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DIARY 11742


Linda and Husband Sharrock started off with audience-degrading "I don't care if you don't like it, we like it" songs that no one seemed interested in, so I didn't feel that I was missing anything. The music was again too loud, and I was sorry I didn't bring my earplugs. Cute black couple across from us puffed away on the aromatic grass but didn't give us any except by contact. Herbie Mann impressed me right at the start by having the beautiful Rafael Cruz as third percussionist, playing with pleasure in his array of temple bells, wind chimes, sleigh bells, maracas, castanet-sounding wood blocks, and a long cylinder that sounded when he shook it as if it were filled with hard spaghetti. His open orange-green shirt and his tight jeans over a nice crotch, all below his beautiful mustache and lovely brown eyes, made a delight to watch. Herbie was sexy, as Dennis said, but he was a bit plump and his all-black costume wasn't terribly accessible. He was great for recognizing new flute talent, and there was a groovy black girl who played a piece that sounded enough like him to worry him, but he seemed not to care, just smiled like someone who really had it made. Ten people onstage all the time, and the guitarist got off some nice things, He played loud and soft, and did a couple of things that Dennis had hoped he'd get into: solo, raga-like, almost breathless strings of beats and melodies that seemed as timeless as India itself. The whole group grooved on what he was doing, spreading a nice feeling over the audience like a cool breeze on a hot beach. He played something called "Mediterranean" something, then "Mississippi" something, but everything sounded the same: swinging, easygoing, placeless and timeless. Solos among the Family of Mann were good, sometimes even people not connected would stick their heads in from backstage to see what was going on: though the drummer struck me as new: when one person can't muster the dexterity to sound like AT LEAST two and possibly three drummers, he doesn't have enough going for him. The third keyboard man looked groovy in his tight jeans, too, and Herbie pleased me no end by announcing that he was GIVING away programs that he'd had made up, and it's nice to HAVE something from him.

DIARY 11752


This MORNING check the files and find I'd been IN my first Tosca, at the Brooklyn Academy with Marty, while the FIRST at the Met had Tebaldi, Corelli, and Gobbi (though I seem to remember she wasn't so great), and the SECOND, just a few days later, had Callas, Tucker, and Gobbi (more stage worthy yet more poorly sung), and then there was one at the State Theater with Jeannine Crader, Salvador Novoa (who remembers him?), and Milnes. The first act, in church, was so sketchy I couldn't tell if it was a new production from that. But the procession in the BACK, obscured by PEOPLE, was certainly a spectacle, with Scarpia's three chords blaring out over the auditorium. Richard Woitach didn't seem to sit well with the audience: people saying that it dragged something awful, a few people booing him, and a standee twitting a horn player who muffed his third-act curtain-raising bit. Allan Monk, from the "La Boheme," was a handsomely scruffy Angelotti, Renato Capecchi was a VERY campy sacristan, patting the virgin, making eyes at the audience, jangling his keys, but Gianfranco Cecchele was fat and thin-voiced as Cavaradossi, who could make a pleasant-enough SOUND in his best tones: the Vittoria!, but there just wasn't ENOUGH of it. Silvia Sass was very beautiful and regal as the Tosca, but her voice seemed so THICK that she could hardly control it, swooping up to high notes, with the phlegm-voiced sound that I and others attributed to Callas. The Scarpia of Ingvar Wixell, again from the "Boheme" last week (see DIARY 11731), was impressive, so that I suggested that it was impossible to have a bad Scarpia, though Myrna (Marty's student) assured me that it was. Tony Coggi left after the second act, missing a strange third-act set in which the Castel and St. Peters got pink in the sunrise, but the sky retained a strange pink stripe and all above remained BLACK. The second-act thick-walled room was fabulous, skew-perspective, dark tones, heavy-handedness and all: perfect for the dour Scarpia of Wixell. The "Vissi d'Arte" was the most controlled and studied thing that she did (and the prompter's nasal voice didn't have to ring throughout it, as it did in the opera), which was pretty good, and she could develop into someone super, which Cecchele could never do, and which Wixell, in a limited range, already has. Thanks to Marty and a free $14 seat in the last row of the orchestra (gratia mortis someone's mother), I saw it.

DIARY 11764


The place is almost empty when we arrive at 9:30, and the waiter seems either new, brusque, or anti-white, since there are always hard edges to his service, despite Dennis's nicest smiles for his attractiveness. My bloody mary is nicely peppery, but the ice cubes don't last long as the evening gets hotter and hotter when the place get more and more crowded. I have short ribs in a thick brown sauce and he has a VERY few shrimp in marmalade, which is tasty but TOO small to notice. He has a salad, but the load of the evening comes with the fruit cobbler for $1 that is just ENORMOUS and even richer eaten with cream from Dennis's coffee. Two nicely dressed women sit on one side and on the other is a blond harridan who yelps when she slides over and sticks herself with a fork, and Dennis and I exchange amused glances with the two blacks on the side. The trio finally starts at 11, when the place has become crowded, smoky, and MUCH hotter, with people standing around waiting for tables. There's a partition down the center of the room, but only the piano is on the dining side: the bass and drums are on the bar side, which is even more crowded than the dining area, even WITH the table next to us with 8 people crowded with drinks around a table meant for four. The trio tries to get something going, but they're only adding to the background noise. Then a large woman with a swept-back heap of Afro comes past in a melon and cerise pants suit, and Dennis says it's her. She sits, receives a bouquet of flowers from someone, and listens to the trio. Then about 10:55 they introduce her, when I'm about uncomfortable enough to leave, and then I have to twist in my seat to see her about 25% of the time, since she seems to be concentrating on the bar area. She starts slowly, all at a bouncy, up-pace, but without variety. When she at last gets into "Misty" she starts belting out GRAND notes with full voice, and then the "Late Late Show" gets some good scat singing, and another song she has fun with, but I AGAIN regretted that she took so LONG to get started, and then she was over at 11:20, not quite a half-hour of music. Then Dennis has to leave $30 for the bill, with a rather small tip, and I say that I like Interludes or sitting at the bar here MUCH better if we ever have a desire to return---and in COOLER clothes. He agrees that the room's built poorly, but he still seems to like her a lot.

DIARY 11766


To get the WORST of it over with first, the SHAPES of Ermanno Mauro and Johanna Meier are not the best, but their SINGING is better than I'd heard for a long time, though it might be because we were close enough to get it from their mouths. Samuel Ramey (and I just check because I thought I wrote a special page about someone who visited John and me with that name, but I can't find it) has a FABULOUS voice for Mefistofele, and his makeup and acting are equally as good, and he rolls and tumbles about on the floor in frustration afterward in a MARVELOUS manner. The trumpets from the top are mixed in with the other sounds so that they're not balanced, but the sound is good except for that reaction to lean forward and turn up the volume control. The first act seems brighter than ever before, with fabulous costumes. The Witches' Sabbath seems to have been redone, with no solo part for any of the dancers, except that they now have a woman AND a man taking turns to ravish Faust's prone body. Beverly Evans is the same Marta, with the same good humor. Get into a lot of things with Dennis about CYCLES and CIRCLES in connection with the opera and connected stories (see DIARY 11768), including talking about "Helen of Troy" which is by Offenbach, who wrote "Tales of Hoffman," which it occurs to me is just as MUCH a three-loves opera as Faust and Mefistofeles, and probably the "Notre Faust," which we'll be seeing on Tuesday, with Bejart, which Dennis also said he talked about. There were lights through the first act that it SEEMS came from the light-cycles for the SECOND act. I tried not to think of it as spectacle for which one had to pay the price of listening to the opera, but it seemed much like it: the orchestra was grand, the spectacle moving, and then two or three people would stand together and sing statically out of no regard for people's patience, who merely wanted to get back to the movement and spectacle again. I tried thinking that possibly Bill Hyde was my classical love, John was my orgy-witches' Sabbath love, and now Dennis is my romantic love full of young innocence, which he laughs at, too. Could even hear it again, and Dennis said it was by far his best experience with opera, and the audience went out of its mind with cheering and applauding---but the women behind WOULD NOT shut their mouths, and Dennis snapped at people moving out of the row before us.

DIARY 11804


The first act I rate as a "5" out of 10, waiting to see how it ends, and at the end I concede that it's a 5.5. We talk for a LONG time about it, and agree that we wanted to know more about all 8 people, so it could have been a much DENSER play with a lot of the trivia removed and a lot of the ambiguities (that caused me to call a character an interviewer and him to call the same character a doctor), and it would be a super play. The trio of Laurence Luckinbill as the writer of trash (who gave the funniest line of the evening, from his wife, "We've thought and thought, can't we just dance for a few years?") who's been left by Patricia Elliott and takes up with the completely unconvincing hustler (if he's a hustler and can't stand the talk about philosophy, he's not going to reel off Aquinas and Camus and all the others at their FIRST conversation) of Mandy Patinkin (very Jewish, with already-sagging tits and a nice box that he probably doesn't use very well) is the most engrossing, and it could have gone through a lot MORE than the changes that HE'S not interested in staying with the dying man and neither is SHE. Joyce Ebert reminded me of MY mother as the mother of the second trio, but she affected me the most when she said she just "wanted to BE at his breakfast table at 6:30 in the morning, nothing more." The kid was the least developed character in the octet---he never DID have his talk with his father, which could have been super, too. Then Rose Gregorio had taken her Maureen Stapleton lessons well to play the ugly daughter Agnes (the sacrificial lamb, get it?) to the mother of Felicity played as a bright-eyed smartass in the first act by Geraldine Fitzgerald and a doddering senile old woman in the second act by Geraldine Fitzgerald. (complete to misspelling!) He didn't know where to END: 1) good place would have been Agnes' "Couldn't this just stop?" 2) good place would have been the only EFFECTIVE use of the chorus, the spate of "Yes"s, but surely NOT at the Zen-pushed-in "This moment" delivered as if he REALLY didn't know what he was saying by Luckinbill, and I had the fantasy of the LIVE people figuratively dying off, or ending each of THEIR speeches with "dead," and the DYING people brightening (at least MEETING), ending THEIR speeches with "living," to give the levels he so much wanted to introduce but seemed incapable of. But he's a better playwright than lots of others, and Michael Cristofer bears watching for his NEXT play.

DIARY 11806


Diana Kirkwood, Justine Johnston, Ralph Clanton, Leon Rossom, Holly Villaire, and Alek Primrose don't leave an effect, but Margaret Hamilton was very wrong for an aristocrat, Stephen Collins was unforgivably bland as a vague anti-hero, and George David Connolly was VERY handsome and personable as Nogam, a valet, but the rest of the cast in the BAM theater company was just super. Blythe Danner seemed to live the part very theatrically, as she usually does, with a great deal of spontaneity and honesty, of Cynthia Karslake, a woman so much ahead of her time in 1906 that the world hasn't caught up with her YET. Edward Zang was a perfect mush-faced preacher who ended up in torn blue jeans on the subway platform talking to friends. Rosemary Harris was VERY overweight and wrinkled-busty, but everything she did was marvelous. Rene Auberjonois was super-perfect as John Karslake: loving and frivolous and foolish and serious and seductive by turn, his doll-blue eyes reflecting whatever emotion the script called for. Denholm Elliott was dottily English, but devotedly smitten by anyone: "Will you marry me if she won't have me?" The play started as being stupid, but it went on to convolute and turn about until, as Arnold said, it was a pre-reflection of "The Philadelphia Story" in which the to-be-divorced couple decide that they love themselves more than ever and resume the relationship at new heightened levels of acceptance and devotion. The production was very stylish, with side-wings moving majestically out from the sides when the scenes began, in lieu of curtains, and a homey yet opulent set of three elegant locations. The direction by Frank Dunlop was as zany as his "Scapino" and included a touch for the pratfalling Rosemary Harris who went flat on the floor in "The Royal Wedding," here she missed her settee in an effort to languidly read a book and ended up gazing at it on the floor from a very uncomfortable position that she made look as natural as butter. I was so impressed by the spirit of the company (and the enthusiastic reception of the audience) that I immediately requested that Arnold save his seat for me for the production of "The Three Sisters," a play that I don't care for, but with such VERVE I might enjoy it.

DIARY 11814


Estelle Parsons did the worst disservice to the play: we fantasized that the closing notices had just been put up, and to ADD to her mother's just being buried in a sack (never DID say WHY!), Eileen Heckart's confession when prodded by Rosemary Murphy that she'd been going to bed with Parsons' husband, and the "Alamo Theater" (which Dennis says looks suspiciously like the Alley Theater in design: I think it looks like a BATTLESHIP) being taken away from her, her play's closing! But she walked through it with either icy calm or frenetic acted-acting, and since there was NO background given as to whether she MIGHT be a good director or actress (it did NOT seem typical that she call down a new line for "The Seagull": "What a pity they cut down the elm" when the set-piece got stuck in the wings, and it did NOT seem out of place that she wanted a concrete stage that could receive real rain (hm, though what plays CALL for real rain?) (although it wet the first eight rows like a dolphin show)---so I guess she wasn't good for THEATER but she might have been good for TEXAS, and the people seemed to like the production we heard over her speakers, even though the "two-act farce" production that she put on sounded SUSPICIOUSLY like Serban's "Cherry Orchard." Eileen Heckart's drinking and personal comments to Suits didn't seem backed up by enough brilliance to make it acceptable, either. Rosemary Murphy acted the rich woman well enough until she just WILTED under the accusations that she might be called gay for living with Suits as a personal secretary. You don't start with $50 million and end up wilting like that. Susan Peretz came off best as a bull dyke, which says something ELSE about the play, and her "personal" hatred of the theater seemed to Dennis to echo some inner feelings by playwright Paul Zindel, whose "Marigolds" I never quite liked anyway. And I see today that it was produced by 21-year-old Edgar Bronfman, Jr., for Sagittarius Entertainment, which may answer the usual question: "HOW did this get to Broadway?" And the baring of Jan Farrand's breasts added nothing to the Marilyn-Monroe caricature: we ASSUMED Estelle Parsons was telling the truth when she said she was wearing nothing underneath. But it WAS interesting to see a REAL flop to compare it with things like "American Buffalo" and "The Shadow Box."

