Elliot Norton Reviews; Al Pacino, Paul Benedict, David Wheeler: Richard III
I. Never had nor review. This request nor news actor you or your brother who was last here a few years ago when the king and as the King of Siam. Has returned as the legendary traveler distros and a new musical called reasonably enough Odyssey written by Eric Siegel a classics professor who is also a popular novice to novelist. And believe it or not also a marathon runner and with songs by Mitch Lee who wrote the score for man of love match. The show begins in the final year of our disappears wanderings. He gets away from the Calypso he meets and leaves the princes and he finally gets home in the skies to see his wife. To combat with the suitors who have been harassing her for the past 20 years. With the
help of his son to LaMarcus there are good songs in the show by Mitch Lee as a magnificence by Howard Bay some stalwart acting heroic acting by Mr Byrne. But this new show I think still needs as we say in the theater needs quite a bit of work. I don't know what he feels that way about it at this point I'm not. How do you feel at this point. Well it's you know the reasons why we are in such a protracted I'm dealing with something that for which I have great respect and which I think belongs strictly to America and that's the American musical. Nobody but Americans can make this particular strange animal known as the musical. If you do a king and I it is a play to which the incomparable Mr Rogers writes a magnificent score and the incomparable still more uncomfortable Mr. Hammerstein writes extravagantly handsome and
touching and moving and funny lyrics. However the real American musical is not to play with music. And it has to be done right there on the stage the ingredients have to be made like into a sort of a soup if you must. Now there is a reason why we're on tour all together for 43 weeks. The reason for it is your humble servant. When I went into it I said I don't want to go into New York immediately I want the show to be ready. And thatis why we're going to be touring for quite a bit still quite a number of weeks we want coming to New York and Oktober because I always felt somehow sad that the King and I opened right up to both Boston and New York. It opened it was immediately hit and its growth came to an end. It was absolutely congealed into the form and we made a hit. Because once you have a hit they say don't fool around with it don't change anything. That's the form of you change one thing it may
fall of 04 apart as if it was a magic trick no nothing no magic. It's talent and it can grow and do all of these things but not if you opened on Broadway then it's finished. That was a lovely show though even one left here my gosh when you got through here that was in beautiful shape but it's in the last week here in Boston. Fourth week. That means less than 10 days before the opening on Broadway. They put in a whole section to them to the song that became known as getting to know you. I was put in less than one week before the opening on Broadway. Shall we dance and all that sequence that included the kind of romantic aspect of the relationship never existed when we first opened in Boston. It was put in in the second week and last I remember it was about by that time of that last night which I saw this was a lovely lovely show us things at work. How long have you been out with us from now on Odyssey
since we've been out since the first week of December. We started in Cleveland then opened in Washington and broke all the house records in Washington and spent a very bad reviews and audiences seem to love it. That's the miracle of it all is that we don't consider the show ready at all. We still feel like you do that we need to do a lot of work. We plan to. The audiences simply adore it. Still a theme that I think appeals to everybody. It's because of that scene that I accepted to do it because I felt that was that scene with Albert mar the helm with music we could get somewhere. You know the thing being what the return of the man was. It's a wonderful love story a love story within the family instead of outside the family for a change. You know a man who discovers that the center of the universe is really his life with his wife and his son. That is really the center of the universe that that is the
thing that he must conquer before going to conquer anything else. Troy for all the goddesses and all the monsters and all the stones What do you think it's a love story then I think it's a very warm story. We have to bring it to that. But that's where you bring it. You know the opening night I thought it was there when you first I guess that's a gnostic. And I was in a direction at that particular point where you discover the boy as you know I mean I've never seen him because he was an infant when you went away and you got up and moved a little bit away and you turned back to look at him with a sense of pride. That's my boy. But then you never had that after that with some of us do you know yes and how it stays on throughout including the fighting. And the moment that we probably don't play correctly yet but the moment when he recognizes the fact that I am his father.
