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LETTERS TO EDITOR
|A CurtainUp Review
LingoLand is billed as a musical revue and although some of Elmslie's contributions are spoken as well as sung, the emphasis is on the words written for various popular songs, musicals and operas. Heading the list of composers is Claibe Richardson represented with excepts from two little known musicals, Lola and The Grass Harp. Among others there are opera composers Ned Rorem and Thomas Passatieri with samples from Miss Julie and The SeaGull.
If revue seems too frivolous a tag for this tribute to a Jack-of -all-genres word lover's broad-based achievements over half a century, think of it as a collage or an assemblage. Call it what you will, but credit Morgan for having pulled the many bits and pieces together in a tasteful production with a sextet of performers who handle the sketch material with charm and skill and whose voices are up to the challenges of the operatic music as well as the pop tunes. Morgan's simple but workmanlike set establishes the focus on language with random words all over the stage and across the floor.
Elmslie is a charmer who contributes occasional songs and poetry readings from the side of the stage with modesty but great presence. Suzy Benzinger's color coordinated costumes create an ensemble look for the three women and three men, and Mary Jo Dondlinger lighting is often stunning. Julio Soler's multimedia work adds real visual zip to the show, especially his amusing animations for Claibe Richadson's update for a number called "Brazil."
Ultimately, the material is too scattershot for LingoLand to have a real sense of unity. It's a case, not uncommon to showcasing the work of one person and many collaborators that prevents the parts from really jelling. This problem is not helped by having bits from Elmsley's "Bare Bones," a long ode to his long-time companion who died of AIDS interspersed throughout. It's a moving poem but it seems to belong in another show.
As with every show at the York, even those that don't become hits and transfer to other theaters (e.g. The Musical of Musicals), you never really feel that you've wasted your time or money. LingoLand will give you, as it did me, a chance to become better acquainted with this sensitive and talented writer. The proverbial better late than never was never truer.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Mendes at the Donmar
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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