The Komisar Scoop Reports & Analysis by Investigative Journalist Lucy Komisar

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In Alessandrini’s “Spamilton” you understand and love every word

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 11:17 am

By Lucy Komisar

The fellow on stage looks familiar. He wears an 18th-century blue coat and gold buttons and is rapping. But the words are not being played on Broadway, they are what some of us were thinking when we saw the original.

Instead of hearing Thomas Jefferson sing “What Did I Miss?” we get, “What Did You Miss?” “What did you miss…..the lyrics so fast ….my diction is muddled.”

Dan Rosales as Lin-Manuel Miranda, photo Carol Rosegg.

But, “No one admits they can’t keep up with the pace.” And, “Another hundred syllables come out of my mouth.”

Coming out of the mouths of another Alessandrini team of very talented musical actors is his parody of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.” And here is Lin-Manuel himself (Dan Rosales), rapping “I had a dream” that he would rewind the track on Broadway.

He gets help from confrères also in white pants, beige vests and black boots (Chris Anthony Giles, Nicole Ortiz, Larry Owens and Tristan J. Shuler), all with fine voices.

Lin writes to Stephen Sondheim, an idol, and suddenly changes tune. It’s “Finishing the Rap” (to “Finishing the Hat” from “Sunday in the Park with George.”)

And there is advice (to “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods”):

“Careful the rap you play/
No one will listen/
Careful how dense the phrase/
People will leave.”

But nobody leaves this show.

You can’t see an Alessandrini production without a shout-out to some of his iconic targets. What do you get when you combine “The Lion King” and “The King and I?” “Shall We Roar!’ (Waltz to that!) And more, from characters in “Phantom,” “Aladdin” and “Cats.”

Putting down Phantom, Aladdin and Cats, photo Carol Rosegg.

A highlight is Gina Kreiezmar as the Guest Diva. She appears from the audience as a beggar shuffling under a black shawl and pleading for “Hamilton tickets for an unemployed actress.” Throwing off the wrap, she is red-headed and singing perfectly in the style of Bernadette Peters.

Later, Kreiezmar reappears as Liza, with red glitter over black sequins. A perfect imitation and very funny. She belts out

“Down with rap and all of the hip hop ….
Down with rap, let’s drown it out with a tune/
Put back the tune/
The sounds of the birds in the trees and the Viennese.” High kick.

And another beggar. “I need Hamilton tickets.” She is offered twofers to “Shuffle Along.” Off comes a black cape to reveal Audra McDonald.

“Barbra Streisand” appears, declaring, “I’m verklempt.” It means overcome with emotion. But not that verklempt that she doesn’t see an opportunity: “I wanna be in the film when it happens.”

You’ll be overcome with laughter. And appreciation that Alessandrini seems never to run out of inspiration for his Broadway spoofs.

Spamilton.” Written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini. Triad 158 W 72nd St, New York City. From July at 47th Street Theatre, 304 West 47th Street, New York City. (212) 279-4200.  Opened September 8, 2016. 6/27/17.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

“Hello Dolly” and Bette Midler outdated on feminism and talent

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 12:45 pm

By Lucy Komisar

Here’s a hit Broadway musical take on women and marriage in the mid-20th century, pre-second-wave feminism. First produced in 1964, starring Carol Channing, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 comedy “The Matchmaker,” this is about a woman, of middle years, in the turn of the last century in New York, whose job is arranging marriages. The plot comes from an 1835 British play.

Bette Midler as Dolly Gallagher Levi and David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder, photo Julieta Cervantes.

And she, Dolly Gallagher Levi (Bette Midler) – the name says a lot for her own openness — the widow of a guy she loved, is looking for a match for herself. In spite of her view that marriage is “a bribe to make the housekeeper think she is a householder.” Wilder’s line. Pretty advanced in the 50s. Betty Friedan territory.

Turns out that the guy she is finding a wife for is the one she wants to marry. He’s a catch, because he has money. My first reaction is that Horace Vandergelder (David Hyde Pierce), the guy she wants for herself, is no great deal. In fact, I think as Pierce portrays him, he is obnoxious, even creepy. Why she would want him? The money, and this was in the 50s when women felt they didn’t have a lot of choice. Is this leading you to a major Broadway musical that takes that situation seriously? Well, suspend hope.

Vandergelder wants Irene Milloy (Kate Baldwin), a milliner, and a charmer. Irene wants Vandergelder to free her from life as a milliner. Baldwin shows her fine soprano in “Ribbons Down My Back.”

