On Broadway">On Broadway

Off-Broadway

`The Price’

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This review by Simon Saltzman was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

December 15, 1999. All rights reserved.

In New York: Tango

Like the old song says "Take back your samba, aye,

your mambo aye, your cha cha, aye yi yi…" But I hope they never

take away the tango. You can see why when you hear a savvy audience

swoon ecstatically for 2-1/2 hours watching "Tango Argentino,"

the show that started a real craze when it hit Broadway 14 years ago.

These dancers and musicians don’t aspire to the splashes of glitz

and glamour that marked the "Forever Tango" troupe of two

years ago. This company, under the direction of Claudio Segovia and

Hector Orezzoli, was the first to mainstream the tango

internationally,

and it still appears rooted in integrity, if somewhat lacking in

theatrical

imagination. It remains, in this welcome revival at the Gershwin

Theater,

a show designed more for purists than for tourists.

The format for this presentation is simple: sensuous movement and

evocative music. Thirteen musicians (heavy on the bandoneon, a sort

of slinky accordion) sit on a tiered platform at the rear of the stage

playing the pulsating rhythms and melodies as four singers and the

smartly dressed (mostly in black) dancers relentlessly weave the spell

of the tango. Soloists, couples and ensembles fiercely, gently and,

at times, even humorously take their turns at evoking all the passions

and temperaments within this 100-year-old social dance. Devotees will

be able to recognize the influence of the milonga, habanera, Indian

and African rhythms. More than any other folk or popular dance, the

tango has remained the ultimate dance of ecstasy and life. As

demonstrated

by this noticeably mature company, the tango is as varied and rich

a statement of life as movement has ever been choreographed.

It doesn’t take long to notice, however, the lack of spring chickens

on the stage. Even the musicians, quite brilliant and entertaining

on their own, give the appearance of having performed the tango for

half a century or more. The male dancers without exception look like

variations of George Raft and Jean Gabin — late in their careers.

This is not to imply that age is a deterrent. The opposite appears

true. Never have I seen the non-Balanchine physique so gracefully

or sensually deployed.

Space won’t permit listing all the dances and dancers, but

extraordinary

senior members Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves, who wowed audiences

15 years ago, are back a little less tempestuous but no less heroic

in a fluidly executed "Patetico." The old standard "La

Cumparsita," as danced by Pablo Veron and Guillermina Quiroga,

brought a vision of lovers finding romance under a star-filled sky

(the only concession to an atmospheric). Hector and Elsa Mayoral,

in "Milonguero Viejo," demonstrate a contrast of male reserve

and feminine impetuousness. The stern maturity of Carlos Copello is

an insinuating match for the breezy playfulness of his partner, Alicia

Monti, in "Recuerdo." And a curiously muttering Carlos Inez

appeared to be playing mentor to his slavishly responsive partner

Borquez in "La Yumba."

Bodies interlock, intertwine, whirl, spin and, at times, just pose

in this often-philosophical expose of tango. But never doubt that

the tango is tense, a dramatic conveyor of deception, lust, murder,

misery, and pain, and all those other things that make life worth

living.

Other memorable pieces are "El Apache

Argentino,"

in which two thugs dance the tango; "Milongita," the story

of a young girl of the barrio who, "seduced by a ruffian, follows

the road of her ruin"; and the grand finale, "Quejas de

Bandoneon,"

in which the dance floor virtually steams from the atmosphere of eight

intensely embraced couples, each locked into their own declaration

of the tango, but all intoxicated by the pulsating rhythms of the

orchestra.

I suppose that you can develop a taste for the kind of angst-driven

songs sung by prominent Argentine vocalists Raul Lavie, Maria Grana,

Jovita Luna, and Alba Solis, all of whom gave the impression they

had been double-crossed or wronged by lovers one too many times in

their lifetime. If you saw the films "Tango," "Tango

Bar,"

or "The Tango Lesson," you will recognize many of the dancers.

I guess this means sign up for another round of those Arthur Murray

tango lessons. HH

— Simon Saltzman

Tango Argentino, Gershwin Theater, 51st Street, west of

Broadway, New York, 212-307-4100. $25 to $75.

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On Broadway">On Broadway

The key: HHHH Don’t miss; HHH

You won’t feel cheated;

HH Maybe you should have stayed home;

H Don’t blame us.

Amadeus, Music Box, 239 West 45. By Peter Schaffer.

Annie Get Your Gun H Marquis, Broadway &

46. Ticketmaster.

Tonys for the revival and its star Bernadette Peters.

Beauty and the Beast, Lunt-Fontanne, Broadway & 46.

Ticketmaster.

Cabaret HHH Studio 54, 254 West 54,

800-432-7250.

Cats HHH Winter Garden, 50 & Broadway.

Chicago HHHH Shubert, 225 West 44.

