Friday, May 29, 2020



Jessica Harper, George McGrath, Ron Faber.
 "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 If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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.

DOCTOR SELAVY’S MAGIC THEATRE [Musical/Fantasy/Hospital/Mental Illness] CN/D/DS: Richard Foreman; M: Stanley Silverman; LY: Tom Hendry; P: Lyn Austin and Oliver Smith in the Lenox Arts Center Production; T: Mercer-O’Casey Theatre (OB); 11/23/72-3/25/73 (144)

There was no plot to speak of in this surrealistic farce conceived, directed, and designed by leading avant-gardist Richard Foreman It came to New York after a showing at the Lenox Arts Center in Massachusetts. Set within a sanitarium where a new patient arrives for treatment, it presented the inmates and doctors of the madhouse in a series of madcap Dadaist activities and musical numbers, the many arresting visual images being reminiscent of such painters as Magritte, Chirico, and Devaux.

The acting was deadpan, with the performers frequently moving in very slow motion, staring straight out at the audience and engaging in a choreographic sequence of unusual variations and gestures. The scenes and music parodied silent films, Broadway and Hollywood musicals, 18th-century opera, and vaudeville.

Foreman’s directorial talent was generally approved. Clive Barnes observed: “Mr. Foreman has done an astonishing job of staging a mental case history with style, wit and taste.” And there were several positive notices. Edith Oliver thought it “startling, original and imaginative,” and Harold Clurman noted that it may not have made much sense, but was “weirdly funny and . . . very ably done.” Walter Kerr, however, was disappointed that it was not funnier, and John Simon dismissed it as old hat and “comparatively inoffensive.” Much praise was accorded for the music of Stanley Silverman and Tom Hendry’s inane lyrics. The former, in fact, was given a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.

Cast members included Ron Faber, Amy Taubin, Jessica Harper, and George McGrath.

Previous Entries:

Abelard and Helo/ise
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
Dance wi’Me/Dance with Me
A Day in the Life of Just about Everyone
Dear Nobody
Dear Oscar
The Desert Song
Diamond Studs
Different Times
The Dirtiest Show in Town
The Divorce of Judy and Jane
Do It Again!
Doctor Jazz