Wanted: Real Stars

With such a shortage of great writing, a performer of star magnitude becomes even more valuable. At times the Shirley MacLaine musical revue grew boring, at other times her voice painfully reached for notes that eluded her, and her breathlessness after some simple dance steps was evident. But oddly enough, in spite of all this, I found myself tapping my feet, humming along, and smiling a lot more than I did during Tommy, with all its grand choral and special effects. Instead of watching a carefully packaged, seamlessly planned extravaganza, with Shirley I was treated to that rare gift of true talent. It's terrifying to think that my students at New World and even worse, their children, might not even recognize art when they see it, being brought up with so much artifice.

To bring people back into the theater, producers should realize that the public is not as stupid or gullible as they seem to think. They should try to find and encourage quality scripts and stunning performers who, above all, know how to make that script shine with great acting and appeal, rather than just singing, dancing, and smiling their way through two carefully packaged hours that are scarcely more inspired than the new Pepsi ad campaign.

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