The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 27, 1998 · Page 66
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March 27, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 66

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Friday, March 27, 1998
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6F THE PALM BEACH POST FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 1998 Martin's 'Picasso' a funny debut, but what's the point? Vr. j ' easy, witty, but ultimately unsatisfying wrap-up. It is a shame, because he shows all the earmarks of an exciting new voice in the theater. For starters, he understands the stage's reliance on the spoken word and its traditions of ensemble philosophical barroom plays. Martin has a well-developed ear for verbal comedy, the sort of high-minded lowly puns that would be worthy of an Einstein or a Picasso. When a character goes offstage to the bathroom, laughs at a joke told a few minutes earlier and Einstein observes the gag sank in through "a process of elimination," you know you're in the hands of a shameless, but dazzling comic sensibility. Still, enjoy these frequent outbursts of mirth as they crop up, because they are Martin's main commodity. Once he realizes he has written himself into a corner with no particular point to make, and once he checks his watch and sees that he has amusingly marked time for 90 minutes, Martin and his nimble director Randall Arney simply draw the intermissionless evening toan abrupt close. " While enjoying the verbal fiu-mor, also note the agile performances by Mark Nelson (Einstein) and Paul Provenza (Picasso), two longtime veterans in the roles. Nelson is refreshingly impish, mussing up his hair so we will recognize him as Einstein, showing off his math skills and flaunting his mental powers. Provenza gives a larger, more demonstrative, emotion-filled turn as Picasso, but no less comically egocentric. Martin is exactly the sort of person to be encouraged to continue writing for the stage. He's intelligent, witty and his celebrity can lure people out of their homes and into a theater. One day, if.he continues, he will surely write a play that is more than facile amusement. So far, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is not it. By Hap Erstein Palm Beach Post Theater Writer PALM BEACH The common threads of genius, even fledgling genius, is a subject worthy of "contemplation. And when the con-templator is comedian-actor-screenwriter-turned-playwright - Steve Martin, expect a head trip laced with high and low comedy zingers. So it goes in Martin's first produced stage script, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a look at two brilliant young thinkers a callow Pablo Picasso and an unfledged Albert Einstein who would change the shape of 20th century thought. Or at least bend it a little. Martin's ambitions, however, - seem considerably more modest. First, he places in a 1904 Parisian neighborhood artists' bar the masters-to-be of physics and cubism. Then he further populates the scene with an occasionally astute bartender, an old barfly with a bladder problem, a pseudo-genius with oversized "wild and crazy guy" gestures and a succession of New production emphasizes racial issues Brandcis University National Women's -s Committee BARGAIN USED, m BOOK SALE Brandeis University n Nation jl Women's Committee I Friday, Saturday & Sunday J March 27th, 28th and 29th, 1998 Place: The Woodland Buildin 11951 U.S. Hwyl (next to Wilson's Jewelers) n 10:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. Information Call 561-746-5272 Find the vehicle of your dreams in The Post Classifieds. See Classification 90. Jjhcftdm Both Hi Tuesday April 7th, 1998 - 7:30p.m. 725 Flamingo Drive, West Palm Beach Book Required Donation s10 To Register Call - 561-659-3228 Sunday Service is held at the Hampton Inn. 1505 Belvedere Rd. ll:00afti. PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE Where: Royal Poinciana Playhouse, 70 Royal Poinciana Plaza, Palm Beach When: Through April 5 Tickets: $45-$47.50. Call 966-3309 The verdict: Amusing comedy involving the young geniuses Einstein and Picasso, which is ultimately unsatisfying for having little to say. women groupies. Then he stands back and lets the quips commence. Although his fictional juxtaposition of Einstein and Picasso is fraught with theatrical and thematic possibilities, Martin is content to call attention to their mental kinship and then toss around some jokes. Funny? Absolutely, but when it comes to applying their r SHOW BOAT: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, from Saturday through May 17. Tickets: $41.50-$66.50. Call: 966-3309. woman kicking up her heels with this baby now grown into maturi- ty." To work as Prince