Saturday, May 30, 2020

130. DON JUAN. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

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 If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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

Paul Hecht, Bill Moor.
DON JUAN [Dramatic Revival] A:Molière; D/TR: Stephen Porter; S: John J. Moore; C: Nancy Potts; L: Tharon Musser; M: Conrad Susa; P: New Phoenix Repertory Company; T: Lyceum Theatre; 12/11/72-1/4/73 (22)
Marilyn Sokol, Paul Hecht, Charlotte Moore.
Produced in rotating repertory with Eugene O’Neill’s The Great God Brown, Don Juan proved the more acceptable of this rarely revived pair, both dramaturgically and theatrically, even in the face of a low production budget that allowed for little more than skimpy visuals. Stephen Porter’s staging of his own version of Molière’s dark comedy about the cynical master seducer (Paul Hecht) and his comic servant, Sganarelle (John McMartin), was clean, polished, fast-paced, and often very droll, although there were directorial lapses. Harold Clurman said of the play that it “retains an ineradicable tone of contemporaneity. It survives through its fundamental theatrical vigor and its sprightly wisdom.”

David Dukes, Paul Hecht, John McMartin.
Paul Hecht’s Don Juan was greatly liked by Clive Barnes and others, but it was John McMartin’s servant that drew the greatest praise. John Simon, for example, noted how the actor was “clearly more rag doll than flesh and bone, with more catches in his voice than there are in a fraudulent contract . . . and eyeballs that seem to revolve sideways, inward and especially heavenward incessantly and sometimes simultaneously.” Given such notices, it’s no wonder the actor received a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor, Play.

Other well-known names in the company were Katherine Helmond as Dona Elvira, Charlotte Moore as Charlotte, John Glover as Pierrot, Marilyn Sokol as Mathurine, David Dukes as Don Carlos (Peter Friedman was his understudy), and Bill Moor as Don Luis.

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
A Doll’s House (2)