To the editor:
My purpose in writing to [theater critic Paulanne Simmons] is twofold. Firstly, I would be remiss as a theatergoer, lover of the arts and just plain person, if I neglected to tell you how helpfully informative and concise your review of "Salome" was ["Bloodlust," GO Brooklyn, Jan. 28, 2002].
For some strange reason, perhaps the incursions of age and the loss of some synaptic connections, I could not remember the story line involved. I believe it was in high school when I first encountered this treasure of Wilde’s. Your well-crafted and poignantly phrased review is certainly a pleasure that I intend to keep and alert others to. It literally empowered me with a compelling knowledge of the plot, the cast of characters and its enduring appeal.
I must however, respectfully part company with you on your perspective of the lead, Bianca Stauffer. You said she was "chosen more for her dancing ability than her experience as an actress" with "neither the stature nor the voice necessary for the role." "Childish, weak and whining," were some additional unkind and emphatically untrue adjectives you chose.
Since I took the time to consider your thoughts, allow me the response of telling you that I found her performance to be as cogent as it was memorable. It was a wise move in casting to assign this role to Stauffer. The juxtaposition of her youth and voice to the maturity and "stentorian" quality of Todd Anthony Jackson, memorably underscored the anxious plight of the galvanized yet desperate Herod Antipas.
As an avid theatergoer, I found her performance to have an engaging presence with a mature sense of the histrionic. I would hope she continues to pursue her passion and craft as I believe she has a most promising future on the stage. I can’t help but to recall the prolonged time she sat having her hair braided by her handmaidens. Even in that sustained posture, she spoke volumes with her facial expressions and deft skill at emotional nuances, in responding to the ongoing dialogue.
Since the outside of The Lyceum had posted your review at its entrance gate, it was obvious that Stauffer had to be aware of the contents. I commend her resilient ability to render the high quality of performance she can be proud of, despite your somewhat scathing comments.
There was a work written by Stanislavski, I believe it was titled "The Fourth Wall"; essentially a treatise on the Herculean task of making an impression on the fourth wall of an audience. Stauffer negotiated that wall with confidence, skill and charm. You did make reference in your review, to the "something truly fascinating and theatrical in watching such talented and experienced professionals mentoring young talent." It is no mean task to pursue the muse and recreate art. As an exceptionally sensitive and obviously gifted critic, and as something of a mentor in your own right, I would suggest that you temper your future critiques with a bit more tenderness.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
To the editor:
Thank you very much for the kind review you wrote ["Dyker Hts Memoir," GO Brooklyn, Dec. 24/31, 2001] of my little book, "A Child’s Christmas in Brooklyn." Apparently a lot of people read it, and some old friends who once lived on 81st Street and some who still live there contacted me. It has been a joyous event. Thanks again! May you and yours have a healthy, productive new year.