Sunday, November 12, 2017

Double Header

This weekend David and I saw another double-header! What is it about Chicago?

Friday evening was an unusual production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, which for some reason was interlaced with a play about the Columbia Women's Club by Ron West. The obvious reason for this was that the cast was composed of all women, the 'club' giving it reason for this casting. This was merely a complete reversal of the way it was done in Shakespeare's day when all the roles were taken by men, but that has long gone out of fashion. The scenes of the club, and their attention to the women's suffrage movement (the date was supposed to be 1919) simply broke up the action that Shakespeare designed.

Image result for alexandra henrickson soprano   Alexandra Henrickson

At the end of the production in a 'club' break-in, the actress playing Kate, Alexandra Henrickson, announces that she simply cannot say Kate's final speech now that women have been given the right to vote. She finally says the lines about obeying her husband's every demand. Petruchio, played by Crystal Lucas-Berry, does not put his foot on her offered hand, but instead takes her hand and says 'Come on and kiss me Kate!' Ms. Lucas-Berry said it rather quietly at which time the cast put on sashes proclaiming women's right to vote and sang a patriotic song.

Image result for crystal lucas perry  Crystal Lucas-Perry

Poor Will must be rolling around in his grave!

The cast all did a fine job of pretending to be men by speaking very loudly and swaggering about. A good bit of overacting!  But I'd rather see a mixed sex cast.

It brought to mind the comment I made recently about changing the last scene of Menotti's The Consul which we saw last week. When one is working with the art of a genius, just sing the song the way he wrote it!

It reminded me of perfomances I attended of Vittorio Gianinni's opera based on the play at the New York City Center in 1958. My dear friend, the late Dorothy Fee, was the librettist and attended every performance with me as her escort. Those were my gigolo days, I guess. Phyllis Curtin was Kate and Walter Cassell was Petruchio. It is a wonderful opera and should be revived! This was when I first met Phyllis. We became friends and, in our old age, shared many happy times together trashing singers we didn't like! 

At about this same time I saw Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate! on Broadway with Patricia Morrison and Alfred Drake in the leading roles. Great show!


'Time magazine called The Skin of Our Teeth “a sort of Hellzapoppin' with brains,” as it broke from established theatrical conventions and walked off with the Pulizer Prize.'

Well something has happened since 1942 when it opened on Broadway with Talullah Bankhead, Frederic March, Florence Eldridge, and Montgomery  Clift. The production we saw last night at the Remy Bumppo Theatre just couldn't get off the ground. 

The play is supposed to be a 'comic strip' version of human exsistance from the ice age to a post-nuclear war. The Antrobus family struggles for thousands of years to survive.

Last night's cast barely made it.

Image result for kelly o'sullivan actress  Kelly O'Sullivan

Kelly O'Sullivan as Sabrina and Linda Gillum as Mrs. Antrobus were the liveliest actors and help keep the play afloat.

Image result for linda gillum actress        Linda Gillum

The final act seemed deadly slow.

The best costumes by Micka van der Ploeg were for the Mammoth and the Dinosaur, who appear in Act One.  I have always thought that I directed this play years ago at the Methodist Church in Red Bank, NJ. I remember the wonderful costumes Margaret Stehlik made for those creatures, but I draw a complete blank on the play. Perhaps it was another play with a Dinosaur and a Mammoth?

Old age is hell!