DIARY 11820


Neither "Earth Spirit" nor "Pandora's Box" from which Wedekind works the opera was taken are in "Masterplots," but the "Awakening of Spring" by him sounds WEIRD! Book Digests suggests these are his three plays available in English. Alexandra Hunt makes her Met debut, replacing an ill Carole Farley, and she's wanly pretty with her flabby arms and pudgy ankles, but she's so over-conscious of the prompter (whose words flow exactly back to our ears under the boxes, and I can't IMAGINE anyone paying $17 for these seats, and they are only $14 in the CENTER if it's NOT Monday!) and stiff in her lush costumes, by Joselyn Herbert. Donald Gramm is gray and gruff in his role, and though William Lewis is almost pretty as Alwa, his voice isn't impressive, and he cracks badly at one high note. Tatiana Troyanos has little to do as Countess Geschwitz, but the audience applauds her madly anyway. Andrew Foldi looks the PERFECT sunken-eyed, fat, slouchy, shambling vision of Boss Tweed as Schigolch, and Lenus Carlson is fatly muscular as the acrobat. Hilda Harris is additionally odd as a BLACK schoolboy. James Levine is conducting, but that doesn't do any good: the orchestra blats along, charming Dennis with a random use of a jazz saxophone, and every so often the strains of some totally serial progression will float clearly under the canopy overhead, but otherwise it's a muddle, with Hunt missing one of her entrances, and the septet, or whatever, is just a bunch of cats howling. But the sets are fabulous for the drawing room of Lulu's home: an Art Nouveau sprawl with fabulous colors and draperies, and she's wearing a lovely yellow flower-print. Dr. Schoen's house is dark and dank, but nothing much has to happen there. There's a large explanation of the end, acted out for the most part in near darkness, though Dennis gasped with pleasure when the gambling salon changed into a street scene when the lamp went on, and then the garret came rolling out like the Flying Dutchman's ship in to the pale light, and Jack the Ripper killed her behind closed doors, and then stabbed Troyanos. Dennis liked the experience, I liked the sets but didn't think my "feeling" for the opera was much improved after the non-memory I had of it at the Montreal Expo with the Hamburg, though I'm quite sure that Rothenberger sang CONSIDERABLY better than Hunt.

DIARY 11836


With the articles in New York and The Times, it sounds like a ground-breaking concert, and we're sorry about the small crowd until we see that the performance isn't until 8:30, so we sit and read, Dennis writing in his diary. Bob Cranshaw is announced on electric bass (I don't hear him all evening) and Mickey Riker on drums (he's only traditional, hardly at all avant-garde), and they start at 8:42, the Lady and the Madman, as Taylor uses incredible energy and virtuosity to get torrents of arrhythmic notes from his piano while Williams doodles along with a boogie beat. Then at 9:09 the sidemen join, and their rhythms give the impression of Taylor as a noisy child, and I get the certain idea that rhythm + nonrhythm = nonrhythm, no matter how powerful the rhythm is: like being white or non-white, or a little pregnant. At 9:20 they stop, after about three seconds of magic when they meld into something that's greater than the two of them. We talk about it interestingly (which means he agrees with what I say, thinking me flexible and observant), and then Taylor finally uses his pedal from 9:44 to 9:29, where there's a quietly interesting section of inter-reactions, just what I'd wanted, but in fact it was less interesting: she joined HIM in being avant-garde, since he didn't seem flexible or mature enough to sink into other styles. At 10, they do a duet somewhat louder, and my mind begins to wander, coming up with the definition of a good performance: one that's more interesting than what can go on inside my OWN mind: if I THINK too much, it's not gripping enough. 10:08 finds the sidemen joining again, and at 10:23 SHE ends it and he flicks a few last chords and goes off with a CLAP. Then at 10:27 SHE'S back with the 2, stopping at 10:31, and then from 10:33 to 10:37 she does "I can't get started" alone, and then from 10:37 to 10:42 there's another trio as a final encore, and the audience doesn't begin to know what they could get if they insisted. Much more than half-full, which is gratifying, but people kept talking in the back, and two people had to go "shush" before a whistler in the dress circle could be quieted: he obviously thought he was as interesting as what was going on on the stage, and in some instants he may have been, but I didn't let myself "realize" what NOISE was coming from the stage, and enjoyed being placed so that we could see BOTH pairs of hands on the pianos that (poorly) squarely faced each other, making even MORE obvious their fight for "performance space" at times.

DIARY 11865


Pablo Elvira makes an acceptable Rigoletto, but I personally don't see anything so extraordinary that would make him, in Marty's opinion, the "greatest singing baritone in the world today." Maybe that says MOST about the poor quality of baritones. Enrico di Giuseppe isn't as BAD as Marty said as the Duke, though he said he was that bad during the performance, so maybe I just don't hear right. Mark Munkittrick is properly condemnatory as Monterone and Will Roy plumbs the basement as Marty illustrated as Sparafucile, and Gianna Rolandi was VERY pretty and sang very well as Gilda, but AGAIN I don't see her as being one of the best in the world, though she would have been a nice addition to the "Mefistofeles." Victoria Vergara was a sexy Maddalena, and Marty said that Joann Grillo just sang opposite Gedda in DC in "Werther," so she's still around. It was interesting to see that I'd seen "Rigoletto" only at the old Met, though I'd seen some movie of it twice, and this WAS a handsome one, as he promised, though the paintings of Adam in the Count were rather muscley without leaving any room for genitals, and he flipped over the dogs who later came in. The CHAIR seemed to stay in the court as the throne and in Rigoletto's house as a chair, which is strange. There are a couple of courtiers in leather straps that show a lot of skin, but with the animal masks to show a VERY low level of licentiousness, there was little sexiness. During the storm around Sparafucile's inn, the fishnets were jerked back and forth to show the effect of the "wind," the boats on the left rocked back and forth (though there was no reason the shorter would rock farther at the top than the taller), and the lightning came and went, lighting up the small panel on which the clouds were projected to be racing by (and the house had stars shining above it), but it STILL wasn't dark enough for Rigoletto to convincingly participate in the kidnapping of his own daughter, and then the final duet between the dying daughter and father is also a bit much, but the last act DOES have "La Donna e Mobile" (which Marty said that Francois I even WROTE, on a windowpane!) and the nice quartet, and it keeps things going, though the heart attack in the row in front of us during the first act was a hard thing to follow. Standing is a pain, too, and I wouldn't like to do it at the Trilogy on Tuesday, so let's hope we don't.

DIARY 11879


THE IMPRESARIO (50 min) is a gem as talked in English perfectly by James Billings, and Patricia Brooks is marvelous in black and purple (lips and fingernails) as Madame Goldentrill, while Paula Seibel makes a MARVELOUS bad note on a high flatted E as Miss Silverpeal, the high point coming when they swoop at each other like raptorial birds and grimace high H's nose to formidable nose. Nico Castel was weakish as Mr. Angel and David Smith weaker as Mr. Scruples, but the set and costumes were fabulously detailed, over-ornate, and fitting. Marty got three great seats just off-center in row S of the orchestra, from where the violins sounded as if they were coming off the right-balcony wall.

LA VOIX HUMAINE (40 min), as Marty said the center of the evening, was a total triumph for the bosomy, Rita Hayworthish Maralin Niska, threatening, screaming, fainting, throwing herself on the xylophone-telephone, taking pills instead of throttling herself with the telephone cord, in a perfectly convincing French tart's bedroom with slightly off-center Art Nouveau décor, and a Poulenc score that served perfectly to underline what was going on onstage. At this point it looked like a marvelous evening in total theater, with the script being understandable, the action credible, and the music lush and fine. But Frank Corsaro's evening was poorly climaxed by an incredible self-indulgence in

L'HISTOIRE DU SOLDAT (60 min) with thin music by Stravinsky made even thinner by stretched-out voices sounding forced after the perfection of Impresario, with dancing that was charmingly naïve as done by Barry Bostwick, a poor imitation of "Astarte" by Mercedes Ellington, and embarrassing as done by John Lankston, who had really quite a nice body and box as the "au naturel" Devil in red underdrawers, sang wonderfully when he could (or was allowed), but to have him do CLASSICAL dancing with turns, pirouettes, fouettes, entrechats, as if he were SERIOUSLY showing off his skill, and not being NEARLY as good as anyone above a gifted amateur, after our surfeit of Baryshnikovs and Nureyevs and Smalls, was somewhat embarrassing. Bostwick COULD have been sexier with his close-set blue eyes, but he seemed so PUT OFF by Lankston's ambisexuality (though Pearl of Bombay was one of the more colorful characters, blatantly sexed-out by Lankston in false tits and belly, but he had to shimmy with HIS ass, which was too in-between to be either funny or good. It went on for an hour, with a funny set of parents and child-lover, as GREAT set of feather masks, and awful vaginal bones for her throne.

DIARY 11892


While we're eating, I hear a voice that I insist sounds a lot like Frank Sinatra, and we get to see a chubby fellow with a profile and sense of humor and singing somewhat like Art Ostrin bubbling away behind the piano. There seems to be no one seating anyone, but Dennis sees two chairs by a table and asks the fellow if the seats are taken; the drunken man dourly nods yes. The woman in green at the crowded bar insists there was no one there and we can sit there. Dennis asks again; the man dourly nods yes. The woman insists, Dennis sits, I prefer to stand, Dennis MOTIONS me to sit, so I do. A few minutes later a kept young woman appears and the man gruffly says "Excuse us," and we CONTINUE to sit after she sits next to him. I turn my back and balance my sweet daiquiri on the rocks between my legs on the seat, Dennis sits behind me and chats with the woman in green. The lounge is filled with lizards who live there: a woman in white with a VERY fat husband who sits on a couch and lures an older woman dressed in black into his arms, and she puts up with a lot before she squeals "STOP it," and finally the younger husband in navy blue says something about it. A plain couple let their ice melt in their drinks before them and applaud every number. The "Greek chorus" sings along with much of it, clapping until Shannon changes tempo and they stop. He smiles and puts up with everything, waving to passersby on Third Avenue who peer into the plate-glass windows, nodding to entrants, saying "Where were you last night?" introducing and climaxing his songs with little anecdotes, taking requests, repeating "Clowns" with apologies to those of us who had just heard it, almost beginning to frown at incessant talking from the bar but considering better of it. The waitresses are beautiful and harried, drinks only $3 with no cover, and Hugh Shannon sings continuously, his yellow-top hair shining in the spotlight, people coming and going, greeting people at the bar, Dennis wincing at cigar smoke, two "sisters of Tatiana Troyanos" in black enter separately and sit together, people leave, staggering drunk; and a VERY old woman laughs at the jokes of a smooth-haired man in his 40s who must have been VERY handsome. Couple continue to fill the bar and empty tables, he stops about 1:50, tells everyone to come back again tomorrow night, and most people react as if they WILL.

DIARY 11906


Since the star was more important than the play, she gets listing over Eugene O'Neill, who was, however, first in "Who's Who in the Cast." She was weary and black-eyed in the first act, radiantly lovely in the second, alternately very much in love and very self-abnegating in act three, and controlled, loving, finally getting-back (and the audience applauded loudest when she said "How's what I did any different from what YOU did?"), and resigned to wait for her husband to return at the end. The sets were nice, Mary McCarty did a good job as Marthy, so much so that you couldn't leave her face without seeing a world of (somewhat stagey) acting. But Robert Donley was a sort of irascible-impossible Barry Fitzgerald type of scrapper with impossibly stereotyped images of father-daughter, "debbil sea" relationships, and John Lithgow had the totally impossible part of Mat Burke who had to love her, then hate her for being the kind of woman HE couldn't live without when he got into port. Is his COCK so awful that he wouldn't like to have others put in her cunt, is semen so bad that it isn't to touch another woman, is a woman so DIRTY that she can't wash previous men out of her? There was nothing said about disease, which might have been a problem, though he seemed amazed that she didn't LOVE any of them, implying that he thought those HE fucked loved HIM, which is Irishly silly of him. His lines about the Lutheran swearing on the cross of his "only mother, who blessed me with good luck and then died" not being any good were just ridiculous, giving the audience a well-deserved laugh. But she looked AT the person, as Dennis said "felt before she talked," and seemed SO much a part of what was going on onstage that it was hard to think of her as an ACTRESS, sobbing in a bundled heap where he pushed her down, looking backstage when he had to talk, disappearing and letting the stage grow cold so that it would warm when she came from behind again. Ken Harrison was cute as Larry, but the rest didn't make any impression at all. Lithgow was hardly hard enough for his part, sadly, and Ullmann never really WEAK enough to believe she MIGHT backslide, but it was worth seeing her, and the place was nicely crowded.

DIARY 11932


The set is a woody version of the set for "The New York Idea," again curtain-up as the people enter the theater. Then at 8:10 the lights go down and there's Rosemary Harris with her hair up and her plumpness showing (to her disadvantage when Olga has to say she's gotten thinner); Ellen Burstyn in black, rounded eyes reading her book, with MANY of the GENERAL statements directed to HER: about loving a husband (as SHE did not), sleeping late (as SHE did), working (as SHE didn't), as Masha. Tovah Feldshuh was pleasant to look at and EXTRAORDINARILY pleasant to listen to as she sang her songs with two accompanists in the dining room. But they sure didn't seem like sisters, but then in what production DID they? Stephen Collins is AGAIN not very attractive as Andrey, Holly Villaire is a virago as Natalia, actually SCREAMING at Olga at one point (and the translation seems to be VERY colloquial and VERY funny compared with the one on the TV production); Rex Robbins is TOO handsome and virile to be the sloppy schoolteacher, even though he sparked the last laugh of the play appearing in a woman's hat, making them ALL laugh though their world has just ended; Margaret Hamilton LOOKS every bit of 82 as Anfisa, and her stoop serves her here. Ralph Clanton is admirably old and bearded and bald and deaf as Ferapont, and Diana Kirkwood looks pregnant as the maid. Denholm Elliot is competent (though I thought a repertory group wouldn't have the SAME leading man in every play?), Rene Auberjonois is manic and MORE brooding as Solyony, but still he seems to be IMPOSSIBLE to play; and Austin Pendleton does a Woody Allen number as Tusenbach, a cross between Bruce Lieber and a nerd as he laughs, shouts, sleeps, and farces up everything possible, even making his final scene so melodramatic that people applaud as he leaves, surely wrong! Barnard Hughes is dirty and drunk as Tchebutykin, Stuart Pankin is fat and agile as Fedotik, and David Patrick Kelly is mustached and blond and dim as Roday, leaving only Robert Windslow to GLOW with handsomeness as the orderly, and he WOULD have played a great Dorian Gray, and he WAS the secretary in the first one, so he's GORGEOUS. The STAGE-ECHO was incredibly well-done, and the music was pleasant, the lighting good, and the on-stage scene changes practical. But it WAS draggy, NOT touching, BETTER as a comedy, and I've had about enough of it now.

