Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Ruth Warrick, Mark Alaimo.
The following precedes each entry

"In Lieu of Reviews"

Around 40 years ago, I began a major project that eventuated in the publication of my multivolume series, The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage, each volume covering a decade. For some reason now lost to the sands of time, I chose to start with the 1970s. After writing all the entries through 1975 and producing a typed manuscript of 1,038 pages my publisher (Greenwood) and I decided it would be best to commence with the 1920s. So the 1970-1975 material was put aside as I produced volumes for 1920-1930, 1930-1940, and 1940-1950. With those concluded, Greenwood decided it was all too expensive and not sufficiently profitable, so the remaining volumes were cancelled, leaving my 1970s entries in limbo.

To compensate, I used the research I’d done on the 1970s to write a book for Greenwood called Ten Seasons: New York Theatre in the Seventies, which described all aspects of that era’s theatre, onstage and off. Many years later, in 2012, I began a postretirement “career” as a theatre reviewer, which led to my creating this blog as an outlet for my reviews. Over the past eight years or so I’ve posted nearly 1,600 reviews, a substantial number having first appeared on other websites: Theater Pizzazz, The Broadway Blog, and Theater Life.

Now, however, with the New York theatre in suspension, and my reviewing completely halted, is probably the perfect time to post as many as possible of the entries I prepared for the never-published 1970-1975 book. The entries that follow are in alphabetical order. Each entry has a heading listing the subject categories of the work described: the author (A), the director (D), additional staging (ADD ST), when credited; the producer (P), the set designer (S), the costume designer (C), the lighting designer (L), the source (SC), the theatre (T), the dates of the run, and, in parentheses, the length of the run. The original entries also contained the names of all the actors but I’ve omitted those here.

I will try to post at least one entry daily. When time allows, I’ll provide more. The manuscript exists on fading, fragile paper and, because no digital files exist, must be retyped. Hopefully, the tragic health situation we’re all enduring will abate before I get too far into posting these entries but, for the time being, devoted theatre lovers may find reading these materials informative.

ANY RESEMBLANCE TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD [Comedy/Fantasy/Religion/Sci-Fi/Wealth] A: Eliot Caplin; D: Loukas Skipitares; S: Donald Padgett; C: David Toser; L: Richard Nelson; M: Saul Honigman; P: Lou-Na-Poseidon, Ltd. b/a/w Robert L. Steele; T: Gate Theatre (OB); 5/24/71-5/31/71 (8)

A “feeble fable” (Clive Barnes), staged with fairly elaborate means, in which a young man named Lars (Mark Alaimo) wants to play God and solve the world’s problems. By means of various accomplishments and personal conquests, including his invention of a female robot financed by the world’s wealthiest woman (Ruth Warrick) and sold for all his money to the world’s wealthiest man (John Call), Lars succeeds in accumulating all the power in the world and fast talks himself onto God’s throne. His efforts on behalf of mankind go disastrously astray and Lars finishes up by raving angrily at the audience for what man has become.

Barnes spotted a few moments of “ironic wit and comic inversions,” but decided the piece was neither “coherent, original [nor] meaningful.” Richard Watts called it “a phenomenal bore,” and Joseph Mazo thought it “a purely puerile” play. “It is amateurishly constructed, poorly written, and has all the intellectual depth of a pre-prepared telegram,” he noted.

Ruth Warrick, who played the female lead in this disaster, was an actress of some note, her credits including her having played Orson Welles’s bride in Citizen Kane. She was to enjoy a remarkably long career as a soap opera star on TV’s “All My Children.”

Previous entries:

Abelard and Heloise
Absurd Person Singular
“Acrobats” and “Line”
The Advertisement/
All My Sons
All Over
All Over Town
All the Girls Came Out to Play
Alpha Beta
L’Amante Anglais         
American Gothics
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little       
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers
And Whose Little Boy Are You?
Anna K.
Anne of Green Gables