After having beaten all the. It is a wonderful moment is to become the wonder is they become or is already a lot of it is already there. And since welcome here you know it has progressed. Well what about the family. Well we need a moment for her. After she sees me for the first time the scene called bread and betty white as the old man and I leave instead of going straight into it into the comedy song of berating Odysseus for thinking that he could hide behind the disguise and she would know him. Do you think you know what I don't see that should be preceded by a moment of a true heart pairing in which would give. Emotional dimension which I think is desirable then can come the anger against him and say Now I'm going to give him a bad time.
But she must have first that moment of true motion of having seen the man who's been away for 20 years and she an age where she's waited for 20 years or years to call recognitions exactly right. But don't you have to have that too because I felt now when you were saying there was a song about the Son and the film it is something else again that's a beautiful and that particular you seem to be having a way to really preserve it. How do you know the reprise comes in. You see I saying show me the sun again at the end of the collapse. Yeah that's right now because I've been in total darkness for seven years seven months and seven days with Calypso. She created eternal night and it seemed to me like one evening. In actual fact it was seven years seven months seven days and so so I sing Show me the sun again And then when I arrive in Ithaca with us and he leaves to go and see Penelope.
I see you know. After all these years to stand upon the shore to see the sailors hear the father's back husband longs to greet his wife. Then I do a reprise singing. I have come home again. The woman I love is here. We have two verses and it's very nice and it's that moment kind of emotional boiling point which has been missing is there because I think what's necessary is a feeling of emotion. And show me the Son of God in the beginning you seem to be setting up a thing and this is what the man's going home he had been having traveled all these years he's realized the big thing in his life is this that it seems to me as I saw at the opening night that all that dropped away and it just became playful. Well of course it takes such a long time before I get to you saying after that after that it's mostly plot with us you seen.
What about the problem of the Seems to me a problem of the Odyssey the suitors are a pretty grimy miserable wretched fighting lot and he gets rid of them by a bloodbath and kills them off. And as such a bloodbath they have to fumigate the past year and yes you do it with Gio just show in karate and it makes it comical but I want if there's any emotional quality there it seems to me it's very hard you know because the audience really hate them by them. I want to see them destroyed I hated them in the first in which it was supposed to. But you hated them in a different way. I did you know the way that the audience really hate them. I actually hadn't agonists is quite good. MARTIN That is quite good. Yeah it's a good voice as well and I think that the they need to recast this these are the boys that's one problem certainly that's in the works and other works will have it
before we're going to go. We're getting completely new cars in there we didn't get a good design no question and I think they will appear much better much better. We can't really make dreadful slobs out of them such as they're described in the will be it will be unpalatable to have them like that and and it will be very hard for an audience I think to accept them. And as part of entertainment they would be so obviously. Pigs you know that there would be no reason to keep them alive to make a little less formidable. Well we're trying to trying to either going to have to do that or give them butterfly nets. Why did Erich Segal decide to do this and such. Basically a light hearted way it seems flippant. After all the whole pattern of the story the way I saw the way you are talking about it's going to be more emotional it's going to be so this whole emotion of
no motional story. Does he have a say you know you have a scene in which you indicate that you're very fond of finality. Well I think that is there right now. I mean that there is no lack of emotion from this you Stuart. I mean forever he's talking throughout the first act. Oh he's talking about this how to get how to save her from suitors how to prevent the wedding from taking place. I mean that is really the driving force even through the scene with Calypso when he says yes and I love my wife says Penelope Yes but she's still waiting for me. I mean is it too late for me to return. That is really his driving force throughout. So we don't have a problem as in getting him set up what we need is the emotion coming from her. When she first sees him. Because that is not there and that will be there very shortly.
