Sunday, September 13, 2020

342. A MATTER OF TIME. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

 A MATTER OF TIME [Musical/Fantasy/Prostitution] M: Hap Schlein and Russel Leib; M/LY: Philip F. Margo; D/CH: Tod Jackson; S: David Guthrie; L: Martin Aronstein; P: Jeff Britton; T: Playhouse Theatre (OB); 4/27/75 (1)

Note: no photos are available for this show.

A Matter of Time ran out of time after one performance, despite reports of a quarter of a million dollars having been poured into it. It was whimsical musical allegory about a character called Next (David-James Carroll), who lives in Heaven, and, on December 31, 1975, is scheduled by “G”—God—to go to Earth as the year 1976. Next cares little for the assignment. However, his refusal means that “D” (Joe Masiell)—the Devil—will send his own man, so Next agrees to check the place out for 24 hours. If he still doesn’t like it, he will return to Heaven. Next arrives in New York on New Year’s Eve and is confronted by all the urban blight he dreaded, including a whore who strips him of his innocence and abandons him. Still, he eventually agrees to remain gallantly on Earth and thereby subvert D’s plans.

“[S]ad and unmemorable” music, as Clive Barnes put it, a book that was a passel of clichés (all those God jokes!), a Hell depicted as “red, lurid, [and] strobe-lit, like a cheesy nightclub,” buffoonish choreography,” and what Carrl Tucker called “excruciatingly trite” dialogue, were among the flaws leading to this show’s instant damnation.