Lighten Up, Dennis: Readers want Dennis Brown to rejoin the rank of the commoners

Stage, February 21, 2008

Superior Being

Dennis Brown is a smarty pants: It's always so much fun when Dennis Brown tells us how much smarter and more mature he is than the rest of us, as he did in his review of Avenue Q ["All Nude Muppets!"]. One of the typical complaints in his review is that these lyrics aren't like those of Ira Gershwin or Larry Hart. Well, since those guys wrote musicals in the 1920s and 1930s, I would sure hope musical theater has changed since then!

Brown is too involved in his own self-importance to understand how truthful this show is, and how exactly it speaks in the language and culture and concerns of its (fairly wide) target audience. The show deals with sexuality, racism, unemployment, economic hardship and hopelessness, because these are potent, relevant topics in America today. We could return to the musicals of the 1920s and 1930s, as Brown apparently wants, but why would we want to? Avenue Q is a smart, funny, truth-telling piece of theater that follows the rule of Stephen Sondheim — content dictates form — and it's the show's rule-busting form that most cleverly reveals the emotions and inner lives of these characters.
Scott Miller, St. Louis

Stage, February 14, 2008

Twelve Angry Men Was Terrific

Even as a play: Dennis Brown doesn't seem to be able to enjoy any play that he enjoyed as a movie, as his review of Twelve Angry Men would indicate ["Guilty!"]. They are two different experiences, and both can be good. Twelve Angry Men at the Repertory Theatre was well-acted and believable, and there was a drama in being physically present that more than made up for the close-ups possible in the film version. I especially loved the body language of the group standing together against the bully (as advised in school bullying-prevention programs), and the tenderness of helping the broken bully with his jacket at the end. Many relevant issues were raised: that we are never sure of our decisions, that small details we often overlook can make a big difference. Until we have eliminated prejudice, the death penalty, man's inhumanity to man and so many other ills, this play will speak to us.
Mary Garrett, St. Peters

News Short, February 7, 2008

Megan Asks Many — Many — Questions

Will there ever be time to answer them all?: Numerous questions need to be addressed about the proposed Carondelet Park rec-plex/community center, featured in Kathleen McLaughlin's story "Separate and Equal." There is no doubt that such a center could be an asset to city living or that city residents deserve one. But with the Carondelet Park center, why should city taxpayers foot the bill to build another YMCA, and why should it be built in a public park? Has the city taken bids on the management of this proposed center since it intends to outsource it? Why are we proposing to spend public dollars to support a private entity? And what will the YMCA do with the historic building they will abandon to move to a new publicly financed facility on park land that belongs to the public?

A few years ago when the city spent approximately $1.25 million for a feasibility study and held five public meetings to present their ideas, there was never a vote by the people of the city. Who is it being built for? How much would a city resident have to pay to be a part of this center funded with our tax dollars? Would there be a special resident's fee if non-residents have access to it? How much could a family expect to pay? The YMCA is an expensive gym in comparison to the rec-plexes in the county. Now that the plans are downscaled, how many people is the center planning on serving? What is the attendance capacity? Let's not forget that just a few months after the opening of The Heights, Richmond Heights' community center, it was found to be too small to serve all of the residents interested in being a part of it. City residents voted to support a tax increase for the parks and recreation department to assist in the maintenance of new and existing centers. However, there has not been a vote on whether to allow for loss of green space with new development in our parks.
Megan Everding, St. Louis

 
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