Variety (December 1952)

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*2 ptsmft Wednesday, December 10, 1952 Free Market on Talent, Vith No Bars To Aliens, CaM Economic Sense New York. 4- Editor, Variety: The issue of importing alien ae- tors in the legitimate theatre has, like-most current theatre prob- lems, an artistic and economic aspect. To take the economic aspect first, the charge has been voiced in this country—and I suppose the obverse has been said in England —that if American producers were entirely free to import English ac- tors, a great many resident English actors, who would be quite as good for the part, would be deprived of jqbs. Now this is a grave eco- nomic fallacy, and the cause of the fallacy lies in the phrase “who would be quite as good for th«; part.'* Importing an English actor re- quires a producer to increase both his budget costs and'operating ex- penses. First, he' has to pay, a round-trip fare. Second, he is of- ten asked to guarantee four weeks’ salary. .Third, he is often asked to pay a substantial rehearsal sal- ary to cover the actor’s living ex- penses away from home. And last- ly, he often has to pay more than the part is worth, because English actors, though paid on a far lower scale in England, generally de- mand a much larger salary here. Now anyone knowing about the financial problems of producers these days will realize the absurd- ity of arguing that a producer is going to bypass a resident actor who is right for a role in favor of an alien actor whose engagement must add thousands of dollars to the producer’s costs. Anyone with any experience of casting a play will know how avidly a producer scans all' available actors in the hopes of getting the right actor as economically as possible. What is more, very few actors in one coun- try have any “name” value in the other country (unless they are moving picture stars) and pro- ducers always seek to get the greatest “name” value for their money. In the vast majority of cases, if a producer imports an (Continued on page 66) Margo Jones Sets 35G Frisco Arena Project, To Operate Year-Round San Francisco, Dec. 9. Margo Jones, founder of Dallas Theatre ’52, will launch a theatre- ih-the-round here on a permanent basis. Brand new plays and classics, in a ratio of six new plays to each two classics, will make up the eightplay season. Approximately $35,000 is expected to cover the season’s investment, including the opening of a 300-seat, arena-type playhouse. The venture is sched- . uled to open in February. . It’s a non-profit enterprise with a board of directors now being or- ganized with Judge Eustace Cuh Unan, Jr,, as chairman. A salaried staff of 21 is contemplated, with an all-professional acting company un- der Equity rules. Enterprise, to be known as San Francisco Theatre ’53, will be. or- ganized on a year-round operating basis. Site for the showplace will be determined next week, Terrell Balked in Switch On Miami Tent Setup Miami, Dec. 9. Efforts, by St. John Terrell to obtain a mid-towrt location for his Music Circus were nixed by Miami Beach and Miami officials last week, with the tent setup due to relocate at its original spot on Treasure Island, in rapidly-build- ing northern sector of the area. Deal for use of Roney Plaza Hotel grounds was stymied when it was.pointed out that there has been a long-stapding edict against ' any tent shows in the community. Efforts to locate on Biscayne .• Blvd., on the grounds of the Amer- ican Legion Post, in the heart of Miami, was fouled up when per- sons living in-that area, protested .to City Commissioners. Despite strong fight by Legion officials, the colons voted 3 to 1 against the .'permit. ■ Terrell will premiere a 10-week season of musical comedy, and operetta in ml(|r^r^iy^y. . n r < ATPAM Takes in Horner, - Schnitzer as ‘New Blood’ Robert Schnitzer and Richard Horner have been admitted to the managers’ chapter of the Assn, of Theatrical Press Agents & Man- gears, under the “new blood” clause. Schnitzer was sponsored by proudeer Guthrie McClintic, for whom he served as company man- ager of the Greek National The- atre during' its recent engagement at the Mark.Hellinger, N. Y. Hor- ner was sponsored by Gertrude •Macy and Walter Starcke, pro- ducers of “I’ve Got Sixpence,” which opened ^ last week at the Ethel Barrymqre, N. Y. Under the revised “new blood” clause, the union is to admit a maximum of 10 managerial can- didates during the next three years, instead of six a season, as previ- ously. 