Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 3, 1975 · Page 85
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August 3, 1975

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 85

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, August 3, 1975
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Page 85
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Juvenile entertainment joining Main Stem By William Glover NEW YORK AP - John Peel is a fidget watcher. "That's the best way to find out if you're doing the right thing," says the brisk young promoter who recently started doing shows on Broadway for the youngest generation. As far as he knows, or any records show, it is the first effort ever to make juvenile entertainment a regular part of the Main Stem scene. "It's a big gamble," Peel adds, "but if we can do it, others will follow and we will really upgrade children's theater in this country. Until now it has been a neglected baby." Two programs, "Babes in Toy- land," aimed at the 6 to 10 set, and "Give Me Uberty," for early teenagers, are being performed by Equity casts at 13 weekly matinees in the 500-seat Edison Theater. The venture opened July- 3 and Peel believes that if all goes well through Labor day, a continuing repertory can settle in, with children's shows sharing the Edison with plays at night for adults. The 37-year-okj ex-dancer from Baton Rouge has been honing kid- die culture expertise for five years as head of the Producers Association for Young America. A back injury turned him to acting. Most of the roles he got were in children's theater. Peel's agency is one of a dozen that supply schools across the country with professionally performed plays as part of the educational agenda. PAY A units, according to Peel, now travel by station-wagon and truck through 18 states and perform for about 500,000 youngsters during an academic year. From an income of $15,000 when he bought Producer John Peel. in, PAYA has grown to a gross of "between $200,000 and $300,000." Although four or five of his competitors are at least as large "no one has ever been willing to risk the cost of coming to Broadway. And in New York many people have a poor notion of children's theater quality because it's mostly left to off and off-off Broadway effort." Although Peel keeps exact midtown overhead secret, he concedes "an educated guess" would be over $7,000 weekly. "At a group sale ticket rate of $1.50 per person, it takes an awful lot of warm bodies." Norman Kean, operator of the Edison, has been collaborating with Peel. They were brought together by Carol Goldsmith, a specialist at group sales who was interested in stirring up the summer doldrums. "What was particularly gratifying is the increase in individual ticket sale that has been noticeable at the box-office," the producer asserts. Venturing in where only major Broadway productions have dared before, promotion of the adolescent shows has included television commercials. The New York State Bicentennial Commission recently gave Peel a $5,000 grant. His central exhibit this year is the musical treatment of Patrick Henry's career, "Give Me Liberty," that goes on cross- country swing in September. "We tried it out in Williamsburg and an all-adult audience went wild," says the producer, who likes to point out that many elders enjoy his adolescent-aimed shows. One performance of "Babes in Toy- land" was sold out to a senior citizen group. Peel obviously delights in such side-effects, but concentrates on youngsters. "We learn what to do and what dialogue succeeds by going out into audiences," he declares. "I have what I call the bathroom test. If youngsters are really interested, they don't squirm and fidget. "If they start leaving their seats and going to the bathroom, you bet- ter start changing the show." Victor Herbert's famous music is still the feature "Babes in Toy- land," for example, but the composer would never recognize the plot, involving storybook favorites from Little Bo-Peep to Cinderella's fairy godmother. "Give Me Liberty" might not please an historic purist, and there are tune lyrics like "starting a new nation is rough, but keeping it going is just as tough." But the serious intent, quality performance and use of apt pictorial slides combine for favorable effect. Thus far, all of Peel's shows have relied on musical components to help hold attention. This fall, however, a condensed version of "Inherit the Wind" is to tour New York State in straight dramatic form. "The most important factors in every show," summarizes Peel, "are total professionalism and having the players always stay in character. I warn them never to camp or fall into the trap of saying 'look kiddies "I tell the actors that always, even in a small town with maybe only 200 youngsters in the audience, to perform as though they are on Broadway. And now, we are on Broadway." · Soles Meetings 1 · Bonqutli Picnics | · Private Parties · Wedding' SOUNDERS lESTAURW Re "P tioni . fVJ434WJ Television Movies I»J:A\OIM:IJX; COAMMNY Serving West Virginia Since 1958 3701 West Washington St., Charleston, West Va. FREE ESTIMATES CHEERFULLY GIVEN-CALL NOW- 744-4356 t (Out of Town, Call Collect) "JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS," (1975) * *V2, 8:30 p.m., O d) (S3) IS) Hi. A heartwarming, if somewhat predictable, true story about David, a blind student who wouldn't let his affliction keep him from entering medical school to become a psychiatrist. The screenplay avoids cheap sentiment, and the scenes between David (Marc Singer) and his family, and girl friend (Kay Lenz) always strike an authentic note. "THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE," (1972) ·*%, 8:30 p.m., (D ®. Harmless and moderately entertaining Western comedy-drama starring Buddy Ebsen as a . rancher-trapper who has to produce his three long-lost daughters to keep his land when a new homesteaders law is passed. When the task proves hopeless, Ebsen hires three less-than-respectable substitutes to pose as his kin--Sandra Dee, Lesley Warren, and Karen Valentine. Jack Elam, as Ebsen's grizzled sidekick, all but steals the show. "MAN ON -A STRING," (1972) **, 11:30 p.m., O 2) Routine undercover espionage tale with Christopher George playing a government agent who infiltrates gangland, setting up wars between rival mobsters. Question--If I can't afford a complete insulation job what do you suggest? Amwtr--Whatever you do will save on heating/cooling bills and give you better comfort. At leost start improving the insolation in your attic Member of th« Homt BuDderj Association of Greater Charleston, Int. Question Box ifThermtron BLOWN INSULATION Q. -- What was the name of the TV series in which John Payne played a character named Vint Bonner? -- Mrs. H.E.H., Punta Gorda, Fla. A. -- John Payne's TV series was "The Restless Gun." Q. - Was the TV drama, "Larry," on before the May 15 showing this year? -- J.B., Mantua, N.J. A. -- "Larry" was repeated this past May. It was shown originally in April, 1974. . *·- V».' 4 4 * * t i I * * t I t | t ' · Higher "R" Rating · Fire Resistant t Guaranteed Not to Settle e Safe to Handle · Moisture Resistant e Lightweight Averagt Jib pcys f«r Hs«H fa 3-4 Ytws--And kc«as MI paying dividends fmvtr--Savt « much u 30% to 50% on Heating Cooling Costs CONTRACTORS * BUILDERS-CHECK W/US BEFORE INSULATING · · i QHARUESfflWW.'VA. .;. 7s

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