Gone But Not Forgotten

Jamie deRoy & friends is presenting Gone But Not Forgotten Part 5 this Sunday, February 28th at 7:30pm

February 24, 2021: An episode of Jamie deRoy & friends dips into the archives for some rare performances by several entertainment legends. None of them are living, giving the segment an extra dollop of nostalgia. The peak into the past is presented in loving memory of these glorious talents and features Margaret Whiting (1924 – 2010), Alice Playten (1947 – 2011), Ray Jessel (1929 – 2015), Celeste Holm (1917– 2012), Polly Bergen (1930 – 2014), Eric Hansen (1956 – 2017), Claiborne Cary (1932 – 2010), Kitty Carlilse Hart (1910 – 2007), and Doreen Montalvo (1963- 2020).

Jamie deRoy & friends is presenting Gone But Not Forgotten Part 5 this Sunday, February 28th at 7:30pm

February 24, 2021: An episode of Jamie deRoy & friends dips into the archives for some rare performances by several entertainment legends. None of them are living, giving the segment an extra dollop of nostalgia. The peak into the past is presented in loving memory of these glorious talents and features Margaret Whiting (1924 – 2010), Alice Playten (1947 – 2011), Ray Jessel (1929 – 2015), Celeste Holm (1917– 2012), Polly Bergen (1930 – 2014), Eric Hansen (1956 – 2017), Claiborne Cary (1932 – 2010), Kitty Carlilse Hart (1910 – 2007), and Doreen Montalvo (1963- 2020).

The musicians on the episode include: Tex Arnold, Lanny Meyers, Ray Jessel, Larry Woodard, Rod Hausen, Eric Hansen, Frank Perowsky, David Lewis, Ron Abel and Tom Hubbard.

The performances were filmed from 1992-2017 at Caroline’s on Broadway, Metropolitan Room, Dillon’s, Laurie Beechman Theater at West Bank Café, Don’t Tell Mama and Birdland.

Jamie deRoy & friends is directed by Barry Kleinbort and produced and edited by Russell Bouthiller. 

Gone But Not Forgotten Part 5 will air on Sunday, February 28 at 7:30 PM on Spectrum Channel 56, RCN Channel 83, and Verizon FIOS Channel 34, as well as on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 at later date.

On This Day In New York Theater: February 24 in the 1930’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 23 in the series)

February 24, 2021: Three Broadway plays opened on February 24 in the 1930s, two of them significant, the other quickly over and done with. All three became movies that can still be seen. Their titles are Hangman’s Whip, Dodsworth, and Love on the Dole. The first, Hangman’s Whip, was one of the frequent plays of those days set in tropical climes where sexual desire among white expats kindled melodramatic heat, while restless natives kept raising the temperature in the background. This one, by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler, is set on the deck and saloon of the “Dei Gratia,” a jungle riverboat in the Congo. It sweated through eleven performances at the St. James Theatre in 1933.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 23 in the series)

February 24, 2021: Three Broadway plays opened on February 24 in the 1930s, two of them significant, the other quickly over and done with. All three became movies that can still be seen. Their titles are Hangman’s Whip, Dodsworth, and Love on the Dole. The first, Hangman’s Whip, was one of the frequent plays of those days set in tropical climes where sexual desire among white expats kindled melodramatic heat, while restless natives kept raising the temperature in the background. This one, by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler, is set on the deck and saloon of the “Dei Gratia,” a jungle riverboat in the Congo. It sweated through eleven performances at the St. James Theatre in 1933.

Poster for White Woman, the movie version of Hangman’s Whip

Hangman’s Whip pictured an obese, heartless, corrupt, white trader, Prin (Montagu Love), who has been exploiting and forcibly mistreating the locals for thirty years; his sensual wife, Judith (Helen Flint); a fugitive ex-German officer named Kurt Von Eltz (Ian Keith), in love with Judith, who loves him back; a fearless young American named Ballister (Barton MacLane), the only man brave enough to stand up to Prin. Ballister overcomes his own passion for Judith so she can run off with Von Eltz, but to journalistic disapproval, is slain by the natives. 

Barton MacLane

These ingredients mingled with the threat of the restless locals to create a tom-tom melodrama that Gilbert Gabriel swatted away as “pretty awful.” Brooks Atkinson declared that Barton MacLane played Ballister “in the flamboyant style of sneers, swaggers and leather puttees. Surely he would make a stirring spectacle if the play permitted him to finger a neat trigger when the curtain comes down.” MacLane, of course, went on to a substantial movie and TV career, usually as a heavy. 

The play was transformed considerably into a steamy pre-code 1933 movie called White Woman, starring Charles Laughton, Carole Lombard, Charles Bickford, and Kent Taylor, with the the action moved from Africa to a rubber plantation in Malaya.

Al Hirschfeld drawing of Dodsworth: Fay Bainter, Walter Huston, Nan Sunderland, Harlan Briggs, Maria Ouspenskaya.

The 1936 film made from 1934’s Dodsworth (Shubert Theatre, 147) was far superior to White Woman, chiefly because of Walter Huston’s performance in the title role, which he’d played on Broadway. Here’s a clip from the movie. This Best Play of the Year selection adapted by Sidney Howard from Sinclair Lewis’s bestseller, brought Huston back to the stage after a five-year hiatus in Hollywood—to play Samuel Dodsworth, a recently retired Midwestern automobile manufacturer, married to the younger, self-absorbed Fran Dodsworth (Fay Bainter). 

Fay Bainter, Walter Huston in Dodsworth

The wealthy Dodsworth departs for a European jaunt with his vain wife, who fears the thought of growing old. Instead of searching out Continental culture with her patient spouse, Fran allows herself to be wooed by various romantically inclined Europeans. The simple Dodsworth is frustrated by his wife’s affairs, but is helpless to prevent them until he meets Edith Cortright (Nan Sunderland, Huston’s actual wife). Edith is an American widow living in Naples, an understanding and worthy woman with whom he falls in love and who gives new meaning and direction to his life.

“It seems incredible that Mr. Howard could have condensed the many pages of the story into such a compact and tersely written play,” approved Euphemia Van Rensselaer Wyatt. Cy Caldwell contributed that “Dodsworth is a deeply interesting, thoroughly human, entirely believable, and utterly entrancing character study.” Brooks Atkinson, however, considered the play “an aimless chronicle,” and suggested that Howard had “not succeeded in fusing the story or in keeping the drama from running downhill.”

Huston’s acting gained kudos. Most conspicuous of the supporting cast was Russian actress and beloved acting teacher Maria Ouspenskaya who had come here in 1922 with the Moscow Art Theatre, and stayed. She played a small role as the aristocratic German mother of one of Fran’s lovers (Kent Smith).  

Playbill for Love on the Dole

Our final entry for February 24 in the 1930s has the perfect title for a show born during the Depression, Love on the Dole (Shubert Theatre, 145). It was a British play by Ronald Gow and Walter Greenwood based on the latter’s popular (and still read) novel of the same name. Yet another picture of the doleful effects of the vast economic downturn, it was first seen in London with Wendy Hiller, whose performance (seen even earlier at the Manchester Rep) made her a star that would remain undimmed for many years. The twenty-four-year old Hiller headed the cast of the Broadway version, too, in her American debut. 

Love on the Dole movie poster

The Depression is treated here from the English angle, with action occurring near Manchester in a place called Hanky Park, where the Hardcastle family lives in squalor induced by lack of employment. Nevertheless, they maintain their sense of respectability. Although they technically meet the requirements of the welfare system, their dole is seriously insufficient to their needs. Son Harry (Alexander Grandison) supports the ménage and loves a local girl (Rita Davies). Pretty daughter Sally (Hiller) loves Larry Heath (Brandon Peters), a tuberculosis victim who loses his job because of the machinations of gambler Sam Grundy (Ross Chetwynd), who has a thing for Sally. 

