Tuesday, June 1, 2021


Andrea Marcovicci, Ronnie Cox. (Photo: Friedman-Abeles.)
"WELCOME TO ANDROMEDA" and "VARIETY OBIT" [One-Acts] A: Ron Whyte; D: Tom Moore; S: Peter Harvey; C: Bruce Harrow; L: Roger Morgan; P: Ruth Kalkstein and Patricia Grey; T: Cherry Lane Theatre (OB); 2/12/73-3/4/73 (24)

“Welcome to Andromeda” [Drama/Invalidism/Two Characters]; “Variety Obit” [Musical/Death/Family/Show Business] M: Mel Marvin; LY: Ron Whyte and Bob Satuloff.

A likable pair of promising one-acts, the first a straight play, the second a musical. “Welcome to Andromeda” presents a cynical, pain-ridden, 21-year-old paraplegic (David Clennon) confined to bed where he is cared for by a nurse (Bella Jarrett). His domineering mother has gone shopping for a birthday cake and champagne. During her absence he uses his witty verbal skills to convince the brainless, alcoholic, middle-aged nurse to have some liquor and give him a shot that will finish him off.

The situation is mildly reminiscent of Whose Life Is It, Anyway?, a hit play that came later in the decade. Intelligent dialogue and effective characterizations marked the play, which Clive Barnes said has “a real force to it.” But there was also a sense of overwriting, what Walter Kerr deemed a lack of “tension” and insufficient exposition, while Edith Oliver pointed to a lack of “fascination and suspense.”

The ten-minute “Variety Obit” traces in mini-musical fashion the history of the Jeffersons, a family of second-rate vaudevillians whose “dynasty,” dating back to the 17th century, makes them the nation’s oldest. It now has come to an end with the death of the last survivor and his obituary in Variety. Bits of narrated biography are introduced with songs (performed by Andrea Marcovicci and Richard Cox).

Barnes thought the interesting idea remained unrealized, though the play had “very pleasant” tunes and a good production. Oliver agreed, suggesting that its major problem was a lack of focus.

Summing up, Barnes reported: "I enjoyed the evening. “Andromeda” is impressive and “Variety Obit” is sweet but half‐baked. Even so, Mr. Whyte's talents, combined with his casts and his stagings, offer one of the most stimulating Off Broadway evenings of the season."

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: Welcome to Black River.