Thursday, May 7, 2020

85. CHARLEY'S AUNT. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


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 If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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

Maureen O'Sullivan, Melville Cooper.
CHARLEY’S AUNT [Dramatic Revival] A: Brandon Thomas; D: Harold Stone; S: Robert T. Williams; C: Richard Anderson; L: F. Mitchell Dana; P: Jay H. Fuchs and Jerry Schlossberg i/aw John Murray; T: Brooks Atkinson Theatre; 7/4/70-7/11/70 (9)

Lynn Milgrim, Louis Nye, Andra Akers.
Brandon Thomas’s once fabulously successful 1893 British farce, periodically revived in New York and elsewhere, was unsuccessfully revived here despite an amusing performance of Lord Fancourt Babberly by Louis Nye. A skimpy production, with a generally ill-cast company unable to match Nye’s unique comic qualities, made the effort “a one-man show,” according to Jerry Tallmer. This in spite of a cast including former film star Maureen O’Sullivan (mother of Mia Farrow) as the title character, Hollywood character actor Melville Cooper as the comic butler, Brassett; British stage and film actor Eric Berry as Stephen Spettigue; and Gilbert and Sullivan specialist Martyn Green as Col. Sir Frances Chesney.

Maureen O'Sullivan, Martyn Green.
Martin Gottfried rejected both the play and the production but Brendan Gill described the farce—in which an Oxford student passes himself off as his aunt from Brazil (“where the nuts come from”)—as a still viable warhorse marred in this version by a mounting of “quite exceptional ineptitude.” He was one of the few to pan Nye, whom he said was old enough to play his character’s father, a note made even more discordant by the casting of young actors as Lord Fancourt’s chums and girlfriends. Actually, though, the casting of a comic actor older than Lord Fancourt in the part was a rather common practice although, as photos reveal, Nye was a bit longer in the tooth than most of his predecessors.

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