THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide



entire contents copyright 1996 by THE THEATER MIRROR

The Greenroom Discussions is your forum for issues, commentary and reviews written by you, the theater-goer. It is arranged by the most current item first. Discussions may be deleted, periodically. Please email us at

Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 21:33:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The Pocket Mime Theatre/Theater

Larry, it's been a jillion years ... I remember you well.

I'm J Tormey, the skinny guy with the red afro who worked with the Pocket Mime Theatre for way too many years. We only met but once or twice, but I always looked forward to reading your reviews. It was pure vanity.

You were one of the few kritikal types who really seemed to understand what it was we were trying to accomplish twenty odd years ago. Even when you wrote about us anonymously, we always knew it was you: you always spelled it Theatre, the way we did.

Those were the days of Micheal Atwell and Katie Birchenough and John Girard and Annegret Reimer. Larry Murray was our PR guy. Good Old Larry ... wonder whatever happened to him? Pete Gurney (my ex-prof at MIT) brought his classes to our shows to learn the difference between plot and dialogue.

Am I sounding like an old codger? Don't mean to. I got out of mime and theater back in '81 and went on to prostitute my talents in the bogus world of advertising, where "creative" is a noun and third rate talents who could never survive as real artists are worshiped as gods and paid entirely too much money.

I am not worshiped, but I am, on ocassion paid too much. I drifted away from real art and only just now today stumbled upon your home page. It feels good. I am so glad to see that people of your calibre (caliber?) have stuck it out and managed to keep the Boston Theater scene alive and thriving.

I promise to visit regularly and pay more attention in general.

How are things with you? I guess I could just browse this site and answer that for myself, eh?

I was glad to read that Spiro is at the Publick. I performed shows with him and Dana Hersey at Emerson back in 1970.

After it closed, I wrote a brief but extremely maudlin history of the PMT. If you're interested, I would love to send it to you.

So glad I found you.



Of course I rememeber you, j! I even remember THE NEW MERRIAM-WEBSTER POCKET MIME CIRCUS, that started at Emerson and grew to an independent operation that built its own play-space.

The Pocket Mime Theatre's major innovation was using more than one mime on the stage at the same time. I can remember a retelling of "The Frog Prince" that ended when the kiss turned the princess into a frog. And I remember a piece called "The Pearl" --- a slow underwater evocation in which Katie as the oyster lovingly shaped her treasure, only to be ripped, raped, and left to die when an indifferent scuba-diver came through harvesting.

And I even remember, before all that, a series of MIT one- acts in Kresge Little during which someone did a Beckett play, solo and silent, wearing a mask. Skinny kid with a red afro, I think, majoring in oceanography. I've often wondered whatever happened to that kid...


Date: 16 Jul 96 23:16:32 EDT
From: J Tormey <>

Wow yourself!

I must say you have an impressive set of memory glands. You even remember that I wanted to be an oceanographer ... Act Without Words was the Becket at MIT ... Yes, I will exhume my PMT history and send it to you. Might have to be a fax because it was penned in my pre-electronic days. Maybe I can OCR it. But just to be safe, please send me a viable fax number for your venerable self. Great to be back in touch. More to come ...

Date: 18 Jul 96 21:28:13 EDT
From: J Tormey <>
Subject: PMT obit

Larry, I just faxed off the PMT obituary to the number you gave me. You asked for it. I think you'll get a kick out of the story. You're one of the few people left alive who would ...

As for Larry Murray, I think I have more recent information than you. Last I heard he was the owner/operator of a shop on Newbury Street call something like "The Blue Planet" sort of a take off on The Nature Company. But last I checked it was gone and so was he. I also remember going to a Larry Murray Appreciation Day at some trendy club on Washington Street near the Modern about 8 years ago. It was run by ART and it was just about a month before they canned him. Nasty businesss that.

There's a nifty web site called "" with white pages listings of the whole damn country. Maybe I'll look for him there.

So read the story and enjoy. I owe you a lot, my friend. And someday I'll get my revenge!



If you're willing, j, I'd like to get the Pocket Mime story into The Theater Mirror.

It was typical of the indifference/contempt that Boston seems to hold for theater that such a successful, innovative company was shut down so abruptly for fire-law violations after two or three seasons. The space, in a room just outside a church on Newbury Street, is now a very good co-operative art gallery. I visit there, and I like their work --- but every time I go in, I remember what that space once was --- and what it might have been.

Have you any information about the other mimes you worked with, what they and Annegret did after? For that matter, what sort of theater-work did YOU do, after?

Keep looking in, j...


Date: 23 Jul 96 22:08:58 EDT
From: J Tormey <>
Subject: Re: thots

Larry, I will agree to posting the PMT obit to The Mirror if you will agree to take some time to edit it in your professional journalistic way so's that I will not embarass myself in front of the literate multitudes.

As for Lee VanderLaan, I would love to look him up. Where is he in Ipswich? Got a phone? I have two brothers who are programming geeks who might be able to assist with some high level stuff.



It won't need much sandpaper, J, but I'll see to it the genuine emotion with which you wrote this is evident to everyone who reads it. It certainly is to me. And, for myself and everyone who reads it, thank you very much for letting us see what the life of serious professional artists here in America feels like.


Date: Tue, 23 Jul 96 17:54:42 0000
From: Mort Kaplan
Subject: Hello, Larry!

Hey, Larry. I haven't been in touch lately because I am adjusting to a new life phase. I call it ACT4. After three decades working in the Theatre Department and the Center for the Arts at Northeastern University, I have decided to move on.

I am pursuing acting and directing full-time now. I shall be auditioning and sending my resume around. --I like to think of myself as the oldest new face in town or the newest old face: whatever gets the work. I will be auditioning at the Stagesource Equity auditions in August and will be working with Ed Bullins, directing his new play BOYxMAN in November.I will let you know how it goes.

By the way, I read the Jay Tormey correspondence. Hello, Jay! Remember me? I booked you and your company as artists-in- residences at Northeastern in the late seventies. You did a series of performances and taught a number of forcredit workshops that ran wall to wall. Those were exciting, productive days...We were all poor but were glad to be part of something bigger than us...It had purpose then. What happened and where did it all go?


Date: 25 Jul 96 19:49:49 EDT
From: J Tormey <>
Subject: Re: Mime thots

Thanks for the poop on Lee -- I'll be sure to drop by.

Regarding Kenyon Martin --- that is a sad story. We never quite got on and I don't know why. After studying with him at Harvard in 1970, I wanted to join his company but he just sort of ignored my request so I went over to work with the kids at Emerson and eventually formed the PMT. We always sort of politely ignored each other. He eventually moved to California and I believe died a couple years ago of Hodgkin's Disease, which he had had, off and on, for decades. Debbie O'Carrol, the former Debbie Clark, original PMT member now living in Newburyport, knows his story better.

Funny thing is, I can't find ANYBODY doing mime anywhere. Tony Montanaro and the Celebration Barn Theatre are still active up in Paris, ME, but I don't know what they're up to. Claude Kipnis died, I hear. What about Paul Curtis and The American Mime Theatre? Studebaker Mime? Mummenschanz? Trent Arterbery? When was Marceau last seen alive? (With Micheal Jackson?!)

I'm glad you appreciated the "mult-mime" thing.

You're right. I should have talked more about the work we did. We called it ensemble mime. The big problem with mime in the 70's was the illusionary technique -- walls, balls, ropes and canes. It was fascinating to watch but it became a trap for the art form. It got so people came to see mime to see the "tricks." Some performers pandered to this, doing little more than demonstrating the technique -- no conflict, no plot, no drama, just tricks. Others recognized the problem and avoided the illusionary technique (what they called "whiteface mime") doing what they called "movement theater"

Our goal was to transcend the illusionary technique. We tried not to draw attention to the technique. We used it as a tool. We hoped people would see the technique, get used to it and get beyond it to the plot, the characters and the drama.

And it worked. After a while people would forget that there were no objects on the stage. Of course not everything we did was in the illusionary style.

We mimes contributed to our own demise by teaching too much. Too many people learned the illusionary technique and then took it out onto streetcorners to annoy people. That became mime for the general public and nobody wanted to go into a theater and pay to be annoyed when they could get annoyed on the street for free.

