Sunday, September 12, 2010


Ever since 1987, when I berated the cinematic fairy-tale spoof, "The Princess Bride," I've enacted the role of the eunuch in the harem, dispensing wisdom, accolades and brickbats to works that I could never write, conceive of or act in. Through the decades, I've shouted hallelujah when Great Lakes Theater Festival pulled off a plangent Plantagenet in some crisply wrought Shakespeare. I've also cried foul when a theater such as the Cleveland Play House skinned and embalmed "The Little Foxes." I'd like to think that over the decades I've solidified my reputation as somewhere between an Addison DeWitt purveyor of platinum bon mots and a gruff, theater-loving Fred Mertz throwing beer bottles at theatrical incarnations of his Ethel.

Ironically, I have been sent to Siberia in two variations of the paper called Scene by the same road-company Stalin, sans the mustache or the power. Just when I was about to give up the hurlyburly of reviewing, the pleas of bedraggled actresses, delicatessen bathroom attendants, various relatives and desperate press agents called me back, like Dolly returning to the Harmonia Gardens.

I must enter a personal confession here: I had been shown how computers can crush human endeavors and lives. This truth had been amply drummed into my brain by such films as "The Desk Set," in which Katharine Hepburn and her office were threatened with extinction by a computer the size of a Buick, and "2001: A Space Odyssey," which showed us the insidious Hal leaving poor astronaut Gary Lockwood left floating lethally in space.

But to paraphrase Tevye, on the other hand, no more censorious editors butchering my copy to fit space; no more banishment of intoxicating reference, such as Oogie Pringle; and no more dumming down of colorful verbiage. Plus here is the opportunity to extend my range from local theater to other life-expanding enticements, including book, CD and DVD reviews and panagyrics to artists who deserve praise for the enrichment they've brought to this critic's life.

Above all, this would offer - in lieu of a paltry paycheck - the even more potent stimulation of ultimate ego gratification. Enjoy. 

(Barbra Streisand, as the other Dolly, arrives at the Harmonia Gardens.)

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