Kate Baldwin as Irene Molloy, photo Julieta Cervantes.

But she is selling out for way down market. And she hasn’t done any due diligence. Forget about a life of ease. What he wants is a maid, a servant, as he proclaims to his workers and customers at his store:

“It takes a woman all powdered and pink
To joyously clean out the drain in the sink
And it takes an angel with long golden lashes
And soft Dresden* fingers
For dumping the ashes

The frail young maiden who’s constantly there
For washing and blueing and shoeing the mare
And it takes a female for setting the table
And weaving the Guernsey
And cleaning the stable”

*elegant German figurines

“It Takes a Woman” is funny, but also raging sexism! What is wrong with these women? Why don’t I get a feeling in the play that they think twice about settling for this guy? Hat Shop employee Minnie Fay (the cute Beanie Feldstein) at least follows her heart.

In line with his nasty persona, Vandergelder also mistreats the workers at his hay and feed store. They don’t get pay raises or even days off unless they inflict sabotage to make the shop unworkable. Gavin Creel is a charmer as the clever employee, Cornelius Hackl, who at 33 sees no way out. And, spoiler alert, Irene will get interested in Cornelius.

Kate Baldwin as Irene and Gavin Creel as Cornelius, photo Julieta Cervantes.

The strength of Jerry Zaks’ direction is the production numbers, with the often high-stepping and comical, even cartoonish, dancers. The playbill says original choreography by Gower Champion and [this production] choreographed by Warren Carlyle, so they share the artistry.

I loved the terrific parade with suffragettes carrying women’s rights signs. It is the early 1900s. The message appears to have been lost on Dolly.

I also detected a bit of political satire. Or more. Cornelius and his colleague hide in the closet of Irene’s shop when they spot Vandergelder arriving. And then Dolly shows up. The song to divert this apparently rightwing guy is “Motherhood.”

Dolly: “I know what I stand for! Important things! Like…like…
Motherhood, America,
And a hot lunch for orphans
Take off your hat, sir
While your country’s flag is passing.”

Irene joins her: If you hear him singing Dixie in the sugar cane
Stand up and march, march, march!”
Dixie, the Confederates?

Dolly: “Alamo!
Remember the Alamo!”
The war against the Mexicans?

Dollie and Irene:
“O, Stonewall Jackson
Glory, glory, hallelujah”
Jackson, the Indian killer?

Bette Midler as Dolly Gallagher Levi and waiters at the Harmonia Gardens, photo Julieta Cervantes.

Dolly: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

This jingoistic politics does not reappear, but it’s pretty interesting. Of course, this was a Sixties musical. Maybe lyricist Jerry Herman had a subtle message.

The high-kicking waiters at the Harmonia Gardens are charming, but the “Hello Dolly” number where Bette Midler greets the staff is too schmaltzy.

Midler is a disappointment as Dolly. She has style, but her voice is no longer great. And you don’t ever get a sense of who Dolly Gallagher Levi is. Isn’t there any conflict in her setting her feathered headdress on such a jerk as the feed store guy?

She is much too over the top, even slapstick descending to sitcom to plain gross, drinking from a gravy boat and wolfing down a plate of candies, though that was the director’s call. Like the play, which could have been edgy, her acting is flat. Midler’s mugging is outclassed by the personality of a Channing or Streisand.

The audience loved every starpower minute of it.

Hello Dolly.” Book by Michael Stewart, based on “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder. Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Choreographed originally by Gower Champion, this production choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Directed by Jerry Zaks. Sam S. Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200. Opened April 20, 2017. 6/18/17.

Friday, June 16, 2017

“Bandstand” great 40s music & dance about veterans tricked by US corporates

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 6:53 pm

By Lucy Komisar

Soldiers at the front, photo Jeremy Daniel.

The terrific 40s sound and dancing – choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler – raises the level of a rather corny and predictable musical about a World War II vet who puts together a swing band to compete in a song contest. (Blankenbuehler is also the director.)

Donny Novitski (Corey Cott) in 1945 is home after four years in the military overseas and can’t get the job he wants as a piano player at a club. He hears about a contest for a swing band to do a song for the troops. And he reaches out to musicians back from the war who are also struggling.

Donnty Novitski (Corey Cott) and the band of vets he puts together, photo Jeremy Daniel.

