Variety (October 1952)

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LEGITIMATE Plays Out of Town Dinner For Three Montreal, Oct. 25. KoolVent Theatre production of comedy In three acts by Herbert Kramer. Direc- tion and music by Kramer: set by Ar- thur Voronka. At Gesu Theatre, Montreal, Oct. 24. '52: $3.15 top. Philip Herbert Kramer Doxds Elfl Koenig Pierre Barry Morse Austin Robert Goodier Maid Joan Blackman equally unable to rise above the direction, and the purposeless nar- ration of Walter Coy is ori the i same level. Sets by Valentina Raab overflow the stage and give the characters ! an opportunity to indulge in long hikes when not prancing about cen- f.'v.^porp. leaping from tables or slobbering at each other. Kap. Seldom has there been a more , •**„-.*a™ contrived theatrical offering than Maid and th© the KoolVent Theatre’s production Hollywood, Otc. 22. Of Herbert Kramer’s “Dinner for Gallery Stage production of r nmantic Three,” currently at the Gesu Thea*- ggUg*’ by"oSrdSS tte here. ' Hunt. At Gallery Stage, HoUywood, Oct. Louis Levin, backer of this new is.i'52: $ 2.40 top. w company (a company which derives gay JJori^y.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;^han Lurie it’s name from Levins KoolVent Mitchie chase Kay Barkley awning business) has spared no ex- Prof. John Borden Stanley Malotte pense in promoting this venture: q®^ Derro..... Maury Hill has met all salary demands to as- i s t Guard Hank Loomis semble a cast; has done most every- 2nd Guard Joseph Karbo thing, but one matter—he didn’t get a play. Radio comedy dialdg mars this “Dinner for Three,” in one form initial offering in what may turn or another, has been knocking out to be a rash of scripts based on around theatres for more than 20 interplanetary relations, but with years, and age has done little to keen revision “The Maid and the enhance its theatrical value. Pres- Martian” might have a chance at ent adaptation by Henry Kramer bigger things. Plot-wise, it’s amus- has been updated in a dialog sense .i n g and as credible as a farce needs and twisted into a vehicle that to be. reduces it to little more than a Joseph Barbera script is about showcase for Kramer’s Vienna-type a Martian who crash-lands near music and Elfi Koenig’s operetta the mountain-top hideaway of some style of chirping. amiable drunks and proceeds to The story, such as it is, revolves hold them captive while he tries around a triangle consisting of Miss to signal Mars to pave the way for Koenig and Barry Morse, the man invasion. The “secret weapon” of and wife, with Kramer as the old a virginal young farm gal proves friend and bachelor who is sus- his undoing and although the end pected by the husband of being m j s predictable, the proceedings en- love with his wife. Into this obvious gender considerable chuckles, and not exactly original situation For local consumption, “The is • a Shakespeare-spouting butler, Maid” is attractive, enough even played by Robert Goodier, and the though the local cast vitiates some usual French maid, Joan Black- 0 f the humor by mugging and man. overacting. It’s a long way from Miss Koenig, who hails from the bigtime, though, unless Bar- Vienna and is wife of backer Levin, bera can sharpen the dialog in manages to mamtain a certain flut- hi s rewrite ’te'ry" attitude throughout. - Of . t-h* . Gordon Himt’s -direction is- frsn- Kramer songs she tackles, an item 2 i e( j t perhaps *as result of the fact called ‘ Walking on Air is most that the production was thrown in reasonable and tuneful. Morse, who on s h Qr t notice. Pat Prest, as the has established a fair rep in the f arm g a i, makes the best impres- past two years for his strawhat and si0n j n the cast. Kap. little theatre ventures, is adequately _____________ confused and suspicious and is cer- ""^————————-1 tainly the most assured performer on stage at any time. Kramer, de- JutJUiiy mUOW spite a heavy accent and a certain ponderous attitude, portrays the . ^ ' playboy to the hilt in between a GcttlnrMarricd senes of piano and'song interludes * (LENOX HILL, N. Y.) The single set, used as both a _ ., _ . - studio and living room, is effective _ ^ T . and the limited lighting • facilities season at the Lenox Hill Playhouse, are used to advantage. H.