Sunday, April 19, 2020

39. THE BEAUTY PART. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Susan Sullivan, Peter Kingsley.
 "In Lieu of Reviews"

For background on how this previously unpublished series—introducing all mainstream New York shows between 1970 and 1975—came to be and its relationship to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and revival between 1920 and 1950), please check the prefaces to any of the earlier entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

Joseph Bova, Cynthia Harris.
THE BEAUTY PART [Dramatic Revival] A: S.J. Perelman; D: James Hammerstein; S: Fred Voelpel; C: Pearl Somner; L: Roger Morgan; P: American Place Theatre (OB): 10/23074-11/23/74 (36)

Written as a vehicle for the great comic actor Bert Lahr, this 1962 play gave its star a chance to produce a gallery of half-a-dozen hysterically funny portraits.The play is written in a revue-like sketch format in which the various characters are played by a versatile company in which actor plays several roles. Unfortunately, a newspaper strike that clashed with its run left the public largely uninformed about the show and it achieved only a 10-week run. 

Revived by the American Place Theatre in a rare departure from their new plays-only policy, The Beauty Part is the tale of a Yale student named Lance Weatherwax (Peter Kingsley) who, like a modern Candide, leaves his father’s profitable garbage disposal business to make his creative and financial way in the arts. This brings him face to face with the sordid realities of the fields of literature, films, fine art, and TV.

Its negative reviews were typified by Clive Barnes’s, which declared the play “old and tired, its personages a” gallery of shallow caricatures. The scene was “not especially imaginative,” and Joseph Bova, said Barnes, was “not especially funny in the Lahr roles.” Edith Oliver, however, could not “imagine a better production,” laughed at Bova’s “funny, strong performance,” thought Perelman’s wit “about impossible to top,” and called the sets “extremely ingenious.”

Actors of note included Armand Assante, Ron Faber, Bobo Lewis, and Susan Sullivan.

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
Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead
As You Like It
The Au Pair Man

Baba Goya [Nourish the Beast]
The Ballad of Johnny Pot
Barbary Shore
The Bar that Never Closes
The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel