Sunday, December 04, 2005

opening-night review of The Fantasticks

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble through Dec. 17

I hate The Fantasticks the way people hate street mimes.

Mimes intrude on whatever we're doing, then say – if they could talk; isn't it so cute how they don't talk? – "Look at me! I have remarkable talent! You will be having fun now! Did I mention you should look at me?!"

Similarly, The Fantasticks wants desperately for us to nod our agreement that it is wise and lyrical and oh so mellow. It sticks its skimpy set, hackneyed costumes, doggerel rhymes and forgettable songs right in the audience's face and shouts, "You will experience nostalgia! You will chuckle over clever symbolism! And you will become misty-eyed! Right this second!"

Director Roger Welch's production conveys about the right message – that storybooks misrepresent love, which grows deeper only if redeemed through experience and sadness. And it presents that simple lesson in a competent and at times even charming package. But the way that Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt go about presenting the simplistic themes of their musical is all wrong. The themes may be worth presenting onstage, but this show isn't.

The best thing about the Interplayers production is Jack Bannon's Old Actor, Henry, stuttering about past performances and spouting snatches of old Shakespearean speeches, disconnectedly. His character is brought in help stage – more artifice! more commentary! – the incident that separates our two young lovers. Other than that, it's not really clear what Henry is doing in this show. At least Bannon endows the grizzled fellow with a kind of towering yet befuddled dignity: He spouts snippets from Shakespeare so we can congratulate ourselves on how literary we are, then disappears down a trapdoor. Maybe because Bannon actually is one of the best-known acting vets associated with this area, his performance takes on some affecting realism.

Which is more than you can say for the rest of Jones and Schmidt's characters.

That's not a knock on Welch's cast. They do what they can with frayed and hackneyed stuff.

At a couple of junctures ("Never Say No" and "Plant a Radish"), Troy Nickerson and Patrick Treadway (as the young lovers' fathers) are reduced to performing cutesy vaudeville two-steps. It's the kind of goofy song-and-dance at which Nickerson in particular excels. But both numbers feature the kind of we-need-something-upbeat-along-about-now material that's beneath both these veteran Spokane stage performers. They're reduced to reciting comic-book dialogue with really bad rhymes ("It depends on what you pay" with "Ole!").

This is a show that tries to depict genuine behavior by stringing together flowery allusions. The Young Man first greets the Young Woman by frothing over with comparisons of her to Juliet and Guinevere. But then all that's phony and the writers know it, so they try the tactic of undressing the entire show, reducing it to essentials: If we acknowledge how artificial our show is, maybe customers will think it's more real. Problem is, self-conscious artifice – the frank acknowledgment that stage events aren't real, the trumpeting of what's theatrical so that we'll start meditating about how all of life is staged and contrived – may have seemed revolutionary for a musical back when Eisenhower was president. But since The Fantasticks opened, sorry, postmodernism happened, got it already. Running for 42 years may not make a show great, but it sure does put it behind the times.

The Mute scurries about handing people flowers and plums and stick-swords because, well, Jones and Schmidt thought that'd be kind of cute. Christopher Bange, so adept at all kinds of comedy in The Mystery of Irma Vep (Interplayers' last show) is wasted here as the Mute – the kind of part best done by a 16-year-old girl in harlequin makeup and a black leotard. (Which, come to think of it, is an approach to the role that Bange could adopt and have a lot of fun with.)

John Frazier looks and sounds the part of El Gallo, the narrator guy with a Zorro fixation. Frazier cartwheels onstage, engages in some truly impressive swordplay, and sings "Try To Remember" in just the kind of mellow tones you'd expect.

As Matt, Louis Olsen sometimes overplays the fresh-faced innocence; his voice has a nasal quality and sometimes weakens in the lower register. As Luisa (and in her professional debut), Theresa Kelly is good at acting coy and bashful. Her voice sometimes thins out, and she could have injected more pizzazz into her character's longing for adventure in "Much More" – but she and Olsen sing a lovely duet of reconciliation together late in the show ("They Were You").

One of director Welch's best moments arrives with "I Can See It," a simple-minded face-off between Matt's innocence and El Gallo's cynicism; by swirling and circling the two antagonists, Welch gets about as much as he can out of a simplistic exchange.

Musical director Carol Miyamoto and her fellow pianist, Beverly Rhodes, added flourishes that commented on the action. To my untrained ears, it sounded as if they presented polished versions of deceptively simple music.

This musical took up 42 years of off-Broadway history and will, unfortunately, continue to infest stages everywhere because it's so easy to do -- at least by the standards of musical theater: no set to speak of, costumes and props out of a trunk, just three musicians and eight actors. (One of whom, by the way, is a mime.) But ease of production shouldn't be standard for revivals, not when The Fantasticks keeps hammering us with its supposed profundities about reverse psychology, about innocence and experience.

It's the wet-nosed puppy of American musicals, sniffing us insistently in all the embarrassing places. Well, I love puppies, but get this one out of my crotch; it's just not that amusing.


At December 04, 2005 10:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, glad to see you came to it with an open mind.....

At December 04, 2005 11:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A review of the reviewrer
Oh, my dear Bobo...
Firstly know that I am a fan of your critiques although we often disagree, and I quite sincerely respect your obvious intelligence and education. Also, I happen to agree with you whole-heartedly re. The Fantasticks.. I have not seen this production, simply because I opined many years ago that this "show" seemed more a student-project than actual entertainment, and do try to avoid that which offends. However, I have the luxury of being in a different line of work than you, and am not required to sit through productions which I am pre-disposed to hate.
My very serious question to you is, what would you think of a waiter who "pre-hates" his customer, or a surgeon who despises the patient on his table? Or, say, even adores them, prior to a live-saving procedure? It may be difficult to do an honest job in these circumstances, perhaps. Thus, it is an axiom that a professional delegate this duty to one who is not involved personally.
Finally, one may also note your frequent use of the nominative singular pronouns "I" "me", "my" in your body of work as well, and wonder at the actual subject of your reviews. Are they about the plays or the reviewer?

At December 04, 2005 5:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also hate this show and certianly will not be attending this production, but I know a few simple folks who love it, and it sounds like they may enjoy this production.

My question, Kendell Fenney was announced as muscial director for this production. What happened?

At December 04, 2005 7:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love THE FANTASTICKS; and I am far from simple - not even deceptively so. I also have not seen this production, although I plan to, so my remarks really are aimed at the review on this blog.

Congratulations, Bobo. In one review you have managed to display, among other things...

1. A raging disregard for even a semblance of critical objectivity. (Your reviewing of this show was a pointless act of disrespect to all those involved.)

2. A distressing disregard for - or perhaps ignorance of - theatrical and historical conventions dating back many centuries. THE FANTASTICKS cannot date because it is timeless and universal. You may not care for the style and tone Jones and Schmidt chose for this piece; but you should not have failed to see the uses of archetypical characters to express universal themes. The fathers perform "goofy song and dance" because they are the foolish father figures, Matt and Luisa are the young lovers, El Gallo is the roguish Scapino...etc. Jones and Schmidt actually breathed life into these stereotypical archetypes by allowing them to learn from their mistakes and grow as human beings.