Some of the musicians have psychological damage: Wayne Wright (Geoff Packard), the trombone player, keeps cleaning a gun, but it never gets used. And there’s a bit of the racism of the time after the war to end racism (or whatever): Donny changes his name to Donny Nova. The dream he shares with the others is to be in an MGM musical, become a hit at the clubs.

Laura Osnes as Julia Trojan and Beth Leavel as her mother June Adams, photo Jeremy Daniel.

His love interest is Julia (Laura Osnes), the widow of his friend Michael. Except she doesn’t know how he died – it turns out from friendly fire. Her edgy mother is Jane Adams (the fine Beth Leavel).  Osnes is good at Donny’s jazzy torch song, “Love will come and find me again.”

But then we learn about the corrupt music business. Donny finds out from the producer that — in spite of what they have been led to believe — even if they win in their home town in Ohio, they have to pay own way to New York and there is then another audition. The rules are set by the sponsor Bayer Aspirin. (Today they would have contacted Bayer PR and suggested it would be bad press not to pay the vets. Or they would have gotten crowdfunding.)

Corey Cott as Donny and Laura Osnes as Julia, photo Jeremy Daniel.

But in the 40s, they learn how NBC is cheating them. Beyond making them pay all expenses, it turns out that NBC wants to steal their song and give it to a big shot singer to make the hit. But these smart guys figure how to finesse the deceit. They will do a song no one else can do. Hint, it’s by war vets about war vets. Nobody else can take the words and fake it. It’s a terrific number, “Welcome home,” about the vets with their profiles, psychic wounds, one by one. It’s not something Sinatra can sing.

The dancers, photo Jeremy Daniel.

I liked the politics of the plot. But the best thing about the show is the dancing. I love 40s music and choreography. This is like a 1940s Hollywood movie. And just as hokey. Jazzy jitterbug by Blankenbuehler, who won a 2016 Tony award for his choreography in “Hamilton,” got another one this year for “Bandstand.”

The plot is very predictable, except for a slight welcome surprise at the end. Cott and Osnes are charming, with fine singing voices. And the actors/musicians are first rate. A show likely to please fans of jazz, cabaret and dance.

Bandstand.” Book and lyrics by Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor; music by Richard Oberacker. Director and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. Bernard B Jacobs Theatre 242 West 45th Street, New York City. 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400. Opened April 26, 2017. 6/15/17.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In “War Paint,” cosmetics titans Rubenstein and Arden must deal with male execs as well as the market

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 3:55 pm

By Lucy Komisar

This imagining of the lives of two powerful women who founded cosmetics empires has been created by men – book (Doug Wright), music (Scott Frankel), lyrics (Michael Korie), direction (Michael Greif), choreography (Christopher Gattelli). It’s a great production. But think of it as guys’ take on women.

Patti LuPone as Helena Rubenstein and Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden, photo Joan Marcus.

The invented heroines are Helena Rubenstein (Patti LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Christine Ebersole), real women who built their fortunes on the desires for beauty of rich ladies of the 1940s.

Rubenstein was from Cracow: “It isn’t chic to be Jewish; chic is Episcopalian.” Her cosmetics were designed in the laboratory. Arden was an Ontario farm girl. For her, it was all marketing. “Women run to pink.” Arden made a great jar in pink.

In this story of two exceptional women, everything seems to revolve around men. When these corporate megastars achieve their success, they still have problems with sex roles. At a restaurant, Helena orders for Harry Fleming (Douglas Sills), an executive who works for her. He interjects that he wants something else, and then adds, “I thought it was customary for the gentleman to order on the lady’s behalf.” And she says, “And customary for the gentleman to pay the bill?” Why are the guys who did the show fixated on such sexist nonsense?

Douglas Sills as Harry Fleming, Patti LuPone as Helena Rubenstein, photo Joan Marcus.

More into a competition common in business. Harry did the ad campaign. He wants more credit. And he suggests she needs him, a gay guy, to tuck her into bed at night so she can stave off the loneliness. Her husband is in Switzerland with a young girl. Harry has another life, with a sailor.

Except, suppose a male company founder had a female who did the ad campaign. Would she dare to insist she deserves a promotion and point out that he needs her to tuck him in at night, though she is a lesbian? How long before she got the boot?

And then Arden offers Harry a job. How do we know that is true? He is ready to give up Rubenstein’s secrets. Maybe. Is that true or fake news?

And Tommy Lewis (John Dossett), who works for Arden, switches to Rubenstein to bring Arden down. The main problem is you don’t know where truth ends and imagination starts. Is any of it true? If so, such scurrilous men! (What would male execs do with such scurrilous women?)

Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden, John Dossett as Tommy Lewis, photo Joan Marcus.

Lewis will go to the Federal Drug Administration to tell them Arden puts lead in lipstick and mercury in mascara. Indeed, there were Congressional hearing on cosmetic safety that led to requirements for product ingredients labeling. It turns out they were putting very funny stuff in those expensive jars and bottles.

The rich ladies sing, “They betrayed us.” Well, my dears, this is capitalism. What did you expect? It’s how your husbands made their money. (That’s not in the play, but I would add it.)

So, in the end, this is about marketing. Helena Rubenstein makes day and night creams that are the same, but her deceived clients buy both for the different labels.

Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden, Patti LuPone as Helena Rubenstein, and company, photo Joan Marcus.

Arden gave free lipsticks to the Suffragettes. They promoted cosmetics during the war. Politics or marketing?

Also, fascinating, how Charles Revson (Erik Liberman) moved into their territory and made a fortune by selling lower-priced cosmetics to working women at the five and dimes.

There’s a nice bit about Rubenstein not getting into a coop on Park Avenue because she is Jewish and Arden being rejected by the Mayfair Club. For Arden, the problem was that her money wasn’t old money, she’d earned it. Rubenstein ends up buying the building and moving into a triplex with paintings by Dali and Picasso.

The men Rubenstein and Arden should not have trusted: Douglas Sills as Harry Fleming, John Dossett as Tommy Lewis, photo Joan Marcus.

Ebersole and Lupone are both fine performers and singers. Scott Frankel’s music by is pleasing if not memorable. The story certainly kept my attention. And director Michael Greif can put on a show.

But, somehow, with the mix of what is true and maybe invented, I never got a sense I really knew Rubenstein and Arden. Part of the problem is that in spite of the visuals, the two women never met. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.

War Paint.” Book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie, directed by Michael Greif, choreographed by Christopher Gattelli. Nederlander Theatre, 208 West 41st Street, New York City. 877-250-2929. Opened April 6, 2017. 6/14/17.

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“Miss Saigon” a hokey not very political take on America’s war against the Vietnamese

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 12:28 pm

By Lucy Komisar

Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil found worldwide success with “Les Misérables,” a drama of the political. The personal stories were of Jean Valjean, the man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread, and the masses of the oppressed he represented. There was a minor love story. But in “Miss Saigon,” the star-crossed lovers are the major focus, with the crisis of America’s war in Vietnam and how it destroyed the country just a backdrop. So, this play is often hokey and not very satisfying.

Alistair Brammer as a U.S. soldier and Eva Noblezada as Kim, a young bar girl, photo Matthew Murphy.

The best parts are terrific production numbers about real events, especially the thrilling dragon dance of the Vietcong that shows its victory over the U.S. And the famous desperate scramble of people trying to get into the U.S. embassy grounds to catch the last helicopter out. There are loud sounds of the chopper. Choreography is by Bob Avian.

They could have been an exciting focus. Instead, we see what eventually becomes the tedious story of the desperate prostitute dancers (upsetting but not made real), and the clean GI, Chris (Alistair Brammer), a driver for the embassy, who falls for a “virginal” new recruit, Kim (Eva Noblezada), whose village and family have just been wiped out by the Americans. The plots becomes their love affair and his unsuccessful attempt to get her onto the helicopter.

Her betrothed, Thuy (a very fine Devin Ilaw), to whom she was promised without her consent at 13, becomes a Vietcong army officer. He is shown as the bad guy. I’d have liked more about him.

Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer having a capitalist dream, photo Matthew Murphy.

We get a good picture of Jon Jon Briones, excellent as the sleazy Luoyong Wang, “The Engineer,” whose nickname comes from the fact he engineers a lot of the lowlife dealing at the Saigon disco bar.

His best line is after the fall of that city when he dreams his fantasy of America, where he can cash in on his pimping. In a glitzy convertible, with a nude woman in white mink, he drives out of the mouth of the Statue of Liberty. “America is great” he declares. It gets a big laugh.

This show could have been an important political moment. But, unfortunately, when politics meets soap opera, soap opera wins. The show now seems sentimental, dated.

The cast is talented. Chris has a near operatic voice, Kim’s soprano is fine. The dancers, especially in the martial Vietcong number, are superb.

Nicholas Christopher as the former army officer John, photo Matthew Murphy.

