Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Paula Kelly, Penny White, Valerie Harper, Mary Frann, Regina Baff, and (center) Avery Schreiber.
OVID’S METAMORPHOSES [Comedy/Military/Romance] AD/TR/LY: Arnold Weinstein; SC: Ovid’s Metamorphoses; D: Paul Sills; S: James Trittipo; C: Noel Taylor; L: H.R. Poindexter; M: The True Brethren; P: Zev Bufman; T: Ambassador Theatre; 4/22/71-7/3/71 (35)

Hamid Hamilton Camp, Paul Sand, Avery Schreiber, Charles Bartlett, Richard Schall.

The critics were not as clearly in favor of this work as they had been of the earlier Paul Sills's Story Theatre, which the present show joined in repertory from April to July, 1971. Several, like Brendan Gill and Clive Barnes, were more disposed toward Ovid as a dramatic source than the Brothers Grimm (the inspiration for Story Theatre). Most considered the new piece a disappointment, being only partly effective and incapable of sustaining interest for a full evening of theatre.

Charles Bartlett, Paula Kelly.

The material was largely based on the erotic tales of the ancient Roman writer, Ovid (43 BC-17/18 AD). Some proved stageworthy (like the story of Philemon and Baucis, and the one about Pygmalion), but they generally required a greater knowledge of the literary background than the average theatregoer was equipped with. Despite a good rock score, played by a group called the True Brethren, and uniformly good acting, coyness was too often in evidence. It was “Nothing to write Homer about,” quipped Martin Gottfried, using a Greek writer’s name to pun about a show based on Roman writing. T.E. Kalem, however, found it “an amusing and salubrious eyeful.”

Richard Schall, Valerie Harper.

Helping the classical stuff go down was a cast including some whose names ring a bell even today: Lewis Arquette, Regina Baff, Charles Bartlett, Hamid Hamilton Camp, Melinda Dillon, MacIntyre Dixon, Valerie Harper, Paula Kelly, Richard Libertini, Paul Sand, Avery Schreiber, Mary Frann, and Penny White