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Venting, Ranting, Catching Up

Been too busy running and wrapping up THE GOOD THIEF, so am just going to catch up now with a bunch of bits raging against various parts of the machine, starting with…

THE GOOD THIEF I should have paid people to come see this show. A story so good, so well-written, surprising and shocking, all I had to do was get out the way and tell the story clearly. Some of the most fun I’ve had on a stage in ages, and it wasn’t even on a stage, but in Dressel’s Pub. Dressel’s were gracious hosts, and the theatrical experience was enhanced by the ambience, their excellent store of beverages, and even the St. Louis rain, which enhanced the rain-soaked script. A great intimate space for this small tale, and speaking of spaces…

REAL ESTATE This was the story of the year, and it seems to continue: Battles at the Ivory, venerable (alternately freezing and boiling) St. John’s shutting down – with Muddy Waters forced to move their NIGHT OF THE IGUANA to St. Louis As- (sorry) -Actors Studio space (must be a small Iguana), and more moves, temporary and permanent, coming up. As for Midnight, one of our favorite spaces (for shows and after), Balaban’s, closed down. But as Judy Newmark once said, Midnight goes out of their way to demonstrate that “theatre is an art, not a building.” Speaking of Judy…

CRITICS Theatre pros inevitably say “I don’t read reviews,”, but in St. Louis, if you’re a producer, reviews can build box office. (Though even critics disagree with that. Dennis Brown of the RFT told me, “Word of mouth. It’s all word of mouth.”) In any case, the reviews for THE GOOD THIEF were great: positive and thoughtful, but also enthusiastic in a way I don’t always see. Sometimes in reviews, critics seem (or come right out and say that they’re…) a little weary of some of the same ol’ same ol’. Genuine excitement about this show, this script, spilled over into their reviews, and fed growing audiences. Speaking of audiences…

MARGEAU STEINAU VS. YAHOO Recently on the Yahoo theatre blog, Margeau wrote of attending a one-woman show by a visiting actress, and feeling bad about the very few St. Louis theatre types in attendance. Of course, she received a number of defensive slams from local folks. I wrote her privately congratulating her on her courage. Margeau is one of the few people in town willing to point out what the Emperor’s not wearing. Last year, she complained about audition practices in town, and was met by a storm of denial from a crew of artistic directors. I agree with her on both topics; audition practices in this town are bizarre, often insulting to actors, sometimes transparent as power trips for theatre groups or support systems for clueless directors. And the St. Louis theatre community generally does not attend other theatre as much as they should. (I don’t want other theatre types to come to my shows to support me; I want them to come because the shows are good.) I admire Margeau for her courage, but I didn’t go public on Yahoo because, on that site, anything can turn into a belittling battle. Speaking of belittling Yahoo battles…

JOE HANRAHAN VS. SCOTT MILLER (2 out of 3 Falls) Someone on the Yahoo site brought up the topic of “guilty pleasure” musicals, and asked folks for nominations. I didn’t submit a “guilty pleasure” but after seeing some JOHN ADAMS on tv, submitted that the end of 1776 is one of my favorite moments in theatre, a moving conclusion to a fine show. I mentioned another great musical favorite of mine (the “You’re Not Going” number, from DREAMGIRLS, seen on Broadway), but prefaced the comments by saying something like, “though most folks don’t consider musicals real or serious…” This brought on a quick response from Scott Miller of New Line Theatre, saying I’d insulted other theatre artists, and my remarks were “silly.” I refrained from getting into it, but stand by my remarks: Most people don’t consider musicals “real” (people don’t sing and dance in the midst of “ real” life, though maybe they should) or “serious” (hence the popularity of the musical “comedy”). I think that’s why most people go to and love musicals, because they’re not real or serious. But musicals are Scott’s babies (and he was in the midst of a “real serious” one at that time – ASSASSINS – and probably embroiled with the Ivory as well) so one can understand his sensitivity. But it reinforced that I’m very hesitant to offer any commentary on this Yahoo site. But speaking of controversy…

THE KEVIN KLINES You can’t get too upset about any awards – Kevins, Oscars, Nobels or MVPs. Nominees are often just as deserving, and others just as deserving sometimes aren’t even mentioned. Midnight was happy to garner a couple of nominations, and not concerned in the least that we didn’t win. I do think, however, the Kevin folks need to continue to examine how these things evolve. Kevins should not only reward theatre folks for maintaining the status quo, but for pushing the boundaries and exploring the potential for theatre in St. Louis.

 

 

 


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