DIARY 11939


Alexander Harvey is on first, the fellow who wrote "Delta Dawn," but he's dressed neatly but not sexily, isn't terribly attractive, has no voice to speak of, and Dennis and I mainly like the mustached drummer who looks a bit like a younger Bob Grossman. He sings a number of songs that he wrote, but I don't know any but "Delta Dawn," which he sings with TERRIBLE embellishments, and I remark that the first one who records a SCREAMING version of that will make a MILLION. There's a brilliant red spot shining RIGHT down into our faces, so I hide behind a pillar, changing from the table to the edge of the stage until the place gets SO crowded that the standees are threatening to sit in our laps, so I move permanently beside the stage. Dolly Parton comes in in the middle, later confessing that she HAD to go see Lily Tomlin, and loved her, though she had to wear her stage drag, and Dennis said he'd be FURIOUS if he had to sit behind her huge blond wig that even SHE made fun of: I tried to steal her man and she tried to steal my wig: I have another wig, but SHE doesn't have another MAN. The hit of THAT stageful of people was the bassist who reminded me of the open sweetness of Ron Miller, with nice backs-of-legs in tight trousers that showed nothing in front. Again 10 onstage: two guitars, steel guitarist, bassist, Dolly, a backup female trio, drummer, and pianist. Dolly's in veils through which the side-lit stage lights picks out bosoms rock-solid so that I think they're padded, and heavy hips that don't prevent her from kicking up one rhinestone-studded heel. Her face COULD be pretty: pert neat features, unlined skin, but for the heavy makeup, little-girl gulping voice, and horrid blond fright-wig. White sequins glitter in a stage production that doesn't mask the fact that her songs are all the same, and her lyrics are banal to the extreme, so that when I heard Annie was "six or seven," I just KNEW that she'd "Go to heaven" which is what she did. Even 45 minutes got me tired of her, except for the ONE funny bit where she imitated her voice on a 45 played on 78 rpm, which was VERY exact and a hoot; but not even peeking down to see ME squinting against the light to look at her made me a fan of hers, and I HAVE to remember to take EARPLUGS, though our side seats weren't best for sound ANYWAY, being mostly feedback that the MUSICIANS get to see that they're making noise. Her QUIET pieces were best, but so syrupy insipidly southern that they weren't worth repeating at all.

DIARY 11947


Strange that Albert Innaurato should write such AWFUL parts for the Geminianis and such PLUSH parts for the next-door Weinbergers. Jessica James as Bunny: busty, hepatitis-colored hair, horny, winning her court case though she broke the arm of the woman whose husband she was fucking, and burdened with her fat-assed fuck (to quote her) of a son, marvelously played by Jonathan Hadary who carefully notes in his resume that he's a 38 regular. I could tell it was padding, but he did it so WELL that it was sheer convincing perfection. But the Italian accents of Danny Aiello (pace Godfather roles) and Anne DeSalva (who hates spaghetti, poor soul) are just outrageously bad, and then the PARTS that the visiting siblings have to play make it all but impossible that Reed Birney (who at least is physically attractive enough to make his "Theorema"-type role of being loved by EVERYONE believable) and Carol Potter could be believed. HOW could she say she could STILL marry Francis and then be so SHOCKED to see her shirtless brother embracing him? HOW could the brother SAY that he'll strip and lie in the tent and then come out so FAST with disgust all over his being? How could Francis so love Judith during the preceding school year and then SUDDENLY change, when the neighbors, the father, and the father's lover really already KNOW that he's queer? But, like Neil Simon, Innaurato puts ANYTHING FOR A LAUGH into their mouths, despite what characters they have. Aside from the speed and dash of the production, the plot was ALL wrong, a slight thing about discovering homosexuality that would be more apt during 1953 than 1973, even though it IS in south Philadelphia. There WERE some nice set-pieces: the humanization of Herschel that I liked for Herschel's speaking and Dennis liked for Judith's listening; and the "let's fuck again" speech by the two adult neighbors (and the generational bow at the end: Herschel in front, three youngsters in the middle, parents in the back, is a BIT much, but they just STARTED uptown last Tuesday and will open this Saturday, so they're still working on it, I guess) was good, too. But, contrary to Dennis, I thought even "Dirty Linen" was more interesting, and disgusted him by saying that I liked it a LOT better than "American Buffalo," at least it wasn't boring.

DIARY 11950


MUSIC FOR PIECES OF WOOD, announced, is sadly not done today but Tuesday.

PENDULUM MUSIC (9:12-9:18) simply sets 4 resonating microphones penduluming and it makes MUSIC, varying melodies, ending in a dyspeptic groan, but it produced overtones of BEATS, too. Steve graciously indicates microphones to applause.

VIOLIN PHASE (9:24-9:44) hears like a holey scrim moving over a complex surface, uncovering various harmonic or disharmonic fragments of what's THE SAME underneath. DNA patterns repeating after X skipped generations! Reincarnations of similar traits after hundreds of years of dissimilarity. WITH interweaving discordance that makes one despair that it'll ever "come together" again. Like the WINDSHIELD wipers on some busses. Or a FLOCK flying, birds leapfrogging over parts of flock IN FLIGHT.

SIX PIANOS (9:47-10:05): New figures emerge as from a swirling fog, as molecules joining to form new entities from the soup of the cosmos, then sink back again to the amorphous background. Reich has the look of a similarly haggard Lenny Bruce. In parts and seemingly in concept MUCH like "Drumming," though the changes are locally more spectacular. Like Reich's creating WORLDS, not compositions. One section VERY like the build-to-orgasm of the Bolero. B minor?

DRUMMING after an intermission (10:28-11:37), and I tend to think it stopped in the "middle" until I checked to see that in fact the OTHERS stopped without its returning to the start, and I DID think it was more like an hour than an hour and a half as stated in the program. It's nice being close enough to see the people enjoying doing it (and the audience went out of its MIND at the end, standing and whistling and cheering and applauding in unison, to their laughs), and seeing the amused shaking of heads when no fewer than THREE drumsticks broke on the bongos and had to be replaced. The black singer looks SO together compared with the harried white singer who looks like she's about to fall apart. The early, MUCH LOUDER section on bongos in the smaller room, went on TOO long for my taste, since I'd only asked Dennis to stay 10 minutes (and he stayed 15), hoping to get him into the first electrifying change, but the pleasures of the middle were about as great as before, with SMILES going over my face as some charming new rhythm pushes its way up through the morass of notes to reign supreme atop the swamp before being sucked under by its successor, VERY like the battle for supremacy on the very face of our own EARTH!

DIARY 11962


Dennis asks for good seats, but they don't seem to want to do anything about it: the owner-usher says that he quiets down anyone who's talking, which sounds good, and though he does shush the one, the other is just as annoying: why DO people pay to come to a place with entertainers and then find their own conversations, stupid as they may be, more interesting? We're seated at two doubles with the understanding that someone from another threesome will sit across from me, and of course the threesome turns out to be friends of the talent who therefore feel free to gabble about other things, smoking cigarettes and small cigars endlessly, and having too much to drink. Next to Dennis are a cruising couple where the woman constantly looks at the guy and the guy tries to hear the music but has to give preference to his demanding date. The waitress is terribly pushy to tell us that we want drinks beforehand as well as wine, the more expensive wines ("This is just a California wine in the carafe," she tries to disparage our tastes), and Rick gets angry over the $3 music charge and the minimum of two drinks, which isn't necessary with food. The rice with my barbecued beef isn't very good, only moistened by the sauce left over from Rick's tasteless pot roast, but Dennis liked his stuffed pork chops a lot. But still, ending up paying $12 for a cabaret dinner isn't my idea of a bargain. Which leaves only Jim Hall to talk about, him taking a back seat as he did in Sweet Basil. He's not very showy, playing what sounds like a minimally-miked acoustic guitar with not nearly the pizzazz of Bucky Pizzarelli, and leaving most of the attention-getting playing to his bassist in the trio, who's not bad, but he's not the reason we paid to get in. The drummer is too loud, and his solos are marvels of unimaginative banging. Even the selections aren't interesting: either I know them or they're not intriguing enough to find out what they are. Even Dennis seems a bit disappointed, saying that Jim Hall's supposed to be low-key anyway. He looks like a fading blond version of Living Theater's Julian Beck, which doesn't help, but SOME people at the sides seem engrossed in the playing, and since they've changed the menu drastically from their first imaginative one, I can't imagine we'll be going back for anything more than drinks.

DIARY 11970


Raymond Allen is listed as Associate Director and on the cover, but I'm sure that anything he's in should be TOTALLY AVOIDED. After the first grand impression as of Billy Wilder's bug-eyed sidekick, he lisped, under- and over-acted at the same time, and was DREADFUL as King Paramount the First. Vashek Pazderas was deep-voiced but VERY unfleet of foot, James Nadeaux was a pretty Tarara with lots of facial makeup, and Michael Irwin as Calynx was young, anyway. The plot was fairly light, with Englishified daughters of the king bringing British ways back to the country of Utopia, making it into a Joint Stock Company which was so successful that their neighbors disarmed, so they could make no war, doctors and lawyers went out of business because no one was sick or litigious, so they introduced government by PARTY to ruin the picture again. Eleanor Wold was reasonably good as their English gouvernante, though the part cried out for Lola Pashalinsky of Ludlam fame, and Georgia McEver was LOUD as the eldest daughter and pretty enough to play the part, but not very talented. The others ran the gamut from being barely acceptable to being totally awful to the point of wondering how they could have gotten onstage in the first place. But the place was crowded (though by papering it maybe), the audience overreacted, and at least Dennis got a TOUCH of how it could have been from the levee scene, where they put out the lights and lit up the gloves and tambourines for a chorus of some song or other in which they merely repeated the words to the first verse. But there was little of sexiness in it, few of the women except those in the chorus appeared to have any kind of personality, and the leads were mainly terrible to watch. We fidgeted almost as much as the little boy waiting for it to be over, wondering how this could have happened, and I insisted that this was the only production I'd heard of, though we were both amazed to hear that it HAD gotten somewhat pleasant reviews. But NEVER about Raymond Allen! It made me appreciate what I thought were only mediocre productions by the D'Oyly Carte company, and convinced me that LOOM was probably not worth seeing unless we heard it was simply SMASHINGLY good.

DIARY 12040


The audience applauds so long and loudly at the start that I get the idea they think they have to make her happy or she won't be as good for them as she has been for other audiences. Dennis said that was a characteristic of one-person shows: much identification between audiences and performer. Dennis notes that she talks on the phone a lot to "Jane," who's the co-writer and director of the show with her. A lot of it is not what I expected: I thought she'd change costumes and makeup, but she didn't, appearing in a blouse so sheer that you could see her tits with binoculars (hey, look at 'em: tits with binoculars!) and nicely tailored trousers that were "by" J Allen Highfill on the first page and "executed by" Aurelia Steiner; there wasn't any backdrop except for a ladder and a phone and some light changes, and some of the male characters were the best observed, particularly the hitch to the crotch when shifting from one standing position to another at a bar. Didn't even NOTICE her "ad" for Bobbi-Jeanine after the credits until I was typing this page. She had a lot of hilarious one-liners that it was impossible to remember. She did things from Sister Boogie Woman that shouted a bit loudly; I didn't think the Crystal was in poor taste, but it seemed to go on a bit long; Fortune Dundy (she of the grasshoppers) took far too many sips for my pleasure, but not for hers; and some of her younger kids were marvelously observed, but I was sorry she didn't do Ernestine or the brat she did so well before. As Dennis said, the observations on pot were trite to those who had it and too "in" for those who hadn't. Her squat-stoop bows I thought were because she had her blouse open too far to bow, but she DID manage to bow at the end, being very gracious and seeming to truly love the audience, even though she'd been doing what must have been very nearly the same show for a couple of months. Her neatly blown hair got quite moist with sweat by the end of the afternoon, and she seemed to be giving her all, and the audience returned it with a great deal of standing, applauding, affection, though it WAS a short program: 3:10-4:10, 4:25-5:15, though even then we all felt we'd had ENOUGH of her, and maybe the critics got a bit TOO carried away, or else our expectations were too high.

DIARY 12066


We're in row N, and I bitch about not bringing binoculars when it turns out that it's on the SIDE in the back, but nicely raised so that we can see all the stage except INSIDE the box to the right with the identical makeup table that we can see across and in the center. The three girls are there to start with, and when they come out in 1963 it's SO cliché southern that it's possible to predict at least ONE outcome: the dumbest, lowest, "If you don't get elected football queen I'll just DIE" one will become rich and married while the other two come to no good, and in the second act the Joanne of Sally Sockwell proves me right, being the ONLY one to keep her Texas accent to the end (and she's FROM SMU!), as WELL as her conservatism. The Kathy of Jane Galloway is kooky in a Geraldine Page sort of way, and though we knew she wasn't going to end up well, living in a plush apartment serving champagne out of Baccarat glasses isn't the PITS, but it would have been more interesting if she'd ended up a lesbian, though that part was taken over by the Mary of Susan Merson who progressed the MOST to become the kook with the "Gallery of Erotic Art" and sleeping "with lots of people, most of them men," and adapting a marvelous soignée way of dressing and moving. But there wasn't terribly much that was unexpected; I hardly laughed during the first act, letting the high-school giggles from the rest of the audience take care of THAT, and there was a high-eyebrowed fellow across from me that I'm SURE I've seen in some cockbook, but I couldn't find it at ALL when I searched before, so maybe he's in slides. Anyway, the play was BRILLIANT cliché, and when Joan called to tell us to look at the Joe Franklin show to see her, I said that I was going to write a cliché play, like "The Shadow Box," since that was what seemed to get DONE on the stage at this point, and I'm tired of being ahead of my time: let me be behind the times, where all the money is! Dennis remarked that people like Sandy Dennis and Elizabeth Ashley and Sandy Duncan, or someone, had already performed some all-star cast of it through the Midwest, but I thought it was nice to see it as just a potboiler with middle-class actresses.