Harry also loses his job and has to marry his pregnant girlfriend. Larry dies during a labor demonstration. Things go from bad to worse, and Sally, seeing the futility of adhering to worn-out beliefs, decides to take Sam Grundy’s money in return for living with him as his “housekeeper,” which makes her a prostitute in her parents’ eyes. Sam also finds work for her father (Reginald Bach) and brother, who must swallow their pride and accept the work.

Love on the Dole, Wendy Hiller in London production

Hiller’s acting as the self-sacrificing daughter was one of the finest things about this grim but excellently written work about how poor English folk must cope with the pressures of poverty and an indifferent system. Some may see a reflection here in English terms of Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing! about a Bronx Jewish family undergoing similar hardships as they confront a heartless system. Grenville Vernon said Hiller displayed “an arresting talent. This young English girl has beauty, charm, pathos and tragedy. She ought to go far.” Hiller’s part was taken by Deborah Kerr in the 1945 film version. Here’s a clip of Kerr as Sally giving her parents what for. The play itself continued to appear on British stages for many years.

The drama was appreciated for its not being overtly propagandistic, but allowing the characters and situations to make their own point without excessive slanting, which was judged a far more powerful way to convey a message. Brooks Atkinson labeled Love on the Dole “one of the most honest social dramas of our time.”

And that’s what opened on this day in New York theater in the 1930s.


Click Here for #1 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 14 IN THE 1920’S

Click Here for #2 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 19 in the 1930’s

Click Here for #3 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 24 IN THE 1920’S AND 1930’S

Click Here for #4 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 29 in the 1920’S, 1930’S and 1940’S

Click Here for #5 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: JUNE 3 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #6 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 13 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #7 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 20 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #8 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 26 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #9 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 6 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #10 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 15 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #11 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 27 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #12 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 14 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #13 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 31 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #14 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: September 12 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #15 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 11 in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Click Here for #16 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 29th in the 1940’s

Click Here for #17 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 13th in the 1930’s

Click Here for #18 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 29th in the 1920’s

Click Here for #19 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: December 19 in the 1940’s

Click Here for #20 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: New Year’s Eve from the 1920’s through the 1940’s

Click Here for #21 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: January 16, 1924 ( The Miracle) 

Click Here for #22 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: February 12 in the 1940’s

Love Letter To Liza

Ring Them Bells and Celebrate! Liza Minnelli on her 75th Birthday, Friday, March 12 at 8:00 PM

February 22, 2021: In honor of the legendary Liza Minnelli on her 75th Birthday, a star-studded cast will take part in a special virtual celebration, Love Letter to Liza: A 75th Birthday Tribute Celebration, Friday, March 12 at 8:00 PM EST on the streaming platform Stellar.

Ring Them Bells and Celebrate! Liza Minnelli on her 75th Birthday, Friday, March 12 at 8:00 PM

February 22, 2021: In honor of the legendary Liza Minnelli on her 75th Birthday, a star-studded cast will take part in a special virtual celebration, Love Letter to Liza: A 75th Birthday Tribute Celebration, Friday, March 12 at 8:00 PM EST on the streaming platform Stellar.

This once-in-a-lifetime event will include performances, tributes, and birthday wishes from Liza’s co-stars, friends, and admirers from coast to coast—from Hollywood to Broadway—to honor the iconic singer, actress, recording star, and concert performer, including Joel Grey, Lily Tomlin, Catherine Zeta- Jones, Chita Rivera, Joan Collins, Harry Connick, Jr., Ben Vereen and the dancers from the Verdon-Fosse Legacy, Ute Lemper, Billy Stritch, Charles Busch, Kathie Lee Gifford, Lea Delaria, Jim Caruso, Jonathan Groff, Sandra Bernhard, Andrew Rannells, Nathan Lane, Mario Cantone, Tony Hale, Coco Peru, John Cameron Mitchell, Michele Lee, Andrea Martin, Seth Sikes, Neil Meron, and more.

Sandra Bernhard, Rosie O’Donnell & Liza Minelli Photo: Barry Gordin

Tickets, priced at $30.00, are now available at stellartickets.com and clubcummingnyc.com.

“Liza is a total entertainer, a show person the likes of which is hard to find these days. Liza’s talents have known no bounds, and her contribution to Broadway, film and even a hilarious stint on television’s “Arrested Development,” make her so deserving of this, a glorious celebration of her 75 years on Earth, said producer Daniel Nardicio. “I’m thrilled to be able to do this for Liza, and for her friends and fans in a safe, socially distant way to say we all love you Liza—Happy Birthday Darling!”

A portion of ticket sales will be donated to The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for everyone in performing arts and entertainment. Through offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Fund serves everyone in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance with programs including social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and secondary employment and training services.

In addition to the March 12 showing, repeat airings will take place on March 13 and 14 on Stellar Video on Demand.

ABOUT STELLAR
Stellar was created by the Goldstar leadership team in response to the global pandemic specifically to enable the live entertainment industry to successfully make the leap to online events. The first-ever Total Show Management system, Stellar offers industry-leading tools and guidance for online shows including ticketing, marketing, streaming support, merchandising, donations and custom interactive features-all making for flawless user experience. Organizations and artists across the US are successfully engaging global audiences and creating significant revenue on the platform.

Now Streaming

In Case You Hadn’t Heard:  A Conversation Between America’s Past and Its Promise, is now streaming until February 28 @ 11:59pm at baystreet.org

February 24, 2021: Following its online World Premiere this past Monday In Case You Hadn’t Heard, a provocative view of race in America, adapted and directed by Reggie D. White, is now streaming at baystreet.org, by demand, for five more days until February 28 @ 11:59 pm. For more information CLICK HERE

In Case You Hadn’t Heard:  A Conversation Between America’s Past and Its Promise, is now streaming until February 28 @ 11:59pm at baystreet.org

February 24, 2021: Following its online World Premiere this past Monday In Case You Hadn’t Heard, a provocative view of race in America, adapted and directed by Reggie D. White, is now streaming at baystreet.org, by demand, for five more days until February 28 @ 11:59 pm. For more information CLICK HERE

Presented in partnership with Eastville Community Historical Society and the Southampton African American Museum, In Case You Hadn’t Heard: A Conversation Between America’s Past and Its Promise is a provocative and unvarnished look at issues surrounding race in America. The world-premiere theatrical presentation is adapted and directed by Reggie D. White, and stars Darryl Gene Daughtry Jr, Crystal Dickinson, Jason Veasey, and Clarissa Vickerie. The evening will include a talkback between the director and the actors, led by Dr. Georgette Grier-Key of Eastville Community Historical Society.

The adaptation sources found text to draw on the words of twenty African American thought-leaders of the past and present. Their words are brought together to create a “conversation” between a group of four actors, as they candidly discuss what it means to be black in America. As words from the past and hopes for the future collide, a frank and forthright dialogue pours forth, sounding a call to action.

The content of In Case You Hadn’t Heard is drawn from speeches and writings of Houston Baker, James Baldwin, Mary McLeod Bethune, London Breed, Keiajah Brooks, Stokely Carmichael, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis, Dick Gregory, Fannie Lou Hamer, Lorraine Hansberry, Jemele Hill, Marley K., Tamika Mallory, Robert P. Moses, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, Barack Obama, Amber Ruffin, Jesse Williams, and Malcolm X.

This presentation includes language that may be upsetting to some viewers.

