By Tim Smith
Where ARTS Thou
“Poets have been mysteriously quiet on the subject of cheese.” [J.K. Chesterton]
I must admit that this has been quite a week, anticipating take-offs from a planet and launches from the nation’s major stages. “Wait Until Dark,” the famous mystery/drama, both on stage and screen, sums up how tired we all are of living with uncertainty as it relates to live entertainment reopenings.
“Ingenuity”: A Mars ‘Copter’ update: The launch date for the helicopter remains “fluid” according to the most recent NASA Television posting. In that spirit, I encourage you to visit the site daily for updates. I recently learned that a piece of fabric from the Wright Brother’s original 1903 Wright Flyer is on board Ingenuity.
BRO [Broadway Re-Opening] Series: While looking at moving targets, I recently attempted to correct the above musing by gathering updates on the re-opening of the Broadway theater community and that proved to be nearly as allusive as pinpointing that helicopter launch window. I have been contemplating of late if producing organizations for the New York City marketplace have been considering bringing in “from the wings,” proven winners to welcome audiences back, gradually-and profitably.
An example: What about bringing in shows that were touring prior to the shutdown, and therefore, are already production ready.
The launching of new works, many of which have been languishing for a year or more in various stages of production development, might be a riskier proposition as they have been configured for specific theatre sizes.
While waiting the return to the days when all the world was, it seemed, focused on those same New York stages, you might want to consider the book, Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution, by Todd S. Purdum. From the New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice): “Purdum’s authoritative and ultimately moving book brings these masterpieces to life with bracing clarity.” From the book’s prologue:
“At the stroke of 8:00 p.m. on the rainy Sunday evening of March 31, 1957, in a converted vaudeville house on Upper Broadway in Manhattan, timpani rolled, herald trumpets blared a fanfare, and soon a chorus sang out, 'The prince is giving a ball!' The crowded old theater at the corner of West 81st Street was the CBS Television Network’s smallest color studio, No. 72, but the program beaming live from its transmitters was being broadcast over the largest network ever assembled-245 local stations from coast to coast, including twenty-nine in Canada … (For the) real hosts of the evening were no mere princes, but the kings of Broadway themselves: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the reigning creators and impresarios of the modern musical theater, and two of the most influential producers of mass popular entertainment in Eisenhower-era America. This evening’s production was Cinderella, a ninety-minute original musical play created especially for television, and it found Rodgers and Hammerstein at the very height of their powers.” Note: March 31, (this time, it is 1943), was the opening night of their first collaboration, the musical that changed the art form going forward, “Oklahoma.”
That’s My Will [Rogers]: “Will Rogers Sees A Way To Make Church Popular”; Beverly Hills, Cal, April 22, 1935: – “I bet any Sunday could be made as popular at church as Easter is if you made ‘em fashion shows too. The audience is so busy looking at each other that the preacher just as well recite Gunga Din. We will do anything, if you just in some way turn it into a show… Yours, Will Rogers.”
iGEN-erational reflection: Parents will understand this note, and that’s how enjoyable it can be when discussions with our children move from standing firm, to agreeing to disagree. Nowhere is that more prevalent than navigating today’s streaming entertainments. Stay tuned, more to follow as this is all new for our current residential configuration
EFA’s town: I participate monthly in a zoom meeting with a community theatre team in Southern California (featured here numerous times), and it continues to be a source of great inspiration. In my estimation, the members of Chino Community Theatre, (CCT) are setting benchmarks that could be used by community theatres everywhere.
During our session earlier this week, it was announced that California was going to be re-opening shortly. The subsequent conversation surrounding that hopeful news radiated around the more immediate and daunting challenges that lay ahead, and only in a proactive way.
Entering, stage left: Coming out of forced hibernation will be slow, and a part of the natural order of creation. Only good wishes for CCT’s first “re-opening night,” apparently sooner than later – and for theatres everywhere.
From the mind of Mark Twain: “There is nothing that sap’s one’s confidence as the knowing how to do a thing.” [-Speech, 3/30/1901]
PS: Watched a wonderful film, “Miss Potter” staring Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter, author of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and many other children’s books. Elegant and passionate, set in the Post-Victorian period, the performances are nuanced and hit their marks with pinpoint accuracy. Nothing extraneous here, her story evolves and ends, with great hope and a multi-layered legacy. Please don’t stop the film when it is over and miss the song over the closing credits.
Connections made, locally inspired, from our town since 1/06
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