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Hedda Gabler and 42nd Street - Antaeus Theatre · PDF file7/6/2016 Around Town: Hedda Gabler and 42nd Street gabler­and­42nd­street/ 2/6 Jaimi Paige, Ann Noble, and Adrian LaTourelle

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  • 7/6/2016 AroundTown:HeddaGablerand42ndStreet

    http://stageraw.com/2016/06/14/heddagablerand42ndstreet/ 1/6

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    Hedda Gabler and 42nd StreetByMyronMeisel

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  • 7/6/2016 AroundTown:HeddaGablerand42ndStreet

    http://stageraw.com/2016/06/14/heddagablerand42ndstreet/ 2/6

    JaimiPaige,AnnNoble,andAdrianLaTourelle(PhotobyKarianneFlaathen)

    HeinrikIbsensHeddaGablerremainsatitaniccreationthatstilldemarcatesthetheaterspassageintomodernity.Itsprotagonististheembodimentofcontradiction,fromthediamondlikeclarityofherindividualitytoherultimatelyinscrutablemotives.Doessherepresenttherudimentsofanemergingfeministconsciousness?(Shesblazinglycomplexandrefusestoconformtoprescribedgenderroles.)Ordoessherepresentatwistedmaleperceptionoftheconfoundingpoweroffemaleassertion?Allandnoneoftheabove,andeverythinginbetween.Heddaisdangerousnotsomuchforwhatsherepresents,butforhowamenablehercharacteristoourownprojectionsofher,projectionsconsistingofourapprehensionsofher.Heddamayrevealmoreofeachaudiencemembersunacknowledgedfearsandanxietiesthanperhapsherownquitefuriousfrustrationandcruelty.

    SotherecanbenosuchthingasadefinitiveHeddaanymorethanaconclusiveHamlet.AntaeusCompanysfarewellproductionintheirlongtimeformerDeafWestspaceonLankershim(theymovenextyeartonewlyconstructeddigsinGlendale).ThisadaptationbybyAustralianAndrewUptoncapturesthecompanycarefullycraftedaestheticatitsbest,thoughperhapswithlessthantheoccasionaldaringthatitcanbringtochallengingcontemporarypieces(suchasitsrecent,exquisiteCloud9).

    Immediatelyoneoftheplumrolesinthetheaterforstarfemaleactors,theplaywasIbsensmost

    frequentlymountedinthefirstquarterofthe20thcentury,withadozenBroadwayproductions,surpassingevenADollsHouse.Yetfarmorethanjustagoodpart,itsimpressivehowmanyprominentactresses,fromAllaNazimovatoBlancheYurkatoEvaLeGalliene,alsoseizedtheopportunitytosmashglassceilingsbyproducinganddirectingtheplayaswell.

    Nevertheless,therearetwostrikingnewideasintheAntaeusrendition,whicharemorethansufficienttocommendtheproductiontoanyonewhohasperhapsfeltalreadyadequatelyexposedtothework.(ThosewhosawGlendaJackson,eitherliveattheRoyalShakespeareCompanyorinherOscarnominatedperformanceonfilm,maybeexcusedforthatimpression.)

    First,theinevitablestarcastinghasnearlyalwaysessentiallymiscastHeddaasfarolderthanshe

  • 7/6/2016 AroundTown:HeddaGablerand42ndStreet

    http://stageraw.com/2016/06/14/heddagablerand42ndstreet/ 3/6

    actuallymustbe.True,ittakesformidablechopstoseizethedimensionsofthecharacter,yetHeddaisaseriouslydesirablematchinanageofearlymatrimony,ofgoodfamilyifinsecurefortune.(Ibsenusedhermaidennameinthetitlebecausehewantedhertoberegardedmoreasherfathersdaughterthanherhusbandswife.)

    Antaeusstagesallofitsproductionswithtwocasts:IcaughtTheGovernorswithJaimiPaigeasHedda.(NikeDoukas,asplendidtalent,presumablymustbequitedifferent.)Paige,whodidVenusinFuratSouthCoastRepandPhilipRidleyschallengingtwohanderTenderNapalminadowntownwarehousespace,crediblycansuggestayoungenoughwomanwholacksthestatureoflifeexperience,thoughshehasattainedmasteriesofwillfulnessandskillfulguile.HersisanaptlycallowHedda,moreimmaturethanimposing,recognizablyanantecedentofthecontemporaryMeanGirl.Shesconsciousofhersexualpowerastheonlyforceshecanbringtobeartoassertherwillandautonomywithinherconstrictedtraditionalrole.Malicebecomeshersolerecourseforselfexpressionwithintheprospectivelyunendingboredomofherunfulfillingmarriage.

    Itsalessinnatelytragicconceptionofthecharacterthanpossible,anditrendersherfarmoreaccessible,lessmysteriouslyconfounding,thoughnolessappalling.ItalsomakesthelecherousadvancesofJudgeBrack,insomanywaysaprospectivesoulmateinmanipulativedeceitandselfishfoulplay,creepierthanitwas,say,betweenIngridBergmanandRalphRichardson,thevillainyparticularlyvividinTonyAmendolaswittyinflectionsandconsiderableeroticforce.

