Week of October 22, 2003

Que Seurat, Seurat
Incoming! Dennis Brown is certainly free to dislike a show. He should not, however, be free to intentionally misrepresent what he's seen: in this case, New Line Theatre's Sunday in the Park with George ["The Brush-Off," October 15].

Brown despairs in his review of "[s]o much effort, simply to avoid having to re-create Seurat's painting onstage." But in fact, New Line does re-create the famous painting onstage. Twice. Maybe Brown was in the bathroom both times?

He also says that the way New Line staged the show is like doing Hamlet without Hamlet. No, Dennis, that would only be true if New Line did Sunday in the Park with George without George, which is not the case. He also says the show is two one-act plays but then tells us "Act II continues the story" of Act I. Which is it, Dennis?

As he often does, Brown has missed entirely the point of the show. I guess that's okay if he's just an audience member. It's not so okay when he's a theater reviewer. Sunday in the Park with George is about people and relationships -- like every other good show -- not about a painting. It's also not okay for Brown to lie about shows he reviews. RFT readers can see the truth on stage at the ArtLoft through November 1.
Scott Miller, artistic director
New Line Theatre

The Great Tear-Down, Pt. 2
Bring on the bulldozers: If knocking down a few buildings is what it takes to clean up one of the worst areas of the city, then pass me the bulldozer keys [Shelley Smithson, "The Greening of McRee Town," October 8]. McRee Town is extra-scary, and its malaise spreads into the adjoining area like a westward breeze from Sauget, Illinois. Jonathan Kleinbard deserves a medal for tackling one of the serious problems with our town. I'd love to see him join the school board.
Jim McKelvey
St. Louis

Whither Metropolis?
Something old, something new: The piece on Metropolis was interesting as far as a brief update on our city's trendy urban booster club, but really, without sounding too much like a middle-aged establishment type, I am a little tired of the local media's focused love affair with all things young and hip [Mike Seely, "Metropolistless," October 1]. Is catering only to a youthful housing or business market really in the best interest of the city as a whole? I think perhaps not.

Local radio and print opinion shapers often see young, trendy twentysomethings replete with a keen fashion sense and progressive views on all things important as somehow the catalyst that St. Louis needs to become another mecca to American Urban Chic. But aside from their funny glasses, male purses and "metrosexual" attitudes, what do young people really offer aside from a potentially cheap labor force?

This is not to say young people have nothing to contribute to a community's redevelopment. But perhaps we need to cast a wider net in attracting a more diverse population back into the city. And while the earning potential of an educated, young population may look good in a marketing study, it's no guarantee these "hipsters" will actually earn the fabulous sums they did prior to the healthy burst of the dot-com bubble.

Is it worth exploring other markets and viewpoints as found among older, more established professionals or factory and other blue-collar wage earners? What about attracting family-run businesses, retirees, light manufacturing companies and a larger corporate presence, especially in the downtown area and immediate commercial districts? Maybe these less-flashy market subjects are worth a new media focus as well.

This city and its development agencies have made great strides over the past twenty years in remaking its appearance. Successive administrations have left positive marks on important development projects needed by all citizens and by the metropolitan area in general: The Loft District, the Washington Avenue streetscape, the Dome, the Renaissance Hotel and Grand Center are projects we all can be proud of and all citizens should continue to build upon. And perhaps if the city thinks beyond lofts, nightclubs and sports stadiums, it could attract other, long-term investors focused on mature themes and businesses. And such rethinking must include a real commitment to safety and an expectation that the city reflects a congenial, friendly atmosphere that is clearly felt in areas as near as Clayton or places further away such as downtown Chicago and Kansas City.

In any event, marketing to only one demographic does not seem wise or even prudent if diversity is really a goal of even the most progressive among us. To sustain and grow the islands of progress we have created, we need to rely not only on the youth found in clubs like Metropolis, but also upon those seasoned citizens, carrying a little more wisdom and most importantly, holding a lot more wealth; all things younger persons just do not have a lot of at this time in their lives. Let's include some adults in our development gambles, adults who really know how to move, shake and invest their dollars earned over a lifetime!
Patrick G. McCarthy
St. Louis

It all comes back to the Opera House: Five years ago Metropolis could have helped re-open a Kennedy Center downtown. Downtown was their proper focus until they were "lured away." St. Louis would be celebrating a real downtown. Young, talented people would be beating down Metropolis' door. Instead Metropolis sold out to Danforth, Fleming, Reeves, for places at the shrinking civic-issues table and airline tickets for junkets to other cities. Leadership and success was before them. They were invited to greatness. They chose inclusion and tokenism.

Denver celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Denver Performing Arts Center -- a primary catalyst for downtown Denver revitalization. Kiel remains dark, and Metropolis "searches" for something. Its moment of truth was five years ago.
Ed L. Golterman
St. Louis

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