DIARY 12086


TEDDY WILSON (8:05-8:35) ALMOST meets my image of an improvisational jazz pianist, but I get the idea he produces very nice UNITS and IDEAS that are tied together very poorly: like adding a third key when modulating between a first and a second one, adding a counteracting slope-note when moving from one slope of sound to another, or in the necklace analogy I came up with for Dennis, connecting very nice pieces together with bits of barbed wire, chunks of solder, and rope. He tends to disintegrate the vocal line more than I want, eliding syllables in lyrics which is annoying in "gay place(s)" in "Lush Life" but acceptable, even nice, in the start ("'Twould" rather than "It would"). However, if he'd been LATER, I might have liked him BETTER.

ADAM MAKOWICZ has these VERY elaborate blobs, some so intricately worked they seem filigree-works in their own right, which don't seem to fit together at all. There's no identifying what he's playing, MASSES of notes obscuring just everything, and I scan sexy crotches and neglect to applaud while noting that about 95% of the audience applauds, as compared with 60-70% of the typical ballet or opera audience. Much more individualistically attached to what's going on onstage, but jazz is only in its infancy. He continues the trend of 1 hour's playing and a 20-minute intermission follows.

GEORGE SHEARING has by far the best personality (Wilson beams idiotically, Makowicz hunches over his piano like someone obsessed, and Hines is too self-confident with too little self-control to be likable), and his one-bar-behind duplication of "Greensleeves" before he goes into a fabulously chromatic, classical embellishment-series on "Lullaby of Birdland" even make ME burst into smiles and blasts of applause. (He takes irony of "LOOK at me" line of "Misty," and adds Jingle Bells to "Let It Snow") He was undoubtedly tops.

EARL "FATHA" HINES looks much younger (even with the wig) than Dennis says he has to be, but "he plays too many notes," and it's funny to hear someone applaud their recognition of "Exactly Like You" about the fifth time it's been played, and he's straightest in "When Your Lover Has Gone," but even his two encores that make his gig 40 minutes offends me, and it's amusing to see some people leaving during his playing. Interesting to see Shearing's Baldwin with a lath-piece breaking up the smooth side as compared to the featureless side of the others' Steinway, prompting Hines's "right church, wrong pew" when he sits at the Baldwin first, but does his last encore there as if "to show us."

DIARY 12091


We're in the first row of the balcony WAY on the side, and the first shot of big-band sound rather turns me off from the sheer MUDDINESS of the sound, but then there are a few entertaining soloists and the next thing that turns me off is the SIMILARITY of the sounds. If I want a lot of noise, I'll see a symphony which has a much wider range of individual virtuosity, more kinds of instruments, greater emotional range, and something to think about as opposed to merely nodding back and forth in the seat going "de-DE, de-DE." There's a saxophonist nicknamed "Lockjaw" who's pretty good, but some of the soloists, mainly a white trumpeter, who seems interesting only in pushing his instrument to extremes (of highness, volume, and loudness) without caring what KIND of a sound he makes. The drummer, Butch someone, is like a blond kid with a new toy, and his drum solo was one of the highlights of the first act, which was over in 55 minutes at 9. We sat and talked about it, Dennis depressed that I'm not caring for it, and the second half brings on Joe Williams (replacing Joe Turner, whom Dennis had seen and was looking forward to) who does some nice things with standard songs (and Dennis said that BASIE brought out "Shake, Rattle, and Roll"! Then he gets into the history of the jazz movement, talking about "brothers selling brothers" in Africa, coming to America with chains while everyone else had whips, and how they couldn't sing, had to learn a new language, and STILL pulled through. Some of the incidents are nice, and I like him best of all. They're almost clearing off the stage at 10 when the audience decides it's not an intermission and they want more, so they start shouting as someone folds a bandstand, and then Basie comes back on, everyone returns and they do two encores, amazing Dennis. I put on my shoulder bag and just see a motion out of the corner of my eyes and look down to find a guy shouting up "Your keys are in box 47." Whew, glad I NOTICED it. Almost sold-out crowd, lots of people seemingly right into the jazz thing, enthusiastic reception and a largely standing ovation at the end, but I just couldn't get into it and thought they were exchanging something I didn't "get" called "soul" for pleasant melodies, instrumental virtuosity, and changing emotions in a concert hall.

DIARY 12108


Art was right: it IS awful. From the pretentious marquee that lowers on pulleys opening a curtain that spells out the name of the songs, to the total indecipherability of the Gretel Cummings' Mrs. Peachum, to the Lawrence Olivier-suavity of Mac the Knife that seems totally wrong by Philip Bosco, the production is a disaster. The only GOOD feature is the Jenny Towler of Ellen Greene with "The Ship with 8 Sails" being the hit of the show, though the audience didn't seem to applaud any more for that than they did for the others, particularly the oddball Polly Peachum of Carolina Kava who couldn't decide whether to be innocent, campy, or professional, and turned out to be neither in the LEAST. Roy Brocksmith weighed about 300 pounds and swung a certain authority as the Ballad Singer, sadly backstage even YOUNGER and SWEATIER than he looked on the stage. Tony Azito was like a dizzy Andy deGroat with flailing arms and legs and bobbling idiot-head as Samuel, Peachum's assistant, and I doubt Art could be so truly mad in the role, and his other character being understudied, Bob, was such a part of the surroundings that I barely noticed him. The songs were delivered in a listless manner that betrayed any LIFE, and while Michael and Rolf said they liked it because that's the way it WAS, I said that it was unnecessarily gray, stereotypically depressing, and not a very good evening in the theater. Didn't notice until now that Stanley Silverman, that epitome of musical eclecticism, was in the orchestra. Wondered about what looked like two tightwires strung across the audience before the stage-front, until Dennis remarked that they were probably Richard Foreman's famous wires running across the stage. Ye GODS! How happy I was that Papp left Lincoln Center and thus freed it from the stultifying influence of Richard Foreman, Andrei Serban, and Joseph Chaikin, his three favorite and my three UNfavorite directors, mainly because I'm interested in theater of WORDS as they're interested in theater of NONwords, and I'm optimistic to think that the FORMER has lived and WILL live longer than any abortive experiments through the ages IN the latter---if ONLY because it's not so easy to RECORD and DUPLICATE due to the FACT that it's not originally based on the written words of the plays.

DIARY 12173


Al Pacino is the undoubted hit: unquestionably so much into his character that when he SMILES it's in complete sincerity and winningness, when he gets back it's a small triumph, when he gets clobbered you feel for him, when he whines and whimpers you almost feel like befriending him, and he's let himself hang out so much that even his KNEES look over-padded and ugly. The flashback-from-dying sequences are a bit hard to follow, and even I forget that Ardell is a sort of Black Angel of Death, with his nameless nametag and insignia-less uniform of gray. The squad is pretty faceless except for the fabulous body of Pierce, played by Lance Henriksen, who'd played Brick somewhere with great effectiveness, I'll bet. Andrea Masters looks pretty sexy, except for her appendectomy scar, as Sorrentino, and I was blown away the next day when Rolf introduced me to Julio Sorrentine! Some of the war descriptions were as good as classics by Remarque, and some of the eternal questions of why men fight are better posed than they are in "Streamers," so that I seem to think that Rabe exhausted what he had to say early and is now coasting on initial impetus. His characters are much more believable, tangible, human than his stereotypes in "Streamers," and the situation is far more believable and positive. The blank sets are good, except that a lot takes place SO much forward that we have to lean forward from our $8 balcony seats to even SEE the bodies on the jagged-front apron. There were a few set-pieces for other characters that seemed to go on and on, making me look at my watch, and from 8:10 to 9:30 and 9:40 to 10:50 IS a long time for a play to go on, but such was the mastery of Pacino that anytime HE was onstage, the play could do anything it wanted. The Vietcong creeping slowly toward someone was grippingly staged and lighted, the explosions and homefronts were nicely done, and his brother Mickey was nicely played by Ron Hunter, as was the Sergeant Tower of Joe Fields, and Jackson played by Jack Kehoe seemed like he could be sexy, too, but there was no chance for it to come off. The audience cheered and Pacino seemed to enjoy it, a rare example of what the stage is all about: electrifying personal performances in a decent play.

DIARY 12265


YOSHITSUNE SENBON SAKURA---KAWAZURA HOGEN MANSION SCENE has the most convincing female in Asuka, the old wife, and Ennosuke's younger brother Danshiro plays the younger brother Yoshitsune in a deadpan manner with the stylized language that gives no EMOTION to his part at all. Monnosuke Ichikawa is almost grotesque as the mistress: tall and angular and raw-faced, but some of the 4 little maids are pert-lipped and delicate and charming. Ennosuke appears to no audience applause, pats around the stage as a fox-in-disguise, then drops through the floor and INSTANTLY reappears as the fox, having had his outer costume ripped off, I guess; and at another time he APPEARS on the steps by crashing out of false steps right in the middle of the stage, and Dennis was looking at his program at that second and missed the transition. At other times he vaulted over railings, spun rapidly on one knee, and bounced around from step to step in VERY awkward positions, once bending over at the top of the steps so that his head dipped below his feet to look directly out, upside-down, at the audience, and then rise back up without faltering. But these incredible incidents didn't quicken the slow-paced, talky performance of 65 minutes that may have been CUT from the reviewed 90 minutes. The 6 evil priests are a kick with marvelously made-up faces, and the Samurai is brilliantly dense in bright-orange and vivid-green costuming and makeup.

KUROZUKA has Monnosuke as a convincingly aged crone who dances pettishly when she remembers her childhood, and then STICKS OUT HER RED DEMON-TONGUE as Danshiro, Kyogen-like in his simplicity as the porter, angers her by looking into her bone-room. Then in the last scene she comes out and I say "I wondered what Divine's next act would be," and the fierceness is quite charming, carried over particularly to the bows, where he soaked it in, menaced the audience, grimaced, flared, and carried the entire stage, rather prettily set with reeds for most changes of scenery. Monnosuke was dour-faced as the high priest, but convincingly male and quite different from his earlier mistress. OH, Yoshitsune ended with the GREAT "Fox in disguise" at left window, "Fox" down chute in center, and one exit was a BACK FLIP over an assistant in Kurozuka, but STILL the drawn-out narratives are a bore, although the good orchestra helped to pass the time during the lengthy musical sections for 15-20 musicians.

DIARY 12302


The Loft is a gorgeous new place, though the $6 is rather steep, but the 60-70 seats are almost all full of people who look like they might be there for an audition: highly made-up young ladies who widen their eyes and fear to smile because of wrinkle-genesis, dapper mustached men with glittery eyes and pinstripe suits and educated expressions, flashy aging women with low-cut dresses and coiffed hair, beautiful young women who ask five questions so that even HE says after four: "That's enough, if you want a date, see me after the talk," and it's not even funny. He's just come from Maryland and speaking, brags about being 76 years old, and when he finally gets to his feet, strides about the room waving his hands and sweating slightly to prove to everyone that he's just as young and feisty as he ever was. In response to a question of what it would take for him and Cheryl Crawford and whoever-the-other-guy-was to take over Lincoln Center, he shoots back, "Three years and $3,000,000," and when he asks what kind of guarantee he'd like, the instant response is "I want the money in cash." It seems he'd been relatively self-effacing earlier in his life, because he kept repeating that it was about time to blow his own horn: he WAS a good director, a lousy actor, knew lots of people, talked too much, and was NOT the least of the three who founded the Group Theater, the last TRUE repertory theater in NYC. He never rehearses his speeches, so he just talked, in this case answering questions about how directors fare with actors (always listen to them), writers (cooperate with them, but a good director can redeem a bad script), and talked about Eric Portman, whose face Helen Hayes slapped for being such a mumbler; Marlon Brando, whom he recognized for talent in his ex-wife, Stella Adler's, class; Ralph Richardson, Alfred Lunt, who gave awful readings (as I think he gave awful performances); E.G. Marshall, and lots of other people. I got a great idea of energy, and lots of his remarks he directed to the eager Dennis, including the remark that he MUST go out of town to act if the chance arises, whom he must have recognized from classes, but I can't see that I'd be interested in subjecting myself to his intense love of the theater for HIMSELF and the WORLD, unless he had a SPECIFIC topic that I liked.

DIARY 12306


There were touches of peak experiences as it DID seem like a touch of childhood with the smells, the sawdust, the tent shadows, and the awful music. Eric Augusztiny was properly tall and urbane as the ringmaster, but the violin insisted on counterpoint when it couldn't even play melody, and the brass sometimes vanished completely under the weak reeds and percussion. "Charivari" was embarrassing except for the strong woman who grimaced a lot. "Michael and Paul" were good comic jugglers, with hats and shoes and patter and those magical moments when things that can't POSSIBLY happen, DO! The Back Street Flyers can't afford jockstraps, so their cocks are all over the place as they go through their mini-trampolines and tumbling routines. Paul Lubera has a nice crotch, a flashy smile and flashier costumes, and is not BAD on the trapeze, but his showmanship is more developed than his skills. Suzanne Perry may have been flying since she was 5, but it was probably on commercial jets, since her Spanish web and rings were the weakest acts of the evening. Michael Moschen had an impish grin and good control over his juggling equipment, with the torch salute the highpoint with his shirtless chest flashing in and out of definition in the whirling lights with the others off. Neat! Lloyd Steier did a cute thing with Grete the mole, with SOMETHING under the groundcover, but he wasn't very sexy, and some of the histrionics were awful. Nina Krasavina LOOKS like she may have touched the Moscow Circus, since her cute upturned nose, eyeglasses framing expressive beads of black, and tiny shape and high energy-level spoke of professionalism and lots of training, and Gregory Fedin was appropriately dense as her assistant, and she got the audience shouting and participating when she threw up the large ball for people to throw back at her to balance on her stick, with appropriate glares at the people who threw it too far, not far enough, or gotchwise. Good girl. Sabateo dance with bolas and bambas (drums) were incredible, GREAT sounds, marvelous poise and pride to Los Indianos, kicking, drumming, and beating on the wooden floors with the bolas, plastic to be sure, but whirling in a beautiful pattern that was perfect for their strutting choreography and good music. Great way to end the short evening, and they DESERVE to have a place every year in NYC.

