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.
THE ADVERTISEMENT [Drama/Marriage/Italian] A: Natalia Ginzburg; TR: Henry Reed; D: David Black; S: Donald L. Brooks; P: Nicholas John Stathis in the Classic Theatre Production; T: Provincetown Playhouse (OB); 10/3/74-10/20/74 (12)
The first English-language production of this Italian play had been given at England’s National Theatre, with Joan Plowright in the leading role Its New York premiere was Off Broadway, and it failed to generate interest. It represented a misguided attempt to incorporate somber Pinteresque shadings into a tale about a Roman matron (Julia Curry), still married, but living apart from her wealthy spouse, who advertises for a female student willing to serve as a domestic in return for her board.
When a young applicant (Maria Ruberto) arrives for the job, the woman delivers a long monologue about her relationship with her estranged husband, whom she still loves, but who does not care to return to her. The girl takes the job, grows friendly with the woman, and one day meets the husband (Harvey Solin), with whom a romance begins. Soon, a new aspirant (Ali Jones) for the job originally filled by the girl arrives, ad in hand.
Julius Novick, pointing to the author’s self-declared Pinter influence, noted that the style of Tennessee Williams and Jean Cocteau seemed more noticeable. He was not unduly taken with the play but was ecstatic over the performance of Julia Curry, and said her acting kept the evening “this side of boredom.” Clive Barnes, however, faulted the play’s structure, lack of meaningful character motivation, and the overly melodramatic ending. He also criticized the direction and acting for excessive stylization.
Director Donald L. Sanders and his designer wife, Vanessa James, have been active on the New York stage over the past decade (2010-2020) through their work for a company called Ensemble for the Romantic Century.
Abelard and Heloise
"Acrobats" and "Line"