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Talent Squandered: 'Windy City' Script Spoils Tuneful Play
Talent Squandered: 'Windy City' Script Spoils Tuneful Play
TitleTalent Squandered: 'Windy City' Script Spoils Tuneful Play
CreatorHarris, Sydney J.
DescriptionThis opening night reviewer waxes almost venomous about the script of Windy City, claiming in jest that the cast could probably sue the playwright, a former lawyer, "before any theatrical jury in the country". He praises all the elements of the production outside of the storyline and script, in particular the music, which he calls "by far the richest in melodic invention that Chicago playgoers have heard his year" and compares to the score of the musical, Oklahoma!. He feels that the State St. dialogue rings entirely false. He suggests that they ought to throw the storyline aside and turn it into a song and dance show, which he believes the talent of the performers could easily support it. When he turns to Dunham's choreography he calls it "a little diffuse in spots" but nonetheless "exciting and original" and claims to have especially enjoyed the "Reefer Man" dance.
CollectionSCRC Text (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
SubcollectionKatherine Dunham Papers
Original Publication SourceChicago Daily News "Amusements"
Place WrittenChicago, IL
Date(s)1946-05-17
Page(s)24
Subjects -peopleYordan, Philip ; Mielziner, Jo ; Jurman, Walter ; Conte, John ; Miller, Susan ; Williams, Frances ; Berry, Robert ; Ross, Jerry ; Dunham, Katherine
Other topicsGreat Northern Theater
Collection ID/Box#FP20_7_F1DUNHAM_B102_F14_07
Rights StatementFor permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email: http://reftrack.lib.siu.edu/reft100.aspx?key=SCRCEmail&cllcid=SCRR
TranscriptTAtENT SQUANDERED
''Windy City^ Script Spoils Tuneful Play
. BY SYDNEY J. HARRIS,
"Windy City, " which blew 4nlo the Great Nortliern Theater last night, hasn't the faintest chance of Eiirvivai in the Windy City or in any other community where Eng- Jish is the oificial language.
In its present form (and the show has already been completely rewritten since its disastrous New Haven tryout last month), "Windy City" wouldn't last on Broadway long enough to give the ushers a chance to see it
EVEN THOUGH the author,
Philip Yordan, is a former lawyer, Vm confident that the cast of the play could sue him and win Ihe case before any theatrical jury in the country. The charge- of course, Is-''criminal squandering of tal¬ ents/'
This ''play-with-music/' as it
is caUed has a hucltetful ot
talent; none of it, unfortunatciy,
possessed by the author.
The actors are good, the music iis endearing, the settings are among the best Jo Mielziner has created in a long time. But the story is ao cheap, tawdry and ar¬ tificial that the entire produc¬ tion is smothered beneath its dead hand.
' THE PLAY is not only dismal, is :s also dishonest- It is supposed to portray State st. just south of the Loop, but Mr. Yordan's State st, might just as well ho in St, Louis or San Francisco, and I wish it were.
I True, in one
. some patter
OXeary^s cow,
scene, there is about Mrs.
but that's the
closest , ?fc Yordan- achieves in the way of local color.
', - 1 will not ruin your day by a 'recital of the story, except to men¬ tion that it concerns three gener¬ ations of a gambling family named O'Brien; a "26'' girl named Lola, who is built along the gen¬ eral lines Bronko Nagurski, and assorted characters in loud checkered suits who think it is enormously funny to squirt seltzer water in one another's faces.
ASIDE Irom the fact that the leading roles are drawn so un- sympathetically that nobody in the audience cares if they live or die, the level of writing is about 40 fathoms lower than Capt. Billy's Grand Old Show Boat, and embraces some of the hokiest scenes since Little Nell was tied to the railroad trestle.
As a result, all the humor is
tragic, and all the tr^sedy is
j unconsciously funny.
\ Since New Haven, a prologue ! and epilogue have been tacked on,
and instead of committing suicide , at the end, O'Brien lives to marry ] a Good Girl and to reform his Be- 1 gotten Father. 1 shudder to think I how much worse the show will J get if Mr. Yordan tries any more
rewriting,
# *
BELIEVE me, these harsh words jare spoken more in pity than in
censure, to use the showboat f phrase. Because if Prodifcer Dick. Kollmar threw the whole book ' overboard and simply presented a , song-and-dance show, there is 1 enough abihty in his cast to carry
'^Windy City" much further than I it can possibly go groaning under j the burden of an impossible script,
John Conte, as the psychO'
pathic gambler, owns a pleasant
voice and even manages to put
conviction into the corniest
lies.
Susan Miller, as the muscular *'26'* sii'l. P^Jncbes home a song 'AVith fine timing and does as well as anyone could with a stupid role.
* # 4
BUT THE veal show-stoppers arc Frances Williams and Kobex't Berry, whose vocal efforts prove that not even a bad book can wholly submerge first-rate talent. All the minor roles, and especially
OPEN 8:45 A. M, ^ LAST "BADMAN'- AT fO:30 P. M.
Slarrins
Sr
RANDOLPH S' ANN RICH/ GEOROE'GaU'
1^—
-DOWNTOWIS-
those played by Jack Diamond, Loring Smith, Al Shean and Tom Pedi, were expertly handled.
If a little diffuse in spots, the choregraphy by Katherine Dun¬ ham was exciting and original, particularly in the potent **Reefer Man*' routine, imagmatively danced by Jerry Boss.
The only reason Ross wasn't a
standout is that all the other
dancers in the show are just as
good-
But the saddest side to this whole debacle is that Walter Jur- man's poignant and memorable mu!?ic (by far the richest in me¬ lodic invention that Chicago play¬ goers have heard this year) never got the chance to soar that it de- seivcd.
If the composer had found a librettist of comparable ability, *'Windy City" might easily have turned into an urban ^^Oklahoma!"
*a * *
PEKHAPS Producer Kollmar
can call in a consulting play-doc¬ tor and perform the necessary script surgery in time to save the patient. I hope he can, becituse if *'Windy City'* limps into Broad¬ way in Its present state, it will waft with it not the heady aroma of State St. but the noxious odor of the Stock Yards,
And who^s going to pay a $4.40 top for that?
Original Formatreview
Original dimensions (cm.)41 x 11
Digital Object TypeImage
Digital File Format.tif
Digital File PublisherSpecial Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
LanguageEnglish
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