St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on September 8, 1991 · Page 36
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 36

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Sunday, September 8, 1991
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Page 36
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iD SUNDAY. SEPTEMBER 8, 1991 'Paris Is Burning' Preview To Benefit AIDS Foundation JOE POLLACK STIOUIS POST-DISPATtH Some Sunny Signs On The Theater Scene THE GREAT SUCCESS of two plays in Chicago, "Lend Me a Tenor and "Prelude to a Kiss," Is a highly optimistic sign for the future of theater in St Louis especially In Grand Center and if that sounds peculiar, well, that's the way the theater business is. This stems from another example of peculiar. Fox Associates, a SL Louis-based group with the bizarre notion that money can be made in theater, has had to go to Chicago to prove it And its success, which is far from peaking, may slop over into St Louis. Meanwhile, I lost some of my pessimism about Grand Center last week when I walked into the Grandel Theatre. It isn't a theater yet but it shows signs of becoming one, and a lovely one at that. , The one-time church Is wide-open at the moment but a few walls, some scaffolding and workers . indicate that progress is being made. The entrance will be on the north side of the building, facing Grandel Square, and the lobby ; will stretch along that wall. The auditorium extends to the southern end of the building, and there seems to be considerable space for stage, lights, sets, dressing rooms, workshops and so on. ' Never enough, as any theater manager will say, but considerable. Now. Putting two and two together, and making a small leap of faith, I look for "Lend Me a Tenor" to open the Grandel Theatre, maybe in the spring if all goes well. It might be the Chicago company, ' or it might have a different cast That's where Fox Associates Robert Bauden-' distel, David Fay, Harvey Harris and Leon Strauss re-enter the story, as we return to Chicago. ' They combined as a production group last winter, and began working with Chicago producers-direc-'- tors Michael Leavitt and Wes Payne. They acquired rights to "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Prelude to a Kiss" and presented them at the Royal George and Wellington theaters, respectively. Both are off-Loop theaters; the George ' seats in the low 400s, the Wellington 499. Both have been major successes; "Prelude" has been running since February, "Tenor" since March. The Grandel Theatre will seat in the low 400s. Fox Associates and Payne-Leavitt are apparently in the business for keeps. They have ' more Chicago projects in the works, and they recently scored a major coup when Neil Simon and Emanuel Azenberg, his long-time producer, agreed to let them produce "Lost in Yonkers" in Chicago even before the long-running Broadway hit bad closed, or a national company had gone out on tour. That's an almost-unheard of arrangement But it means a long run for the producers, and greater long-term Income, even at a smaller house, for them and for Simon and for Azenberg. The national company wants shorter runs in larger houses, which will happen here when "Lost in Yonkers" plays the Fox next spring. How successful has Fox Associates been in its Chicago adventure? Two-thirds of the initial Investment was repaid last May, and the final third and the first profits were paid last month. In previous conversations, Fay has told me he believes that straight plays will succeed in St Louis, but that proper space and proper production are necessary. There still are no theaters, and the Grandel space is only a partial answer; it probably will not be available for open-ended runs because it will have priority tenants like the St Louis Black Repertory Company and the Theater Project Company, provided the latter imitates a Phoenix bird and not a Phoenix Cardinal. However, Fox Associates' success in Chicago gives hope that it can achieve similar success In St Louis. Meanwhile, back at Grand Center: It seemed a different Richard Gaddes when we lunched last week than when we last met back in the spring. There is more lilt to his step, more sparkle to his blue eyes, and while Grand Center still has major problems, Gaddes seems to see