Wednesday, February 24, 2021

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 From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Alvin Ing, Lee Beery, Johanna Albrecht, Gilbert Price, Gail Nelson, Hal Watters.
SIX [Musical Revue] B/M/LY: Charles Strouse; D: Peter Coe; S: Richard Nelson; P: Slade Brown; T: Cricket Playhouse (OB); 4/12/71-4/18/71 (8)

Six talented young performers –Johanna Albrecht, Lee Beery, Alvin Ing, Gail Nelson, Gilbert Prie, and Hal Watters—were trapped in this Off-Broadway show. Obviously, it had no connection to the Covid-delayed, much anticipated arrival on Broadway of the identically titled British musical about the wives of Henry VIII. (The most noteworthy performer in the six-member cast was baritone Gilbert Price, who earned three Tony nominations.)

Six was an ill-fated revue in which various topical subjects were sung about in a presentation that lasted not much more than an hour. As Edith Oliver expressed it, librettist, composer, and lyricist Charles Strouse—creator of such hits as Bye Bye Birdie, Applause, and Annie—put too strong a reliance on “abstract thought” when dealing with subjects like “life, love, birth and death.”

Clive Barnes found Strouse’s lyrics “simplistic, the tone pretentious, and the music unoriginal.” He observed:

The lyrics make such commendable statements as: “Life is to Live. Life is to die. Life is to sing. Life is to cry.” Right on, baby—tell it as it is. There are some decently simplistic political comments such as: “The white man kills the Indian. Hitler kills the Jew.” And a few social meanderings such as: “Everyone's a suicide—it is just a question of when.” Well, yes.

For those old enough to remember a certain TV critic of yore, Barnes’s conclusion might be worth a gander:

Strangely, for me the most dramatic figure of the evening was my colleague Stewart Klein—he works on one of those TV channels — stolidly chewing gum in the front row. That man chews superbly. It could almost be set to music.

The Cricket, in case you're wondering, was located at 162 Second Avenue, between E. 10th and E. 11th Streets.