Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Roll with the Feelin'

Hugo and Kim.
by Liz Smith

Tuesday's Topics: Tyranny ... Sally Kellerman ... Richard Avedon ... "Charlie Brown" ... Olivia de Havilland ... Hugo and Kim.

"TYRANNY IS probably established out of no other regime than democracy," said Plato.

This quote — and numerous others from that wise old Greek — is used in Andrew Sullivan's massive article in the current New York magazine.

The title of his piece is: "Democracies End When They Are Too Democratic."
Illustration by Zohar Lazar for New York Magazine
This is complex, brilliant, controversial writing of the highest caliber. Whatever "side" you happen to fall on, politically, this article is a must-read, even if you disagree with it. Sullivan makes his case for why we are where we are, why we are looking at such a poor crop of presidential candidates — who's been lifted, who's been crushed, how social media has utterly and forever changed the landscape, when and why "mass movements" fueled by anger, begin. (Not, generally, when things are at their worst, but rather when things are looking up, but not up enough to placate all those who have been disenfranchised or — as they see it — ignored.)

After you've read this piece, go find it online and search the comments section. Many of the responses — even from those who don't share Sullivan's dark pondering — are remarkably well-formed, un-hysterical and vivid in knowledge of the political process and the cultural and economical alterations that have brought us to this un-pretty pass.

This is an article to read, read again, pass on to others, and discuss.  And don't take the easy way out, discussing it only with like-minded friends; mix it up! 
THIS N' THAT: ON May 12th, actress/chanteuse Sally Kellerman returns to Manhattan with her delicious and acclaimed show, "A Little Jazz, a Little Blues, a Little Rock & Roll." This happens at The Iridium (1650 Broadway, 51st Street) and celebrates Sally's 40 years as a cabaret goddess — going way back to the glory days of Reno Sweeney in Greenwich Village.

Sally's wonderful 1972 album "Roll with the Feelin'" was recently re-issued by Geffen Records. This current stint at Iridium is only four performances. Get your tickets now. And if you've never seen her live, onstage before, be prepared. She is raucous, lusty, poignant, a hurricane of swiftly-changing moods that will leave you on the floor, after you've stood, screamed and applauded. For info go to www.theiridium.com.

... FROM May 6th to June 30th, the Staley-Wise Gallery in New York will present two remarkable Richard Avedon exhibits. "Avedon/Paris 1948-1957" (featuring couture fashion, draped upon such divinities as Carmen, Dovima, Suzy Parker and Dorian Leigh.) The other exhibit is Avedon's controversial 1995 spread "In Memory of the Late Mr. & Mrs. Comfort: A Fable in 24 Episodes." This one features model Nadja Auermann and ... a skeleton! www.staleywise.com
Clark Gesner (center) with the original cast of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," which premiered Off-Broadway on March 7, 1967 and ran for 1,597 performances.
... On MAY 24TH, previews begin for the new production of the classic 1967 off-Broadway musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." ("Peanuts" fans will also recall the 1999 Broadway revival.)

The cast of this production will all be within the age range of the original characters created by Charles M. Schulz, that is, between 9 and 13! Among these youngsters are Joshua Colley ... Gregory Diaz ... Aidan Gemme ... Milly Shapiro ... Mavis Simpson-Ernst ... Jeremy T. Villas and Graydon Peter Yosowitz.

The show — at New York Theater Company at Saint Peters — is directed by Michael Unger, choreographed by Jennifer Paulson-Lee with the original book, music and lyrics of Clark Gesner. (Additional dialogue, music and lyrics by Michael Mayer and Andrew Lippa.) This is a limited engagement. Call 212-935-5820.
... IF YOU'RE in Palo Alto, California this month, why not check out the big Olivia de Havilland Film Festival at The Stanford Theater (221 University Avenue.) This will cover almost all of the great star's great films, from "Captain Blood" to "The Adventures of Robin Hood" to "Gone With The Wind," "My Cousin Rachel," "The Snake Pit," "Light In The Piazza." And, of course, director William Wyler's 1949 masterpiece, "The Heiress."
Olivia de Havilland in "The Heiress."
I've seen many productions of this tale of a woman betrayed, and how that betrayal altered her. But nobody has ever quite captured what Miss deHavilland did with the role of Catherine Sloper, particularly after she has been abandoned, and fully realizes the duplicity of her suitor and the contempt of her father.

In the film, Catherine's aunt (a brilliant Miriam Hopkins) asks, astounded, "Catherine, can you be so cruel?" Olivia replies, "Yes, aunt, I can be very cruel. I have been taught by masters." The reading of that line alone was worthy of the Oscar she won for her performance. Call 650-324-3700.

By the way, Miss deHavilland is still among us, age 99, and still ensconced in Paris.
"Catherine, can you be so cruel?"
... ON JUNE 9th AmFAR presents the Inspiration New York Gala, celebrating men's style. This event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. Among those honored will be Kim Jones, artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men, and the famous, often fiery model, Naomi Campbell, one of "the five original supermodels." (That's what it says on her website, and honey, you don't argue with Miss Campbell!) For tix info call 212-806-1764.
JUDGING BY our mail, Miss Ann-Margret has a lot of fans out there, reacting to our column marking her 75th birthday. One of those fans is former teen idol Bobby Rydell, who recently put out an autobiography, "Teen Idol On The Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances."

Rydell was A-M's co-star in "Bye Bye Birdie," and to this day the pair remains close. In fact, they refer to each other by their character names in "Birdie" — Hugo and Kim.

Adorable — and I'm not being sarcastic.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.