Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 2, 1974 · Page 109
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June 2, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 109

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 2, 1974
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Page 109
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4 The Mousetrap' could catch a crowd By Martha Smith A surprisingly articulate bit of hate mail was printed in the Gazette Readers Forum recently attacking me for indulging in a fit pique when I couldn't decree selection of arts group directors. I can't imagine anything less enticing than the job of choosing directors. My God, does anyone want to do that? I suppose there may be some who enjoy the power of hiring and firing, and reading countless resumes laden with the laurels of academia. Personally, I'd rather read a good book. I couldn't care less about the personalities (or lack thereof) engaged in directorial duties. I ask only that those chosen -- mercifully, by someone else -- be com- Iiirone ear * petent. That's not asking much more than persons who pay $4 a seat to see a hometown show have a perfect right to expect. And, while I don't decree a damn thing except my right to fair and unbiased evaluation of those in the performing spotlight, every now and then I venture a well- meaning suggestion. Every now and then somebody likes one of my ideas and accepts it- Kanawha Players director Tom Nash and I engaged in casual conversation one evening and exchanged opinions concerning how theater at- tendance in general and KP attendance in particular could be raised. The upshot of the conversation was that I suggested a show I thought would be a real crowd-pleaser and that play has been included in next season's schedule. Our conversation went something like this: I suggested that message theater hadn't proved very popular here (i.e. Barry Steinman's very good shows and rather disappointing attendances.) We discussed nostalgia and I expressed genuine love of Gilbert and Sullivan (when we examined the possibility of a Players musical.) G S, I contended, are timeless. The m u s i c is bright, the comedy brilliant and the lyrics infinitely clever. Products such as "Trial by Jury," are considered camp by the young folks and charming nostalgia by older theater-goers. Another thought which I interjected was that "Wait Until Dark" -- the past season's biggest draw -- also had what the people want. It's a mystery with quick action and a good story line. I thought awhile and then suggested Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" would combine nostalgia and mystery. It would be a natural, I opined. Tom agreed. He said the small attendance at the Imogene Coca- King Donovan version of "Prisoner of Second Avenue" had convinced him that Charleston was tired of Neil Simon. I agreed. Now we know what next year's KP season includes: one from column A (message); one from column B (mystery); and one from column C (Neil Simon); and the pereftriial light comedy, plus a surprise: a children's show. The message show is another Paul Zindel piece, "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little." It's a fine show, .and those who would appreciate it saw it two seasons ago during the National Shows Broadway road show tour. Ditto Nell Simon's "The Last of the Red-Hot Lovers." next season's KP opener. It was here in the same series with Stubby Kaye in the title role. An excellent show which was-well attended. In both cases, perhaps, the Players' t i m i n g wasn't so good, but only more time will tell. I think in choosing "Two for the Seesaw," the KP board hoped to achieve the same success attained with "The Owl and the Pussy- Ylillon \lriV1unvy in a session with Dr. ShirU-v Tintsman on "The Frajrili 1 Mind." 1 ::iO p.m.. Wiflmsrlay. Jum-5 on ARC-TV. cat." Both shows have only .two persons in the cast, so there are minimal directorial problems. Both are bittersweet comedies. And Players comedies fare well with theater audiences. And, well, I modestly admit I am delighted "The Mousetrap" was chosen. I believe it will draw the biggest house next season. Wonderful Agatha Christie, the queen of the mystery novel, once said the" plot of the "The Mousefrap" wasn't anything fantastic, but she hoped to make a little money from it for her nephew's trust fund. She signed all the receipts from the play over to that fund. Last fall, "The Mousetrap" neared its 8,000th consecutive performance in London. Miss Christie's nephew is a man now and a very well-to-do man at that. That brings us to "Peter Pan," and I'll confess my eyebrows raised ever so slightly when I heard of its selection. I wondered what Children's Theater board m e m b e r s w o u l d t h i n k . (Despite my hope for merger, the two groups still are separate). Wouldn't they cry foul. I asked. If they have,"I don't know of it, and one KP board member told me the reason "Peter Pan" was chosen. It will, she said honestly, draw a big audierce. She's probably right. I imagine KP will elect to do the Mary Martin-as-boy-child type show rather than cast a child in the lead, but then, you never know. *· Interesting is a trite word, but that's how you almost have to view the KP season. Will the one message show succeed? Zindel's "The Eff e c t of G a m m a Rays on r M a n - i n - t h e - M o o n M a r i - golds" was well-acted but miserably attended this year. "Miss Reardon" is an equally intense play. Is Neil Simon's appeal dead in Charleston or will "Lovers" prove poular? How many will "The Mousetrap" c a t c h ? W i l l "Seesaw" swing? Will "Peter Pan" take off at the box office? Will they line up to audition for the role of T i n k e r b e l l ? ( N o w t h a t might be a campy touch.) And, most importantly, how will running the shows on two weekends instead of only one affect attendance? I think it's a good move, especially for the actors and others who work so hard on the show and deserve more than one weekend's viewing. Now that my track record is improving for suggestions taken, I have three more for Players consideration in future seasons: Some Gilbert Sullivan, please, and, in different seasons (so as not to be too cutesy-poo) "Arsenic and Old Lace," and "You Can't Take It With You." Oldies but goodies. Nostalgia, but good nostalgia. Apparently. I can please some of the people some of the time. Probably a fluke. SINCE 1926 Young Bros. QUARRIER DINER A Shrimp Cocktail-'/2 Lb. Filet--Choice of Pot. Bread $ Butter Grill Room Only Man. -Fri. 5 p.m.--8 p.m. 1022 Quarrier Street Install Chrysler Airtemp Central Air Conditioning In Your Home irtemp SOLID VINYL STEEL ALUMINUM While the present supply lasts, U.S. Steel Aluminum Siding Keeps out oppressive heat in summer--your home stays cooler, air conditioning equipment doesn't have to run as hard. Installed REG. $1.29 sq.ft Masonary homes slightly higher. 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