The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York on January 9, 1949 · Page 29
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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York · Page 29

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Sunday, January 9, 1949
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OFF STAGE By George Currie On the Subject of Opera in Theaters And the Curious Ways Thereof Much has been said concerning opera presented outside the Metropolitan, home of great singing on Broadway, between 39th and 40th Sts. The music masters are full of complaint. So are the drama entrepreneurs. To be sure, Gian-Carlo Menotti's "The Telephone" and "The Medium" came into the Barrymore Theater in 1947 and ran 211 performances, a hit. However, they played with a small cast. But the "Telephone" number was of the stuff that revues are made of. "The Medium," the longer piece, was moving and startling. When a medium, even in song, admitted at the end she didn't know whether what she had assumed was phoniness might not be real, the audience was left musically spellbound. These pieces were worth a limited revival this season at the X. V. City Center. Balanced against Mr. Menotti's success would be, naturally, the career of Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Magdalena.',' a gay and colorful Colombian music-drama, with such1 a Irra Petina. Dorothy Sarnoff and John Rait t to carry its tunes. Senor Villa-Lobos concocted an orchestral triumph with beguiling singing for an amusing piece about a broken-down nickleodeon which would have stood an ordinary drab musical comedy upon its feet. Instead. "Magdalena" lasted for 88 performances. v The scenery was perhaps the most gorgeous of the pat two season? and the story was at least as bright a tliat of "(iotterdammerung" or "Tosca." Or that of the incomparable Figaro. Cnhappily, it fell flat. N'ot even Billy Rose, the enthusiastic owner of the 7-iegfeld Theater, could save it by waiving the stop show clause. Yet "Magdalena" was a gratifying night of both music and theater. Coincidence i probably the word for the fact that the Ziegfeld it currently occupied by another opera, entitled "The Rape of Lucretta." starring Kitty Carlisle. It is by Renjamin Britten, with book by Donald Duncan. Here certainly was a magnificent opportunity to present out of our finest folk tales with a proper and engaging musically dramatic appeal. Mr. Britten is well remembered to the music critics for his "Peter Crimes." Good portents abounded before the raising of the curtain. Sitting in as a drama critic, rather than a professional music-taster, the "Rape" left me cold. Frankly, one would not cart to listen to it again. It meanderedand such kudos accrued belonged to the orchestra. The story was botched and the score had nothing rousing. Of course, hypercritical musical people can say that this might be said of "11 Trovatore" or "The Daughter of the Regiment." Yet they still draw at the Met. This would be the point of the discussion. An opera produced in a theater is hopefully put on for a run. Though the Met sells standing room, a running opera seems to wear out its welcome. ("The Medium" Is an exception for the simple reason that it is really adrama with music, rather than music with a plot as accompaniment.) The old playhouse of song at Broadway, between 3()th and 10th, juggles its playbill. Tomorrow "Die Walkure" is the number. Wednesday up comes "Louise." Thursday offers "Rigoletto" and Friday it will be "Siegfried." "Love of the Three Kings" and "Lucia di Lammermoor" will occupy the boards Saturday afternoon and night. Opera hardly lends itself to a run. At the risk of being called a Phillistine, this department dotes upon hearing, say, "Die Walkure" only once a year. There is no yearning to hear it twice. The opera audience, it might be added, looks down its nose at singing shows outside .the august Metropolitan. And it is a select audience, choosey, to say the least. Yet this is the patronage such productions make their appeal