Monday, April 30, 2012

Popping Up All Over

STAGES Busy time for theater and dance. Have seen Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN revival. My memory of earlier versions too strong. Did realize for first time, however, that the brother is a totally unrealistic remembrance by Loman, as if one visit encapsulated all their lives. AN EARLY HISTORY OF FIRE absorbing new family drama by David Rabe about youth’s eternal need to fly from home – and a creative man’s double need to expand his horizons. Well done and absorbing. LONELY, I’M NOT by Paul Weitz explores the difficult task of finding oneself. Nicely acted and well staged to keep action moving. ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS brilliantly directed and performed by a stellar cast. Had audience in stitches throughout and managed to fool most viewers with various schtick. Though not a fan of commedia dell’arte, I appreciate how superbly this was done. Was fascinated by THE MORINI STRAD – a friend who saw it could not warm to the leading character, but I, having worked for years with Sonia Moore, identified with her immediately. They were two of a kind. INTERNATIONAL PERFORMING ARTISTS PRESENTS AN EVENING OF DANCE in late March had few exciting moments but was enjoyable throughout. AVI SCHER & DANCERS, about whom I wrote extensively in the May/June issue of Art Times Journal continues to present superb classical dancers in his very romantic choreography. YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX NEW YORK FINALS 2012 was a stunner. Classical Ballet has nothing to worry about in the future if the memorable dancers in STARS OF TODAY MEET STARS OF TOMORROW GALA is representative of the remarkable talents of young dancers emerging internationally today. I was particularly impressed by the male dancers who had great elevation and strong sustained performances in their solos and partnering. I will cover this event and the subsequent First Position movie in my Art Times Journal dance article on line in June. I was delighted to attend Program A of the Spring 2012 Directors’ Festival at Pace University. I went to accompany playwright Paul Dexter whose THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DOUG was first play on the four play program. His play is one of my favorites in TnT Classic Books volume of "Short Plays to Long Remember" which I compiled and edited in 2010 and which was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Awards that year. The young actor portraying Doug, Jake Robbins, did a very energetic performance of Doug. A slower pacing of the play would have done much to indicate the humiliation he needed to portray. In the second play the daughter (Claire Charland) and mother (Brooklyn Newton) were both memorable, the younger for her naturalness and innocence, the mother for her ability to appear to be a middle aged dowager despite her actual youth. My favorite production of the evening was ALL ABOUT AL which offers a humorous look at jealousy. The final presentation was ill conceived and the actresses had neither the stage presence nor the vocal abilities to pull it off. I always tell actors when I direct there are two things you owe an audience - to be seen in character and heard throughout the theater. Without those very basic abilities, no amount of “acting” can save you. PAGES Read three more books for the global ebook awards – one quite wonderful. They asked us to hold comments until all entries are judged, so no words allowed yet. Also read over half a dozen paper books – no wonder my eyes are so bad – Mysteries by Lovejoy, Marsh and Barnard -- one actually fooled me, other 2 figured out fairly early. Biography of the brilliant artist Turner by Peter Ackroyd was interesting though not compelling, being more about his art than about him. Now reading Daphne du Maurier’s "The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte" biography, which has all the dramatic power she can so readily convey. Enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s “The Charming Quirks of Others.” Jeb Rubenfeld’s “Death Instinct”, second book with Freud as a character. was as entertaining as his first. Both are set in part in my native New York many years ago and are extra fascinating for that fact. I am working on the second part of my early years memoir, CONFESSIONS OF A DIRTY CHEW BASKET, having just left the devastating 1930s in NYC, not many years after the Rubenfeld books' time set. Also preparing a book by Melissa DiGenova for publication by TnT Classioc Books. Have a nice quote on the back cover of Norman Beim’s “Touring With Stalin.” An anecdote about my dad will appear in a forthcoming book, “Remembering our Parents” by Stuart Gustafson, and Sherry L. Meinberg sent me a copy of her book, “Imperfect Weddings” which begins with an anecdote from my own wedding. Looking forward to my interview May 22 at 1PM Eastern time on conscious discussions at We’ll discuss my current campaign to fight illiteracy by getting kids hooked on books before school sets them squirming when they have to read. Seems like I am popping up all over, but right now need to pop off and get going on supper.