Corrections or additions?
These reviews by Simon Saltzman were prepared for the July 11,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
In New York
One of the more pleasant surprises of the season was
the arrival of "Stones in His Pockets," an unabashedly
and sentimental Irish comedy that was lauded both in its homeland
and in London where it continues to play after more than a year. Marie
Jones’s cleverly amusing take on the effects of a Hollywood film crew
has on the residents of a small Irish coastal village is a welcome
addition to the theater offerings. The play is notable for the way
that all its 15 characters are performed by two accomplished and
actors — Conleth Hill and Sean Campion. The duo’s cheerful and
exuberant performances meet the demands of the mockingly caricatured
Hollywood personages and the more compassionately personified Irish
locals. Although Hill and Campion are principally seen in the roles
of Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn, respectively, hired extras in a
period romance, they give equal time to transforming themselves into
Jake, who has just returned home after a less than successful attempt
to jump-start his dream of a showbiz career in New York, catches the
eye and the ear (because his accent is so alluring) of Caroline
Hollywood’s sexy but skillfully stupid, superstar. Charlie, who hopes
to get someone to read his screenplay, becomes both the seductive
Caroline, replete with breathy pianissimos and languid body language,
and her equally funny brawny bodyguard. A myriad of recognizable types
from the self-absorbed director to the frenetic production assistant
to the odd assortment of extras are brought to life with a simple
turn of the head or spin on a heel.
Although the plot, based on Jones’s acting experiences in films shot
in Ireland, doesn’t aspire to say anything we don’t already know about
the exploitation of the "little people" by condescending
invaders, there is a touch of poignancy given to a tragic subplot.
A drug-addicted young man, who has been cast as an extra, commits
suicide when he is fired for not being reliable. Under the cool
of Ian McElhinney, "Stones in his Pockets" is the perfect
summer anecdote to many over-stuffed, over-heated extravaganzas. Three
stars. You won’t feel cheated.
— Simon Saltzman
New York. Tickets $30 to $65, Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or
There is no American-born composer who has contributed
more immortal music to the great American songbook and to the American
musical theater than has George Gershwin. Adding to his legacy of
individual song hits, the concert pieces "Rhapsody in Blue,"
"Concerto in F," "American in Paris," among others,
and the grand folk opera "Porgy and Bess," Gershwin richly
deserves all the accolades and tributes he so often gets.
the tribute being paid by Hershey Felder in the one-person
show "George Gershwin Alone" does little to reveal either
the man or his music. The text, presumably based on biographical
has some of the facts blatantly wrong such as the story on how
became the composer’s first hit. The truth is that Al Jolson, who
was appearing on Broadway, heard Gershwin’s tune sung in a stage show
at the Capitol Theater. He liked it and asked to sing it in his show.
Felder, who, for whatever it is worth, bears a slight resemblance
to Gershwin, tells it differently: that it was heard first at a swank
penthouse party. Wrong! Is this important? Not really. However, a
show that purports to inform as well as entertain should get the facts
right. But I will give Felder credit for pointing an accurate finger
at Henry Ford, a fanatical anti-Semite, who blamed the Jewish Gershwin
for corrupting society with his jazz. Too bad that Felder’s other
nine fingers couldn’t bring more sensitivity to the music that he
banged out rather relentlessly with more fury than finesse.
Although seated formally at the grand piano in Yael Pardess’
living room setting, Felder tries to invoke the spirit of Gershwin.
Certainly Felder’s grating, too often off-key, singing of
You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," among others, is enough
to make Gershwin’s spirit come back to haunt his pretentiously
interpreter. Felder’s murderously protracted rendering of "Bess,
You is My Woman" (from "Porgy and Bess") is downright
painful. Director Joel Zwick could be accused of aiding and abetting
Felder, in his 90 minutes of hammering away on a very fine instrument.
A number of people at the performance I attended thought he was quite
good and gave him an ovation. One star. Don’t blame us!
— Simon Saltzman
Street, New York. $65. Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200.
Extended to September 2.
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