Dame Edna HHH Booth, 222 West 45. "The

Royal

Tour."

Epic Proportions H Helen Hayes, 240

West 44.

Footloose HH Richard Rodgers, 226 West 46.

Ticketmaster.

Fosse HHH Broadhurst, 235 West 44.

Tony-winner for

best new musical.

It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues HHH Vivian

Beaumont,

150 West 65. Musical theater from Crossroads Theater.

Jackie Mason, Golden, 252 West 45. "Much Ado About

Everything."

James Joyce’s The Dead, Belasco, 111 West 44.

Jekyll & Hyde HH Plymouth, 236 West 45.

Kat and the Kings HHH Cort, 138 West 48.

Kiss Me, Kate HHHH Martin Beck, 302 West

45. Cole

Porter revival with verve.

Les Miserables HHH Imperial, 249 West 45.

Marie Christine, Vivian Beaumont, 150 West 65.

Miss Saigon HHHH Broadway, 53 and

Broadway.

Morning, Noon and Night, Vivian Beaumont, 150 West 65.

Spalding Gray’s latest monologue. Sundays & Mondays only.

Putting It Together, Barrymore, 243 West 47. Carol Burnett

in Stephen Sondheim’s revue.

Ragtime HHHH Ford Center, 42 between 7

and 8

Avenue. Ticketmaster.

The Rainmaker HHH, Roundabout at Brooks

Atkinson,

256 West 47.

Rent HHHH Nederlander, 208 West 41.

Ticketmaster.

Saturday Night Fever HH Minskoff, 45

Street west

of Broadway. Ticketmaster.

Smokey Joe’s Cafe HH Virginia, 245 West

52. Songs

of Leiber and Stoller.

Swing!, St. James, 246 West 44.

The Lion King HHHH New Amsterdam,

Broadway &

42, 212-307-4747.

The Phantom of the Opera HHH Majestic,

247 West

44.

The Price HHH Royale, 242 West 45. By

Arthur

Miller.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Neil Simon, 250 West 52.

Ticketmaster.

Buy one get one free through December 16.

Waiting in the Wings, Walter Kerr, 219 West 48. Noel

Coward

starring Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris.

Top Of Page
Off-Broadway

A Klezmer’s Tale, Theater Four, 424 West 55.

Adam Baum and the Jew Movie, McGinn/Cazale, Broadway at

76.

Blue Man Group HHHH Astor Place, 434

Lafayette,

212-254-4370.

Contact HHHH Mitzi Newhouse, Lincoln

Center, 150

West 65.

De La Guarda H Daryl Roth, 20 Union

Square East.

Dinner With Friends HHH Variety Arts, 110

Third

Avenue.

Dirty Blonde, New York Theater Workshop, 79 East 4,

212-460-5475.

Eclipsed, Irish Rep, 132 West 22, 212-727-2737.

Fuddy Meers HHH City Center Stage II, 1131

West

55.

Fully Committed, Cherry Lane, 38 Commerce.

Give Me Your Answer, Do! HH Roundabout at

Gramercy,

127 East 23, 212-777-4900. By Brian Friel.

Hamlet, Public, 425 Lafayette.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch H Jane Street

Theater,

113 Jane.

Home of the Brave, Jewish Repertory, Playhouse 91, 316

East 91, 212-831-2000.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

HH, Westside,

407 West 43.

Ice Island, Theater Three, 311 West 43.

If Memory Serves, Promenade, Broadway at 76. Elizabeth

Ashley.

Inappropriate, Theater Row, 424 West 42.

In the Blood, Public, 425 Lafayette. By Suzan-Lori Parks.

John Gabriel Borkman, Pearl, 80 St. Mark’s Place,

212-598-9802.

Jolson & Co., Theater at St. Peter’s, Lexington at 54.

Now Hear This!, Lambs, 130 West 44. Kathy Buckley’s show.

Over the River & Through the Woods HH John

Houseman,

450 West 42.

Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know

HHH, Triad,

158 West 72, 212-799-4599.

Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Atlantic, 336 West 20. David

Mamet.

Shyster, Blue Heron Arts, 123 East 24.

Stomp HHHH Orpheum, Second Avenue at 8.

Ticketmaster.

The Countess, Samuel Beckett, 410 West 42.

Ticketmaster.

The Donkey Show, Club El Flamingo, 547 West 21.

Ticketmaster.

The Exact Center of the Universe, Century, 111 East 15.

With Frances Sternhagen.

The Fantasticks, 181 Sullivan Street Playhouse.

Ticketmaster.

Thwak HHH Minetta Lane Theater, 18 Minetta

Lane,

212-420-8000. Family entertainment from the Umbilical Brothers.

Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding HHH St. Luke’s

Church, 308

West 46.

Trudy Blue, MCC, 120 West 28.

Wit HHHH Union Square, 100 East 17.

