Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Will winter demand a rematch now that its spring?


I cannot believe I skipped mentioning a play I thought one of the best I’ve seen in years. It was on Theater Row,
Poetic License
by Jack Canfora– four characters, with old Greek unities, brilliant dialogue, scintillating performances, a fine set, very good direction by Evan Bergmann – should have gone to Broadway but the Times did not agree so probably it will languish until some wise producer finds it eventually. This talented playwright deserves a Broadway run soon.

A talented playwright who had his share of Broadway runs, the great Eugene O’Neill, was being well served at the Irish Rep Theater with a production of
Beyond the Horizon
that flowed as smoothly and inevitably as a river rushing to the ocean. I loved the expressionistic set by Hugh Landwehr and offer kudos to old pal Ciarán O’Reilly for his naturalistic direction.

On the dance front, enjoyed the 2012 Inaugural Performance of Kymera Dance in the spacious LaGuardia High School. More about this and New York Theatre Ballet’s 33rd Season
Signatures 12
celebration of legends and visionaries on line in April at


Rules for judges reading in the Global Ebook Awards have changed, and we are urged NOT to post opinions about books we have judged until winners are announced, so I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed several books in the historical fiction and mystery categories.

In paper books. Enjoyed Robert Barnard’s “Death of a Literary Widow” But then, I haee enjoyed most of his mysteries.

Admit I was not much taken with Gustave Flaubert’s “Sentimental Education.” Charles Finch’s “A Stranger in Mayfair” held my interest throughout even though I figured out the murderer too soon and the motive as soon as a certain fact unknown earlier was revealed. Well plotted, well written and well worth reading.

Am currently preparing a new kids book written by Melissa DiGenova for publication this Fall. It is her second book for TnT Classics, which published her first book. The book she wrote in between, “Jake is not Stupid” was published elsewhere. It was the first in a series this special ed teacher projects about children with physical, emotional or mental challenges.
Her new book, “Dan is Not Scary” is being illustrated by Maggie Cousins, who illustrated all four fo my read-to-me fantasy story books.

The great niece of the co-founder of TnT Classic Books, visited here this past week. We reminisced about her Great Aunt and all the books in the Happy Task series from TnT, which was named for Maggie Task upon her demise.

Will be at the Rainbow Book Fair on West 13th St Saturday, March 24 at the GNYIPA table on the first floor. If you get to read this in time and can make it, stop by. We are there from 10AM until early eve.
I’ll be reading a 4 minute selection from Jane Chambers’ spoof of evangelists, “Chasin’ Jason”, sometime between 3:30 and 4:00. This novel never got all the attention it deserved but seems especially appropriate in today’s religious climate. In it, a four year old declares himself the second coming – and his followers just about take over the world!
I finished the rewrite of my play about a musician who died too young, am back working on the second half of my memoir about childhood during the Great Depression and World War II. Life keeps getting in the way of my writing time – so will steal a few hours from this day and go back to work.