envisioned, the second act needed wholesale revision. Gone is its original opening, a Chicago World's Fair scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the show. Character motivation was clarified and deepened with additional dialogue, old and new. Some of it, he's now willing to admit, is pure Prince. "The show's successful enough for me to come clean," he says. "1 found dialogue here and there, but when I didn't find it, I miraculously 'found' it, if you know what I mean." Typical is the new introduction to songstress Julie's torch ballad Bill, a classic song that fits emotionally in the show, even though there is no character named Bill. You see, a 1927 audience expected numbers that were strictly star turns. The leadin always bothered lYince, so he wrote lines for Julie to explain that the song reminds her of a guy who once treated her bad and abandoned her. ..II. I ... . .I..N hi ii.i i ii.imi.i "T1'" '" for a Paul Provenza as Pablo Picasso Einstein meet in a 1904 Parisian intriguing similarities to some larger point, the playwright ducks the challenge. Instead, he introduces a third self-styled genius of the century . ion i.. OrlW' - v Emphasis on dance Left to solve were those large, discontinuous time leaps in the second act. For them, Prince imagined two cinematic montages, transitions covered with dazzling dance history lessons supplied by choreographer Susan Stroman (Crazy for You). From the start, Prince told Stroman he wanted this production to emphasize dance. "Sometimes Show Boat is musically so revered that no one moves, almost like an opera," she explains. "Yet I knew that Hal loves dance, and when he hired me he said he wanted this Show Boat to dance." Stroman won one of the Broadway production's five Tony Awards, for not only masking the structural gaps but reinforcing the racial themes with dance. "Choreographically and poetically, we show the contributions that blacks have made to music and dance," she says. "Although we don't hit the audience over the head with it, we show them that it was the black community that invented the Charleston. Then the white folks took it and turned it into something else." Ironically, considering the heightened racial focus of this Show Boat, when the production began rehearsals in Toronto in 1993. it was met with protests ) 111 Q - - (left) and Mark Nelson as Albert bar in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. a certain hip-swiveling time traveling singer-songwriter with blue suede shoes. For a finale, Martin tosses in a few nifty stage effects, ending the evening with an Director Harold Prince wanted Show Boat to reflect the changing times, as with the automobiles and electric lights in a dance sequence (left). The Cotton Blossom show boat (above) is 40 feet long and 25 feet tall. The production has a cast of 63, about 500 costumes and 26 mechanized scenic effects. over the musical's depiction of blacks. Says Prince of the much publicized brouhaha, "It was an emotionally very, very exhausting experience for all of us, to have picket lines facing you every time you went to rehearsals. It was a disgrace, vituperative, hysterical and dumb." "They hadn't seen the show or been to a rehearsal or read the script," adds Stroman, referring to the protesters. "They were reacting to the original novel or perhaps they saw the old movie. Once the show opened, we never heard from them again." Grand in scale Prince's Show Boat hit Broadway in October 1994, where it kept rollin' along for several seasons, finding new admirers with its huge physical production. According to Prince, there have been no compromises of scale with the touring edition. It includes a cast of 63, 60 people working backstage, approximately 500 costumes, 26 mechanized scenic effects and a Cotton Blossom show boat that measures 40 feet long and 25 feet tall. "(Oscar) Hammerstein's quoted as saying, 'It's a big show. It needs to be big.' I like that," says Prince. "It's so easy to say 'Less is more,' but less isn't always more. I think you'll find this Show Boat is pretty amazing." hypertension 'SHOW BOAT From IF - est American musicals, if not the . most influential, and yet 1 had never seen a total production that I'd liked," says Prince. "It was rather operetta-ish, and the sec- ond act just veered away from the story and took leaps in time that I found disconcerting. Six years go Dy, 1U years go Dy, ana mere s uu explanation of what happened in the interim, except as so much catch-up dialogue." ' So Prince agreed to piece together a version of Show Boat from the original script, the 1936 "movie screenplay, previously un-produced material and from a few judicious rewrites of his own. From them, he hoped, a grittier view of race relations always implied in past