From left, the illustration for New York’s 1975 review of The Ritz; a scene from the revival.Illustration by Jan Faust; photo by Joan Marcus / Courtesy of The Ritz
In this week’s issue, Jeremy McCarter uses the failings of the Broadway revival of The Ritz as a way into the lack of mission exhibited by its producer, the Roundabout Theater Company. “Who thought it was a good idea to revive The Ritz?” McCarter asks, and a peek through our archives suggests that in 1975 New York would have been inclined to agree. The magazine’s theater critic at the time, John Simon, took the original production of Terrence McNally’s farce to task: “The Ritz tries too hard to remain a clean dirty joke, which, in my book, ranks in ignominy with the fig leaf in art.”
Most damningly, both McCarter, in 2007, and Simon, in 1975, point out the show’s No. 1 problem. “I could catalogue the play’s sins, but the big one is that it’s not funny,” McCarter writes, echoing Simon’s complaint from 32 years before: “It is also fairly unfunny.” Sounds like a real winner for the Broadway season of 2039!
Related: Bath-House Bathos [NYM, PDF]
One Cheer for the Roundabout [NYM]