Reggie D. White is a New York-based multidisciplinary artist and educator who most recently appeared in the Vineyard Theatre’s virtual piece, Lessons in Survival, which he co-conceived. Before Broadway began its indefinite shutdown, he also appeared in the 11-time Tony-nominated two-part epic, The Inheritance. Other acting credits include NYTW, The Public Theater, 59E59, Arden Theatre, Berkeley Rep, and La Jolla Playhouse. As a director, his work has been featured at Bay Street Theater, The Public Theater, Atlantic Acting School, New York Winterfest, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, AlterTheatre Ensemble, and more. He is an alumnus of the Atlantic Acting School, where he now serves as School Artistic Director, a recipient of the TBA TITAN Award, the TCG Fox Fellowship, and is a company member of The Williams Project, a living wage theatre theatre company.reggiedwhite.com.

A Black Perspective

ACA Galleries group exhibition of prominent African American artists extended through March 20, 2021

February 16, 2021:  ACA Galleries, located at 529 West 20th Street in the gallery district, is pleased to announce their current exhibition, A BLACK PERSPECTIVE, will be extended through March 20. The show is a group exhibition of artworks by prominent African American artists created between 1945 and 2015. Since its inception, ACA Galleries has been committed to showing work by black artists, giving Aaron Douglas, Ernie Crichlow, Barkley Hendricks and Charles White some of their first shows and later representing Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden estate, Richard Mayhew, Faith Ringgold, Aminah Robinson and others.

ACA Galleries group exhibition of prominent African American artists extended through March 20, 2021

February 16, 2021:  ACA Galleries, located at 529 West 20th Street in the gallery district, is pleased to announce their current exhibition, A BLACK PERSPECTIVE, will be extended through March 20. The show is a group exhibition of artworks by prominent African American artists created between 1945 and 2015. Since its inception, ACA Galleries has been committed to showing work by black artists, giving Aaron Douglas, Ernie Crichlow, Barkley Hendricks and Charles White some of their first shows and later representing Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden estate, Richard Mayhew, Faith Ringgold, Aminah Robinson and others.

Drawn from the gallery’s extensive inventory, the show includes Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Joseph Delaney, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Mayhew, Faith Ringgold, Aminah Robinson, and Charles White, among others. 

This exhibition will travel to the Houston African American Museum of Art and Culture and will be on view May through August, 2021. 

Benny Andrews (Untitled) Woman in a Yellow Dress
Romare Bearden (Grande Case, 1983)
Joseph Delaney ( Lower Manhattan, 11958)
Richard Mahew (Fog, 2004, Oil On Canvas 36X48 in )
Faith Ringgold (No More War Story Quilt Part 11, 1985)
Intaglio, Dyed and Pieced Fabric, 71 X 101 in.
Aminah Robinson , Edmonia Lewis / Sculpture – A Clutch of Blossum Series, 1990, Mixed Media on Pellon , 59 3/4 X 21 1/2in.
Charles White, (Young Woman Unfinished Painting #6) 1965/66 , Oil On Canvas 50X24 in.

ACA Galleries | 212-206-8080 | 529 West 20th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011 www.acagalleries.com

Jamie deRoy & friends Valentine

Jamie deRoy & friends Valentine’s Day Special: More From the Archives on Sunday, February 14 at 7:30 PM

February 14, 2021:  To celebrate Valentine Day Jamie deRoy & friends Valentine’s Day Special: More From the Archives will air on Sunday, February 14 at 7:30 PM an Spectrum channel 56,RCN Channel 83, and Verizon FIOS Channel 34, as well as on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 on multiple dates. (see below for complete shedule. Appearing on this episode are Jamie deRoy and Taffy (The Huber Marionettes),  LaLa Brooks (The Crystals), Haley Swindal (Chicago), E. Clayton Cornelius (Ain’t Too Proud),  Grammy Award Winner Melissa Manchester and Alison Blackwell (Pretty Woman).

Jamie deRoy & friends Valentine’s Day Special: More From the Archives on Sunday, February 14 at 7:30 PM

February 14, 2021:  To celebrate Valentine Day Jamie deRoy & friends Valentine’s Day Special: More From the Archives will air on Sunday, February 14 at 7:30 PM an Spectrum channel 56,RCN Channel 83, and Verizon FIOS Channel 34, as well as on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 on multiple dates. (see below for complete shedule. Appearing on this episode are Jamie deRoy and Taffy (The Huber Marionettes),  LaLa Brooks (The Crystals), Haley Swindal (Chicago), E. Clayton Cornelius (Ain’t Too Proud),  Grammy Award Winner Melissa Manchester and Alison Blackwell (Pretty Woman).

The episode was filmed at The Cinegrill in LA, The Metropolitan Room, Birdland and Birdland Theater. The show is directed by Barry Kleinbort and produced and edited by Russell Bouthiller.

Musicians performing on this episode include: Shelly Markham, Lanny Meyers, Ron Abel Tom Hubbard and Richie Goods.  

Jamie deRoy, E. Clayton Cornelius

Jamie deRoy & friends Valentine’s Day Special: More From the Archives airs on Sunday, February 14 at 7:30 PM on Spectrum Channel 56, RCN Channel 83, and Verizon FIOS Channel 34, as well as on East Hampton LTV Channel 20 on multiple dates. Valentine’s Day Feb. 14 at 7:30. In addition Tuesday, February 16 at 6 AM and 4:30 PM and again Friday, Feb.19 at 9:30 AM and again Sunday Feb. 21 at 7:30 PM.

Photography: Barry Gordin

On This Day in New York Theater: February 12 in the 1940’s

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 22 in the series)

February 12, 2020: For today’s installment of On This Day in New York Theater we look at five shows that opened on February 12 in the 1940s.  The one hit was Claudia (1941), produced early in the year that ended with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A year later came Heart of a City (1942), which opened two months after we entered World War II, and dealt with a situation directly inspired by the conflict, although in England, not the U.S. The only other offerings on this date during the decade were 1945’s The Stranger,a mystery set in Victorian England; a 1947 revival of 1925’s Pulitzer-winning Craig’s Wife; and a 1948 religious drama, Lady of Fatima

By: Samuel L. Leiter

(No. 22 in the series)

February 12, 2020: For today’s installment of On This Day in New York Theater we look at five shows that opened on February 12 in the 1940s.  The one hit was Claudia (1941), produced early in the year that ended with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A year later came Heart of a City (1942), which opened two months after we entered World War II, and dealt with a situation directly inspired by the conflict, although in England, not the U.S. The only other offerings on this date during the decade were 1945’s The Stranger,a mystery set in Victorian England; a 1947 revival of 1925’s Pulitzer-winning Craig’s Wife; and a 1948 religious drama, Lady of Fatima

Claudia, with Dorothy McGuire, Donald Cook, Frances Strarr

Despite some definite critical reservations, Claudia (Booth Theatre, 722), written and directed by widely read author Rose Franken, based on a series of her short stories, was chosen as one of the season’s ten best plays. Franken, unrepresented on Broadway since 1932’s hit Another Language, returned with a play about the title character (Dorothy McGuire), a comically naïve young woman. She’s torn between her feelings for David Naughton (Donald Cook), her architect husband of one year, and her mother, Mrs. Brown (Frances Starr), on whom she’s uncomfortably dependent. 

Set in a lovely, remodeled Connecticut farmhouse (designed by Donald Oenslager), Claudia charts the charmingly unself-conscious child-bride’s gradual maturation over a period of twenty-four hours. She’s immature enough to listen in on the party line, a habit that rebounds when she overhears her mother tell David that she—the mother—has a fatal illness. The developments that stem from this revelation, combined with Claudia’s almost simultaneous discovery of her pregnancy, lead to her new awakening as a mature woman. 

A minor issue along the way is incited when, convinced she has no sex appeal for her husband, Claudia innocently allows a rakish British neighbor, Jerry Seymour (John Williams), to kiss her. David, though, turns out to be quite understanding about it all. There’s also a subplot concerning a married couple (Frank Tweddell and Adrienne Gessner), employed by the Naughtons as servants. David learns that the husband served time for forgery, although it turns out that the crime was actually committed by the man’s son.

Claudia herself was an excellent example of character drawing, but Franken’s attempt to mingle sentimentality and pathos didn’t please everyone. Brooks Atkinson noted, “In spite of the many qualities that skip lightly through the pattern of Claudia, the emotional sequences are a bit hard to take.” Willela Waldorf was really turned off: “Mrs. Franken’s play struck us as an artificial and strangely unmoving affair from beginning to end.” More approving was Rosamond Gilder, who commented on how effectively the small cast, one-set, non-socially significant play provided human entertainment: “So deeply has Miss Franken cut into the hearts of these people that their personalities and the crucial events of their two days take on the importance and immediacy of things lived. They become part of experience.”  

Dorothy McGuire’s principal earlier role was as Martha Scott’s successor as Emily in Our Town. Claudia was her ticket to stardom (she later played the part in the movie version). “Her youth, her childlike, sensitive face with its upturned nose, and bombé forehead, her solid, young figure, are all assets,” wrote Gilder. “As an actress she has a natural ability to convey the darting, discontinuous, illogically logical process of Claudia’s thought through the transparent mask of her face. She has also the gift of relaxation; she can be present on the stage without restlessness or fidgeting.”

Among the other fine performances, that of veteran Frances Starr was admired as one of the best. The colorful minor role of an opera singer who wants to buy the Naughton home was taken by Olga Baclanova.  

Claudia ran until March 1942, toured for ten weeks, and reopened on 5/24/42, bringing the total number of performances to 722, a robust figure in those days. The return engagement was at the St. James Theatre, with the original cast in place, something that would rarely happen today. Because the sets hadn’t yet arrived from Boston, producer John Golden presented a speech to the packed house, using a flashlight he said was necessary because of the “dimout” (WW II was on by now). The production was offered at low prices ranging from a quarter (at matinees) to $1.65 at a time when $3.30 was the average top. He got a big hand for declaring that the theatre would come back to life if others also produced shows at low admission prices. Golden added that he didn’t expect to make a profit, but if he did he’d donate it to a war charity.

Heart of a City, with Margot Grahame, Dennis Hoey, Gertude Musgrove, Beverly Roberts.

February 12, 1942, gave Broadway Lesley Storm’s Heart of a City (Henry Miller’s Theatre, 28), a sentimental play set in England, which had been at war since 1939. The action takes place at London’s Windmill Theatre near Piccadilly Circus, famed for having continued to perform its “Revudeville” shows throughout the Blitz, upholding the old tradition that “the show must go on.” Offering work for thirty-one mostly British actors, it provided a tingling blend of danger and frivolousness with its picture of the showgirls and theatre workers gallantly laughing in the face of death as they go about their business of providing entertainment despite the sounds of destruction whizzing by outside. 

Storm had been a regular backstage visitor at the Windmill, and wrote from her personal experience. Rosamond Gilder, moved, nevertheless reported, “As a play it is disjointed and at times surprisingly jejune, dropping to pieces at every exit and resuming its course with difficulty, offering material for a play in locale and external events rather than in the inner substance of drama.” 

Cast members playing leading ladies, RAF pilots, boozing songwriters, and the like included Beverly Roberts, Richard Ainley, Lloyd Gough, and, in her American debut, England’s Gertrude Musgrove.

The Stranger, Playbill cover.

Broadway had to wait three years before another February 12 opening, this one called The Stranger (Playhouse, 16), by South Africa’s Leslie Reade, directed by Shepard Traube, with sets and lighting by Boris Aronson. Traube had hit it big with his production of the Victorian psychological thriller, Angel Street (called Gaslight in its classic film version), but this effort, also taking place during the Victorian era, was labeled by George Freedley “a dull and obvious melodrama with red herrings a dime a dozen.”

Set entirely in the meeting room of the International Educational Club in a poor section of London in 1888, it depicts political radicals, such as the anarchist Napoleon Micalieff (Eugene Sigaloff) and the expatriate Frenchman Jean Prunier (Alfred Hesse). A Jack the Ripper-like series of killings of local tarts gets the plot rolling. Into the club comes a young, piano-playing, Jewish shoemaker named David Mendelsohn (Eduard Franz) whose suspicious behavior raises members’ eyebrows. He even carries a small black bag and large knife and wears a leather apron like those associated with the killer. 

A constable (Stanley Bell) asking questions provokes an accusation against the cobbler. As the evidence mounts and David behaves with supreme egotism, it becomes ever more certain that he’s the guilty one. However, a young seamstress named Christina (Perry Wilson) believes him to be innocent. Finally, David is found guiltless and the real culprit (Morton L. Stevens) is revealed.

Critics noted that the offstage murders are of people unimportant to the plot, making it hard to care about them. Moreover, the actual villain turns out to be someone who barely figures in the action. Ward Morehouse observed that The Stranger “is a listless and dawdling play, badly constructed and ineptly written.”

Craig’s Wife, Playbill cover

A far more distinctive play arrived on February 12, 1947, but it was a revival. This was distinguished playwright George Kelly’s Craig’s Wife (Playhouse, 69), a 1925 success that won the Pulitzer Prize and eventually was made into three movies starring, respectively, Irene Rich (1928), Rosalind Russell (1936), and Joan Crawford (1950). It was renowned for its surgical examination of a neurotic woman driven by the need for material security. 

The Kelly-directed 1947 revival, its first locally, revealed the work to still be stageworthy, if not entirely. Louis Kronenberger declared, “It still interests and at times even fascinates you,” but he felt that “the play does not go deep enough into the lady, or far enough out into life.” Kelly’s drama, he concluded, was “not so much artificial as simply artless.” Brooks Atkinson thought it dated, but Ward Morehouse considered it “a resolute and honest drama.”

Craig’s Wife, Judith Evelyn

In the role of the archetypically hateful Harriet Craig, who dominates her husband (Philip Ober) as a way of gaining her longed-for security, Judith Evelyn gave an excellent performance despite being forced by Kelly’s much-criticized speeding train direction to rapidly rattle off her lines. “Her Harriet Craig,” wrote John Mason Brown, “is more exotic than was Miss [Chrystal] Herne’s. . . . She is sinister and slightly ghoulish, in addition to being hard. . . . Miss Evelyn plays with such driving intensity, and so much resourcefulness, that she creates a memory of her own.” 

Closing out this survey of February 12 plays of the 1940s is Urban Nagle’s Lady of Fatima (Blackfriars’ Playhouse, 41), produced by the semipro Blackfriars’ Guild, an Off-Broadway Catholic organization with a long record of religiously oriented plays. This was a Lenten drama—by a priest—about the miraculous 1917 appearance of the Lady of the Rosary to a group of children in Fatima, Portugal. The show sold out in advance of its six-week run.

Reminiscent of The Song of Bernadette, the play concerns the vision’s appearance to two girls, Jacinta (Naomi Mitty) and Lucia (Anna Stubits), and a boy, Francisco (Edward Villella, the future ballet star), while minding their sheep. They face the disbelief of parents, villagers, clergy, and the anticlerical government. Frightening inquisitions are conduced, the kids are put in jail, and there’s even a threat to boil them in oil. Proof that they’re not lying comes when the vision reappears in a cavern. After two of the children die in an epidemic, as foretold by the Lady, the survivor, Lucia, becomes a nun devoted to effecting world peace through spreading the idea of devotion to the rosary.