    Theotheridea,onethatconferssomeintriguingbalanceandunitytotheunderlyingthemes,isarticulatedbydirectorStevenRobmaninhisprogramnote:thateverycharacterintheplayiscondemnedtodesiredesperatelysomethingthattheywillneverhave.Robmanbrandsthisasaprivilegedsenseofentitlement,somethingthatIbsenmayhaveintuitivelyunderstood,butprobablycouldntperceiveaswedoinourcurrentpoliticalenvironment.Nevertheless,theinsightcreatesacontextinwhichHeddamaybeextreme,butlessaberrant,sotheplaytransposesmoreintoakeyofsharedexistentialregretthanoneofaprimitivepsychologicalcasestudy.

    UptonsadaptationhastheforthrightadvantagesofmovingbrisklyinreasonablyvernacularEnglish,althoughitistoughtobluntthebaldexpositiontowhichIbsen,forallhisunalloyedbrillianceasadramatistandthinker,resortsamply.

    GettingtoBeaHabitWithMe

  • 7/6/2016 AroundTown:HeddaGablerand42ndStreet

    http://stageraw.com/2016/06/14/heddagablerand42ndstreet/ 4/6

    PhotobyJoanMarcus

    Okay,Imlatetotheparty.DespiteoverfourthousandperformancesonBroadwayintwo

    incarnations,42ndStreet(TheSongandDanceFableofBroadway)returnedtothePantagesforthesecondtimeinlessthanayear,andIfinallydecidedIowedmyselftocheckitout.Thegentlemanwasadope,becauseeveninthissomewhatscraggytouringincarnation,thisisahelluvashow,generouswithitspleasuresandrevelinginterrificsongsanddances.(OnewondershowthenewAlDubinshowaroundthecornerattheMontalbancanpossiblycompetewiththiswellwornjuggernaut.)

    Ofcourse,theoriginalfilmof42ndStreet(1933)knewitwastraffickinginahoaryplotatthetime,anddirectorArchieMayo,whileessentiallybereftofvisualflair,embraceditsclichswithgusto.Itresuscitatedthemusicalmovieafterithadfallenoutoffashionfromtheearlydaysofsound,heraldingthearrivalofdancedirectorBusbyBerkeleyatWarnerBrothers.Thestudiohad

    pioneeredthegenrewithitsAlJolsonvehicles,but42ndStreetboastedthepatentedstudiomoxieofitscomediesanddramas,whileBerkeleysrigorousmadnesscatapultedtheformintoanewlycinematicgenre,utterlydistinctfromthegeniusofErnstLubitschselegantmasterpiecesatParamountwithMauriceChevalierandJeanetteMacdonald.

    Still,despiteitssmashsuccess,therewereabaresixHarryWarrenAlDubinsongsinthemovie(onlyhalfofthemdoozies),soDavidMerrickandGowerChampion,workingwithbookwritersMichaelStewart&MarkBramble(thelatter,thesolelivingcreator,directinghere),plunderedthepairsentireWarnerChappelinventory,interpolatingnumbersfrom(bymycount)atleastsevenotherBerkeleyvehiclesatthestudio.Itsanindubitablehitparade,andthecasecanbemadethatWarrenandDubinhadahighersluggingpercentageofboffotunesinthe30sthanevenBerlin,GershwinorPorter.(WritingforfilmsinsteadofBroadwaydidhelptheirstats.)

    Thiscreatesafewodditiesofdeployment:sincetheeponymous42ndStreetnumber,withitsdownbeattone,musttakeprideofplace,LullabyofBroadway(thesecondsongtowinanOscar,fromBerkeleysdebutasfilmdirector,Golddiggersof1935)getsappropriatedasanupbeatpaeantotheGreatWhiteWay,despitelyricsintendedasthemostfrankmusicalsuicidenotesinceTchaikowskysPathtique.(MemoriesofWiniShawjumpingtoherdeathattheclimaxbefogthesanguinesentiments.)

  • 7/6/2016 AroundTown:HeddaGablerand42ndStreet

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    Still,asapasticheofswellTinPanAlleyimmortalchestnuts,42ndStreethasbeenshrewdlyassembled,andinlieuofdaftcameraanglesandcranegymnastics,itoffersupacornucopiaoftap,avirtualencyclopediaofclassicsteps.Thisshowbelongstothechorusline,notthecharacters,populatingthestagewithlegslikewejustdontseemuchanymore(except,ofcourse,onthestreets).Thefamiliarityofeverythingneverdetractsfromtheunalloyedpleasureofprosatwork,althoughitremainseverevidentforallthetalentandsweatondisplaythatthisissomethingotherthananEquitycast.Insomeways,theearnestindustriousnessondisplaymakesthejoymorepalpablydirect,notunlikethesuperiorentertainmentvalueofcollegiatesportsoverproball.

    Ofcourse,oneoftheironiesof42ndStreetremainsthatPeggySawyer,thegreenhornfromthesticksofAllentown,PA,getspluckedfromthechorustosavetheshowbygoingoutthereandcomingbackastar,eventhoughitseemsthateveryfemalememberofthetroupehassuperiorskills.(Eveninthemovie,thedebutingRubyKeeler,notcoincidentallyAlJolsonswife,acquiredtheaffectionatesobriquetofLeadfoot,andleftstardomaftertheirdivorce.)Shrewdly,theproductionholdsbackonCaitlinEhlingersbesttalentsuntiltheclimax,sotheillusionofherascendencypaysoff.

    AssuperstarproducerJulianMarsh,downonhisluckintheDepression,MatthewJ.Taylormaylackgravitas,butheboastsasuperlativelycharacterizedhaircutwithflairandconvictiontomatch.Ka

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