Theater Talk – Spring 2018 Critics Forum
>>HASKINS: Coming up on “Theater Talk”…>>GREEN: Anybody have anything they want to say for “Escape to…” To. From. To. From. “…Margaritaville”?>>TEACHOUT: It is the kind of show that I refer to as a “wrist-slitter.”>>GREEN: Okay. Wrist-slitter. ♪♪ ♪♪>>HASKINS: From New York City, this is “Theater Talk.” I’m Susan Haskins, and I am joined by my co-host, Jesse Green, co-chief theater critic of The New York Times. And we are here to review the best of the spring season with three of Jesse’s critic colleagues, Peter Marks of The Washington Post, Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal, and Ben Brantley, also the co-chief theater critic of The New York Times.>>BRANTLEY: So nice to meet you, Jesse.>>GREEN: You look familiar.>>TEACHOUT: What is this “best” part?>>GREEN: Yeah, I don’t think we’re covering the best of the spring so much as…>>HASKINS: The best and what to avoid.>>BRANTLEY: The peaks and valleys in that eternal plateau that is Broadway.>>GREEN: Well, so, let’s begin — Well, why don’t we begin with what I think you might consider a peak? There was one huge blockbuster of an opening this spring, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” What’s our take on that?>>BRANTLEY: I mean, I think I’m in the minority in this group. I loved it. I’d seen it in London. The theatrical — The idea of being able to translate a very specific narrative voice into purely theatrical terms, as I think this did, was, to me, magic. And I think you said earlier, Jesse, it puts the production values of Disney to shame. And you never see the seams at any point. Things just seem to happen organically. But –>>GREEN: Did — Were other people as impressed with the play itself?>>TEACHOUT: No.>>MARKS: Maybe I made the mistake of reading the script when it came out.>>GREEN: Wait. Was that a word in quotation marks?>>MARKS: Well, it came out in book form. I will say also that I was a “Harry Potter” devotee. My daughter brought me up on “Harry Potter.” We read the books together and saw the movies together, so we both had this. She’s now 25, so she’s an adult herself. And she had the same reaction I did to the book, which was underwhelmed. And then — So, I came in sort of wondering what they were going to be doing with the story, and I felt it was really “Harry Potter”-lite. It was fan fiction. One of the great things about the books and the movies were they were all really wonderful detective stories. And I felt like this was really just kind of a retrospective, a pandering, essentially, to the fan base. And anyone else — for me, anyway — was gonna feel kind of cheated.>>TEACHOUT: I’m a “Harry Potter” agnostic. I’ve read some of the books. I saw a couple of the movies. I don’t have strong feelings either way. I wasn’t completely at sea. I think anybody who was not very familiar going in would have been totally at sea, and I did some asking about that. I liked the magic. I kept waiting for the songs. The whole thing is structured like a musical. It looks and feels like one. It would have been better if it had been a musical. There would have been something to listen to.>>BRANTLEY: I mean, to me, it actually got the rush of J.K. Rowling’s prose. And I think what she shares with another best-selling, middle-level popular novelist, Stephen King, is to take the most generic, sort of pedestrian, you know, “I don’t get along with my father” kind of situations and give them this kind of nimbus of –>>MARKS: Stretched out to six hours of “I can’t along with my father.”>>TEACHOUT: The magic is amazing, though, and much must be said about it…>>MARKS: Yeah, but they also do a trick three times.>>TEACHOUT: But the black magic is the best part. I’m a real devotee of black-on-black stage manipulation.>>HASKINS: And that was great.>>TEACHOUT: And it was used with amazing virtuosity.>>BRANTLEY: Oh, they way they fly off the staircases.>>TEACHOUT: So I had like 12, 15 good minutes, you know?>>MARKS: [ Laughs ]>>HASKINS: I am going to say, in terms of the plot — I won’t give away the secrets — but those of you who are “Star Trek” fans may detect a similarity to one of its most legendary episodes.