4 Foreign Concert Groups Signed for U.S. Tours By Columbia Mgt.’s Mertens Four important foreign attrac- tions were signed up by Columbia Artists Mgt. for U. S. tours, as re- sult of a quickie two-week trip made to Europe recently by Andre Mertens, Columbia veepee and its foreign expert, Mertens, who has just returned, signed the Grand Republican Band of Paris for its first U. S. tour, which will be managed and booked by Fred Schang, Columbia prez and head of its Coppicus, Schang & Brown division. Band of 75, undr French government sponsorship, and also known as the President of France’s band, will do a 12-week tour of the U. S. and Canada, ^starting Sept. 28, ’53. Mertens will handle the other attractions he signed. In Paris, Mertens also inked Les Compag- nons de la Chanson for their first U. S. concert tour. Group, which has played vaude and nitery dates here, are booked for a minimum of six weeks, starting Jan. 4, 1954. ' In Munich, Mertens pacted the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra for ’53-’54, this being the first time a German orcli will visit the U. S. in many years. Group, due here in fall *53, will be led by Carl Muenchinger. Latter is also acting as guest maestro with the San Francisco Symphony this season. In Vienna, Mertens signed the Vienna Akademie Chorus of 24 (12 femmes, 12 males) for a tour, starting in fall of *53*. Prof. Ferdi- nand Grossmann will conduct. Group sings classics as well as folk music, and will do latter in native costume. Horner Preps ‘Burglar’ As ’53 Broadway Entry Hollywood, Dec. 9. Harry Homer is beginning to line up talent for “Burglar in the ’House,” new Dorothy Bennett play which Malcolm Pearson ahd Court- ney Burr will present on Broad- way, in March. Script is based on the St. Clair McKelway New York- er mag story. Horner will direct and design the show. During his current trip here he hopes to cast at least a few of the roles in the play for rehearsals which start shortly af- ter the first of the year. Meanwhile, Homer is staging “Hazel Flagg,” legit musical ver- sion of “Nothing Sacred,” which bows in Philadelphia next month. Traubel Off on Six-Week Far East & Europe Trek San- Francisco, Dec. 9. Helen Traubel left Frisco Sunday (7) for Honolulu, as first stop on a concert tour in the Far East and Europe. It’s her second such trip in six months. Miss Traubel having toured the Orient last spring. Singer is handled by Columbia Artists Mgt. Miss Traubel will have 32 to 34 dates over a six-week period in Japan, .the Philippines* Turkey and Europe. She’ll return to the U. S. Feb. 18 and will' rejoin the Met Opera. She’s been concertizlng in the U. _S. _since_ Sept. 25. _ Inside Stuff-Legit 4 “An Evening with Beatrice Lillie,” at the Booth, N. Y., has been the only musical on Broadway to go absolutely clean the last two weeks. Since it opened. Oct. 2, the intimate revue has had only 12 empty seats, all at the midweek matinee the day before Thanksgiving (but standees at other performances took the gross over capacity for the week). With several seats removed to make room for the two pianos, the capacity gross for the show is $24,184 and with the recent N. Y. Fire Dept, cut in the standee limit from 35 to 25, the potential take for the week, in- j, eluding standees, is $24,574. As of Nov. 29, the musical had an advance [ sale of $75,600, or more than three weeks’, solid business. Closing of “Don Juan in Hell” tour was timed perfectly for Helen Hoerle, its p.a., since she was able to step right into the “Guys and Dolls” berth when Gertrude Bromberg vacated it. Latter prefers to stay in her home town, Chicago, as much as possible and when she had a chance to get the national company of “Dial ‘M’ for Murder,” which settles down in the Windy City for a run the last of January, Miss Bromberg accepted the offer. Miss Hoerle took over from her a week ago in Pittsburgh, where “Guys” begins a four-week engagement at the Nixon Jan. 12. Explaining its decision to close its tourings production of “Jane’* recently, despite the fact that it was subscription item in a number of scheduled towns, the Theatre Guild notes that the S. N. Behrman play went into the red $2,500-$3,500 a week, for a'total of over $20,000 loss during the time it was out, so continuing became prohibitive. The management points out that several other shows which have proved more popular on the road will be available for substitution for the Edna Best-John Loder-Howard St. John starrer