|Madge Sinclair, center.|
One of several attempts during the period to rock-musicalize the classics, in this case a less-than-widely-known Greek tragedy by Euripides. The evening was divided into two parts, each with its own title. In both parts the role of Iphigenia was sung and acted by a chorus of 12 talented young actress-singers of whom Harold Clurman said, “They compose the best-looking group of girls on the New York stage today.” They were Nell Carter, Margaret Dorn, Leata Galloway, Bonnie Guidry, Patricia Hawkins, Marta Heflin, Lynda Lee Lawley, Andrea Marcovicci, Julienne Marshall, Pamela Pentony, Marion Ramsey, and Sharon Redd.
This group, said Julius Novick, represented “an extraordinary feat of casting, collectively sing up a storm, and they all register as individuals.” Clive Barnes added that the women made “you . . . well contented with the sex.” Unfortunately, he also observed, “without a readily identifiable heroine, the tragic pathos of the piece naturally becomes dissipated.”
A further problem was the show’s apparent pointlessness. It added “nothing” to the original, thought Barnes, and had no clear purpose for an audience of 1972, believed Clurman and Novick. Another drawback included a lack of suspense deriving from a “double time scheme,” in which, as Walter Kerr pointed out, Iphigenia both knows and does not know what her fate will be. In Novick’s view, the unfocused treatment failed to fully dramatize the situations.
In Part I, the plot of Iphigenia in Aulis is faithfully followed. It tells the story of Agamemnon’s (Manu Tupou) sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia, a plot foiled by the goddess Artemis, so his fleet can sail safely to Troy. Part II is in the form of a concert, with the lyrics recounting Iphigenia’s travails in Tauris, to which legend holds she was whisked when her father’s blade would otherwise have slain her. (The only other named character is Clytemnestra, played by Madge Sinclair.)
Aside from the actors' fine singing and movement, Peter Link’s rock score—played by a group called Goatleg—made the strongest impression. “This is one of the best musical scores of the season—warm, vibrant and very appealing,” enthused Barnes.
Do you enjoy Theatre’s Leiter Side? As you may know, since New York’s theatres were forced into hibernation by Covid-19, this blog has provided daily posts on the hundreds of shows that opened in the city, Off and on Broadway, between 1970 and 1975. These have been drawn from an unpublished manuscript that would have been part of my multivolume Encyclopedia of the New York Stage series, which covers every show, of every type, from 1920 through 1950. Unfortunately, the publisher, Greenwood Press, decided it was too expensive to continue the project beyond 1950.
Before I began offering these 1970-1975 entries, however, Theatre’s Leiter Side posted over 1,600 of my actual reviews for shows from 2012 through 2020. The first two years of that experience were published in separate volumes for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 (the latter split into two volumes). The 2012-2013 edition also includes a memoir in which I describe how, when I was 72, I used the opportunity of suddenly being granted free access to every New York show to begin writing reviews of everything I saw. Interested readers can find these collections on Amazon.com by clicking here.
Next up: We Interrupt This Program.