Martin Beck Theatre, (4/07/1977 - 4/23/1977)

First Preview: Apr 05, 1977
Opening Date: Apr 07, 1977
Closing Date: Apr 23, 1977
Total Previews: 3
Total Performances: 20

Category: Play, Original, Broadway
Setting: The Remington Room of a multi-million dollar theater complex in Texas City, Texas.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Jujamcyn Theaters (Samuel H. Schwartz)

Produced by Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and Sagittarius Entertainment

Written by Paul Zindel

Directed by Frank Perry

Scenic Design by Peter Larkin; Costume Design by Ruth Morley; Lighting Design by Marc B. Weiss

General Manager: James Walsh

Production Stage Manager: Marnel Sumner; Stage Manager: Maureen Sadusk

General Press Representative: Michael Alpert Public Relations; Press Representative: Warren Knowlton; Advertising: The Blaine Thompson Company; Photographer: Martha Swope

Opening Night Cast

Eileen HeckartBella Gardner
Rosemary MurphyJoanne Remington
Estelle ParsonsDede Cooper
Jan FarrandShirley Fuller
Susan PeretzSuits

Understudies: Jan Bowes (Joanne Remington, Shirley Fuller), Marie Cheatham (Bella Gardner, Dede Cooper) and Maureen Sadusk (Suits)


New York Daily News: "5 girls in a free-for-all"

High-powered acting, especially by Estelle Parsons and Eileen Heckart, lifts "Ladies of the Alamo" above the level of your run-of-the-mill catfight. Even so, the five quarrelsome women who make up the cast of the new Paul Zindel play, which last night served to reopen the handsome but seldom-used Martin Beck, grow tiresome time and again throughout the evening, mainly because they are a shallow and tiresome lot themselves.

Zindel, who had made a specialty of writing about women, beginning with "The Effect of Gamma Rays...," appears to have blocked out and propelled "Ladies of the Alamo" with considerable effort, and the effort shows in windy confrontations and some peripheral business.

We are in the functional, well-upholstered and utterly characterless main office and reception room of one of those countless theatrical, or cultural, centers that have been springing up around this and some other countries like so many highways to heaven for their very rich endowers.

This one, in Texas City, Tex., boasts a 1,200-seat theater named the Alamo in a building sporting flying butresses. As the curtain rises, a first performance of "The Sea Gull" is about to begin, and we hear the usual opening applause over loudspeakers. The production, playing to a house largely "papered" and only partially filled, is evidently a dull and even a strange one, with some local growth known as "monkey grass" being used for foliage.

At stake is the coveted post of artistic director, proudly held by Dede Cooper, a matron with a desk console enabling her to reach all areas, and played by Miss Parsons. The major contributor to this undoubtedly hideous complex is the attractive spinster Joanne Remington, after whom this room has been named and who is played by Rosemary Murphy. Following the performance there is to be a board meeting, at which time Miss Remington, dissatisfied with Dede's ambitions and management, intends to appoint a co-director in the form of a former film star called Shirley Fuller, who is down on her luck and has, it develops, a considerably lurid past. The blonde, shapely and heavily eye-shadowed Jan Farrand fills this bill.

Eileen Heckart is the drunken, promiscuous, clever and deadly funny Bella Gardner. Dede's ally even though she admits she has slept with Dede's husband just a week ago. The fifth woman is Suits, a roly-poly and mannish office assistant and general handwoman and doormat, played by Susan Peretz, who shows her mettle and toughness in an explosive scene near the finish.

But it is that gutsy prairie animal Dede who swings the toughest bat (in this case a hammer with claw) with the help of the drunk-like-a-fox Bella, and both Miss Parsons and Miss Heckart rise to splendid heights. If Miss Parsons has the edge, it is because, having buried her mother that very day, she is both unstrung and determined and, finally, primed for battle.

These two "ladies" are definitely worth seeing, and Zindel has provided them with some good, fiery outbursts. But his play as a whole doesn't ring true, even though we know what scratching and clawing takes place in countless such setups across the land. I would even go so far as to suggest that all boards consist of just one member.

Frank Perry has directed smartly, getting the most out of all the bitchy encounters. Still, the play flags. And it does so, I suspect, because Zindel, anxious to get a new work on the boards and starting with the germ of an idea, really didn't have his heart in it throughout. The curtain falls, neatly enough, as the final curtain descends on the performance below, which -- who knows? -- may have been equally amusing.

New York Daily News

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