On the Razzle
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by Tony Lee Garner
Master Christopher and Mr. Weinberl consider the fact that they have had no “adventure” in their lives. Fate suddenly thrusts opportunity before them and they go “on the razzle” to Vienna. Tom Stoppard pulls out all verbal stops in the telling of this story, based loosely on the German play which gave us The Matchmaker and Hello Dolly. Using a quicksilver tongue (the double entendres abound) to lead us through a dizzyingly dazzling set of circumstances, Stoppard presents us with a very funny and very theatrical account of the kid of adventure we all enjoy and might like to claim as part of our own “history”.
The House of Blue Leaves
By John Guare
Directed by Jerry Chipman
This play was hardly noticed when it was first produces in 1971. Then, at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 1985, it found the right director and the right cast and it found its right success. Even though the play takes place in the New York borough of Queens, its theme pervades every fiber of America life. Anyone who has ever dreamed the American Dream, or known anyone who has, will be at home in this dramatic comedy which makes you laugh and cry and feel and then makes you feel good that you were made to laugh and cry and feel. To quote John Guare: “I’m not interested so much in how people survive as in how they avoid humiliation. Chekhov says we must never humiliate one another, and I think avoiding humiliation is the core of tragedy and comedy and probably of our lives.”
The Miss Firecracker Contest
By Beth Henley
Directed by Julia Ewing
Carnelle Scott has dreams of changing her life and leaving Brookhaven, Mississippi “in a crimson blaze of glory” by winning the contest which is the play’s title. Beth Henley has brought Southern characters to life with wit, clarity, insight, and empathy in this play and in her Pulitzer Prize winning play, Crimes of the Heart. Frank Rich, in the New York Times, called her Miss Firecracker characters “both nutty and touching” as they struggle against the inevitability of their lives. He also said…”When Beth Henley is really flying, her comic voice has the crazed yet liberating sound of a Revel yell.”
The Mound Builders
By Lanford Wilson
Directed by Bennett Wood
“…is original and brilliant, and send you out on to the street with your mind spinning cartwheels…In the sheer complexity of its thought and feeling I is one of the most interesting American plays in years, and the writing is absolutely masterly.” So said Clive Barnes in The London Times Saturday Review. Using an archaeological excavation as his form, Wilson creates a metaphor for looking at the values of our own culture even as we look, through archaeologists’ eyes, at an ancient Indian culture about to be bulldozed into oblivion.
The Threepenny Opera
By Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
Marc Blitzstein, once lamented, “I wish I had written The Threepenny Opera. But since I merely translated it into English and adapted it for American audiences, I can come right out and say freely that the work is a miracle, a phenomenon, a shining landmark in the history of the international musical theatre.” The work remains as fresh now as it was when it was first presented, under clouds of pessimism about its success, in Berlin in 1928. It is based on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. Below the surface of this rowdily raucous, uproariously amusing story lies heartbreak as well as satire. The show, with its hit song “Mack the Knife” ran Off-Broadway for seven years and was revived to critical acclaim in 1976 at New York’s Lincoln Center.
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