3. An alarming inability to apprehend plot points. Henry is brought on to help stage the incident that will unite - not separate - the young lovers, and for many other reasons, not the least of which might be expressed in the final lines of OZYMANDIUS" "I am Ozymandius, King of Kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair." A major thematic strand in THE FANTASTICKS is the wear and tear that El Gallo, himself, endures as he goes about shattering the illusions of youth and innocence. Henry shows El Gallo what he will undoubtedly become one day - once grand and glorious, now faded and ridiculous as will we all be one day.

4. Well, at least you admitted to having an "untrained ear". I have never heard a pianist who has played this show say that the music was simple; and it certainly is not easy, besides which, "deceptively simple" is not a pejorative term, but indicates an artful use of simplicity to express what is, in fact, profound.

In my opinion, you are so busy resisting what this show has to offer that you completely miss the point. You don't get it. That's fine. But the fact that you don't want to get it and have no intention of getting it is not fine when you undertake the task of the critic.

At December 04, 2005 8:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

For you to review this show is like a vegetarian food critic reviewing a fine steak house
You cannot review a show that you hate before you see it.
The next time you hate a show- what a REAL objective journalist would do is find someone else to do the job who is not predisposed to hate a show.

Shame on you

At December 04, 2005 9:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just don't get it.

Bobo posted a review in which he makes his obvious dislike for 'The Fantasticks' clearly known, he said as much in a previous blog. Yet he STILL did his job in presenting an UNobjective review of THIS production and it's creative entities. He praised several of the performers and the director as well essentially saying Diirector Welch and his strong cast of actors were akin to professional NASCAR drivers being forced to race in a Volkswagon. He didn't go out of his way to try and disuade anyone from attending, but rather reitterated his dislke for the show. He just doesn't like 'The Fantasticks' and there's nothing wrong with putting that in print on an unofficial webblog.

I'm quite aware that it's sometime dangerous to express a dissenting opinion in this theatrical community, but come on folks, just because you don't agree doesn't mean Bobo did anything wrong.

Criticizing a person for having an opinion that you might not agree with and that isn't all flowers and warm fuzzies is not only unfair, but dangerous in a community that NEEDS different voices being heard in order to have our craft grow.

For those of you accusing Bobo of having a closed mind, I'd suggest a quick glance in the mirror.

Never poular, but always honest--GZ

At December 05, 2005 1:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, GZ, you don't get it- except maybe for the word (?) UNobjective (which, we may assume, was meant to be "objective", but has the amusingly unintended meaning of "NOT objective" and "unverifiable". Oops! Thanks, Dr. Freud!).

This was a BOOK review, not a theatre review, and does little to help the Spokane/CdA theatre-goer make an informed decision about an evening's entertainment. Rather, it simply gives us yet another nugget of Bobo's autobiography.

Anyone is entitled to a dissenting opinion. By all means a theatre critic is, and certainly you are entitled, too. But when I read a review of a local performance, I'm reading to be informed about a PRODUCTION, not an opinion about a SCRIPT (with obvious exceptions such as a world premier, or a particular translation for instance). Every comment about the production was colored by his well-established hatred of the script.
Even when he does comment on aspects of the production, e.g., "hackneyed costumes", somehow it's lumped in with the script's perceived faults. This was as fair and balanced as Fox News®.

Would you recommend Bobo review street mimes because he has a right to claim that "people" hate them? Are mimes not a part of the craft you say is yours? Think again about thesweeping generalization made, that ..."people hate street mimes". That, my friend, is a closed mind- a term which is used to describe an attitude of "all right, I'll go but I won't like it". And I didn't read any other comment that seemed to ask that he report "all flowers and warm fuzzies". I'll wager that no one
wants that. Go check the definition of "objective"
You might investigate "critical thinking" while you're at it.
This may help you get it, and possibly promote you from "never popular" to "often informed".

(And where did you get that this was an unofficial webblog? Call the Inlander. They say they're officially affiliated with this blog).

At December 05, 2005 1:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Fantasticks is one of the truer and easier demonstrations of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Michael does not view the openness of the show through the eye of a romantic, but rather of an exterior cynic -- rather like El Gallo views the simplistic love-y situation he steps into. He dabbles and bit, points out the problems with romanticism and moves on.

A story which finds its heart in simplicity will not easily win the heart of a non-romantic. On the other hand, for a piece like this to work entirely, every person involved has to hold in some small corner of their heart a seed of the romance. Else, it can quickly and perilously become cloying and quaint. (Many productions do.)

I am torn between agreeing with madclam that a stiff-lipped refusal to entertain the piece on its own terms isn't necessarily the best outlook, and agreeing with GZ that Michael did find a lot to appreciate about a production of a show he has often stated his dislike for. But mostly I'm sorry that Michael is no longer able to agree with the piece. (I could be convinced that somewhere in the past there lived a younger Michael Bowen who understood, and hope that he was able to experience it then.)

But if I must be deemed simple by those who know longer hear, so be it. I will bear the badge with honor.

At December 05, 2005 9:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

a pity you didn't schedule your vacation so Ann Colford could review this show.

At December 05, 2005 9:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for using the wrong WORD Anon, my my point is valid. Yes, Bobo's blog was part book report, but he did review the Interplayers production and the performances within.

I don't quite follow your logic regarding Bobo's inability to review something he has pre determined to dislike..does that mean an right wing American journalist can't write an article on leftisit extremeists in a thrid world country? Not at all, it just means the you, the reader, should take that fact into consideration when reading said article.

To my knowledge, the play had already been reviewed by the Inlander (not by Micheal) as well as the Spokesman, It looks like Bobo went out of his way to avoid airing his personal dislike for the play in a more public forum (though it could have been just becuase he was out of town). I'd wager that outside of the theatre community itself, very few of the general public happen upon this blog (which though endorsed by the Inlander is not even linked on their webite). I could be wrong, but this blog has always seemed more like an industry "Shop Talk" forum than something intended to edify the public.

You and I do agree on one thing--You and I don't want the "warm fuzzies, but you can really think there aren't those in ANY theatrical community that don't. You and I both know, there are those in our little world who feel the need for constant affirmation, that's ok to need it, but when it's expected, then the kvetching begins. I just don't agree that Bobo's review was disprespectful to any of those involved at Interplayers, I guess those who selected the play to be in the season might feel the sting, but if you seperate the "book review" from the actual crtique of the performance, you can easily see--Bobo did his job. You say his dislike "colored" EVREY comment, I disagree. He specifically states that the flaws in the script are NOT a knock on Welch's cast, nor Roger himself.

I just think we start into a dangerous place when we personally attack someone for expressing an opinion, be it popular or not.

Often informed, but possibly not as eloquent as I'd like, GZ.

At December 05, 2005 10:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself torn between two quotes from Hamlet - "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." and, "Brevity is the soul of wit." I tend to the latter not because Plolnius, Lord Chamberlain at the court of King Claudius of Denmark, is portrayed as a tedious old windbag, but because in the course of a long-winded statement to the King and Queen about Hamlet's supposed madness, Shakespeare ironically causes him to praise the virtue of brevity, which he declares is the essence of wisdom ("wit"). We all know that you have some deep seeded contempt for this playful little romp - and wonder why. But was there a need to slam a wonderful production with so many long-winded and unnessary derogatory comments?

At December 05, 2005 1:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By way of correcting some of your misinformed assumptions, this blog was a PREVIEW of the opening night review. The Inlander has not yet published the review, nor had the Spokesman published theirs at the time of the blog.
Also, I find your analogy of the covering of leftist extremists flawed. A professional reporter does not envelop every line of his/her report with a reminder of how wrong in the writer's opinion the actions being reported on are.