Sunday, March 4, 2012



I was so busy going to various staged events in February; I never got around to writing about them. So here’s a brief recap. Those with dancing involved are also covered in my March/April article in Art Times Journal and on line at
Broke my own rule about revivals and went to see “The Road to Mecca.” It reinforces why I don’t “do” revivals generally. While I am not opposed to talky plays, the talk has to dazzle or the players have to triumph. Neither was the case in this revival there just never was a moment when the play soared off the stage.
Saw “Russian Transport” which was played more for comedy than for the underlying horror of the family business. It was lively and many of the family scenes seemed very realistic. It is a disturbing play and a good attempt at real old fashioned drama.
I enjoyed Parsons Dance presentation at the Joyce. “Round my World” had some visually stunning moments. I found the music in several of the numbers so unpleasant I prayed for earplugs and just held my hands over my ears instead. A much younger musician friend who was with me had the same reaction. “Caught” should have come with a warning for those who cannot take strobe lighting, because it is a dance of light and posing and the timing must be perfect, as it was in this performance. All the dances used the stage well, and the final “Swing Shift” was a rousing one. Dancers were fluid, graceful and athletic. David Parson choreographed 4 of the 5 numbers, and Katarzyna Skarpetowska the world premiere of “A Stray’s Lullaby” which was commissioned by the Joyce Theater Foundation with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It was a perfect fit with the rest of the program.
Was at the world premiere of a new NYC dance company, Kymera Dance at the far from small Little Flower Theater at LaGuardia High School. Company foundet William Isaac choreographed two of the dances, one of which he had done in 2011 and which used LaGuardia High School Alumni Dancers to recreate it, the other was an energetic and exciting new work. Abdur-Rahim Jackson choreographed one and Karole Armitage presented excerpts form “Three Theories” which premiered in 2010.
I also saw “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” which soared on the opening nimber due to the exquisite voice of Nikki Renée Daniels. All the voices throughout were splendid, although some of the characterizations were less stunning than I had anticipated after all the great reviews. The dancing frankly left me disappointed. Still, it is a thrill to have the opportunity to see this done on a Broadway stage. Audra McDonald certainly did not disappoint.
Must mention the loss of Howard Kissel. He was top drama critic at the Daily News when I was a press agent and I found him always a gentleman and an astute critic. He shall be missed.
I have one personal memory of Howard which embarrassed him and amused me.
I was awaiting a cross town bus at 9th Ave and 34th when Howard rushed over to the bus stop. Delighted to see him after about 4 years, I greeted him and he stooped over and pecked my cheek. Then he pulled away and apologized, saying he thought I was someone else. He was blushing. Laughing I said “I’m Francine”
and before I could finish he said, Yes, Francine Trevens, I know.” I wonder for whom he mistook me?
I made a similar mistake some ten years earlier when I was rushing to a meeting on the east side and saw an actor I recognized, although his name eluded me. Having interviewed hundreds of actors in my theater reviewing days, I greeted him with a hug and said how surprised I was to see him in New York. “What are you doing here?”
I asked, struggling to recall his name. He said was filming a movie. I wished him luck with it, said how great it was to see him and hurried on. Two blocks later it dawned on me I had never interviewed him or spoken to him before in my life – it was Michael Caine. I wonder if he wondered who the h… I was?
In addition to my regular reading of books I can cuddle with before going to sleep, or read while dining, I have read three books for the Global Ebooks awards, being a judge again this year.
Of the three the first purported to be a mystery novel and I found it to be neither a novel or much of a mystery. The second blew me away – an historical novel that had me on the edge of my seat as I strained my eyes to read it on my computer. “Dr. Margaret’s Sea Chest” was thrilling – with its history of the underground railroad and the Indian wars with the charge of the light brigade all made up close and personal. I look forward to the sequel
Another good read was Ice on the Grapes by R.E. Donald. Took me a while to get into it but it kept moving and got more interesting as it went along. Well plotted mystery.
Smashwords, where I publish my ebooks for kids is having a special promotion so I have offered all four read to me illustrated fantasy books for half price now through March 10 – so if you have been wanting to read these gems Pixie Tales, “Elfin Tales,” “Fairy Tales Too,” and “Gremlins, Genies and Trolls, Oh My!”or get them for kids in your family get them now! You can download them to any e reader, or read as a PDF or an epub right on your computer.
The code for half price on any of the books is REW50. –

In paper format, have been reading several books. One mystery that delighted me was “Death at Devil’s Bridge” by Robin Paige (pen name of a husband and wife writing team). The mystery is set in the turbulent time when balloon travel was an uncontrollable new form of flight, and automobiles were considerate great dangers when they sped about at 12 miles an hour. Charming book.
“The Affairs of Forgotten Youth” is the first Alexander McCall Smith book which I have read which disappointed me. He is a favorite contemporary writer of mine and this book just didn’t grab me as have all his others.
Now, back to the pages of a full length play that I have been rewriting for the last two weeks. Hope to get it in shape this week and sent out to theaters ASAP. These things don’t do any of us any good sitting in drawers or on computers, do they?
As my 80th birthday creeps up, I know I must get a move on with all the projects I wish to get written before my final curtain!