I don't think the others are. He may feel that I don't feel it. It seems to be the emphasis at that point. After he gets back there is in playing a game that one of the things he's after is to try to. He's trying to find out of Penelope has been faithful. This is not part of that was part of an original always but the reason for the disguise of a particular case is not entirely that part of the reason for the disguise is that he's afraid of me. Yes he said and yet he wants to find out how to beat them. I mean I know this is always you know on all his visits always arrived in this guy until the propitious moment when he could reveal himself and just his appearance was enough to conquer in many cases. But does he in this particular case do you think that that's emphasized enough the fact that he's doing this in order to get back his wife. Because I had the feeling the opening night that the way you were doing it was in order to have a lot of fun. And after talking
so much about you know about wanting to get back to Penelope that this is the big thing it seems to me that that got lost and he was you wear that disguise you as matter of fact for four five years I didn't have. To have a game. Well I just like to play games you like to play games of disguise but at this particular point he's not doing it just for show no one is you know this is the thing that drives this thing you have to take the driving thing after 10 years and I have to I have to make a choice you see whether I'm going to do the old man in comedic terms. He's entertaining while driving toward destroying the sutras. Or is he going to be simply going to fight them. Yeah and we chose a comedic approach to it rather than rather than simply straightforward destruction of the suitors.
You don't think you need a saint I learned what you drop the comedic approach for just a moment to say this is we're going to do it was that one song what we call the kitchen song you know the pricing. And obscene the last verse about yesteryear. Yeah and in the end I say while wandering the corridors of yesterday I spied a certain lady I had known before that scene. As I recall the lady was like fire in a dream but I was wrong. She's so much more. She's infinitely more. He truly says what he's feelings about Penelope and that he was the old man and didn't seem to me to be enough. You know possibly the comedy the comic aspect of it seemed to go just a little too long as I think we're looking for something we want to be moved by this time we want to be in touch we want to live to you know. Did Eric Segal talk this over with you for a long time and he must have before you decided to go you know
he actually it was all decided between Albert Marr and myself. Because every contact me contacted me through clues you know the French film director. Yeah. Who knew exactly where I was everybody had told him that there was no point in reaching me that I didn't want to return to the theater which was false. And Eric was in Paris so he asked to call me and the next day they came I went to have lunch in my house in Normandy and he read the play after the lunch. And I said I think that the theme of it is very very interesting I think. You don't have a plate at the moment but the theme is certainly one that would interest me in the character of the dishes would interest you. I would like them very much. And having then three days later I arrived Albert. And that's when we really got down to serious talking about it. I like this work very much I think he's a
remarkable man very complicated very interesting man. And one that is capable of getting all these elements together and somehow balancing them out in the end is going to take time. And he has a lot of things that he has to fight to arrive at it. But I think he will when he had the idea down to making it a combination of light humor but with a real poignant dramatic here. Yes. So that a basic thing there is not the same the Odyssey it's the same of the man who was discovered a long time because you know how they are. I mean nobody cares. There's no way that in two hours you can even give a glimpse of what Odyssey is like saying let's do a film of Brothers Karamazov I used that always as an example. I made one and it was you know one of one of the best performances I've ever given that I prepared for a year and a half and and at that time I felt that we could make a film a year and
Brothers Karamazov two years to our film for 25 years and would only start to uncovering the Brothers Karamazov Odyssey is still bigger subject is still big assumption. How can we in two hours do anything but just that moment when disuse finally returns home. We can't do anything else and I think that's an ingenious thing because I suppose this is what he was pointing toward. After all he was home. And you know that certainly it's the heart of the piece he said in that final scene I'm still bothered by the way in which you conquer all the sutras that seems a little bit. Even the bending of the big ball which is in the Odyssey. Yes that's a little bit difficult to pull off. Well it's a 40 pound pull and so it is a rugged one and we have them I'm very
glad that I was a trapeze artist in my early life in the business when I was you know from the time I was 12 to 17 I was a trapeze artist in the circus and I need the muscles I developed in those days to pull that. One I wanted two of those suitors were looking so they couldn't even lift it. This makes it a little difficult to accept but I have a nice thing backstage and that you know the stage hands are always such wonderful characters and we have a pool going backstage because I'm a pretty good shot and we have a target a lot of knowing. Yes in the wings when the IRA goes through it goes into a target and the pool is for when I hit the bull's eye. WATSON So you've got your hand on the. The stagehands have have this proof so every time I hit the bull's eye then they have to pay off. I How have they paid off.