productions, but never so overtly would emerge. "My aim essentially was to parallel the personal story, to give the show the sweep that it never had," explains Prince. "To say that this is 45 years in the lives of three generations of a family, and during thla vpare. thprp's an ahsnlute explosion of technology the electric lights, steam engines, the automobile, the radio. And yet, nothing happened with regard to -the racial problem." ' Sifting through the complete Kern-Hammerstein score for : Show Boat, Prince became enamored of a number called Mis'ry's Cumin' Aroun', a haunting song of impending doom, which he calls "one of the most beautiful songs ever written for an American musical." But in 1927, most shows were sheer escapism and Show .Boat's authors decided against including the number. ;.: "I think they were just gun shv." says Prince. William Ham- . mersiem, sun ui uic ijrwusi, ; looked over Prince's shoulder as he worked and said as rehearsals began, "Oh, God, Hal, if my father ' wanted Mis 'ry 's Comin 'Aroun', he ' would have put it in." Prince was not persuaded. "I Iheard myself saying something ; which I then said often, an arro-'gant thing to say, 'What would 'Oscar say today if he saw that I - was going to do this?' " Prince notes. "I thought in every instance lie would say, 'Yes, that's what I'd ; be doing 70 years later.' " From duet to lullaby Even more controversial, and perplexing to William Hammer-stein, is Prince's reassignment of the song Why Do 1 Love You? Instead of a duet by romantic leads Magnolia and Ravenal, it has been turned into a lullaby sung by Magnolia's mother Parthy to her granddaughter. "I wanted to give Parthy a moment where you knew that beneath this nightlong curmud-geonliness, there is a woman who's warm and vulnerable and believes that the only way to keep the family together is to be the villain," says Prince, 'i wanted the arc of the second act to show you -this woman and a newborn baby. And at the end of the show, this Look inside the Employment Classifieds in the Sunday Post's Business section. Ads for great jobs and training programs, plus news features about employment trends, are all together in Sunday's Business section. Jtejjrim Beach Ibst Sunday Employment Classifieds in the Sunday Business Section 820-4343 800 392-7023 r" l Wonderful imn! rir ps'ifgj U A Racism frustration may trigger blacks' HDD! rcJIEW '. For thia once in a lifetime opportunity... ttmtm- i: We need fZO.OOO ty Apnt J, 1993. tut we have already raised over $17,000. help ue over the topi Thanke! YESI , J "! I wish lo help send 24 members of the highly acclaimed Forest Hill High School Chorus to New York City on April 2-6. 1998. Enclosed is my contribution of: J $20 J $50 J $100 J $250 $500 J Other ly faced a debater who would pose the following racist questions: Should police use more force with blacks because they are more aggressive? Are blacks innately less intelligent? The process was repeated during another debate with a nonracist theme. Blood pressure and heart rate measurements wete taken before, during and after the 15-niinute debates. Dorr found that blood pressure rose more in blacks during the facial debate (up 15.6 millimeters of mercury) compai ed to the nonracial debate (about 10 millimeters of mercury). "Inhibiting anger is a very unhea'hy thing to do," Dorr said. undesirable effects on African-Americans is not a surprising one," Dorr told her colleagues at the annual meeting of the American Psych-somatic Society in Clearwater earlier this month. "However, mounting evidence is beginning to suggest that racism may also contribute to high blood pressure," in this minority population. Dorr's Laboratory research involved 24 black males and 24 white males. She told the students that she was conducting a study on heart rate and blood pressure reactions in response to speaking and listening. In reality, it would be a debate designed to ignite a small inferno. Half of the men in the study individual Setesday Is racism bad for your health? Psychologist Nancy Dorr thinks so. The North Dakota researcher has looked beyond genes as a possible cause of hypertension among black Americans and believes she has found a key to the medical mystery: prejudice. Dorr, an assistant professor of psychology at Jamestown College, has intriguing evidence to suggest that the constant frustration inherent in racism can actually increase blood pressure and put blacks at risk for heart disease and stroke. "The notion that experiencing racism has Please make checks payable to: Forest H.H School Chorus Mail to Choral Department. Forest Hill High School. 6901 Parker Avenue. West Palm Beach FL 33405 For more information, please call 540 $404

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