." HUH? The vital energy-collection places AGREE with the ESPers VISIONS of chakras AND the historical teaching from ages ago in India. ESPer AND electronic instruments IDENTIFIED the places and the energy-gathering! ELECTROMYOGRAPH: blue-light frequencies emitted from the solar plexus and the ESPer SEES it! "Two months ago I NEVER would have said it; I wouldn't have believed it." "Now I believe it." Colors come IN on the people at random, go OUT orderly---tracing wave patterns on drums. UCLA drum-diagrams STORED, waiting for someone to analyze them. By 7-9 hours of rolfing, colors had BLENDED to pure WHITE---the BALANCE OF ALL COLORS. CENTER ENERGY becomes PURE and WHITE as a result of rolfing---at the end, a PLUME of white light came off the top of the head. From a 1/2" to 5"! "Material to consider" by Ida Rolf. "Adam Smith has a poor memory, and he enjoys being a hatchet man." THEN she said he "enticed her into a corner and got her to admit the TRUTH about Rolfers." But that was 3 years ago, when there were hardly ANY advanced trainers on the East Coast, and now there are half a dozen. Werner puts her mike around neck and remarks "I finally get my hands on Ida" and Ida retorts "I assure you he's gentler than the REVERSE." Werner would be VERY hard to DRAW. IR: Yoga is a magnificent set of exercises, but we can go farther NOW. Ida GOT her idea of the "perfect" body PURELY by experience of "putting people together" who had been off. First ten hours are GENERAL, and the 5-10 hours of ADVANCED is more individualized. "PARTICIPATION in rolfing, taking the RESPONSIBILITY for it, tends to cause the pain to pass as easily as possible." I talk to Michael Blackburn about the idea that childhood physical trauma comes up when pains associated with the areas under concentration are being handled, and he doesn't know "where I'm coming from" (as, indeed, neither do I, wanting only to talk with him about ANYTHING), but says that he doesn't think that anything would come up that I couldn't handle. Someone asks him when they could start, and he says he could start them in about three weeks, and some blacks come up and chat about how good he is and working with him and his moving back and forth from different places. IDA is quite wrinkled and frail for someone who's only 79, but Werner is as saucy as ever, instructing people quite LOUDLY that there are to be NO photographs taken of him, and when someone comes up for an autograph, Werner says "When you get through with the training, we'll be closer than you could ever get with an autograph." Others, women, crowd around and want to shake his hand or just wordlessly hug and kiss him, and he takes it PRETTY much in good stride, but he seems to be the slightest bit uncomfortable, as he was during MUCH of Ida's speech when he stared around the auditorium, up and down, and smiled at some of the people whose eye he caught in the almost-full auditorium (at least downstairs, if the two rows of the balcony would be sorted into it).

DIARY 10224


Art had seen it with Nancy on Wednesday, and said it should be played in some high-school auditorium, and that Betty Allen saved her makeup as Katisha and was the biggest thing onstage. Get to the theater at 7:56 to find that Lorna Myers is substituting for her, and am disappointed about that until she opens her mouth, and I couldn't tell the difference between their two voices, and she so underplays it that I don't see the troubles that Art saw with the casting. Ben Harney as Zodzetrick does a kind of parlando which is pretty good, but Carmen Balthrop as Treemonisha has SUCH an operatic croon and mush-mouthed diction that it's impossible to understand ANYTHING that she says through the first act, and her voice seems to be so weak that the microphone amplification is very obvious, which harms the sense of presence, and Norma says that she "just isn't there." Arnie sleeps through most of the first act, and the stultifying BANAL lyrics make it possible to guess the ENTIRE second line of a couplet when I heard the first word of the second line; and knew that if the rhyme would be difficult, the end of the first line would just be REPEATED. Almost SCREAMED about the incessant repetition, particularly of "that sacred tree." Obviously intended for three-year-old audiences. The voice (not the presence: he's fat and ugly) of Curtis Rayam was pretty good, and the first act was SO awful that the second act actually seemed good by comparison. I kept looking at a high-yellow black with freckles and body-stains who really let it all out in his dancing for "Aunt Dinah Has Blowed de Horn," and the "Real Slow Drag" never really came to life, and it was only the REPRISE of ADHBDH that made everyone leave the theater humming "DO-do-dedeedlede-ump-ump" on a hysterical high-pitched "deedle." Sadly, I didn't notice that Gunther Schuller was the conductor (didn't think he was black), so I didn't really LOOK at him, but Art said he was quite handsome. The music was TOTALLY drowned by the somnolent tones of the sopranos, mezzos, tenors, and baritones, and the "enthusiasm" during the preacher scene was PAINFULLY stereotyped, as was, as Art noted, ALL the dancing and direction. Corsaro bombs again, and Art suggests the real problem: he doesn't have a sense of HUMOR. When the quartet sang "We Will Rest Awhile" because resting feels so nice; and when Remus makes the grand conclusion that "Wrong Is Never Right," the play demanded SOMETHING it lacked!

DIARY 10292


Yass Hakoshima "A New Experience in Mime" is not much worth talking about: I don't even know what the newness of the experience is supposed to be, except that he's planned his movements around various kinds of music and sounds, burbles for "Dream" in which he's drunk, "mystic sounds" for "Surgeon," in which he enters the body too reminiscent of "Incredible Voyage," and sound effects of laughter and applause for "Laughter." Also, he wore some sort of eye-shades as "Eagle" where his arms DID look as flexible as wings. But I kept wanting to leave, but the audience kept me there: the cute guy who stood up to greet his girlfriend with what MUST have been the bulge of an erection in the front of his light blue trousers, the Paris-type fellow with the tight-shirted beautiful torso under a neck-scarf and a rakish cap over his square face, the odd couples: older man and Chinese woman who kept running her fingers up and down her thighs and buttocks, and the balding man and the intellectual-type woman much younger than he, though pregnant, as if they both found each other as TOTALLY the last resort, the 60s-hippie types who still congregate around Hunter with tattered clogs, multi-patched jeans, and dirty hair tied back with colored cord, and the young cruising women who'll look at anything that appears single. Then the arrestingly beautiful blond heads of two girls who impressed me as being "moon-blond" with shiny-ash overtones of coolness, and "sun-blond" with darker overtones that I can easily fantasize into an orange-glow of sun color. As usual, there are the fellows that I would willingly cruise except they never seem to look at me, the VERY old couples who appear to come to this out of a sense of something to DO rather than something to EXPAND with, and the smartly-dressed women who talk to so many people that they give the impression of having organized the entire performance AND the mailing list of those who attended. I feel loving-care for all of them, then in another moment feel totally detached from them: who is the fellow who shouts "Bravo"? Why do the black girls come at all, only to talk and rattle bags through the performance? What do the older couples think of the younger generation? Why did I "produce" the missing of the Lhamo Tibet Folk Opera and the seeing of Yass Hakoshima?

DIARY 10417


Arnie is very sad when he sees that David Dukes plays John Wood's part at the Wednesday matinee, and though it opened October 30th to GREAT reviews, the theater is BY FAR from full, but we both end up QUITE sure that David Dukes does as well as John Wood would have done---as well as being quite a bit more animated and handsome, in my opinion, since I didn't care for the "Englishness" of Sherlock Holmes---but then we WERE in the last row when we saw THAT. But the words of Tom Stoppard are brilliant, particularly when he has a quartet of people lined up giving line by line and even WORD BY WORD lining out of LIMERICKS, sometimes with the last TWO rhyming syllables being given to two different people saying two TOTALLY different things. And two sides of MANY questions are looked into with COMPLETE understanding of either side: the iconoclast "freeing" are, the establishmentarian saying that "Oh, you say flying is sitting in your chair, so you're flying." The puns, the agreements with the "Importance of Being Earnest" (which I read the summary of and am sure there are DETAILED references to Jack and Cecily, "the other one" and Gwendolyn), the historical/literary/scatological (Irish GIT)/political/economical connections could probably be studied for DAYS. As I'd wanted to get a copy of "Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead" after I saw THAT, I want now to get a copy of THIS. I gasped with delight far more than others in the theater, enjoyed the performances, and told Art that he'd love it too. Stoppard's first play has "had more than 200 productions in 20 languages" and I certainly thought of him as a present-day Shakespeare with his skill in words and multiple layers of wordplay and images, and modern use of repetition, quick-shifts, dreams, and the marvelous mixing of the Irish jig of Joyce and the podium-rantings of Lenin. With believable people trying to sort out their feelings about women, too. Will enjoy seeing other productions in VERY much later years and remembering the first time they were on the Broadway stage, and how they later became requirements in English literature, with books being written about the riches to be found in them. How I ENVY this fellow Tom Stoppard, his writing, and his success!

DIARY 10487


Rather surprised to hear that the TITLE of the play comes from some quote in the early history of the relations between Japan and the U.S., referring to "tranquil beginnings" rather than "oceanic music." Mako is fairly effective as a narrator, funny as the shogun, rather young and sexy at the end, with great arms and chest, narrow waist and hips. Soon-Teck Oh has such strange eyes that he's obvious as the wife who inexplicably commits hari-kari (for no GOOD reason that anyone could see, but maybe that WAS in reality!) and a few other characters. Isao Sato was cute as Kayama, Sab Shimono too old to play the sailor convincingly, and Yuki Shimoda well made-up in fierce mien as the first councilor. The people had talent, but the first act had MANY slow spaces, epitomized by "Someone in a Tree" which seemed to be est and Zen in saying nothing except CIRCUMSTANTIALLY, summed in the line "cups of tea and history" as if they were equally important. The sounds and part-playing from the Kabuki are ridiculously watered, reaching a low point in the embarrassing performance of the "Lion Dance" mixed with Radio City Music Hall cavortings by a sweating Perry of Haruki Fujimoto, who was the worst of the oriental lot. Mark Hsu Syers had the funniest line as the Russian admiral with his constant "Don't touch the COAT." "Welcome to Kanagawa" was the funniest song, pointing out scenes on obscene pillow-fans and saying "Don't touch THAT; do THAT slowly; use glue and a feather for THAT; and they don't know about that so charge in advance." His (Sondheim's) rhymes came forth in "Please Hello" with "coco in Yoko---hama Bay." They totally neglected the world wars and came quickly up to date with more women than had been seen before dancing about the stage. Arnie slept through a lot of it, and though there were nice TOUCHES (the eyes symbolizing the ship, the poisoning of the shogun with chrysanthemum tea, the umbrella-leaves on the tree, the peg-leg/foot, the ship sailing in, the rickshaw song), the whole thing didn't come to life because of the AMERICAN book and lyrics, not because of the JAPANESE acting and charisma. Arnie said it would be perfect for tired Japanese tourists in New York, and that's perfect.

DIARY 10607


His armed wooden chair stands under stark spotlights next to his stool, and he comes on with brown shoes, black pants, and Betsey's sweater with no applause to sit, open his folder, and read while looking at the audience. "Béla Bartók" [shades of Dictionary proofreading] starts off rather as a bore, and I fear for everyone in the audience until the material starts to get more personal, and soon it doesn't really MATTER where the quote came from, and I begin wishing for a recording or a piano to hear the chords mentioned, the modes referenced, or the melodies indicated. John warms up considerably, too, though his rejecting pages to read is a slight rejection of the audience, too. His pauses, slowing of voice, and dramatic changes of tone are rather nice, but the performance is so minimal that Arnie later asks if the shifting of his legs and crossing of them had been choreographed. "Kei Takei's Moving Earth" is started in the middle without ANY kind of introduction at ALL, and for awhile I think the "I" is HIM, but then it's clear that it isn't, but I begin to wonder what WASN'T him in the "I" BEFORE. But his feeling for the material comes through more and more clearly, until at length I'm right in there with him, hoping everyone likes what he has to offer, feeling waves of love for what he's doing. The shift of his chair to the side isn't very good, since it makes his eyes look hooded, even more hypnotic than Arnie and Pope said his voice was. Art afterwards said that he didn't get ANYTHING out of it and wanted to LEAVE, which I said would have been a good idea, and John, when I asked him, said "Oh, I think the ambiguities are good" when I complained that he'd left out the names of the people who were IN the chapters. I'm glad Bob didn't come, and Don, though he said he almost did when his class was cancelled, but Pope said that he found it a challenge, kept himself open, and found himself enjoying it quite a bit. Arnie liked the second and not the first, others said different things, so it was a PERFORMANCE in that not everyone got the right idea, though it's a pity that Art was even disgusted enough to say he doesn't even WRITE well, though I could dismiss the fact that he doesn't think John's fantastically interesting-looking, which, in fact, Pope DID. José was all smiles throughout, a couple of the couples were greeted enthusiastically by John, and he seemed in general pleased with the 20-25 people in the audience.