- Equity Library Theatre following a two-week engage- a n ®, w a r ® _ ment at the Gesu (providing ad- Fl°F e1 ^ +k! vance* sales ‘ hold), the previously ness regarding the play as a planned tour of “Dinner” will be second-hand, case solely to display dropped and- KoolVent will substi- actors^ shinmg talents. Natur- tute “The Happy Time” with Roger a ^ y » +* ass +Ff suffer ihe most under Dann, some of the members of the ?c h +h!<? present cast'and other localities, 1 .marital state is this weeks and open at Her Majesty’s Dec. I. T ‘ . Newt ’ Director Lawrence Carra seems - ’ to be* responsible for the slackness of pace, the failure to project what Til© \v eb and til© Dock Shavian wit is here,- the bizzare Hollywood, Oct. 22. grouping and the variety of dif- Eugenle Leontovich-George St. George ferent acting styles. x«rtS!"cohSnf" aa“t?d Louis Edmonds’ snobbish Hitch- novol by Thomas Wolfe. Staged by Miss kiss is handsome, well-timed and Leontovich, who aist» stars. At Lao Palmas neatly styled; Lloyd Bochner Theatre, Hollywood, Oct. 22. '52; $2.40 top. hrincre anriAal arwl Wiirnm- tho Mrs. Esther Jack Eugenie Leontovich D “ n SS appeal ana Humor to tne George. “Monk" Weber Earl Colbert role of Sykes. the reluctant bnde- Ji™ Piemnions Ai sargont groom, and Kay Parker, as Mrs. Sylvia Messerman... .Geraldine McDonald p> r : Hero ini «n1tr Mnman Girl in Saloon Catherine Cronin Hridgenortn, IS tne Only V Oman in Bum in saloon Harvey Kaufman the Cast who achieves the Spirit Patl £ C n k v fl ud emphasis her part calls for. Fae Mae Keiso Mhni Bovrei All three of these actors heighten Rosalind Bailey ctistai ortoni their portrayals to exactly the right SSv 1 *" Point, below which the character Foxh^i E^vardr. 777: JusUn^caitS is lost and above which it is un- Young Writer 'Marlin Van Dover bearable. . ‘Guilty, of overdoing is .Helene ■ Pretentious posturing, is the key-’ Millet 1 , in perpetual emotion as note of this Coast tf-yout-of the .Eeo-the Skittish, young wife, while adaptation of Thomas Wolfe’s ob- OTUam Paterson, as Reginald, her viously autobiographical novel. As lovifter; husband, so weakens the result, any merit the Lester Cohen character-by - underplaying that it script might have is completely ob- £ a n hardly get across the foot- scured in one of the most infuriat- light?. Dana' Hardwick’s genial ing professional productions ever greengrocer Collins, and John - 5 hown..on...tbe..Coast. Stephen’s amiable bfchop are credit .Eight scenes offered . here (a CO K U’ibutioiTs;""while ''Arthu-r See* ninth was cut shortly before the len’.s gruff general and Lisa Ayers’ premiere) trace the story of the strong-minded Lesbia are lia- struggling young writer and his unities. fierce love affair with an older Michaele Myers, as the rebel- woman whose devotion and faith, lo us bride Edith, and Anne Fran- despite continuous bickering, even- cine, as the magnetic Mrs. George, tually lead to the publication of seen* miscast, epecially since Miss the author’s novel. It is, appar- £j: ai l cl . n ® uses hiprolling and Wild ently, little changed since its orig- West inflections as a Victorian, if inal unsuccessful tryout at an up- devastating, English woman, state New York strawhatter two Vene . years agp. - Eugenie Leontovich, who co-pro- NeWS Ed’s Medieval Play duced and directed m addition to . TT J essaying the femme lead, must bear 10 UCl U. 01 KailSRS Preem the brunt of the blame for this TCancmc rifv ma^iacaPfrenzy g and^wnper- . New play by He F y C - Haskell formance is incredibly theatrical F!!