Monday, May 25, 2020



Greg Antonacci,Judy Allen, Peter Alzado.
"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 If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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.

DANCE WI’ME, OR THE FATAL TWITCH [Comedy w/Music/Period/Youth] A/M: Greg Antonacci; D: Joel Zwick; L: Laura Rambaldi; P: New York Shakespeare Festival; T: Public Theater/Florence Anspacher Theater (OB); 6/10/71-7/18/71 (53)

A comical, nostalgic look at the 50s through its music as exemplified in the mind of Honey Boy (Greg Antonacci), a role based on the author/composer who played it. Several critics were vastly amused by the imaginative comic style of Joel Zwick’s Grotowski-inspired Off-Off Broadway company, the La Plexus workshop troupe, which originated the piece at Café La Mama. Zwick himself played a role called Venerable Zwish.

The concept was to show Honey Boy standing in a crowded subway car at rush hour, fantasizing about his 50s’ boyhood, with the other straphangers acting out his memories with him. One scene, in which a variety of sports were mimed in slow motion, was outstanding.

Clive Barnes gave the show a rave, terming it “a serious, freaked-out farce that I find pure delight,” but there were at least half a dozen major pans. Walter Kerr, for one, came down hard on the actors’ sloppy speech, overly “realistic mime,” and the show’s blurry purpose He concluded, “they have rushed into full scale exposure with too little too soon.”

Three and a half years after Dance wi’Me closed, it was revived at a small Broadway venue where it managed to overcome mediocre reviews and snowball into a decent run. Its title had been slightly changed. Meanwhile, director Joel Zwick (my college classmate and still a good friend, I’m happy to report) was on his way to becoming one of the most successful TV sitcom directors of his time. He also directed the enormously successful movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

John Bottoms, Stuart Silver, Joel Zwick, Greg Antonacci, Deborah Rush, Patricia Gaul, Annie Abbott; (back) Peter Franklin, Scott Redman, Skip Zipf.
DANCE WITH ME [Dramatic Revival] S/L: Scott Johnson; C: Susan Hum Buck; P: Ted Ravinett and Steve Rubinstein; T: Mayfair Theatre; 1/23/75-1/4/76 (396)

Although five of the original cast members (including Antonacci and John Bottoms) were present in this do-over version, the show was not received very well, even by those who had liked it the first time out. “The enchantment has gone,” lamented Clive Barnes.

The new approach was fare more scenically elaborate and realistic than the original (several critics were impressed by the detailed recreation of a subway station). The often effective staging and acting now seemed “overblown” and the additions and accretions to the work were deemed “unnecessary” to Barnes. Douglas Watt opposed the show as “among the season’s disasters,” but a small minority found much to like. Martin Gottfried, for one, praised the work’s enthusiasm and imagination, while noting its “amateurishness.” Joel Zwick’s theatricalist direction, although sometimes uncertain of the comic or dramatic tone, had “a power . . . , a real muscularity, and an exciting use of original musical theatre devices.”

Zwick’s choreography was nominated for a Tony, as was Scott’s scenery, while John Bottoms nabbed a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor, Musical. Among the new ensemble members were the talented Ann Abbott, Deborah Rush, and Joel Zwick himself.

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
The Crucible
Crystal and Fox

Dames at Sea
The Dance of Death (2)