Frank D. Gilroy has been in show business for a long time–he goes all the way back to the golden age of live TV drama and, more recently, was a pioneer of independent filmmaking–but it’s a safe bet that when the roll is called up yonder, he’ll be remembered for his play “The Subject Was Roses,” which has just been revived at the Kennedy Center. The sleeper hit of the 1963-64 season, it ran for two years on Broadway and bagged the Triple Crown of theatrical prizes: the best-play Tony, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize….
Revisiting the hit shows of yesteryear is often illuminating, not least because they sometimes prove on further acquaintance to have been more than merely commercial in their appeal. Such is the case with “The Subject Was Roses.” No, it isn’t a deathless masterpiece, but it’s a solid little job of dramatic work, a period piece that has outlived its period, and if the Kennedy Center revival leaves much to be desired, it’s still good enough to be worth seeing….
“Damn Yankees,” now playing at Washington’s Arena Stage, is one of those second-tier musicals of the ’50s that’s stageworthy enough to be revived with some frequency but whose score is too bland to be truly memorable. Even so, this 1955 tale of a paunchy, middle-aged baseball fan who cuts a deal with the devil to help out his beloved Washington Senators (the team, not the politicians) has its fair share of bright spots, and Molly Smith, the company’s artistic director, has given it an exemplary staging-in-the-round…
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