Ticketmaster.

1999 Pulitzer Prize. With Judith Light.

Y2K, Manhattan Theater Club, Lucille Lortel, 121

Christopher.

— Simon Saltzman

Ticket Numbers

Unless otherwise noted, all Broadway reservations can be made

through Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. For

Ticketmaster

listings call 800-755-4000 or 212-307-4100.

For current information on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, music,

and dance call NYC/On Stage at 212-768-1818, a 24-hour performing

arts hotline operated by the Theater Development Fund. The TKTS

same-day,

half-price ticket booth at Times Square (Broadway & 47th) is open

daily, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. for evening performances; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

for Wednesday and Saturday matinees; and noon to closing for Sunday

matinees. The lower Manhattan booth, on the Mezzanine at 2 World Trade

Center, is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday

11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; closed Sunday. Cash or travelers’ checks only.

Visit TKTS at: www.tdf.org.

A Broadway ticket line at 212-302-4111 gives information on Broadway,

selected Off-Broadway, and touring shows in other cities; calls can

be transferred to a ticket agent. Sponsored by Continental Airlines

and the New York Times.

Top Of Page
`The Price’

Having just had the pleasure of seeing the ever rascally Eli Wallach

in Anne Meara’s new play at the George Street Playhouse, I was

reminded

of how impressed I was with this grand actor’s performance as Solomon,

the appraiser, seven years ago in the Roundabout Theater production

of Arthur Miller’s "The Price." I had forgotten how absolutely

brilliant this undervalued play is. The excellent revival currently

on Broadway is a fitting companion piece to this season’s earlier

acclaimed production of Miller’s "Death of a Salesman." In

fact, it stands ever more firmly at the forefront of the Miller canon.

And how fitting that we can end this century with these two great

works of American dramatic literature. Like a long overdue rematch

between two heavyweight contenders, the resurrected conflict between

two estranged brothers in "The Price" remains, as always,

an entertaining but also tension-filled slice of life.

Faced by family circumstance to come to grips with the past as well

as the future, one brother — an unmotivated and discouraged

50-year-old

policeman about to be retired — and the other — a

hyper-motivated

and successful surgeon reconnecting with life after a breakdown —

are thrown into a memory-filled arena that is as real as it is

theatrical.

Theatrical realism, in order not to be boring, is generally viewed

as an intensification of life. But it is to Miller’s credit, as well

as to the credit of director James Naughton, that this very human

but agonizing play succeeds not so much with crafty intensification,

but by its subjective implications.

The implications of "The Price" are relatively simple: over

a lifetime, we must take responsiblity for the myriad choices we make.

Having forfeited his college career in order to care for his father

(an emotional and financial victim of the Great Depression), the cop

finds himself, 16 years after the father’s death, in the attic of

a Manhattan brownstone, bargaining with a 90-year-old second-hand

furniture dealer.

Presumably left alone by his anxious wife to negotiate with this

"ethical"

wheeler-dealer on a price for all the furnishings and nostalgic

bric-a-brac,

the cop is suddenly confronted by the appearance of his brother. The

play — a series of extraordinary riveting confrontations —

implies more than it discloses. As we discover from the verbal round

robin, the truth of the past is generally clouded by our emotions.

There is no lack of humor, particularly as compressed into the role

of the appraiser. Bob Dishy is absolutely sensational as the

extraordinary,

90-year-old Solomon, the appraiser who can still find time in the

middle of the deal of the century to sit down and eat a hard-boiled

egg, claim he was once in the British Navy, as well as part of an

acrobatic team ("They should rest in peace, I worked at the

bottom").

Dishy has reinvented this Second Avenue psychologist with a

disarmingly

relaxed charm. Until he is relegated to a back room, the old appraiser

referees the opening rounds with his philosophically profound grab-bag

of New York-styled Jewish-isms.

As the repressed skeletons in the attic begin their dance, the age-old

ritual of fraternal misunderstandings is played out with great

theatricality.

It is difficult not to shout out loud as we root for one and then

the other. Giving a performance of ever-increasing poignancy, Jeffrey

DeMunn, as Victor the cop, creates a devastating portrait of an

optimistic

loser. Part smug, but resolutely honest, Harris Yulin gives the role

of the surgeon just the right degree of pragmatic righteousness. And

in a very difficult role, Lizbeth Mackay, as the cop’s wife, does

amazingly well for a complex character that is continually searching

for the key to unlock her true feelings.

The Williamstown Theater Festival first presented this production

on August 19, 1999. As he did there, Naughton has directed this

wonderful

play with all the patience and attention to its emotional demands

and physical detail that it deserves. Some of the mammoth Victorian

pieces that were gathering dust in Michael Brown’s masterfully

cluttered

attic setting, look to be a bargain at any cost. The same can be said

for "The Price." HHH

— Simon Saltzman


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