Friday, May 31, 2013

Little Bird

Man of La Mancha Dir. Arthur Hiller, Starring: Peter O'Toole, Sophia Loren, James Coco

People, said the artistic director of one of the established theatre companies in New York City, are surprised as if not expected at all when a play is good and are extremely critical when a play is only so-and-so, pleasant with huge exceptions, so that they dismiss the representation altogether. What a waste! I hate it! I felt like a hostage!... Audiences are hard to please, especially in a city like this where everybody, like a friend of mine said with an awe while we were driving on the West Side Highway, having Brooklyn over the river on one side and fancy apartment buildings, on the other, "everybody here is so smart!"

Something that I missed in my years in the city, partially due to lack of time, partially, of somebody to lead me into the scene like a curator guides a group in a museum, was to go to the theatre. Musicals and plays. I've seen some at the BAM, but the few representations don't make me a connoisseur like a a few brush strokes don't make one a painter.
This will be solved staring with today.

About 15 people, out of which I remember 3 being actors, one, a grad student at NYU in theater management, 3 future psychologists, one is a  gymnasium teacher that directs and produces Christmas plays at school, one, a gracious red headed dancer/actress that audited for Sleep No More, one pursuing an English major, and one former journalist, in a fun summer theater program, will play the theatre critic role by exploring the best city has to offer. One play per week, one good review (when 'good' is the antonym of 'bad', poorly written, not of 'negative', fyi) and long hours of thinking why we like (hate) about what we've just seen (witnessed.)

My professor knew from early on that he wants to be in theatre business as anything, actor, director, producer, script player. At 8 tears old, his father took him to the movie version of the musical Man of La Mancha. No, he did not want to be Don Quixote; he wanted to be Dulcinea, interpreted here by Sophia Loren. (things for Dulcinea did not end up well)

Here are the opening lines of a few reviews from the '20s, something that everyone that dreams about writing reviews should use as a reference.


March 10, 1922
The Hairy Ape
By ALEXANDER WOOLLCOTT
The little theatre of the Provincetownsmen in Macdougal Street was packed to the doors with astonishment last evening as scene after scene unfolded in the new play by Eugene O'Neill. This was The Hairy Ape, a bitter, brutal, wildly fantastic play of nightmare hue and nightmare distortion. It is a monstrously uneven piece, now flamingly eloquent, now choked and thwarted and inarticulate. Like most of his writing for the theatre, it is the worse here and there for the lack of a fierce, unintimidated blue pencil. But it has a little greatness in it, and it seems rather absurd to fret overmuch about the undisciplined imagination of a young playwright towering so conspicuously above the milling, mumbling crowd of playwrights who have no imagination at all.
The Hairy Ape has been superbly produced.


December 28, 1927
Show Boat
By J. BROOKS ATKINSON
The worlds of Broadway and Park Avenue and their respective wives put on their best bibs and tuckers last night and converged at Mr. Ziegfeld's handsome new playhouse on Sixth Avenue. There they milled about elegantly in the lobby, were pictured by flashlight photographers and finally got to their seats and to the business in hand. That was the inspection of the newest offering from the workshops of the maestro, the much-heralded musical adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel, Show Boat...All right, there you have it: Show Boat is, with a few reservations in favor of some of the earlier Follies and possibly Sally, just about the best musical piece ever to arrive under Mr. Ziegfeld's silken gonfalon. It has, barring perhaps a slight lack of one kind of comedy, and an overabundance of another, and a little slowness in getting under way-this last due to the fact that it is crammed with plot which simply must be explained-about every ingredient that the perfect song-and-dance concoction should have