>>GREEN: Well, leaving that six-hour, dinner-break entertainment for another one, also with a certain amount of supernaturalism, let’s talk about “Angels in America,” part one and part two, which I think most of us, if not all of us, saw in one day.>>BRANTLEY: In one sitting.>>GREEN: Yeah.>>PRIOR: She’s approaching. ♪♪>>TEACHOUT: Which is really the way to see that show.>>GREEN: Yes.>>TEACHOUT: In fact, it’s the only way I’ve seen it.>>HASKINS: Well, actually, I didn’t see it in one day, and that was fine.>>BRANTLEY: Well, you couldn’t when it opened on Broadway the first time.>>GREEN: Right, because they opened months apart.>>HASKINS: They didn’t exist.>>TEACHOUT: Right, right, right.>>GREEN: And he still may not have finished part two. This is the latest iteration of “Perestroika.”>>TEACHOUT: Oh, he’ll be working on it in the grave. [ Laughter ]>>GREEN: Anyone have problems with the special effects or the Dementors in “Angels in America,” or were you pretty satisfied with this production?>>TEACHOUT: You know, it was slick for me, the production. And part of this response comes from the fact that I have now seen in two different cities two different small-scale productions of “Angels in America.” I think the show works better on a small scale. It gains in concen– The spatial concentration has the effect of tightening it up. And that aspect of it didn’t thrill me. What I found utterly fascinating was Nathan Lane not looking or acting or sounding like Roy Cohn. And I loved that because it’s time. The play is now a history play. There aren’t — probably aren’t that many people in the audience anymore who really remember, as all of us do, what Cohn looked like and sounded like. It’s time to pull the plug on that and to come from a different direction. And I don’t know if it was the ideal way to do it, but it was done with great brilliance and great originality.>>BRANTLEY: And a fully imagined performance. I think that’s true.>>TEACHOUT: Top to bottom.>>MARKS: And I think — Interestingly, I was really skeptical about Marianne Elliott directing “Angels in America.” You know, she’s obviously well-known for “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and for “War Horse.” But I think, you know, staged as opera, this piece is glorious. I think these are huge performan– These are big characters. I forgot how big they are. I was really, really happy during this. I thought it went like that.>>BRANTLEY: No, I felt that way, too, and I’d also — I mean, addressing your point, Terry, when I saw it in London, it did feel lost in space because it was the stage of the — Was it the — It was the Olivier, wasn’t it?>>MARKS: I think so, yeah.>>BRANTLEY: And it was just vast, and they hadn’t quite worked out — The lighting just felt like sort of almost punctuation marks along the way, those fluorescent, Dan Flavin-like bulbs. But it was — This actually seemed almost intimate to me by comparison.>>TEACHOUT: I can see that it would, yeah.>>BRANTLEY: And I also liked the fact — I liked the physical relationships among all the characters. I thought you got so much of Prior’s relationship with –>>TEACHOUT: Louis?>>BRANTLEY: With Louis, just from the way they lay back on each other at the beginning. And their instinct when they’d see each other again, even when they were mad, was still to gravitate like that. And I thought that was all the way through, yeah.>>TEACHOUT: It’s easy to forget how small “Angels” is. It’s a small number of people. There’s usually never more than two people onstage at any given moment.>>MARKS: Right.>>TEACHOUT: I saw it in Chicago, done by the Court Theatre. Charlie Newell directed it there. And when you walked in to this 350-seat house, what you saw at the center was — what do you call it, a catafalque? — I can’t remember how you pronounce that — you know, that you put a coffin on…>>GREEN: Mm-hmm.>>TEACHOUT: …which ended up being used as Cohn’s desk, as a deathbed.>>BRANTLEY: His hospital bed, too?>>TEACHOUT: It was just amazing, that this — Shrunk down, something new happens to the play.>>HASKINS: What did you think about what she did with the end of part two, where they sort of went into the — I mean, she re-imagined not only the Angel, but then in that scene where they were…>>MARKS: In heaven, you’re talking about?