* 1 b f "rrn^vAri/Iv 3 tj? U r r nigh J; throughout. Her hand-picked lead- the University Theatre of ing man, Earl Colbert, a member U * °. f Kansas, Lawrence, Oct. of her Leontovich Players group, 29-Nov. 1. Opus is “The Morning parrots the lines in a meaningless star »” based on the romance of one-dimensional characterization, Heloise and Abelard, and joins her in some of the most Direction is by Dr. John New- nauseating love scenes ever put on field, in his first year as playhouse stage. Remainder of the cast is director at K.U. Gcttlng^Marrlcd (LENOX HILL, N. Y.) In its first production of the P^SrIEtt Barrault French Troupe Gives Gallic Garnish To Gide’s ‘Hamlet’ Version Montreal, Oct. 28. In its second week of repertory at Her Majesty’s here, following its smash success with Marivaux’s “Les Fausses Confidences” and Mo- liere’s “Les Fourberies de Scapin,” the Madeleine Renaud, Jean-Louis Barrault Co. of Paris added “Ham- let,” in Andre Gide’s translation, as one of several other offerings. This “Hamlet” was first performed in 1946 by the two when they broke with the Comedie Francaise and formed their own company. In comparison to the accepted Anglo-American idea of “Hamlet,” this version is still lacking in a sense of greatness, drama %nd in- terpretation. Some of this is no doubt due to Gide’s translation which, faithful to the original, on the whole misses some of Shake- speare’s more subtle inferences and shaded meanings. Barrault, in the name role, does a complete and at times remark- able *switch from the light, frothy Moliere and Marivaux offerings with which he opened this tour. He plays Hamlet with great restraint throughout, occasionally showing flashes of his more exhibitionist nature in the play-within-a-play sequence and with Horatio. There are many moments during the three acts when things slow up to the point of tedium. Jacques Dacqmine, as the rascal- ly king, Claudius, is convincing, although he is inclined to go over- board, particularly in his closet scene. Marie-Helene Daste, as Hamlet’s mother, only comes into her own during the bedroom stanza, when Hamlet stabs Polonius. Here she develops a more distraught character which she seemed to have missed in earlier moments. ! As in all other parts assigned to her, Simone Valere as Ophelia is standout. From a quiet, confused young girl, she goes mad with a realism almost frightening to watch. Jean-Claude Michel, as Ophelia’s brother Laertes, is ade- quate; Pierre Bertin offers a rath- er detached Polonius, missing the impact of his big speech to Laertes. Jean Juillard, in the'dual role of Ghost and later as leading player to entertain the King and Queen, is excellent. Charles Mahieu, as the first gravedigger, registers sol- idly, and Jean Desailly, as Horatio, is consistent but never memorable. The sets by Andre Masson are spotty. At times, such as the open- ing and closing scenes, they tend to overshadow the actors; at other times they seem like last-minute improvisations. Olive-grey drapes are used almost throughout and there is a tendency to crowd the stage and destroy the value Bar- rault is trying to establish; a value of space and loneliness. Incidental music by Arthur Hon- egger maintains the proper atmos- phere at all times, and regardless of what shortcomings there are bound to be in translation, Bar- rault and his very able company offer a sincere, forthright interpre- tatipn. Newt. 'Wagon’ Laggard $17,000 In Buff.-Rochester Split Rochester, Oct. 28. “Paint Your Wagon,” starring Burl Ives, grossed a sad $17,000 last week in a split between Buf- falo and here. The Alan Jay Ler- ner-Frederick Loewe musical drew about $10,000 in five performances Monday-Thursday (20-23) at the Erlanger, Buffalo, and added ap- proximately $7,000 in three shows Friday-Saturday (24-25) at the Au- ditorium here. Wolfe Kaufman-John Yorke show is playing the Royal Alexandria. To- -this-week,- goes-to-the Han*.. I na, Cleveland, next week and the Cox. Cincinnati, the - following stanza. ‘Gigi’ 13G, Cincy Cincinnati, Oct. 28. Road show season here got off to a light start last week. Audrey Hepburn in “Gigi” grossed a dis- appointing $13,000 for eight per- formances in the 1,300-seat Cox Theatre at a $4.31 top. Bookings are greater than last year. Cox has “Mister Roberts” currently and “I Am a Camera” next week, both at $3.69 top, with “Pdint Your Wagon” week of