a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not an approaching train. Gaddes, president of Grand Center, is revitalized, I think, by the fact that sidewalks, streetlights and parking lots are mostly behind him, and productions and performances are ahead. That's the stuff that Gaddes is all about bodies on stages and in seats, with excitement permeating the air. He made his reputation as producer, director and impresario, and some of that reputation Is riding on Grand Center. If Opera Theatre was a success, then Grand Center will be a triumph. He wants to turn lights on at Grand Center, and he wants people to respond. He's visionary enough to see Grand Center as it could be, and he's impatient with those who would hold him back. Others want to walk a step at a time Gaddes wants to move by leaps and bounds. But it's Important that Grand Center move that way; one theater will not make a center. It and Gaddes needs several theaters to open in quick succession, and restaurants, too. People should come early and stay late, and the concert or play should be just a part of the evening. New Year's Eve may be a start. Taking a lead from Boston, Gaddes is looking at a city-wide party, called First Night from dusk until after midnight Three parades, starting from different parts of the city, will meet In front of the Fox. Music and entertainment food and drink, will come from storefronts and tents. Patrons will buy buttons, with the button admitting the wearer to all entertainment sites. Five bucks is the price under discussion. As Gaddes envisions it there will be all styles of entertainment with something for everyone. At midnight there will be a spectacular bonfire, with fireworks and a few extra treats to draw gasps from the audience. Gaddes has enlisted Ivor David Balding of Circus Flora for help, and plans on tapping all the other sources he can find along the way. The idea, of course, is to make Grand Center known, to make people think of it and entertainment at the same time to make it like the old days, when Grand and Olive was not only the entertainment center of the city, but as recognizable an intersection, worldwide, as any in the United States. Back in the Midwest: David Frank, producing director at the Rep from 1972 to 1980, and the man who made It into a major theater, is the new artistic director of the American Players Theatre, in Spring Green, Wis., not far from Milwaukee. Frank, who moved to the Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, N.Y., after he left here, resigned the Buffalo post at the end of the 1990-91 season. American Players is a summer theater with an outdoor stage and primarily a classical repertory. Henry Fielding said it: "His designs were strictly honorable, as the phrase is: that is, to rob a lady of her fortune by way of marriage." A BENEFIT RECEPTION and preview of "Paris Is Burning," an award-winning documentary film about "vogueing" and the drag balls of Harlem, will be held on Thursday at the Hi-Polnte Cinema, the day before the movie opens its regular run. Jennie Livingston's film won best documentary honors at the Sundance Festival earlier this year and from the Los Angeles Film Critics in 1990. The reception will begin at 8 p.m. at Readings OfPoe At Midtown Center DARRYL Maximilian Robinson, accompanied by Christian James Kohn and Suzzette Sutton, will offer three weekends of staged readings of "The Raven and Six Other Points of Interest" works by Edgar Allan Poe, beginning Friday at the Midtown Arts Center, 3207 Washington Avenue. There will be a preview on Thursday at 8 p.m. Curtain for the regular performances Is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 and 7:30 on Sunday through Sept 29, but with no performance on Sept. 22. the Hi-Polnte Cafe, with a cash bar, desserts and appearances by some of the cast members. The screening starts at 9:30 at the Hi-Pointe Cinema next door. Proceeds will go to the AIDS Foundation of St Louis, an organization that supports other St Louis groups in helping AIDS patients. Tickets are $20 for the reception and screening, $8 for the screening alone. For information, call 7327-9 1 8 1 . AT THE THEATER Forever Plaid: A charming tribute to the "guy groups" of the 1950s and '60s, with first-rate singing from the entire cast Stuart Ross, who created the entertainment