Variety (January 1958)

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73 Wednesday, Jannary 22, 1958 %/UUETt LEGITIMATE The Shuberts are having one of 4 their best seasons in many years, both In New York and on the road. Not only hasn’t the Government’s consent decree hurt, but it may even have bettered conditions for the long-dominant theatre operat¬ ing firm. Qn Broadway virtually all Shubert houses have been consist¬ ently tenanted.. In most of the roadi cities where they still operate key theatres they have been. Similarly -fortunate. At the moment, four Shubert musical houses on Broad¬ way have smashes current, with the other two spots booked for incom¬ ing shows. Five of their smaller theatres on Broadway haye straight-play smashes, and all are either tenanted or have incoming shows set. In Chicago, the touring produc¬ tion of “My Fair Lady” is a fixture, for many months to Come at' the; Shubert Theatre, obviously netting enough for the theatre to carry the so-sO pace of the Shuberts’ other houses, the Blackstone, Harris and Selwyn. In Boston, the Shubert Theatre has had spotty going so far this season, with several smash hits and a number of dark weeks. Under the terms of the consent de? cree, the Shuberts disposed of sev¬ eral other theatres, thereby appar¬ ently saving substantially on up¬ keep. Philadelphia has been haying a strong season and the Shuberts have been getting their share of hits at their two musical houses, the Shubert and Forrest (the latter also booking straight plays) and their dramatic theatre, the Walnut Street. They have disposed of the Locust Street, which got few book(Continued on page 78) Says ‘Angel’ Management Can’t Help Conditions At Barrymore Theatre New York. Editor, Variety: That Legit Followup on “Look Homeward, Angel” in last week’s issue contained several pungent points, but neglected to clarify that the producer and staff of the play have nothing to do with the management of the theatre, which is operated by the Shuberts. Everything stated about the Barrymore Theatre Is probably true enough — I’d be the last to deny it from what I’ve observed for many years at that and other Shubert houses. But for such con¬ ditions, blame the Shuberts. The “Angel” management and company aren’t responsible I do dispute, however, the sug¬ gestion, or perhaps implication is a better word, that other Broadway theatres are as dilapidated as the Barrymore. The MOrosco, Helen Hays, 46th Street, Coronet and Bijou (operated by City Playhouses, Inc.— Ed.), are handsomely: equip¬ ped and immaculately maintained. The Martin Beck, Henry Miller and ANTA Playhouse are similarly anything but “tottering, tatterde-: malion houses.” All these latter theatres have expensive, modern, efficient venti¬ lating and cooling systems* with comfortable seats, luxurious car¬ peting and beautiful decor. One other thing — you’ll rarely encoun¬ ter any discourtesy from a member of the staffs or from a conces¬ sionaire, at one Of those theatres. Mark Harris. Gets Dayton Stock Spot (He Had What It Takes) Dayton, Jan. 2i. . Paul Winston, a local producer, has made a deal to lease the Mem¬ orial Hall here next summer* for the operation of a stock company. A contract has not been signed, but. Montgomery County Commis¬ sioners have indicated the agree¬ ment is set. Frank Kenley, business manager of the. Kenley Players, which intro¬ duced summer stock to Dayton in 1957, wanted to return this year and said he had a . verbal okay to lease the Memorial Hall again. However*' Winston’s backers in¬ clude Republican county chairman Howard Young, Democratic leader George Flanagan and a number of Dayton businessmen. Viola Roadie’s Ahni Viola Roache, featured as Mrs. Higgins in the original Broadway edition of “My Fair Lady,” will Celebrate her 50th anniversary on the stage April 20. She made her dehut in “The College Widow,” at the Adelphi Theatre, London, in 1908, at the age. of 22. Her daughter* Philippa Bevans, is also in the Broadway company of “Lady,” playing ProfessOf Higgins’ housekeep¬ er,. Mrs, Pearce. Arthur Mfller Is Okay at Conn. U. Hartford, Jan. 21. Within hOurs after, a news story appeared of ■ the banning of play¬ wright Arthur Miller from the campus Of the U. of Connecticut at nearby Stores, the .college presi¬ dent reversed a ruling of a lower exec and Cleared the path for the writer’s appearance there during a scheduled. Fine Arts Festival in April. The school paper, the^ Connecti¬ cut Daily Campus, reported that Thomas Ahem, manager of the Student Union, vetoed an invita¬ tion “because of Miller’s past , com¬ munistic activities.” University president A. N. Jorgenson later overruled the ban, declaring “If Miller has been invited by the stu¬ dents and he accepts the invitation JJie is ' welcome as far as I’m con¬ cerned.” The playwright had been Invited by John M Brinnin, assistant pro¬ fessor of English, to attend the fes¬ tival. The move was at the request Of students. It is not known wheth¬ er Miller formally received the in¬ vitation or became aware of. it through news reports. The bid was addressed, to Miller’s publishers and no answer has been received. Quick reversal of the ban by uni¬ versity officials may have forstalled a student uproar.. Attempts to reach Miller at his home in Hoxbury,. Conn., were unavailing. A1PAM STAKES CLAIM FOR PAY-TV JURISDIX . The Assn, of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers is moving to get ih on the ground floor on tollvision. The union haS already no¬ tified the League of N.Y Theatres, Sol Hurok and other independent producers that ATPAM has juris¬ diction over all live entertainment on “Pay TV,” That means that managers and publicists , for live productions will have to be ATPAM members. In stating its position, the Union also requested that a meeting be held to work out wage scales, working conditions, etc/ San Antonio Symphony Plays Monterrey, Mexico San Antonio, Jan* 21. San Antonio Symphony Orches¬ tra under Victor Alessandro gave concerts in Monterrey, Mexico, last night and tonight at the Elizondo Theatre sponsored by the In¬ stitute Mexicano Norte Americano de Relaciones Cutturales “with the cooperation” (Undefined) of the United States State Dept Dr, Bias Galindo, Mexican com¬ poser* has been. Invited by Ales¬ sandro to present and guest con¬ duct his composition, “Senes De Mariachir” on the Jan. concert. . Equity Drops Chi Dept. For Industrial Shows Chicago, Jan. 21. Actors Equity office in Chicago has shut down its special depart¬ ment for industrial shows. Carl Stohn was sent here to head, the setup less than a year ago. Casting for industrials in the Windy City over the. past year never fulfilled expectations* and the department has been incorpo¬ rated into the regular local Equity operations under Mrs. Frank Dare, and Amelia Lorence. 'Journey on Road .Chicago, Jan. 21. A campaign by local press and radio may save the touring com¬ pany of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Sparked by followup raves from the critics and a bar¬ rage of plugs from local radio commentators, business just about doubled last week for the Eugene O’Neill -drama at the Erlanger Theatre. . As a result, the provisional Feb. 1 closing notice was with-" drawn and the. engagement has been extended several weeks. Moreover, instead of folding here, the production may continue its tour, possibly as far as the Coast. Receipts the next ;couple of weeks will probably determine1 that. Following . disastrous engage¬ ments in Cleveland and Detroit, the Pulitzer and N. Y. Drama Crit¬ ics Circle award-winning drama drew ecstatic notices here, but did dire business for the first sev¬ eral performances. Attendance be¬ gan to perk at the and of the initial week, however, after the critics, .notably Claudia Cassidy, of the Tribune, wrote columns to spur public support. Theodore Mann, co-producer of the show with Leigh Connell and Jose Quintero, summoned general manager Irving Cooper from New York for confabs with the com¬ pany staff and theatre manage¬ ment. It was decided to continue in Chicago at least fiye weeks, and (Continued on page 78) PLAN SUBSCR1B DRIVE , TO REVIVE A. C. LEGIT Atlantic City, Jan. 21. In an effort to revive this resort as a touring legit stand, a cam¬ paign will be conducted to obtain 4,000 subscribers for a five-show season. Tickets would he priced at $5 per* show, so each production would be guaranteed a. $20,000 gross for a week’s stand. •The Warner Theatre, a 4,200seat film house, would be re¬ designed for a capacity of about 1,500, and that necessary backstage alternations would also be made. Local regulations would permit performances we e ke nds, when there is normally a visitor influx during the off-season period. Plans for bringing back legit are being worked out by a committee of the Chamber of: Commerce, of. which hotelinan Michael Fiore is president. The group conferred in Philadelphia last week with Law¬ rence Shubert Lawrence, represen¬ tative of the Shubert interests in New York. He agreed, to .try to arrange for Broadway . shows to play this resort if the. $20,000 weekly gross could be -assured. At the start, it’s figured -on hav¬ ing the five-show season from Sep¬ tember through December, blit Fiore is working on the idea of bringing additional productions here and extending the season through May. It’s hoped that some of the shows may-be pre-Broadway tryouts and that the resort may again become a regular break-in spot, as in the 1920’s and 1930’s. During Last Six Months of 1957; 8 Hits* 7 Flops, 5 Not Determined Spoken in Jest? Producer-realtor Roger L. Stevens appears to have a real¬ istic sense of humor about the way he initiates numerous legit projects and then turns them over to subordinates with off¬ hand instructions, “Now you handle.it.” When a member of the Play¬ wrights Co, staff speculated last week on how the pro¬ ducer-realtor manages to be so active without getting ulcers, Stevens commented, “I don’t get ulcers-r-I give ’em.” Hub Censor Even Boston, Jan. 21. “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” the Tennessee Williams prize-winner which opened last week at the. Wil¬ bur Theatre here, has since been severely laundered by the city censor. All the four-letter words have been removed or. smothered. Other lipes, without objectionable words but possibly offensive to southerners or