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LETTERS TO EDITOR
Ricky Jay On The Stem
Ricky Jay on Broadway -- that's the premise of the show. Ricky Jay as tour guide to a Broadway of yesteryear, back to the days when the Great White Way still captured the imagination of the masses, long before it had been made safe for the American family. Ricky Jay plays master of ceremonies to a guided tour of the sideshows, freak shows, magic and mysteries of the carnival era of Broadway, when vaudeville was king. It works because Mr. Jay is in love with this past and his enthusiasm is great enough to make Barbara Bush beg for a tattoo.
The brothers in Topdog/Underdog, who run their mouths while playing 3-card Monty, would have a hard time keeping up with Ricky Jay, who keeps the audience mesmerized with his mile-a-minute rap. In it he tells the story of Broadway's most famous pickpockets, grifters, prostitutes, and con artists. As a carnival barker at the county fair, Mr. Jay regales the audiences with the comings and goings of these notorious villain-entertainers, while demonstrating their contributions with a precision and level of expertise it is doubtful his heroes ever attained. Had Jamie Tyrone, the Broadway bum of a brother in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey ever been able to pull it together, this is sort of job that would have suited him best.
Mamet, a well know Ricky Jay fan, directs with confidence. The pacing is just right for a show of this kind, as are Mamet's helpful touches, such as having Jay walk through the aisles as he sells souvenirs, taking care once again to remind the audience that magic and commerce have their own special relation dating back well before Enron. In America, our shamans never bothered teaching snakes how to dance, they just killed them outright for their oil.
If you can't take a trip to the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Ricky Jay's show is the next best thing. Just remember when you call for tickets to say, "open sesame."
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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