Monday, September 14, 2020



David Ogden Stiers, Leah Chandler.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE [Dramatic Revival] A: William Shakespeare; D: John Houseman; S: Douglas W. Schmidt; C: John David Ridge; L: Martin Aronstein; M: Virgil Thomson; P: City Center Acting Company; T: Billy Rose Theatre; 12/26/74-1/11/74 (7)

Leah Chandler, Sam Tsoutsuvas.

John Houseman, founder and artistic director of the Acting Company, composed of recent Juilliard graduates, staged this classical revival for their 1973-1974, five-play repertory season on Broadway. Clive Barnes thought it one of the company’s “more laudable” efforts because its leading roles were played by able actors and its approach was bubbling with verve and spirit “without sacrificing Shakespeare’s dark vision of a hypocritical society.” Updated to the late 19th century, the interpretation concentrated on the play’s comic elements, thereby making the behavior of the Duke and Angelo easier to grasp.

Barnes described David Schramm’s Angelo as “no monster, but a man of enormous rigidity . . . obsessed by his own saintliness . . . but not entirely a scoundrel.” Leah Chandler (who alternated with Mary Lou Rosato) was “glowingly virginal” as Isabella, and David Ogden Stiers affable and warm as the Duke. Disagreement came from, among others, John Simon, who declared the transfer of period unremarkable, and denied that this was “a cute farce about a clownish duke and his diabolical deputy.”

Kevin Kline played Friar Peter, Peter Dvorsky was Claudio, Mary Lou Rosato was Mistress Overdone, Jared Sakren was Pompey, Sam Tsoutsouvas was Lucio, Benjamin Hendrickson was Elbow, Patti LuPone doubled as A Boy and a Lady of the Town.