Oh, and thanx for the forwarded message from Mort. I sent him a note myself at "" but it was returned as undeliverable. Is that his right address?

later, my friend



J, I think Mort Kaplan must have offended The Almighty God Of Computers somehow. Even the "return-mail; reply" things I tried to send him came right back. And this is even a New Email address!

I hope he looks into The Theater Mirror often enough to know we are TRYING to keep in touch with him. Mort was one of my favorite directors. He played the little in-the-round Studio Theatre at Northeastern like a violin! And after a while I realized that, with student theater or community theater, the quality of the shows depends more than anything on how good the Director is. Mort Kaplan and Harry M. Ritchie --- out at Tufts Arena Theatre --- gave me many evenings of delightful theatrical experiences. Now that Mort's been turned loose on the general scene, I hope producers realize what he can do with a bare stage and a bunch of actors.

Date: Tue, 09 Jul 1996 15:18:54 -0400
From: Harlan Feinstein
Subject: some updates on shows

You've got Pirates of Penzance's dates wrong. No doubt they changed the dates. I was in their orchestra pit for Bye Bye Birdie, am slated for the next couple (Pirates, Chorus Line), and picked up their latest schedule when I was there a couple weeks ago. You had Pirates listed

    from 27 July - 4 August.

    9 August - 18 August
         "Pirates of Penzance"
         The Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street, ARLINGTON

    13 September - 22 September
         "A Chorus Line"

    15 November - 23 November
         "Les Pecheurs de Perles" (Bizet's Opera "The Pearl Fishers"


Date: Tue, 09 Jul 1996 15:11:09 -0400
From: Harlan Feinstein
Subject: Crazy for You

How was the orchestra at the North Shore's Crazy for You?


Thanks again, Harlan!

Harlan Feinstein may be one of the few people who not only reads through The Theater Mirror's listings, but tells us when we've made any mistakes! Thanks again, Harlan; the data has been altered to reflect reality.

"How was the orchestra at "Crazy for you"?

Peppy, Harlan. Really peppy!

You may find this hard to believe, but I never noticed! There was so much going on, such really energetic dancing and very precisely-timed action, that I can't tell you a single thing about the orchestra.

But I think that means they were Great, don't you? I mean, if I had noticed the orchestra, I think I'd only have noticed that they did something wrong, and I didn't.

What I did notice was that although people had to have been miked for this show, sound was handled in such a way that it seemed to come from performers rather than from speakers. And I mention this only because I saw (and didn't review) "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Colonial Theatre, and exactly the reverse was true. Not only that, the ORCHESTRA was miked and so loudly amplified I had difficulty making out the words to some of the songs. (I did once or twice put my fingers in my ears, but when I thus Could decipher lyrics I discovered it was a waste of time.) I spent much of my time watching one of the kids in the huge chorus being incredibly focused and professional --- and I left the theatre whistling the set.

At "Crazy", I frankly left whistling the choreography, and the rhythm for some of those songs still bursts into my mind from time to time --- so I'm betting that orchestra must have been damn good.

By the way, Harlan, what instrument(s) do you play?


Sub: happened to be surfin' by...

Dear Larry,

Hi! My name is Mike Canizares and I own a B&W photo lab that specializes in headshot reproduction. I just got my web site online (2 days ago!) and was hoping that I can have a link to your site on my page.

Also (if possible) could you link your site to my page?
My website is Please have a look and give me your honest thoughts. Thanks again and I look forward hearing from ya!

Mike Canizares
Preicision Photos


Mike, this message fell through the cracks, and I just found it in my "for Immediate Action!" file.

The Theater Mirror hasn't linked to anything but theater web-sites or sites listing theatrical events so far. Our hope was that people offerring commercial services ought to advertise on The Mirror, and we have rates listed.

Trouble is, too few people with things to sell to a theater-aware public are even aware that the Internet exists, let alone conscious of The Mirror. And so Precision Photos will be the first "classified-links" entry here. Let's hope it starts a trend!


Date: Mon, 01 Jul 96 16:04:28 -0400
Sender: cmprime!
Subject: OOBR awards

This year's OOBR awards were held at the Cafe 44 in NYC on Monday, June 24.

Unlike traditional awards, which are given by committees who have to vote, the OOBRs are given by reviewers themselves. Each reviewer picks his or her favorite show for the season.
The awards are presented in increasing order by number of shows reviewed in OOBR; thus, the last award presented is by the reviewer who reviewed the most shows. By implication, that award is the most distinguished, since it faced stiffer competition.

The winners (out of order) were

The Looking Glass Theatre Co., for THE THREE SISTERS
New Perspectives Theatre Co., for JIHAD, a play about Saladin and Richard Lionheart
Lightning Strikes Theatre Co., for GOD'S COUNTRY, about right-wing militias
the Cosmic Bicycle, for NETHERWORLD, an avant-garde puppet show
Next Stage Theatre Co., for WHITE PEOPLE, a drama about race
Castalia Repertory Co., for LOVE IS NOT CONCERNED, an evening of Inge and Williams
Richard Hoehler for his one-man show WORKING CLASS
and Judith Shakespeare Co. for MACBETH.

(Actually, if you transpose GOD'S COUNTRY and the Scottish play, the order's about right.)

We also awarded a Sustained Achievement Award to the Jean Cocteau Repertory Co.

Needless to say, everyone was thrilled to get an award (well, except for the Looking Glass folks, who apparently didn't get the word, since they didn't show up).
Most of these young people were delighted just to get reviewed -- the vast majority of work Off-Off-Broadway is written on water, as Tyrone Guthrie put it.

The next Saturday morning, one of the best-known press agents and theatre personalities, David Rothenberg, devoted nearly half- an-hour of his weekly radio show to OOBR and the OOBR awards, especially praising us for not lusting after stars.

Well, I'm psyched. I guess I'll keep it up for another year.

John Chatterton


Congratulations, not only to the winners, but to the publisher!

The Off-Off-Broadway Review responds to that terrible cry out of Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN:
"Attention! Attention must be paid!"
Reviews are generally thought to pillory bad work and trumpet good, to measaure and censure and judge creative output.
Obviously, OOBR often does the additional service of recognizing that creative work was done a all. So, hang in there, John! The world of theater needs what you do.

Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 15:00:34 -0400
From: (Bob Cohen)
Subject: Southborough Players Seek Directors for 1996~1997 Season


Southborough Players Seek Directors for 1996~1997 Season

The Southborough Players are accepting bids from stage directors, music directors and choreographers for our 28th season which begins with "Charlotte's Web," a children's play adapted from E.B. White's book by Joseph Robinette. Flexible casting for ages ten to adults includes up to 7 male and 9 female principle roles plus a large ensemble. Auditions are planned for early September with performances at Woodward School in mid-November.

Our second production of the season is the award-winning Off- Broadway musical, "Nunsense," by Dan Goggins. Auditions for the cast of 5 women, which will require vocal and dance, are mid- November with "cabaret-style" performances at Woodward School on January 17, 18, and 19.

The season concludes with Alan Ayckbourn's comedic farce, "How The Other Half Loves." Slated to go up in mid-March at St. Mark's, auditions for 3 men and 3 women are planned for early January.

Please send your bid, stating experience and salary requirements, so that we receive it no later than August 16, 1996 to: The Southborough Players
P.O. Box 367
Southborough, MA 01772-2030.

For further details or questions, call 508/485*4424, send an e-mail inquiry to or see our world wide web page at

The Southborough Players, Inc. is a Massachusetts-based, non- profit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of live theater performance that reflects high standards of quality and professionalism. Founded in 1969, the Players present shows throughout the year including children's theater, a comedy or drama, and a Broadway musical or "cabaret" show.

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 1996 16:26:00 -0400
From: John Conde
Subject: Re: Looking for reviewers.....

Hi, Larry it's Camilla from Rosewood Theatre Company in Storrs, CT. We got your mass mailing on june 17th. I have been really busy so excuse me for not replying sooner. I run a theatre company in storrs CT with Anna Bartley.

She's at the top of your mailing list. Anyway we are right now in the middle of a production called FITTING-IN written by Anna Bartley, in fact she is a great writer. We both may be willing to help you once our show finishes in july.