Certain narrative bridges were staged in the auditorium, making it necessary for the cast to get to and from their places quietly in the dark, leading to much stumbling about. These sequences eventually were dropped and replaced by a commentator who made occasional remarks.

Robert Coleman thought the play “tells an inspiring story dramatically,” but George Freedley argued that Father Nagle has not been very successful in dramatizing his true religious story because it doesn’t lend itself to theatre satisfactorily.” 


Click Here for #1 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 14 IN THE 1920’S

Click Here for #2 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 19 in the 1930’s

Click Here for #3 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 24 IN THE 1920’S AND 1930’S

Click Here for #4 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: MAY 29 in the 1920’S, 1930’S and 1940’S

Click Here for #5 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: JUNE 3 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #6 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 13 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #7 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 20 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #8 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: June 26 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #9 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 6 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #10 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 15 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #11 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: July 27 in the 1920’a, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #12 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 14 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #13 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: August 31 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #14 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: September 12 in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Click Here for #15 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 11 in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Click Here for #16 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: October 29th in the 1940’s

Click Here for #17 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 13th in the 1930’s

Click Here for #18 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: November 29th in the 1920’s

Click Here for #19 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: December 19 in the 1940’s

Click Here for #20 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: New Year’s Eve from the 1920’s through the 1940’s

Click Here for #21 in the Series ON THIS DAY IN NEW YORK THEATER: January 16, 1924 ( The Miracle)

BroadwayHD Valentine

The Broadway hit, First Date: The Musical, comes to BroadwayHD with a star-studded cast of Broadway and West End performers, exclusively, on February 12.

February 9, 2021:  A Valentine’s Day treat from BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, was announced today. The Broadway hit First Date: The Musical, will arrive exclusively on the platform February 12th.  The production, directed by Dean Johnson and produced by Lambert Jackson productions, was live streamed for a limited time in October 2020 from the world renowned Crazy Coqs, a music venue in London. The musical stars Broadway’s Pretty Woman star Samantha Barks (Les Misérables, Disney’s upcoming West End Frozen) as Casey and West End performer Simon Lipkin (Avenue Q, Ghost Stories) as Aaron  This is the first time the production will be available to fans since the limited engagement this past fall.

The Broadway hit, First Date: The Musical, comes to BroadwayHD with a star-studded cast of Broadway and West End performers, exclusively, on February 12.

February 9, 2021:  A Valentine’s Day treat from BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, was announced today. The Broadway hit First Date: The Musical, will arrive exclusively on the platform February 12th.  The production, directed by Dean Johnson and produced by Lambert Jackson productions, was live streamed for a limited time in October 2020 from the world renowned Crazy Coqs, a music venue in London. The musical stars Broadway’s Pretty Woman star Samantha Barks (Les Misérables, Disney’s upcoming West End Frozen) as Casey and West End performer Simon Lipkin (Avenue Q, Ghost Stories) as Aaron  This is the first time the production will be available to fans since the limited engagement this past fall.

First Date: The Musical, which was written by Austin Winsberg, with music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner follows the cool chick Casey and tightly wound Aaron, two New York City singles who are set up by friends and family. From the outset this First Date seems to be doomed.  The two have nothing in common, but, with the help of a meddling but well-meaning waiter, and a host of other characters along the way, can this mismatched pair turn what could be a dating disaster into something special before the check arrives? In addition to Barks and Lipkin, rounding out the cast are Nicholas McLean (Wicked, Cinderella) as Man #1, Oscar Conlon-Morrey (Only Fools, Horses The Musical) as Man #2, Rufus Kampa (Goodnight Mister Tom) as Young Aaron, and Danielle Steers (Sweet Charity, Bat Out Of Hell) as Woman #1.

Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, co-founders of BroadwayHD said, “Performers have been able to do some really excellent work over the past few months, despite all of the challenges, and First Date is a great example of that.  It was a special treat for fans who were able to catch the livestream this fall and we feel privileged to make it available again to a global audience through BroadwayHD.  We know viewers will just fall in love with this show.”

Producers Lambert Jackson said “First Date was the first musical we managed to film in situ during the global pandemic and, thanks to the willingness of the amazing actors, creative team, venue and crew, and the brilliant authors, we were able to produce something really special that was enjoyed by thousands of households in a safe, but still theatrical, manner. We are thrilled that BroadwayHD have decided to take the show and that more people will get to experience this amazing production”.


In addition to the debut of First Date: The Musical in time for Valentine’s Day, BroadwayHD is also celebrating the holiday with a special playlist of romantic titles, including Daddy Long Legs, She Loves Me, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, From Here to Eternity, An American in Paris, The Sound of Music and Oklahoma. BroadwayHD also has an Anti-Valentine’s Day playlist for those not celebrating the traditional holiday, featuring The Last Five Years, Present Laughter, Kiss Me, KateJekyll & Hyde and Rainn Wilson in Thom Pain.

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves Me, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, Sound of Music, and An American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.

Subscribers are offered unlimited on-demand access to a library of more than 300 theatre productions from Broadway, The West End and beyond.  If You Can’t Get to Broadway, Get to BroadwayHD. To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com.

Bay Street Wine Tasting

Deadline February 10 to join Bay Street, from anywhere in the world, for a Wine Tasting / 30th Anniversary Celebration on February 24 from 6-7pm.

February 8, 2021: Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts will celebrate their 30th Anniversary on February 24 with a wine-tasting. To reserve CLICK HERE.

Deadline February 10 to join Bay Street, from anywhere in the world, for a Wine Tasting / 30th Anniversary Celebration on February 24 from 6-7pm.

February 8, 2021: Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts will celebrate their 30th Anniversary on February 24 with a wine-tasting. To reserve CLICK HERE.

Scott Schwartz kicks the evening off with exciting news about summer 2021. Then relax and enjoy a 3-course wine tasting with Wölffer’s Master Winemaker Roman Roth.Join us as Artistic Director, Scott Schwartz, kicks off an evening of fabulous wine-tasting with exciting news about our upcoming 30th anniversary summer season. Then relax and enjoy a three-course wine-tasting with Wölffer Estate Vineyard winemaker Roman Roth.

The evening will begin with a live introduction from Bay Street’s Artistic Director, Scott Schwartz, who will introduce exciting upcoming plans for the 30th anniversary season. Roman will then walk us through three Wölffer Estate wines: Grapes of Roth merlot, Descensia, a reisling/chardonnay blend, and the Estate Rosé.The wines will be delivered right to your door with enough for four people to enjoy. 

You’ll taste 3 varietals, while Roman, Scott and your fellow patrons join you virtually in the comfort of your own home via an easy-to-use zoom link. 

A gifted winemaker, Roman Roth gives “voice” to his wines, produced by experience that covers three continents and stems from the dream of a 16-year-old boy in Rottweil, in Germany’s Black Forest. Roman began a three-year apprenticeship at the Kaiserstuhl Wine Cooperative, Oberrotweil, while attending technical school as a teenager. Following that, he traveled to the United States, working at the Saintsbury Estate in California, then to New South Wales, Australia, at Rosemount Estate. Returning to Germany, he became a winemaker at Winzerkeller Wiesloch near Heidelberg and earned his Master Winemaker and Cellar Master Degree from the College for Oenology and Viticulture in Weinsberg. In 1992, Roman became the first winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard and established the estate’s distinctive character: European elegance combined with the typicity of Long Island terroir. He has dedicated himself to promoting not only the wines of Wölffer Estate but of Long Island, where he has consulted with numerous vineyards and is currently the President of the Long Island Wine Council.

