Wednesday, January 19, 2011
VILLAGE REPORT WITH DAVID SAXON - January 19, 2011 from David B Israel
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Thanks to your Channel 63 Team for the video.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT BY IRV RIKON
PLAY REVIEW: THE SOUND OF MUSIC AT MALTZ JUPITER THEATRE
On opening night, during the intermission of The Sound of Music at the MALTZ JUPITER THEATRE in Jupiter, a colleague of mine greeted me. "How are you liking the show?" "I really like it," I said. I think he then noticed the teardrop that had fallen to my cheek, so he found an excuse to move on.
The Sound of Music, with book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, two longtime Broadway standard-bearers, is of course one of the great Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II musicals. Commentators have noted that the names of a few of the best writers of classic musicals, like Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Andrew Lloyd Webber, are generally headlined above the show or the stars. In other words, people turn out to see a Rodgers and Hammerstein show because they love Rodgers and Hammerstein shows.
Of course, not everyone shares that feeling. Tastes change. The colleague noted above, much younger than I, is of a generation that generally favors rock and roll or rap music over Richard Rodgers' beautiful melodies or Oscar Hammerstein's poetic words. Even when The Sound of Music was first produced in 1959, with Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel starring, some reviewers criticized it for being "too sentimental." Part of the problem nowadays, it seems to me, is that sentiment has for too long been out of fashion. And perhaps a problem relating to this show specifically is that modern audiences tend to forget the plot is based on a true story.
The play opens in a convent. Nuns sing a hymn and a little song about Maria, who is one of them, but something of a free spirit. "How do you hold a moonbeam in your hands?" they ask. Meanwhile, a widower, a World One hero named Captain Georg von Trapp, has many children and a need for someone to help take care of them. He appeals to the nuns for help. Maria is sent to his home to do the job. The captain is a disciplinarian, befitting a military man. He's also engaged to be married anew. But what really sets him apart is that in his native Austria, he's anti-Nazi; Germans want to occupy his country, and most of the people around him favor it.
Maria charms the children, teaches them to sing, teaches them, one might say, to love, at least to love their father. With time, Maria also charms the Captain, but a misunderstanding finds her back once more in the convent.
Yes, they eventually come together, fall in love and marry, yet most of Act Two is concerned with the Nazis and the threat they pose. As a War hero, the German Nazis want von Trapp to work with Hitler's Third Reich. His conscience will not allow that. He and Maria agree they will have to leave their home, flee the country they love and find a sanctuary somewhere. How they go about doing this with their children is much the subject of Act Two. To me, the need to survive is hardly mere sentimentality.
I do really like the show. I have always liked it. And this production is just fine. True, Catherine Walker as Maria is not Mary Martin or Julie Andrews, who played the role in the motion picture, yet after a while she won me over, too. She's probably closer to the actual Maria than the two better-known stars. Michael Sharon as the Captain doesn't miss a step. He's good. The cast is the largest the Maltz Theatre has ever assembled, with assorted children and Nazis turning the whole thing into an ensemble show. To the theater's credit, it has an actor's training school, and the students in this production have every right to be very proud of themselves. Kudos to everyone in the cast! And kudos to Marc Robin, who directed and choreographed. Considering the limited budget the Maltz must have, the production is quite lavish: lots of costume changes, notable sets achieved with terrific carpenters, light and sound crews and computers.
Don't expect this to be the movie, which was shot on location in Austria. Enjoy what's here, and most emphatically, enjoy the sounds of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Also, trust me: it's okay to laugh and shed a tear or two.
Closing date is January 30. As I've written previously, the Maltz has turned itself into a mini-Kravis Center. Many "limited engagements," childrens' programs and other activities are to be seen and heard. For tickets and additional information, telephone 575-2223 or online: www.jupitertheatre.org.
Monday, January 10, 2011
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT BY IRV RIKON
PLAY REVIEW: CLYBOURNE PARK: IS IT CENTURY VILLAGE?
CLYBOURNE PARK, produced by the CALDWELL THEATRE COMPANY in the Count de Hoernle Theatre in Boca Raton, is a comedy-drama with which longtime Century Village residents can readily identify. So can people of London, where Bruce Norris's play won the Best Play Award in 2010. So can people of New York City and Chicago, where the play is set, Act One taking place in a "modest three-bedroom bungalow" in 1959 and Act Two occurring in the same location fifty years later.
Clybourne Park, which was in the running for a 2010 Pulitzer Prize here in America, is about the process of change. Neighborhoods change. Century Village began as a retirement community where, by accident or design, mostly Jewish families came to retire. Predominantly from the northeast or midwestern United States, they left behind children and other family members to live with folks their own age. Now, fifty years later, the community is quite mixed, many newcomers having come from European or Caribbean countries or from Canada. Quite a few have families close by, but the central point here is that their cultural backgrounds differ from that of the original settlers. And there are, in today's terms, underlying "culture wars."
Something quite similar happens in Clybourne Park. In 1959, a family in an all-white neighborhood sells its home to a black couple. Trouble rears its ugly head. A local bigot says, among other things, in essence, "They're not like us," and "Maybe you can walk away from here. It won't matter to you what goes on here, but our property values will go down, and the neighborhood will decline."