Please contact me then, and in the mean time please keep me informed as to what's happening in Boston. I am a Emerson College Alumni.
Thanks Camilla :-)


In other words, Camilla, Anna Bartley "The FIRST of The Few" has been producing a play of her own WITHOUT TELLING THE THEATER MIRROR A word ABOUT IT?!?!?!(Insert snirking emoticon of your choice here!)

Seriously, what and where is Rosewood? What's FITTING-IN like? When do you open? Any relation to U.Conn.'s summer shows?

I was down there reviewing when they were doing rep. The show I remember, of course, was the season's "jinks-show" which happened to be OTHELLO, which went through without a hitch down to a final, moving tableau when one actor slowly and solemnly drew the curtain...and the wire it was on broke free of the wall and it collapsed!

The address-list for The Few is in limbo right now, but we'll be asking them all about possible reviews. We're still learning what The Theater Mirror is capable of. But you and Anna can keep a finger on the theatrical pulse here --- if you get any free time!


Jul 1996 18:16:39 GMT
From: Janice.Leonforte@FMR.Com
Subject: The Boroughs!

Larry: The New York boroughs are really Manhatten, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island -- the latter was Richmond a looonnnggg time ago.
Ref.: the American Heritage College dictionary. Regards. a Brooklyn girl.


I was surfing the other night and came upon a web-site for a magazine called STAGE DIRECTIONS, and told them of The Theater Mirror's existence and asked for a copy for a possible review. And this was the result:

Date: Tue, 30 Jul 1996 07:37:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Stage Directions


Thanks for contacting us. I'm putting a sample copy of Stage Directions in the mail to you this week. Let us know what you think!

We haven't figured out what we're doing with exchanging and/or selling links yet -- right now it is only available to our advertisers. We'll let you know what the options are as soon as we decide.

I certainly know about the active theater community in New England. I went to Boston U and later lived for about 5 years near Peterborough, NH. I played around with the Oktoberfest Theater in Marlboro MA; the Sudbury Savoyards in Sudbury MA; the Clinton somebody-or-others in Clinton MA; and the Peterborough Players in Peterborough NH. Great stuff, and lots of fun folks.

Good luck in your endeavor!
Diane Despopoulos
Director of Operations

Date: Tue, 30 Jul 1996 09:31:39 -0400
Subject: Re: the theater mirror

Hello Larry!

Your email has been circulated around our office. Sample copies of the magazine to follow. Thank you for your enthusiasm! You may receive messages from others in the office as we have several departments. I am the director of marketing. It is no strange coincidence that I am looking for ways to market our magazine in New England next year. Here is what I am looking for specifically: those people who make the shows happen -- cast, crew, director, etc ... these individuals are not always on a "list." Might you be able to put a request out to your New England cronies that I am looking for lists of these people? I'll even send them some Stage Directions "goodies" for emailing or faxing me lists of people. I have used the NEED list (you spoke of the digest) in the past. It is quite good but in no way reflects the number of individuals involoved in theater. As you mention there are hundreds of performances going on in your area! If just 10 people make a show happen (and we both know this is a low number), then with just 100 performances -- That's 1000 people!!!!! So, can you help? When you receive the magazine you will see the incredible value of the publication.

Please spread the word! I'll keep in touch.
Tina Burrows
Director of Marketing
Stage Directions Magazine

Date: Wed, 31 Jul 96 13:25:20 -0700
From: Gretel Meyer
Organization: Centaur Theatre
Subject: Boston Theater Scene

Hi, I'm looking for any guidance you may be able to offer regarding the Boston Theater scene. I'm stage manager and a member of Canadian Actors' Equity, I am also an American citizen and would like to do some work in the Boston are, closer to family etc.

I know exactly how to go about finding contracts in Canada and have already done my networking here...The US is uncharted territory.

Your homepage has been useful, but my search continues. In Canada we have an annual publication called the Theatre Listing, it is published by the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres and has info and contact names and numbers for every Theatre in the country. Does such a thing exist for New England, Mass, or even for the whole country??

I would be more than happy to exchange tips on breaking into the Canadian theatre world!