DIARY 12377


Victor Willis substitutes for Tiger Haynes, whom I know, so I rather like the gentility and tenor-qualities of the replacement over the raffishness of "Tiger." Stephanie Mills is "Annie" about 5 years later, a real belter who seems to be acting all the while; Gregg Burge is winningly young and limber-legged (in a discombobulated way, rather than the masterful limpness of Ray Bolger in the movie), and Ken Page is plump, heavily made-up, sweating in his hot suit, and marvelously heavy-voiced as the lion. There are some marvelous effects, as the wind blowing away the house and Tornado comes out with a long black veil that the dancers turn into a spiral, blowing her to Munchkin land, which is charming with the characters wearing short hoopskirts over the little stools with wheels that they sit on and skitter around onstage with. The Golddust in the hair of the Yellow Brick road is only noticeable with the last one, but one is VERY cute and long-legged and pretty-faced, so I watch him a lot. Addaperle is quite a character, coming and going in huge spumes of dry-ice smoke, and some of the lines are cute, though "You had to be there," when someone asked Scarecrow if he knew something and he answered "Of COURSE not." The Kalidash were only on for a trice, with their heavy noses, but the poppies were pretty, the Mice Squad got the most laughs from the predominantly kiddy audience (who popped gum constantly behind me, and THEY were Westchester types, not like the black Art detested this afternoon in "Shadow Box."), and the Emerald City was a REAL Art Deco treat with all the colors of green, and when Carl Hall appeared as The Wiz with his high white heels, green cape, and white-black hair, it was just fabulous. Kevin Jeff was incredibly long-legged as the Winged Monkey, with a whole wall of them in the background, and the kids behind commented "he's queer" because he wore just a white jockstrap which showed crotch hair when he did splits, and someone remarked, "Now THAT'S obscene." Glinda was a replacement, but she didn't have much to do, but her APPEARANCE scene was one of the best, with veils and trees and guardsmen all beautiful and peach-colored, and then Toto running back onstage to herald her homecoming was pretty good, too. So I was pleased with the UP production values for this OLDER show, the GOOD singing (but not the non-memorable songs), and the SPECTACLE.

DIARY 12378


Ann Sachs is choreographed so perfectly for her white entrance into Edward Gorey's library as Lucy Seward, Gretchen Oehler is so Gorey-perfect as the kohl-eyed maid who walks with her hands held stiffly at her sides; Alan Coates is so blond and earnest as Jonathan Harker, the romantic interest; Dillon Evans is so old-fashioned as Dr. Seward, her father; Jerome Dempsey chews up so much scenery as Van Helsing; Richard Kavanaugh is so convincingly batty as Renfield, with his flyaway hair, blackened eyes, and fly-and-spider slupping; Baxter Harris, understudy, is only adequate in the tiny part of Butterworth, who keeps letting Renfield escape, but the king of the cast is Frank Langella as Count Dracula, handsome without being foppy, pained without being anguished---or would it be anguished without being pained?---and masterfully commanding when necessary, the ACTING was a dream. The sets were a nightmare: the red wine in the library, the red rose in the boudoir, hilariously done with round-bottomed cherubs with batwings over the bed, bats supporting white women holding up garlands as the wallpaper, with bats everywhere else: on the bed boards head and foot, on the doorways and on furniture bottoms, though I think there were MONKEY heads under the draperies. Then the library in the third act was redless until Lucy entered, having sucked Dracula's blood, with a red jewel dripping from a colorless rose on her dress, and then the vault seemed a continuation of the gothic interior of the Martin Beck, with the perfect illusions of the rat racing across the floor, the smoke-disappearing corpse after the hand lashed out in a surprise gesture after you thought he was dead, and I'd forgotten the perfect behind-cape disappearance from the living room, when it did NOT seem he used the same trapdoor behind the sofa as he'd used to FIRST appear, hands first, behind a languishing Lucy. Marvelous lines to perfection: "I do not" and "Nothing will go wrong," and "Two little marks? Nothing!" Great music, too, good drop with a bat-shaped cloud-rent showing a Gorey-faced man in the moon, one bat with two red eyes, and red clefts in the throats of two statues on either side of the stage, all quite perfectly and stylishly done, with large eyes and slender bodies, and ONLY the small forgettable flaw of an audience being TOO eager to show they KNOW by laughing loud.

DIARY 12407


Colleen Dewhurst is rather a kick as an Eleanor Roosevelt coifed haranguer for votes in the avant-curtain speech, but I detected a flaw in the direction when she SMILED her appreciation for a clever political statement she made that got applause---something about finally finishing the West Side Highway. Then the curtain went up on her living room and George Hearn was an Irish nebbish who got her into bed at the end of the first scene, and then Rex Robbins (whom I couldn't remember from the Angela Lansbury "Gypsy" or from being Ellen Burstyn's husband in "The Three Sisters," and when I saw him on the stage with his hatchet face and lack of good acting, I could understand why) was a WASP nebbish who got her into bed at the end of the SECOND scene, and I wondered what they'd do during the LAST scene. Dennis pointed out that there wasn't too much of a plot: very few unresolved questions at the end of the first act, little dramatic push toward any special climax and I frankly admitted that I was so pleased by a number of clever lines, good acting by Dewhurst that put into the shade the poor acting by her two men-friends, and so pleased with the enlightened quality of her BUSINESS that I hadn't really noticed. The critics were sterner than I was, saying that Judith Ross hadn't written a play so much as a collection of lines, but at LEAST I thought the characters stayed somewhat MORE in character than those in a Neil Simon play did. Shuddered to see that Burry Fredrik's (HER) three productions included "The Night of the Tribades," which had closed quickly, I was hoping that this wouldn't be included. Dennis loved the Plymouth Theater, going up to the balcony by the outside stairway to see the paneled ceiling and Tiffany-like lighting fixtures, and down to the basement to see what the john down there was like, with its moldering oils and meandering under-stage area visible through open doors, and a lovely metal canopy over the quaintly lettered "Stage Door" out the door from the nicely packaged barroom inside the side lobby. We both hoped that it would continue for awhile, at least making the money back for the investors, but neither of us could imagine it being much good without the powerful Colleen Dewhurst.

DIARY 12412


Dick Cavett, both Dennis and I agree, is more pleasant to look at than Tom Courtney, and since his anguished eyes RESEMBLE Courtney's in the important scenes, I feel we've gotten the best of both. The FIRST act is a pain as he puts up with the incursions of Dave, a frowsy hippie living upstairs borrowing money and booze, Stephen, his nebbishy brother who's just gotten his first promotion (with a lower class and more hours) in 25 years; Jeff, a longtime friend who's VERY obnoxious, drunk, and well-played by Philip Kerr; Davina, Jeff's mistress who gets a GOOD belt of booze, takes off her blouse, and is refused in a TOO-harsh scene by Simon Hench who says he likes her tits but HATES her conversation. Then Wood comes in and says Hench had NOT been a "plop" as he'd been in Wondale, but had been bedded by all the attractive upper-class MEN. Audience completely silent. Then at the curtain he says he's gone to bed with Wood's thought-she-was-daughter-but-she's-financee. I disliked first act because I thought he should LOCK door and LISTEN to the Parsifal he wanted, but I said I hoped the second act would bring forth an INTERESTING wife and WHY he wanted the hippie upstairs! It did, and more. His wife is pregnant by heaven knows who since she's been sleeping with a friend he HATES for 10 months, knew it, and didn't have the guts to talk about it, under the guise of "you're not moving out, I'm not losing you, it needn't change." They keep the kid upstairs as a charity case, though I STILL think there may be sex somewhere there, as in Jeff, and there're LOTS of anti-homosexual remarks made through the evening, but Simon (OH?) Gray does write a mean play, and I can see from the SECOND act how it got the best-play award it did. Thought Cavett was perfect for the part, but NOTHING onstage would have clued anyone in that it was their LAST performance, having opened ONLY February 2, so a run of only 9 months seems rather small for a BEST play. The accents killed him: what a pity he couldn't have come from America, since all the others SOUNDED so British and he crept in and out of broader A's and varying pronunciations of "Gwendolyn" between Oscar Wilde and George S. Kauffman. Good play, glad we saw it, particularly FREE through F103-F104 seats perfectly placed thanks to Paul Bosten.

DIARY 12445


She's a marvelously feisty old woman who's not quite up to her powers yet: she's too tentative in moving into her voice, too repetitive in her "I'm tellin' it to ya" and in her "improvisations," usually quickening the melody and repeating a few more words. At one point she struck gold by bringing up "the" sooner than expected, and then swinging through the pause where "the" would have gone in the last phrase, hitting the last two words perfectly, so perfectly that I wished she'd tried such things many more times. The place stood and cheered and clapped, and even Barney Josephson was incredibly fulsome in his introduction. Admittedly there's a kick behind a singer who'd been contemporary with Bessie Smith and Billie Holliday working in a hospital for 20 years and being rediscovered at 82, but it seemed that people were more enamored of the IDEA than of the woman herself. She had a somewhat limited range, getting very thin quickly on top, but stayed secure down in her lower middle section. Her one attempt at an Italian song seemed to have the most childish pronunciation of the Latin, and for being "one of the most beautiful love songs ever written," "I Give You All My Love," or whatever it was, wasn't terribly pretty. Dennis made a nice comment about the pianist doing very interesting things beneath her song, but not so strongly that it would detract from her performance. She also went overboard saying how happy we made her feel, how great it was to be here, and how much she loved all the young boys and girls who were so nice to her. She sang only one risqué song that not many people knew, and her "Workin' man" brought the only genuine pleasure to my laughing, and one wished that she would do more of these obscure songs rather than "My Blue Heaven." The fact that she'd WRITTEN one of the songs that Bessie Smith sang on her first record was interesting, but the song itself didn't seem to stand on its own. Now there'll be a whole new wave of couplings of her with various people from the past, and there's a new media-hype turning up to announce her as something extraordinary, but only blown up because she may be only one of the better of a tremendous range of mediocre talent that doesn't really ZAP me.

DIARY 12464


BACH SUITE FOR UNACCOMPANIED CELLO #3 in C Major turns into one that I have on record only after a bit. He takes 18 minutes to do what takes 21 minutes on record, and he left considerably more time between sections. He played it more MELODIOUSLY than Thomas on the tape, but because the notes were more connected and he was playing faster, there were a lot more flaws of changed notes fractions of a second before or after the bow changed directions, a couple of clatters of bow-wood on cello-wood, and a few just plain missed notes, including an interesting passage of about two bars that seemed to be played in an ENTIRELY different key. More exciting than the recording, but somewhat more of his style than Bach's compositional intent.

BAKER PIECE FOR CELLO AND PERCUSSION surprised me with a George Gaber who is a dapper old man in a black VERY narrow-lapeled Brooks Brother's suit, racing around from marimba to xylophone to tunable kettledrum to glockenspiel to wind chimes to cymbals. But it was just "thing/thing/thing" without build or climax, though "Yancey"'s section was somewhat better than the other's, and Dennis informed me that Dizzy Gillespie WAS known for introducing Latin rhythms into what became Salsa music much later. But for 28 minutes it was just strum, plunk, clatter, bobble, chunk, except for a strange item with a cowbell on one side and a doorknob on the other that sounded like a squeaky door, and this may have been one of the things he invented. Starker remained starkly grim throughout, unsmiling left profile, smiling right.

KODALY SUITE FOR UNACCOMPANIED CELLO was much more pleasant, with rhythmic thrumbs with multiple fingers between and among bowings, sprightly melodies, long intricate passages played as if on the violin VERY low down to the bridge for a NICE squeaky tone, and I liked it somewhat better than the others. He also played two encores, one a GRIM-sounding dirge that almost damped everyone's enthusiasm, the second a rocking, rocking, rocking piece that I concluded must have had a "LOT of notes," and left about 10 feeling glad to have seen it, happy to have paid as little as $5 for it, and entranced by the handsome bearded blond making out with the single girl in the row below. Not a LARGE audience, but quite sexy and VERY quiet for the most part, thankfully.

DIARY 12681


Jason Robards is certainly the best part of it, but that's not saying too much, since when he's being "Major Melody" he seems stagy and artificial BEYOND the requirements of the part, and only when he gets blasted and drunk and terrible as "Con" at the end does he rise to any status. But the PLAY is so awful: it seems everyone changes his point of view at least twice in the course of the play, at one point WANTING something, or someone to act a certain way, and then at another point wanting NOT that something, or someone to act in the OPPOSITE way. At least there's a textual explanation why Geraldine Fitzgerald has ONE accent and everyone else has another. What a pity that Kathryn Walker had taken too many Katherine Hepburn lessons: her throaty voice never seemed to be QUITE AUTHENTICALLY hers, and her actions seemed poor until Dennis at the end pointed out that it really wasn't DIRECTED very well, and that the staging and blocking were repeated step-by-step for two different quarrels, and "everyone used the banister newel-post the same way." Maybe I'd not SEEN that, but the EFFECT was there. The set was stark and useful, but the lights seemed to change almost whimsically from moment to moment, and you could never tell from looking out the windows what time of day or night it was. Then the IMPORT of the play is so negative: sons ruled by the caprices of their mothers, women having to get pregnant or laid before they will be proposed to, men who seem only to have to seduce women to be a success, and people always ineffably angry at someone and sniping for some reason or other. At times Robards so slurred his words that it was impossible to make out what he was saying, but as Dennis said about O'Neill, he kept making a point and KEPT making a point until you wanted to shout "That's enough already, I GOT it," so some of it is just lost redundancy. Glad I didn't sign up for "Devil's Disciple" with or without Rex Harrison, since even the SIGHT of the Revolutionary-War-like setting put me into a depression that Shaw's words would rouse me even less energetically than O'Neill's. But Robards' grayness at the end was rather impressive, and we've seen Quintero's spiritless direction, so that's another thing to add to the list and probably not repeat in ages.

