"The Winter's Tale" employs fortuitous events, strange adventures, and a mingling of light with dark elements. It is a tale in which true loyalty confronts false suspicion as a king's jealousy leads to cruel injustice and is followed by tardy contrition. In this strange Shakespearean romance, the whirligig of time (16 years, to be precise) brings, not his revenges, but his reconciliations. In terms of theatrical make-believe, this is a play of wonders. And the tale is told with wondrous zest and vitality by the newly formed Bam Theater Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Shakespeare narrates a sad tale -- which, as doomed little Mamilius declares, is best for winter -- along with a springlike romance. "the Winter's Tale" ends with a restoration of rights, a vindication of faithfulness and courage, and a redress of past wrongs. The romance begins in the Sicilian court of King Leontes (Brian Murray), who becomes insanely jealous when he suspects his loyal wife Hermione (Marti Maraden) of infidelity with his lifelong friend, the visiting King Polixenes of Bohemia (Norman Snow).
The effects of Leontes's obsession not only imperil Polixenes. They prove fatal for his small grief-stricken son, Mamilius, old counselor Antigonus, and apparently even for Hermione. After her baby is born, Leontes orders Antigonus to set down and abandon the infant girl in "some remote and desert place." The place proves to be Bohemia where, during an interval covered by Time's monologue , Perdita (Christina Estabrook), grows up into a lovely rustic maiden beloved of Prince Florizel (Boyd Gaines), son and heir to Polixenes.
Happily, "The Winter's Tale" has not finished with its wonders. After a rather lengthy interlude of pastoral revelry and the interventions of Autolycus (Joe Morton), a roguish "snapper-up of unconsidered trifles," the principals reach Sicilia. There, that staunch and steadfast lady, Paulina (Sheila Allen), proves how very lifelike her long concealed statue of Hermione really is.
Artistic director David Jones's production gets the new company off to the kind of start that shows promise of an ensemble in the making. The revival is strongly cast in most principal roles. The players grasp the strange events of this renaissance romance and persuade us with the credibility of their make-believe. Mr. Murray's Leontes is as passionate and strong willed as he is weak and self-deluded, "a feather for every wind that blows" until the moment of his shocked remorse. The beautiful Miss Maraden gives pride and spirit as well as sincere devotion to the chaste Hermione. Mr. Snow acts the wrongly suspected Polixenes with royal forthrightness.
As the dauntless Paulina, Miss Allen defends Hermione and defies Leontes with magnificant boldness and determination. John Heffernan gives a quietly humorous portrayal of the obviously respectful spouse of this formidable lady. Mr. Gaines and Miss Estabrook are fetchingly romantic young lovers. Mr. Morton's Autolycus is a stylishly extravagant and ingratiating knave. John Seitz behaves with manly dignity as the courtier who saves Polixenes and helps bring the plot back to Sicilia for the happy denoument.
The paneled thrust-stage setting by David Gropman and the timeless costumes by Julie Weiss harmonize tones of wood and leather, relieved by bright splashes of color and primavera motley for the Bohemian rustic feast. William Mintzer's lighting suits the shifting moods of the romance and Bruce Coughlin's music can be percussively ominous or full of flutings and harpings, as the situation demands.
Judged by "The Winter's Tale," the Bam Theater Company has the potential to become one of the glories of Brooklyn and a rich addition to the New York playmaking scene. 'Changes.' Musical by Danny Apolinar (lyrics) and Addy Fieger (music). Musical staging by Ronn Forella. Conceived and directed by Dorothy Love.
For an intimate, Off Broadway musical, "Changes" luxuriates in the advantages of conspicuous expenditure. This jazzy dissertation on the pleasures and perils of nonmarriage a la mode has a topflight cast: Kelly Bishop, Larry Kert, Irving Allen Lee, and Trina Parks. It has been opulently designed by Don Jensen (setting) and Miles White (costumes).
Spanning the 12 months from one New Year's Eve to the next, Danny Apolinar and Addy Fieger discourse musically on changing seasons and changing partners. Except for an occasional blues or ballad, the material throbs with briskly syncopated rhythms -- all played by an excellent onstage quintet directed by pianist Hal Serra. Notwithstanding its unflagging pace and a lively performance , the show tends to pall. So casual a view of such ephemeral relationships leaves a quickly forgettable impression.
'Talley's Folly.' The wryly funny and poignant comedy by Lanford Wilson about a 1944 Missouri wooing was a great popular and critical and popular success when it played, last spring, at the Off Broadway Circle Repertory Company.
Now it has moved to Broadway's Brooks Atkinson theater with its original cast: Trish Hawkins as a defensively independent spinster, daughter of a prominent local family, and Judd Hirsch as the wooing Jewish immigrant accountant from Saint Louis who won't take no for an answer. It is full of tenderness and genuine feeling. A lovely romantic play.