>>HASKINS: In heaven, but it was –>>MARKS: I liked it.>>BRANTLEY: I did, too, very much.>>MARKS: I thought it was, theatrically, really interesting. I thought many of the choices were wonderful. I thought turning the Angel into basically a dirty New York pigeon… [ Laughter ] …was a great idea. I thought it had just a lot of –>>TEACHOUT: Well, call me old-fashioned, but…>>MARKS: You like a white pigeon? I mean a white Angel?>>TEACHOUT: There’s where I want the opera.>>MARKS: Yeah. Well, I thought there were a lot of moments –>>BRANTLEY: Although, thematically it makes sense to have a dirty pigeon.>>TEACHOUT: It does.>>MARKS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.>>BRANTLEY: I mean, angels ain’t what they used to be in Tony Kushner’s universe.>>TEACHOUT: All right, this is my one touch of camp, you know?>>MARKS: Jesse’s about to opine.>>GREEN: No, no, I’m here as a co-host, not as a critic, so I have no opinions on the matter.>>MARKS: That’s true. You never seem to have opinions.>>GREEN: Well [laughs] I did not love this production. I thought it was baggy and over-acted. So, there you go. I’m glad you wrote the review, Ben.>>BRANTLEY: [ Laughs ]>>HASKINS: And I guess they are, too, yeah.>>TEACHOUT: We have boxed the compass of opinions.>>GREEN: Exactly. Let’s move on. There were a lot — I don’t think “Angels in America” counts as a brand yet in American theater, although one day it might be.>>TEACHOUT: They’re not selling shirts yet.>>HASKINS: Oh, I think they are.>>TEACHOUT: Are they really?>>GREEN: Every girl in angel wings. It’s gonna be lovely.>>TEACHOUT: Boys, too.>>GREEN: And boys, too.>>BRANTLEY: I don’t like the sexism I’m hearing.>>GREEN: Well, let’s talk about “Frozen,” shall we… [ Laughter ] …and the other heavily branded shows, mostly musicals, although in the case of “Harry Potter,” not a musical except –>>TEACHOUT: A pseudo-musical.>>GREEN: A pseudo-musical, as Terry would have it. So, this spring alone, we had “Frozen,” based on the Disney animated movie. We had “The Donna Summer Musical,” based on her catalogue, which is, you know, owned by some of the producers of the musical. And we had my favorite, “Escape to Margaritaville.” [ Laughter ]>>MARKS: I keep saying “Escape from Margaritaville.” I can’t help myself.>>HASKINS: Right. Let us not forget “Mean Girls,” which is owned by Lorne Michaels, who’s branding it like crazy.>>GREEN: Although I would argue that “Mean Girls” is kind of in a separate category ’cause it is a traditional movie-to-stage adaptation in many ways.>>BRANTLEY: Oh, dear God, the word “traditional”…>>HASKINS: Well, I thought you were talking about branding.>>MARKS: But like the others, has a sort of dedicated fan base and a certain demographic.>>BRANTLEY: And where people can quote the lines.>>GREEN: All right.>>BRANTLEY: I mean, there were people talking along…>>HASKINS: And buy the refrigerator magnets.>>BRANTLEY: Right.>>GREEN: So, then we’re gonna bulk these all together and –>>BRANTLEY: Oh, and “SpongeBob.” Excuse me.>>HASKINS: Oh, my God! [ Laughs ]>>GREEN: And “SpongeBob,” built on the empire of the animated cartoon.>>HASKINS: Mm-hmm.>>GREEN: So, are there any shows in this group that you would stand up for and say, “I’m with it, I vote for this show”?>>BRANTLEY: I would stand up for “SpongeBob”…>>GREEN: Tell us why.>>BRANTLEY: …because, again, I thought it was taking — I mean, what I find, have always found sort of dispiriting about Disney productions, aside from “The Lion King,” is that two-dimensional characters become one-dimensional when they take them to the stage.>>The quirks that you hear in the voices of the actors who assume the parts of the animals, you know, in the movies — it’s all gone. Somehow, they become cardboard, whereas “SpongeBob” actually using theater — And I think Tina Landau, you know, who seemed like an out-of-left-field choice for it, really interpreted it into theatrical terms in a wild and crazy and, ultimately, rather accurately reflective way.>>MARKS: They may have done themselves a disservice by calling it “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical.”>>GREEN: How so?