Broadway's pre-Tony flurry of openings runs the gamut
New York — Broadway is in the midst of the final flurry of openings prior to May 11 deadline for the 1980 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards. The theatrical agenda runs the usual gamut of musicals (lavish and modest), comedies, and serious works. It remains to be seen how many Tony winners the nominating committee and theater electorate will find among these 11th-hour contenders. Happy New Year
Musical adaptation of Philip Batrry's "Holiday," adapted by Burt Shevelove, with songs by Cole Porter. Directed by Mr. Shevelove. Choreography by Donald Saddler.
The intimate new musical comedy at teh Morosco Theater demonstrates that mixed ingredients, like mixed metaphors, can be an iffy proposition.
Burt Shevelove, successful writer-director in assorted media and milieu, has had the idea of lacing a sophisticated 1928 Philip Barry comedy with Cole Porter songs from various periods and sources. The amalgam, though intermittently agreeable enough, doesn't quite work out.
"Happy New Year" (moved up in time to the early 1930s) concerns a young man's pursuit of happiness and declaration of independence from the toils of acquisitiveness. Johnny Case's (Michael Scott) unorthodox decision to interrupt his upward mobility with an indefinite sabbatical upsets his stuffy fiancee (Kimberly Farr) and shocks her even stuffier banker-papa (William Roerick). But it intrigues the family's maverick younger daughter (Leslie Denniston). the romantically foregone conclusion arrives via a succession of snippety scenes and Porter standards ("edited by Buster Davis"), including "Ridin' High," "Let's Be Buddies," "Easy to Love," "You Do Something to Me," "Night and Day," and "After You, Who?"
The liveliest song-and-dance number of the evening is "leths Make It a Night, " in which the ever-enchanting Miss Denniston, partnered by Tim Flavin and Lara Teeter, defies a cluttered set to execute some of Donald Saddler's best choreography. The generally engaging company includes john McMartin as a graceful narrator-commentator. Allowing production designer Michael Eagan to enshroud the proceedings in black drapes was not one of Mr. Shevelove's happier concepts. Black drapes was not one of Mr. Shevelove's happier concepts. Couture note: Pierre Balmain did the spiffy '30s costumes. Past Tense
Play by Jack Zeman. Directed by Theodore Mann. Starring Laurence Luckinbill , Barbara Feldon.
Having elated its constituency with a well-tempered revival of "Major Barbara ," the Circle in the Square at west 50th Street is inflicting a penalty for such Shavian pleasures. It is called "Past Tense." Notwithstanding a certain flair for caustically comic dialogue, Jack Zeman has written an ill-tempered marital conversation piece in which an ad agency executive (Laurence Luckinbill) and his disenchanted wife (Barbara Feldon) reminisce, recriminate, and generally needle each other for 90 uninterrupted minutes. The characters are shallow, their reactions preconditioned, and their mid-life crises can all be traced to the dramatist's handbook of domestic discords.
Mr. Luckinbill's stalwart portrayal of the discarded husband makes one wish that this excellent actor would find a part and a play worthy of his mettle.Mis Feldon, whose deft contribution to TV's "Get Smart" is but one of the versatile actress-writer's many accomplishments, gives a vigorous and sometimes touching performance as the defecting marriage partner. Theodore Mann directed and Zack Brown designed the dismantled living room in which the 21-year marriage finally comes apart. Goodbye Fidel
Drama by Howard Sackler. Directed by Edwin Sherin. Starring Jane Alexander, Christopher Cazenove, Pamela Brook, Gale Sondergaard, Lee Richardson.
The plight of thousands of Cubans trying to escape from Fidel Castro's communist paradise lent powerful relevance to "Goodbye Fidel." The surrounding creative conditions were propitious. Jane Alexander, the play's leading star, and director Edwin Sherin had been involved in Howard Sackler's 1968 multi-award-winning "The Great White Hope." Miss Alexander's most recent citation was an Oscar nomination for her performance in the acclaimed "Kramer vs. Kramer."
Unfortunately, none of these exceptional talents succeeded in making viable drama out of "Goodbye Fidel," at the New Ambassador Theater. Nor did the inconclusive hotchpoth of awkwardly arranged episodes add any illumination to the ordeal endured by Mr. Sackler's coterie of mainly anti-Castro Cubans. The drama closed April 26 after 23 previews, six regular performances, and a reported loss of $770,000.
The time span of the rueful stage fiction extended from pre-Castro 1958 to 1962. Mr Sackler divided his attention between a general view of his upper-class exiles-to-be and a tawdry love triangle involving a partrician widow (Miss Alexander), an infatuated British diplomat (Christopher Cazenove), and his rejected wife (Pamela Brook). Apart from occasional bursts of theatrical excitement, the script never came meaningfully to grips with whatever theme Mr. Sackler may originally have had in mind.
Of these stars in a very large company, Gale Sondergaard, as a Cuban matriarch, preserved a serene integrity. In general, the actors received little help from either playwright or director. The hollowness of the writing seemed magnified by the cavernous, murkily lit settings. As it turned out, the Hispanics who picketed the premiere to protest the producer's allegedly discriminatory hiring practices were better off under the New Ambassador's marquee than were the players on its stage.