Monday, June 7, 2021

584. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Jane Sanford, Gabriel Dell, Kenneth McMillan, Jake Dengel. (Photo: Friedman-Abeles.)
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? [Comedy/Homosexuality/Marriage/Transvestitism] A: John Ford Noonan; D: David Margulies; S/C: Robert Yodice; L: Roger Morgan; M: Kirk Nurock; P: New York Shakespeare Festival; T: Public Theater/Estelle R. Newman Theatre (OB); 10/5/74-11/3/74 (36)

A zany farce set in Boston about a local drag queen named Johann Sebastian Fabiani (Jake Dengel), formerly a successful ad man; his straight, disk jockey roommate, Remo Weinberger (Gabriel Dell), who dons female dress to attend a costume ball; a skirt-wearing Irish cop, Cornelius T. O’Shea (Kenneth McMillan), who is waging a personal war against homophobic molesters; a girl, Winifred Winowski (Jane Sanford), who seeks revenge on the man who killed her gay brother; a threatening weirdo named Zorro, who seeks to wipe out the city’s gay population by the most brutal methods; and Heather (Ann Shaler), Remo’s wife, who wants her husband to come home.

Instead of a plot, the play offers a “fantasticated series of revue shticks, one-liners, insult jokes and vaudeville gags,” resulting in a farcical hodgepodge that was “neither seriously funny or even funnily serious” to Clive Barnes.

It was “terribly untidy,” Barnes declared, and Edith Oliver called it a “disheveled, noisy, and garbled” attempt that ended as “a shambles, though a sporadically entertaining shambles.” The vulgar language and action were cited, as were the efforts of the hard-working, ultimately defeated actors. Oh. Did I mention that Danny DeVito, playing someone called Whimsey, was one of them?

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 These have been drawn from an unpublished manuscript that would have been part of my multivolume Encyclopedia of the New York Stage series, which covers every show, of every type, from 1920 through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 by clicking here. 

Next up: Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone?