A Turkey Season Songbook

Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz in Imaginary Friends: butts of a playwright's glibness
photo: Joan Marcus

The Implausible Scheme
(Aria for director)
Tune: You guess.

To build the most grandiose set,
To dwarf the most noble ideal,
To make every action seem puny,
To mute every heartfelt appeal:
This is my bent;
I'm Jonathan Kent.
Destroying the theater
Is my sole intent.
I hate human beings,
So petty and small.
Let me hide them upstage in the shadow
Of my sliding wall!
And I know,
If I throw in enough little glitzy distractions,
That this well-meant but hokey old show
Will not matter at all!

I'll let Brian Stokes Mitchell sing.
His tones have an excellent ring.
But I won't let his acting go deeper
Or the house might say, "This one's a keeper."


Man of La Mancha
By Dale Wasserman
Lyrics by Joe Darion, music by Mitch Leigh
Martin Beck Theatre
302 West 45th Street

Imaginary Friends
By Nora Ephron
Lyrics by Craig Carnelia, music by Marvin Hamlisch
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
243 West 47th Street

Adult Entertainment
By Elaine May
Variety Arts Theatre
110 Third Avenue

Aldonza's a tough peasant bitch?
Watch me pull a neat bait and switch:
I'll cast someone so sweet and lovely
She could not have been "born in a ditch."

And the world will stop loving an art
That great thinkers once called heaven-sent
And applaud one unfeeling director.
What next . . . ? Do I dare revive Rent?

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Musical Ephrontery
Tune: "Lucy and Jessie" (Sondheim)

Here's a little story that should make you wince
About two terrific dames
Strutting through a script as soggy as a blintz
All dressed up in famous names.
One is Cherry Jones, who rules
The classic plays they teach in schools
Where tragedy and passion both run high.
The other's darling Swoosie Kurtz
At whom you smile until it hurts
And she, like C., can make you laugh or cry.
Given that these dynamos can glow so hot
What makes their new show seem so blah?
Here's the whole hoo-hah,
Pour moi:

Cherry is Mary, who's fearfully bright;
Swoosie is Lilly, who loves a good fight.
Mary doesn't trust Lilly; Lilly doesn't like Mary,
Both can be a bit silly, or sometimes scary.
Lilly is tricky, and stumps for the left;
Mary is picky, of causes bereft.
Lilly's jealous of Mary; Mary's jealous of Lilly,
Both of them avoid dairy, and don't dress frilly.
Such tough gals
Never were or could be pals:
Mary likes to count up Lilly's lies;
Lilly'd like to sue till Mary dies.
But you see,
Nora, the borer, who wrote out their parts,
Hasn't a clue to their brains or their hearts.
They get sweet songs and dances,
Charming comic romances,
But of gritty old Lilly and Mary you don't get a glimpse:
And that's how a hack can make two dynamos look like simps.

May Day
Tune: "Lusty Month of May" (Lerner-Loewe)

It's May! Oy vey!
She wrote another play!
The kind that makes a critical mind
Long to fly away.
What spells outré
Can make producers pay
For scripts so thin a 10-minute skit
Might have more to say?

Elaine! Such pain!
To see fine actors
Sweat for a laugh
And barely get half.

It's cheap, at best,
And vaguely sex-obsessed.
Did she go out and sing in the rain?
How did she sprain
Her once bright brain?
Oh, poor, sad Elaine May!

Watch while porn stars try to read great works,
Hear them chat of Faulkner and Flaubert,
Trace a plot that moves by fits and jerks,
Since there's hardly an ounce of action there!

Dylan Thomas lines
Ascribed to Behan's pen
Make you think her mind's
Been gone since who knows when.
Such strain, in vain!

Ms. May, I'd say
Your cast is quite OK.
Aiello plays with fervor and heart,
Elice is droll, and Birdsong smart.
But why, please, Elaine May?

APOLOGIES to J. Darion, A.J. Lerner, S. Sondheim, and most of all to the many praiseworthy artists whose names didn't lyricize conveniently. In alphabetical order: Stephen Bogardus, Craig Carnelia, Brandon Demery, Stanley Donen, Harry Groener, Linda Halaska, Marvin Hamlisch, Mark Jacoby, Dirk Lumbard, Peter Marx, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Ron Melrose, Jerry Mitchell, Phil Monat, Robert Morgan, Jack O'Brien, Anne Pitoniak, Jamie Torcellini, and Torrie Zito.


Man of La Mancha: Entertainment content 35 percent, visibly missed opportunities 30 percent, miscellaneous clutter and noise 25 percent, emotional substance 10 percent.

Imaginary Friends: Entertainment content 65 percent, padding and generalized bitchery 15 percent, data recitation 10 percent, clichés and misleading information 10 percent.

Adult Entertainment: Entertainment content 20 percent, sheer bafflement 20 percent, admiration for acting 20 percent, admiration for actors' bravery 20 percent, embarrassment for actors 20 percent.

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