Thursday, May 21, 2020



Eileen Herlie, George Grizzard.
"In Lieu of Reviews"

Reviews of live theatre being impossible during these days of the pandemic, THEATRE'S LEITER SIDE is pleased to provide instead accounts of previous theatre seasons--encompassing the years 1970-1975-for theatre-hungry readers. If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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 entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

Eileen Herlie, George Grizzard, Enid Rodgers, Eleanor Phelps.
CROWN MATRIMONIAL [Drama/Biographical/British/Family/Politics] A: Royce Ryton; D: Peter Dews; S/C: Finlay James; L: Neil Peter Jampolis; P: Lester Osterman Productions i/a/w Michael Codron; T: Helen Hayes Theatre; 10/2/73-12/9/73 (79)

Patrick Horgan, Eileen Herlie.
Royce Ryton’s superficial dramatization of the travails of the British royal family when faced by the 42-year-old King Edward VIII’s (George Grizzard) decision to marry the twice-divorced American, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, even though it meant abdication, was given a smoothly competent, polished production. The play itself, a London success, did not light firecrackers in the New York press. 

Clive Barnes, himself British, called it “a strongly conceived historical drama” with a promise for “thrilling, domestic tragedy,” that went unfulfilled when the author opted to write witty dialogue at the expense of firm dramatic structure. To John Simon, this was little more than “royal soap opera . . . play writing of the hoariest, weariest sort, full of set pieces and grand entrances.” Like several others, he could not accept a serious treatment of the famous story that failed entirely to introduce the female love interest.

Eileen Herlie, George Grizzard, Ruth Hunt, Patrick Horgan.
Ryton’s drama chose to concentrate on the clash between Queen Mary (Eileen Herlie), Edward’s mother, and her impassioned son, a decision that robbed the work of its potential for deeper significance. It was suggested that as Mrs. Simpson was still alive, her possible objections were likely behind the approach.

Eileen Herlie got fine reviews for her Queen Mary, as did George Grizzard for his Edward. Simon, though, thought the American actor “miscast” as a British royal, claiming “he is not wispy and, above all, not everyday enough.” Patrick Horgan’s stammering Bertie, soon to be King George VI, was excellent, as was Paddy Croft’s Princess Mary in this otherwise well-designed, efficient staging. Finlay James’s costumes earned him a Tony nomination.

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
The Beauty Part
The Beggar’s Opera
Behold! Cometh the Vanderkellens
Be Kind to People Week
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half-Shell Revue
Black Girl
Black Light Theatre of Prague
Black Picture Show
Black Sunlight
The Black Terror
Black Visions
Les Blancs
Blasts and Bravos: An Evening with H,L. Mencken
Blue Boys
Bob and Ray—The Two and Only
Boesman and Lena
The Boy Who Came to Leave
A Breeze from the Gulf
Brief Lives
Brother Gorski
Bullshot Crummond
The Burnt Flower Bed
Button, Button
Buy Bonds, Buster

The Cage
Candide (1)
Candide (2)
The Candyapple
Captain Brassbound’s Conversion
The Caretaker
La Carpa de los Raquichis
The Carpenters
The Castro Complex
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Changing Room
Charles Abbott and Son
Charley’s Aunt
Charlie Was Here and Now He’s Gone
Chemin de Fer
The Cherry Orchard
The Chickencoop Chinaman
The Children
Children! Children!
Children in the Rain
Children of the Wind
The Children’s Mass
A Chorus Line
The Chronicle of Henry VI: Part 1, Part II,
The Circle
Clarence Darrow
Cold Feet
Conditions of Agreement
Coney Island Cycle
The Constant Wife
The Contractor
The Contrast
The Constant Wife
The Country Girl
Crazy Now
The Creation of the World and Other Business