DIARY 12812


Keith Buhl is a campy SPANISH valet as Felice, Vincenzo Manno is rather poor as Fadinard, not mustering enough of a stirring tenor when needed, but his acting is fairly good. Richard Harrell is not a super voice as Emilio but his FACE is beautiful with a lot of makeup to give him dark straight eyebrows, interesting facial planes, and a marvelous black mustache. Mary Wilkinson is good as Anaide, cutting through everyone when the script calls for it, and David Kline good as the old Nonancourt with "It's all OVER" as his theme. What a switch to see the obviously SEXY GOOD body of Beaupertuis of Neal Schwantes disguised to look old rather than the usual old bodies disguised to look young and sexy. Susan Quittmeyer was an audience favorite as the campy Baroness of Champigny, with Vincent Arnone as a faggy cohort until he had to appear later as a cold-ridden guard. The Santa Fe Opera had put together a SPLENDID production, with an accurate map of Paris lit up by progressive lights to symbolize the running of characters in front of the drop from one marked destination to another, and then the DELIGHT at the end to see the ENTIRE map light up and represent the Italian Straw Hat of the title which is eaten by a horse, blackmailed by a dragoon, despaired of by a wife, traced to a Baroness, linked to a phlegmatic old man, and gifted by a deaf uncle who came on first with a hidden present. The costumes are great, too, and the sets are a marvel of cheap splendor: the gold-matte contact paper spectacular on the weed-green baroque curlicues of the Baroness's chateau, the entrances and exits wonderfully working, and the chandeliers firmly in place. And the costume of the Baroness gets applause in itself for its redness, raunchiness, and outrageousness. Then there's the super chorus patter-song by the milliners of sewing and talking and crowing and growing, sung with enormous precision and delicate balances, possible in the small auditorium of the John Brownlee Opera Theater at the Manhattan School of Music, but not very likely in any place larger. The style was rather good, more fitting than the youth-trying-adults of the Ballet Theater last night just around the corner at Riverside, and I thanked Dennis for asking us to go.

DIARY 12817


The "invented" play in the third act was the longest and worst part of the whole thing: surely Turai could have written SOMETHING more interesting to get to the conclusion of the "soft, round, bitten object" that I thought was a pastry, Turai made into a peach thinking it was a breast, and turned OUT to be her SHOULDER. Carole Shelley made the most of a campy role, ending in a SPECTACULAR green low-cut-in-back dress with tassels dangling proportionately from each arm, while George Rose was a MOST foppish dandy as a singer who couldn't act and couldn't pronounce ALL those French place names, which sort of wore thin. Austin Pendleton DID seem to have a one-note part, but he seemed ALSO to be so into it that he was convincing, as was Rex Robbins in his usual butler role. Stephen Elliott was a foppish hotel lackey, and Rene Auberjonois, who never seems to have a small part, ate and acted and manipulated the curtains for the second act with élan. The "how would you introduce three actors who've just appeared on the stage as someone who's just written a play and are now in a castle?" first act wasn't as clever as the ringing up and down of the curtain on the three different endings to the second act: non-effective, totally dramatic, and "suspenseful." But the best part of the play was the set: a marvelous expanse of window overlooking a star-studded blue sky that first silhouetted three elegant figures smoking cigarettes and drinking wine, then was lit to reveal a swirling wood-colored, fireplace-flue-into-pillar, elegant furniture, beautifully curved window-detailed room with a surprisingly solid stairway and banister and upper door that thumped with conviction. The words by Wodehouse were felicitous, though SOMEONE could have cut about half out of the third act, invented by Turai to cover up their words of love, while making her disgusted with him in the end. The place was so empty that we sat in the middle of row S with about five empty rows in front of us before the rest of the audience began, and there was no one in the balcony, and this with good reviews, a seldom-done play, and half-price tickets. Thank goodness it was the last week. Not a very sexy audience, however, but for Mildred Dunnock for style, but the usher who seated us was cute enough.

DIARY 12838


Only as I TYPE this do I understand the title: putting an aging actress, whore, and secretary, three old cows, out to pasture of retirement, but NONE of them retired, each sort of experienced a resurrection at the end. Vito Gentile, Jr. was sexy and I chatted about HOLDING to the idea of having the same five actors in all five plays, which would have been fabulous, but Joan said that he was firmly taken by someone working on the play.

EDITH HUNT was overplayed by everyone, and Caesar Carrillo seemed awful as the hood until he appeared as the "weasel" in the next one, commendably. The part for the fat kid had to be rewritten when the fat actor had to leave town and he couldn't find any other fat actors. But it was a silly play about how an aging acting couple conquer three thugs and get their names in the papers, but Joan's facemask was awful and Hart's acting ludicrous.

ADELLE was thought by Theo to be the best for Joan, but she looked pretty awful as the aging hooker with lots of flesh and terrible legs, but the Hob Bowling of Harry Packwood was quite affecting, and when he did indeed come back to introduce her to the entire destroyer, it brought tears to my eyes. Roy Thomas was the best of the male lot as Borsalino, acting perfectly natural and bringing a sense of timing that was absent from play #1.

MISS MARGARET SLOPE was nicely idiosyncratic for Joan, and it brightened considerably when Paul Espel came onstage as the son of the owner, and the single funniest line of the play was his bleated "Bye" on exit back to Chicago, where Miss Slope managed to send him on her way to the control of the desk that she'd always controlled anyway. Lawrence Cioppa did a neat turn by putting on an AWFUL toupee and acting a faggot, and Harry Packwood, pretty as he is, didn't manage to pull off the essential bitchiness of a jealous office mate. So if at first it was embarrassing (and I confessed that I really can't judge friends in roles: I know them as people, and their essential falseness as ANOTHER person is just so overwhelming that I can't judge how they would affect someone who doesn't know that as well as I do). But it turned into an entertaining evening, even if I CAN'T have the author!

DIARY 12843


The three guys and three gals of the light crew aren't bad at all, except when they chatter back and forth on their mikes, disturbing all the freebie friends up on the balcony---Alex and Sonya think I'm a producer with my binoculars and Grand Marnier drink for $2.50. Riselle Bain has a charming French accent, is pretty enough, acts moderately well, and can dance with a slightly more than amateur skill, but it still screams of semiprofessional rather than buffo star. Art was right about poor Harry Danner, he's just miscast, with absolutely no sex appeal for the sexy Irma. Brian McAnally is the extraordinarily handsome dancer (I say macANALly while Dennis says MACaNALly) and J. Oliver Freed is the small but neatly packaged (what marvelous black pants both of them wore) Jo-Jo. But the whole show is Art, with his black dots below the outsides of his eyes to make them even larger than they are, his baggy trousers and shrugs, his half-dozen disguises as the old bearded man, the doctor, the incredible judge constantly fluffing his wig, and the narrator who comes out of anywhere to say anything about anyone. His spoken monologue about Paris produces an extraordinary quiet in the theater, with drops of tears here and there, while his entrance is always greeted with delighted hoots of recognition---even though "100 of the convicts came out right then" got not a single titter, and he insisted that he had to move straight through that, though usually it gets SOME kind of laugh. He was VERY happy we were there to see him, possibly as no one else who saw him would appreciate the very good job that he was doing in holding together a show which had nothing in the line of sets, not very good leading people, and a series of songs none of which was very memorable outside the context of the play---and thank goodness he didn't deliver more than two children at the end, or everyone would have screamed "Miracle of Morgan's Creek." But watching the dancing crotches was nice, hearing the non-response of the audience interesting, and watching the thoroughly professional Art Ostrin taking over the stage anytime he was on it was worth the trip, and even the extra $17 for the hotel room that Dennis refused to bill the company for, saying that he would have returned to NYC even at 12 pm!

DIARY 12871


Written in 1939, it anticipated ERA by decades in having one of the slimiest women in literature, Regina Giddens, blackmailing her brothers, killing her husband, and using her daughter in whatever way she could. "Another Part of the Forest," written later by Hellman about the earlier history, showed Regina manipulating her father against her mother and brothers in the very same shrewd way. Geraldine Page seemed bound to be as similar to Tallulah Bankhead as she could be in looks and manner, but only her wayward voice rocketed up and down the escalators of shrillness, sometimes diving into indecipherability, as did Rip Torn as the bearded ruthless patriarch of the family, obviously unmarried but willing to manipulate everyone else's children. Dennis said he didn't remember being so sympathetic toward Birdie, but as played non-self-pityingly by Sandy Dennis, giggling at herself and lisping sherry over her quivering lips, she knew what she was doing all along and found it better than nothing. Amy Wright started out rather well as Alexandra, but ended up not rising to the requirements of a too-loose last act that took too long to get very little distance. As Dennis had warned, the first act was mainly used to set up character, so everything of note, including the chilling "I hope you DIE!" had to be crammed into the second act. Scott McKay didn't play Oscar as QUITE the dunce that Dan Duryea played the younger Oscar in the movie, and it seemed to add something when we found out that their grandparents had been cousins: it DID seem to demand a bit of degeneracy to have SO much evil in one family. The set was quite striking, even to the brilliance of having scenes in the L-shaped dining room almost offstage, but it was a pity he couldn't tumble back downstairs like he might have when he took his fatal attack. We sat back in the old-lady section, so people chatted and unwrapped candy around us and Dennis and I glowered around like baleful lighthouses. But the play seemed scattered: Birdie's troubles, drinking-headaches, and agitation seemed SO disconnected from the Hubbard-family of madness that it seemed almost a different play, with different themes and character delineations---and she was left OUT of the Masterplot's description of this "tight, involved" plotting.

DIARY 12902


Ellis Rabb is the best thing about it: posturing to perfection, yet concerned that he give a good impression as a person interested in his co-actor, Peter Evans, who's quite sexy when he has his pants off, but I get the impression he's rather stupid and straight, as compared with Rabb's eccentrically intelligent and probably gay older actor, and just about every way in which they can be different is exploited: age/youth; fading/rising; mental/physical; gay/straight; airy/dense; learned to be selfish/ learning to be selfish; learned to be using/learning to be using. But right at the beginning I want to copy down Mamet's "padders": A: I want you to XYZ. B: You want me to XYZ? A: That's what I said; I want you to XYZ; or this one "A: ...a flying bird. B: What's a flying bird? A: A bird that flies." Dennis has a point that the rough street language is not quite the same as the stilted affected language of the theater, and he does give a flavor of each, but two flavors does not a hot-fudge sundae make. I thought the funniest line of the evening was MINE when, having seen the "Russian subplay," I said "Was that "The Three Orchards" or "The Cherry Sisters"?" since it included a desperate desire to get to...Venice and a long leaping lope about the entire set by the young one saying "I like this house, I like this room." I thought it would make a good half-act, and could possibly be padded into a one-act if more characteristics were given to the characters, rather than the same characteristics being repeated over and over in different ways. It was slight, but because it WAS off-Broadway and I like Ellis Rabb much better than I like Robert Duvall, I thought "A Life in the Theatre" was markedly better than "American Buffalo," and it probably cost a little less and the seats were better, except I wish we'd been more on the left facing the stage so that we could see more of Evans' naked legs and his shorted crotch when he was endlessly changing costumes in the dressing room with the pillar that obstructed our view. The audience seemed determined to laugh at it, the final images of Rabb almost embracing the stage light to give himself a halo, then blowing smoke around it, and the ETERNAL images (and I SAID I granted the play the unlikely events of them always appearing together, AND always on the same stage) and the backdrop being their AUDIENCE.

DIARY 13021


It starts awfully, with lyrics garbled, seeming that no one can handle the sophistication of Sondheim's words and music. The Albert Harris "Robert" is even worse than Art Ostrin hinted, and the first sketch of the boozeless husband and the sweetless wife was so overplayed as to be embarrassing. Then Lenny Wolpe did a nice stoned scene as David, and around about here the three women got together for "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" with verve and drive, and it seemed to pick up from there. Renee Roy seemed very abrasive as Joanne, but she delivered "Ladies Who Lunch" with appropriate bite and wit. The Peter of Bob Morrisey took on a new dimension when he danced the "Tick Tock" number, nice chest, good movements, though crotchless, and Gillian Scalici should wear leotards or too much thigh-hair shows to the not-wanting-to-see audience. Intermission featured horrible girls on the stoop across the street belting out songs from "Annie," and then the pitch was prettily done, but I still didn't like it and didn't give anything. Then the second act got better, with the competent singing of Lauren White as the "I don't want to get married" Amy, and "Barcelona" wasn't so well done by Valerie Beaman. But it was so UGLY: all the couples were unhappy (except the pair who got a divorce and stayed together, of course) and they insisted that BOBBY should get married. Then "Being Alive" seemed thoroughly meretricious by saying he WANTED to be "smothered in love, forced to care, insisted to feel, pushed to responsibilities," and I didn't believe it for a minute, though his poor acting didn't help. Then the ending, when he opted out of another birthday party, left me confused, and they were willing to say merely that "He'd changed," or else the play wouldn't have gone anywhere, and I thought it was rather charming in "Side by Side by Side" making it clear that two was boring, icky, and gloomy, whereas three or more made it much more interesting. I agree fully, and thought there must be SOME other way to end it (aside from the obvious that he turned gay), and Paige O'Hara has one of the STRANGEST hooting voices for "Another Hundred People" and I'm still not bowled over by the quality of their productions, but the set was nice.