Oh yes well I hit it normally on opening night or was hit the bull's eye. I can't say that for the critics but. One night you're going to get first you're going to get mad and it's somebody I'm going to change my phrasing. I thought not trying to tell you how to rewrite it or anything it seemed to me that there were so many possibilities in that scene. Originally it seems to be in the Odyssey he had a row of 12 actions didn't try. So you have about 3 showing and you don't show them. How about bringing the bull's eye. It's very it's very very difficult because. The physical problems of shooting that arrow and being truly accurate particularly with that with its wig and beard and everything. My vision is so badly needed to have that kind of precision stuff enough to play an opening night. Now to shoot through actual 12 axes through little holes like that and through 12 of them in a
row on top of playing this performance is really asking a little too much. Well I just wondered if there was another way of faking it in some way. Well that's what we tried to do but it's very very difficult when I think we're looking for that. That's an attempt at a really interim matics that should be a terribly exciting game. That whole scene after all this is the big thing he's come home he's got to get rid of those servers he's scared to death of these people he's all of those 10 or 12 and this is the way he's going to get back to his wife after 20 years away. So it seems to me something needs to be. Don't you feel like oh yes something needs to be there. Besides the stagehands I think there's a number of elements that need to be looked at. Just one thing and it is not I don't think it's ever a mechanical device. OK we could rig something up. Maybe you know for the arrow to actually go. But if
we can give angle it's giving the illusion that's what I'm taking that's already enough. But it doesn't need to be the actual thing. You don't know have to show if there are goes directly behind them or if you have something up and center stage so that you get a progression on the back wall. Yeah it looks like you can make it look as though you're going to roll that kind of trickery. When I was looking for what I was looking for in the last part of the play is a motion poignance which is potentially there when I was looking for that particular sense excitement dramatic excitement because you want to see at that particular point stand up and we really faceoff people and I need to be tough opponents. If he takes on a big stage for tough opponents that would be exciting. That's what I was looking for I didn't fire that you know I was trying to of course you know with that to make the limit because they caught most of them to make him look more like yeah like a man
and then when he finally wore worn out take on the toughest take on the toughest and the last of the opponents and dispose of him. Even the choreography at one point there one of them comes to you you're standing facing your eons with your hands and you get them by the hands. You do it as a flippant thing instead of at that particular you know I had the money hid behind it but at that point isn't it a serious thing to be at that point. Oh yes. Where your life is in danger that kind of thing shouldn't reach that particular point. Well just a very hard two to make the audience believe you know that they can really do any harm. The whole idea is that when he hits me on the back and I keep looking at what's happening you know because I can't even feel it. And the idea to show that this is was so formidable figure. Yeah. That him a blow on the back like that was like a fly. And no more
than that. Should he perhaps take after this part of a time to reveal the muster as if they were in the US because then we have a whole thing with the never and I think that he now I think of the moment when I think the disguise off is the right moment the moment when another person I truly alone and now we've finished all the discussion and ready to admit our love to each other and that's the moment these guys fancy. What do you tell me. Well I don't know you know you said before in all his adventures before he was always disguised when he wanted one another Rose Island waiting for the chance when he did take off his garments. The sky suddenly there's a vicious and I don't even want to fight with them. It was like I was thing I was wondering whether or not that isn't wouldn't be more suitable at that particular point instead of