Nov. 17 in the 2,500-seat Taft at $4.92 top. Earl Paul, composer of musical TV shorts for commercials, has fin- ished a symphonic poem, in three movements, titled “The Cycle.” Publication is due shortly. , Wednesday, October 29 , 1952 U. of N. Hampshire Thesps Set 5 Plays in 30th Season Durham, N. H., Oct. 28. The 30th season of Mask & Dag- ger, dramatic organization at the U. of New Hampshire here, will be marked by presentation of five dramas, beginning with “Kind Lady,”. Nov. 19-22. Founded in 1922, the student thespian group has staged one or more plays in each of the past 30 years. Present director and faculty advisor is Prof, Joseph Batcheller. In Hanover, the Dartmouth Plaiyers of Dartmouth College will operi their 1952-53 season by pre- senting George Kelly’s “The Show- off,” under direction of Henry B. Williams. Better Plays Continued from page 62 boxoffice price. There the problem obviously is not arithmetic but product. The most favorable eco- nomics in the world wouldn’t help. The analysis then boils down to this: A bad show can’t be saved by good economics. But a good show can be killed by bad eco- nomics. A super-duper show can live, and even thrive up to a point, in spite of bad economics. That is why we have been witnessing in the theatre a boom or bust situa- tion. A smash hit will survive and pay. off. It’s the in-betwfeen area where there is cause for real con- cern. The ‘Good* Play There is the “good” play as dis- tinguished from the “great” play or “flop” play. Under present-day economics, with costs what they are, a play that is just a good play has a tough struggle for existence and is likely to fold in the red. Lower boxoffice prices would un- doubtedly attract a larger audience to plays in this category. The trou- ble is that costs would likewise have to be lower to pay off. That is where the arbitrary part of some of the rules as to minimum num- ber of people, minimum scales, and minimum everything else but costs, begins to show its influence on survival. The influence is - more deeply rooted than survival. With such a setup, many plays, never even get underway because of the gloomy arithmetic. Twenty years ago about 200 shows would be launched dur- ing a theatrical season. Today it has dwindled to about one-third of that. There were over 70 theatres in '"1929. Today there are fewer than 30. That is plain retrogres- sion, contraction, obsolescence or whatever else you want to call it. What’s the answer? A page of history from the automobile indus- try is better than a volume of debate. That industry has gotten more and more of the consumer dollar by making better automo- biles at lower cost (with, due al- lowance for our recent inflation headaches).„The theatre can like- wise hold its own, or go forward, if there are better plays at lower cost. True, in industry, technologi- cal advance has made possible re- ductions in cost and improvements in product. The theatre does not present as much of a field day for technology as does the regular run of industry. Nevertheless, the re- quisite formula is still the same— improved product and lower cost. There may be some squeamish- ness about the comparison of the theatre with industry. We must, however, face up to the fact that we are talking of the commercial theatre, not subsidized theatre. The market place knows no sentiment. It wants the “mostest for the least- fcst.” Unless the theatre is in there ..pitching. iD._th.aLRDxt .Df a..balLpar.k,.. it must move over to make way for a competing product that does keep consumer, producer and in- vestor happy. J. S. Seidman Skinner-Taris’ $14,500, In 7-Performance Split Richmond, Oct. 28. Cornelia Otis Skinner put to- gether a sock $14,500 gross last week in seven performances split between three stands in her one- woman musical show, “Paris ’90.” Star got $6,200 in three shows Monday-Wednesday (20-22) at the Court Square, Springfield, Mass., added $2,000 on a one-nighter Thursday (23) at the McCarter, Princeton, and finaled with $6,300 for three performances Friday Saturday (24-25) at the