Results tagged “Frank Rich” from ARTicles

Is the 92nd Street Y some sort of notorious pick-up joint, and everyone forgot to mention it to me and I neglected to notice?

I went there last night to hear Alan Brinkley talk to Frank Rich about his Henry Luce book. Not exactly a meat-market milieu, or so one might think.

But, before the festivities began, the man sitting in front of me (handsome, white-haired, in his 60s, lives in the neighborhood and has a house in Connecticut) started chatting up the woman one empty seat away from him (striking, long-haired, in her 50s, native New Yorker not from the neighborhood but takes art classes at the Y). He seemed sweet, charming, curious, and determined to enjoy the world, while she was whiny, cynical, and excessively flakey in a way that a disproportionate number of artsy New York women have perfected. He made dry little jokes; she had no apparent sense of humor. I wanted to fling my body between them to stop them from getting involved with each other. (The comic strip "Sylvia" has a superhero character called Relationship Cop who nips incipient disastrous liaisons in the bud. It was that kind of impulse.) But of course as soon as the talk was over, he asked her out for coffee.

And then the weird thing happened. I was waiting at the end of my row to merge into the aisle when a completely unfamiliar guy in his 30s or 40s, heading toward the exit, stopped to address me.

THE GUY: (pleasantly) Hi! Want to see my apartment?
ME: (startled) What?
THE GUY: Want to see my apartment?
ME: No.
THE GUY: (surprised, slightly incredulous) No?
(ME shakes her head. THE GUY rejoins the stream and continues up the aisle.)

May 12, 2010 9:21 AM |

Stephen Sondheim and Frank Rich couldn't be resisted last night at UCLA's Royce Hall. Aside from spotting Michael Kors, the Michael Kors (Jeff Weinstein eat your heart out! wink wink kiss kiss), other fascinating moments turned on Sondheim's re-telling of Jerome Robbins hearing "Maria" from West Side Story the first time.

"But what's Tony doing, when he's singing? Robbins asked.

An uncharactertistically dumbfounded Sondheim, 25 at the time, suggested the scenery was changing behind him.

Robbins wasn't impressed. From this Sondheim learned the value of always, always plotting a song -- if not within the song itself -- but in one's own imagination. Know what the singers are doing when they are singing, is his on-going advice to composers and lyricists. 

Sondheim in buoyant spirits raved about Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd," because it moves the story along and behaves as film by definition of its medium must behave, according to him. Sondheim distinguishes film as "reportorial," whereas the stage is "poetical." He said perfection is film's strength and it is also its weakness. (We all know he doesn't like the film version of "West Side Story," but it was fun to hear him explain convincingly why.)

He and Rich touched on critics. Sondheim bemoaned them because most who review his work are not musicians, they don't have musical backgrounds -- they come from theater and have no idea what goes into constructing a song, a musical. And speaking of why musicals are they way they are, his anecdote about wanting to flip-flop West Side Story's Act 1 "Gee, Office Krupke" for Act 2's "Cool," because he couldn't' see the logic in the gangs having killed two people and then breaking into comedy, shed light. Robbins agreed with Sondheim's idea. Leonard Bernstein agreed. Arthur Laurents agreed. "Cool" made better post-stabbing sense for the Jets and Sharks. But, Robbins said he couldn't make the switch, because the choreography for "Cool" needed the whole stage and the "Krupke" moment occupied only the very front stage zone, while the set was changed behind the dancers.  

Robbins eventually made Krupke/Cool switch in the film version. Cool!

March 14, 2008 1:29 PM |


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