to. One has included "Magdalena" in this disquisition because, while technically an operetta, it leaned so heavily upon the lusher musical side. The theater, one is safe in assuming, will continue to lean upon such musical diversions as "Where's Charley?" and "Kiss Me, Kate." And the instinct is sound. Few would claim that even "The Medium" belongs in the Met's repertory. -6 f rrttW?? mmmm mm .. . :j.j .... - ' III rJii MA M 'fBi lirn RUTH GORDON and Oto Kruger, who light up the Lyceum Theater next Wednesday in Garson Kanin's new ploy "The Smile of the World," a comedy. NANCY WALKER, who opens next Thursday night at the Broadhurst Theater in "Alonq Fifth Avenue," the new Arthur Lesser musical Bruce revue, with Hank Ladd and Carol New Plays AVKDXKSD.l V TlIK SMILE OF T1IK WORLD at the Lyceum Theater. The Playwrights Company presents Ruth Gordon and Otto Kruger in the Carson Kanin play about a Supreme Court justice and his wife in lirj.T Mr. Kanin directed the cast 'which includes Steven Hill, Laura Pierpont. Boris Mar shalov and Ruby Dee. Donald Oenslager designed the production. T H I'KSD.X V ALONG FIFTH AYFATK at the Broadhurst Theater. Arthur Lesser preents Nancy Walker in a new revue which also stars Hank Ladd. Carol Bruce. .Jackie Gleason am Donald Richards. Bob Sidney staged the production. The company includes Joyce Matthews. Johnny Coy. Viola K-sen, Virginia Gor-ki. Louic Kirtland, George S. Irving Wallace Siebert and Judith RurrouEhs. Oliver Smith ( the sets. David Ffulkes did the costumes. Sketches are by Charles Sherman and Nat Hi-ken. Music is by Gordon Jenkins, with lyrics by Tom Adair. Additional music is by Richard Stutz; additional lyrics, bv Milton Pascal. A s I XJ SIU ' I I XII BROOKLYN EAGLE, SUN , JAN. 9, 1949 19 On life Screen y Evelyn Chandler To See Son's Debut Kvelyn Chandler's son. 22-year-old Jerry Mapes. will skate a featured role in the Hollywood lee Revue starring Sonja Honie which will open in Madison Square Garden Jan. 20. Mapes will be a precision number with another youngster. Jack Raffloer. JOSE FERRER, the gay vagabond, who keeps things lively in the Theater Guild's "The Silver Whistle" at the Biltmore Theater. Byron Palmer Deserted Ink For Greasepaint; Now in Hit Jack-of-All-Trades, Kruger Found Stage His Vocation In "Who'a Who in the Theater," bible of vital statistic. Otto Kruger's career takes up a full two columns. Th distinguished character actor who co-stars with Ruth Gordon in Garon Kanin's new play, "The Smile of the World" which th Playwright' Com-; pany It bringing to the Lyceum has since been featured in SO hotels and clubs throughout th Theater Wednesday, is listed as films, silent and talking, both country. He and his elder bro having been born in Toledo.jin America and in Knglanl.:ther, Bruce, Jr.. were in act Ohio; "educated, Toledo PublicjAnd when not before the cam-Virtually brought up on ice Kchnoli. University of Michigan eras, he has found time to starj.lerry's professional introduc- the juvenile lead of Ray Bulger's "Where's from printer's ink to greasepaint. He was high school day he 'aimer, the publisher Byron Palmer. Charley?" changed raised among the presses. During his worked for his father, Judge Harlan G. Miss Chandler, a fav Garden fans since lu;;o from skating this year and will theatrical;1'6 a spectator when her younger son makes Ins tet)UP)K, here in a full-scale ice snow. Jerry, however, is an old trouper in "tank" or small-size rink presentations in theaters, and Columbia I mverstty. "Than followed thi enigmatic Item, "formerly n electrician," end immediately thereafter, tiiad hit first stage appear-nre at the Kmpire Theater, Toledo, in 'Quo Vadiss.' " "1 could have listed many fiore occupation and semi-oc-fupaiiona in my early struggle M find mywdf a place in life," Je obwrve. "but there really v.a-m't room on the question- ' jiaire." And indeed there wasn't. For en th most ramial research Into th life and times of Otto Kruger uncovered such diversified experience to Justify the jice of that tired noun "versatility." Kruger