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September 10, 2012

TT: Treadmill in the sky (I)

I love nearly everything about my life as a peripatetic drama critic, but it does have its disadvantages, one of which is that I sometimes have to work in odd places. On Thursday, for instance, I flew to Chicago and drove from there to Spring Green, Wisconsin, where I saw three shows at American Players Theatre. While waiting for my plane in New York, I corrected the proofs of the revised piano score of The Letter and fielded queries from my editors at The Wall Street Journal about that week's drama column.

0905121336.jpgSuch pesky chores are easier to do at home, but I haven't been there much of late. In the past three months, I think I've spent something like five nights--maybe fewer, definitely not more--at the Manhattan apartment where Mrs. T and I affect to hang our hats. What with my reviewing trips to California, Canada, Chicago, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minneapolis, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, my five-week stay at the MacDowell Colony, and the like amount of time that I spent rehearsing and attending performances of Satchmo at the Waldorf, I haven't had time to do anything but (as my brother likes to say) put one foot in front of the other, day after day after day.

You wouldn't think that correcting The Letter would be so urgent a task, seeing as how it won't be receiving its New York premiere until next February. But operas have a longer lead time than plays, and it's essential that Subito Music, the publisher of The Letter, get the revised piano score into print right away so that the singers who will perform it five months from now can start learning their roles.

Fortunately, working on the fly doesn't faze me. As longtime readers of this blog will recall, I wrote much of the original version of The Letter en route from one unlikely destination to another, and I actually proofread the orchestral score of the first four scenes while sitting in a train station in San Diego. I didn't like it, but I did it. To quote for the umpteenth time the wise words of James Burnham, "If there's no alternative, there's no problem."

George-Jetson.jpgFor all the aforementioned reasons, I haven't been doing much reading for pleasure lately, whether on paper or via the web, though I did find time to peruse Jordan Levin's Miami Herald appreciation of Edward Villella and his legacy (I agree with every word) and Sarah Weinman's essay on the novels of Dorothy B. Hughes (which interested me so much that I immediately ordered a copy of The Expendable Man).

Otherwise I stuck to the treadmill, devoting such occasional moments of leisure as I had to the novels of Elmore Leonard, Rex Stout, and P.G. Wodehouse, all of which stimulate my mind without distracting me from the tasks at hand, whatever they may be.

(First of two parts)

Posted September 10, 2012 12:00 AM

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