At December 05, 2005 2:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screwtape...eloquently expressed. the review again; and you may see, as Anon above said, that, "...every comment about the production was colored by his well-established hatred of the script." It is undeniably true.

Let's say that someone is sent out by the paper to do an article on local Christmas and holiday decorations. This person expresses a well-documented hatred for Tudor style homes. You live in a Tudor style home which you have decorated with care and a great deal of effort, perhaps even love. This person writes an article which says that your decorations might have been all right if only they weren't adorning this abomination of a house. Would you really feel praised? He cannot truly see the decorations, and, so, should not have been the one to write about your home.

Once again, my opinion only, but I have a hard time believing that any of the actors (or the director) in this show would feel particularly praised by Mr. Bowen's comments.

At December 05, 2005 2:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, you are correct--I confused Civic's Chritmas Carol with Fantasicks in regards to reviews.

I still think that if you look between the "book report" you find an objective review of the play.

Again, I haven't been stating that you need to agree with Bobo, just allow him the right to speak his mind.

I mean is a reviewer's job to bring audiences in or offer their opinion on the show?

I guess in that respect, the job should be approached objectively even if the end product (the review itself) is absolutly SUBjective--hope I got that word right.

Learning more and more, GZ.

At December 05, 2005 2:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I completely understand your point and everyone's who feels slighted by Bobo's words, I just am always hesitent to stifle any critique even if I am the target of the barbs in question.

I guess I have always looked at reviews in a different light in that I feel it is only one person's opinion of my craft and I don't allow it to affect me, good or bad. I just think Micheal should be allowed to say how he feels the way he wants to, without being attacked. Maybe I misconstrued some of the earlier responses as attacks when they were merely dissagreeing with Bobo. But then as Anon has pointed out--I have some learnin to do.

Thanks for the conversation MC, GZ.

At December 05, 2005 8:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Ms. or Mr. Zero-
if there were a critique, I'd agree. The point is, how can you give a proper critique when you're watching through hate-colored glasses?
I do not slam Bobo- I'm really, really grateful he's given us this forum to converse, and I truly enjoy reading his articles, whether I agree or not. 'Twas the PREMISE I found misguided.
(thank YOU, also, for the gr8 conversation)

At December 06, 2005 3:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

has anyone seen this show yet and decided how they feel about this show?
I loved it
go experience it and make your own opinion.
It's really beautiful.

there must be something going on here to create this much crap.


At December 06, 2005 11:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice if we could respect our critics.

At December 06, 2005 11:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me change that to critic.

At December 06, 2005 11:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobo you should publish these comments along with your review!

At December 06, 2005 12:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we're having two seperate discussions here. One, is the show any good?, and Two, the nature of Bobo's review.

I haven't seen the production, but having seen the work of a lot of the artists involved, I have no doubt it's entertaining. I, like many others, don't care for the script and score. Although Madclam defended it elequently in a post above, everything he or she said about Fantasticks could be said about "Little Red Riding Hood" or "Dirty Work at the Crossroads," and I wouldn't walk across the street to see either of those, unless the production was bringing something to life I hadn't seen before. I haven't heard that about this production of the "Fantasticks." What I gather from Bobo's review (and we all know that can be tough to gleen sometimes with Bobo), it is entertaining, professional, traditional, and a little tepid. Nothing tells me I'm going to see anything new here, so I choose not to attend.

The other topic though is about reviews and the nature of reviews. Should Bobo have reviewed a show he passionatly dislikes? No. Easy answer. No. It was a betrayal to his readers who respect his oppinion, like this show and would have gone to this production but now won't, and there are many. What critics write effects ticket sales, and because of that alone, this was an unfair review. I was talking this weekend with friends in Seattle about this topic, and they told me about a critic who wrote for one of the major papers there. This critic despised anything by Shakespeare, but still wrote reviews of every Shakespeare production in the area. And bad reviews. Everything was colered by his dislike of the texts, including performances, design, direction, and everything else. The talk in the theatrical community in Seattle is these reviews were at least partually responsable for the closing of several smaller Shakespeare companies. Is that what we want here in Spokane? As a theatre lover, I don't think we can afford to lose any company.

My two cents.

At December 06, 2005 1:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much longer do we tolerate such disregard for our work?

At December 06, 2005 1:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let the opinion of one person disregard your work. It's only an opinion. It doesn't mean anything in the grand picture. You do your work and passion and don't worry about what anyone else says. Critics have a job and a place, but it still only comes down to one opinion, take it or leave it. Bobo is very good at letting you know it's just an opinion. Take it as such and move on with life and work.

At December 06, 2005 3:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one thing being continually disregarded here is that part of a theatre's job in choosing a season is to choose shows that will appeal to the community. I believe Mr. Ho is representing a part of the community that is tired of seeing the same shows produced over and over again. I personally agree with him wholeheartedly and I see how he's showing that the actors did what they could with a tired script that's been produced repeatedly in this region. And it is just one man's opinion whether it's a rave or a pan. If the majority of Inlander readers are set to believe everything they read as gospel truth, then perhaps the problem is with our community and not with a reviewer who is also rarely popular but always honest.

At December 06, 2005 4:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahmen cdaspokanite

At December 06, 2005 4:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are missing how unprofessional this is.

At December 06, 2005 5:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it unprofessional for a reviewer to give an honest opinion of how they feel about all aspects of the show? The performances, the direction, the design, were all reviewed. Mr. Ho even compliments Mr. Welch on a job well done with what he views to be difficult material to make interesting. Don't forget that even on Broadway, the review is not solely about the performances, direction and design, but the quality of the script as well.

At December 06, 2005 7:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

if it is true, cdspokanite, that Bobo is representing a part of the community that is tired of seeing the same shows produced over and over again, why would he not simply write that in a separate article? Why separate? Because that is an entirely different issue from a particular production's execution.
Can you not see the difference between:
"That guy has no rythm"
"I hate tap dancers!"
It is naïve to think that a review in a newspaper with as wide a circulation as the Inlander is "only" one man's opinion. It has a measurable financial effect on the box office.
The "quality of the script" can and has been addressed over the last 42 years! 'Trying to change the way theatre is' is a laudible goal, and it is accomplished by starting your own dang theatre,, or perhaps playwrighting, not by bullying companies into choosing or avoiding scripts based on reviews that begin "I hate this show..."
I hope that you are wrong and this was not Bobo's passive-agressive attempt at "changing theatre" without out-and-saying it.

At December 06, 2005 8:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

and tell me, with your experience with Broadway, how many reviews begin, "First off, I've seen other productions, and I hate 'Gypsy of the Year'..."

I think the parallel is impossible.
Spokane is not Broadway and does not make use of test audiences or workshops.

At December 06, 2005 10:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, houlda said 'your experience reading b-way reviews...'

At December 07, 2005 1:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's look for a moment at the words that Mr. Bowen chose:

To describe the show proper or parts thereof: skimpy, hackneyed (twice), doggerel, forgettable, frayed, really bad, behind the times, not that amusing.

To describe the creative people in relation to the Interplayers production thereof: affecting, reduced (twice), adept, wasted, truly impressive, and getting as much as they can out of the piece.