WRVA Theatre here. Actress is continuing her one* nighters this week. Legit Follow-Ups The King and 1 (ST. JAMES, N. Y.) Constance Carpenter, who after understudying Gertrude Lawrenei for mote than a year took over thS femme lead in “The King and r* recently on the star's death, is ej v ing a credible, graceful and attrac- tive performance in the part. Her appearance and characterization are suitable and her singing is if not outstanding, at least pleasant Since no one could hope to duplicate the unique magic of Miss Lawrence’s personality and style comparisons would be unfair, it's enough that Miss Carpenter has a quality of her own and that she is warm, persuasive and likeable as the firm-minded British school- teacher at the Siamese court notably so in the affectionate scenes with the royal children. She is top-featured in the musical. Yul Brynner, formerly top-fea- tured but recently upped to star billing, remains about as before. In the absence of Miss Lawrence’s dominant authority and personali- ty, the part of the King seems to have expanded and become more important. Otherwise, Brynner is still exceptionally well suited physically for the role, with an appearance and a sort of savagery that femme audiences obviously dote on. His playing still seems harsh and lacking in charm, but his diction has apparently im- proved a trifle. In general, the Richard Rodgers- Oscar Hammerstein 2d musical holds up remarkably well, despite the fact that Brynner is the only one of the original leads still in the cast. The show obviously lacks the universal appeal of the un- matchable “South Pacific” and there is a fairly sizeable minority that doesn’t like it. But its uncon- ventional story, beautiful score, exotic locale and sumptuous visual appeal make it knockout musical theatre for most audiences. Hobe. South Pacific (CIVIC AUD., PORTLAND) Portland, Ore., Oct. 20. William Duggan opened the Civic Auditorium boxoffice for “South Pacific” nearly a month before the musical arrived, and two weeks later every ducat for the night performances was sold. Hundreds were turned away. When the b.o. opened, the four ticket- sellers were greeted by lines two blocks long all day long. Pasteboard holders for “SP” were pleasantly surprised at the announcement that Martha Wright, lead of the Broadway company, would appear with the musical for three weeks during the tour of Miss Wright’s native Northwest country. She joined the troupe here in Portland last Tuesday (14) and will continue to appear in Ta- coma, Seattle and Spokane before heading back to her Gotham spot. Seattle gal fits into the outfit as if she was made to order. Cus- tomers in the jampacked Auditori- um were carried away by her per- formance and completely enjoyed every second of the three-hour song-filled show. Webb Clifton and Dorothy Franklin get plenty of palm-wack- ing for their roles as Emile De Becque and Bloody Mary. Benny Baker as Billis carries the comedy role in good shape. Stanley Grover as Lt. Cable and Norma Calderon as Liat also come through with some nifty acting, dancing and singing. It has been a long time since a show created as much comment and interest in this area. “SP” could have played to SRO for an- other week. Janet Blair returns to her role as Ensign Nellie Forbush at the end of the three-week period. She is currently on vacation. Feve. Miami Opera Guild Sets Drive for 12th Season Miami, Oct. 28. Miami Opera Guild, under direc- tion of founder Dr. Arturo deFihP* pi, launched a subscription cam* paign for additional members for its 12th season, which will feature three popular works with Metro- politan Opera stars heading up a local chorus and orchestra of 70 at Dade County and Miami Beach ah' ditoriums. . Productions of Puccini's “Gianni Scliicchi” (fn English) and “Caval- leria Rusticana ?> is scheduled pi Jan, 17-18 and “La Traviata” f° r Feb. 28 and March 2. Metopera members participating include Sal- vatore Baccaloni, .Eleanor Steber, Regina Resnlk, Robert 'Wecde ana Charles Kullman. Estimated pro- duction costs run well over $75,oou.