>>MARKS: Well, because it limits — I think it limits them in terms of how the world perceives what they’re going to be exposed to. You know, if, in fact, there are more interesting ideas sort of developed in this about how people get along and the relationships between these characters, which are a little deeper than, you know, some of these other “brand-name” musicals, I think maybe it — You know, if they have a struggle finding an adult audience for this show that isn’t people who grew up on the show, it’s because the name is really off-putting.>>GREEN: Should it have been “Three Tall Sponges”?>>MARKS: It could have been anything. I mean, there was a great tradition –>>TEACHOUT: Who’s gonna give you permission to do that?>>MARKS: Well, exa–>>TEACHOUT: That’s why these shows exist.>>MARKS: Yeah, but, you know, I mean, once upon a time, the tradition was you didn’t call “Pygmalion: The Musical.” You called it “My Fair Lady.” You found an identity for it separate from its roots.>>BRANTLEY: Although I actually hate “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel,” in quotation marks.>>MARKS: Well, I agree. And “Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women.” I agree. That doesn’t really…>>GREEN: But these classics that we’re mentioning were created by individual artists who had a passion for the original material. That’s a very different setup, as Terry, I believe, has –>>TEACHOUT: But they also subjected the original material, without exception, to an imaginative transformation.>>MARKS: Right.>>TEACHOUT: And therefore, they almost always renamed it. I mean, when you look at what Oscar Hammerstein did to all of the properties that he worked with, I mean, something new has happened. The magic wand has been applied. That’s not how these new shows work. They exist to be like the movie.>>MARKS: You know, they even called — I mean, you know, the story of Adam and Eve was called “The Apple Tree.” You know what I mean? It’s like, you know, you didn’t have to — You could grant to the audience the idea that they can go along with you somewhere else than where the thing originated.>>BRANTLEY: Although that actually would have had to have been called “Genesis: Book 1.”>>MARKS: They would have. Today it would be called “The Bible Show.”>>TEACHOUT: But even “My Fair Lady,” which, of course, is famous for being, in many ways, quite close to “Pygmalion,” is nevertheless profoundly different from it.>>GREEN: Well, merely by the addition of 14 songs, you can’t help but be different.>>HASKINS: Now, what about this production of “My Fair Lady”?>>MARKS: But wait. Can I just stand up for “Mean Girls” for a second?>>GREEN: I was gonna say, is there anything else on the list someone will stand up for?>>TEACHOUT: Over to you, Val.>>MARKS: I saw it — You know, it’s Stockholm syndrome a little bit. I saw it in Washington. I watched it grow up from something that was pretty weak.>>BRANTLEY: And he wrote one of those checklist reviews — “If they give an eleven o’clock number to blah blah and they followed every single…”>>MARKS: Well, I will say that it’s got — that Tina Fey wrote a book for this show that I think stands on its own as funny –>>BRANTLEY: I like the book.>>MARKS: As funny, and the music is not –>>BRANTLEY: The music is generic, and there’s so much of it.>>TEACHOUT: There sure is a whole lot of story.>>MARKS: But I think it’s actually a musical comedy that is entertaining and fun. And I don’t think it’s a Tony-winning musical, but I thought it was an enjoyable piece.>>TEACHOUT: It’s the kind of music — Now there’s two kinds of music on Broadway. There’s Disney music, and then there’s synthetic pop. This was synthetic pop.>>MARKS: I don’t disagree.>>TEACHOUT: Switch in position two.>>MARKS: I don’t disagree.>>GREEN: So, just again, looking at these five musicals that we’re kind of glomming together, anybody have anything they want to say for “Escape to…” To. From. To. From. “…Margaritaville”?>>TEACHOUT: It is the kind of show that I refer to as a “wrist-slitter.”>>GREEN: Okay. Wrist-slitter. I see that on the marquee.>>BRANTLEY: See, I thought “Donna Summer” was a wrist-slitter. “Escape from Margaritaville” was just a sleeping pill. It was just — I mean, wrist-slitters are more interesting to me.>>TEACHOUT: Well, “Donna Summer” had the virtues of, “A,” brevity and, “B,” LaChanze. And that’s about the size of it.>>GREEN: So, we have — One more in this category is “Frozen.”>>BRANTLEY: [ Imitates snoring ]>>TEACHOUT: Thank you.>>GREEN: What’s happening with Disney here? You gave your analysis of the problem of moving these animated characters onto the stage, but Disney has more resources behind it in terms of money, certainly, but also talent. They can have anybody they want, the greatest technical work you could imagine, and yet it paled terribly in comparison to the technical work in “Harry Potter,” as we said.>>MARKS: I think part of the thing with a Disney musical is there is so much at stake in abiding by the success of what was done on the screen that it really does narrow desperately what theater artists can bring to the process because whether or not there’s a lot of corporate thumbs on the show or not, you are hamstrung by this $100-million –>>HASKINS: But look what Julie Taymor did back in the day.>>MARKS: It’s a different time. There was no track record back then.>>TEACHOUT: I’ll tell you something else — the original properties are changing, as well. When we first started to get Disney musicals, I would say that the target market was, what, 13, 14, 15? I had actually never even seen the film of “Frozen” until the week before I went to the show. I figured it was my job to see it.>>HASKINS: Yeah, yeah.>>TEACHOUT: And it was for 4, 5, and 6. And that’s what the show is for, too. What are you gonna do with a show like that? The elbow room for imaginative transformation is limited aside from all these other problems. It just seemed to me like a bad property.>>MARKS: Well, let’s all say that “Frozen” is not for any of us.>>TEACHOUT: No, absolutely not.>>MARKS: I brought my daughter to that one, not to invoke Lizzie again, and she was quite — and she’s really discerning, but she was quite satisfied. It met her expectations.>>TEACHOUT: I brought a Donna Summer fan to see “Donna Summer.”>>GREEN: And your daughter is 70? Is that right? [ Laughter ] Let’s jump away from musicals for a moment because they seem so positively successful… [ Laughter ] …and go –>>MARKS: “Band’s Visit,” by the way.>>GREEN: Right, which was not this spring, but I think we’re all pretty much –>>TEACHOUT: Which is a real musical.>>BRANTLEY: It’s on its own level.>>TEACHOUT: Everything that musicals ought to be today. I hope it will last.>>GREEN: So, there. We’ve dealt with that in five seconds. Okay, going to the other plays that opened this spring, there was a pretty good slate of play revivals and perhaps not as rich a slate of new plays, but some good ones to talk about.>>MARKS: All scared away by “Harry Potter,” all –>>GREEN: You think that really happened, the producers just said, “Let’s wait till the fall”?>>MARKS: Yes, I think they said, “We’re gonna all be railroaded.”>>GREEN: And that’s only because of the Tony Awards.>>TEACHOUT: And they were smart to do that.>>MARKS: Yes, all Tony Awards, absolutely.>>HASKINS: Hmm.>>GREEN: So, there’s no point in doing a play on Broadway unless you can win a Tony Award, is what producers are saying?>>MARKS: Well, unless it’s a little more of a playing field, an open playing field.>>TEACHOUT: It also depends on the nut. I mean, if you can do a show and it’s not that expensive and it’s got a fixed end and, you know, it’s a serious piece of work and you don’t open it in April, then — you’re not gonna make money off it, but at least you’re gonna make other things, like respect.>>BRANTLEY: But I know “The Children,” which unfortunately I didn’t see, but liked very much in the reading of it, I mean, didn’t move. I mean, there was never any talk of its moving.>>GREEN: It couldn’t have moved. It was at a Broadway house, although at Manhattan Theatre Club, so it has its subscription audience. And it was, I think, the best play of the year, even including “Harry Potter.” But that’s the end of that. We’ll never see that again in New York. But perhaps it’ll have a life elsewhere.>>TEACHOUT: Let’s take a different Off-Broadway example — “Mary Jane,” Amy Herzog’s play. Very well thought of by most critics, including myself. The New York Drama Critics’ Circle just gave it the Best Play award of the year. It’s never gonna move. 30 years ago, it would have been — 30 years ago, it would have opened cold on Broadway. The world is different.>>BRANTLEY: Yet I hear people who say — I know someone who’s been going to theater for — and went to Yale Drama School — that’s been going to theatre for literally 50 or 60 years, saw ‘The Band’s Visit’ and said, “But it seems so small for Broadway.” And, you know, how do you answer that?>>TEACHOUT: You don’t. They, too, have been conditioned by the…>>GREEN: Well, let’s talk about some of the revivals that — one of which did start Off-Broadway in a smaller production and has been, in a way, recreated without very much change. I’m talking about “Three Tall Women.”>>BRANTLEY: Although I think there’s a bit of change.>>GREEN: There is a bit of change. There’s some structural, beautiful adjustments that would never have been allowed if Albee were alive, but –>>BRANTLEY: Oh, and can we say what no one has seemed to have said in a review — that is, the boy who comes on –>>GREEN: Oh, we — Do we say that?>>BRANTLEY: Of course we can. Yeah — is a ringer for Edward Albee, for the young Edward Albee. [ Chuckles ]>>GREEN: Hard to get to why that’s important in the play if you don’t know the play, but –>>BRANTLEY: Except it’s a memoir basically about his mother. I mean, not a memoir, but an evocation of his mother at different phases of her life.>>TEACHOUT: A very imaginative and serious production. I didn’t like the design as much as you guys did, but it was fine. Mainly, I liked it because you had three remarkable performers beautifully directed in a great play.>>BRANTLEY: And also the thrill, I mean, just for theater and film aficionados of seeing Glenda Jackson after not having been on Broadway in 30 years, not having been onstage period except for “King Lear” in between, for 23 years just Parliament…>>TEACHOUT: When I walked out of the theater that night, was it you that I didn’t recognize? There was somebody I know well, and I was — It wasn’t you. It was actually one of my colleagues at the Journal. And I was so completely still in the world of the play that somebody I know very well was standing next to me and it didn’t hit me. That’s how involving that show for me.>>GREEN: Well, let’s put that on the marquee — “Good for your amnesia.” [ Laughter ] Another formerly Off-Broadway play that had its Broadway premiere and counts as a revival is “Lobby Hero” by Kenneth Lonergan.>>BRANTLEY: What a lovely production.>>GREEN: I don’t know what you thought, Terry, but –>>TEACHOUT: Loved it.>>MARKS: Yeah, it’s a wonderful version. I think it’s better than the original.>>BRANTLEY: Oh, no question. Well, I think that’s partly because of Mic– I love this cast, but Michael Cera is –>>GREEN: This cast would have been, as you’ve said, a good reason to have a category that Actors’ Equity is asking for, for Best Ensemble.>>MARKS: Let’s also say that the emergence of Second Stage Theater onto Broadway — they’ve taken over the — now called the “Hayes Theater,” as opposed to the Helen Hayes — I don’t get that at all –>>TEACHOUT: It depends on which website you go to.>>MARKS: Yeah, right. But this nonprofit theater now joins Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Lincoln Center on Broadway and promises to be a place where you’re gonna see some serious theater. You’re gonna see “Straight White Men” by Young Jean Lee this summer. They’re actually bringing back –>>BRANTLEY: And you don’t see straight, white men at the theater very much. [ Laughter ]>>HASKINS: “Ba-dum-boom.”>>TEACHOUT: Just here. [ Laughter ]>>MARKS: But I think that this is a really wonderful indication of where they’re gonna go with this.>>TEACHOUT: Yeah, they led with a high card.>>GREEN: I’m gonna throw out into the fish pond here “Travesties,” and let’s talk about “Iceman Cometh.”>>MARKS: “Travesties” is — When I saw it when I was 19 years old, I hadn’t even read “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the time, so I had no idea what I was watching. I didn’t realize what a great play I was watching, and this time, I was transported.>>BRANTLEY: Also, it’s so — Patrick Marber does such a fabulous job.>>HASKINS: And I was so much more interested in the lore which is revealed in “Travesties” than the lore of “Harry Potter.”>>MARKS: Good for you! I like that.>>HASKINS: I mean, I was riveted by “Travesties,” and, people, that’s really one — Go and see it, yeah.>>MARKS: When you’re a Tony presenter this year, Susan, say that.>>HASKINS: Yes, I’ll be up there.>>TEACHOUT: Well, I have a countercultural opinion on both “Saint Joan” and “Iceman,” which is that the casts are both led by very gifted actors who I thought were not well cast. Denzel Washington I don’t really see as a great stage actor at all.>>HASKINS: Oh, I thought he was riveting.>>TEACHOUT: So, even though it was a wonderful production, I thought it was dead at the center.>>BRANTLEY: Oh, I thought that final monologue, where he just brings the chair to the stage — It was the first time that I’d seen that monologue done where it wasn’t the spiel. I mean, suddenly, he became Everyman.>>HASKINS: Yes.>>BRANTLEY: And I thought that was…>>TEACHOUT: It was a brilliant piece of staging.>>BRANTLEY: Yeah.>>HASKINS: For me, having seen all of the live Hickeys except for James Earl Jones, he was the strongest.>>BRANTLEY: Yeah, I thought he was great.>>HASKINS: Now, we’re dead out of time, but let’s throw out the three revivals.>>GREEN: Two of them were this spring. Those were, of course, “Carousel” and “My Fair Lady,” and one of them opened in the fall, and that was “Once on This Island.”>>BRANTLEY: Which was delightful.>>STORYTELLER: ♪ Oh, walk with me, little girl, and I’ll take you far ♪ ♪ Round each bend, little friend, I’ll be by your side ♪>>GREEN: I liked much about all of them. How about you guys?>>TEACHOUT: I didn’t much care for the “Carousel” revival. “My Fair Lady” — I thought that she was wonderful, he not so, and that’s not the show. I mean, this was an attempt to create a “My Fair Lady” that’s like “Pygmalion.”>>GREEN: I think you’re getting your neck cut off by Peter over there.>>MARKS: No, I was gonna say, everybody’s all over the map on these shows. Nobody in New York agrees on any of these.>>TEACHOUT: It proves how interesting they are.>>MARKS: I thought Mueller was wonderful in “Carousel,” Jessie Mueller as Julie Jordan.>>TEACHOUT: Oh, gosh, yes.>>MARKS: I thought Lindsay Mendez and Alex Gemignani were fantastic.>>BRANTLEY: Yeah, that was the best Mr. and Mrs. Snow I’ve seen.>>TEACHOUT: Yeah, no, my problem was the staging.>>MARKS: I thought the second act — I don’t think he knew what to do with it — Jack O’Brien.>>BRANTLEY: But the first act was magic.>>MARKS: I liked “My Fair Lady” a lot.>>BRANTLEY: And I had more pro– I admired “My Fair Lady,” but I felt detached from it throughout.>>MARKS: And liked him. I liked the Henry Higgins.>>HASKINS: Harry Hadden-Paton.>>GREEN: We learned how to say his name, and viewers should know this now. You think “ham and bacon.” That’s what he told us — “Hadden-Paton.” And on that deeply critical note… [ Laughter ]>>HASKINS: We must say goodbye to the three tall critics… [ Laughter ] …Ben Brantley of The New York Times –>>BRANTLEY: A.k.a, Glenda Jackson.>>HASKINS: That’s right — Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal and Peter Marks of The Washington Post.>>BRANTLEY: Alison Pill.>>HASKINS: Thank you so much.>>MARKS: Don’t trip on my line.>>TEACHOUT: What does this make me?>>GREEN: Laurie Metcalf — not a bad thing.>>TEACHOUT: Not too shabby.>>GREEN: No. And I’ll be the secret young Edward Albee. [ Laughter ]>>HASKINS: Jesse Green, thank you so very much.>>GREEN: Thank you, Susan.>>HASKINS: Onward into the new season.>>BRANTLEY: Absolutely.>>HIGGINS: ♪ Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak? ♪ ♪ This verbal class distinction by now should be antique ♪ ♪ If you spoke as she does, sir, instead of the way you do ♪ ♪ Why, you might be selling flowers, too ♪>>I beg your pardon! ♪♪>>HASKINS: Our thanks to the Friends of “Theater Talk” for their significant contribution to this production. “Theater Talk” is made possible in part by…>>ANNOUNCER: We welcome your questions or comments for “Theater Talk.” Thank you.