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This article was prepared for the December 6, 2000 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
For this `Carol,’ a Dark Look: Ming Cho Lee
by Simon Saltzman
At one point in one’s life one should do a `A
Carol,’" says eminent set designer Ming Cho Lee. Evidently Lee
has arrived at this precise point in his long and distinguished
Lee’s artistic vision — one that has brought him accolades for
almost half a century — will frame McCarter Theater’s brand new
production of Charles Dickens’ classic story, celebrating the 20th
year that the perennial favorite has been presented in Princeton.
Performances are continuing at McCarter to Thursday, December 24.
For the remainder of this article go to
Place, 609-258-2787. The new production of the Dickens’ classic runs
to December 24. $28 to $40.
At this time of year it’s virtually a cliche: The notion
that some particular event or piece of literature or work of art is
"beloved by children and grown-ups alike." But it’s also true:
That’s why the Gennady Spirin illustration for the McCarter Theater
production of "A Christmas Carol" seemed like the perfect
illustration to highlight Simon Saltzman’s interview with Ming Cho
Lee, the noted set designer for this year’s production (see page 28).
Spirin, a Russian-born, internationally known artist who happens to
live in Princeton, creates marvelous watercolor paintings, packed
with bejeweled princes and princesses, courtiers and villains in tall
hats and fur coats, and a menagerie of graceful birds and wild
His latest exhibit at the Firebird Gallery at 16 Witherspoon Street
opens with a reception on Saturday, December 9, from 5:30 to 7:30
p.m., and features original watercolors from two new picture books:
"Philipok" by Leo Tolstoy and "Joy to the World, a Family
Those of us who are past childhood may have forgotten how fiercely
loyal children can be to their favorites — and what a surprisingly
big business children’s books can be. Children’s fantasy author Brian
Jacques, for instance, has an avid following and, as with J. K.
famous Harry Potter, some Jacques books have made it onto the New
York Times best seller list. Set in England and peopled by woodland
creatures like mice, moles, hedgehogs, and squirrels, Jacques’
series is both explicitly adventurous and implicitly instructive.
One of our favorite U.S. 1 anecdotes concerns Jacques when he was
in London to tape a CBS Sunday Morning cover story broadcast earlier
this fall. He was accompanied by R. Timothy Moses, director of
for children’s books at Penguin Putnam, New York. The two were leaving
Jacques’ hotel room to go down to the lobby for an interview with
the London Times when Moses asked Jacques what he had tucked under
his arm. It was a copy of U.S. 1 Newspaper. Why?, Moses asked.
this is the best profile of me that anyone ever did," said
referring to Pat Summers’ profile (U.S. 1, January 12).
"But you must have been interviewed hundreds of times for hundreds
of stories," Moses recalls telling the author. "Make that
thousands," Jacques replied. Jacques then tried to give the copy
to the reporter from the Times, who said he was sure it was wonderful,
but that he would write his own.
In a subsequent phone call with Moses, we suggested that he must tell
a similar Brian Jacques story to every paper he calls just to make
them feel good. "Not bloody likely!" was his reply.
Moses also promotes Jan Brett, the subject of another Pat Summers
profile, who had a book signing in October at Jazams on Palmer Square.
We had heard from one would-be visitor that 80 people, waiting on
the sidewalk, prevented him and his two boys from getting near the
place. Moses’ response: "I’m surprised there were only 80 people.
Teachers and parents have been known to drive for two hours to one
of her signings."
It’s that time of year: It’s just for kids, of course, but the adults
even some Scrooges — get into the act as well.
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