began life in Toledo i- a musical prodigy. At the 40 of 12, he conducted a symphony orchestra and was able M play the piano, 'cello, violin, guitar, mandolin, clarinet, piccolo and flageolet. Once out of college, he went through a half-dozen or more careers within a few years. In addition to electrician he was also a piano-tuner, a telephone linesman ("almost lost my life when I stepped too close to a .shorted armature" he recalls), a cattle-puncher and an amateur circumnavigator (covered the world in a year, he says). When this job-hopping period was over, he found himself the leading man with a repertory company in the mid-West at a salary of $9 a week. And he .has been an actor ever since. When the first World War rame, Kruger deserted the theater to serve as first-class seaman with the United States Navy. He arrived in Hollywood in 1920 after starring in geveral New York stage productions and made his silent rreen dbut in "Under the Bed Kobe" for Cosmopolitan. Hej in several dozen plays on Broarl- tion was a familv affair way and on the road plays likel Young Mapes was born In "Adam ami Kve." ' Alias Jimmy Brooklyn. as was his mother. Valentine," "The Nervous'and attended high school in recic, I lie Koyal ramily, ' Kttnisen, .. j. mis sports were track. tumbling n it of of the Hollywood Cit izen-Xews. retired j "i u-orked around the naneri master of ceremonies with the throiyjh a year and a half at j ice-skating revue Occidental College." he said as. Palmer at last got. his theatri- fpcalled his days in the home. cal break and, as Usual, the town of Hollywood. "Then lihreak came not singly but in got a job as head usher at CBS threes, lodgers and Hammer-! u, ... I i .... t ,,.U.. i. ... . .. , i u: ... r . .. , u ,ii i.i o h is . s youot; Hum, woo vvas,,so'JO Udllini noil 101 me l.om-, . . my assistant, 1 was to meet laterhng "Carousel." .ludv Garland' ,ynv,"""rni 1 on. His name was Krnet If. 'heard him sing at a party and Martin." (Of him. later.) had Metro test him. They want- ' Home from the wars," Palm-led to sign him up. Before either er continued, "I went on withjdeal was consumated Cy Keuer radio as an announcer andjand Krnest 11. Martin returned singer. The greasepaint had worilto Hollywood to cast "Where'.-out over printer's ink. I want-jCharley'" Palmer had an audi-ed a stage career. The first Snm-jtion at his old studio, CBS. As mer back 1 got a job with aJie sang a melody from "Okla-stock presenting musicals at theJioma" Martin hid behind a post Greek Theater, Griffith I'ark.jin the back of the hull. As Palm-Los Angeles, I sang small rolesjer went on the hitler murmured in the 'The New Moon,' 'llosa-Uo himself. "I know that. guv. lie' and 'Hast Wind.' When that 1 What'll 1 do if he s lousy?" His singer and fears proved unnecessary. N. Y. City Ballet Opens at City Center Thursday The Nw York City Ballet Company will open its season of ten performances at NT. Y. City Center Thursday evening. The first bill will consist of "Kour Temperaments," "Time Table" and "Symphony in C." "Time Tabic," having its first performance in this country, was seen dining l!Hl in South 'America when :t was done by Ithe American Ballet Co under jtho title of "Despedida." It has a book by Lincoln Kirstein, choreography by Antony .Tudor, sets and costumes by James Morcom and is set to jAuron Copland's "Mu.-ic for the IThcatcr." Leading roles will be Idanced by Marie-Jeanne, Tana-Iquil . LeClercq, Beatrice j Tompkins. Kranciseo Moncion. I Herbert Bliss, Roy Tobias and Kdward Bigelow. "Four Temperaments" hv Hiudemith - Balanchine - Sclig-I mann will he danced by Marin Tallchief. Tanaquil LeClercq, locel.vn oil mar. Beatrice .Tompkins. Elsie Rciman. Nicholas Magallanes, Todd Bolcnder, Herbert Bli-s. l''rancisCo Mon-:cion and Dick Beard. The eight solo roles In the Ili.ct-Balanchine "Symphony in ("' will be, done by Maria Tall-chief and Nicholas Magallanes. Tanaquil LeClercq and Fran- Cisco Moncion. Marie-Jeanne and Herbert Bits.