Roman’s contribution to quality winemaking on Long Island was recognized at the 2003 East End Food & Wine Awards (judged by the American Sommelier Society), where he was named Winemaker of the Year.

One Night in Miami ***1/2, Little Wars ***, Falling Stars ***

By: David Sheward

February 6, 2021: When I was a kid back in the 1970s, PBS used to run a series called Meeting of the Minds. Created, written and hosted by the comedian-writer Steve Allen, the show brought famous figures from history together to exchange ideas. While the series has been largely forgotten, the genre lives on with numerous plays and films throwing prominent personages in a room and seeing what happens. Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls is probably the most effective of this type of amalgam debate play because the discussion between time-tripping characters was a springboard for the protagonist’s conflict. Two new examples of this kind of fly-on-the-wall, what-if drama aren’t as successful or imaginative as Churchill’s fascinating work, but they offer some sharp insights.

By: David Sheward

February 6, 2021: When I was a kid back in the 1970s, PBS used to run a series called Meeting of the Minds. Created, written and hosted by the comedian-writer Steve Allen, the show brought famous figures from history together to exchange ideas. While the series has been largely forgotten, the genre lives on with numerous plays and films throwing prominent personages in a room and seeing what happens. Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls is probably the most effective of this type of amalgam debate play because the discussion between time-tripping characters was a springboard for the protagonist’s conflict. Two new examples of this kind of fly-on-the-wall, what-if drama aren’t as successful or imaginative as Churchill’s fascinating work, but they offer some sharp insights.

One Night in Miami… (Amazon), a film directed by Regina King and based on Kemp Powers’ play, differs from Churchill and Allen’s imagined encounters in that its main gabfest actually took place. On Feb. 25, 1964, boxer Cassius Clay (soon to be renamed Muhammad Ali), civil rights icon Malcolm X, singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, and NFL star and actor Jim Brown met in a Miami hotel room to celebrate Clay’s underdog victory over Sonny Liston to become the world heavyweight champion. Powers, who also adapted the screenplay, conjectures what transpired behind closed doors and produces a heartfelt, intense dialogue on the state of the African-American community as the fire of racism threatens to send the country past the boiling point. The only problem, despite intense naturalistic performances, is the characters come across as talking points rather than real people. The conflicts feel forced by the author rather than arising naturally from the situation. 

The engine of the plot is that Malcolm X (a subtle and fiery Kinglsey Ben-Adir), having persuaded Clay (a bouncy, lion-like Eli Gorree) to join the Nation of Islam, wants to convince Cook (Leslie Odom, Jr. fitting the bill admirably both dramatically and musically) to employ his musical talents in the fight for racial justice. The presence of Jim Brown (smoldering Aldis Hodge) is not central to the action. His dilemma of choosing between the gridiron and a career in action pictures does not bear much weight. However, Hodge does provide the most powerful moment in the film. In a prologue establishing the character and conflict of the four men, Brown visits an older white man (Beau Bridges in a devastating cameo) who appears to be a great friend. After covering the visitor with praise for his football prowess and treating him like an admired hero, the older gentleman rejects an offer by Brown to help move some heavy furniture. “You know we don’t allow n*****s in the house,” the host nonchalantly explains without altering his gracious demeanor. The moment, captured with economic precision by director King, is shattering in its encapsulation of casual racism. Bridges’ off-hand delivery of the shocking line and Hodge’s repressed reaction speak volumes. 

Other than this and few other excursions, Powers does little to expand the setting beyond the play’s small motel room. King does provide visual variety and a keen tension. There is much to treasure here, but by shifting the focus to a battle between Malcolm X and Sam Cook and shunting Muhammad Ali to the sidelines, this Night misses the knockout punch.

Steven Carl McCasland’s Little Wars is another Meeting of the Minds-type gathering, more imaginary than Miami and more stagey and stiff. This single-set piece, presented in a Zoom reading available on Broadway HD, fabricates a dinner party hosted by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in 1940 France, a country teetering on the brink of disaster as the Nazis advance to cross the border. Guests include fire-breathing playwright Lillian Hellman, caustic wit Dorothy Parker, wry mystery writer Agatha Christie, and the enigmatic Muriel Gardiner, supposed by many to be the model for Hellman’s childhood friend (possibly imaginary) in her bestselling memoir Pentimento and the subsequent Oscar-winning film Julia.

Stein and Toklas have invited Gardiner to their country home at the foot of the French Alps to aid in her secret missions to smuggle Jews out of Germany while the other famous writers just happened to be in neighborhood, I suppose. The lesbian couple’s young housekeeper Bernadette may also need rescuing as secrets swirl around the hosts and guests. Hellman and Stein growl at each other while Christie and Parker crack wise and Toklas hovers maternally. The script is mostly an excuse for literary references, biographical tidbits and some debate. Like Powers with Miami, McCasland attempts to address weighty issues as each character must examine her humanity as the Nazis almost literally arrive on the doorstep. Also like Miami, the situation and conflicts here feel contrived at times such as Hellman and Stein’s nasty cat fight.

It’s clear that unlike One Night in Miami.., Little Wars is meant to be a fantasy since such a dinner party never took place. It’s frothy and occasionally amusing, but not particularly deep. McCasland barely scratches the surface of several intriguing themes such as the nature of storytelling and the illusive quality of truth.

The acting is the highlight with moments of spunk and spark from Juliet Stephenson’s vinegary Hellman and Linda Bassett’s lionness-like Stein (Bassett previously played Stein in the 1987 film Waiting for the Moon). Sarah Solemani has a refreshing simplicity as the enigmatic Gardiner and Natasha Karp provides riveting pathos as Bernadette, particularly as she relates a harrowing anti-Semitic experience. Catherine Russell is a warm presence as Toklas, Sophie Thompson is a wry Agatha Christie, and Debbie Chazan’s Dorothy Parker is martini dry. Hannah Chissick’s subtle direction mines the maximum wit and drama from a forced premise.

Another form of combining the artifacts from the past into a pastiche entertainment is the musical revue. Falling Stars, a new two-person diversion, also available for streaming on BroadwayHD, draws its inspiration from an obscure songbook found by creator-co-star Peter Polycarpou in a London antique shop. Along with Sally Ann Triplett, Polycarpou celebrates familiar melodies from the 1920s such as “What’ll I Do” and “Tea for Two” as well as glittering curios like “When It’s Night-Time in Italy, It’s Wednesday Over Here” and “Your Lips Tell Me No, No, But There’s Yes, Yes in Your Eyes.” These evergreen tunes, lovingly crooned by the cast of two, were composed in the immediate aftermath of a devastating pandemic and now a hundred years later, they comfort us during another one.

Dog Act ****

By: Isa Goldberg

February 3, 2020: Liz Duffy Adams’ “Dog Act,” published in 2009, currently in revival by The Seeing Place Theater on Zoom, is an absurdist farce couched in classical verse and song. It’s also riddled with malapropisms, laced with obscenities and some alarming made-up words. Visually it’s equally arousing.

By: Isa Goldberg

February 3, 2020: Liz Duffy Adams’ “Dog Act,” published in 2009, currently in revival by The Seeing Place Theater on Zoom, is an absurdist farce couched in classical verse and song. It’s also riddled with malapropisms, laced with obscenities and some alarming made-up words. Visually it’s equally arousing.

Vaudevillians performing as they go, Zetta travels on foot with her Dog (William Ketter) from a post-apocalyptic America to China.  (The characters speak English so we can tell it’s America.) Directionless really, they’re beset by two survivors and two scavengers. It’s a competition just to stay alive. 