Oh, wait! He calls a duet lovely in spite of his note of overplaying or occasionally thin voice. Maybe he doesn't hate everything about the show, or feel the need to praise everything about the people.

With Michael's love for Shakespeare, I'm surprised that he received the Old Actor's quoting of Shakespeare as a "look-at-how-literate-I-am" expression to be sloughed off, and not as the sole expression that the man has left in his old age which connects him with his glorious past. We all become the old actor some day, god willing, and can choose to either spout out nonsense Shakespeare -- not let go of what has defined our lives; or resign ourselves to reclusive silence for fear of mockery -- go gentle into that night.

Either way, I think there must be a reason beyond some sensitivities that the piece continues to "infest stages everywhere", and I sincerely doubt it's the production requirements. Otherwise we would be awash in productions of Baby, john and jen, or Celebration (which I shouldn't need to point out that we're not).

At December 07, 2005 10:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

cdspokanite PLEASE try to get it.

At December 07, 2005 11:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree and this discussion has become futile. I "get" it within my own realm of understanding and the dissenting opinion "gets" it within theirs. As happens often in a debate, very little changes within the viewpoint of the opposing party. But I'm glad the discourse happened.

At December 07, 2005 12:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, resistance is futile!

otherwise, c.u.@chux

At December 07, 2005 12:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

that funny my dishy friend

At December 07, 2005 12:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This conversation is not limited to this blog people are apalled everywhere I go.

At December 07, 2005 1:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i bet Bobo would agree that people talking ees good!

I so agree w/ cdspokanite, the discussion is just stuck in a loop if the outcome is to sway someone's opinion-
But aren't you commenting in order to clarify a point of view? -
that's why i'm posting- in response to some of the topics above, such as a journalist's 'right' to speak freely in their own column and/or blog (¡obv. he does- he did, & that's why we're discussing!:)); or, 'allowing' a critic to have an opinion, etc. (pls!) Those indicate that those posters do not have an accurate understanding of the POV which i and some others are trying to clarify.

I'm pretty certain that both 'Bobo' and 'Bowen' have the primary outcome¤ to serve his readers, (cert. not actors or any particular establishment. And from this reader's POV, I find a review of >most service> to me ¤, a reader, when... (see blatherings above).

I think very highly of both Bo's, and think he's both generous and wise-as-a-journalist-otta-be to let us blog about it. We may give him gold at any second! (or not :))

At December 07, 2005 1:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg, just last nite i found mself sayng "oh you wrestl pigs cuz yo uget OFF on it!

I got it but I dindt agree.

At December 07, 2005 1:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i didnt say i got OFF on it.

At December 07, 2005 3:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

can we get over this... OMG
You got a bad review ... deal with it ... we've all gotten then GEEZ!

At December 07, 2005 4:14 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

First of all, thanks to all who have contributed to this discussion. This is what I wanted this blog to be (well, maybe it's being a little too much of what I wanted it to be). But all 38 comments so far have been respectful, no name-calling, whatever people think of me or each other, many interesting viewpoints have been raised.

And clearly there are many more people simply reading as opposed to actively contributing. That's good. Can't say people just don't care.

[What follows, I'm afraid, is about 1,200 words of introductory rambling; then I launch into a point-by-point discussion/response (NOT necessarily refutation) of the points that I think have been made so far in this discussion. So read my rambling, or jump ahead to the point-by-point topical response.)

Some factoids: With some revisions, the blog review of Sunday morning at 1:30 am will appear in tomorrow's Inlander, essentially the same. (Additions, deletions, rephrasings all mine; my editor chopped off the ending for reasons, I'd speculate, of length and tone.) I tagged the printed review with a tease linking to this discussion; there's no room, of course, to reprint all the comments that have accumulated here.

I haven't responded until now, not because I was cagily waiting, but because Monday and Tuesday are deadline days here, long hours, no opportunity to write a comment, etc.

While I knew of The Fantasticks' long-running reputation, of course, I have to confess I had never actually seen the show until the Lake City Playhouse production of Sept. 2002. I intensely disliked the script itself even then -- because yes, I gave my review then the cheeky headline of The Fantastisucks.

It's hard for me to describe the negative and visceral reaction I have to this show. Often I just want to get up and walk out. At several junctures, I have the experience (not all that uncommon among frequent playgoers) of staring in disbelief as dozens of other people smile and belly-laugh and applaud (or even get teary-eyed) at sequences that I think are just dumb. But that's just me, which raises the issue of objectivity -- that's one view in all this commentary I completely disagree with. More later, but reviews are subjective by definition -- it's not JUST one guy's opinion, I know (my insights, along with my misunderstandings and blind spots and flaws, _infest_ 45,000 copies available at more than 750 locations, blah blah ...)

On the issue of recusing myself and getting someone else to review this show: I strongly considered it, especially after playing the original cast recording and finding it unlistenable. (I just couldn't get through it.) And yet, and yet ... I thought, this is a professional production. Maybe I'll like it a little better.

And I did: I like about 10 percent of it now. The vast majority of it makes me roll my eyes and look at my watch. When El Gallo starts pontificating, when the fathers go on and on about how clever a thing reverse psychology is -- did anyone catch The Office last night, when Steve Carrell is obviously the butt of satire for self-congratulating his own "cleverness" using reverse psych on his employees? -- when Luisa is flopping around fainting and the kids are making goo-goo eyes at one another at great length ... I just don't care for those moments at all.

Which brings up the mention of my anti-romanticism. Again, more later, but I'm a sucker for sentimentality. I just don't like manipulative, cutesy sentiment -- sentiment that tries to dress itself up as being intellectual and appealing to the mind, when what it does is appeal to the heart. And I think The Fantasticks is guilty of that. For many, many people -- the people who enjoy the show here, the 42 years' worth of attendees in Greenwich Village, and, presumably, this cast -- ya gotta love the show you're in, ya gotta love your own character -- my reactions are skewed and cynical and misinformed and wrong.

Ain't that the beauty of art? We can observe the same artifact and differ wildly. And have a reasoned discussion about it (yeah, I'm even talkin' about you, Mr. Shame on Me, Shame!). And learn more about ourselves in the process.

I know there are plenty of people in the Inland NW who know far more about show tunes and the American musical than I do, Screwtape and Troy Nickerson and Janean Jorgensen at KPBX being just three of them. I try to work hard at making up for my ignorance; this job is partly like getting a crash course in American musical theater in public. I come out of an academic background -- Shakespeare was and is my passion -- that led to teaching courses on 20th-century theater. So there's that. But my parents played cast albums all the time when I was a kid -- I grew up going to Golden Age musicals and loving nearly all of them, the whole experience. Theaters are still sacred places to me.

I don't hate all musicals. (By the way, for a lede -- I didn't even know it was spelled that way until last year! -- which is by definition is supposed to be an attention-grabber, I considered but rejected "I intensely dislike The Fantasticks the way [some] people intensely dislike street mimes." Just doesn't have the same ring. If you're going to raise hackles, then raise some damn hackles.

I hope I don't hate anyone or anything. (I am too impatient, too short-tempered, too dismissive and judgmental in everyday life -- trying to work on that -- but the autobiography of Bobo this isn't supposed to be, which brings up another topic I'll cover later). And I don't _hate_ The Fantasticks.

This time around -- it'll be my last; I can't make any promises, because we are a small company with only seven or eight full-time-or-anywhere-near-it writers -- I was struck by little things that I do like about the show. (But before I list them, let me finish my point: IF I do this another five or ten years, and when Fantasticks gets produced locally again as surely it will, I pledge that I will push to get Ann Colford or some other qualified writer to substitute for me.)

Jack Bannon was both funny and poignant as the Old Actor. I think it's fair to say I saw part of why his character is in the play, and missed part of it. And yes, I love the Shakespeare quotations. But Henry's ramblings, while funny, for me just extend an unpleasant experience.
The undercutting of sentimentality! That was great: saddle rash for the hero, and several other examples. I had simply missed that before, and it's healthy and laudable. For me, personally, there is so much condescending crap that goes beforehand (lyrics with lousy rhymes; look at how wise our advice here is; Hallmark Card-style sentiment) that undercutting it in a healthy way doesn't come anywhere near making up for dragging me through the muck at such length before. But let that be.

Anyway. I'd seen the show once, tried to bone up on it by listening to the cast recording, reading past reviews, skimming the book on the phenomenon such a long-running show, etc.; I don't feel I went in with a completely closed mind. Prejudiced, yes. I kept reminding myself to try to like it, didn't. So what? One guy's opinion, never meant to be objective.

I have very much enjoyed reading the comments on this review -- learned much, glad to see them, sometimes they stung, sometimes I still disagreed.

I've made notes on the comments, beginning on Dec. 4 and proceeding chronologically. My brief summaries of respondents' points IN CAPS, followed by my comments. And thanks for reading!




I am not certain, but I assume (and you know what happens when we make assumptions) that Nike Imoru wanted to work with Feeney (esp. after Side by Side by Sondheim) a season or two back. I assume that when Nike resigned, Kendall also dropped out. Carol Miyamoto is a talented, dedicated workhorse who doesn't get the credit she deserves: Tons of local productions, quiet and unassuming, the master of many forms of music. I found myself watching her and Beverly during The Fantasticks just to marvel at their obvious technical prowess.

Again (sorry), see above. I see a prerequisite of trying to be fair, but not objective. Objectivity is for police reports and crime stories in the daily newspaper of record. My reviews are opinion pieces. The presupposition is that I'm an intelligent and insightful guy who knows a lot about theater and whose opinions therefore are of some value.
Disclaimer: I'm not always intelligent or insightful. I'm stupid about a lot of things, in the world of theater and outside it. I miss a lot of things. I try not to, but I do. As for knowing theater -- more than your average person on the street, yeah, but then so what?
(What's the recent book with the thesis that large-group decisions are just as good or better as those of the supposed experts? -- e.g., 42 years DOES say something. Personally, I don't think it says enough, but I shouldn't -- and hope I didn't -- simply dismiss it out of hand.)
BUT the point is that I try to express opinions, get a discussion started -- which is why I'm so DELIGHTED that this discussion has been so lively**

**No, that does NOT mean that I am going to go out of my way to deliberately write pans just so I can get a rise out of the local theater community.
Raves are usually qualified somewhat; so are pans. The majority of reviews are tougher to write, because the show is somewhere in the middle. It's my job to try to specify what's good, what's not, and why. But then that's the fun part -- like a puzzle, hard to do, satisfying when finished, and I always, always could have done a better job.

I REALIZE that this is already lengthy, but I have more to say and no time to say it in. I'll post this, incomplete, then add to it as time permits.




WEAR AND TEAR ON EL GALLO as he shatters innocence:




Right on, Curmudge. Guilty as charged. Especially on Sunday morning at 1 am (I wanted to blog it, wanted to finish a draft, wanted to capitalize on the first-flush reaction as opposed to the day-after judgment), I knew as I was writing it that I was going on and on. (You might be appalled to know that I threw out stuff out.) But I also (for the paper) have a word count to hit; I can't write just a concise two paragraphs.


More important, for everyone. I don't feel I've been disrespected here -- disagreed with, pushed around a bit. But glad for the feedback. Most important, commenters have behaved themselves. I'm amazed I that I have a supporter or two out there, after such a vitriolic review. With maybe a couple of minor exceptions, nothing disrespectful here. Certainly nothing (yet) that I would want to yank off the Web, just because it's critical of me. This has been healthy, I think.

Sometimes the hard and necessary work of deconstructing the canon can twist a guy's bikini briefs right into a self-wedgie.

REPRESENTATIVE OF THOSE WHO ARE TIRED of the same shows being produced over and over:
Well, yeah, and holding the banner high. Let me try to avoid being passive-aggressive (I basically said, please don't do The Fantasticks anymore, but I'm probably guilty as charged in this case).
God knows I'm preachy and arrogant enough without even more explicit pronouncements From on High: Thou Shalt Not Attend This Show (and if you do, you're stupid). That's not my intention. If I've ever explicitly done that, I apologize. I've hated shows, tried to specify why - and then it's caveat emptor but still your decision. Critics hate being relegated to the Consumer Reports school of criticism.
Grant Smith and Michael Weaver (I guess among others) are adamant that positive Kershner/Bowen reviews mean that the phones start ringing off the hooks. Perhaps so; I have my doubts. (I am not impugning them in any way.) But I keep remembering Girls of the Garden Club at the Civic's Main Stage: We both hated it, and people flocked to it. They made a bundle. Folks make plans to go, and oh, those snooty critics, what do they know? And what DO they know? If you go and have a good time, you had a good time, period. (That's true for The Fantasticks as well.)
An attempt at analogy: If playgoers are content with monster truck rallies, then maybe critics can show them the more rewarding soap operas, technology, strategy and history of Grand Prix Formula 1. (I'll admit it, I am an F1 fan -- incongruous, because I don't even know how to change the oil on my 300K-in-mileage clunker. But my life is better for all those onboard shots of F1 cars streaking through chicanes. I know -- European, effete, so typical that he doesn't like NASCAR. Hey, personal preferences.)

Well, it's a constant battle to get as much space as I can for theater-related articles into our paper. (Limited page counts, plenty of competing culture around here, and now, with my promotion -- I can hear the groans, God, they've gone and made him Arts & Culture Editor, what a high-falutin' title, though with precedent here) -- anyway, now I'm on the lookout for stories in everything from food to film to opera to, yes, monster trucks.
Anyway, I should be more explicit.
Part of me screams, "There must be 40,000 scripts out there. Interplayers has effectively gone from seven slots a year to six. And they choose THIS?!" It's absolutely their call, of course. I once explicitly advised Robin Stanton to throw up her hands, sell out totally, do an entire season of real crowd pleasers (Neil Simon, Charlie's Aunt, whatever) just to get the theater on better financial footing. Might still be needed. I'd grit my teeth, but IF it meant long-term survival ...



Sorry, I can no more just now. If you've read this far, you're a masochist anyway. Will try to post more. Again, very grateful to all for the many varied comments. If you love The Fantasticks and are steaming mad at me, please tell us why. (Compliments accepted, too.)

I looked at Troy and Patrick up there, real troupers -- what treasures they are to do it (and not just this show) night after night after night. Around here, we are all in their debt. Personally, I thought they were wasted in this show. Frankly, I dislike those two song-and-dance numbers so much that I felt embarrassed for them, that they had to do this. I realize many will read that and recoil: They're not embarrassed, they're doing good work, so who the hell are you, Bobo, to share your emotions with us?
But that is a legitimate PART (obviously, I go on and on), but a legit part of what critics do: When show makes me think, cry, laugh -- something useful and magical and wonderful is going on. I always try to make note of that. Honestly, Fantasticks doesn't do that for me. Maybe the moment when El Gallo makes allowances for old Henry's forgetfulness and wallowing in past glories. But 90 percent of this show has me rolling my eyes. But then you got that already.

I didn't even mention Damon Mentzer: His extended and extended death scene was quite funny, among the best physical comedy I've seen him do.

And Chris Bange is obviously very talented -- I'm practically in awe of him -- and didn't I read that he's been in two other productions of this show? Plus he spends the whole night in this version watching the others -- mostly good performances, but God, that script.

Isn't it interesting that in all this discussion, no one has mentioned anything other than The One Song? "Try To Remember" is a lovely tune -- cloying lyrics, IMHO, but ... true confession ... I've been humming it these last few days. But the rest of the songs?! Again, there are many I respect who know this show better than I do -- but does anybody REALLY remember any of the other songs from Fantasticks? I tried: two productions, cast albums, studied lyrics ... can't recall any of 'em. Bubble gum -- gone. That's not a mortal sin -- any number of musicals are known for Just the One Song -- but surely that's not seen as a strong point of what Jones and Schmidt have wrought?

Maybe I AM in a rut -- I didn't like I Do! I Do! either (at the Civic last season) and they wrote that, too.

And yes, I had a triple latte before starting this verbal onslaught on the good theater people of Spokane. Enough.

At December 07, 2005 5:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry,I do feel lately u have lost the respect of alot of actors in the community.

At December 07, 2005 5:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bobo. You have, indeed, clarified a few points.

Your strong feelings about this show are based on seeing it one time - a production which you "disliked intensely" - and yet you dared to begin your review of the current production with the statement that you "hate" THE FANTASTICKS, which you now claim isn't even true. Yet, that is what will be in print in your newspaper. I would not call that "fair".

You clearly state that in this, your second viewing of the show, you began to find some of it to be "healthy", "laudable"...etc. IMHO, you don't really "hate" or even "intensely dislike" THE FANTASTICKS. You don't even know THE FANTASTICKS. (Hell, for all I know, you just wanted to make a dig at Street Mimes.) This is hardly "fair".

"Soon It's Gonna Rain", "I Can See It" and "Much More" are staples of the modern musical-theatre canon and have been covered by many esteemed artists...for example, Barbra Streisand included all three on her earlier albums. You, yourself, called "They Were You" a lovely duet. "It Depends on What You Pay" (sometimes called "Rape", even has the distinction of being one of the more controversial songs in all of musical theatre. And "Metaphor" just rocks. THE FANTASTICKS is hardly a "one-song" musical.

Anyway, your remarks, which I read in their entirety, do help me to understand where you are coming from. I'm not any happier about it, but I do appreciate that you have provided this forum for people to at last get a chance to call a critic to account for what he puts into print.

Lastly, with your negative feelings about THE FANTASTICKS, I'm guessing that you've never taken the time to compare it to the "Pyramus and Thisbe" play within a play from MIDSUMMER. Try it. It's really fun. And, next time, be more careful in your choice of words. If you don't "hate" anyone or anything, then don't say that you do.

At December 07, 2005 5:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobo, I think you've made YOUR POINT OF VIEW oh-so-much clearer than in the initial blog.
Perhaps it is simply the choice of starting (and thus basing) the communication with something as strong and immoveable as "I hate this show..."

Your response above seems to have a more flexible tone, such as, "this company has a tough nut to crack- namely, the script."

A reader hoping to get some info on a particular production (oh, like me) may find the flexible approach more helpful.

I've worked on one production of this show, but have never seen one. My curiosity about it might have waned if I were to use only your blog-review or published version for info- (some readers do!)

I agree- it's been a healthy, intelligent discussion.
(And thanks again for letting us feedback on your feedback).

At December 07, 2005 5:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

madclam, you always beat me to it and say it better...

At December 07, 2005 8:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bad review?.....practically unheard of in Spokane! Geesh people....a reveiwer should not have to explain himself. I saw the show and honestly, I have to is not a good one. Not the actors fault by any means, but not a strong production. Enough said, let's just move on, deal with it, get over it, and see what the next show has in store for us!

At December 07, 2005 10:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not afraid to say I HATE The Fantasticks, I think all of the actors in the show are extraordinarily talented, and I am not an actor who has lost respect for The Ho. In fact I have more respect for him for having the backbone to be unpopular.

For those who love The Fantasticks, good on ya. There are scripts that I adore that the majority of people I know despise; same goes for playwrights. If there was one kind of theatre to please the palate of all theatre patrons, then there would only be one genre of theatre.

Thank you, Ho-Ho for admiring the skill of the actors onstage while disdaining the characters they portrayed. You have at least one staunch supporter in the theatrical ranks.

At December 08, 2005 3:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

what leads you guys to insist that Bobo's so unpopular?

We've been invited to comment on this one Bobo post.
review the word you clicked on to get to this winnder.

and relax-

we're just knockin ideas around.

At December 08, 2005 10:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The artists at Interplayers should take solace that so many people love them enough to go crazy over a negative review.

At December 08, 2005 10:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have as much experience as others who have posted on this blog. I am John Q Public. I love the interPLAYERS, however, I walked out during The Fantasticks. Shame on the interPLAYERS for "dumbing down". This production is something I would expect to see at our community college, not a professional theatre in their 25th anniversary season. I am very disappointed in this shorter and disorganized season. Their silver anniversary has been tarnished.

At December 08, 2005 11:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are john Q ignorant.

At December 08, 2005 12:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least it's a comment about the production, and not about the book-

john q., what's dumbed-down about this production? (i've never seen it before & have no basis for comparison).


At December 08, 2005 12:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

cdspokanite, Bobo said he doesn't like a nose in embarrassing places!

At December 08, 2005 12:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feel free to say what you will. If I disagreed, I would be just as vocal. But I respect the right to express an opinion and not be treated like The Grinch Who Stole Theatre. Many on this blog have said extremely intelligent and insightful things that caused me to contemplate. I respect them as well. So I must have my nose in others' embarrassing places for saying that I believe all of the actors in the show are extremely talented. Isn't it interesting how quickly we jump to conclusions about peoples' true intentions?

At December 08, 2005 12:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

geez! relax!-
who made any guesses about your intentions?

MOST of us are staunch supporters of Bobo's. One reason is we get to disagree with him!

Blogging is much more fun if you don't get emotional and offended.

At December 08, 2005 12:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno

At December 08, 2005 1:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the post above my last and you'll know very well what I'm responding to. I enjoy discourse but not passive-aggressive attacks.

At December 08, 2005 1:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

spokanite you think that was an attack? Please.

At December 08, 2005 1:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

cdspokanite we get it you do not like the fantasticks enough already.

At December 08, 2005 1:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, i think you mean it's more fun if you do get emotional and offended!


At December 08, 2005 1:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

tsk > sigh <

you said:
You have at least one staunch supporter in the theatrical ranks.

With the slightest amount of humour, that could be described with a term known as "brown-nosing".

The review online ends with a nose metafor.

By applying this nose-metaphor to your comment, hilarity ensues.

Humour is often funnier without any explanations.

Now get back to work, I'm down 3 cubicles from you.

At December 08, 2005 1:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you notice above that the name "thasswut shee" can be read as "that's what she"?
This may also be chuckled at, as it too is funny when preceding the word "said..."

At December 08, 2005 1:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you

At December 08, 2005 2:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


At December 08, 2005 2:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHAT?! Can't I have a moments PEACE, anonymous?
Why WHY must you hound me so?? It's Hugh, Hugh, Hugh with me ALL THE TIME!!!!

PLEASE just leave me alone.

At December 08, 2005 2:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello Mr. t.

At December 08, 2005 2:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

..."I pity the fool". A lot.

At December 08, 2005 3:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

please stop these passive agressive attacks!

At December 08, 2005 3:03 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

People, please.
The wonderful thing about this thread so far has been how insightful, respectful and pertinent the comments have been.
Please don't engage in personal attacks -- keep the comments focused on the ideas (my bad ones, your good ones, whatever -- but on the IDEAS and not on petty squabbling).
Thanks for reading. Just keep those good comments on The Fantasticks and my review of it coming.

As time permits, I'll try to finish the rest of my response -- to all those other itemized topics in my previous post to this thread.

Or start another thread ...

At December 08, 2005 3:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobo, pace yourself on the caffeine, won't you dear.

At December 08, 2005 3:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

see, the 'hugh said...' post was funny because it wasn't really the "Hugh" which that "anonymous" was hoping to find.
A further twist is found in repeating "Hugh" 3 times in succession, then saying "with me",k as if it were the more popular phrase, "it's 'me', 'me', 'me' all the time with you!"

yeah. ...good times... good times...

At December 08, 2005 3:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes le Bo, you seemed to have missed the humor

At December 08, 2005 3:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobo quit trying to be nice we are still mad at u.

At December 08, 2005 4:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

he's being like the dozing English teacher who comes to every now and then and goes, "People, please... mrrfm prraah mm... zzzzzzzzzzzzz"

At December 08, 2005 4:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

then we are agreed?
Everyone is being mature and intelligent except for Mr. Whine-y-pants?

(potentially funny because of the "opposites rule")

At December 08, 2005 4:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually I find your brand of humor to be just my cup of tea. It's the missus what gets upset.

At December 08, 2005 4:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I guess I was wrong. I really thought this discussion was going in an interesting direction, and was civil and respectful. But the last few posts, starting with the comment "John Q Ignornt", with few exceptions by honest, intellegent people, have degraded into silliness and name calling. It's clear this community can not hold a debate without become childish and insulting. I'm outta here for good. Have fun snarking at each other. I'm glad it amuses you. It doesn't me.

At December 08, 2005 5:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

that'd be the missus.

At December 08, 2005 6:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now THAT'S funny.

At December 08, 2005 7:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 4:43 (anyone who thinks he won't be back stand on your head): The horse was dead, so we got off. It had all been said. Twice. So what's wrong with a little silliness? Does everything have to be deep with a capital D? Come to think of it, that comment could also apply to Michael's dislike of Fantasticks. I agree though, it's sad when the name calling starts.

At December 08, 2005 7:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If everyone in the Spokane theatre community is begging for something new, why aren't the offerings in Civic's studio theatre sold out every night?

At December 08, 2005 10:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

there was no name-calling. That post clearly reads:
an important dead guy once said...
then we are agreed?
Everyone is being mature and intelligent except for Mr. Whine-y-pants?

(potentially funny because of the "opposites rule")

There is notice at the beginning (an important dead guy once said...) and end (potentially funny because of the "opposites rule") that it is a JOKE.
Applying a non-referential generalization to yourself, is, like choosing to be "anonymous" your doing, not the writer's. Unless maybe he knows of an important dead guy that once said something about you, an anonymous blogger.

Now you march right back in here and laugh a little.

At December 08, 2005 10:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

good question anonymous 7:27

At December 09, 2005 10:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the name calling I was referring to was John Q Ignorant. The Whiney-pants exchange was a riot.

At December 09, 2005 11:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure feel free to laugh in the face of such theatrical disaster real funny til an actor get's his eye poked out.

At December 09, 2005 11:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

that could happen!

At December 09, 2005 11:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got eofiothis from Robt. Blake. It cost me two aggies!

At December 09, 2005 11:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Falk u mean.

At December 09, 2005 11:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's this one.

At December 09, 2005 12:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

why always with the snarking?

At December 09, 2005 12:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is way more fun than talking about bobo you guys are the best.

At December 09, 2005 12:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The horse was dead, so we got off."

At December 09, 2005 12:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, you.

I said
Лошадь была мертва, поэтому мы получили

At December 09, 2005 12:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm ready to talk now.

At December 09, 2005 1:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just totally snarked in that last exchange.

At December 09, 2005 1:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Я был справедлив полно "snarked" в что последн обменяйте.

At December 09, 2005 2:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


any messages for me?

At December 10, 2005 3:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: "no one"


< End Transmissoion >-

At December 10, 2005 8:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, I'm going back in. You know...Bobo should've passed up reviewing this show. He knew he hated the show, so it would've shown great forethought had he just passed it along to someone else who had maybe not seen it before. That would've been the correct thing to do, to give full justice to the people who worked hard on the show.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox now. Please continue the snarking.

At December 10, 2005 10:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay I'm pointless and snarky comment #100 .... What do I win guys?

At December 10, 2005 10:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

shoepolish and a dessert topping!

At December 10, 2005 11:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

what i think is remarkable, is after all of our "insightful and appreciated" banter, on both sides, Bobo still published it as is. Even after saying on this thread:
"I hope I don't hate anyone or anything... ...And I don't _hate_ The Fantasticks," Bobo still used the "lede" (thx 4 the spelling fact btw) I hate The Fantasticks the way people hate street mimes.

Does no one see a dip in integrity in such incongruity?

YES, YES a reviewer reports on his SUBjective experience. But readers want to know the subjective experience at a particular PRODUCTION! - Not a global book report.

And let me once more offer this eyebrow raiser...
People DON'T hate street mimes.
Even tho you modified this to read "some people", it is non-referential. You really mean that you hate street mimes, don't you?
I've lived in this area for almost 20 years, and have yet to see a street mime. Seen 'em in the coastal cities, at tourist attractions, but never around here. Good Miming is an amazing talent- I've seen Marcel Marceau twice (and never in Spokane or CdA), his ability to make his audience positively hallucinate is the mecca of many mimes- Maybe you need to get out more, Bobo, start appreciating different art forms, and stop being snooty. Bringing your snootiness to a show, and then hoping to have a good subjective experience is a little silly.

Your admission that you’ve only seen a couple of performances of this Title is not reflected in your published review- which, for some reason, has your all-too-familiar know-it-all air that frankly makes me wince.

There must be some reason this show is so well-liked and well-attended. I don’t get it, either. This show is not my cup of tea. But I would not let that intrude (like an imaginary mime) on my feedback of a particular performance, were I being paid to give feedback to a reading public. I ask myself “what the hell do proponents see in this show that I’m missing?” And then a given performance will or will not answer that question.

At December 10, 2005 11:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last someone mentioned integrity I think that is sure lacking with Mr. Bowen.

At December 10, 2005 11:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN Dish>Rag!