DIARY 13030


The speechifying by director Edward Brown is really quite literate: people say what you'd expect them to say, and the transition from the opera stage to the world of dance is neatly made, and tall Brian O'Reilly is appropriately chilly as the manager who almost kills "Eric" in the fire, who loves Christine, played fetchingly by Lori Rowan, and Lee Shepherd is natural and jeaned as the stage manager who loves her, and Lisa is played with Catherine Ellis-like stiffness by Eve Marlowe. John Cameron Swayze, Jr., has the worst speeches as the chairman of the board of directors, but the chief charm is the sprightly dancing in the tiny area by Ronell Seay as the pimp with a HUGE crotch and nice abdominals, Charles Wright as the blind man with a bright-eyed intensity, and a white with a PERFECT ass who might be Joshua Blyden, since his name is down from his picture and he's the only one I DON'T remember identified. "The Waltz" is rather tackily costumed, but the flirting is nicely choreographed, with the lead dancer "hit" by "The Phantom" for the first incident of surprise. Then Blacklight brought a STRANGE optical illusion: I could SEE IMAGES of BLACK hands following the WHITE hands, like an optical printer slightly out of synch in a rather beautiful, exact way, and Dennis said he couldn't see ANYTHING like it, and I wondered what the differences in eyes were that let me see it. "The Ritual" was black, with drums startling from the back of the auditorium, and "The Mask" was rather tacky, too, an adagio before the awful organ-set where he played on the STOPS as well as the keyboard. Then "Salome" was a throwaway to let it end abruptly with the lead dancer being knocked out by a falling pipe, "City Suite" nice for tight pants and pimps, but it seemed more hissy and squealy as "West Side Story" 20 years ago, and then "Beauty and the Beast" dance was too short and "The Fire" was too self-indulgent by Nat Horne, and he DIDN'T turn around and show a horrible face, which was an anticlimax, and the crackles didn't sound convincing enough either, but it was a nice noisy audience for the next-to-last performance of a play it would cost $150,000 to create NEW music for (not old songs) and bring into an off-Broadway theater for an extended run---so MUCH money!

DIARY 13040


The "exclusive, private psychiatric clinic" is so tacky in the almost-empty theater that it's hard getting into the humor, though Joal Vance is popeyed and three stoogy as Doctor Prentice, and Clarissa Orlando is breasty enough as Geraldine and Bridget Cusack is kinky enough as Mrs. Prentice in her girdle and garters, and the Nick of Chuck Fitzgerald is wiry and sexy enough, though not as an actor, only as a body, and the Richard DeDomenico Doctor Rance is as believable as it COULD be, but it's not a part that's written TO BE believed: throwing every cliché around: if you're committed, you must be crazy; if you're working in an asylum you must be crazy; everyone's there to have sex; authority corrupts; humor lies in doing all the taking off of the clothes in as many ways as possible and gasping after sex is as many kinky ways as playable, and even shooting off someone's balls, which are miraculously restored when the cop manages to get HIS clothes back on. But the hackneyed ending where everyone's related to each other (having of course been engaged in incest throughout the show) is so awful after all the other awful stuff in the play that it just goes along with it, with the pistol shots at random, with people running in and out of closets and dressing rooms and changing uniforms and dresses and high-heeled shoes and crawling in and out of strait jackets and in and out of faints, and it's just so RIDICULOUS (without Ludlam's innate filthiness) that it's not funny anymore, except to overhear the conversation in the back row where a sign-language interpreter tells how she's going to do "pederast" and "homosexual" and various other niceties of the plot line. They drink constantly, which I guess is better than smoking, and climb atop tables and chairs to declaim, usually without their pants. I'd be feeling ripped-off if I paid any more than a TDF $1.50 for this, even a TDF $3 in a theater on Broadway as a preview that I'd feel was STILL a rip-off. The waving of a cane to show an erection got the biggest laugh of the evening, aside from the forced guffaws from the awful people in the light booth, who'd probably seen it a dozen times before and thought they were "helping out" in the production that died.

DIARY 13083


June 15, 1978

Dear Gretchen Cryer:

Saw "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road" (sorry, but I prefer my capital letters better than your capital letters) tonight and thought most of the songs and much of the staging was just dynamite. It COULD, in the words of the woman who said I should see it, "be the best things since 'Chorus Line.'" But I don't think it is now.

I know, you get dozens of these and you don't need another one. But if you got just ONE good idea from each one, may it possibly become a better evening's production? Liked it just past half through, and then you started to crap on poor Joe: imagine having him go to an ANALYST in this era, imagine him calling gays FAGGOTS---two very hard strikes against the poor schlump. One more and he won't even be worth conquering.

Then you sing (the words are OK, the staging detracts) "Can't be put in a package" and then proceed to PACKAGE it with the two backup singers. I believe one of the most paralyzing songs on the modern musical stage is "Rose's Turn" because it shocks the audience, makes it think it's going to see something very different, becomes totally honest---the audience simply would not have believed that this woman could come up with a song that DOES strip her so bare. You have two chances for "Rose's Turn" and one of them is here, and you blow it.

Along about 9:10 the stage empties but for you two, and what happens? You become a manipulating WOMAN who treats Joe like a MAN (and in the process come up with some of the phoniest acting of the evening: if this is your favorite part, we surely part company now)---why become the image of a woman when it would be so much franker, more startling, more striking to become a PERSON, and stand up for your PERSONHOOD? You say LATER that you have to scream. Sorry, nice people of EITHER sex don't scream a lot. Please stop; you do injustice to yourself not only as a person, not only as a woman, but as an actress and a playwright. You manipulate him and I get embarrassed, mainly because there's so much ELSE that's good that I want to see some more of that legitimate anger, that honest strength, right there!

Then there's the "alone" line. For God's sake can't you say something like "Maybe not with YOU, but MAYBE NOT ALONE"---and that would NOT be a cue to glance at Jake---the point with him's been made, and nicely---my only tears of the evening are thanks to your book and him at that point. That's surely stronger than "Leave," and you wouldn't even have to change Joe's lines.

You finally get to "talented PERSON," but I think more could be made of it sooner to get more distance from the point. And in the last song, you could "pull" more, your second chance for "Rose's Turn," and speak the last, low line, dim ALMOST to darkness---making sure no one's dumb enough to applaud too soon---and THEN do the switch of "Hell, let's make it an up ending, after all, it's my BIRTHDAY," or some such, as you've done it before, but now maybe with a REAL feeling for the feelings of the audience, and then END up!

One very minor afterthought, but I DO miss ANY reference to children. No reference at ALL seems to point them up more than needed: many women I know who are 35-45 have done some VERY hard thinking about children. There it is.

Bless your courage and best of luck to you and a fine cast.

DIARY 13084


It has SUCH a lot going for it: "Natural High" is a great song until Joe messes it up with his entrance, "Smile" is a marvelous takeoff on what it means to be a woman; "In a Simple Way I Love You" is a nice mellow song that makes a point anyway, from the past at least; "Miss America" (where are you now) is Jacques Brel in its incisiveness); "Strong Woman Number" may be a bit overdone but the IDEA is good, and men MUST like women in a way because they can be protective and manly toward them, but the play strangely NEGLECTS to say that two EQUALS can enjoy SEX very much together and make a GREAT time out of enjoying things and maybe even raising a family together. I hear it can be very nice. "Dear Tom" is another standard "nice" song, and "Old Friend" reminded me very much of the relationship that Joan and I, and Dennis and Peggy, have together, going back for YEARS. "Put in a Package and Sold" has the self-defeating packaging I mentioned in my letter to Cryer (see DIARY 13083). "Feel the Love" I frankly don't remember; "Lonely Lady" seemed a lot of self-pity in retrospect and non-remembering, and "Happy Birthday" could have been a marvelous way to end the show if she'd take my advice. Joel Fabiani was too schlumpy to be likeable as Joe, Betty Aberlin as Cheryl was crying in one scene, Margot Rose was dykey, and Don Scardino made me cry when he said that HE loved her and would LOVE to support her musically. The musicians did rather well, the lights came and went, and one woman in the audience insisted on over-laughing, and it WAS offensive in some ways, but in others it had the same down-the-middle, crystallizing-what's-going-on-now, everyone's-going-to-love-this quality of "Hair" in that same space. BUT it had distinct negative points in refuting ITSELF every way that it went, so seemingly DEFENSIVE about criticism people could bring to it that it tried to ANSWER all the critics before they had a chance to write. If she dealt more with her PERSONHOOD and more with her SINCERITY and STRENGTH than with her WOMANHOOD and her DESPAIR, it would be a better thing for anyone REGARDLESS of the gender, and not have to bring in the thing of being a faggot as a way of HIS getting affection: what's wrong with PEOPLE loving PEOPLE, not men loving women or women loving women or men loving men??

DIARY 13131


This isn't listed as a separate play in her extensive bibliography in EB, and I'd never heard of it before, and won't probably hear of it again, if this production was any indication. It SEEMED to have things nestled inside, with its references to "the Witness" and to "light" and "seeing," but he lit the lights all right, in a flaring, whirling pinwheel behind him, but Helena Annabel and Marguerite Ida (whom "Ida" Dennis said is the title of another Stein book) has a smaller halo herself, and what's the DIFFERENCE whether a viper BIT or STUNG someone? Lots of "I don't see her," "But she's over THERE," and he'll turn and then see her HERE, and the second act is SET in "There, morning," which I'm sure must come from the play. The people were variable: Michael Morgan as Faustus more READ than SAID his lines; Dennis liked the Mephisto of Ronald Ballard, tottering lithely around the stage on his withered legs; Georgina D'Eustachio at least had one of the more memorable lines as the Dog "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you," and Daniel Bershtein was too gawky to be sexy as the boy. Dawn-Marie Marano was gape-eyed and sang rather well, but there was an edge to her that was unpleasant, and it was a relief that the play wasn't TOO long. Joyce O'Conner had nice presence in a solid way and a GOOD singing voice as the woman with a sickle, and Seth Steiger didn't do much but twinkle with his nothing lines as the Man From Over the Seas. The music was rather rattly and chordy, though not dreadfully unpleasant, and the lighting was nicely enough done. But it didn't keep to the PLOT, which was too bad, and the major philosophical study seemed to ask how he KNEW he had a soul which had to go to hell (oh, yes, it was rhymed, though more often a repeat of a word served for the couplet), and how the Devil didn't LIE, he merely deceived, and then there was the usual "I'm CALLED, but my NAME, but I am I, but who AM I," and around in semantic circles that get tiresome enough to listen to and must be stultifying to say a number of times, though it MIGHT be a better play to read, as Dennis said, if you didn't fall asleep over it with the repetitions and the nowhere-going of the action of the "plot."

DIARY 13214


The start with "Joan of Arc" is new to me, and the huge bass voice of Charles Rule is electrifying and much-magnified, and then it gets to the show-stopping "On the Twentieth Century" (which is rather like "Oh, What You Do To Me") and it keeps on going with jazzy production numbers, beautiful trains, and a new star in Judy Kaye as the blond introduced in "Veronique," a great character-in-song number of someone's increasing confidence, and then they do a number VERY like "Rien de Rien" (Our Private World?) and most of the songs either seem VERY lousy or derivative of SOMETHING, but the antics of Kevin Kline as Bruce Granit are great to behold, and his thin bitten-fingernail fingers seem indicative of a lovely neurotic who's probably fabulous in bed. John Cullum is too hammily theatrical to be effective, and he looks just like the star of "Queen of Spades," Anton Walbrook with his drooping forelock, stern forehead, and mustache. Imogene Coca doesn't have THAT small a part, and the SIDE view of the train is far more effective than the "front that changes into a back" by merely spinning around, and since there are no wires, I guess all the elaborate sets are pulled on and off by people inside. Letitia is a marvelous plot-ploy, and the signing of the contract "Peter Rabbit" over his "dying" body make do for an active climax, but the music is nice and fast and the black porters are sexy in the production number, and George Lee Andrews has a sexy flax-blond baldness over his pink face, and it should run a long time, and I can't think of a production I enjoyed more for its sheer theatricality since "Bette Midler." Turned out that Arnie gave Guy his ticket, having seen it last week standing and liked it, and so they got in for the $4.50 TDF charge, too, which the people who moved in next to us seemed not to have done, and she rummaged in her handbag for one whole number. The wine helped, plus the binoculars, even though the enunciation wasn't clear enough so that all the exchanges could be understood, but "She's a Nut" with its repeated "butbutbutbutbut..." was effective, as were the takeoffs on all the love songs of the century. Coca once seemed to want to cross her legs and couldn't get up the energy to lift her ankle to knee, so she didn't.

DIARY 13292


"Fugue for Tinhorns," the first number, shows that Art can easily out-sing the perfectly-in-character Thomas Lee Sinclair as a rubicund rotund Nicely-Nicely, Art as Benny Southstreet, and Richard Reece as Rusty Charlie, but then Jo Sullivan comes on looking OLD as Sarah Brown, and I keep looking at Francis Pultro's nicely shaped black-haired body as a boxer, and his sweet face and dark-hanging hair as the man in the mission band. The characters are marvelous, but even more marvelous are the audience's reactions: the murmur that's almost audible comment when Julius LaRosa comes on, looking dark-lined but older, but his voice is still good in the one song that he has to himself "My Time of Day," and Laura Kenyon is sort of fun as Miss Adelaide, but "A Bushel and a Peck" seems slow and dated, though the lazy chorine is sort of fun in "The Hot Box." Lee Sandman's rasping voice is perfect for Big Julie, some of the dancers are nicely sexy in the Havana numbers, and the songs move the story along nicely, but I don't believe the sexuality of the aging Sky Masterson and the aged Sarah Brown at ALL. The sets are pleasant, but why did they think to spell it "Mutiney"? Notice Richard Riskin's pleasant Italian face bobbing above the other instrumentalists (2), and then notice he uses two phone books to help him see and be seen, so he reacts nicely to everything going on onstage, too. But he's a TOTAL doll afterward, and I wonder who monopolized him at dinner, hope NOT his lover! General Matilda P. Cartwright gets as big a reaction from the fat audience as her elephantine size, and applause for songs increases as people go into a clinch at the end. Art brings down the house with his eyes when he gets up to testify, and then when he sings "Follow the Fold" with outrageous mistiming and misnoting at the end of act II, scene five. "More I Cannot Wish You" is beautifully tenored by Carl Nicholas, Dennis's friend David Berk is straight as Lieutenant Brannigan, the belly-bounce by Benny off Nicely is a pleasant directorial touch, and most of the singing is solid and unembarrassing. Decent production of a dated show, but I seem to have liked it more than the others, who have seen it more times than I.