While written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,  Adams’ tragi-comedy takes us on a hegira to our current dilemma. Morphing a desperation for survival without food or nutrition with daunting weather and a man who acts like a dog – the path from the Golden Age to the final blast of the Plastic Age is inescapably obvious. 

Erin Cronican and William Ketter

That it all comes to life on Zoom is the ingenious work of the show’s creators, director Erin Cronican and designers Brandon Walker and Laura Bonacci. As the play opens we see Zetta in conversation with Dog, but they don’t look at each other. At least, from the audience perspective, Zetta is perched directly above Dog and their communication is directly to us. We’re confronted by their isolation.

Still, each of the six cells or windows – one per actor on Zoom, are sewed together by a common backdrop. A scorched earth with squiggly things that look like dead trees or twisted paperclips attach earth to a blue-grey sky (Laura Bonacci). Our Narrator (Weronika Helena Wozniak) sits below in a black hole – a hell of her own making, apparently.

Even more challenging, however, is the sound design. It’s a rule on Zoom that only one person can speak at a time. Two speakers drown each other out. In this case, however, characters sing together and at times speak or sing to background music (arrangements by Brandon Walker). Technology-wise it’s highly innovative. 

Watching this work of metatheatre played out by these resourceful actors in a technology that is not intended to replace the stage, makes for uproarious fun. As the Dog, Ketter scratches his ear and rubs his bearded face. It’s odd that his physical actions actually sound like a dog’s. Otherwise, he’s a soulful young man, accused of crimes against humanity. 

Jon L Peacock and Robin Friend

Robin Friend as Bud, one of the two scavengers, plays the role as if he were a Shakespearean actor, while Coke (John L. Peacock) explodes so obscenely it evokes atrocity…the atrocity of a man who is artless, that is. Together the two create the physical reality of wrestling even though they can’t touch. On Zoom it resonates with feverish grit. A duo, akin to Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, these two clowns could kill to eat…you know who.

Similarly two travelers, Vera (Brandon Walker) and JoJo (Hailey Vest), also performers and Vaudevillians, happen upon Zetta, her guitar-playing Dog and their cart filled with costumes and props. For Vera and JoJo the prey is that cart for which they would kill…guess who.

William Ketter, Brandon Walker

Walker (I Am My Own Wife by The Seeing Place) is a gender fluid actor playing a female role; the character itself is brutal. And It’s riveting to watch how freely the actor moves within the confined space on Zoom.  Theatrical gestures and large hands explode on screen. And the image of a large nose and big red lips in full focus is explosively comic.  

Vera’s counterpart, JoJo, however, transforms from a brutal villain under Vera’s influence, to a person who saves the lives of others. If there is a note of triumph in the end, it includes JoJo’s recognition that she can be the master of her own destiny.

Adams’ fascination with language is the big tease that these performers mine. They speak of “terrible surprising deaths,” “the rise and fall of humanity.” Later the Vaudevillians enact a story about the plagues god sent, describing the plague of “ideas…of flag waving, border raving killer toads, of neighbors…and of slaughter.” A picture of a dystopian world.


Catch it while you can! Streaming on Zoom, Dog Act performs live Wednesday, February 3rd at 7:00 pm EST/4:00 pm PDT (with streaming available until Midnight the same night 2/3/21). Tickets and information are available at  www.TheSeeingPlace.com or by calling (866) 811-4111

Streaming is also available via YouTube February 2-12, 2021.

Streaming is also available via YouTube February 2-12, 2021.

Little Wars *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 28, 2020: When a playwright decides to write about a group of literary luminaries, he’d better be able to turn a phrase or two himself. Fortunately, Steven Carl McCasland is the man for the job. His Little Wars, which begins streaming on Broadway On Demand February 1 as a “rehearsed reading,” is set in Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s wartime retreat at the foot of the French Alps. This is not exactly their salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, but soon their guests arrive.

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 28, 2020: When a playwright decides to write about a group of literary luminaries, he’d better be able to turn a phrase or two himself. Fortunately, Steven Carl McCasland is the man for the job. His Little Wars, which begins streaming on Broadway On Demand February 1 as a “rehearsed reading,” is set in Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s wartime retreat at the foot of the French Alps. This is not exactly their salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, but soon their guests arrive.

The year is 1940, and, despite the privations of war, Stein (Linda Bassett) and Toklas (Catherine Russell) are hosting a dinner party for their friend Agatha Christie (Sophie Thompson). But much to Gertrude’s chagrin, the famed mystery writer has invited two of her friends, playwright Lillian Hellman (Juliet Stevenson) and poet/critic Dorothy Parker (Debbie Chazen). Add to this Gertrude and Alice’s housekeeper, Bernadette (Natasha Karp), and a mysterious American, who only wants to identify herself as Mary (Sarah Solemani), who is helping Gertrude and Alice transport Jewish refugees to safety, and the dinner party is complete.

In Little Wars, not only is the occasion imaginary; the food is too. But not to fear, there’s lots of alcohol flowing freely. If the bitter revelation of rancor and regrets fueled by too much liquor is something of a theatrical cliché, in this case it does ignite conversations that are witty, funny and often quite moving.

Debbie Chazen, Steven Carl McCasland, Linda Bassett

Director Hannah Chissick has put each actor in her own frame, with stage directions appearing every now and then as typewritten pages. Although this precludes any action, it does allow the actors to exhibit their formidable talents up close.  

Bassett certainly dominates as the formidable sardonic, clever and ultimately vulnerable Stein. But Russell turns Toklas, who has been regarded as something of a nonentity, into a worthy and bittersweet foil. The longsuffering Toklas tolerates with a “tsk, tsk” her partner’s snide remarks to “Lilli Ann Hellman” and her supercilious treatment of Dorothy Parker, a writer she insists she’s never heard of. 

However, both Chazen’s Parker and Stevenson’s Hellman can certainly hold their own. With her glass of scotch in one hand and her cigarette in the other, Hellman defends The Children’s Hour, her play about two headmistresses accused of having a lesbian affair, against Gertrude’s assaults. And the famously acerbic Parker blithely ignores Stein’s digs.

Each of these women has her own story. The imperial Christie remembers her first husband’s infidelity. Parker relives an abortion she cannot forget. Alice recalls the time Gertrude’s brother called her “abnormal.” Even the housekeeper and the rescuer have a tale to tell. These stores are told against the background of the carnage of World War II, at a time when every individual, including these writers, must decide whether or not to accept personal responsibility. 

Much of Little Wars is not exactly historically correct. Stein was often criticized for her indifference to the plight of her fellow Jews. And, according to W. G. Rogers’ memoir, Toklas “was a little stooped, somewhat retiring and self-effacing.” But when a play is as insightful and entertaining as Little Wars, these seem to be petty details.

Catherine Russell, Sarah Solemani, Linda Basset, Natasha Karp, Juliet Stevenson, Sophie Thompson and Debbie Chazen. Photograph: John Brannoch

Falling Stars *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 27, 2020: The opening scene of Falling Stars, a musical revue from the UK that will stream on Broadway On Demand beginning February, features the talented singer/actor Peter Polycarpou wandering into an antique shop on the East Finchley High Road and discovering an old, tattered songbook. When he decides to buy it, the proprietor (an offstage voice) demands outrageously high prices until he agrees to sing a number from the songbook. 

By: Paulanne Simmons

January 27, 2020: The opening scene of Falling Stars, a musical revue from the UK that will stream on Broadway On Demand beginning February, features the talented singer/actor Peter Polycarpou wandering into an antique shop on the East Finchley High Road and discovering an old, tattered songbook. When he decides to buy it, the proprietor (an offstage voice) demands outrageously high prices until he agrees to sing a number from the songbook. 