The set design by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley and projections by Luke Halls are high-concept Broadway. Much of the set is garish and tacky. You think you are there with the red flares of bombs going off in 1975 when the Americans were defeated.

The video montage of children left behind by American fathers is a bit too much like something you would see in a fund-raising telethon. A bit exploitative. Collateral damage.

Though Kim sings of looking for a man who will not kill, only one line gets to the point where Chris says something about the wrong war. “This is the end of the line, this whole rotten scene…It’s time to go home, it’s time to get clean.”

And at the closed gates that bar them from the escape helicopter, you see the “loyalty” the Americans paid to those who had helped them:

The famous helicopter escaping the fall of Saigon, and Vietnamese desperate to get on it, photo Matthew Murphy.

Vietnamese:  Take me with you –
Vietnamese:  Take my children –
A Vietnamese:  I have a letter here –
A Vietnamese:  I helped the C.I.A.!
Vietnamese:  They’ll kill who they find here!
don’t leave us behind here!

But of course they did. Reminds one of immigration authorities turning back people who had worked for the Americans in Iraq.

The play was inspired by a photo in France Soir magazine that showed a Vietnamese girl saying goodbye to her mother to board a plane from Ho Chi Minh City for the United States to live with her father, an ex-G.I. she had never seen. So, the last desperate act is the one Kim does to “save” her child. More collateral damage.

The problem with references to collateral damage is that, as in this case, they often finesse what caused it.

Miss Saigon.” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. & Alain Boubil, adapted from French original text by Alain Boubil, directed by Laurence Connor, musical staging & choreography by Bob Avian. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, New York City. 212-239-6200. Opened March 23, 2017. 6/13/17.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Public’s “Julius Caesar” brilliantly trolls Donald Trump, and masses “resist”

Filed under: Theater — Lucy Komisar @ 2:46 pm

By Lucy Komisar

Oskar Eustis, director of a mesmerizing Public Theater staging of Shakespeare’s play about taking down an incipient dictator, says that “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.”

This Delacorte Central Park enactment may be one of the best of the plays inspired (or provoked) by the election and presidency of Donald Trump.

So here is Caesar (Gregg Henry), with blonde hair and Trump demeanor, having returned from triumph at war and manipulating to get himself appointed emperor. Brutus (Corey Stoll) gets an email: “Brutus thou sleepest, awake.”

Tina Benko as Calpurnia, Gregg Henry, Teagle Bougere as Casca and Elizabeth Marvel as Marc Antony, photo Joan Marcus.

And, with a backdrop of the Capitol and blowups of Lincoln and Washington and the preamble to the Constitution – “We the people…..” — members of the Senate, led by Brutus and Cassius (the always brilliant John Douglas Thompson), plot to kill him to prevent a dictatorship.

They all are “men in suits,” including women with black patent heels. Marc Antony is the equally intense Elizabeth Marvel. This play is worth seeing for Thompson and Marvel, among the great stage actors of the moment.

And they have support among the masses, who appear with banners and arm bands that say “resist” and wear pink pussy hats.

We see Caesar in a suit and long red tie, smoking a cigar. He seems solitary, self-involved. His wife Calpurnia (Tina Benko) wears a pink silk gown and has blonde hair and a Slovenian accent. (Laughter) She is army candy. Pun intended. At one point he wordlessly touches his hand to her crotch. Later, in the same gown, she gets into a silver bathtub with him and they are snuggling, kissing.

Gregg Henry as Caesar and company, photo Joan Marcus.

The soothsayer, with a white “Anonymous” mask, has warned of the augured danger of the Ides of March, March 15th. It’s the day he should go to the Senate. He shouts that Caesar shall not go to the Senate. (Laughter, applause).

But he will not be cowed. He gets out of the bath, his naked posterior on view. And into a white terrycloth robe. And he will go. (Trump has agreed to testify; is this prescient?)

Back in the Senate, a white sculptured legislative chamber with a large podium, are men in suits, women with black patent heels. And there’s a leather folder of knives.

Suddenly, the conspirators stab him in turn, and, with the famous “E tu, Brute,” he falls, and they proclaim, “Liberty, freedom. Tyranny is dead.”

Now comes strategy, and the Brutus and Cassius make the wrong choice. Marc Antony wants to speak at the funeral. Cassius tells Brutus it’s not a good idea. They allow it on grounds she has agreed not to accuse them. But when they depart, she makes a prophesy of war and destruction: “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”

Corey Stoll as Brutus, photo Joan Marcus.