directs with style. Goldenrod Showboat, at the Missouri River (foot of Fifth Street), St. Charles, Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8, Sunday at 2, with food service, if desired, two hours before curtain. (Joe Pollack) Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre Will Make Tour Stop Here THE Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, on its annual tour through the state, will appear at the Florissant Community Center on Saturday for a one-night stand of "Smoke on the Mountain," with curtain at 8 p.m. The musical play, filled with bluegrass and gospel music, is set in 1938, in a North Carolina church, with the Sanders Family Singers returning for a concert Michael Bollinger, artistic producing director of the theater, will be Mervin Ogelthorpe, pastor at the church, with Jerry Vogal, Christa Germanson, Darryl Vaughan, Tammy Jo Kreiter, Jeffrey A. Currier and Catherine Berry as the Sanders family and others. Philip M. Coffield directs, with Currier as musical director. Turner ; ; From page three ." period of seminal change, and al-'.; though I was the instrument of change, I wasn't the originator." - The Idea for his second book came I in 1985, when "Secrecy and Democra- cy" was published and when Arab ter-rorists hijacked TWA Flight 847, a : drama that ended in Beirut. His liter- ary agent proposed a book on terror- ism and how a country like the United -' States can deal with it without violat- ; ing national principles. . "My book studies eight presidents, and seven of them made deals" for hostages, Turner said. "One of them, ' George Washington, made two deals" ' . with the pirates of the Barbary States. Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson all were forced to make ' deals with Mediterranean . troublemakers. ' Despite historical accounts about -, his firmness in dealing with a Barbary j pirate, Teddy Roosevelt, he of "big - stick" fame, also made a hostage deal the year he ran for president. Ironi-r T-cally, it was to free Ion Perdicaris, Vyrwho it turned out was a Greek citizen, f v3 fact Roosevelt kept from an aroused public who believed Perdicaris was American. i- "Not that deals are the right answer to terrorism," Turner said. "But when I We are desperate, and there are no j other recourses available, we will con-t sider a deal and see whether it's mar-ginally acceptable or not." In 1985, President Ronald Reagan $1 made a deal that saw Arab prisoners released from Israeli jails in return for the freeing of 40 Americans held prisoner aboard TWA Flight 847, Turner said. "And he and Secretary of State George Schultz obfuscated that deal, and said it wasn't a deal at all. It was a coincidence. And George Bush will obfuscate whatever deal he makes. Fine, more power to him. "I agree with Reagan and Schultz in obfuscating deals. No sense admitting it. Terrorists will think it's easy to make a deal with us." Turner discusses 10 widely differing ways of combating terrorism. He is lukewarm about two of the measures assassination and revengeful military strikes. Besides concessions, he talks about covert actions, rescue operations, curbing media coverage "that plays into the hands of terrorists," economic and political pressures and legal means, such as capturing and trying terrorists. "We must constantly assess whether one of them will be effective and acceptable in terms of what it does to our values and standards," he said. While Turner didn't carry his book into the Bush administration, feeling it "would be unfair and maybe dangerous to deal with continuing events," he does think Republican Bush has done a good job with the hostage situation. "He has muted the problem of hostages in Beirut not letting it catch fire like the Carter issue in 1979 and '80," a reference to the 52 hostages held in the American embassy in Tehran for 444 days. With its. disasterous failed rescue attempt the Iranian hostage crisis was a major factor in bringing down the Carter presidency. Does Turner believe the charges that the Reagan-Bush campaign se cretly conspired with Iran to delay the release of the hostages so the Republicans could steal the 1980 election? "It's such a terrible thing to accuse anyone of that I would not want to say that I thought it happened based on the circumstantial evidence that exists," Turner