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Theatre and Performance Studies
La Salle College, "One Touch of Venus" (1972). La Salle College Summer Music Theatre. 28.
Ten Years After...
OUR FOUNDER .. .
DAN RODDEN, Music Theatre's managing director and the director of this evenings production, began his theatre training under the usual college and community theatre circumstances, and directed his first play at the age of twenty. He went on to the army, and eventually to Army show business; after transferring from the Seventh Air Force to be assistant to Major Maurice Evans, Captain Rodden took the largest advanced base entertainment unit in service history into Okinawa with the Tenth Army.
After t he war, he studied with Walter Kerr and Alan Schneider at Catholic University, and has written for the Theatre, Radio and Television. A long time member of Actors Equity, he has played professionally with Carol Channing in "Pygmalion", and notably as the boy's father in the first authorized production of "The Fantasticks".
"One touch of Venus" is the Fifty-fifth play Dan Rodden has directed, Eighteen of them for Music Theatre, which he founded in 1962. Theatre La Salle, a year round outgrowth of Music Theatre will continue its operation come the fall.
Well, here it is-our Tenth Anniversary! What can we say to the more than 2,000,000 people who've been our Music Theatre Patrons over the years? I'll tell you what we can say: We can say that this season has had us more excited than any part one has ever done, mostly, but not just because of the American premiere of AMBASSADOR. We're pretty excited about VENUS, and CHARLIE BROWN, too.
We are continuing a policy that we have emphasized the past two seasons, and which you have, happily, endorsed- we have opted again for Romance. Remember the old grammar school definitions? Realism was "life as it is". And Romanticism was "life as you'd like it to be". This is no plea, mind you, for attention to the world as it is. But we all have the six o'clock news to tell us about the world as it unhappily is. And we are not urging a flight from reality. Except, maybe .. . for three hours in the theatre.
And so AMBASSADOR and ONE TOUCH OF VENUS. And Romance! As the very special feature of our anniversary season we were pleased - pleased, hell, we were delighted to present the American premiere of AMBASSADOR, a new musical that will be presented in New York, come the Fall by Genesius Productions. This is the direction in which Music Theatre has been headed since it's inception: The presentation of new plays which will come freshly to our audiences; together with older classics which you can hardly get to see anymore.
ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, a play which Music Theatre has been wanting to do for quite awhile (it had to wait until we'd got some others out of our system, and into your applauding hands, mostly), had an incredibly talented lot of people involved in its 1943 production; it came along when a nation at war needed escape (and don't we just!), and ran for two years. Its book was by the great American humorist S. J. Perelman and our principal light verse man, ("Candy's dandy, but liquor's quicker!") Ogden Nash. Nash did the lyrics, as only he could, and the music was by Kurt Weill, whose score for KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY pleased so many of you last summer. The star was Mary Martin, fresh from "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and not yet Nellie Forbush or Peter Pan, and her costumes were by Mainbocher, yet. The dances were Agnes DeMille's and the direction was by Elia Kazan. Under the happy circumstances, VENUS could hardly have missed, and, of course, it didn't. Of its songs, one- the memorable "Speak Low" has become a standard. But the entire score, the dances, and the book are a delight. And- again-an escape! Okay, so we're all cowards!
During the run of VENUS, we'll also be presenting seven performances of YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, a great success during our Theatre LaSalle winter season, which is being offered to palliate the dog days of August, and also because it is the most charming show of its sort (what is its sort?) that we've done in years, and a lot of people asked us to do it again this summer; we'll have mostly, but not entirely, the cast that played it in February and March with happy results. So that you may bring all the kids (but it isn't really so much a kids' show as it is a show for anyone who is or ever was a kid), we're keeping the price down to $2.00 a head, major or minor.