First Brutus gives a speech. He asks the masses if they would be slaves. “Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him. As he was fortunate, I rejoice at it. As he was valiant, I honor him. But, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love, joy for his fortune, honor for his valor, and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman?”

The gathering shouts “Brutus, Brutus.” But as Marc Antony walks towards them and in a subtle Southern accent delivers her oration, they turn to an excited mob.

Elizabeth Marvel as Marc Antony and company, photo Joan Marcus.

In the famous speech, she repeatedly refers to the conspirators with irony as “honorable men.” And she reads what she says is Caesar’s will, where everything is left to the people. “To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.” The masses cry “Revenge! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay! Let not a traitor live!” Ah, demagoguery. Ah, fake news.

And things turn dirty. Cina the poet is beaten to death by police who mistake him for Cina the senator. Decisions are made to execute the conspirators. Marc Antony orchestrates events with a mobile phone. We hear shots and see victims fall.

Away from the carnage, visiting Cassius in his apartment, Brutus accuses him of having an itchy palm, of taking bribes. There is a “resist” poster on the wall and a band on Brutus’ arm. Shakespeare knew of the corruption of revolutionaries. Then and now.

Outside, “resist” protestors are attacked by helmeted troops with truncheons. So, we see that and are for the resistance. They shout, “The people united will never be defeated.” It’s a 1980s rhythmic rhyming Central American slogan, “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,” pronounced then by the populace against the U.S. government-supported death squads fighting opposition to oligarchs in El Salvador and Nicaragua. As the conflict escalates, the troops appear with shields and guns.

Corey Stoll as Brutus and John Douglas Thompson as Cassius, photo Joan Marcus.

As they fear the tide has turned, Brutus and Cassius will die by their own choice. Victorious Octavius Caesar takes a mobile phone photo to commemorate his triumph.

Repeat what Eustis says: “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.” That could be the peaceful Arab spring protests in Egypt that were hijacked by Islamists. Or the military anti-colonial fights in Africa that led to new dictators and oppression. Quite a stretch to say it’s about people protesting against Donald Trump. But it makes a lively play!

But to make you think maybe it’s really not a stretch, Delta Airlines and the Bank of America were so offended by the Caesar’s likeness to Trump, that they announced they were pulling their funding of the production. In fact, Delta announced it was ending its support of the Public Theater altogether because the play didn’t reflect its “values.” The bank complained that the play aimed to “provoke and offend.” So Delta and Bank of America stand with Marc Antony! Who are these acolytes of Caesar?

What is an itchy palm when it’s defined as “quid pro quo?” Delta, along with other U.S. airlines who don’t like competition, has been lobbying the Trump administration to stop the U.S. expansion of three Middle Eastern airlines because, they say, they get subsidies from their governments.

Here is how the U.S. subsidizes Delta: government funds that pay aviation infrastructure, military contracts for U.S. airlines, a Pentagon flight academy that trains pilots and technicians for American carriers, subsidies for airlines serving rural communities, requirements that federal agencies use U.S. carriers, the airline bailouts after 9/11, anti-trust immunity, easy bankruptcy provisions allowing airlines to cut debts and freeze wages, privileged access to airport slots, plus Delta bought a stake in a marketing partner China Eastern heavily subsidized by the Chinese. Are you offended? See Bill McGee in USA Today.

Or if it means corruption bailed out by taxpayers? Bank of America, in July 2008, bought the giant mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, which was becoming notorious for pushing borrowers, especially minority customers, into predatory loans. Its due diligence would have shown that this scam made lots of money.

When mortgages tanked later in 2008, it got a massive $25 billion federal bailout, then had to pay billions of dollars to settle lawsuits relating to crooked behavior in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. In May 2011, the bank reached a $20 million settlement of Justice Department charges that Countrywide had wrongfully foreclosed on active duty members of the armed forces without first obtaining required court orders. And in December 2011 the bank agreed to pay $335 million to settle charges that Countrywide had discriminated against minority customers by charging them higher fees and interest rates during the housing boom. Are you offended yet? For more, go to the Corporate Research Project.

The hypocrisy works so perfectly. Eustis’s take on this 17th century play deserves a life beyond the Delacorte.

Julius Caesar.” Written by William Shakespeare, directed by Oskar Eustis. The Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, entrance E 79th or W 81st Streets, New York City. 212-539-8500. Opened June 12, 2017; closes June 18, 2017. 6/12/17.

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