the south, haye also been deleted. The censorship was expected by N.Y. producer George Brandt and the management of the theatre, but there was no pre-censorship. The script was played opening night exactly as written and the censor’s cuts' were , subsequently submitted and accepted. LONDON ‘SAILOR’ ENDS LONG RUN, WILL TOUR London, Jan. 21. “Sailor Beware,” the Philip King-Falkland Cary farce, which opened Feb. 16, 1955, at the Strand Theatre, ends its three-year run there Feb. 22. It will have, played 1,231 performances and,! to date, 1,400,087 people have paid to see it. * y. . The show, which was |the late Jack Waller’s last big money-spin¬ ner, brought stardom to a preyioulsly unknown stock character woman, Peggy Mount: The actress will go on tour with the produc¬ tion. Incidentally, “Sailor Beware” is not to be confused with the sim¬ ilarly-titled Broadway comedy of 1933-33 by Kenyon Nicholson and Charles Robinson. ‘House’ Leaving London For Tour of Provinces London, Jan. 21. Although still funning in the black/ “House By the Lake” is to be withdrawn Feb. 15 from the Duke of York’s Tbeatfe so that Flora Robson will be available for a short provincial tour. It will have played 737 performances. Peter Daubeny, who presents the Hugh Mills drama, gave Miss Robson the choice of continuing the London, run with no provincial tour because of other* commit¬ ments, or halting the London run and touring for three months. She decided on the latter course. After two. weeks in nabe London situa¬ tions, the company, will rest for a fortnight before . moving into the sticks. An earlier plan for MiSs Robson to toiir in Australia has been abandoned. After March 1st, 1958 Newsstands Subscription Per Copy Per Year See Details Page 51 By HAROLD MYERS London, Jan. 21*. Two out of. every five shows which opened in London’s West End during the second half of 1957 are already In the black. Only one In four failed to pay off. There were 26 productions during the six-month period and 43 during all of '1957. Of seven productions whose fi¬ nancial status, had not been deter¬ mined by the. end of -the year, at least five look stout prospects for an early payoff. And the number of long-running hits, which stood at 11 this time last year, has now swelled to 16. The period under review is the first full half-year in which legit theatres have been freed from the admission tax toll (abolshed in the last Easter Budget) and the addi¬ tional coin accuring to manage¬ ments, representing about 14% of the gross, has hypoed the more sue-"" cessfiil returns. Among the hits In the Half-year review, “The Entertainer/ in which Laurence Olivier is starred, closed at tiie Palace last Saturday (18) and is due for an early Broadway presentation. “Man of Distinc¬ tion,” with Moira Shearer and An¬ ton WaHbrqok in the leads, ran only about four .weeks at the Princes, but paid off during a sub¬ stantial pre-London tour which in¬ cluded an engagement at the Edin¬ burgh FestivaL "The Egg,” currently at the Saville under the banner of Jack Wal¬ ler, Ltd., (the company formed to perpetuate the name of the late producer) is due to fold next Satur¬ day (25) and looks certain to wind up in the red. “Saturday Night at the Crown,” a hit at the Garrick Is being crowded out next Saturday to make room for a transfer of “Share My Lettuce” from the Com¬ edy, and will be compelled to fold unless another house can be found. Three of the long-running hits are due to fold within the next (Continued on page 76) ‘Night’ Not Now $24,500 Goes on Subscription The break-even on the “Middle of the Night” production has been, cut from $30,000 to $24,500 for the balance of its tour. The reduction. Involving salary and royalty re¬ adjustments on the part of the cast, author and director, was put into effect by the show’s hew spon¬ sor, the Theatre Guild-American Theatre Society, No cuts will be made, however, on weeks that the production, grosses over $30,000. TG-ATS, which provides sub¬ scribers with touring presentations under the auspiefes of the Council of the Living Theatre, took over the Edward G. Robinson-stareer from Joshua Logan, who had plan¬ ned closing it last Saturday (18) in Washington. Warren Caro, TGATS executive director, negotiated the' sponsorship switch. The show moved to the,. Great Northern Theatre* Chicago, last Monday (18) and will remain there three weeks as a subscription of¬ fering. As such it win be guar¬ anteed a minimum $18,300 weekly gross. The show had not been play¬ ing subscription stands prior to the TG-ATS takeover. The Chicago run will be followed by another seven weeks on the road, and the presentation will up on the Coast as an item for new subscribers. Performing Arts Center In D. C. Proposed Again Washington, Jan. 21. Legislation reviving plans for cultural center in Washington has been introduced by Rep. Frank Thompson, Jr., (D., N.J.). The. measure calls for a cultural commission to plan for. a much smaller national cultural center than the one which failed to pass in Congress last year. The Center would provide facilities for opera, music, legit, ballet, etc. Ground would be provided by the Govern¬ ment near the Mellon Art Gallery.