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Mixed reviews

“Anything Goes” is now playing at the Forestburgh Playhouse in Forestburgh, NY.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

June 29, 2016

Benjamin Franklin once said that “honesty is the best policy,” and like so many other pithy comments of his, the expression is still around. My poor mother tried to instill this concept in my young head, and although I had my mouth washed out with soap a couple of times, I still tried to lie my way out of trouble on occasion. It rarely worked. As I matured (don’t go there!) I found that both Franklin and my mother were right, of course—and as I embraced honesty, the idea of becoming a critic appealed. In the beginning, I thought that being given the opportunity to express my professional opinion also meant giving me free reign to mow down artists, musicians and performers who had the misfortune of crossing my path before I discovered the art of finesse. Still, there might be a few folks in the Upper Delaware River region that consider me public enemy #1, and more often than not, it’s the theatrical community that sometimes expresses fear and loathing in my general direction.

Let’s be clear. I attended the school of hard knocks as a young actor, and while there may have been a couple of positive reviews in my scrapbook, I had plenty of criticism thrown my way. So one would think I’d know better and be more sensitive to actors in general, but there were times…

Former Forestburgh Playhouse producer Norman Duttweiler once referred to me as “the Clive Barnes of the Catskills,” which in itself is a mixed review. Barnes, most notable as a theatre critic for The New York Times, was notorious for his ability to have tremendous influence on the success or failure of Broadway productions. Although thrilled that the New York State Council on the Arts considers me “an expert in my field,” I don’t take the responsibility lightly, but reserve the right (through the title of this column) to honestly express my opinion, and since it is mine and mine alone—“Anything Goes.”