"What is to be done?" was not the name of a magazine in late Victorian England. Instead, it was the question the middle class were asking about the poor. Some spokesman suggested ignoring the problem, but others claimed this would only make the revolutionary rumblings in the poor East End of London louder. Some said to indulge the poor but others argued that this would only make the working classes' tendency to indulge themselves worse. The solution everyone finally agreed upon was reform. The middle class would instill the poor with their own morality, making the whole society a mirror image of themselves.
In his play Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw parodied this middle class solution. Bumbling Professor Higgins tries to turn a flower girl into a duchess and finds that she was more of a real lady than he though. In My Fair Lady, Shaw's play became the inspiration for some memorable songs. In the current Leverett House production which goes far beyond what Shaw saw as the limiting factor of class bounds. Maura Moynihan is unforgettable as an Eliza Doolittle who reveals the duchess hidden in the flower girl (and vice versa) after all. And Andrew Agush's Henry Higgins sees only that which he wants to see about Eliza in a way that makes his portrayal endearing as it opens the character to fault. It is mostly thanks to the talents of these two actors that the Leverett production succeeds so well. Performances are tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Leverett Old Library.
The Fantasticks, Tom Jones' and Harvey Schmidt's 1959 musical about a boy and girl who believe they are defying their parents' wishes by falling in love with each other, never lived up to its name, and these days it has crow's feet. Generally uninspiring music--although the touching ballad "Try to Remember" came from this show--and a sappy script spoil this simple parable before it can get off the ground. But with over 7,000 Off-Broadway performances and still counting, who's gonna argue with success? Overall a decent production, although narrator-abductor E1 Gallo hasn't got the voice and rakish looks the part demands. November 3, 4, 5 at 8 p.m. in the Kirkland House Junior Common Room.
The Marquis de Sade was convinced that the French Revolution was a mistake. Or at least that seems to be the explanation behind that notorious writer's decision to stage a mock murder of one of the revolution's leaders in 'The persecution and assasination of Jean-Paul Marat as performed by the inmates of the Marquis de Sade' which (if you can make it past the title) you should go to see this weekend at the Loeb Mainstage. According to director Kerry Konrad '78, this play within a play, in which neither the passion of the revolution, of the marquis, or of the inmates seems to know any bounds, is particularly suited to the Mainstage. When Marat/Sade is performed this weekend with a cast of more than 40, its powerful "total theater" atmosphere might, in spite of the Marquis' conviction, have a dangerously revolutionary effect. Performances are tonight and Friday at 8, Saturday at 5 and 9.
If you think Gars and Goyles, the Radcliffe Grant-in-Aide show opening tonight, is just a mispronunciation of the title of a story you've heard some place before, then you're only partly wrong. Writer-director Andy Borowitz '79 says that his new musical comedy is based on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." But it's also, Borowitz claims, "a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical except the leading man doesn't have good posture." "America has been begging for a good family musical about a hunchback for a long time," Borowitz says (only partly joking). With its big, brassy production numbers, "Gars and Goyles" will probably not let America, or Radcliffe Grant-in-Aid, which has not produced an original show in six years, down. Performances are tonight through Saturday at 8, and also next weekend and the weekend after, at the Agassiz Theater in the Radcliffe Yard.
Running from class to class, library to library, hourly to hourly, you must have stopped and asked yourself, "Can this really be my life?" So you think you're confused? Think how Littlechap the Everyman hero of Stop the World I Want to Get Off, opening tonight at Mather House, feels: he watches his life pass from inside a circus arena. Littlechap travels to Russia, to Germany, to success in America at the top of a company; he becomes deeply involved with four women who bear a strange resemblance to each other. But instead of finding happiness at the end of his journey, Littlechap realizes that he has never really loved anyone but himself. Director Debbie Solomon '80 says she wants to emphasize the "light, allegorical comment on life" offered by this musical comedy that ran so successfully on Broadway starring its director and author, Anthony Newley. Given that the travels take place in an exciting realm not of TWA but of sound, mime and music and that the discoveries made along the way are reason not to get out a camera but to burst out into beautiful songs like "Gonna Build a Mountain" and "What Kind of Fool Am I?," both Littlechap and and Solomon can also expect a good deal of success. Performances are tonight through Saturday and also next weekend in the Mather Dining Hall at 8 p.m.
In New York, performances of Mussorgsky's opera Boris Gudonov are always a major event. Still, the Adams House Explosives B Cabaret will be doing something quite different this weekend when it turns Pushkin's play of the same name into a spectacle. The audience will begin the play, proceeding with the actors out of the bowels of Adams House, pass hecklers on the Lampoon steps, cross Mount Auburn Street where traffic will be halted by the Harvard police and to the tower of Lowell House where Master Bossert will crown the new czar. Then, in an atmosphere perhaps even more mysterious, the silent procession of audience and actors will return, passing by candlelight through the darkened halls of Adams underground tunnel. This prelude is only the beginning of the surprises that producer-director Peter Sellars '80 claims to hold in store for anyone who participates in this version of the story done with cue cards but acted in Russian. With the promised "cast of thousands," the intricacies of Russian politics built into the play, and Sellars as director, what, other than surprises, could we expect to expect? Performances are Friday and Saturday at 11 p.m. Admission is free.