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

thank you
Gretel Meyer


When the STAGE DIRECTIONS request came, I suggested they contact the man behind STAGE MANAGERS UNANIMOUS, an informative but time-consuming web-site that Brad Ball maintains. This was the return Email from backstage with the Barnstormers at Tamworth, New Hampshire:
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 00:23:08 -0400
From: Brad Ball Subject: Re: Directors, SM, etc.

>>Hi Brad.
>>This is larry stark from The Theater Mirror.
>>Are you TERRIBLY busy?

Yes. :) But who isn't in this business!
>>I know ROOM SERVICE is up, and ANGEL STREET is in preparation, and you may not get to your computers for another month, but I want to warn you, you may get some mail.

Angel street starts in about 10 hours. Good opening with Room Service tonight.
>>A theater magazine aimed at the Makers of theater asked me today how to find the directors, stage-managers, lighting-designers or -operators, costumers, === the people who Make Things Go. I thought YOU would know more about these people than anyone. I'm going to send them your Email address.

Thanks for the warning.
>>But break a leg anyway.
>>((Know what? Some actor in FLORIDA F'Gawd's sake, just asked me "Where did that phrase 'Break a leg' come from?"
>>YOU got any ideas about it?????


I have a Boston Globe, Ask Joe, clipping in front of me which I clipped many years ago. How accurate it is, I do not know, but here it is verbatim:

"The phrase probably derives from a German expression of good luck. 'Hals und Beinbruch' ('may you break your neck and your leg') and is believed to have become part of American slang through the Yiddish theatre. In truth actors and actresses are an especially superstitious lot and wishing a performer 'good luck' is considered very bad luck indeed."

Personally, I can only think of one member of our company who really was as superstitious as the Globe suggests. (She would never play in front of a Green set - which symbolized "death" among other issues.) Many company members do wish others "Good Luck", or some other greeting. Very few "break a leg's".

           *  Brad Ball                  Stage Manager's Unanimous *
           *                                                       *
           *               All the world's a stage and             *
           *         most of us are desperately unrehearsed.       *
           *                                                       *
           *                      *
           *              *


From: Perri Davis
Subject: Re: (no subject)

>Hello. My name is Perri Davis and I perform with the Phoenix Theater in Melbourne, Florida. A few of my colligues have an inquiry. Could you try to assist?

Where did the phrase "break a leg" originate from? We have heard different stories. Thank you for your assistance. Hope to hear from you soon.
Thank You
Perri E. Davis
E-Mail address:


Well, Brad Ball has certainly taken all the suspense out of This question, hasn't he? Here I was all set to declare a contest for the first person to come up with The Correct Answer, and not only does he come up with the most plausible answer I've ever seen, not only does he come up with it Before I can start the darn contest, but His answer is much better than my own!

Regardless of where it started, I've always felt the connotation was simply "This is a CRAFT and there's no Luck involved; do the job and get your well-deserved bows, even if you have to Break A Bone doing it!" I did see a fond rememberance of a dead fellow-actor in which the phrase "last time we saw one another backstage we said 'break a bone' to each other" certainly implied that to me.

There was a lengthy back-and-forth on an internet Theater Bulletinboard about this, and there were two logical-sounding explanations. One was that "to break a leg" meant to curtsy, and that sounds as though it might have been common back in Elizabethan times --- except of course there were no Women acters then, and the player would have to be curtsying "in character".

The other was that a "leg" is a narrow bit of back-cloth hanging, so "to break a leg" meant to step through the scenery, probably to take a solo bow.

Those are much more romantic-sounding explanations, but after seeing what Bad came up with I think he is, unfortunately, much more correct. Unless anyone can cite a use of the term Before Yiddish Theater had its vogue I'll declare the contest over before I got a chance to get it started.

But it's awfully unimaginative, being faced by the truth like that, isn't it? Next he'll be telling us that "theatre" merely entered English with the Norman French, and the spelling is stuffily aristocratic, while "theater" is gutter-Saxon dog-Latin or Old-Church Slovonic and bespeaks an affinity with tradespeople, whereas We all know the Real Truth about it, don't we?

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide