Playing catch up: It was a wise decision of the PG not to review “Rope,” the wheezy Patrick Hamilton murder yarn at Playhouse Rep (Sept. 27-Oct. 14). So why bring it up now? Mainly to wonder how such a production came to pass. The play might have period interest, which a period production with good actors might bring out. But to hire a guest director who chose to stage it hung up awkwardly between the present and past and between straightforward and camp just opened up it and his poor cast (recent Point Park grads) to bewilderment or ridicule. What a fall from the heights of Playhouse Rep’s previous play!
Moment in the spotlight: Scratch most theater critics and you probably find more than a bit of ham. So I was tickled last Thursday when Ken Rice asked me to do a small onstage bit before Off the Record XII (which I produced, safely offstage). At the start of the show, I came on awkwardly to announce that Ken Rice wouldn’t appear as emcee, as expected, because negotiations had broken down over the unreasonable perks he demanded. But after all, I argued, he’d been getting big-headed in the role, and wasn’t it time for a change? So we’d replaced him with David Johnson. Enter David Johnson, who cast a few funny aspersions at Ken before Ken himself came running out to take over. Several people say they actually believed me for a moment or two.
Confession: A week ago in my Thursday morning theater stint on Pittsburgh Today Live (KDKA-TV) I claimed to have appeared in “Born Yesterday” some 50 years ago in summer stock in Bar Harbor, Maine, playing the assistant hotel manager. Now that I’ve actually seen the Public Theater production, I discover there is no assistant hotel manager. So what was I misremembering? That same summer I played the second immigration officer in “A View from the Bridge” – was that it? So what did I play in “Born Yesterday,” if anything at all? I’m now searching for an old scrapbook that might answer this burning question.
Related query: The talented young teenager from Pittsburgh who did the Bar Harbor theater’s posters that summer was Billy Kolokosky (and I can’t check that spelling until I find that scrapbook). He’d be in his 60s now. Are you out there some where, Billy?