When he is finished singing, the proprietor finally appears, dressed in a strapless black gown with numerous thigh high slits. She is, in fact, the equally talented Ann Triplett, and together she and Polycarpou set out on a musical journey through the forgotten and not so forgotten songs of the 1920s. As Polycarpou remarks, these songs have a certain “joie de vivre” that seems quite removed from the 21st century. What’s more, this “innocent sensuality” and “long-gone naiveté” flourished at a time that also saw the carnage of World War I and the tragic deaths of the Spanish Flu, something that might give us pause today.

The journey includes lots of information about the composers and lyricists of the period and, at the beginning, tantalizingly brief renditions of the songs. But at last, the duo gets down to their repertoire of songs from bygone days. The songs were written by such luminaries as Irving Berlin, Buddy De-Silva, Ray Henderson, Vincent Youmans, Carl Schraubstader, Arthur Freed and Meredith Wilson. A number of them were composed by Charlie Chaplin, whose silent films, Triplett tells us, “were never silent at all.” What makes these songs truly remarkable is that Chaplin could neither read nor notate music.

Sally Ann Triplett

Some of the songs may have been forgotten, but they have extremely memorable titles: “When It’s Nighttime in Italy It’s Wednesday Over Here,” “You Know You Belong to Somebody Else So Why Don’t You Leave Me Alone” and “There’s Yes Yes in Your Eyes,” which has the admirable lyric “Your lips tell me no no, but there’s yes yes in your eyes.”

However, many of the songs are far from frivolous. There’s also “Roses of Picardy” sung by British soldiers after they’d left sweethearts in France or Flanders, the lyrics written by Frederick Weatherly after he’d fallen in love with a French widow; Irving Berlin’s Haunting “What’ll I Do?” and Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” with lyrics we can all use these days: Smile, though your heart is aching/Smile, even though it’s breaking/When there are clouds in the sky/you’ll get by/If you smile through your fear and sorrow/Smile and maybe tomorrow/You’ll see the sun come shining through/for you.

Peter Polycarpou

Falling Stars, written and conceived by Peter Polycarpou, and directed and staged by Michael Strassen, was put together in three days, but it does not seem at all hurried. Set and costume designer Jean Grey has created the musty atmosphere of a London antique shop complete with an eclectic array of bric-a-brac, and dressed Triplett and Polycarpou in styles that should warm the heart of any music hall devotee. While lighting designer Andrew Exeter has flooded the shop with tones of sepia and burgundy.

Polycarpou and Triplett never miss a step or hit a false note, whether they’re speaking, singing, dancing or just clowning around. They seem to know each other as well as they know the music.

Whether you love history, enjoy good music or are just seeking great entertainment, in these times of pandemic, Falling Stars is just what the doctor ordered.

Photography: Paul Nicholas Dyke

BroadwayHD Becomes Streaming Home for RSC

The iconic works of The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will now stream on BroadwayHD beginning today.

January 25, 2021:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, announced today that their platform will become home to the renowned works of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  Beginning today, fans of Shakespeare will be able to enjoy the likes of Hamlet, directed by Simon Godwin and starring Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You)King Lear, directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran and starring Olivier Award-winner Antony Sher; and The Merry Wives of Windsor directed by Fiona Laird, among others.  Nine titles will debut on the service this month, with additional productions set to arrive on BroadwayHD in February and March.

The iconic works of The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will now stream on BroadwayHD beginning today.

January 25, 2021:  BroadwayHD, the premier streaming service for live theater, announced today that their platform will become home to the renowned works of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  Beginning today, fans of Shakespeare will be able to enjoy the likes of Hamlet, directed by Simon Godwin and starring Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You)King Lear, directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran and starring Olivier Award-winner Antony Sher; and The Merry Wives of Windsor directed by Fiona Laird, among others.  Nine titles will debut on the service this month, with additional productions set to arrive on BroadwayHD in February and March.

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theater at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  They produce an inspirational artistic program each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.  The company has trained generations of the very best theater makers and continues to nurture the talent of the future.  All productions begin life at Stratford workshops and theaters and then are brought to the widest possible audience through touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity.

Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, CEOs and co-founders of BroadwayHD said, “The Royal Shakespeare Company is truly one the most elite companies performing and reimagining Shakespeare’s works for new generations.  We are proud to partner with them in bringing their iconic body of productions to theater lovers.  Especially at this time when we don’t have the opportunity to travel or watch Shakespeare performed live, this collection is a treat beyond treats for fans.”

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company, said, “Nothing can replace the experience of seeing a play live on stage. But with our theatres currently closed, and all of us spending much more time at home, we are delighted to be working with BroadwayHD to give audiences around the world the chance to experience RSC productions from home. We have been filming all of our Shakespeare plays since 2013, broadcasting them into cinemas and to schools. Shakespeare speaks to us unlike any other writer, and this partnership with BroadwayHD will enable even more people to enjoy his work, bringing us together virtually at a time when many of us will be apart.”

The Royal Shakespeare Company titles debuting on the service this month include:

  • King Lear (2016):Starring Olivier Award-winning actor Antony Sher and directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, this production played at both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican, London as well as on screen in movie theaters worldwide.  The production was also revived in 2018 for a short run at BAM in New York City.
  • Antony and Cleopatra (2017):Directed by Iqbal Khan starring Award-Winning actress Josette Simon and Antony Byrne as the doomed lovers.  Performed both at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican, London.
  • Hamlet (2016):Award-winning actor Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You) played Hamlet in this Simon Godwin-directed production which premiered in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2016.  He then reprised the role for the 2018 UK tour and in Washington, DC.
  • Macbeth (2018):Starring award-winning actors Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack, this production was directed by Polly Findlay.
  • Measure for Measure (2019)Directed by Gregory Doran, he found contemporary resonance in this “problem play” through its links with the #MeToo movement.
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost (2014):In 2014, Director Christopher Luscombe and the Royal Shakespeare Company paired Love’s Labour’s Lost with Love’s Labour’s Won (Much Ado About Nothing).  The action took place either side of World War One and both productions featured the same company of actors and a shared set based on Charlecote Park, the National Trust stately home near Stratford-upon-Avon.  
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014):In July 2014, Simon Godwin, now Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC, made his RSC debut directing Shakespeare’s exuberant romantic comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.  It was the first time in 45 years that The Two Gentlemen of Verona had been performed in a full production on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage.  The modern dress production was broadcast live into cinemas worldwide in September 2014 and was also streamed into schools.
  • Timon of Athons (2018):In this 2018 production directed by Simon Godwin, Kathryn Hunter took the title role of Timon, switching the gender of the central character.

Close to 20 additional titles are set to debut on BroadwayHD between February and March including Romeo and Juliet, Othello, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and The Taming of the Shrew among others.

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves Me, The Phantom of The Opera, The King and I, The Sound of Music, and An American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.  To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com.

If you can’t get to Broadway, get to BroadwayHD

Donate to Broadway Cares

View Les Miserables parody, “One More Day of Trump,” created to raise funds for Broadway Cares.

January 20, 2021: The theater community has been hit hard by the global pandemic. If you would like to donate to Broadway Cares/Equity fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund you can do so here: Donate.BroawayCares.org   

View Les Miserables parody, “One More Day of Trump,” created to raise funds for Broadway Cares.

January 20, 2021: The theater community has been hit hard by the global pandemic. If you would like to donate to Broadway Cares/Equity fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund you can do so here: Donate.BroawayCares.org