as a subscription of- fering in other towns. Louis R. Lurie, the San Francisco realtor-showman, east on business, fortuitously discovered there is a hideaway gallery at the Plymouth Theatre where “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” is current, and in which Maurice Evans play has a stake. Lurie, in characteristic manner, did a Pied Piper and picked up extras for dinner, with result that he was almost shut out ffom seeing the show, which is a sellout. The management bethought itself of the unused emergency shelf and that’s from where Lurie saw the play, while his guests had his eight seats. Legit Bits Ned Armstrong hat A Small Word or Two About the Oldtime Advance Man * * * an informative editorial feature tn the soon-due 47th Anniversary Number of PfiRIETY N.Y. Music Cm Following Legiters* Lead, Rapping Concerts; Thomson’s Blast Keeping pace with N. Y. legit critics for sharp comment and graceful wordage are • Gotham’s music reviewers, with the Herald Tribune’s Virgil Thomson leading the pack. Last week, for instance, composer-critic Thomson had him- self a bit of a field, day (or field week), rapping the Boston Sym- phony Orchestra one day for old- hat programming, praising the N. Y. Philharmonic the next for maestro Dimitri Mitropoulos’ pre- dilection for modern music, while at the same time taking occasion for .a few. sideswipes at the Met Opera. All this in some fancy verbiage, even for Thomson. Reviewing the Philharmonic’s] weekend set of concerts, Thomson said that “the Philharmonic’s new way, the Mitropoulos way, is to play with * more care for musical sound than has previously been the preoccupation of this orchestra . . . And as a result, the Phil- harmonic. under his leadership, sounds . more and more like the fine musical instrument that it is and less and less like a passing subway express.” Yet a couple of sentences prior, Thomson had rapped the playing of the final number, where “the conductor had lost his flame, and the music went rackety in the old Philharmonic way.” But ending his review, Thomson showered Mitropoulos again with [ praise and got in his needle at the Met. “Mitropoulos, in any case, has improved the Philharmonic, and I think the modern music he plays Is at the bottom of that | change. I would add ‘Metropolitan ! Opera please note’ if I thought that institution had any confidence in my judgment. This last remark is a sideswipe; let it pass.” Nils Asther to Play Lead In Albany Stock ‘Thieves’ Albany, Dec. 9. “The Three Thieves,” comedy by Victor Clement, tried out last sum- mer at Alton Wilkes’ Guilford, N. H., barn, will be presented by Malcolm Atterbury at the Colonial Playhouse here Christmas night, with Nils Asther, former screen star, in a leading role. Asther ap- peared in the New Hampshire, pro- duction with Reginald Owen, whose part here will be played by Frank-1 lyn Fox. Fox did stock in Albany 25 years ago. The new opus, for which a Broadway presentation is antici- pated, will be directed by Wilkes. Dalton Dearborn returns to the Atterbury company in “The Three Thieves.” Others now rehearsing are Melanie York, Paul Anderson, Atterbury, Ellen Hardies and Wil- liam Tregoe. Eugene Burr Has his own views on How to Make Money in the Theatre (A Survey of Drama Schools) * ★ * an interesting editorial feature In the forthcoming 47th Anniversary Number •i P^RIEff Backers of “My Darlin* Aida” have been notified by producer Robert L. Joseph to put up 10% overcall for the $225,000 venture, as provided for in the partnership agreement . . . Agnes Moorehead, whose mother is seriously ill in a Canton (O.) hospital, has been commuting between there and her costarring dates with the touring “Don Juan in Hell” . . . Director, co-author and co-producer Joshua Logan and femme leads Sheila Bond and Patricia Marand of “Wish You Were Here” will be guests of honor next Monday (15) at the luncheon meeting of the Drama Desk, legit reporter group, at Rosoff’s Restauarnt, N. Y. . . . Alan Schneider staged revivals of “Skin of Our Teeth,” which opened last Friday night (5) at Catholic U„ ; in Washington, and “Lady Precious Stream,” which opened last night (Tues.) at the Arena Stage there. Television director Byron R. Kelley, formerly with the Laguna Beach (Cal.) Summer Theatre, will be guest stager next spring at the Bermudiana Theatre, Hamilton, Bermuda . C. Edwin Knill, gen- eral manager for Alfred de Liagre, Jr., and John C. Wilson on “Deep Blue Sea,” was also g.m. for Lem- uel Ayers