said. "Certainly I didn't see anything at the time that led me to be suspicious." Asked for his appraisal of the following former presidents and CIA directors, Turner had this to say: William Casey: "No question in my mind he broke the law in one or two cases. No, I don't think much of Mr. Casey; I'm biased and admit it. He went and undid most of the things I tried to do. And now I can take pleasure in seeing that they're trying to reconstitute them. Casey was only interested in running the foreign policy of this country with covert action." Ronald Reagan: "I admire Reagan for his ability to run the government and not run himself into the ground. But I think he carried detachment to an extreme. Where he has left the country is a whole other issue. I do have to fault Reagan on his sense of integrity in government, which is either because he didn't recognize the kind of people he had around him, or he just really didn't pay attention. I had a military officer come to me maybe six, nine months before the Iran-Contra business and say, 'You know, I just met the most scary lieutenant colonel on the NSC staff you can imagine. It was Col. Oliver North." William Webster, former St. Loui-san, Amherst College classmate of Turner's before his transfer to Annapolis, an ex-federal judge, FBI head and recently retired CIA director: "What did Bill Webster do when he took over, he rebuilt relations with Congress. He and his successor are confronted with a lot of stirring on Capitol Hill. That comes out of distrust of Casey, even though Webster has done much to smooth that over." Jimmy Carter: "We do stay in touch. He's doing so many good things. Because I'm a Monsanto director, I got a letter from him saying 'I'm going to eradicate guinea worms in Central Africa and we need so many million yards of Monsanto mesh for them to filter their water. I had several subsequent requests from him. It's interest-' ing. Because usually people are going to former presidents and asking favors. Jimmy Carter is clearly being revived today. I believe as more time goes by, he'll get even more credit for being a very unusual source of integrity in a sea where there's a lack thereof, excepting Gerald Ford." Conic f Pro mm ary ins IHSW, the SEVIOTHERS BROTHERS Friday, Sept. 27 8 ptn Tickets S24.QP $26.50 LEO CXOTTC1E Ct MICHAEL MEGBGES fcgethef for the first tim in 3 ytari I So!., Oct. 5 7:30 pm $19.50 Kills Hwloblo t oil lidnti Now Iwolions Indudmg Fiamn-lorr m4 IIm Noti Spwh Skop Iwolions plus TIh Gtttwoy (.mm, Mbsm'rpol Hi jhti and Ht Wottport Miykomt lot OHkt or cot DIALTIX 291-7600 Tick moil ti wkit k i srki rtorji Westport HotUm: 27-877 American Theotre Hotline: 1 23 1 -7000 The BEIOOY HOLLY Story llTTfll busch Tllsms m JZ&ttJZl. - Welcomes SH II MJ Wed., Oct. 2 8 pm $1 9.50 KStffM Welcome. - SQUEEZE J Sat-Oct. 5 8 R51850 I ES3 SffiSI PI a chorus Line Tri i - II 1 f THE BROADWAY TOUR OF AMERICA VS4 WINNER! 3 TONY5 AWARDS 1991 LOST YONKERS A NEW FLAT i presents anovwry my i ivrvv. ,1 . 30th Anniversary Tour September 20-22 $20.90 $17.90 $14.90 $8.90 welcomes BOATMEN'S ? - A presents Engelbert Kumperdinck September 29 at 4pm $21.90 $19.90 HONCUMV Jbock sho Bill Gaither & Friends featuring Bill Gaither Trio The Gaither Vocal Band TheLesters Thurs. October 10 at 7:30 Tickets $14.50 $12.50 at One Way Book Shops & MetroTlx Outlets Groups save 10 call 535-2900 ii State Ballet of Dance St.Loutii Encore Season presents "T(tf Stale Ballet is first this, even world class ..." Riverfront Times October 18 & 19 8pm Reserved Seats $32 $30 $25 $20 $15 mwp SandiPatti ow November 18-19 at 7:30pm HSJxsiS & WCCW $1450 $12.50 $1050 available at One Way Book I at um cmm v Shops and MetroTix Outlets. W welcome For group discounts call 535-2900 Dance St. Lotiis Encore Season presents CTATF RAM.ET OF MISSOURI'S mm Tim Featuring the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra December 18-22 S28.50 $25.50 $22.50 $17.50 $15.50 $12.50 $10.50 Tickets on sale at the Fox Box Office and all MetroTix outlets including 22 Schnucks Video Clubs St Louis area Famous-Barr stores and Riegal Sports Charge by Phone MetroTix 534-1111 Mastercard, visa or Discover Croup discounts are available to some shows by calling S3S-2900. t 1 u.i?.,iMiA8- " t.A.l.. f t .f j. f

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