Theater headsup

I’ve known for years of the existence of the 1954 musical The Golden Apple, with music by Jerome Moross and book and lyrics by John Latouche, but not much more than that. You may know the standard “It’s a lazy afternoon” from the first act. John Latouche was a well-known lefty (he wrote the lyrics for Earl Robinson’s Ballad for Americans and would certainly have been blacklisted if he hadn’t died in 1956 at 41), so it was probably background consciousness from my red-diaper-baby early youth. The show opened off-Broadway and moved to Broadway to pyrotechnic reviews and a Drama Circle award, but failed commercially and has spent the last decades in the memory of a small group of devotees, with very rare revivals in this or that community theater.

My exchange of comments with James in Mark’s recent post, where I suggested that the classical character most like Trump was Paris, brought it to mind, and exploring the interwebs, I was able to hear it all the way through and have completely fallen in love with it. It’s as much opera as musical, through-composed (not songs plugged into a spoken script that carries the plot; think of The Most Happy Fella).  The story is the Iliad and The Odyssey, placed in Washington State in 1900-1910; the book is erudite, witty, and both poignant and clever, and the music is endlessly inventive.  It even references the Brecht/Weill opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, prizefight and all. I love Stoppardian theater like this, that treats the audience as though they know something, but doesn’t lecture, preach, or condescend.

I made in all, four wonderful discoveries. To wit:

  • There is finally a complete recording, from an excellent 2015 production at the Irving, Texas Lyric Stage, on two CDs available at Amazon. Until now, there was only a one-LP original cast recording of some of the numbers.
  • Th Lyric Stage recording is also on Spotify.
  • The complete libretto is available here.
  • And best of all, it’s coming to the New York City Center next May!  Tickets go on sale Sept. 26; mark your calendars. See you there!

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

One thought on “Theater headsup”

  1. In 1974, I was a recent dropout from the Boston University theatre school, still hanging around Boston with many friends still in the BU program. That year, the legendary director Word Baker had a visiting appointment to the BU theatre faculty and mounted a remarkable production of The Golden Apple with full orchestra at the beautiful old BU theatre on Huntington Avenue, which I was lucky enough to get to see a couple of times (for free, which was absolutely critical for me at that time of poverty). I still remember bits of it vividly, although I've had no exposure to it since then. I didn't and don't really like musicals, but that one captivated me. I may have to plan to be in New York next May.

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