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DIARY 1-728


Program starts at 8:10 with Goldberg introducing "muscular and not-so-muscular bodies in art." Gaines: "You look like a good perceptive crowd; you'll have fun this evening. Study of the body should give AT LEAST AS much pleasure as looking at a marble body. Be objective and unembarrassed about the body. 1) Zane: classically symmetric body; 2) Corney: stylish and graceful; 3) Sch: simply the greatest bodybuilder that ever lived. They're making part of the film "Pumping Iron" HERE this evening. Zane comes out first, and poses much more slowly and more gracefully than in competition: he's great: good legs, heavy abdomen, not FABULOUS chest. Rotating platform, wedding ring and he shows about three minutes. Goldberg: first time to see a live male body on display in a museum. Eisler: Examples from art: Sistine Chapel Adam, Greek frieze of Olympics, gods, Michaelangelo Domine Madonna with nudes in the back; saints as athletes of Christ; mention Donatello, Michaelangelo's Saint Matthew, Narcissus (art comes from the discovery of self); Alberti, Van Eyck's mirror; Parmigianino; Goya-like, Picasso sketch, Venus of Willendorf. "Physical development can only oil a mortal coil"---endure through reproduction; this is more like ice sculpture: transient. Androgynous aspect: pectorals, Jayne Mansfield, New Eden, Durer, Hercules, Prometheus, to 8:32. Idea of applying Dance Notation to "artify" it. "Possibilities of interpretation somewhat limited" versus dance. Brilliant: Body closely related to mind and soul---must get most complete expression. Aristotle in 400 BC: mental characteristics molded by the body. Examples: Pompeii gladiator mosaic "with large simple heads and clear-eyed expression devoid of meaning." Torso of Laocoon with FABULOUS shadows, Hercules (pronounced Heracles), Hellenistic bronze ruler (nude), "pelvic area with the genitals almost thrown in your face," Roman Hercules, female jugglers from Sicily 4th century AD villa. 8:43: Roman Metropolitan Museum emperor---Tribonianus Gallus (audience getting VERY bored)---facial expression of dull man---strongest man in Roman Army---and stupid. ASSHOLE Brilliant, funerary woman; VERY condescending, sneering; bodily perfection is MIRROR of spiritual perfection. No females like that---question of testosterone. People there: Candice Bergen, recording and photographing; Jerome Ragni from "Hair," and then Goldberg quiets audience with "Mr. Schwarzenegger is interested in HEARING this"---woman shouts, "Bring out Sch!" 8:50: Cooley checked the NY Public Library and found no card for body building, but lots of body CULTURE. Examples: Billy Budd, bodybuilding as a FAILURE of spirit. Sandow established bodybuilding, a sideshow attraction. Physical strength has become technologically obsolescent. Bodybuilder yawns delicately and touches his eyebrow. Acceptance of bodybuilding may mean END of destructive dichotomy between mind and body. Huh? Goldberg: UNION of athletes and museums is a good START. 8:54: Baigell: Popularity of IMAGES of weightlifting, EMPHASIS on image, not HEALTH. "Unhealthy: hardening of arteries and heart attach-prone." An implicit sexual aggressiveness and impressiveness NOT in early US. Examples: Manet Olympia vs Glackens; Miller vs Philip Evergood (nude by railroad); Giorgione's Reclining Venus vs awful US in a bathrobe; Titian's Rape of Europa versus Cowboy's dream; Giorgione versus Magritte-like clothed. RIDICULOUS. Modigliani vs Zorach (not nude, NAKED). Wesselman's "Streisand" and Kirchner vs Carfoyl's Boy's Bathing; A.B. Davies---not just well-proportioned nudes, but BODYBUILDERS. Feminism: male sells good looks, same as Jane Mansfield; use as sex symbol; voyeur in us is out of the closet after all. Hollywood has championed that physical display---NO! Evergood's Fascist Company; German tennis players versus John Stewart Curry clothed; Kliest Sowers vs Tockwell; Youth; Joyous Fountain of Work; Prometheus flexing---all from Hitler's Germany: Comrades "After Vietnam we're looking for a statement of virility, or an expression of fascism: Reagan, Carter." BOOS from audience. 9:07: Gaines introduces Corney---Gaines: "posing is the expression of bodybuilding. It is the heart of the thing." All that is beautiful, all that is ridiculous. Athletic skill like diving and hitting a baseball. Physique posing is a kinetic form of art, turning on intuition, teaching you something new each time. All three trained for 15 years each. 9:09, Corney: incredible show of grace and power: bigger and better ALL over. Younger, more muscular, mustache, Italianate, but he's over 40!! INCREDIBLE! To 9:12. Then Schwarzenegger from 9:14, poses narrated, GREAT tan (or makeup), tit flicks, FANTASTIC right bicep (it IS makeup---to 9:16.5 ONLY). Audience: "He doesn't look very SMART." "To tell the truth, I liked the first one BETTER." 9:24: Zane and Corney on panel. "DO you think of yourself as a piece of art?" Corney: Yes; Zane in glasses and looking SMALL; has bodybuilding as a hobby, living statue, and he sounds GOOD. Sch: as a SPORT, not a sculptor (slight accent), talks of "classes in college, art history, etc." And HE finally turned into a sculptor of his own body. Woman next to me asks: "Have you people (including ME?) spoken like this before?" Gaines: "bodybuilding out of closet" again! Sch: I'm in heaven being here tonight. Body "as bad to look at is an old religious idea, maybe." EI: You've had a bad teacher, your poses are 19th century camp! POSING is anti-feeling, hands raised at END is only GOOD part: and that's when Schwarzenegger says he's in heaven. DERISION from audience, shouting that the panel is jealous, hints they might be gay. And ONE of the schlunks on the panel was cruising Paul (and, as Stephen said, him too) CONSTANTLY in the crowd outside. Zane: there's nothing WRONG with a man who has a beautiful body; it's OK for WOMEN! People see what they WANT to see, a projection: grotesque, fantastic, beautiful---AGAIN he speaks VERY well. "This is my path for Self-Realization, and expression of my bigger, higher self." Camp is just another label---this is what is, that's my experience! Zane's probably been in est? 9:37: Goldberg: 160 years ago, June 1808, as boxer posed naked for two hours at the British Museum at the coming of the Elgin Marbles. So she who said it WAS a first chooses to END it by saying rather sneeringly that it ISN'T a first. Don't get THAT. She ENDS it when the crowd threatens to get rough; the audience LOVES the bodybuilders, HATES the panel, even for their blindness to say it's mainly an ART crowd! VERY hot inside, VERY crowded, maybe 600 people, and my temperature SOARS. Not many SEXY people in the place, but one or two are true heart-sinkers in size, intelligence of looks, ill-fitting clothes, and sheer physical masculine beauty.

DIARY 10782


John Blair starts the program with "Om Mani Padme Hum" low in the background (YES, IN the backgroup!!) with his "Bodysnatchers," and I say "THAT'S est, too!" to finish off the conversation about THAT, since Guy's read the New Age Journal's article Pope told me about, and he's concerned about Paul's messing up Stephen with Paul's going. He plays the violin only passably well, but thinks he does much better. His FACE is handsome and sexy, but his red satin jumpsuit can't decide whether to be tacky, campy, or sexy, and isn't any of them. Not terribly good start from 9:10 to 10:10, but then Anita O'Day comes on, looking old, but I guess pretty good for 56, and she does standards mostly, except for a great "Singing This Song for You." I'm impressed by the way she uses her voice as an instrument, wondering whether she started, bolstered, revived, or followed in this, and Dennis's articles afterwards says that she STARTED this, influencing Chris Conners and June Christy and others like her, and that she's the best of the lot, though she was hooked on junk (reading Burrough's "Junkie" through this!) from 1948 to 1963, or some ungodly stretch of time, and I thank Dennis for having taken me to someone who was so SEMINAL, and then I got the chance to see what she DID best before reading the articles, which made me feel good to have SEEN what was going on, though I didn't think Lennie Hambro, who seems to have been on sax and flute, who WAS pretty good, was in so strongly with her, since she seemed to sluff over his riffs a few times, but the END of her song (though I don't like her "signature" "Waves" very much; "Tea for Two" was it?) when the instrumentalists bleeped in in turn was just FABULOUS, and she did some INCREDIBLE running-straight-thbrough-and-even-now-the-words-make-sense-and-got rhythm verbal trills and a BIT of scat-singing, which Dennis said she was famous for, and he bought a $5 album of hers, saying that she had DOZENS for sale in Japan, where she was a smash. So after the false start of John Blair, it turned into an interesting, historical, entertaining, albeit too expensive (though I had JUST the burger for $4.75 with guacamole, no drink except the first bloody mary for $1.50, and the $5.50 cover, 754 tax, $1 tip, for $13.50; Guy paid about $14, Dennis $19, and the $42.85 bill + $3.65 tip = $46.50 comes out TOO much, but we KNEW that) evening.

DIARY 10791


The curtain's up as we take our seats, servants fussing with scenery, and PRECISELY at 11 someone steps onstage to say that Marcia Baldwin will be replacing Tatiana Troyanos as the Composer, but saying nothing about Caballe or Ruth Welting, who ARE appearing. The music is the typical Straussian swelling to a GLORIOUS volume of lush instrumentalism that all to often dies frustratingly into something VERY like coitus interruptus, as if he couldn't bear to be too beautiful too consistently. Caballe is in glorious voice which ALMOST reaches the incredible volume of full-fledged Nilsson, but not quite. Welting is small and cute and a good actress, who looks like he might be Alan Titus dances nice and loosely as Harlequin, even walking on his hands, but there's just too much time that I find myself sitting there thinking of OTHER things, wishing it would be OVER, wishing I were somewhere else, wondering why it was that I even want to spend the time seeing this FREE opera doing something else. The REAL lighting comes on every so often, mostly there's a backlight that throws a shadow in front of Caballe VERY like a mountain with a head on top. When she grimaces in coming off the floor from a stoop, the audience laughs gently. This is one opera that could VERY well be done in English: much of the wordage is SPOKEN (it could even be sung in German during the operatic sections) for the most part during the start, and the humor that was evidenced by a small corner of laughter in the German-speaking audience could have been shared by the whole place. I thought ruefully that I don't even have a PROGRAM to show my visit to the Metropolitan Opera House this time. Dennis thought it was interesting, was glad he had a chance to DO it, but probably wouldn't do another unless it was VERY interesting, and Guy and I agree that the "Mefistofeles" would be a good one to throw at him next. I go through my list of favorite operas, he says it doesn't make it any more agreeable to him that it's MODERN, though he can get a bit more into this music than he can the very traditional ones, and we leave in relief that it's over, hardly the point of view to take to an opera, dress rehearsal or not.

DIARY 10793


His ANNOUNCED topic was "The Theatre in Today's Society," but he left that at home, intentionally, and talked about the seven theaters he founded, saying that each ran in the red, each needed governmental or other types of support, saying that his newest company, "The Acting Company" loses $125,000 every time they come into NYC for five weeks, but they can survive nicely with only a LITTLE deficit if they stay out in the hinterlands, but they only filled the Harkness to 65% capacity, and many of those were TDF tickets at $3.50. He said there wasn't much of an audience for theater, but there might be TOO LITTLE THEATER, since his company did an Edward II after I saw one live and one on TV, did "The Three Sisters," which anyone could see at least once a year, if they REALLY felt frustrated and masochistic, and some other things that were new, and since they weren't hits, why go to them: if you want razzle-dazzle, see "Chicago" rather than "The Acting Company." Said how he brought up Orson Welles at age 19 to direct the Haitian "Macbeth" in Harlem. He seemed VERY self-conscious talking about Harlem and blacks and Negroes and "They" and "us" and mealy-mouthing all those phrases, but toward the end he seemed to get even MORE nervous, and I got the picture that HE, actually, might be fairly incompetent as a manager, since nothing seems to go right with him. Someone asked if he intended to play in any more movies, and he blithely responded, "Only to the extent that I say 'yes' to every offer anyone makes me." He said that "you shouldn't take this as a pitch to buy my book" and said that everyone should read about the Harlem theater in his FIRST book, and then had a plant in front row center ask about his SECOND book, which he said won't be out for awhile, I can hold my breath. He came up with only a few funny remarks, said that everyone had become famous BEFORE "The War of the Worlds," except that it got them Campbell Soup as a sponsor, and that their theaters always over-extended themselves and failed about a year after he left. But there just might not BE the market for a repertory theater: even I didn't continue with the Phoenix beyond a few years: you get TIRED of the same people.

DIARY 10794


Given without an intermission, the play's faults hit Dennis most strongly when it baldly had lines like "You have to regard them as symbols of a class," and "The IWW will be the saving of the working man in the world," etc. The production was as interesting as it could get: the stokers started out as apes, chirping, swinging from bars, batting on thunder-sheets, rolling on the floor and eating lice off each other's heads (not jerking off, sadly) and then as two fight [oh, also stylized entrances: they ENTER as men and then BECOME apes and enter the scene] they become men and the play's lines start. Ray Wise is muscular and forceful as Yank, and someone who's probably Jonathan Frakes (since he plays Captain America for Marvel Comics and has the body and face for it) has a great narrow body with a wide chest and makes a VERY convincing menacing ape with simple brown body makeup, a jutting lower pink lip, and glowering eyes looking up from under beetling brows. He's awkward with the accent, but not too many of them seem convincing: it's accent-time in high school. The stylization of the sophisticates as birds, cooing and chortling at each other, is rather clever, but the costuming varied as widely as the number of people wearing costumes: some were very elegant, some were mock-elegant, with dickies over blue jeans to symbolize someone VERY rich. Everyone doubled as everyone else, the stoking scene was pleasant since everyone took off their shirts, there was a HIGH level of energy in everything: slamming the shovel into the floor, fighting, punching in the face, kicking in the ribs, and the ape-squeezes-man to death had some cracking-bone sound effects that I think only I heard. Pointed out a muscle builder who sat with his mouth idiotically dropped open, watching the apes, too late to Dennis: he'd closed his mouth by using his hand as a prop against the chair arm. Some of the lines were shouted so strenuously as to be indecipherable, the "filthy beast" scene was stretched out to try to make it more believable as the crux of the story, but it just made it stranger, and I was glad enough to get out of there in only an hour and a half---Dennis paid for it (no, we paid our own), but it was a pity neither of us had the TDF that would have let us in for $1 apiece.

DIARY 10800


People flowing into their seats, half of them black, and I move down to see what the Beacon is like, and there's a really beautiful sunburst screen above the proscenium, statues of Athena, coffered ceilings, tapestries on the walls, and an ornate chandelier in the lobby. Great place, and the audience is so much a part of the performance that I actually groove on the sounds that the orgasmic ladies make behind us, and when halfway through I can visualize (auralize?) the sounds that would make ME scream as she screams, I felt that I was getting into it. When the bands started without the soloists I thought it was going to be somewhat of a bore, but the introductions made me think we were really watching the top people, and the audience reception (screaming after the first two notes of a favorite song, retorting to their comments, shouting "Not from ME" when someone says they were getting a hard time from their woman) carried me along with it. There was a GREAT smell of grass going up in flames, so much so that they even mentioned it, and I thought the flash-lighted ushers would be used for crowd control, but there was no need for it, though here and there someone would stand and sway in dancing with the music, or applaud and fling their black fists into the air and shout "Right ON!" Bobby "Blue" Bland was a bit on the old side, but he still managed to get his fat lips around seductive lyrics, and when he got rolling, I could see what the people were screaming about. The review in the Sunday Times said that BB King was always the same, and he seemed to have his guitar down to a fine tuning, and his white pianist was rather good, though some of his other soloists didn't have any take-off qualities. The brilliance of the trumpets of the first band, under their barrage of blue and white and red spotlights washing over them, making their wooly haircuts look like cut velvet, and I shivered with a few of the sounds. Then they started joking with each other, reading semi-gay lines that leads one to respond "I'll have to see what my old lady says about THAT," and even the musicians seemed to be enjoying it. Guy and Dennis got the munchies, so I paid $2 for a box of popcorn and a Chunky, got 504 from Dennis, and then Guy paid for the 554 for each of three Vernor's Ginger Ale, and I was surprised that San Diego, Richmond, and Akron ALL enjoyed the same pops.

DIARY 10820


The program only gave his name, but it turns out that the sexy-chested drummer is Thelonious Monk, Jr., and only Soho identifies some of the numbers that they played: I recognized only "Just a Gigolo" that he played as a solo encore, the only thing he didn't write, and Dennis recognized his last piece, which someone had shouted out earlier that he play "Round Midnight." But Soho listed others: "Nutty," "Evidence," "Misterioso," "Bolivar Blues." "Blue Monk," "Rhythm-a-Ning" of the 12 that they did before Monk captivated the audience (making up for a poor performance, as Soho, Dennis, and I would agree) with three solos at the end: "Gigolo," "Ruby My Dear," and "Reflections." The saxophonist took the vote as the worst, closely followed by the trumpeter, and the bass was brilliantly the best, Larry Ridley's white fingers against the black bass-board background looking like a fluttery moth plucking the strings, and Dennis didn't like the drummer (and Soho observed, as I did, that he seemed to play too slowly in the slow pieces and too quickly in the fast pieces), but I thought he was handsome enough to be good. Dennis even leaned over to where I was peering through my binoculars to ask if the black fellow in the chocolate shirt had any shirt on at ALL. He AMAZES with "just off" chords that are BRILLIANT and mis-timings that stretch the score more than most violinists. He is a genius at the "slight twist" to what anyone else has done. The lighting was abysmal, making it seem as if they had no rehearsal at all, and it was rather boring to see the same cycle of playing and solo-ing, except that sometimes the drum would have a solo (escorted only by the bass) and sometimes not, and one or two times they even neglected to give the bass a chance to get the audience REALLY going. Smoking as usual, except that the ushers made an attempt to tell them to put it out, and of course a girl in our row gave a blank stare when she was told once, and then bent over to return to stare back until the usher went, and then curled the still-lit cigarette out of her palm. Bitch! Neither Dennis nor I thought it was terribly good, and we enjoyed the vacation of staring at a vaguely nice crotch standing in the aisle. We thought about leaving at 10:30, but that was the end of the regular pieces, and Monk's three solos at the piano put us back into a good feeling for the evening and the $8.50 tickets, which I hope Dennis doesn't do again.

DIARY 10826


Gary Cohen is obviously a wheel: he can't sing worth a damn and gets the direction and starring role in this. Only in the "Hit 'Em on the Head" number where he mugs and rolls his eyes in a PERFECT Sennett way does he fit into the role. Carol Vuocolo reminds me ETERNALLY of the wife in the Driver Training of America ad, with her frizzy curls, theatrically shrill voice, zany antics, and physical presence. Judi Adams as Lottie struck me as pretty ghastly, but she sings in a trembling trained vibrato, dances in taps or soft shoe, and acts in the perfectly phony way that's a horrible combination of Joan Sumner and Katherine Hepburn. Neil Cerbone is a dancer with the insuperable handicap of have a torso that seems twice as long and three times bigger-around than his legs, which are also fat, and whoever thought to put him into black flannel tights must have hated him intensely. Some of the songs were rather pleasant, "I Won't Send Roses" almost bringing a tear to the eye, but then comes the cocaine sniffing, the flat character of William Desmond Taylor who comes and goes from nowhere to nowhere, and then most of the other people in the cast looked somewhat worse than a high-level grade school production. But the pacing was fast, the lighting marvelously effective in what is essentially a living room, and everyone was pleased when the backdrop swung down to reveal the only staircase in the place, looking EXACTLY like the staircase up the side of the ship they were sailing to France on. No one sexy to look at, no great singing voice except Vuocolo's, and some little girl trying desperately to look like an undiscovered Barbra Streisand and only succeeding in looking like an undiscovered whoever-she-was, who will undoubtedly remain undiscovered. The music was rather well handled, the costumes embarrassing, the makeup acceptable, the audience VERY New Jersey, even to the woman beside me who I had to tell to SHUT UP for her constant talking, and for the cast that had to string through the aisle, Mack who had to burp "Excuse me" when some audience member sat on his coat, and a few other goof-ups that made it clear that this wasn't even off-off-Broadway: it was off-off-OFF-Broadway.

DIARY 10829


The Sautees, the Orientales, the sweet and sours, the drinks, all looked good on the menu, but I decided that the sautee wasn't nearly as good as the oriental, and then Dennis turned me on COMPLETELY by ordering Pernod and orange juice, which turns into a DYNAMITE drink (and THAT'S the bottle to get him after the Triple Sec wears out---ANOTHER orange-juice mixer!), and I love him more for turning me on to THAT. AND a good, fairly cheap (except for the $6 carafe of wine) restaurant. Then Bucky Pizzarelli comes out with his aging charm, and someone who looks like Tiger Haynes cheers and shouts about him, and a solitary groupie sits at the next table with a single drink and never takes his eyes off his idol. He starts very pleasantly, warms up to some spectacular things, and ends with a number that's so well played that I'd nominate him for "Viva Vivaldi" over ANYONE that the Joffrey ever had, and the whole place erupts into well-deserved applause. Some of the neighboring tables have beautiful guys with beautiful girls at them, and that makes the place nice on the eyes. Our waitress is perky and smart-assed, which in this place is neat, and then at the next table sits a pair of faggots who've just seen "Boy Meets Boy" and do everything but hold hands, except that one is an aging queen and the other a nervous young one. I think that Dennis is loaning me the money for this whole thing (in fact, he insisted on taking me, but then I insisted on paying for the $15 gala ticket for him), and the wine is making me so mellow that when he plays "Send in the Clowns" in the second set, tears of gladness come to my eyes and we clasp knees under the table and brush hands and look into each other's tears and feel totally a part of each other and fuck anyone who might happen to see it. Bucky ends the second set with a CHORDAL virtuosity quite as striking as Monk's two days ago, as opposed to his DIGITAL virtuosity that ended the first set. I felt enormously grateful (and drunk) for the evening to Dennis, and we practically walked down the street arm-in-arm until we started passing straights and we knew we weren't ready for this quite yet, and said that it was hard to come down from THIS, too, and we floated through the evening on the gas of love.

DIARY 10848


The musical numbers are totally botched around, so it's not at all possible to identify the name of the faggoty fellow with the HUGE swinging schwantz and the pretty bumpy ripplies (who always plays the stud with the SWISHIEST choreography), of the tall round-faced woman with a body that puts Marilyn Chambers to shame: the most beautiful female tits I've ever seen, and flawless skin for the rest of her; of the woman named Jessie who sings Jenny (though Paul said they'd just changed people around, and one woman had been fired for being DRUNK onstage---and it's no wonder!); or even the too-stout fellow with the small meat; the red-headed guy who ALWAYS played a gay, or even the bagman who showed HIS bitty meat below a very young torso. But Marilyn Chambers STILL looks like she has the body of a boy, muscled from her dancing, which isn't THAT bad, she'd make a great go-go dancer; but she can't sing worth a damn, and has the uncanny ability to make ALL clothes that she wears appear SLOPPY. And her blond-fuzzed cunt isn't at ALL exciting. So many of the blackouts are typified by "Jerking off a dragon," where he blank-facedly cups his arms like he's carrying a bushel basket under it, to one side, and walks the length of the stage, reverses his hands, and walks the length of the stage back. How can they expect laughter from that? ONLY when the black bellboy came back in a fright-wig, silver heels, and pretty orange dress, saying "You looked like you needed HELP," after the newlyweds had to go through their SM scene, was there anything that was FUNNY on the stage. The songs were forgettable, the dancing from nowhere (and who the hell is Katherine Hull and Louise Quick?), and, worst of all, they all seemed to be TRYING with the material they had, TRYING to push this turd across the stage into the $20 Golden Triangle seats---and Paul expressed amazement that NO ONE demanded their money back, and only, so far as I've read, has the Soho Weekly News mentioned Le Dud of Le Bellybutton at Le Diplomat Hotel. A fat old man alternately put the make on the waitress, asked a white-jeaned teenager to sit near him, fondled the back of Dennis's chair, and slept. The $2 all-fruit drinks were a laugh, the décor nonexistent, and the ballroom looked tackier than ever, with the musicians on their little balconies with the $8 seats. What a TERRIBLE rip-off for TOURISTS!

DIARY 10858


Except for the cuteness of Paul Rudd as Billy and a good and convincing acting role by Dorian Harewood as the murderous Carlyle (though whoever thought to grease him up to look dangerous was rather an amateur), there wasn't much that was good about the play. Set in 1965, it had even a PRE-1965 attitude toward homosexuality, particularly in line of the fact that Richie, who started the whole thing, seemed as LIBERATED as a 70s homosexual would be. The two didn't fit together: it if was so DANGEROUS to be gay, no one of intelligence, as Richie obviously was, would get himself into such a situation. It just didn't ring true. Arnie and I discussed the possibility of saying something like "This'll be bloody" to warn off those who might have been offended by it, but I thought it was rather like telling people who'd never seen "Oedipus Rex" not to see it if they didn't care for incest or people putting their eyes out. Rather telegraphing the conclusions? All the previous publicity about violence would have gotten people to see it out of curiosity, but there's not enough to THAT to make it good: the obvious PRESSURE on the palm of the hand with the knife wasn't made NEARLY graphic enough, because it seems he had to go all the way to his LOCKER to get the red goo for the blood---it would have leaked out no matter HOW tightly the fist was closed. The other killings seemed totally gratuitous, though not so bloody. Then all the good REVIEWS came out, and made me even more disgusted: more people paying good money to see a play that really isn't very FAIR about homosexuality, the army, or even playwriting. Too many stereotypes, too-dated action, long boring moments don't make for a good play in ANY subject. The fact that I can't think of much more to say about it indicates that there really wasn't that much IN the play, except that I couldn't figure why they had the light arranged on the bed to LIGHT if they never used it (I suppose they could have in the first ten minutes, that I missed). "The Brig" seemed far more compelling as a hate-army piece, "Fortune and Men's Eyes" gave more insights into gays---but maybe it's a sign of the limpness of Broadway that SUCH a play will get outstandingly good reviews.

DIARY 10881


Oscar Brown Jr was introduced first with some kind of statement that he had to be somewhere, which implied he was more important than Blossom Dearie and really should have closed the program. He sang a couple of his own songs, nothing special, and then introduced a woman whose name I didn't catch, who sang somewhat better and with somewhat more style, epitomized in a ditty that ended with her ripping off her wig to show that she was totally bald! Then John Langston Smerl (or Smern) was brought out, and his easy presence, his finger-snapping looseness in a shuffle-step dance routine, his snappy lyrics for a couple of songs, and his beautiful voice, FAR more listenable than Brown's, won me over and leads me to expect that I'll be hearing more about him, unless Brown forces him to remain subordinate to HIM. Blossom Dearie was younger-looking than I'd been lead to expect, with a big-bosomed blue dress that looked rather fitting on her ample figure. Her voice wasn't QUITE the tiniest I'd ever heard, but it had a marvelous clarity and precision that made it a delight to listen to her. Brown had taken up more than his share of the time, and the VERY unpleasant Jack Kleinsinger then cut off her act at JUST one hour, when she appeared ready to do an encore, because everyone had to go home. Pleasant enough performance, but I caused quite a scene when the overly hot room caused me to go looking for a drink: everyone clustered around a table selling Dearie's records stopped the stairway, and there was no other way out. I looked upstairs, but there were NO facilities of ANY kind in the bare shell, so I went toward the front door to be told I couldn't go there. No water anywhere, and I pushed through to the back, to be faced by three ushers, smoking, who insisted I couldn't even LEAVE until the police came to take me away. I pushed my way BACK to the auditorium, where everyone could see, so they had to let me go. Jack offered to go get me a Pepsi if I gave him 354, but I said I wanted water. Was so riled I'd even thought of writing to NYU to complain, but the time passed, I laughed about the incident to Dennis, and then it passed from my memory until I typed this page over three weeks after it happened, opening the old wound.

DIARY 10890


I'm so impressed by the music at Steve Reich's premiere performance of "Music for 18 Musicians" at Town Hall that I pick up four of them for the future. Even Tom Johnson in the VV says that he's recognized overseas as the greatest contemporary U.S. CLASSICAL composer, and though Tom quibbles about how "free" the music can be when the musicians have to be more automated than ever before, I agree with Reich's greatness. It's the same as "Drumming" only different: the sounds and orchestrations and some of the ideas are the same, and the pulsing rhythms of the women's singing I'd forgotten between performances, to be impressed anew by their "Deedle-deedle, kwakiutl" tonguings. There's a gaunt tall fellow with a sweep of hair down his back who constantly twitches a knee back and forth as he hammers away at marimba or xylophone, and he's a joy to watch; Reich is always rather dour and impassive as he plays his own music. The musicians switch around and relive each other BEFORE going into a new section, so that stage-movement doesn't always signal EXACTLY when the music switches. The buildup of sounds seems more impressively musical here, but the amplification isn't as great as it was in the LePercq Space, so the music wasn't as STRIKING as it was then, but it seemed more delicate and dense than before, maybe simply because there were more people working on it. I found it extraordinarily hypnotic, rocking back and forth, loving the sounds, tears coming to my eyes during sections for the sheer beauty and inexorability of the building rhythms and ostinatos. For a few minutes only I felt bored (Arnie slept through most of it; Dennis seemed to like it; we never DID find Art and Jeff), and then I looked at the rapt attention of the audience, ALL of whom had come to see THIS, which was impressive, too, and then was drawn back into another sweep of rhythm. If "Drumming" could be graphed as four or five UNDULATING peaks of sound in 75 minutes, this could be pictured as 15 or 20 PEAKS of sound which rather quickly changed to something else in 55 minutes, so the "profile" of the piece was different. Love to have a recoding of THIS, too, and it reminded me that I DID want to record SOMETHING about "Drumming" for ME.

DIARY 10904


I didn't realize until I read the program AFTERWARDS that the whole of part one was the story of evolution. I'd seen 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, 19 on Camera Three before, and the hump in the middle of 4 is his ass, the "waist" of the clam in 5 is the waist of the person inside, 12 was the strange thing with the eye popped into the face, 17 didn't quite work except at the VERY end since the guy was lying on his STOMACH appearing to duplicate a monkey on his BACK (and I wonder if THAT had anything to do with it?), and 18 was the incredible tip-toed guy, though we were sitting too close so that I couldn't see his fabulous pedal extension. During intermission the woman came into the audience with a black box on her head and offered masking tape to people to make faces, but adults tried to be expressionistic and failed, and kids tried to be adult and failed even more miserably. Then the pieces of people, the first few rather fast and faceless, 5 a "slide the blocks around" puzzle, 6 & 7 had blocks that fell out, and in the drawing they neglected to add the two ping-pong-ball eyes below the boxes. I told myself I'd have to remember what 8 was, and I forgot. 9 and 10 were the delicious toilet-paper faces, one of the high points, and 12 and 13 were drawn on sheets of paper, which you could sometimes see through to find what was coming next, which was a pity. Sadly, I don't remember what 14 and 15 were, either, but 16 worked with Dennis as it did with me: didn't have the VAGUEST idea what was happening until the head was turned over, and then "Oh, I'd like to see that AGAIN." 17 and 18 were even more frantic onstage than they were on TV, and they do it essentially the same each time. Then they AT LAST came out on stage without their masks on, and it was nice to see the faces, except that you could usually tell by feet or tits or paunch who was who underneath all whatever it was. I'd been afraid I wouldn't care for it, but the audience with a large number of kids made it better to take, and I felt that this was an EDUCATED audience, since it was parents who were bringing their KIDS, and it's so NICE to see things with an audience like THIS as compared to 42nd Street, Olympia Theater, or St. Marks Cinema. DIFFERENT!

DIARY 10905


Had smoked before going, so we got in with the piano duo of ____ and ____, and they had some rather good lyrics and snappy patter, and their unpretentiousness made them enjoyable. Then the lights came up and we looked at the menu which demanded we have a $2.50 minimum even after Dennis paid the $4 cover for each of us, and we got the fruit and cheese platter and the chocolate mousse, and it was a PERFECT munchie-meal, good apples and pears, interesting cookies and crackers and biscuits, and the mousse was great, even though I had to invert the spoon to get to the bottom of it. We were seated on the corner, and then Oscar Brown Jr, a woman, and John Langston Smerl sat at the next table, so we felt we were close to the stage, "in" with the crowd, and well-fed, so the evening went upward from there. Dennis said he felt marvelous, we sort of beamed and held hands through the whole thing. He started out rather calmly, but I figured that the atmosphere was enough to start with, but then he started bouncing off Oscar Brown, introducing him to the audience, and Oscar started shouting things up to him on the stage, and he began using his voice as an instrument, drawing out notes, doing extra flourishes at the tops and bottoms of lines, seeming to add a few more choruses, and even the other instrumentalists seemed to be enjoying what was going on---didn't even SEE the fellow way back at the piano until the end. It was over before we wanted it to be, and then Dennis had to go to the john, and I went back later to see that the place was bigger back there than it was in front, and I went to the head of the line because I just wanted to get a drink, so I asked the guy at the head of the line if there was a sink in there, and I heard someone outside say "Gee, he REALLY had to go," and I laughed and didn't care WHAT they thought of me, and took a nice cold drink from the faucet as the fellow at the john got out of there FAST. People filled some of the tables to the right of us, but those on the platform on the extreme right didn't get to see so much, so we felt we were at a pretty good table, too. No hassles with minimums, either, though one wasn't $2.50, the TOTAL was $5 and the bill was $5.40, and that was it.

DIARY 10907


Somehow it was an evening of missed connections and confusing turnarounds. The news that something special was going to happen on the last evening of their stand seemed to fizzle, unless they used somewhat more than their usual amount of custard pies, but I don't think they did ANYTHING special. Paying only $4 for the seats was a mistake: we could barely see, could hear VERY little because the miking seemed to be a loss on the people, though it was somewhat better on the films. Was disappointed when I heard that it was about half film, but the films were about the best of the lot, mainly because you could HEAR what was going on then, and then you didn't have to worry about missing some silliness at the corner of the stage while peering through binoculars. Neil Innes, whoever he is, did a lot, and not much of it was very funny. The audience seemed to be FILLED with people who'd seen it a dozen times before: screams of welcome and applause each time ANYONE came onstage, not even the first time; perfect singing to the silly song that they lowered the screen so they could project the words on. Only ONE stage gimmick really worked, and that was the giant hand coming from the sky to point out the murderer in one sketch: the SIZE and SPEED of it were the funny thing. Of course it was funny to hear them say shit and damn and fuck and piss on the stage, but they did it like nasty naughty little children, and the pointing to it made it rather less funny than it could have been. They never seem to be able to get rid of their downs, even in a stage show, and some of the skits were ghastly, though some were quite funny. I was rather surprised to see them doing some of the things they'd already done on TV, but I guess there's nothing WRONG with that, just a sort of waste---but it WAS funny seeing John Cleese doing his silly walks, some of the somewhat fewer transvestite scenes, and they RARELY use pies in the face in their show, so why did they use so many onstage? Terry Gilliam was in most of their skits, looking like a manic Robert Morse, and it was fun to see him WITH them. But BobG and Dennis and Arnie were rather disappointed with it, and I can't say I was pleased---but at least we can say that we SAW them!

DIARY 10956


Richard Cooper Bayne, the beautiful boy who plays Young Ben, sweeps past us into the theater, but when he opens his mouth to sing or act, the impression of strength vanishes and he's pretty bad. BobG had said the youngsters were great and the oldsters poor, but the young ones had very little to do and didn't come across, except the Young Buddy of Randy Hugill who looked like Guy and danced energetically. Some of the older ones looked SO decrepit that one hardly expected anything out of them, but the orange-dressed and purple-dressed who were Sally and Phyllis (in whatever order) were convincingly dotty and self-confident, respectively. I said that the lack of stage spectacle left one time to concentrate on the book, of which there wasn't much, though BobG said that the book seemed much stronger in THIS performance. Star turns were given by the old lady who looked like Nancy Walker and danced like Hermes Pan, the old sisters who LOOKED like their parts, the belting singer who reminded me of Norma Shearer, the outrageous age of Solange LaFitte, and the phony-busted woman in black who looked like SHE was ripe for the Munster part of Yvonne de Carlo. RC Bayne was quite beautiful as he stared solemnly with a Werner Erhard casualness at the goings-on. The mannishness of Ronni or some-mannish-name woman prompted me to the following Neil Simonism: "Isn't that crazy, they thought she looked like a man in drag" "Who?" "The girl we thought looked like a man in drag." I felt that I was evaluating the original show (poor book, but I would have liked to have seen it) AND the reproduction (poor book, but imaginative staging and costuming, though the pink-silk soldiers' uniforms and the black-silk sailors' uniforms must have cost a mint and be totally unusable in future productions), and getting them confused. The audience was awful with chattering kids and old adults, but they cheered and stomped for the numbers almost as loudly as Dana and Jody did, and it was easy to get into the spirit of the thing, though our seats right at the corner of the stage seemed to be in a speech pocket that made many of the lines un-understandable. But I'd be sorry to have missed it completely: I'll see the Broadway revival in 20 years.

DIARY 10962


She strides onstage at 5:45 looking rather dykey in a white suit and a mop of peroxided hair, and the firmness of her grip on the microphone becomes lighter only when she can smile after a happy reception of a number of her songs. A black woman is babbling in ecstasy to my left, and there's quite a good crowd. She sings two different songs from the ones announced, and then follows the program for the first 30 minutes, not managing to ever really take off. She's competent, settling into the blue notes between the regular ones with assurance and truth, but after the fifth or sixth time of taking the absolutely safe course, never going up, always going down on the note, never really breaking free, I begin to squirm in my seat. Then she introduced her trio, who have been with her only two weeks, to two numbers by Phil Markowitz and Ted Moore, the piano and drums, but they sort of go on like background music, AGAIN not really taking off, though the audience seems to like them. They sound like accompaniment, not solo pieces. Then she comes back on to get carried away in her final medley, and she COULD come up to the level of an Anita O'Day, but I end by thinking of O'Day as an ARTIST and Connor as merely a CRAFTSMEN, someone it'd be nice to know as a friend, someone who wouldn't be intimidating with loads of talent, sort of a nice person to have a smoke with, but hardly a dynamite performer. "I Get a Kick out of You" seems to incorporate every cliché, but she manages to give a few unexpected twists, and then the audience is so enthusiastic she wants to do an encore, and it's only 6:40, but they don't have ANY extra music, so she has to smile and wave to the audience and walk offstage, somewhat sweaty but not really into it: like she THOUGHT she was so good and everyone KNEW she was so good that she really didn't have to prove it; but for ME she had to prove it, and didn't, and I was gratified to hear that Dennis agreed with me on almost every point---though he's beginning to do that SO often that I better start quizzing him that MY reactions that he may be picking up aren't influencing HIS reactions on some level. But it was only $2.50 and worth it as something that Dennis wanted badly to do.

DIARY 10975


Colleen Dewhurst is quite marvelous with her horse-faced laughter, genuine smile, and is the only one in the cast not guilty at any time of saying her lines so glibly they sound like a vaudeville routine. Strangely enough, Ben Gazzara got the cheers at curtain call, implying that director Albee has finally equalized the acting so that it's no longer a play dominated by the woman, and they're so equal that Gazzara gets most of the recognition. She looked great, though a bit young-looking for her 50+, in the second act, but I thought it was a mistake to ignore her sexiness with jeans and a pullover in the third until the lights dimmed out at the end and she DID look 50+, a great piece of acting and lighting AND directing. As for the dumb couple, Richard Kelton was too tall to be middleweight at 168 tops, and sexy enough to make me wonder how he could get a Broadway debut in such a lush part without going to bed with someone. He's sexy enough to get almost anyone. Maureen Anderman made her simpy part quite believable, and everyone got it together enough to make it a convincing evening. Surprisingly, almost all the shock-value from the words and situations had vanished with familiarity and the passing of time, and there seemed to be a few seams showing where the shock before had covered them up, most notably where she says "I'll show you," and he IMMEDIATELY backs away saying "Now wait a minute," except that even Dennis managed to make it plausible that he KNEW what the next tack would be, and he didn't like it. It seemed much funnier than before, in a GENUINE way, rather than in a wincing way; and the feeling of love between the two that I had gotten before was even more evident, to everyone, now. Dennis thought there was more singing: "I'm only a houseboy now," and he hadn't heard the story about why the melody was "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" rather than Disney's controlled "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?" Many of the funniest things were forgotten, some of the shocking ones were so new that they made me laugh, but in general the audience reacted far more loudly and strongly than I did. Dennis said that this was the first Broadway show for him in ages, and he liked it a lot. Must see more.

DIARY 10984


Nelly Vivas presents the play rather than Ellen Stewart, but they're both black, colorfully mu-mued, and with a thick accent, so I'll have to check the program to make sure we're getting Lazaro Perez as the Architect and Ronald Perlman as the Emperor, since she seemed to be pronouncing Bs and Ps. The architect reminds me of Dennis: short, wiry, cute, tousled curls, smiling face, precise diction, nice body, and a cock that floats in the water during the bathing scene. Ronald Perlman looks silly except in his picture in the Soho Weekly News, with lighter hair, and he's flabby, ostentatious, and not very likable in the first part of the play to Dennis or me, but he grows on us, it seems, as he becomes more human and ceases bullying the Architect when he sees that he can move mountains, change from night to day to night, and is somewhat over 2000 years old, from "the same-colored hair" that comes out of the bag in discernibly different colors, usually blond and straight. The set is effective once you get over it: the chain, dresses, pool, hole, stars are all quickly visible and accessible through the netting over most of the ground area. I didn't find that much to laugh at; though there COULD be a couple of the levels that Barnes crowed about, but we were so uninterested in MORE that when the lights went on, the audience applauded, and everyone left while the girls tidied up the stage, we thought it was over and left, and only Soho Weekly News told us about the second act, the trial, and the eating of the Emperor by the Architect, and the landing of a new one. After a few of the shocks, the jolts remained somewhat the same, and it didn't seem so much a play as an exercise in stagecraft by the LaMama scenic designers, but it's probably unfair to report on half a play: we should have thought to go to the copies of his plays being sold and SEEING how many acts it had; though we probably had just about as much fun at Andrea's, getting there an hour earlier and having time to get nicely drunk before dinner was served. Wade, met on the street, said that he wouldn't trust anything being put on at La Mama, and I rather echoed his sentiments, not thinking that I would ever be suckered into leaving an auditorium before the play was OVER!

DIARY 10987


"Jazzmania" was full, but Richard went in looking for us and reported a lot of sexy guys and a balcony with feet hanging over pumping in time with the beat, and it sounded the best of the lot, but we didn't see it at all. "The Ladies' Fort" was downstairs and dark and funky, with two cats that insisted on attacking each other around a scratching post, cider for 504, and Joe Lee Wilson who was too loud and a combo that wasn't very good solo OR together. "Sunrise Studio" was on the third floor, had to knock to get in, had more Westchester people sitting in sling chairs and we got comfortable on the floor on pillows next to a cute guy who'd been in the Fort last night, and woman with marvelously ugly legs and face that smiled at everyone. Steve Tropp was a Henry Geldzahler type who read awful poetry in a nervous way until his black, deformed-hand, long-blond-hair, silver-platformed-shoes wife, Gloria, start burping, yelping, screeching, and diddle-bopping along with it, and it was a real TRIP. Applauded for her greatly, though when she read her stuff alone it tended to pretension. His thing on Horn and Hardart's was best with her repetitive diddling, his thing about his son's fontanelle was worst. At the end Lou and Moe came out, announced that they were "nobody" and thus could search for uniqueness, and proceeded to play a clarinet into the mouth of a saxophone, beat on drums and clank on pianos until their mercifully short piece was over and everyone made it clear they didn't want to hear any more. "Environ" was the best studio-loft of them all: spacious, good view, clean, good floor, and the Weirdness Factor with Marc Whitecage, a very thin, neatly choreographed saxophonist, did incredible things with his fingers and body, there was an almost classical marimba and flute duet, a good tape, and a Jackie-Kennedy-faced dancer imposed her improvisations a bit too much, and a kid cried, and the window open left it too chilly, and there were some cute guys here, and the music was the best of the lot, bordering on classical most of the time, mainly written by someone named Carla Weight, or something like that, and a drummer did nice things, and finally there were a bassist, two vibraphonists, a guitar, Marc, for a good climax to the weekend celebration.

DIARY 10999


I think it's quite a coincidence that the est book and Soho Weekly News keep talking about him just after I hear about him from Dennis. We have a Renoburger for $5.50 because it's the cheapest decent meal, tastes OK but not worth the price. Karen Akers comes on at 9, and she's not bad, singing in French and German what sound to be Kurt Weill songs that keep in the lower registers: she doesn't have a great range, but there's a nice emotion in her voice and she seems very together, so she might be able to go somewhere. We thank the management for putting on someone GOOD, and her pianist is cute and VERY good, maybe even better and more deterministic in the goodness of her act than SHE is. Then Grappelli comes on and starts off with a zippy melody that turns out to be "C'est si bon, si bon," which he can't help but embellish with the little hiccup at the end of the phrase. He gets wild applause and goes quickly and modestly into more songs from the era, noodling wildly away at the strings, plucking at the end of most phrases with either the right or left hand, and building up to such a cadenza at the end of each song that, along with the lively tempi, bouncy melodies, and sweeps from very high to very low notes and back, makes me think very strongly of gypsy violin music, making him seem strongly Parisian Apache! He smiles his funny inward smile, the waiters bustle around in the three remaining "I love Steph" tee shirts from his European tour, and the bassist charms with his youth and his frank adoration for Grappelli. The guitarists get their chance, the one Disley mouthing riffs as he plucks away, charming the audience. It's a great evening, marred only by the fact that he's only on for 45 minutes, and for an $8 cover and $5 minimum, that's not very much, though we have GREAT seats, a GORGEOUS fellow sitting next to me with a blank-faced pretty girl next to Dennis, and an odd couple on the right of a Raquel-Welch beauty and a short Lenny Bruce go-getter. The audience goes wild, there's one encore, and then he's raised his hands and gone at 10:15. It takes a long time for the waiter to pick up Dennis's $40 for the $32.50 check and I even leave to give him a chance to pick up and run, but he pays, grumpy about it, but glowing with the success of one of his favorite performers: Grappelli.

DIARY 11034


The set is spectacular, heavily miked, and skillfully lit during the lightning scenes. The cast is introduced one-by-one, which is nice, and I copy one of the fleetingly funny lines: "I'm partial to passion, lust, and greed." Murder starts early with the announcement that (1) Lord Rancour is dead upstairs of a shotgun blast, and I suspect he's not REALLY dead, but has been killing everyone. (2) is Clive with the exploding banister, (3) is Dr. Grayburn from poison gas from the phone, and (4), sad to say, is Lady Grace, who's Lady Rancour, mother of Hope Langdon, and Lix Sheridan is drawn straight from Edward Gorey with her nose-first profile, her Thurberesque posturings on stair and settee, and her wide-flung legs and Merman voice. She's electrocuted just as the curtain falls at the end of Act I. Dennis and I look at the theater, and the usherette upstairs says that the balcony is closed on Tuesday because it's so slow, but that business has been picking up and the show will probably continue. Which is great, since Tessie O'Shea is hamming it up wonderfully, milking the audience for applause by laughing at herself, hiking her skirts above her crotch in kicks, and whizzing her hands and body around even more than the younger women. (5) is Nigel Rancour, a surprise, since the Stephen-Waite-like character played by Gary Beach seems too good to kill early, by a stain lamp which reaches down and whomps him. (6) is Col Gillweather, in a great stage effect of the poison dart from the voodoo head from the moving settee, having just "five minutes to live," having his watch run fast, then keeling over. (7) is Lettie, sucked into a vase (and it's beginning to sound more and more Gorey), leaving the gas explosion in the kitchen to (8) Flint, after singing about his obscene little dinghy with Lettie. (9) is an even greater surprise, as Miss Tweed is strangled when her scarf is pulled by a grappler from a coat of arms. But when they drank the wine, I suspected it would be the end for (10) Hope Langdon, daughter and true heir, who escaped the slipping chandelier, which indeed fell heavily to the ground later and (11) Geoffrey, a reasonably cute Willard Beckham who was passing out fliers for the show at TKTS, says Dennis, when the wine is poisoned by Lord Rancour, who WAS the killer, but not for the reason I'd said: he'd just judged himself guilty and shot himself, who had left it for Flint, whose gas-death hadn't been planned. It was fast, funny, very much of a piece, a lovely entertainment though it was zipped through in two 45-minute acts, which comes out substantially over a dime a minute, quite a parking space, but there's no doubt but that the Lyceum is a tiny, perfect theater for it.

DIARY 11038


Stephen Joyce plays Father Rivard rather convincingly, though I think of the phrase in the review: that he's masochistic and "radiantly confused." He switches from compassion to hard-nosedness at the drop of a collar, and is ridiculous to let her stay in the rectory and compounds it by not wanting to EAT with her when they start talking and she falls in love with him. Nancy Donohue is not as good as Sister Rita, and her final breakdown, sobbing "No, no, no" at his feet, was embarrassing to me. Mrs. Shandig of Sloane Shelton is marvelously quirky, but nothing really led up to the incredible denouement where she admits to "seeing a snake in the trench and hitting it with a shovel after burying it didn't kill it," a scene right out of "Suddenly Last Summer." Joseph Mathewson is properly horrid as the Monsignor, symbolizing the "we know better," "we do it for your good" while doing it for their good, and the petty morality that looks after the pennies while the pounds of souls live in hell. Milan Stitt works and writes rather well, but he needs a bit of watching his own plays to see where things drag, where they could be broadened, and where the actors can't speak the speeches without sounding hollow and phony. No one could come up with the title of the play for any reason, but the photographs of the courthouse and house and even some of the PEOPLE are rather gripping outside. The cyclorama makes the whole thing appear to take place inside an egg, though the grays and browns and reds make the flower-scarce environment believable, though as I said to everyone: "It's an interesting play, but the LIVES are impossible." Again, you'd just want to shout to everyone to LEAVE the goddam place and get to somewhere they have LIFE. I don't need any more information to tell me that the institution of the Catholic Church is opposed to anything like individual sanctity, killing and making more martyrs seems to be their unconscious goal. And the Protestants talking about the RCs are wonderful examples of Northern rednecks. Austin Pendleton did about as well with the directing as the play allowed, and it was interesting in a full audience, but not something that I'd recommend to anyone, though Dennis observed that this is the ONLY NEW AMERICAN drama to be seen on Broadway this entire season.

DIARY 11062


The seats in the fourth row of the mezzanine in the Helen Hayes aren't so great for all of $7.75, but my binoculars zero in on the action, and Dennis leans forward a couple of times, notably to watch Rosemary Harris's great flop onto the floor in the second act. Entrances are all special, particularly for Eva LeGallienne and Ellen Fiske, who plays the granddaughter, but she's stagy and phony much too much even for the part. It looks like it'll be a so-so play until the appearance of Richard Council as Tony Cavendish, looking like a young Sean Connery, tanned and tall and manly, having just played Stanley Kowalski somewhere, and it looks like he might have a great career ahead of him. The play itself isn't so great; it mainly depends on the delivery of a few funny lines and an ensemble performance by a cast that clips about the stage at a great rate. Eva's voice is very low, causing everyone to be very quiet to listen to her, and it's amusing to watch Harris's constant reactions to the sister-in-law, played by Peg Murray with a snort. Sam Levene is one of the stars, but he isn't on much as the manager, only taking care of everything. Forrest Buckman has a very 20's look as the granddaughter's husband, but his acting is somewhat stilted, too. The audience looks like it might be a bunch of convention-goers, talking, rattling, bringing food to their seats, and making general nuisances of themselves. We sit in our seats during the intermissions, talking about the acting and how Richard Council would differ from Ellis Rabb, whom Dennis said was good but Joan said was "not manly enough." Smaller parts were played to perfection, the set was quite lovely, and they did nice things with the music and changing lights before the curtain went up, and then each act-end had a reprise as the curtain went up on a continuation of the action: everyone shouting at each other after the first act, everyone leaving after the second act, everyone clustered around the dead body of Eva LeGallienne in the last act, Rosemary Harris quietly kissing her hand, and it affected me more than I thought it would, making me think that the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber might not be so bad after all.

DIARY 11063


The place is crowded even for the 12:30 show, but it IS Saturday, and the waitress doesn't come for awhile, but then we order the soups: I have the onion, which I don't care for, when they don't have any more strawberry, and Dennis has the Chlodnick Polish soup, which is sour cream and vegetables and meat, just FABULOUS, and then he has a croque monsieur with meat cut so thin that it tastes just like my mozzarella in carrozza, both so deep-fried that my stomach rebels and I get the shits when I get home. That's so much that we really shouldn't have gotten dessert: he got the palancinta, an absurd mélange of sweets and syrup (chocolate) and nuts for $2.95, and I had the Grimble Torte (not really that good) for $1.50, and I was just totally stuffed afterward. Helen Humes rolls on at 12:35, sings a number of songs, about 4 or 5, and then goes off. Dennis rises to make a request, and she comes on to sing it without his getting to her: "He may be your man, but he comes to see me from time to time," which includes the classic line "He rocks me with a steady roll." Another, called "Million Dollar Secret," has something to do with a woman keeping a YOUNG man happy and keeping an old man around because he'll leave her all his money, too. Then she sings the one about the guy who can't marry women because "her father ain't her father but her father don't know" and then the mother comes out with "YOUR father ain't your father but your father don't know." She's plump and smiling until she stares at a guy sitting next to us talking, and he tells Dennis he will NOT stop talking, but he does, and then makes fun of us chewing and slurping through the rest of the program. At the end, she's beaming with the reception she's gotten, Dennis goes up to talk to her, and she keeps touching everyone and everyone keeps touching her, and he says she just ASKS for it by the way she is. She's got a good classical voice, giving out with the melody and the words without fooling around, turning slowly from side to side so that everyone in the room can see her. She's got a good pianist and bassist to back her up, comes back about five times after more applause, and sings for about 35-40 minutes, which isn't bad for only a $3.50 minimum that we managed to do almost twice that in eating.

DIARY 11078


Judi Ann Mason has written a play like many black plays, with an up-to-date older woman Big Mama, played by Rosanna Carter instead of the Minnie Gentry that Dennis liked so much; a religious Mama and Daddy, played by Frances Foster and Wayne Elbert; a bopping daughter played with grimaces by Joyce Sylvester; David Lee, the son, played by Dean Irby, who "finds" $15,000 when a bank robber (white) drops it while robbing the bank, and his friend Boo, played to the hilt by Frankie Faison, later in a HIDEOUS red suit and shoes from his riches. The morality of the play is certainly questionable, since Daddy prays to God for the message that they CAN keep the money, and the play ends as they DASH out trying to stop Candy from burning it all up in a pillow---and it's a hanging ending. The acting is enthusiastic more than it is good, but the outrageously supportive audience reaction makes the experience a good one, and sometimes the actors seem to have to restrain themselves from laughing with good humor at what they're doing to make the audience laugh. The theater isn't bad, and we get press seats RIGHT in the middle of the front row, the only whites in the place until a cute guy in blue jeans comes in with his white girlfriend, and there may be another stray white in the audience, which isn't a sellout, but they sure make enough money at $5.95 a seat. The writing was somewhat amateurish, but it just might play somewhat better than the one-act that Joan and Paul wrote. Playwrights have to get started someplace, but Dennis is enthusiastic about the company, having seen three or four of their things now, but I'm not impressed enough to want to go back. He seems to like the fact that I enjoy it, but I can't let myself be dragged back to things that I wouldn't ordinarily go see. It's true that Dennis has been more often MORE disappointed than me in the things that I take HIM to see, but he refused the Russian Festival to his unhappiness, and he has charge of what HE sees as I have charge of what I see. It's good that the company is going, is getting a black supporting audience, but I don't see any reason why I should support them until, like, "First Breeze of Summer," it's shown to be good enough to be imported to Broadway or near enough by to make it better to see.

DIARY 11091


There's a huge line which goes just around the corner to Green Street as we get there at 11:45, stoned from smoking, and we watch the pretties come onto line and the women slipping off the curb in their wooden soles. The lines starts moving in at 12, and the place is huge, with interesting colors in the "murals" on three or four wall panels, and the same VERY fat man in a wheelchair is there that was at Jimmy Witherspoon at the Other End. We get a table on the side, rather close to the stage, and sit on either side of a narrow trestle table with a stupid-looking buck-toothed couple at the round table just next to the aisle. Order pizza for $3.95, he a beer and me a wine for $1.50, and the pizza is bread-crust dough and LOTS of cheese for a good munchy-killer. Terry someone comes on from England with a LOUD band at 12:30, and the only thing interesting under his hairless sexless torso is a white nubbin of cock through his crepe pants that seems to get harder as he rubs with his guitar, poking out farther and farther, and I fantasize about it while complaining that the music is too loud, and what a torture it must be to sit in FRONT of all the speakers! He's on until 1:30, I go to the john to see more cute guys urinating, and someone with a "Bacchus" tee-shirt gives me a fantasy of a bath with beautiful attendants. Then at 1:50 James Cotton comes on and does what I would consider rock and roll for the most part: screaming, jumping around, CUTE ass on the saxophonist, good drummer who juts his head forward like an ostrich or a camel as he drums for his 100 minutes, a bassist who seems good, a guitarist who seems better, and a pianist whom I can't see and can barely hear. He ends with a rousing rendition of the Hucklebuck with his harmonica, everyone leaving the stage one by one (just as the Terry Band had a good girl chorus about "Having a party, a goodtime party" for THEIR last number), and I feel a bit disappointed by it. Never did I really get carried away as the rest of the audience seemed to do, clapping, stamping and dancing in the aisles to the raucous music. Some of the instrumental solos were good, but he didn't seem to be terribly good on the harmonica, just passable, and his huge paunchy and SWEATING face didn't endear him to me physically, either. But, as Dennis says, at least now I know what the inside of the Bottom Line looks like.

DIARY 11135


He plays the part of Mr. Buchanan, whose wife is having a baby, and he said that someone must have called the police, because when he shouted out the window "Call an ambulance" when someone shot someone, he found that the revolving light from a police car lent the proper atmosphere of drama to the scene, and he was delighted. He loved the little old seamstress whose apartment he was using, and she showed him around, thrilled with what he said was probably the most exciting thing that had happened to her in years. The landlord tried to make things rough, but the police said that he wasn't able to do anything, and Ricka had gotten all the proper clearances from the city for using the buildings and blocking 5th Street between Avenue A and B. He borrowed my bedroom slippers, pajamas, and overcoat for his scene of running into the street, and he said that everyone really liked the old-fashioned red-white-gray-striped pajamas he was wearing. But he had a moment's worry when he said something about "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" and everyone laughed---but then he realized it was raining, and they were laughing at the weather, not him. The rain started JUST as the play began, and about twenty minutes into it, Ricka called an early intermission to see if the rain would let up. Dennis said that the chairs were full and there were between 100 and 200 people there, but they wouldn't leave; they just brought out umbrellas and pieces of plastic and stayed in their places until the rain let up and the play could continue. It all held together for this first performance, except that Dana and Jody left during the first intermission because of the rain. The passing of the hat collected about $60, Dennis said in amazement, and added that he thought the crowd was great, that they liked the play, and that the experience of actually doing "Street Scene" on the street was something that he couldn't have duplicated any other way. I'd debated JUST a bit about going tonight, but knew that Dana and Jody would be there, and lots of others would be there tomorrow for the dinner afterwards at Princess Pamela's, so I just decided to wait. He was so hyper afterwards that he just HAD to go dancing to expend some of the stored-up excitement from the premiere, even though he thought Alan Rich didn't show up as he said he might; but he was pleased about the notices in the Voice centerfold and the Soho Weekly News calendar, and someone said they had a note in SATURDAY'S NY TIMES.

DIARY 11138


The chairs are almost full when I get there at 7:40, but Eddie waves to me and his friend thinks he remembers Dennis's face from somewhere, but I don't know what he's done in NYC recently. Look over to see someone wave to me from a car, but I'm not sure that it's Catherine---or I AM sure that it's Catherine and I don't wave back! Stephen and Guy and Rhea arrive late, because the bus downtown on Second Avenue was slow, and Rhea and Guy sit next to me after the first intermission, and it turns out that GUY is sitting next to George and Frank, and he knows them, so we chat. Michael shows up with a friend in tank-top and shorts, and he's not coming, but it's only the next day that I find he was supposed to call me if he WAS going, and he didn't, so that's MY mistake. Andrea turns out to be sitting two rows in front of me, but I don't see Paul Bosten anywhere. There's an increasing depth of people behind the chairs, standing, but there are lots of people around the side who seem more interested in their own affairs than in the play: the building next door seems to have more traffic than the stage set, and with the blacks and Spanish going in and out, there might be more TRAFFIC than anyone would like anyone to know about. That could be ANOTHER reason why the neighborhood hoods were reluctant to bring all sorts of police and tourist activity to the block. Someone puts up a tape between the railing on the left and a stanchion used for lights, but it's quickly torn down and people sit right up to the edge on the sidewalk, blocking the exits and entrances. A stage cop wanders around in his uniform, making the audience laugh when he skitters away with a mock-actual grimace of fear on his face trying to appear like nonchalance. The fat and skinny white boys and the little black girl seem to be part of the cast, and some cast members pass by looking totally artificial, so it's hard to know exactly when the play begins. Mr. Kaplan sits in the chair at one window reading a paper as the kids try to antagonize him by flipping yoyos in his face, and someone in the next window tries to play a violin, which is a nice touch. Pigeons wheel around the rooftops, sirens and cars can be heard on the not-really-close avenues, and two children take up positions on fire escapes two buildings west to fire at each other with not-terribly-silent toy burp guns. The density of the players increases, other windows are occupied, and some plump woman sits spread-legged on the stoop establishing a very crude character, and the "policeman" talks to the kids who respect what he says about as much as can be expected. People are going in and out, one of whom I take to be Ricka, and then there's only costumed people about, the lights are seen to be on, and people shush each other as the play begins about ten minutes after 8. At first it's hard to hear, but then the ears get accustomed to the action, the pigeons overhead don't attract quite so much attention, and even the people from the neighborhood seem to get drawn into the action, commenting loudly when someone's kissing, someone's shouting, or Mr. Kaplan is ranting about the horridness of government. The lines about the heat don't go over so well since it's actually COOL this evening, and toward the end I'm glad I've brought along a jacket, and Ellen, the friend who came with Catherine, leaves with her after the first act because she says she's cold. Dennis capsules Catherine by saying that she got to Ricka to say that she liked it, Ricka said she appreciated that, and Catherine responded, "You should!" before she walked away, saying that she'd like to see pictures and resumes from everyone in the cast, though Dennis said she'd been heard saying that before for a show which had already been complete CAST. I figured it was just a way of getting others to acknowledge that she wielded power. Small fights kept breaking out on the periphery of the crowd, and during the second act I could see Guy looking more to the side than to the action on the "stage." I quickly got used to the convention that each window as another apartment (though Dennis said that the ditzy woman who played Mrs. Jones couldn't), and as Dennis predicted, the fight on the fire escape got more notice than anything else. The audience on the stage-right wings kept talking, a baby kept babbling and the mother made no move to quiet her, and girls going into the building talked more loudly than they really had to, to be heard only by whom they were talking to, when someone said that they should be quiet. But I sympathized with them AND with the two guys who walked through the sidewalk; they were saying, as I would have said under similar circumstances, "This is MY sidewalk, and it's where I usually walk, so I'm damn well going to walk on it, play or no play---and what are all those rich faggots doing in the neighborhood anyway??" Stephen was standing in the back, keeping a constant awareness that someone could push up against him and relieve him of his wallet. The building stage right had a fire escape full of people watching the action with some seriousness, and the people added a note of realism that no stage could provide. Police cars kept driving up and backing out, and every so often someone from the western part of the street would start their cars with more noise than seemed strictly necessary (outside of December in the snow) before going off to Avenue A. Some of the boys got into a fight, just to show off, beating on smaller kids now that they had an audience, almost as confused as a toddler who doesn't know how to act in front of company, so she pulls down her panties to give everyone a look. Dennis had said that the landlord had locked the downstairs door, and only the police could tell him that he didn't have a leg to stand on. "I want a full report," he blustered. "On WHAT?" cracked the cops. Guy said that every time that Mrs. Buchanan groaned, he could see her coming to the window, and Dennis said that there was a fight inside between Mrs. Jones and her "son" because she just couldn't keep her lines straight, either stepping in where she wasn't scored, or leaving great gaps until someone decided SHE wasn't going to say her line, so someone had better say SOMETHING. But she was thoroughly authentic and one of the people to make the best impressions. Dennis and I chatted later about Mrs. Maurrant, played by Kathy O'Callaghan with the worn-outlook (HA!) that only the Irish can seem to master, saying that she wasn't pretty, but she STILL gave an impression of warmth and attractiveness. All the Equity members, indeed, stood out: Kathy and Dennis, and Peter Jolly, looking about 30, hardly the 40 called for, until Dennis said that he was just out of college and more like 20 than any other decade. Gordon Blackmon as Sankey was weak, to prove the point, but Martha Jacobs as Shirley Kaplan and Lester Shane as Samuel Kaplan weren't bad, and Lester's doing the direction for "Summer and Smoke" that Dennis is in as Alma's prissy lover. Burt Sorkey as Abraham Kaplan seemed the most natural, as Paul Georges took the award for the least natural as Filippo Fiorentio, with an impossible accent. Brian Russo as George Jones was sort of big and sexy, but not nearly as handsome as George Cocorelis as Marshal James Henry. Pity they didn't think to put the DATE of the play on the program. Just now, looking at the back of the program, the audience must think these people like in communes, since their phone numbers are many the same: 4 have Dennis's Actorphone (?) number and another 5 have JU 6-6300 and 3 have 541-7600. Also notice that Mrs. Pestak and the Snyders live at 524 and 526 E. 5th Street. I thought the play quite dated, except where it came together with the neighborhood in lines like "Why do people have to be mean to each other?" as someone was bopping someone's head off a brick building front. "Let's move to the country to get away from all this," as people are pushing closer and closer to the acting area, sirens are howling down the avenues, and radios are getting louder and louder in adjacent buildings. Dennis seemed rather distracted when he walked offstage, and he later said that the prescription glasses atop his contacts made his vision fuzzy. There seemed to be spontaneous applause about 9, when the first act was over, just as I was despairing that it would EVER be over, and I went and talked with friends, and then found quite a turnover in seats, but there seemed to be just as many people standing in back. Got a bit impatient at the neighborhood's impatience with the play: they probably sit around all the time wishing something exciting would happen, and now that it's happening, it's not what they want, they want it to be over, they're superior to it, they want to wreck it. I think it would be impossible for me to sit in such an audience and not think what I take to be a widening gap between the rich and cultured (not necessarily the same group) and the poor and slobby (more likely the same group, at least in THIS neighborhood). But I guess we have to be CLOSER than the slaves and the ruling classes in ancient Rome. The melting pot of New York sure leaves some strange unresolved areas. I got the feeling of walking back 30 years when I went east of First Avenue, and Arnie got lost over between Avenues B and C (and went home because he couldn't find where we were and people were making fun of his red-white-and-blue costume and huge blacks in Tompkins Park were asking menacingly if he had any nickels or dimes) and said that there appeared to be more burned-out buildings and vacant lots than usable property. Dennis wants me to take down my camera and take pictures of the building, and I'd like to stroll through there. Various people started saying we should get back to our seats, and the Stage Manager started "shh's" to get us quiet before we missed more than the few lines that we DID miss. Dennis said that they couldn't hear from upstairs, so she used a flashlight to blink cues from window to window when needed. They DID enjoy Dennis when he flapped down in his overcoat, pajamas, and slippers, did NOT laugh at his line about the humidity, though tonight there was LITTLE of it, and seemed to accept most of them as real characters. I was happy that the play got started reasonably on time, at 9:20, and the second act ended about 9:50, leaving a reasonable assurance of getting out on time. It got cooler, people put on jackets, intermissions brought out beer and soda and ice cream from neighboring shops (who should be happy), and the rowdiness from the sides quieted as those who WANTED to watch stayed and those who were bored left. Guys kept bringing their dogs, who would get into snarling fights, necessitating, in their minds, the owners to go off SHOUTING their dog's names. I gave thanks again and again that I didn't live in this neighborhood: I moved from Akron, that should be it! When the details of the play settled into the mind, the OVERALL effect had a chance to be felt, and I found myself mentally panning back to appreciate that this WAS being done in an atmosphere like it merited, that the lights were working well even though fuzzy heads were standing right in front of them, that the parking-sign stanchion with the lights on it didn't come down even when a kid insisted on banging it back and forth, and that people moved aside with amused respect when someone came barging off the stage into the "wings." At one point Ricka had to chase people out from the awning supports so that Sammy and Rose Maurrant could play out their scene around them as directed. Though the police had put up signs saying "No Parking" there was a car right in front of 522, so the chairs were probably moved more east to form their arc, but the direction didn't move, so that most of the action took place on what seemed to be stage left. Because of this, many lines were lost in the audience, airplane, siren, dog, people chatter, but that added to the air of realism, and in fact there were moments that DID look real---aside from the neighbors pushing across the sidewalk despite the acting going on there, except it was too bad that Rose Maurrant almost broke into laughter when she should have been distraught about the death of her mother. The sideline watchers laughed when the "cops" pushed through with the stretcher, and they grinned down on her and the phony "blood" when she was moved off the stage, but it seemed more affectionate, sort of "I see through this," than divisive. I was conscious of Dennis being different from the way he was with me, so he was acting, but I couldn't tell with the better ones who was "acting" and who was just cast because they lived the parts all the time. Mrs. Jones' dog got a laugh, as did some of the passers-by in makeup, as did the dragout love-scene between the two rum drinkers, which was a bit too much on the farce side, but it engrossed the audience like Shakespeare's clowns. Dennis had fantasies of being rained out and told to appear at the Public Theater for a couple of months, and I asked about the chance of DOING it some more, but he said that he thought people were pretty much at the end of their tether, especially with Mrs. Jones and her non-abilities, and that Ricka was patient, but even SHE must be losing her patience with the neighbors and the actors. But they collected about $160 that night, and Guy said that he didn't put in any money because the hat didn't come around him (in fact, now that I think of it, it seems that the hats DID stay close to the stage, probably to avoid being ripped off!), and someone that Guy talked to said that NOW Ricka could pay her rent, which she'd spent for props, lighting, royalties, and other expenses. Dennis paid for his costumes, probably over $10 in all, not to mention a script book and subway fares and time---the audience just couldn't hope to pay everyone back for everything that went into it, which is a pity. But some people probably saw their first play, some thoughtful person may have seen that there are other people in the world besides those in the neighborhood and that there might be something to do besides sit on the stoop. And the hoods got their street rights back. People were afraid to leave the neighborhood alone, so we broke into groups after the play was over about 10:35 and walked up. I twisted Stephen's arm to go with us, since we seemed to be about 10, and Dennis still didn't know if Ricka was coming, and they had to stay for photographs. It was an experience that no one connected with it would be likely to forget, not so much from the play or even the performances, but just from the setting and the IDEA of making "Street Scene" into a veritable scene on the street. The rest of the audience was distracted, but even megalomaniacal me wouldn't think that it would be presented to me sitting on the OPPOSITE stoop, though 3-D in the future will do JUST that. Someone from the apartment above the one Dennis "lived" in looked out and then jumped back in, adding an extra (in two senses) to the play. Let's hope we didn't mess up the streets much, that the rusty chairs had been rusty before last night's rain, that none of the actors were so tacky as to rip off "souvenirs" from the apartments in which they "lived" for so short a time. Mrs. Pestak, who was probably Dennis's hostess, did some sewing for the company too, "Properly, since that's the only way I know how to do it." Dennis was also happy about finding a group that seemed to value him, and he was delighted when he got the news that he'd be doing "Summer and Smoke." NEXT!

DIARY 11203


I'm interested to find that "The House of Blue Leaves" is actually a sanitarium depicted lovingly for Bananas Shaughnessy, the wacky wife of Eli Wallach who's been taking up with the dizzy Bunny Flingus of Anne Jackson. The title, then, could equally apply to the crazy house where all the action of the play takes place. It starts slowly, with the main couple playing a rather unfunny relationship about to get married after Bananas is committed. The second act starts with a monologue by the son, who's come to blow up Pope Paul on his visit to NYC and the UN, which I find interesting because Dennis thinks the part is so right for him, and I think HIS character is best and most succinctly developed of the lot, particularly the awfulness of his singing, dancing, tumbling, joking introduction to the director-friend of his father who's going to produce "Huckleberry Finn." Things get complicated by a seemingly unnecessary star-lover of the director, who then gets blown up with the bomb in the hallway, so that the son can get carted away, the director can come to pick up the body and fall in love with Bunny, freeing Artie to relate to his wife in the most spectacular scene: she's talking perfectly rationally, then wants affection so she begins walking on the floor barking like a dog (she'd earlier said that most people wouldn't be crazy if they got enough affection). Wallach gently reached down and picks her up in a loving embrace, and she seems to get better again and responds normally, and he lays her down in what looks to be the beginning of a lay as tears of gratitude for the extraordinarily happy ending come to my eyes. But then he throttles her to death, coming off the floor to have his OWN mad-ending with the blue spotlight, again seeming to become a fantasizing songwriter rather than the sensible zookeeper he'd seemed to become in caring for HER. Thus the ending managed to encapsulate a few very quick mood changes, but I don't think it was a successful a play as it could have been. Some of the nuns were quirkily good actresses, but Bananas wasn't soft enough to be lovable, Dennis said that Anne Jackson wasn't frenetic enough, only INDICATING rather than BEING, and the director, the actress, and most tiny roles were rather poorly done. But the play shows some sort of budding talent; I don't mind having seen it.

DIARY 11232


The Jewish Repertory Theatre, Ran Avni, artistic director, Jewishes everything up, makes Eileen Opatut (whom Dennis talks to Richard Hilty, his voice teacher, about because she studies with him) feel like a caricature rather than a character, and supplies an audience at the 14th Street YMHA that talks, giggles, remarks about what's going on, and loves the broadest possible interpretation, like the exaggeration of Magda Miller as the widow. Maggie Flanigan is much too sharp-nosed to have all those appellations of "beautiful" applied to her, and Murray Moston as the manufacturer slouches through like a lazy Tom Bosley., But the datedness of the play is most apparent: the constant "strokes" of "thank you," "how are you?" "have some coffee," "let me talk to you" date it in the tentative 50s when people TALKED about talking before they learned to TALK to each other. I'd forgotten that it had a happy ending, but with the weakness of the man and the dependence of the woman, you SAW that she'd leave him in a couple of years, or else he'd die in bed with her (or out walking in the snow with her: the poor cast, to appear to be freezing from outside when it's warm in the air-conditioned room) and leave her with wealth that could TEACH her to be dependent enough to get someone to sponge off her. The set design was clever: mirrored in the double-windows on the front of the program and the double cast-photograph on the front of the advertising brochure, it was split down the middle, sharing a television set downstage and a shared telephone upstage, as if these channels of communication to the outside world were the only things that the households had "in common." Wonder if this was a directorial or a writing decision. Martin Zurla, the director, Dennis decided, didn't do much for the play, and the casting didn't help any, though he liked the husband of Leslie Goldstein; I said I'd have to see him in another part before I could decide if he could act or if he was just appropriately large and sexy for the role. I talked of the DRINKING plays of Albee and now here's an EATING play: the refrigerator, downstage right, was open more than the front door, everyone chewing on potato chips, fruit, butterfly rolls, and offering coffee, working at Cakemasters, going to dinner. A time-passer, at least, and Dennis says that he should see something each week to keep abreast of New York City.

DIARY 11280


It turns out that Lester directed the "introduction" of the characters at the start of the first part, and Dennis scurried on and off like a frightened cockroach seeing unaccustomed light. Lynn Lowry as Alma and Peter Brouwer as John Junior quickly set up a believable set of personages, and Joe Daly is Mack Griswold-deep of voice as Dr. Buchanan and Warrington Winters is frosty as Reverend Winemiller. Ricka comes on like a bull-dyke as Grace, Andrea Masters is quite good as Rosa Gonzales, but I didn't remember that she shot Dr. Buchanan, whom Dennis said he NEVER could believe would give himself to treat a fever outbreak. Lester's particularly awful as Archie Kramer, in ill-fitting pants that make him look like a dwarf. But the leads are so good that the heat in the building can be ignored. Dennis sets up his feeling about Vernon by superciliously pushing him out of the way and triumphing when he gets Alma's fan, but he's not aware enough of John's threat to his relationship with Alma to react when John enters their little meeting, and the scene with the photographs changed gear suddenly when he rushed out the line about his mother finding his father while wild-game hunting in India. Peggy said she didn't like the whole thing, particularly Kathy O'Callaghan as the mad Mrs. Winemiller, but Joan and I thought she did well. Joan kept insisting that Lynn was so PRETTY, but I said that delicate was more to the point. I was sorry that Dennis didn't have more to do, but if anyone came to see him, at least it would show that he could play a character quite unlike himself: narrow, unfeeling, totally inferior, and one who is constantly thinking of how he can get the better of others in his small circle---and probably how he can stay in the closet, since BOTH references to Roger Doremus are accompanied with a fanned hand fluttering ambiguously in what a modern-day audience could only take as a reference to SEXUAL ambiguity, rather than social or personal difficulties. The scene changes took hours, but the beautiful costumes loaned by TDF were quite a coup. Dennis was pissed when Kuno Spunholtz said only "Thanks for the ticket" and then offered his card to a pretty blond boy from the High School of Performing Arts who was helping change settings. Lester should have made the scenes more alike. Dennis called overjoyed on Monday to say that it was EXTENDED a week, and people from the Public Theater were trying to get Papp to see it to move it down THERE for a run!

DIARY 11307


There's a cast of over 35, a huge showcase that starts out establishing a VERY nice sense of time and milieu, but then some oddly directed slow speeches and some bad acting in small parts makes it turns stagy and slow. The June of Julie MacKenzie was pretty poor, but the guy, who's name I don't remember, was convincing in a wacky part. It seemed very slow, and the plot was VERY hard to follow, particularly at the end, where the entire suspense depends on WHO drops out and WHY, there was such a flurry of misdirected activity that I couldn't tell WHAT rules were broken and by WHOM. Many of the women seemed too old to compete, some seemed entirely too agile after 129 days in such a mess (3100 hours, really hard to believe), and when someone lost in the marathon their reactions simply didn't match the catastrophe of the losing. The Evie of Barbare Le Brunn was felt and pleasant, and the (I think) Flo of Mary Ellen Ashley as the blond-Afroed woman who'd do ANYTHING to win (and then merely cried when she tripped and fell, not battled as she seems she WOULD have) stood out effectively. Dennis wondered how a producer could work with so many people in a showcase, finding talent, but I said that the casting couch was replaced by the casting crotch in cases like that of Juno Spunholtz, and I suspected more than would admit it operated the same way. Some of the spectators were effective, and Lynn Martin was good as the pair of Rita Marimba and Melba Marvel (what great names). But it was too clear that this was "after" "Gypsy," that the mothers were the same, and that the movie of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" was far more effective, and this would have looked better as a movie too. Arnie, however, said that the original stage production was VERY felt and effective, so it must have been, but I can't quite see how when most of the motivational uncertainty, the character changes and re-changes, and the lack of a UNIFIED plot (when things slow down, throw in the Mafia, drugs, cheating, or sex) wouldn't seem to have been better ANYWHERE. But I insisted that I liked seeing it, since Dennis seemed concerned about my CONTINUAL attendance, and some of the audience was cute enough to look at, though it was too bad there was no sink where I could get water in the john when the heat in the place mounted and I got thirsty.

DIARY 11383


She's playing as we come in, and the single table is too far back, so we end up eating at the SAME middle table as before, except that this time it's the couple AWAY from the performing area that insist on talking: he's trying to impress her and talks and talks and talks about incidents and people and things that happened to him, and I can't IMAGINE that she'd find it interesting, but she just sits there and stares into his handsome face. Who knows, back then maybe I would have too. The noise level is very great, and each song she finishes she says ironically "Thank you for listening to the music," and then finally says "It's OK if you talk, but please talk QUIETLY." To add to the irony, Dennis buys a record recorded live at the Cookery, and toward the end of the sides the buzz of conversation is JUST as audible on the record. She finishes the set quickly, asks for requests, and Dennis and two others request songs from previous albums, all of which she plays, and by that time the fellow has about been talked out and we can listen unobstructed, except for a table in back of us with 6 girls laughing uproariously. The food doesn't help things, either. I keep looking for something that I'd like, Dennis wants the chicken tempura so I switch from the beef tempura to the Rumaki, which comes out with an underdone baked potato that I should have turned back, chicken cut in a bizarre way to make it fit on a skewer, and sauce that wasn't tasty at all. Finish all the roll, which at least was fresh, and drink lots of water, which the good service keeps refilled. Dennis is content to leave after two sets, and I talk to the bassist and find that Monday or Tuesday are quieter nights, so I decide that I can give it another chance. I tell Dennis that I don't even really care for a solo CLASSICAL piano, though I do like the organ, and that the talking and the food make it difficult for me to accept it. I wanted him to stay for another set, but he insisted he wanted to get home so that we could get into sex early, since we'd have to get up at 8 to get to the 10:15 bus in time to get to Flemington. She simply didn't impress me, except for the one boogie-woogie piece "Rollin'" (?), and it seems that her fingers in some dexterous passages didn't do what she may have formerly wished them to have done.

DIARY 11399


I'm delighted to see that the music is my Harrison Birtwistle, and through all the scenes of darkness it's buzzing, thrumming, and bassly menacing and effective. Sara Jessica Parker is bright and unblemished as Flora, Pauline Flanagan is almost invisible as Mrs. Grose, and Claire Bloom is too stern, harsh, and unbending to be either feminine OR vulnerable, as Dennis said that Deborah Kerr was in the movie. I rather liked the kids, particularly a bright-eyed Michael MacKay as Miles, until a Soho Weekly News review I read the next day said that there was no sense of AMBIGUITY in the children, and I had to admit the play was directed to prove that they DIDN'T see the ghosts---and ghosts they had to be: I checked in Masterplots to see that Miss Bolton SAW the accurate figure of Peter Quint before she knew there WAS such a person, or what he looked like (unless there was the vague possibility that Mrs. Grose (and who was she Mrs. to?) was evil and turned Miss Bolton to evil, which would MAKE the two children as they ACTED to be: the innocents!), which implies that it WASN'T only her sexually repressed imagination that made the whole thing possible. Also, I hadn't remembered that Flora accused Miss Bolton of doing awful things, but the Masterplots verified that too, but damned the acting of the kids by saying that in the novelette it was SURE they knew the ghosts were there, but pretended that they weren't: in Pinter's direction it seemed QUITE sure that they didn't even CARE about the ghosts. The two ghosts were well done: my first glimpse of Quint, just vanished beside the enormous windows that dominated the lovely set by John Lee Beatty, was pretty good, and some other effects sent shivers down my spine, and I stopped looking through my binoculars from our seats on the side of the 8th row, where we had tickets marked "press" for the freebie from Equity. Dennis disliked it more than me, having seen a good production where the children were far more menacing in San Diego---ANY children would be far more menacing in San Diego. The scenes flowed nicely, I looked at my watch a few times before 8:30, but the next hour flowed smoothly and it seemed like the PERFECT LENGTH for the evening, since we wanted to get to my place, have dinner, and get into sex before working the next day.

DIARY 11425


There no doubt but that Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud give extraordinary performances: Richardson wall-eyed drunk, falling meticulously to the floor I think THREE times, vague and self-involved in the first act, then chatty and animated in the second, until he starts drinking again from his false-bottomed glass on which I could concentrate whenever there seemed to be NOTHING going on verbally or physically on the stage, which was about 30% of the time; Gielgud pathetically seedy, obsequious, prattling garrulously to prevent awkward silences in the first act, and then self-possessed, even possibly the well-to-do person it seemed he was inventing himself to be. Even the two sidemen were pleasant, Michael Kitchen particularly so as the suave person who usually doesn't have to say anything to get people to fall in love with him. The set was serviceable, and the first-night audience almost too eager to laugh at every statement of "fuck," "shit," and "piss." With particular emphasis on "she liked to consume the male member," which got the little ladies laughing loudest. There was only one moment of suspense, at a pause when it looked as if Foster might be planning some violence on the person of Gielgud, but that passed and it was clear that hardly anything would happen. The final thing of "changing the subject for the last time" leading again into a "no-man's land" was sort of silly: obviously they could TALK about it but it wouldn't HAPPEN that way: they changed the subject AGAIN any number of times before the curtain fell to loud applause for the PEOPLE and an embarrassed moment when the curtain just WOULD NOT come down and people kept applauding. The set was pretty, the direction competent, but the words didn't DO anything: just went from moment to moment, and I didn't even CARE if they were gay or not, if they'd met before or not, whether Briggs' name was Briggs or something else that they called him in the second act, or if ANY of the people they talked about knowing in common "really" existed or not: since you didn't care for the PEOPLE, only the ACTORS, it didn't make any difference to MY enjoyment of the play, and Dennis was sufficiently unattracted by the stage action to be almost constantly annoyed by the noises of the usherettes moving back and forth and in and out of doors which I found perfectly easy to ignore.

DIARY 11446


The play starts VERY late at 8:13 with a TOTALLY unintelligible off-stage dialog, and then there's a woman and two men onstage that I assume are the first three characters in the CAST, figuring Sorcha Cusack must be Cyril's WIFE at her age, and only LATER find that Nora Clitheroe is someone else who looks very much like Cathy from TDI, it's Fluther of Cyril Cusack who, in his anxiety to be as cute (IMPOSSIBLE!) as Barry Fitzgerald is quite blithering in accent, and Clive Geraghty as Jack shows a very tremulous low-tenor voice when he sings to Nora. Siobhan McKenna looks very much like Aline MacMahon with her chins and girth, and John Kavanagh as the Young Covey (a "mature bird with a brood of young") doesn't seem to fit in at all as O'Casey's mouthpiece about social/labor reform. Everyone onstage is ignorant, bragging, foul-mouthed, hypocritical, argumentative, and worn-looking, and I get tired of their foolishness and don't find ANYTHING amusing in their antics, except for a few alliterations like "flutter the feathers of Fluther" and "He's fallin' yet," when he hit him so hard. I refrain from applause at the intermission, thankfully one, since the lobby is totally jammed with people: I have time to search for Dennis and then go back to the seat to find him joining me shortly. Also, the stupid ass behind me doesn't know to cover his mouth when he coughs and I have to pull up my collar, AND he rattles his program ceaselessly. The third act outside the tenement is best, but I'm overwhelmed with the bad writing when Jack's pregnant wife drags at him JUST as he's to protect a wounded, dying man; and I'm incensed again at the end when Siobhan's shot and keeps crying about "being shot" and "feeling her life ooze away" and there's NO blood. Either DO it or do the WHOLE thing behind a screen so that the audience can use a bit of imagination. I even am angry with the group for keeping alive such a silly play, saying there must be HUNDREDS of Irish plays that are better, more uplifting, more representative of the people, and more entertaining. The ONLY jolt was the whorishness of Nora after Bessie was shot (to the shooting soldiers), and the obvious connection that the battle that everyone but Covey so wanted is STILL going on in Ireland, and it's not even so much political or economic as RELIGIOUS at this point, the stupidest reason of ALL!

DIARY 11459


Saw it at the City Center in March 1965 and didn't care much for it, though there the production was scruffy and HERE the production was the best part: super-spectacular set, good costumes, great lighting, and Dennis thought that the storm was one of the greatest he'd ever seen on the stage. But the cast, which they told Dennis they didn't know in advance, was listed in the program in detail, and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings were the ones with Clamma Dale and Donnie Ray Albert in the cast, and we got only Abraham Lind-Oquendo, who had a good voice and acted well enough, so HE wasn't bad; and Esther Hinds, who wasn't very good at all: voice that no one could understand, nothing that remotely resembled fire in her acting, except when she was being cowed by Crown, who was played to perfection by George Robert Merritt, who played with the rest of the heavies. There were even three substitutions: Sportin' Life was played very tinily and tinnily by Bernard Thacker, moving up from Mingo, played by Wardell Woodward, and Delores Ivory-David did Serena well enough, and her prayer is still one of the best things in the entire musical. But I didn't care for the "blacks is stupid" premise of the play, with Porgy ending up taking his goat cart to New York City to find Bess, who'd taken off in a cloud of happy-dust with Sportin' Life in "There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York" which Dennis said should have been done as a show-stopper and wasn't. The first act seemed to go on and on from precisely at 8 (which meant that at least a dozen people squeezed past us to get to their seats after the curtain rose) to 9:35, followed by a precise 15-minute intermission that AGAIN had people coming late to their seats, and then another act, which seemed better and shorter (because it was shorter?) from 9:50 to 10:55, for a peal of applause that seemed somewhat greater than the cast deserved, except for Queen Yahna as Maria, Abraham as Porgy, and George Merritt as Crown, and we got out of there as fast as possible. It makes me "open" to have seen it twice, but I'm sure re-reading THIS won't want to permit me to see it a THIRD time, even after 20 years, unless it's done in the nude, with erections!

DIARY 11463


The production itself is as bare as can possibly be: huge sculpted "walls" for practically all backdrops and the first scene is ONLY that and a tilted turntable for the stage-base. For the temple they lower three flats; Amneris' apartment has two beaded curtains; the Triumphal March has trumpets on side walkways but that's it, except for two portable thrones for the two leads, and the banks of the Nile feature a painted stele, and the tomb is mostly black, with golden lion-masks on men in black velvet gowns that surprise a few of the audience when they move. Sadly, the singing was about as plain: Ljiljana Molnar-Talajic is plump, looks rather like Crespin, and has a perfectly clear voice (when she wasn't throwing her head to the side [once] to clear her throat) with no warmth, as Marty accurately described it, but it didn't have ANY of the brilliance that it would have needed to make UP for the lack of warmth. Gilbert Py was good looking enough and sang the "Celeste Aida" liltingly, like a lullaby, floating the final pianissimo effortlessly and clearly, but later one just felt like turning up the volume to compensate for the lack of visual splendor. Elena Obraztsova was very good as Amneris, getting almost the lion's share of the applause, as Marty had predicted Tatiana Troyanos would get, and even Jerome Hines was good enough as Ramfis; Marty saying that he's been in brilliant voice for the past couple of years. Jack Hertzog did a marvelous Ptah-bird dance in the first act, muscled body shining with sequins and bird wings fluttering under his stern facial makeup, but the three women in the apartments were a snickering farce, and the muggings of Edilio Ferraro and the supple body of Anthony Santiago didn't make up for the total lack of taste in the staging of the wrestling sequence that sillily interrupts the grand march. The stage was mostly dark, Obraztsova got the biggest applause from me and anyone after her gyrations before the tomb was lowered into place, and the conductor, Kazimierz Kord, got a laugh when he stepped out, being a full head shorter than the shortest member of the cast and about 1/3 her weight, and seemingly about half as tall as the towering headdress atop Jerome Hines.

DIARY 11503


[Notes in the back of Lem's "Cyberiad"] They start at 8:07 and finish tuning at 8:12 (they'd announced they had to change the strings in the veena) and Sachdev (who looks rather like BobR) starts a long lonely melody with endless breaths, then signaling the tabla to start with his foot at 8:20. At 9, when he finished, it was the Rag Bhopali, starting with na-tal of 12 beats and ending with a teental of 16, a devotional rag. Then a 10-minute break to 9:18, a solo to 9:39, ending at 9:54, even better. His last is Rag Malika, Dadra tal of 6 beats, tabla starting immediately, 9:56 to 10:11. There were LONG tone-dying times, MUCH more suited for the woody flutey sounds from India than harsh with the metallic American flute. Wilson comes out in red-yellow striped black pullover with honey-colored boots that he keeps together, rising up on them like a matador placing---what ARE those ribboned darts? [banderillas?] He starts with Marin Marais' "Twenty-Five Variations on 'Les Folles d'Espagne,'" 10:27-39, fabulous; CPE Bach's "Sonata in A for Flute" (I guess) from 10:40-51; Honegger's "Dance of the Goat," J.S. Bach's "Partita in A" to 11:06, various Jolivet to 11:19, Debussy's "Syrinx" and his own "Ravel Refraction" ends at 11:35. I wondered where I heard the Marais before, and took notes on his tight black jeans, his hair which is brown and not really black, and his nice face in a "pale mustache," his hands and a fine sexiness. Interesting near-far-near effect in the last part of the middle movement of the CPE Bach piece. Honegger's is a trilly and melodic goat. The microphone accents the sounds of the keys clicking, and for the Jolivet I leave my seat and wander around the cathedral, shoes squeaking, soaking in the shadows and heights and whispers of people, the dim glint of candlelight off baroque candlesticks, the coolness of the granite of the walls, the incongruity of the modern art and sculpture in some of the altar bays, the people sitting in the choir stalls behind, wandering up and down the aisles, hugging their coats to them in the chilly church, For the last piece, Norm Freeman is on the vibraphone, the vibraphone DROWNING the flute at the end, pity, almost as varied, but not quite, as Steve Reich, but better than Glass, for an interesting evening with a far smaller audience than I'd expected, but some of the number were VERY sexy, though not the guy who almost toppled off his chair next to me when he fell asleep with a clatter.

DIARY 11520


(I have to type the title AS IT IS GIVEN, ungrammatical though it may be.) They don't start until 8:15, announcing that there's no intermission and you'd better go do now what you'd do during intermission, if there was one. Then they announce that someone Perryman will be dancing the part usually danced by David St. Charles, who merely turns out to be CHRIST! Clinton Derricks Carroll is GREAT as the beautifully gowned (tan and light orange, VERY handsome) leader of the chorus in "We're Gonna Have a Good Time," and with a start like that it hardly can go downhill. Christ's entrance is good, turning everyone's head, and then "We Are the Priest and Elders" is one of the MOST spectacular set of costumes EVER on Broadway, a combination of New Orleans, Africa, Rio, and stage fantasy of capes and caps and seashells and embroidery and shields, and even the quartet of singers is good. I guess Salome Bey is the singer-Mary and Mabel Robinson is the dancer-Mary, both of whom were great and brought down the house, she particularly filling the stage with black grace reminiscent of Carmen de Lavallade and Judith Jamison, than which there are no greater. Hector Jaime Mercado was VERY pretty and sexy as Judas, though his dancing went on a bit too long, and I started reciting "Remember, Less is More" as what the production needs to recognize more fully. "It's Too Late" is done with laughter at the character of Judas, but I feel the audience was laughing at the SONG at that point, as they did last in "Come On Down," which was more high camp and totally sacrilegious and gasp-producing than it was AMUSINGLY funny. The idea of three drunks telling Christ to "Come on Down" isn't the funniest. Then the flash of lightning and the dash for cover, and then he's resurrected after a MAN carries him down in a touching Pieta, and stands in the back after a nice wheel with a golden garment on (his dancing was a mistake, maybe he didn't have enough rehearsal, but it was nice when he remained coolly aloof from most of what was going on onstage), and during one of the latter revival numbers just quietly leaves, and again it goes on too long, though surely the singers and dancers (particularly the HIGH-soprano singer male and the HEAD-TWISTING dancer who must HURT after his number) were worth spending the time with, just not in THIS production of the Gospel according to St. Matthew!

DIARY 11580


"THE STRONGER" has Geraldine Page as the woman who says nothing, and her facial expressions, glary stares, eye-pops of surprise, simpering smiles of triumph, aghast eye-rolls of disgust, take over the stage from Amy Wright, who talks more like a parrot than an actress. Though she has a sort of plain prettiness that makes me wonder about the connection between her and Rip Torn, for whom she's done Ophelia and now this. The set is lovely, rough-hewn planks for the coffee shop that looks quite believable, and the twists of feeling in the 20-minute monologue are interesting enough to watch again. "Creditors" has another bunch of totally unpleasant characters: the weak tell-me-what-to-do-next child of John Heard, not EVER convincing as someone so weak he can be talked into dying of epilepsy at the curtain; the strong vindictive, sneaky Gustav of Rip Torn juggling people as if they were featureless balls, his words as unbelievable as the fact that they would AFFECT his male Galatea so strongly---and AGAIN the phrases "The Stronger" and all about "snakes" show that Strindberg had a few key ideas that he kept hammering at. Then Geraldine Page's Tekla enters, much too old to be WORRIED about GETTING old, in a ridiculous dress, playing a part that might be impossible to play believably, but she makes her SO wacky and off-the-wall in her succeeding statements that the JOY of seeing someone so outrageous playing someone so outrageous makes the evening a pleasure. Strindberg, at least, seems far more up to date (at least in this translation by Palaemona Morner and R. Spacik) than Ibsen: his people more along in standing on their own rather than being formed by someone else, his conflicts more current than old-fashioned, and the lovely translation of "As they say in Danish, shitty!" making the biggest laugh of the evening. But the coworkers onstage seem like such amateurs compared with Torn-Page I can't figure why they'd want to DO such a thing, even ADMITTING, as Dennis says, that it might be a play that they wanted to do. With the turns of the lead two, it might be interesting to check when Page is doing the talking in "The Stronger" and see "Miss Julie" along with it, though I don't quite see how Amy Wright can pull off the aristocratic Julie without giving the lie to her performance in "The Stronger."

DIARY 11631


Tom Stoppard still has a way with words, particularly lots of "adjective Redcaps" on the trans-American train ending at the shore with "adjective WHITEcaps" as a climax. Cecilia Hart was perfect as Maddie, with her figure, her pushed-up boobs, her bright eyes, and her willingness to have been in bed with everyone in the cast, even Leila Blake as the only other woman on the panel. But most of the humor is predictable and not terribly funny, except for the good characterization of Cocklebury-Smythe by Remak Ramsay, who's a friend of Bob Grossman's that he loved in "Private Lives" with Maggie Smith. Merwin Goldsmith is marvelously mealy-mouthed as the head of the committee, and Michael Tolaydo has an interesting face as the only one onstage who could be vaguely called sexy. "New-Found-Land" is pretty bad, and no one seems to have mentioned the awful character played by "Peggy's Man" Humphrey Davis as Bernard, who only tells an awful shaggy-dog story about a five-pound note which is torn to bits thoughtlessly as the funniest bit in the pair of plays. The goggling of Jacob Brooke as the monologist Arthur is effective, but seems cheapened by his flashing of a sheriff's badge, socks with $$$ in white on green, and a sexy tie, and it DOES go on for a long time. Otherwise, I was glad it WAS only 90 minutes, and I enjoyed watching the older couple next to me: he kissing her hand until he fell asleep, and she gently nudging him awake when he started snoring. Stephen Newman is characteristically awful, as he would have to be, as French, the only honest person there, until HE adopts Maddie Gotobed's suggestion that the press mind their own business and not worry about who M.P.s go to bed with, even if it IS her. I'm glad I saw it, but I would have rather taken the critic's word for it that it wasn't very good. But I suppose I'm collecting him and will be seeing even his older plays as they're revived according to his popularity. The words go on and on, the humor is quite British, which isn't always terribly funny for Americans, but there's enough to keep anyone occupied for at least an hour of the hour and a half, and it was all I could do to get to the bottom of the page!

DIARY 11635


The major change was the substitution of Derek Williams (who I'd remembered from Dance Theater of Harlem without knowing it) for Christ, and he stayed onstage more convincingly, held more presence, and seemed much more at ease in the role than the first fellow, who was a replacement anyway. Then I compared the programs and found that "I Ain't Had My Fill," "That's What the Bible Say," "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" "As Long As I Live," "I Left My Sins Behind Me" and "On That Day" were no longer listed, though it's possible that they still sang part of them as parts of other songs. It was nice to see that Cardell Hall, lead dancer, got a line of credit for his great masculine dancing in the title song. It was also a relief to hear that the singers weren't screeching at the top of their lungs, threatening to lose their voices; and that the dancers were no longer throwing themselves around the stage with such abandon that one feared they might crash into the scenery at some moment. But then the audience reaction to the dancing of Mabel Robinson was nowhere near as great as the first time, though "When the Power Comes" was TRULY dynamite in this performance. Maybe it changes each time, but I had the feeling there may have been plants in the audience who kept trying to get all to clap in time with the music. Then there was the fat lady in green who stood, enabling the fabulous William Hardy, Jr. to say "I can TELL you got it," and two other girls leaped up in the middle of the audience, and from the back rows came great shouts during some of the numbers. But we, sitting off to the side, weren't carried away in the enthusiasm, and some of the numbers Peggy scarcely applauded, but she said at the end that she loved it, and Dennis seemed to get off on the songs. I was sorry to see that the orchestra wasn't nearly full (though the orchestra backstage seemed more brilliant, possibly because we were sitting right under one of the speakers, and the show was too heavily miked), and Peggy said it didn't get good reviews (Dennis said she was mistaken) and Paul said that they still sold out on weekends. Lots of discussion about whether I'd pay to see it the FOLLOWING night, but it WOULD suffer if it appeared on television, unless everyone invited five blacks from the street to liven up the proceedings with various "Hallelujahs" and "Amens".

DIARY 11649


George C. Scott (as Richard noted) mugged with ferocity through the entire afternoon, and it was marvelous. A straight-faced Hector Elizondo (whom Richard fell in love with, even though he DIDN'T show a basket in his tweed trousers) was a perfect foil for the popeyed jealousies of Bob Dishy, he of the beauteous wife played by the weakest character onstage, Trish Van Devere; John Heffernan as the lawyer who howled and grimaced so excessively that it was impossible not to admire him; Jack Gilford as an impossibly old man who came to see everyone's death and wasn't fazed by a nose in an ample bodice and who even resorted to disinheriting his own son, played with bluff and vigor and English red-facedness by John Ramsey. Gretchen Wyler played a whore who looked entirely too old for anyone's good, and James Gallery played one of the funniest Chiefs of Police of all times: begging culprits to tell him what their rapist said, flashing his pasty chest in the courtroom when he couldn't stand all the sexy talk anymore, while Howland Chamberlin as the Court Clerk wrote everything down about five minutes late and added to the universal hilarity. Every joke from "a woman for each of his five limbs" to the wife masturbating the fox under the sheets was used, and everyone in the audience laughed again and again. The sets were a marvel of rotating stages center and sides, with a blue sky punctuated by the sails of the ships that would take Slywell Fox off to his next conquest, while Able stayed behind to enjoy his easily-bought freedom and his new riches of the house---but not the gold, which Fox/Scott came back to say "was sent on before" as the only way you CAN take it with you. Everything was perfectly paced so that the audience managed to remain silent through a LAUGH line so that the NEXT line could top it; only Bob Dishy mumbled through one of the jokes, but his looks as he slouched under the statue of the virgin after he had decided to give his wife to Fox were excuse for anything. But Hector Elizondo (joking about God, his former role) was so perfect, so impassive as a foil to the lunacy around him, so eloquent in speech, so perfect in every motion, that he ALMOST stole it away from the hero, George C. Scott (with whom this page began and ended before I felt compelled to note George C. Scott).

DIARY 11654


Richard Chamberlain does indeed act with his eyes, as Arnold said in HIS rave of the play, even though they were made up to look seedier than I'm sure they really are. HIS body wasn't that great, but with the BEAUTIFUL definition of Gary Tacon as Pedro, the somewhat softer, smoother flesh of the William Paulson as Pancho, and the blond germanicness of John Rose as Herr Fahrenkopf, and even the aging pug of Matt Bennett's Hank, the body was fully of stages---which SHOULD have been the stage was full of bodies. Dorothy McGuire started looking old and wrinkled and ended so radiantly lovely I like to know her as a friend, and WITH her, Hannah Jelkes takes her place in MY mind as one of the great ladies of Tennessee Williams: a somewhat older, less sexed Alma Winemiller; a somewhat younger, childless Amanda Wingfield; a more refined Blanche DuBois---but all of them fighting away in their gentle way for what they want---though in Hannah's case she has to fight for what she DOESN'T want: a close sexual male, too close friends of any sex, violence. Sylvia Miles isn't as bad as everyone's said (but then she couldn't have been), but Bette Davis was more believable. I still maintain that it's not really a good PLAY: the first act gives NO idea of what's coming next; nor do you really CARE. There's no "Got to, can't." If the self-destructive Shannon insists on running after horrible women (and the Barbara Caruso Judith Fellowes is horribly cast, horribly acted, and horrible, as is Allison Argo (sound like a starchy DJ) as Charlotte, but HER part is so poorly written that ANYONE would be awful), if the Germans enjoy the bombing of Britain, if Maxine Faulk finds a replacement for her newly-lost husband, you really don't CARE. There are some DYNAMITE scenes in the second act (and Benjamin Stewart helped as a moon-faced Jake Latta that you LOVED to hate), and I was quite TOUCHED by the touch that Hannah JELKES thought belonged to FAULK (there's a CROW in here somewhere), and the orgy of kisses and tears that the cast indulged in after their last performance was marvelous. But what's it all about, Iguana? And if anyone ELSE had written it, would it REALLY be presented on Broadway so very often?

DIARY 11673


Patton Campbell went out of his way with the costumes, particularly the gray lamé for Calchas, imperiously played like a Rick Kleyn in drag by Richard McKee, as did Lloyd Evans for the sets, complete with United Fund thermometer and stomach-lying, foot-kicking cupids watching the events from the pilasters of the somewhat-Empire Greek temples. Sharon Daniels made a beautiful debut as Helen, not so hippy as to be unbeautiful, with a voice that the score didn't make that many demands on. Joseph Evans wore a ton of makeup as Paris, but he wasn't that bad except for a rather disconnected chasm between his pleasant singing voice and his clear high tones, though the winner in the legs field was John Lankston as a bright-eyed Achilles or Howard Hensel as an even brighter-eyed Orestes, with his panchromatic Daughters of Joy. The living statues of Mikhail Korogodsky and Sandra Balestracci tumbled beautifully until he held her aloft on one pointed foot for a suitably circus moment. But the acting took the evening, particularly the Art Ostrin-like mugging of James Billings as Menelaus, relieved from utter caricature by his ability to shout down the house when he REALLY wanted his way. Charming anachronisms of Frisbees, locomotives (as quiz answers) and hotel signs provided a lot of laughs, particularly when the latter got caught in the curtain and was hoisted aloft for the final calls. Some of the lovely melodies weren't played nearly often enough, but the lively "He's off to Crete," was repeated a couple of times with various other destinations, so I think it was played enough. The English libretto was quite good, and since much of it was spoken, much of it could be understood. Everything went so fast there was hardly time to be bored, but when I tried to tell Dennis he should see it, I sadly had to say that FOR AN OPERA it was a good piece of theater, but it certainly wasn't as objectively funny as "Sly Fox," which is a COMEDY, nor did it have the stage brilliance of "Chicago," though it was quite well done, nor was the suspense as great as in "Network" nor was the spectacle like "Follies," but the singing was good and for a play that's over 100 years old, the husband-swapping was VERY up to date.

DIARY 11684


John Cullum isn't the worst part of the play (though he tends to stand in a stereotyped "sexy" position which is so self-conscious I never believed it for a minute), but his skills aren't enough to raise the essay by John Bishop off the floor. Many of the actors seemed too poor for Broadway, and the idea of making the hero and his wife go back to being 17 was a ghastly mistake: Cullum was too fleshy to be half his age, Jill Andre succeeded in being only hysterical rather than convincing. Since the play swept back and forth over years and places, in and out of his memory, it was a wise stage director who said that everything had to take place on a cluttered stage (though if Bobby Horvath was so simple, how COULD his mind be so cluttered?), but some of the transitions were just confusing. Again, like "Night of the Iguana," there was no one LIKEABLE enough that you wanted to come back after the first act to see how it would work out. Charles Brant played Chuck as a look-alike to Dennis, suggesting to me another 11-year-old's fantasy that could be used by Dennis as a tryout piece. Super Joe Weller as played by Anthony Call was so hickey and foul that it was ALMOST hard not to like him, but I managed. The program blurb that he plays classical piano is a laugh. The audience seemed to like it, and when Dennis tried to call Dana at intermission, the phone was taken up by some hick salesman calling home and rambling on for minutes about nothing: HE thought the play was great. The accents of the south in Mansfield, Ohio, were something that I couldn't agree with, even though they DID marvel at the accents of Bobby who had BEEN in the south. Some of the doubling was plain confusion, particularly with people who didn't act well enough to portray other than themselves. Arlen Dean Snyder was reasonably effective as his brother, Frank, but Edward Seamon was too young to play their father convincingly. A GOOD play could have been made around a touching scene with his brother's wife, reasonably played by Doris Belack, when she tried to get him into bed until he recalled ANOTHER punch-out from his past (beer, baseball on TV, and fistfights---WHY WANT to go home to Mansfield, just near Massilon?) and fled. But if I know so much, why don't I write the better play for Broadway??

DIARY 11686


For some reason she slouches out in two capes, a floppy hat, and a phallus-handled lorgnette and strikes a pose before a DECIDEDLY phallic sculpture by Suzanne Benton. Then she flings off the capes, putting one each on each of two footstool-sculptures downstage and starts into each of her usually-blatantly-titled-within-the-text extracts from feminine works. Her costume is rather sad: the flesh-colored skirts dangle tangled threads; her toes, painted, peep from the holes in her body-stocking; and she tends to sit spraddle-legged on the stools so that you wonder what you might see if she had a rent in her crotch. She's charmingly childlike in the parts of "Diary of Anne Frank," properly wry in the Freudianisms, and caustic in the sections from Strindberg. Depending on her material, most of the laughs in the house (nicely packed) tend to be feminine, but there's an after-laugh when she describes a particular type of male and there's a solitary, nervous, masculine laugh from the back of the auditorium. The stage manager tends to mumble (good old Tom!) loudly, affecting me more than it does her. The lighting is done well, the pacing is effective, and, like Dorothy Maguire in "Night of the Iguana," she seems to get younger as she goes on, except that she never gets QUITE as young as Maguire and didn't start QUITE as old. Her body is still good, with full breasts that she's not ashamed to show, but I wouldn't look forward to her nude scenes in "Taboo." The "open dialogue" at the end never did come about. She didn't follow the program exactly, so that Dennis didn't really recognize the quote from Louise Nevelson until she was well into it. He was probably so entranced by the performance that his appreciation of Nikolais later was affected. Her closing emphasis on Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" wasn't good, since she really didn't sing, merely chanted, but she gave the emphasis at the end to someone besides herself. I felt that I had just about enough of her "I Am a Woman" performance, not to say that I would have been unhappy with the whole thing, but I wouldn't go to see it NOW if it were available. The audience was very receptive and she seemed pleased with how the whole evening went.

DIARY 11711


Dennis insists that the rhythms of the language and the total believability of the characters (I could at least agree that the two dykes and the police had a CERTAIN level of credulity in the play, even though we knew they wouldn't appear) made it a good enough play for him (when he finally got off the kick of reading in American business, winning and losing, and the use of catch-phrases by people who didn't know what they meant) to enjoy. I thought it was totally empty of redeeming characteristics: Teach (who COULD have been the American Buffalo, in the sense of "bewilder, baffle, overawe" in the dictionary, but he was HARDLY, as I sneered to Dennis, "someone who was almost extinct and who through careful management has come off the danger of extinction list." He said there WERE people like that, whom he felt uncomfortable DEALING with, so he was happy to be able to sit and watch them onstage, and didn't cotton to my accusing him of being a voyeur and using THEM as much as Teach used them: for his own aims only.) was a stupid manipulator who didn't mind contradicting himself so long as the others didn't catch him in it (interesting coincidence with the contradictory character of Barbara in "Nights and Days" today!), so long as they let him have his stupid way. Donny was a lump who MAY have been getting some rudimentary sex from Bobby, but kept eating, fucking up, and would soon kill himself in one way or another. Bobby was confusing since the critics insisted on calling him spaced out on dope, but the script had Donny say he was clean---though who knows if Donny was supposed to be lying? He just seemed terribly stupid. I told Dennis the critics had more imagination about the vacuum that Mamet created than MAMET did, which made him angry, and he said I'd gone in there with the IDEA that I wouldn't like it, which made ME angry at the time, but I controlled it since I didn't want to mess up our evening at the Algonquin. The FUNNIEST line was totally predictable (dialing NN43 instead of NN34 to check if the mark was there), and the others (I'm calm, I'm just upset; I'm busy, can't you see? (doing nothing); and various other instant contradictions) became just as predictable. He MAY be more funny talking about sex, and Barnes may have gotten a clue about homosexuality from the idea that it had first been presented at St. Clements, but it seemed like a NO-TALENT play that PERPETUATED ugliness and stupidity to the detriment of theater. Dennis hated me.

DIARY 11718


Paul Rudd slurs his speech so much that I judge him to be lisping, and his constricted walk is hardly masculine. Pamela Payton-Wright giggles a lot and has somewhat more naturalness onstage than Rudd, but her reading of the lines is pedestrian, so much so that the touching scene after their night of love is tossed away in matter-of-factness. She did manage to illuminate ONE line that I hadn't really thought of: "I shall say goodnight until it be morrow" changing from "I'll say it until it isn't right" to "I'll say it CONSTANTLY, SO constantly that the dawn will come AND I'LL STILL BE SAYING IT." She did NOT illuminate "if looking liking MOVE" by saying it that way; but then have I EVER heard it "if looking LIKING move"? Jan Miner seemed pleasantly familiar as the nurse, Jack Gwillim and David Rounds must have known someone to get sub-star billings for their minor parts as Friar Lawrence and Mercutio, though the play seemed substantially cut; however, when I just checked the entire play, the only definite cuts I could find were some lines here and there, not so much as to destroy the characterizations. Lester Rawlins stood out as Capulet, but that was mainly because I was so favorable to him as an actor previously. What a pity that the understudies couldn't be seen in the part, since John Shea (the Paris) and Lisa Pelikan (the Rosaline) were quite a bit more physically attractive than the two leads, though Paris didn't speak very well and Rosaline hardly spoke at all, but at least Paris looks as if he'd be better to play the shirt-off scene that the posters show and which has been omitted in the play. It MAY have been that it's not finished yet: the sets certainly didn't look finished, but VERY sparse and pipe-like, but it would take quite a bit more work for the whole thing to lighten up and take off in MY tastes. Michael Forella was cute as Balthasar, Daniel Ben-Zali changed completely from a stately Chorus at the start to a wizened Apothecary at the end, but for the most part there was little to look at even though the men DID wear rather prominent leather codpieces that let things stick out quite a bit in front. The fencing was reasonably decent, but that HARDLY makes a play, and I suspect much of the coldness can be laid to director Ted Mann, who seemed VERY cold on Camera Three on Sunday.

DIARY 11720


The stage at the Beaumont is absolutely enormous, with a huge sweep of cherry orchard nicely visible through a scrim that later rises, with people passing in the back so slowly that they seem like memories. Raul Julia is heavy-eyed as Lopakhin, whose name Irene Worth pronounces EVERY letter of, including the K and the H, but the first act is a mélange of introducing people. Cathryn Damon is funny as Charlotta, the mad governess, though I don't know who else would have showed her SO dotty. All the servants: Dunyasha (funny by Meryl Streep), Yasha (Ben Masters is VERY handsome), and Firs (Dwight Marfield is cute and old and spottily-haired in white) act like sophisticated gentry while the gentry are addle-brained and irresponsible as servants. Irene Worth plays more straight then anyone else, which means she doesn't "take stage" (to use Dennis's term) as much as the others, but when she's not moaning for her dead son, she's reasonably effective. But sadly I quickly conclude that almost everyone in the play is silly: the servants for putting on such airs, the gentry for losing NOT ONLY the estate BUT ALSO the cherry orchard that they value so highly. Varya, the older adopted daughter, goes around in black with circles of crying under her eyes, a real drag, produced in the same way that whoever-it-is in "The Seagull" says that she's in mourning for her life. Anya, the younger daughter, is played by a very beautiful Marybeth Hurt, staring into space most of the time. The scenery and costumes by Santo Loquasto are beautifully effective, and I don't even particularly notice the music of Elizabeth Swados, so it can't be that bad. But I DIDN'T care for the obtrusive factory appearing in a red sunset, and the fact that the dances were arranged by Kathryn Posin says absolutely nothing about either the dances or about Posin, so uncharacteristic of either are both. Raul Julia quotes Werner Erhard as his total bio, and the fat C.K. Alexander (as Simeonov-Pishchik, who seems to be the ONLY person in the play who knows what he's about: he needs money and he gets it) has a poem. But the PLAY isn't so interesting, and now that I've seen it onstage (as opposed to TV, where I'd seen it before), that's that for THAT!