Wednesday, October 28, 2020

364. ODODO. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Tonice Gwathney, Marilyn B. Coleman, Roxie Roker.
ODODO [Musical/Africa/Period/Race] B: Joseph A. Walker; M: Dorothy A. Dinroe; D: Joseph A. Walter; CH: Syvilla Fort, J.A. Walker; S: Edward Burbridge; C: Dorothy A. Dinroe; L: Ernest Baxter; P: Negro Ensemble Company; T: St. Marks Playhouse (OB); 11/17/70-12/27/70 (41)

An episodic recreation of black history, from Africa to Harlem, dealing with the ever-present fight for the recognition of the Black person’s dignity and rights as a human being.

To some white reviewers the tone was blatantly and offensively militant and racist. On the artistic side, the negative reviews ranged from calling it musically “dreadful,” as Martin Gottfried declared, and uncreative, to clich├ęd and unprofessional. Clive Barnes, who castigated Ododo (the Yoruba word for “truth”) as anti-white, nevertheless managed to find in it the elements of “a good show,” its message “beautifully written propaganda,” and its music “apt, evocative, and . . . exciting.” Brendan Gill held it to be a failure, despite effective elements, but Dick Brukenfeld paid homage to it as “a warm, virile, life-affirming show, . . . an evening to savor.” He disputed Barnes’s assertion that it was anti-white, declaring it instead “anti-American—anti what is dead and dangerous to this country.”

The cast included Ray Aranha, Garrett Morris, Roxie Roker, Charles Weldon, and eight others.