Playwright Norris also says, in essence, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." In 2009, Clybourne Park hasn't necessarily declined, but the now-integrated community is fighting a developer who wants to build high-rises on their land. The essential argument: "There goes the neighborhood!" Meanwhile, underneath it all, racial tensions exist.
Lurking in the background, yet much at the core of Clybourne Park, is another theme: Why did the original home seller want to leave his community? He had a son who fought in the Korean War, who came home, committed an anti-social act, was damned by his neighbors for it and later hanged himself in an upstairs bedroom. The father has never gotten over this. He blames himself for the tragedy. He blames the government for sending his son to war. He blames the neighbors. In his soul, he hates. And he sells his property because of the memories that still haunt him.
Mr. Norris spoke with Clive Cholerton, Artistic Director of the Caldwell and the Director of this play. Mr. Cholerton records part of that conservation in his program notes. Here's the playwright speaking: "We still have these two wars going on, and it begins to dawn on me, perhaps it isn't a black/white thing. Maybe it's just that humans are innately territorial and everything is just an outgrowth of that. Regardless of the war -- Korea, Vietnam, gang warfare, or a bidding war for a single family home -- human beings, on some level, instinctively desire to defend their turf while at the same time want to exert dominance over another."
What if he's right? "The more things change --"
Withal, Clybourne Park is at times very funny. One cannot help but laugh. The ensemble cast of eight is terrific: Note especially veterans Kenneth Kay and Margery Lowe. The technical staff, headed by the always reliable Tim Bennett, does things just right. The trunk, the play's umbilical cord, which I've not previously mentioned, almost steals the show. A real thought-provoking play, this one. Go see it. Closing date is February 6.
February 20-March 27, see Next Fall, a comedy-drama by Geoffrey Nauffts. The CALDWELL also has a "Story-Telling Series" and luncheon discussions of ongoing productions. For tickets and additional information on all these activities, telephone 1-877-245-7432 or online: www.caldwelltheatre.com.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
DELEGATE ASSEMBLY - JANUARY 07, 2011
Thanks to the Channel 63 team for the Delegate Assembly video.
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Saturday, January 1, 2011
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT BY IRV RIKON
PLAY REVIEW: FREUD'S LAST SESSION AT PALM BEACH DRAMAWORKS
Freud's Last Session, by Mark St. Germain, to be seen at PALM BEACH DRAMAWORKS' current home on Banyan Street in West Palm Beach, is a short, well-crafted one-act play. It takes place in Sigmund Freud's study in London during the opening days of World War Two, specifically, September 3, 1939. Freud, world-renowned father of psychoanalysis and author, has fled from his home in Austria to escape the Nazis. Born Jewish and persecuted for it, Freud has become an atheist.
To his home comes a visitor, youthful C.S. Lewis, a British professor who was an atheist and has now formally converted to Christianity. In time, long after the events of this day have passed, Lewis would be recognized as a highly prolific author of books, both fiction and non-fiction, primarily on the subject of Christianity. He was a popularizer of Christian thought.
Unfortunately, I have to interject a bit of myself into this play review. Although I'm an Arts and Entertainment writer and have been so for some 40-odd years, I am primarily an educator and lecturer. Among subjects I have taught and continue to teach are all the Great Religions.
For me, then, this play, viewed as a debate between two great intellectuals, is frankly superficial. If you want a contemporary atheist's view of life and deity, read Stephen Dawkins, prominent scientist turned atheist-popularizer. Supporters of religious faith would do well to read the books of Karen Armstrong, former nun who determined she could be of more use to God by leaving the convent and working outside the church. She writes, as I teach, on all religions.
The play is very well directed by William Hayes and is very well acted by Dennis Creaghan as Freud and Christopher Oden as Lewis. Mr. Creaghan is much better served by the playwright's script. Freud is dying of cancer, coughing, spitting up blood; his impending death and the bombing of wartime London are the play's dramatic highlights, the play being otherwise a verbal joust. As it is, all Lewis can do is sympathize and offer help to his poor host.
It should be noted that following World War Two's Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed, many survivors became atheists. How could it happen? How could a good and just God allow it to happen? During the Cold War period, a similar thing happened in Cambodia, a country where almost all the people are Buddhists. Following The Killing Fields, where Pol Pot's Khymer Rouge slaughtered one million of their own countrymen, many survivors came to doubt God's existence.
Yet to this day countless millions of believers in God across the globe find comfort, inspiration, hope and joy in their belief. Sociologists have determined that those who do believe tend to live longer than those who doubt. Many believers are passionate in their belief. I don't mean militant. I mean, to use a religious term, they feel God with "heart and soul."
Lack of passion on the part of C.S. Lewis is what I most find lacking in Mr. St. Germain's play-script.
Freud is dying. He's suffers great physical pain and emotional stress. The world to him understandably looks bleak, and he lets that be known. But where is C.S. Lewis to state the counter-argument that no matter how dark the world may appear, there is light yet to come? I'm not arguing Lewis' case here. But if his play is to be balanced, the playwright should just as passionately argue the case for God as well as he does the case for God's absence.
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