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L.A. Theater--Goods & Bads

November 08, 1987

As a proud member of the cast of "The Best Man," I speak to Dan Sullivan on the beating of dead horses: You hated our show and so reported (Oct. 9); fine, that's what you're paid to do.

We were appalled that the lead critic of the West's lead paper showed such profound ignorance of the craft, let alone the art, of the professional actor, but you were only fulfilling the expectation the theatrical community has of you in living down to your reputation.

Now, with the show dead, you take another bash at us in Sunday Calendar--complete with gratuitous cheap shots at defenseless actors ("L.A. Theater--Does It Have to Be So Bad?," Oct. 25). You name the actors' names, then you go on to spank the Ahmanson for policy and you do not name names. The Ahmanson is a building. What's the matter, Danny Boy, you lack the stones to name the names of men in real power?

Walk a ways with me through the mindless, self-congratulatory twaddle that passes for reportage in the CTG's Performing Arts magazine and let's see if we can't find some names for you.

Well, here's Pete Schabarum and his merry supervisorial band, and on the same page is a Charles Schneider, who is chairman of the whole thing. And then there's an F. Daniel Frost, who is yet another chairman, and they have ever-so-many vice chairmen and presidents and all. Did you ever take any of 'em to task in print for their, oh, just as a for instance, their reflecting pools?

During the entire L.A. Festival and the season openings of the Taper, the Ahmanson and the Philharmonic, nobody bothered to fill up the reflecting pools. Ugly, barren, filled with cement bags, they are reflective only of the most egregious bad management; but you never mentioned that out loud, you had actors to whine about.

Did you ever use your leadership position to sit these people down cross-legged on the floor and say, Fellas--what you've got here is the potential for magnificence, not for the Western United States or the Pacific Rim, but for the whole planet, and you have turned it into an arid, cold, elitist, user-unfriendly, refulgent bore!

You never said that, now, did you? Not when you could take cheap shots at actors.

The purpose of your Sunday piece was to say two plays constituted the worst of Los Angeles theater. Wrong. You do. In the '50s and early '60s I had the wondrous privilege of being part of what is now known as a Golden Age of the Broadway Theater, a huge reason for that was that our critics were so respected that we even named a theater after one of them. No one will ever, ever attend a play at the Dan Sullivan.

CHARLES A. McDANIEL

Hollywood

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