Tuesday, May 4, 2021

550. TWO IF BY SEA. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Company of Two If by Sea. (Photo: Barry Kramer.)

TWO IF BY SEA [Musical/Period/Politics] B/LY: Priscilla B. Dewey and Charles Warner Moore; M: Tony Hutchins; D: Charles Werner Moore; CH: Edward Roll; S: John Doepp; C: Julie Weiss; L: Roger Morgan; P: The Tea Party Company; T: Circle in the Square (OB); 2/6/72 (1)

Two If by Sea never reached the number in its title, retiring after only one performance. This Off-Broadway musical presents a modern high-school history class reenacting the events leading to the American Revolution, each student playing an historical figure. The events include Paul Revere’s ride and the Boston Tea Party. Julius Novick called the cliché-riddled show “sententiously stupid,” “phony-hip,” and “clumsily written.”

Other negative views were common, as, for example, Clive Barnes’s that it was a “coy, amateurish” show deserving of “sweet gentle forgetfulness. . . . [T]he music was as effective as a barber shop trio, the lyrics limped, and the book would have been better left behind.” Edith Oliver, though, thought it “not that bad,” since the young performers possessed “an engaging fervor and innocence” that helped a bit to "overcome the inanity of their material.”

That youthfully innocent cast included Kay Cole, Jack Gardner, Judy Gibson, Rod Loomis, Rick Podell, Jan Ross, John Stratton, John Witham, and, most notably considering the length and depth of his career, Joe Morton.

Representative song titles: "The American Revolution," "Paul Revere," "Wouldn't It Be Fine," "There'll Be a Tomorrow," "Stamp Out the Tea Tax," "We're a Young Country," "People Who Live on Islands," and "Two If By Sea, I Think."

Readers of this blog who may be interested in my Theatre's Leiter Side review collections (one with a memoir), covering almost every show of 2012-2014, will find them at Amazon.com by clicking here. 

Next up: Two Gentlemen of Verona