At December 10, 2005 11:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

my guess is that because Dustin Hoffman pushed a mime off his "tightrope" in Tootsie Bobo thinks it's still hip 20-whatever years later.

At December 10, 2005 12:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

have you ever tried acting, my boy?

At December 10, 2005 12:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi lare...

Call me.

I've met a guy named "Hugh".

At December 10, 2005 12:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

why snark ye so?

the hounding, the snarking...

that does it, i'm outta here.

Anonymous, get your purse.

At December 10, 2005 12:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

call me!

At December 10, 2005 12:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll brb

At December 10, 2005 12:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll br... heeeeeyyee waitaminnit...


At December 10, 2005 3:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dish.Rag, this time you beat me to it and said it very, very well. Thank you. I think that the most important issue in this entire exchange is the attempt to hold Bobo, or any critic, accountable for the words they put into print,no matter what the opinion may be.

At December 10, 2005 5:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

a good flogging can bring a dead horse back to life!

At December 10, 2005 11:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well dishrag
I'm waiting .... what do I win?

At December 11, 2005 8:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well #1oo-
you won my attention for two posts and just LOOK at how you squandered it.

At December 11, 2005 11:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We obviously need a new topic of conversation around here. Anybody else think CDA's summer musical selections are really dated?

At December 11, 2005 12:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anonymous #50 for the rudder.

I find CdA's upcoming season selection to be eclectic primarily. Peter Pan is an obvious reach to bring kids in, and it will work. Good productions of The King and I come along so rarely that I wish them the best of luck with the piece (insert comment about beating a dead warhorse here). A Chorus Line fits their core company well, casting heavier toward dancing of the three threats; and Pippin ditto. There's really no through line to the season -- should there be one?

As far as dated: none of these shows were written in the last 30 years. Every show is older than most of their chorus gypsies. Need we wonder why the average hair color of the theatre audience is lightening by the season?

At December 11, 2005 2:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

it looks to me like they've got some nice ticket-selling titles there as well- it must be a huge challenge to come up with a roster of shows that have the "splash" that their audiences keep coming back for, and yet keep it realistic, i.e., affordable. AND not recently launched. sheesh.

Since the "modern musical" has gone in the direction of huge-budget, simulate-a-movie, ILM over-kill, the choices must be slim, as the list of "do-ables" gets a little more dated each year.

Also- and I don't suppose this will be too great a danger in CdA yet, but my knee-jerk to reading The King and I among the CdAST offerings was the modern problem of casting that bad boy. An increasing number of M.O.R. American audiences now know what actual residents of Thailand look like, vs. the caucasian girls and boys in a polyester black wigs and eyeliner that was, not that long ago, easier accepted.

At December 11, 2005 3:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recieved my Civic Newletter this week and noticed La Bobo is directing a reading of Take Me Out. Does anyone else find this inappropriate? How can a critic be objective while actully working in an artistic capacity with one (and only one) of the local theatres? I mean, I understand the impulse to want to get in the trenches and see how the mechanism works, but it seems ethically suspect to me. Once he befriends and works with a group of actors, won't he know things about their performance styles the average ticket-buyer does not, like how easy they are to direct, how much direction they need for emotional transitions or comedy bits, and the tricks they easily fall back on and use over and over? Can he (consciously or unconsciously) ever honestly write about them again? We also have to wonder if he wouldn't begin to favore that particular theatre (again consciously or unconsciously.) And I think it must be asked, has Civic offered this position to him, hoping to subtly work him over to "their side?" It all looks like a very odd and ethiclly questionable sitation.

At December 11, 2005 3:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can feel that.

At December 11, 2005 3:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMHO, the civic has apparently begun to model its recent new policies on the oldest profession in the world

At December 11, 2005 3:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i resemble that remark

At December 11, 2005 3:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Puhleeeeeeze. Are we back to sniping at Civic? Speaking of flogging a dead horse! IMHO those doing the sniping are divas that didn't get the part or attention they wanted. Get over it. As far as whether Bobo would favor Civic after working there, he appeared onstage in Guys and Dolls, and I haven't noticed any favoritism since then. Ethics is a whole other question....

At December 11, 2005 3:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, you raised some interesting points, theatre lover.
Bobo's already said he doesn't feel a reviewer CAN be objective (a limiting pov in my book), so that won't be an issue he'll even consider probably. But, whether or not the Civic is "building a bridge" by using him, or "turning a trick", as anony suggests, the wisdom should lie with the actor that chooses to participate. If they want to ho with the Bo, it'd be the opportunity.

My guess is Bobo directs like a teacher - and with all output, no input. Your secrets are more than likely safe, i'd guess.

At December 11, 2005 3:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, hi Yvonne.

i don't see ANY sniping at civic. where was that?

At December 11, 2005 3:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys!
You're going to wake Bobo again!

Keep it down!

At December 11, 2005 3:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, I'd say comparing their policies to the oldest profession was at least a little snotty.

At December 11, 2005 4:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, 'back to sniping' means 'sniping again'

where was that ?

At December 11, 2005 4:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

'k , well, that's all for me. I'll look for y'all in other threads. Thanks for the blabs.

At December 11, 2005 4:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

call me!

At December 11, 2005 11:09 PM , Blogger KaseyRTGraham said...

I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with reviewing a show you're not fond of. That's one of the hazards of producing familiar material. It's not logical to expect one person to enjoy everything. Nor is it responsible to restrict a critic to viewing only things they think they will enjoy.

I also don't think there's anything wrong with Bobo (Though I really think you should change your name to Showbo) directing a reader's theater production at Civic.

Why deprive an obviously pasionate and in my opinion insightful theatre mind the opportunity to work in any aspect of his field? It would be a loss to the Spokane theatre community.

And as for saying that he could no longer be objective of people he has worked with I have two quibbles.

1. Many people, though definitely not all, have the ability to separate intelectual observations from personal feelings, attachments and impressions.


2. Who cares? 95% of the people involved in theatre in Spokane supposedly do it for fun and to express their artistic energies. When I was 'working' at Civic it was a stipend to direct. I worked 4 or 5 other odd jobs and went to school at the same time. It was a great place to try to be creative and be around other theatre-minded people. It was the best time in my life so far so why take everything so seriously? (Should I be sorry for all the rhetorical questions?)

What does it matter what Michael says about you in the Inlander or on here? Few people in the Spokane area read the reviews and revere the text as honest-to-Gower Champion word of God. It's one person's opinion. Use it to learn about yourself and grow or use it as a pat on the back. Or use it to line your bird cage, Who Cares!?!?!?!

Just don't let anything dissuade you from persuing your passions.

At December 12, 2005 12:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

u r so cute when u condescend!

like julie newmar meets tony robbins

At December 12, 2005 8:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

we wernt discussing any personal comments that bobo made. we were talking about his process. no one has complained about a bad review here.
read thru the thread first, then offer sage advice.

At December 12, 2005 8:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

all plays that make light of Satan are bad. Satan intrudes on my life. And I hate baseball. Now for my "Damn Yankees" review...

At December 12, 2005 8:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

youv gota lil something on yer nose, kasey

At December 12, 2005 9:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one has complained about a bad review here? Are you serious? Do you really think there would be all this brouhaha if he had said "I hate the Fantasticks, but I LOVED this one." Nice sneering, by the way. Good to see everyone's opinion is respected here.


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