Times Theater Critic

Theater people have been wondering all spring if Gregory Mosher was indeed going to become the head of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center, or if he’d decide to stay on at the Goodman Theatre of Chicago.

It’s definite now that Mosher will take over the Beaumont in July--or rather, for his first season, will take over the little theater beneath the Beaumont, the Newhouse. Chairman of the board John V. Lindsay called Mosher “a proven leader who will help us create a unique theatrical institution at Lincoln Center in years ahead.”

But Mosher--aware that every attempt to build a permanent theater company at Lincoln Center over the past 20 years has gone down in flames--is also staying on at the Goodman. Not as its artistic director (he will help in the search to find a replacement), but as the head of its New Theatre Company, specializing in original plays--especially those by Mosher’s old Chicago buddy, David Mamet.

Can an artistic director split his time between two cities? Adrian Hall does it: He commutes between Rhode Island, where he directs Providence’s Trinity Square Rep, and Texas, where he directs the Dallas Theatre Center.


Running a theater at Lincoln Center may not allow Mosher much time for moonlighting, however. As he told Samuel G. Freedman of the New York Times, “The lights will be bright on this job.”

Irving Wardle, drama critic of the Times of London, saw three shows in Los Angeles on his way to Louisville Actors’ Theater’s new play festival. His verdict in each case was favorable.

Wardle on the Odyssey’s “Rap Master Ronnie”: “The most pointed tactic of John Roarke’s performance as the Great Communicator is that it presents a mild-mannered and seemingly kind-hearted old party who only freezes the blood when you reflect on what he has just said.”

On Charles Marowitz’s “Sherlock’s Last Case” at the Mayfair: “Passages of fluent pastiche alternate with moments where the mask cracks and the great sleuth is nakedly exposed . . . continues the same kind of illuminating disrespect with which Marowitz dismembered ‘Hamlet’ back in the 1960s.”


On the Taper’s “In the Belly of the Beast”: “Robert Woodruff’s production presents the most horrendous evidence with cool restraint. . . . The role of Jack Henry Abbott offers great opportunities for American specialists in psychotic acting, here unnervingly seized by Andrew Robinson.”

On the Taper itself: “The word ‘Forum’ defines its character precisely: It is a place where evidence can be presented without dissimulation for the public to examine and discuss.”

“Chaplin” is making a comeback. Anthony Newley and Stanley Ralph Ross’ musical about Charlie Chaplin came a long way during its 1983 Civic Light Opera tryout, but the financing fell apart at the last minute and it never got to Broadway. Now a new version of the show has been announced for Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars series, opening July 15--again starring Newley. Theatre Under the Stars is currently offering “Cabin in the Sky” with Armelia McQueen (of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”). Sounds like a group with a bit of imagination.

With the Louisville festival over, the next important American harvest of original scripts will be the Denver Center Theater Company’s Prima Facie festival, opening May 20. Ten new plays will be presented in staged readings, including works by Romulus Linney (“A Woman Without a Name”), Julia Cameron (“Public Lives”) and J. Ranelli (“November”). In charge of Prima Facie is The Times’ Sylvie Drake, on leave to the Denver theater.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Polish critic Jan Kott (“Shakespeare Our Contemporary”) in the New York Times: “To my mind, a deep limitation of the American critic is that he does not write as a man who has a political, sexual, emotional and national life.”