taking them so lightly. But I'm looking for I think it's more dramatic more just like I said it before. Followed by a truly romantic moment. Yes exactly true poignant poignant emotion. Right and think it was exciting to see all those boys being tumbled into the walk yesterday. I would think that would take a terrific. Group A troop of tumbling gymnasts to make that really exciting wouldn't you. I mean the divorce advances. But if you don't find it we have two gymnasts and you do. If you don't find that exciting that's the big climactic moment dramatically isn't it. This is what he's driving away all of final opposition all down for 10 years 20 years he's been fighting opposition fighting battles fighting all kinds of monsters. Here is the point he finally faces up to the big group of tough ones you know. So that should be a most exciting and he's clear he's going home to his wife which was the big objective is that right. That's
right that's right. Do you in the rehearsals What do you do you consult about these things religiously. Oh and how we work we work all the time you know and it's Erich Segal have a part in an hour he was you know is he he works but he works mostly with by himself. They work on their own. How they tells him what I'll be and he kind of courses you know I mean they contribute equally Every because all the writing but the planning of the writing is done between the two of them together. So Al goes and says Look Eric we need that I've never been present at those so don't ask me how I know what are you doing. You talk I talk I talk with I deal strictly with nobody else. You have to feel comfortable. Oh yes. I mean you have to feel it's working your way. You cannot accept it. Well I accept I accept anything and I try it and I tried in a
very long way in other words I go on trying it for a long time until I finally said Well I don't think it works out. Let's get something else. Yo would you tell him a few times. Yeah. To do a little bit more we will do. He will do it because he got those he's the one of the truly capable of doing it. Thank you very much. Good luck on the rest of your tour. I'm glad you have your back and thank you. You have just turned to me Norman in conversation with a new production artist currently playing at the Colonial Theater in Boston. Mr. Norton is drama critic of The Boston Herald American and Sunday Herald advertiser and appears in the courtesy of the newspaper. Mr. Norton is also Professor of Management University.
- Elliot Norton Reviews
- Producing Organization
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Contributing Organization
- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
- AAPB ID
- Elliot Norton interviews actors Al Pacino (Richard III), Paul Benedict (Duke of Buckingham), and director David Wheeler about a production of Shakespeare?s ?Richard III? in the Church of the Covenant on Newbury Street by the Theater Company of Boston. This production drew national attention because of Al Pacino, who had made his breakthrough the year before with "The Godfather." Norton notes that Pacino started out opening night with a slight accent and he was nervous that the actor had ?gone Mafia.? Pacino blames this on nerves, claiming that when he is nervous, he inadvertently slips into accents. Pacino explains that he has always wanted to do Shakespeare, because of his love of language. He used to do soliloquies from Hamlet and Macbeth alone in his room and chose to perform Shakespeare scenes for acting classes. He is inspired by the language and feels that as an actor, ?language serves you,? as opposed to the other way around. He believes that today people are lazy and do not open their mouths to speak, so this is an opportunity to really use language. Although this is his first professional Shakespeare production, he talks about performing the first half hour of "Richard III" at the Actors Studio three or four years prior. In this production, he did not use a director, which he claims is the ?best way to do it,? casting a sheepish look at director David Wheeler. Norton commends Pacino?s ability to balance playing the demon that kills his way to the crown and the comic that enjoys himself while opening up to the audience. Norton likes the way Pacino addresses the audience and sets it up as a ?game? in which he is enjoying himself and encourages the audience to do the same. Pacino feels that he connects so strongly with the audience that when he tells them about the crimes he committed, he starts to wonder about what they will do to him. Other subjects that were discussed include the decision for modern costumes and the use of the church as a playing space.
- Performing Arts
- Arts; Theater; Richard III; Shakespeare, William; Godfather, The
- Rights Note:,Rights:,Rights Credit:WGBH Educational Foundation,Rights Type:All,Rights Coverage:,Rights Holder:WGBH Educational Foundation
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- Moving Image
Director2: Fortier, Russ
Guest2: Benedict, Paul
Guest2: Wheeler, David
Guest2: Pacino, Al
Host2: Norton, Elliot
Producer: Sullivan, Joan
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: ebf4070bd9b08d9f09d4e990c7812bd75d851559 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
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