The Magic's Gone
Albert Hasson will leave his post as managing director of the Magic Theatre at the end of June. Hasson came on two years ago, shortly after Eureka Theatre Company, which he had managed until then, shut its doors. It was a time when many theaters were on the brink of ruin, and the Magic looked as if it, too, might fold — what with its monstrous debt and floundering mission. General manager Harvey Seifter left, and the remaining staff, along with new hires, began an intensive evaluation of the company's goals. “The theater was reeling, really. It was in really bad shape,” Hasson recalls. “I was part of the team that conceived and executed the transition, and I feel very good about what we accomplished.” Larry Eilenberg played the role of interim artistic director, until the theater was on its feet and a permanent artistic director, Mame Hunt, was signed. Eilenberg has long since returned to his theater doings at S.F. State University. Now Hasson feels it's time to go, too: “If I were to stay on, I would have to make a substantial commitment. Part of my reason for leaving is I feel like I'm in a good position to look nationally — I've been [in the Bay Area] for 13 years. I'm looking here, too, but I'd say there's a 50-50 chance that I'll stay. The market is so small.” The Magic is conducting a national search to fill Hasson's shoes, but the new director may not come on board until September.
The Wild Bunch
“The Wild Party,” a Jazz Age syncopated poem written by Joseph March in 1928, is what made a young William Burroughs decide to become a writer. Pulitzer winner Art Spiegelman recently illustrated the poem (Pantheon Books), and now the Bay Area's Larry Reed brings it to Theater Artaud. Reed has studied Balinese mask and puppet theater for years, incorporating it into his own brand of shadow play — the most recent example being In Xanadu, which ran at the Cowell Theater last year. Jazz Age stuff is new terrain for him, but he has hand-picked an expert partner for this production: Local guitarist Bruce Forman, called a “composer of rare merit” by legendary jazz critic Leonard Feather, is scoring this hard-boiled tale of love gone awry.
“Go, thou sluggard, and enjoy A Connecticut Yankee and tell ye cock-eyed worlde thou has had ye helluva time.” So wrote a scribe at the New York Telegram in 1927 after seeing Hammerstein & Hart's show based on Mark Twain's novel. The 42nd St. Moon's “Lost Musical Series” celebrates the 100th birthdays of Oscar Hammerstein II and Lorenz Hart Jr. with a six-show Hammerstein & Hart Festival, starting this week with Yankee at the New Conservatory Theatre.
By Laura Jamison