Why the Tabs are Fab

No surprises there, I'm afraid. Yes, the Don Quixote-based Man of La Mancha is an appropriate choice to commemorate the playhouse's new digs in the Gables, a community rich in Spanish heritage and architecture. And the show happens to be my favorite musical. But haven't we all seen it at least once, if not several times? Ditto The Pajama Game (I can recite that one in my sleep, having been prompter for my high school's production). While I find it hard to argue with saluting the late George Abbott, I can't help wondering if this tribute production is merely a pretext for mounting yet another decades-old musical. Dangerous Obsession and Mating Habits replicate the playhouse's sure bets from previous years, only in different packaging. The only nongenre offering is Herb Gardner's 30-year-old comedy. With artistic director David Arisco and his talented stepson, Sean Russell, as its leads, this Thousand Clowns may be destined to entertain, but it's hardly a risky venture.

Dare I call this formula programming? Arisco's recent accomplished handling of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof whet my appetite for meatier fare. With so much challenging theater out there and Arisco's talent for interpreting it, I wish Actors' Playhouse wouldn't assume their subscription base must be fed a diet of musicals when deciding what to bring to the stage.

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