Several weeks ago, I published a letter from an Arlington reader who reported that while in New York he had paid $48 for two mezzanine seats to "A Chorus Line." He had been disappointed to find there was no live orchestra - just "four mammoth speakers that belched out a recorded version of the music."
I sympathized with him. I, too, prefer live musicians to recordings. Especially when the tickets cost $48.
A few days later, Margaret S. Daneberg of Potomac wrote to tell me she had seen Chorus Line nine times. She added, "I can assure you that in no Equity performance of CL is there ever taped music -- the orchestra is there in the pit which is covered up with black material -- due to the type of intimate, relating-to-the-actors show which it is. I assume the director felt the orchestra would be best heard but not seen.
"A few months ago, an acquaintance went to London and told me the same thing, 'I couldn't believe there was no orchestra.'
"Since I wasn't there to prove he was wrong, I wrote a note to the production manager in London. His reply of course was that there is always an orchestra present.
"When I showed my friend the note, he still didn't believe it.
"I'm surprised at a seasoned reporter like you for taking the word of someone sitting far away in the mezzanine to attest to this orchestra vs. taped situation."
The fellow with a seat in the mezzanine was a lot closer to the play than I was in my seat at The Washington Post, Margaret. Does it surprise you that I take your word for that letter from London although you didn't show it to me? Why shouldn't I take the word of an eyewitness, or at least be willing to report on his honest recollection of what happened?
Soon after Margaret's letter arrived, I received one from Doric C. Naughton, who attened a CL performance and later went backstage to visit a member of the cast. She says the musicians were hidden "underneath the stage" during the performance, but she saw them backstage afterward.
Also received during this period was a note from Gregory L. Hutchison deploring the "tremendous volume of noise" that is generated by modern stage performances. "Even the Kennedy Center with its finely tuned halls insists upon amplification, although I do not know why," he wrote. "And they do it even with an orchestra in the pit."
From live musicians we turn now to an update on the recording of the Star Spangled Banner that caused such a ruckus in the base movie theater at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
You will recall that when audiences got into the habit of booing and hissing during the playing of the national anthem, the commander of the base said, "The punks won," and ordered that the anthem no longer be played.
Over the weekend, Rosalie C. Pate of Arlington, wrote to tell me something I hadn't seen in our newspaper: The punks didn't win after all.
Clippings from the Waukegan News-Sun supplied by Col. M. Evelyn Bane, USMC Ret., corroborated that after the story was made public there had been a roar of protest, much of it from Navy types all over the country. The Navy Times printed a full page of letters to the editor, "all of them critical" of the skipper's decision to stop playing the anthem.
Thereafter, the admiral in charge at Great Lakes brought the anthem back "by popular request." This time the lights in the theater were dimmed but not extinguished. The brave troublemakers who had booed in the dark placed their hands over their hearts and sang like little angels while 10 volunteer petty officers patrolled the aisles.
The anthem has opened every show since then, and there has been no further trouble.
I think that if modern parents gave their children better instruction and set a better example for them, things of this kind just couldn't happen. One problem may be that too many Americans think that when their every wish is not gratified, it's their country's fault.Their disrespect is born of a lack of maturity and understanding. 'TWAS AS EVER THUS
At least three typographical errors slipped into this column during August. Two misspellings were my fault. Several paragraphs in italic type were generated when a computer on the fourth floor misunderstood a computer on the seventh floor. That snafu I disown.
I found one misspelling as I bundled up old papers for the trash collection. One paper folded to this page caught my eye as it passd along my assembly-line, and one word leaped out of the page at me. It was the misspelled word.
Before that column went to press, I had read it at least 40 times, and excellent copy editors had read it after it left my hands.
Even Gold's Law, which can explain everything else, can't explain that.