Letters

(I do understand this letter may be edited for clarity. Can someone do the same thing with Mr. Souto's statement and fax it back to me? Just wondering.)

Karen Patterson
Miami Springs

Employ the Ones You Love
Regarding Jim DeFede's article about Dade County Manager Armando Vidal ("Power Politics," September 25), take it from one who lives through what is really happening in Dade County government. I am a ten-year middle-management employee in one of the county's largest departments and I am appalled at what occurs that the public never hears about.

Friends, family, and (ex-)lovers are hired or promoted to top-level positions whether or not they qualify for the job, or in some cases whether or not they are even able to converse in English.

Many loyal employees will be demoted or lose their jobs because of budget cuts, but political appointees need not worry. Your mayor, commissioners, and county manager are hard at work protecting their interests.

I need to work and I don't know the right people, so just sign me ...
Name withheld by request
Miami

The Kelley Soliloquy
I always thought responsible theater critics did their homework before reviewing a show. I mean, there's a lot at stake: ticket sales, a theater's reputation, an actor's reputation, and many other variables including the critic's own credibility. I must say more than a few "curious musical theater fans" lost respect for New Times critic Savannah Whaley when they read her unresearched review of High Button Shoes ("If the Shoe Fits," September 25). Where does one start? Well, as Maria once said to the children Von Trapp, "Let's start at the very beginning."

I'm sure the Goodspeed Opera House was shocked to find out from Ms. Whaley's exhausting research that they never did a major revival of High Button Shoes starring Joy Franz, Gary Kirsch, and Joe Warfield (June 6 to October 11, 1982). But probably not as amazed as poor Lois Lee, the actress who played Fran in the original Broadway production of High Button Shoes. According to critic Whaley, Helen Gallagher played Fran. Shame on you, Savannah. Helen Gallagher played Nancy the maid, a role that was cut from the reviewed production.

Ms. Whaley reports that George Abbott went into rehearsal with an eighteen-page script. I'm afraid she is confusing High Button Shoes with the later Phil Silvers vehicle Top Banana. High Button Shoes was adapted for the stage by author Stephen Longstreet from the novel The Sisters Liked Them Handsome into a 90-page, two-act script. Mr. Longstreet thought his script was such a jewel that he forbade Abbott to alter his script, with the exception of adding the sneezing scene for Mr. Pontdue (Joey Fayes's gimmick was his fake sneeze).

Mr. Longstreet's stubbornness with his script resulted in most of the original reviews:

"High Button Shoes is like nothing so much as a straight play being rehearsed in a nightclub while the floor show's going on." (Robert Garland, Journal-American)

"The production has a lot of bounce. The trouble is that the ball is extremely elusive. It had definitely rewarding moments but they are interrupted by devious vaudeville manipulations." (Howard Barnes, Herald Tribune)

Interestingly, Phil Silvers received lukewarm-to-bad reviews and didn't even receive a Donaldson Award like his costars Nanette Fabray (Mama) and Jack McCauley (Papa). Yet Ms. Whaley lambastes famed critic and sometime actor Dan Kelley and blames him for fumbling a comic ball that was never passed to him ("Kelley bungles the con man's star-making scenes") and also blames the poor thing for others' unappreciated performances: "[They] could perhaps disguise their flimsy performances if Kelley's Floy were able to draw the spotlight away from them."

Dear Savannah, never blame an actor for a bad book. In his autobiography Bilko, Phil Silvers describes the book of High Button Shoes as "a piece of crap, nothing but a bad Sergeant Bilko in spats."

This critic-actor did his research before accepting the role of Harrison Floy, and, after reading the script and trying to find a joke and vomiting and rereading the script and trying real hard to find a joke, accepted the role hoping he could do something with it. I was there the night Ms. Whaley reviewed the show; she sat with a critic who praised my performance (some didn't, most did). That night the audience cheered the production -- they laughed, they clapped, strangers waited after the show to congratulate me and ask, "Could you please sign my program?" And yet Ms. Whaley accuses me of not "radiating a subatomic particle of magnetism." Say what she will, the audience tells me different every night at curtain call. They tell me, "Hey, Dan, way to go. You did something with it!"

Dan Kelley
Miami

Savannah Whaley replies: Recognized sources Broadway Musicals by Stanley Green and Martin Gottfried's volume of the same name cite the rewriting of Longstreet's book, as did Don McArt, Mr. Kelley's costar, in his precurtain speech the night I attended. Whereas the long-standing resource of record, Theatre World, does not note Goodspeed's 1982 revival, it does indicate that Helen Gallagher did indeed play the maid in 1947. In the Royal Palm production, however, her dances have been incorporated into the role of Fran.

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