Thursday, July 22, 2021

Bedrock Buried Child

While watching reruns of The Flintstones on MeTV, I realized that we never found out the secret of Bamm Bamm's origin. He just showed up in a baby basket on Barney and Betty's doorstep one night after they wished on a star for an infant of their own after enviously cooing over their neighbors' darling Pebbles. Where did Bamm Bamm really come from? This deep dark secret reminded me of Sam Shepard's Buried Child and Tracey Letts' August: Osage County. So here is a parody imagining the ultimate reckoning. With apologies to Sam Shepard, Tracey Letts, Joseph Hanna and William Barbera.

The scene is the living room of the Flintstone house. It is dark and gloomy, though it is early afternoon. All the shades are drawn. Fred Flintstone is seated in is favorite comfy rock chair, asleep in front of a TV set. The sounds of a rerun of The Prize is Price can be softly heard. Fred snores loudly and is surrounded by bones from a brontosaurus steak. The decaying carcass of Dino the dinosaur is one corner. A long-

What if Sam Shepard and Tracey Letts
wrote an episode of the Flintstones?

billed bird on its last legs is perched above a dusty hi-fi set, ready to play records with its beak. Wilma Flintstone, heavily made-up to cover her age and wearing an inappropriately revealing dress, staggers into the room, leaning on a wooden cane.

Wilma: Fred! Wake up, you old ton of guts!

Fred (struggling to wake, mumbling): What, what is it? (Sees Wilma) Oh, it's you. I was dreaming of Gina Lolabrickita and here you are, like a nightmare. Why did you have to wake me up?

Wilma: To tell you I'm going out. I didn't want you to panic if you saw I was gone.

Fred: Panic? Are you kidding? I'd probably be so happy, I'd give myself a heart attack.

Wilma: Very funny.

Fred: Where you are going all dolled up, anyway? Who'd want to see an old buzzard like you?

Wilma: Give it a rest, Fred. I'm going to meet Reverend Rockbury to discuss your final arrangements.

Fred: Final arrangements? I ain't dead yet, goddamnit. (He tries to rise but can't) You already got me dead and buried, why you scheming hussy. I'll bet you and that Bible shaker are plotting to steal all my money--- (he flops back into the chair).

Wilma: Don't make me laugh. What money? After 50 years at Slate Gravel what do you have to show for it? This dump? A dead dinosaur we can't afford to have buried. A broken-down hi-fi set that can't even play CDs? Ever since you started seeing that little green man from outer space, you've just fallen apart. You sit in that chair and watch old game shows and wrestling matches all day while I try to put food on the table. I tell you, Fred Flintstone, I am glad our daughter ran away. Glad, do you hear! 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Encounters with Mike Nichols: A Book Review and Memories

Mark Harris' comprehensive biography of wonder boy director Mike Nichols is over 600 pages but reads like a shot. There are literally hundreds of top-name show-biz figures interviewed and quoted directly, giving a multi-faceted, complete picture of the subject's diversified career. (It is weird to read quotes from Scott Rudin, the now disgraced producer who has withdrawn from an active role in all of his productions due to his toxic behavior). Nichols was one of the few directors to achieve prominence in film, theater and TV, winning the top awards in all three plus a Grammy for his comedy recordings with Elaine May.

My earliest memories of Nichols were listening to those LPs with May. Their hilarious sketches recreated the push-pull war between the sexes as well as commented on contemporary foibles of society with satire by turns gentle and barbed. I used to do imitations of the pair at post-performance parties for the community theaters in which I acted. The one time I encountered May in person was at an awards event where her partner the legendary movie director Stanley Donen was a presenter. I told her I loved her and Nichols' routines and would do them at the drop of a hat. She said "Do one now." So I did the first few minutes of the Telephone sketch. She said, "It's amazing that you remember all that." I now wish I had done the Mother and Son sketch ("Hello, Arthur, this is your mother. Do you remember me?")

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

B'way Update: Dana and Room To Play in Rep, Etc.

The new post-shutdown Broadway season just got really interesting. In an unexpected and startlingly different move, two highly-praised, but bizarre Off-Broadway plays will transfer to Broadway to be performed in repertory. Tina Satter's Is This A Room and Lucas Hnath's Dana H. will alternate performances at the Lyceum Theater with the former beginning previews on Sept. 24 and opening Oct. 11 and the latter commencing previews on Oct. 1 and 

 Is This a Room? (top) and Dana H (bottom)
will alternate performances at 
Broadway's Lyceum Theatre
(Credits: Carol Rosegg; Craig Schwartz)
opening Oct. 17. The dual-show engagement will play until Jan. 16, 2022. Both plays were presented at Vineyard Theater as part of the foreshortened 2019-20 season.  

Each presentation is unique and not your typical Broadway fare. Is This A Room, directed and conceived by Satter, concerns the real-life Reality Winner (her actual name), an Air Force linguist who was imprisoned for leaking information that the Russians interfered in our 2016 Presidential election. The entire 70-minute play is composed of transcripts from her FBI interrogation and the search of her home. Emily Davis repeats her stunning performance as Reality. She won an Obie and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and the production won a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

Dana H. is also based on actual events and transcripts. The playwright's mother Dana was abducted and held captive in a series of Florida motels for five months. Deirdre O'Connell lip-synchs to recordings of an interview conducted with the real-life Dana and directed by Obie winner Les Waters. The production was interrupted by the COVID shut-down and O'Connell won the Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Circle awards. 

Friday, July 9, 2021

B'way Update: Company Opens Early; Waitress Returns; etc.

Terence Archie, Patti LuPone and Katrina Link
in Company
Credit: Brinkoff Moegenburg
The Broadway calendar keeps shifting in anticipation of the first full season since the COVID shutdown in March of 2020. The gender-reversed revival of Company, which was in previews when all the theaters closed, has pushed up its opening by one month. The show, directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott, had previously announced a preview start date of Nov. 15 and an opening of Jan. 9, 2022. The show will now begin previews Nov. 15 and open on Dec. 9 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. The cast will include the legendary Patti LuPone, Tony winner Katrina Lenk (The Band's Visit), Matt Doyle (War Horse), Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald (Finian's Rainbow, Waitress), Christopher Sieber (Shrek), Jennifer Simard (Disaster, Hello, Dolly!), Terence Archie (Kiss Me, Kate), Greg Hildreth (Frozen, Cinderella), Claybourne Elder (One Arm, Bonnie and Clyde) and Nikki Renee Daniels (Porgy and Bess).

Thursday, July 1, 2021

B'way Update: Second Stage Announces Dates

Dame Jasmine Hughes and Reza Salazar
in the Guthrie Theater’s production of “Floyd’s” 
which will open as "Clyde's" on Broadway
Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Second Stage has announced dates for its 2021-22 on and Off-Broadway season, bringing the NYC post-COVID theater schedule into sharper focus. The company will open with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage's Clyde's premiering at the Hayes Theater with previews beginning Nov. 3 and an opening set for Nov. 22. The play, previously titled Floyd's appeared at the Guthrie Theater in 2019 and is set in a truck stop diner where the tough-talking female owner hires ex-convicts. The title was changed, presumably to avoid confusion with George Floyd, the African-American man who was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Nottage will also be represented this season by MJ, the Michael Jackson bio musical for which she wrote the book, and an operatic adaptation of her New York Drama Critics Circle Award winning play Intimate Apparel. In related news, Tony nominee Ephraim Skyes will be replaced in the title role of MJ by newcomer Myles Frost. Skyes cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for departing the show which has been delayed many times, not just by the COVID pandemic. 

Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Williams, and 
Jesse Tyler Ferguson will star in
Take Me Out
Credit: Catherine Wessel