DIARY 13443


Maybe she was foggy-throated from getting up at 5 am to sing at 7:30 am live in the "Today" studio, and maybe Dennis is right when he says she was presenting George Gershwin's music rather than herself, but Danny Whyte came across much more dramatically and dynamically than she did, and even though he might have taken liberties with some tempi, it didn't seem to harm the sacred music. She seemed too much of a sameness, too little variation, though singing "Lorelei" at 7:30 might not have been a very wake-up choice, which may have been out of her hands. It sounded like a coup to be recommended as the best Gershwin singer by Hal Schwartz to get the job in the first place. And then the format of the "Today Show," 15 minutes of announcements of what's coming next, repeats of the last half-hour's trivial news, weather, and sports, and banal commercials and witticisms among the hosts and hostesses, didn't help my attitudes. Then there's the problem I noticed with Joan Sumner: KNOWING her means I know how she is when she's angry, happy, distressed, pleased, content, and primarily herself, while in an acting situation she's being someone who's NOT her: If I see her, I think it's not good acting: she's only being herself; if I DON'T see her, I think she's being false and everyone can tell that she's NOT being natural. But that's not fair, as it's not fair that Barbara doesn't frown and laugh and smile and stammer as she does in class---that's not what she'd be paid for doing, so I should be able to disconnect myself from that and listen to her from the OUTSIDE, but when I find that I'm not GRABBED by what she's singing or doing, I find I have TIME to think about it, and THAT'S when the judgments come flowing in. If she bowled me over (at 7:30 am?) I wouldn't have TIME or ROOM to think, and I'd like that a lot. But then maybe Tom Brokow, the talentless MC, isn't that way in ordinary life either. Dennis was not in the best of moods either, not wanting to work, wanting to work on his apartment, tired, impatient for breakfast, and then she was on THREE segments, an unlooked-for blessing which means we had to eat breakfast in the living room---but I'm glad we saw her, hope it helps her, and hope she moves on, as I hope I move on, too!

DIARY 13476


$7 for entrance to the show, and we sat near the side on the step to see the troupe stumble on at 9:05, Joel not used nearly well enough, though his "moon" in the Ike and Tina Turner one was wacky enough, but the short, squat Italian had most of the ridiculous characters, like the teenage lover, Tina, and the tough, and the skinny cute guy with bowed posture was the cop during the best section: "Blood on the Highway" about teenage anything and cars. That was over at 9:40 and people applauded a bit too loudly, but they need better material and better-looking people. The WOMAN, plump and blowsy, is just DEAD SAD, so not very funny at all, but the crowd seemed pleased.

BARBARA BERGMAN got two drag queens sitting in the front row and others just as absurd in the back, and obviously everyone was there for her, and she started with a sobby piano song that wasn't bad, then she went into a sort of combination Bette Midler-Janis Joplin "Thank you for loving me" that seemed genuine enough for her persona that I would feel sincerely touched and felt that she made the song hers. Her backup troupe was funky: the exaggerated lips of the "do wop" blond, the Prom Queen gal in the middle in melon, and the cutie at the end with a bright smile and brighter teeth and eyes. The pianist made good sounds into the microphone for everyone, and some of the people sitting around were beautiful, too, but there was an air of "this has got to be fun" about the whole thing that was rather tiring. But she could capitalize on everyone's wish to make her famous and make a mint before everyone decides she's really boring and drop her.

THE ICE PALACE was multileveled, padded for seating (carpeted, rather, with very LITTLE padding) everywhere, up to the low ceiling, and the top was a MASS of black lights: rows for flashing off the aluminum ducts like twisting worms above the crowd, spinning for flashing through the crowd, strobed from the floor to stop action from the waist down, lightning-jagged to flash on and off on the stoned mind, spotted for various areas, rotating, parading, reflected in mirrors everywhere, and I was glad to hear the disco "MacArthur's Park" and see the place, but I don't need to go back to 57W57.

DIARY 13667


Lewis J. Stadlen doesn't look anything near as sexy as he did as Pangloss in "Candide," but he has many of the mannerisms of Groucho, and Dennis said that when he'd worked AS Groucho in "Minnie's Boys," he'd heard lots of stories from Groucho (like not having time to put on any more than a slash of greasepaint once for a mustache, and everyone was convinced of it; the real names of the people and how they started into show business; some of the local jokes about his Italian brother and his brother who couldn't talk, and how Chico usually made the women anyway) which he proceeded to tell, but as I mentioned to Dennis, it doesn't seem quite as touching when someone IMPERSONATING someone seems to be letting you in on embarrassing little well-kept secrets: Stadlen has absolutely no investment in Marx's secrets! But Nancy Evers is quite perfect as Emily Schmallhausen, with her black and gray upsweep, low-cut furred green evening grown, and turned-up nose and turned-up personality ready to take offense at everything in the best manner of Margaret Dumont. When I saw her afterward with her hair down and her prissy makeup off I said I was surprised to see that she was nothing like she was onstage, and she said she was relieved: "I think I have a bit too much of that character in me to like her very much," and even Richard Hilty the next day said that she was something on the severe side as a person herself. The first act had a LOT of talking, but after an intermission during which we could order dessert and chat with her husband, they came back and he did a few more songs "Lydia" and something quite unknown, and then got down to personal things and became rather touching at the end, but he was sweating so much and working so hard that it was a relief to hear that they were only doing one show that night, and THAT was the opening, with lots of producers in the audience, along with Tony Roberts, and everyone wishing him well and cheering him on. I was glad that Dennis suggested we do it, but next time we'll just have something to fulfil the $4 minimum and pay the $4 music charge and hope to get out of there for $10 apiece rather than the $26 which just showed how limited their menu was.

DIARY 14065


Dennis and I agree that we weren't really touched by the play (he insisted, because he likes the Lyceum Theater so much, possibly, and because he agreed he wanted to see it no matter where the seats were, so he was in the last seat of the last row of the orchestra, while I was somewhat closer), though we agreed it might have been more affecting had we been sitting closer so that we could watch the detailed changes of facial expressions of Constance Cummings, who seemed so STRANGE to us that she seemed LIKE Emily Stilson, who may have been going through those lapses and fumblings right there on the stage, but since SHE was never really fearful about what was happening to her, WE were never really fearful. And the ending seemed anomalous: Arnie said she had another stroke, Dennis said she'd recovered completely because she ended with "Thank you," and I said she'd had another stroke and died, but knew it, so she thanked "whatever" for the chance to go WITH knowledge, rather in ignorance. Got tears in my eyes and chills when she reported an out-of-body experience, which hadn't been mentioned in any of the reviews (we both agreed that since we KNEW it was a stroke, that also helped put us "above her." We knew more than she did, we almost controlled her lack of knowledge by not telling her what WE knew, so we could hardly feel sorry for such a specimen), and I was again struck by how COMMON such things as ESP, acupuncture, faith healing, out-of-body experiences, psychic healing, fortune telling, astrology are getting to be in EVERY media, even though the MC for "Secrets of the Stars" might masculinely josh anyone who could believe such mystic nonsense. The direction seemed good, some of the variations on "You're doing that over there but I'm over here," in talking and listening were effective, but there was a limited amount that could be done with it, and the communications with the nurse, Amy, seemed a downhill flow rather than an upstream struggle for greater clarity. And her wing-walking experiences were never CLEAR: DID she crash, WAS she flying backwards, was SHE flying the plane or was someone else, and that SPECIALNESS made her someone we might find it hard to identify with, too. But the $17.50 seats were half-price $8.75 + $1 for $9.75, and $11 for the meal, rather CURT $20-evening!

DIARY 14122


Boris Martinovich is the discovery of the performance, having NO background listed in the stagebill leads me to think he's probably only American, but he has a nice presentation, youthful lines, and a MARVELOUS rich basso voice. Gabriela Benackova was sweet-faced and loud, but with the vibrato-less strident cold sound the Russians seem to treasure, so it had little warmth and little emotion built into it, and in a staged version there was so little emotion anyway it all seemed like a sterile exercise in musicality that I tired of. Nadezda Kniplova was a real ballabusta in black, stern visage, and hard mezzo tones as Kabanicha, and whether staged or not, her black wing over Katya's chair symbolized her heaviness over the plot, production, and stage. Natalya Chudy as Varvara was almost overwhelmed by the orchestra, which Eve Queler didn't seem to rein in for ANYONE, and since they were FACING us, it was usually a volume of sound that the lighter-voiced men couldn't fight their way over, though William Lewis came up with some acceptable sounds as Boris, though he wasn't terribly attractive. Alan Kays was bland as Vanya, singing well enough, but getting sound-covered in his duets with Varvara. Didn't stay for the third act to hear the Schola Cantorum of New York, but I'll hear them in the final opera anyway. The sound of Czech was strange, because it was even hard to follow exactly where they were in the libretto. Don't know why she chose this, since the Janacek seemed quite traditional except for some atonalities and some strident writing for bass drum that Ben Harms played well. The audience seemed mainly blue-jeaned gays in the balcony, though the lower tiers seemed well-filled and they responded enthusiastically to the orchestra, which oddly was CONDUCTED by a woman, but ALL the male (3 or 4 out of 28) violinists had AUDIENCE-side chairs, of the 3 males of 12 violas 1 was principal, as was the violin, though principal cello was female in the 4-4 break, there was even a female bass, but all the reeds and horns were men, but still only 40 of the 82 were males, which might say why the orchestra really didn't MOVE me, though, I admit, the third act may have been ROUSING, but they should have showed more talent in the first TWO!

DIARY 14123


Dennis complained about the way he had a gesture for EVERY line in EVERY song and I said that for some reason he got out ALL his standards for this one: Penny Candy, Ms. Logan, Willkommen, Love is a Simple Thing (which I surely agree he made VERY complicated, but only because the LYRICS also belied the purport of the title), Sheik of Avenue B (which I hadn't heard before, and I thought it worked nicely, as did the Georgie-Jessel-Fannie-Brice controversy that went before it). Thought Dennis might like Ms. Logan for himself, but he positively refused it. "If I'm not near the one I love I love the one I'm near" seemed rather strange for someone SO obviously gay to be singing about how he goes after the femmes. His French accent didn't seem to go so well, either, but his Host from "Cabaret" seemed as sharp as ever. Jean Bargy was gray and glassed at the piano, and his opening number about how wonderful we all were was nice, though a bit too transparent a "Let's get them on my side" ploy. I said that on a ship his show tended to be more low-key in some numbers, not selling, selling, selling, as this one seemed to be, though everyone in the audience seemed to like it, though if they were all his FRIENDS, why would he want to do it, and where were all the agents and handlers and producers that he might have wanted to influence, unless some of his FRIENDS brought them, or they were with Jo Henderson or Julius LaRosa, who had a big table which THEY seemed to dominate completely? The service was quiet during the performance, which was nice, though the speakers buzzed quite a bit and sometimes he tended to be just plain loud. His voice wasn't bad, but it was more of a show of showmanship and control than of typical lush phrasing and voicings. Hope he got what he wanted out of it, or at least paid back whatever he had to pay (guess HE paid, since there were NO ads for her performance, so I wouldn't think the Ballroom paid HIM to perform). The mural of Manhattan was very pastelly and hung a bit too high to be looked at very much, but it was interesting to see it since it had been mentioned in New York only that week. Not much food, but the gumbo was tasty (though not for $6) and the wine was passable and the dessert of the pecan pie was good and sweet (but not worth $2.50), and the bill was $24.40, a bit much for wine, one meal, and entertainment, but it was worth it for Art, and for Joyce's comment "I've GOT a beard, but it's down lower," and why wasn't she there with her new beau for people to meet?

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He shakes hands with us sincerely and says how sorry he is that Doris can't be here. After his reading Dennis wants to say how much he enjoyed hearing him, but since I didn't particularly, I go downstairs and see what other books the place has, a good selection, but all at list price. He reads his first WRITTEN short story and first PUBLISHED short story, since the first WRITTEN one was done in 1940 and not published until 1962. Then he read 5 or so sections from his new book "Stones in the Hourglass" about an art dealer foisting off phony paintings, and when he asked how we liked it I could just smile vapidly and hoped he wouldn't ask for a report. His stories seemed SO low key that I could hardly keep awake during them, and his use of "Negress" in a story written in 1979 seemed vaguely anachronistic. I asked about his use of "Mr. Williams" in his story about George's body and Mr. Williams' five dollars, and he said that he could never think of a name to use unless he KNEW someone with that name: he knew someone named John Digby who became Digby Jones in his novel, and Todd Todhunter sounded like Mrs. Rockefeller. He introduced himself ruefully as the world's best-known least-well-paid author, saying how hard it was to get published, but with his casual, easy-going, low-key narration I didn't see how anyone would be eager to buy his works. I gladly paid list, $13.99 with tax, for a signed Joseph Heller book but would NOT want to pay $10, an upped price, for any of HIS signed work. He thanked us for coming in the rain, saying that HE wouldn't have come out unless he was speaking, and he seemed pleasant enough, gay admittedly enough and Dennis said he found his story about the bar with the muscular people in it vaguely erotic, but I find it so delicate that it didn't appeal to me: maybe to people in the Midwest, but then they wouldn't be buying books of his anyway. Felt slightly depressed in that I might be this sort of author reading to such a small group in such a dismal place, even though I had the cachet of being able to read a laudatory introduction to my short stories by E.M. Forster, saying "They were the kind of stories I liked to read," that and a lot of sales would give him a high commission on his writing!