and Helen Jacobson on “See the Jaguar.” Selma Tamber was production associate on the latter show, with Morry Efron company manager, George Ross pressagent, Ward Bishop produc- tion stage manager, Tony Kraber and Harry Bergman assistants, Melvin Bourne scenic assistant and Frank Thompson costume assistant to producer-designer Ayers. Inci- dentally, the ABC ads for the show carried Ayers’ name in boldface, but associate producer Helen Jacobson’s on the same line in regular type. Lisa Jalowetz gets program credit as assistant to scenic de- signer Boris Aronson on “I’ve Got Sixpence,” for which Rich- ard Horner is company manager, Barry Hyams pressagent, Martin Schwartz associate, Betty Shirley production secretary, John Sola stage* manager and Wesley Lau as- sistant . . . Edward Kook, head of Century Lighting, left last week for about a month's vacation in Europe . . . Mrs. Van Heflin broke her leg last week in fall on an icy pavement in Pittsburgh, where she was with her husband, star, of the touring “The Shrike.” Gail Ilillson, who operates the Triple Cities Playhouse, Bingham- ton, N. Y., went to the Coast last week to scout guest stars for a group of strawhats next summer . . . Paramount and Jerry Wald are Interested in the screen rights to “That Foolish Age,” Charlotte Buchwald Hannon’s comedy tried out list summer at the Clinton (Conn.) Playhouse, operated by her husband, Lewis Harmon . . . Pa- tricia Butler, assistant to Bill Fields as pressagent for the Play- wrights Co., joins him in Havana this week as contact with a local charity group sponsoring the opening performance of the Bar- num-Ringling circus there Dec. 19. Peter Cookson, Albert Marre and Lincoln Kirstcln are planning to produce^ a_ series of _ revivals ^at N. Y. City Center for a six-week season starting Jan. 20, under the sponsorship of ANTA. Plays being considered are “Love’s Labor Lost,” “Misalliance” and “Sleep of Prisoners” . . . S. M. Chartock’s Gilbert & Sullivan repertory com- pany, currently on tour, was capi- talized for only $30,000, according to limited partnership papers re- ] cently filed. Backers don’t include any recognizable names of usual legit investors. Novelist Jessamyn West will dramatize “Friendly Persuasion,” her book about a Quaker family in Indiana during the Civil War, for production next spring by Charles Adams . . , Buster Keaton has signed for the proposed musical comedy, “Saddle and Go” . . . Frederick Kqott, author of “Dial ‘M* for Murder,” at the Plymouth, N. Y„ will write a sketch satirizing his meller for “New Faces,” at next-door Royale, in West 45th Street . . . “Tea and Sympathy,” by Robert Anderson, is announced for spring production by the Play- wrights Co., with Elia Kazan di- recting. The Playwrights Co. is also considering production of a new play by Marc Connelly. Carlton Miles, completely re- covered from his serious illness of last year, will be advance man for the Helen Hayes tour in “Mrs. McThing” . . . James Hughes will be company manager for the tour- ing edition of “Dial *M’ for Mur- der” . . . Shepard Traube hopped to Milwaukee last week to hypo the local exploitation of his touring edition of “Bell, Book and Candle,” which was playing the Davidson there . . . Robert Whitehead is readying an immediate production of George Tabori’s new play, “The Emperor’s Clothes,” with Lee Cobb set as lead. Jack Present is general manager of the touring “On Borrowed Time” company which bows Dec. 29 at the Alcazar, San Francisco. Michael Jeffreys is stage manager of the Richard Krakeur production . . , Edwin Gifford will be stage man- ager and Bruce Jewell asst, stage manager for the tour version of “Dial ‘M’ for Murder.” E. Clayton McCarty, head of the speech and drama department of Trinity U., San Antonio, is author of “The Moon’s Still Yellow,” a family comedy to be presented there Friday (12) by the Trinity Players at the San Pedro Play- house. To give legiters a chance to at- tend, a special midnight screening of Universal's J. Arthur Rank re- lease, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” is skedded for Baronet Theatre, N.Y., Dec. 18. Pic has its regular U.S. premiere at the Bar- onet Dec. 22. Hendl Heads Chautauqua Orch Dallas, Dec. 9.. Walter Hendl, -conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orch, has been appointed summer musical director and conductor of Chautauqua Insti- tute orchestra, Hendl will direct the Lake Chau- tauqua group for a six-week period in July and . til el , „