-. JoccImi oil-mar and Todd Bolcnder. I Cast- for the remaining programs of the first week are as, follow-: Friday Kwiiing, .Inn. II Mother Goose Suit. (Ravel-1 i Bolcnder) Marie-Jeanne, Beatrice Tompkins, 1'ua Kai. Fran-'cisco Moncion. Todd Bolcnder and Dick Beard. Divertimento f Haieff-Balanchine) Maria Tallchief. Tana-, quil LeClercq, Jocelyn Vollmar, . Beatrice Tompkins. Elise Rei-man. Nicholas Magallanes. Francisco Moncion. Herbert Bliss, Dick Beard, Roy Tobias. The Seasons (Cage-Cunning- in us nisi. hio- lie, showing , since being seen. Burt Lancaster Appreciates The Market Value of a 'Gimmick' Only a very conceited person or else a very honest, level-headed one who can regard himself objectively would have said what Burt Lancaster said the other day. It happened in his dressing room between shows at t.h Capitol, where he is making a personal appearance. Mis remark was: "No, we're finding it easy. We have the beautiful gimmick of me." Lancaster was answering a question about the future of Norma Productions, his own company, and whether It was having difficulties in borrowing the large sums needed for the costly,' complex job of making pictures. Lately, k seems, the small independent film companies have found banks and other investment groups playing shy about handing out loans because of the erratic boxoffice and shrinking world market. Thanks to Lancaster's drawing power, however, and the fact that "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands," Norma's first production, has done all right at the boxoffice, his company is in good shape, he explained. Anyway, dropping this dry business of finances and getting back to the personal angle, what about Lancaster's crack? It can be taken two ways. Was it conceit or was it the honest, off-hand crack of one who has nothing of the phoney about him, particularly the shrinking-violet act, which all too often camouflages a really thriving ego? Well, during the interview he told about the first time he tried out as a circus acrobat and did three "busters'" meaning, three falls he was so nervous. (Nothing conceited here.) He told about working later in the W'PA circus in New York. (No high-hat pretensions here.) He told about going to N. Y. U. on a settlement house scholarship. (Which doesn't exactly quilify him for the Rlue Book.) He told about selling ladies' lingerie in Marshall Field's in Chicago. (Which certainly doesn't sound as if he were picking the suitable facts of his past for a tough-guy build-up.) And that's the way it went in the interview, with Lancaster talking candidly about his zigzag course to Holly wood. For another slant on Lancaster's nature, there's the act he is doing at the Capitol. Unlike many Hollywood names who figure that they only have to walk out on the stage, say a few words, crack a half-hearted joke or two . and their personal appearance is a hit, Lancaster's act indicates time and effort. After kidding his screen personality as a gangster and killer, he sings with Julie Wilson, kids around with Charlene Harris, a stooge who pretends to be president of the Bobbysoxers of Brooklyn, Burt Lancaster Club, and winds up with a strenuous turn on the high bars, teamed once more with his old circus partner, Nick Cravat. He tries as hard to sell himself as if no one in the audience had ever heard of him. His hair a lighter blond than you expect, blue eyed, the star of "The Killers." "Brute Force," "Sorry, Wrong Number" and others isn't quite as rugged as he appears on the screen, though still formidably built. He's six-feet-one and-a half and a good part of his 17G pounds are in his shoulders and chest. He had just finished his act and was relaxing with a cigarette, a dressing gown over his acrobat tights. Rather, he relaxed between times, for the telephone kept ringing. On one call, you watched Lancaster, the film producer, at work. "... a very good story," he told the party at the other end, "but a little wordy. Yes, it can be trimmed. The characters are very clear. I think it can make an important movie Yes, all right, goodby." Incidentally, when he referred to himself, the actor, as a "beautiful gimmick" for getting loans from the bank, Lancaster also made another remark. "But we want to make pirtures without me." The reason? "Acting is so dull, unless you have a great part. It's all chopped up in the movies, done in little pieces. On the stage, you can make a part come alive. No, what I want to do is produce. It's so much fun to make pictures, you can't imagine. You work 21 hours but you're never tired. "Of course, there are producers who just know how to smoke a cigar impressively. I'm not talking about that kind. A real producer has to be a 'dilettante of all the arts music, acting, design, production values. He must know-stories. Above everything else, he must know story values He has to know about selling the picture, too. The right kind of promotion means so much. And it's all great fun." Those were .his own words "dilettante of all the arts." That doesn't sound like "Killer" Lancaster, does it? And the part about acting being dull. That doesn't sound like a conceited ham or exhibitionist either, does it? Miss Nancy, Born of Acrobats, i.. :.. r,.!! o MM umi 111 lilt' ijih.i run ifi - o A M I tea .Ut ript ion ci io. Tananuil StrifC Ann in Ah All ICiml lAAf - - w mm -mwm mm m wuB m w w -mmr a 0J j LerifMvq. Bet trice Tompkins. 4 ' 'The Great Barrington." etc.lacrnbaiics, tumbling and Wmf -.-.' , t was over 1 toured a r , ' S A - r H - Duschok, Pat McBride.j T,ast year Nancv Walker's Cunningham, Brodksjstartling unfamiliarity with en-Roy Tobias, Harry trechats qualified her above all others for the role of the bogus ballerina in George Abbott's "Look, Ma, I'm Dancin'l" In "Along Fifth Avenue." Arthur I orot hv Merce Jackson Jones. Symphony Concertanle in. E F I a t i Miizart-Bakinchinc-Mor-cijini Tanaquil LeClercq, Jocelyn Vollmar and Todd Bolcnder. Lesser's new musical revue I ' it; I I I K(-luJi tiJ 'J I " , mti Jug- , I MARIA TALLCHIEF IN BIZET Ballonchine "Symphony in C," a number on the program of the N. Y. City Ballet Co. which will occupy N. Y. City Center from next Thursday through Jan. 23. 1 TALLULAH BANKHEAD, in Lives," hilariously hitful, at the is the show known to have mor proverbial barrel of monkeys. Noel Coward's "Private Plymouth Theater. This laughs in it than the ALFRED DRAKE, the gay Petruchio in "Kiss. Me, Kate," Cole Porter Bella ond Samuel Spewack musical at the Century Theater, one of the merriest hits of the current season, opening at the Broadhurst Theater Thursday, she performs far fewer pirouttes but her ballet background is employed to advantage in a colorful dance number entitled "Santo Dinero." Now 27, the five-foot comed :enne was fated for the foot-j lights from her birth. Five iher aunts were acrobats. U father, Dewey Barto, has bPV ian acrobat comic for 40 yeafi. 1 L'p until the time Nancy barged into an audition for "Best Foot Forward" back in '11 she admits that she had made a career of being fired. She had been sacked by an Asbury Park night club, bounced in a Greenwich Village boite, paroled after a short ses- t ision on the stage of Loew's (Theater in Bridgeport. In those days Nancy fancied herself as a torch singer, attacked those rhymed laments in the fashion of an off key Duse about to scuffle with something out of Henrik Ibsen. So little did her father's agent. Harry Bestry, think of her smoldering talents that he chucked the issue when it was suggested that he accompany Nancy to the "Best Foot" tryout. He turned her over to his secretary and no one in the Abbott office was warned of her imminence. Abbott and Dick Roclgers. sitting in on the exercises, were convulsed by her melancholy mien, her gi im . devotion to something tailed "Bounce Me I Brother with a Solid Floor." When Abbott got, up out of the aisle he had decided that she must be in "Best Foot", even though it involved inventing a jrole for her "Blind Date." In . 'that hit she clicked to the ex tent that she won a three-pic jture assignment in Hollywood 'and subsequently impcr-onateii a female cab driver in "On lb ;Ton."

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