Granbury's jewel on the square
During the summer of 1989, I was fortunate enough to direct a production of Kander and Ebb's musical Chicago at the Granbury Opera House. I had met Jo Ann Miller on a previous visit, and was enthusiastic about working with her and my old friend David Coffee in the historic theater.
My experiences with Jo Ann Miller were positive and productive. Contrary to many of the comments I read in your article ["Suspense! Intrigue! Betrayal!" December 28, 1995], I found her to be forthright, insightful, and possessed of a thorough knowledge of not only the classic American musical style, but of newer stage techniques as well. Chicago was a progressive show for the Opera House, and throughout the rehearsals Jo Ann was encouraging to the cast and crew, tremendously supportive of experimentation, delightfully witty, and always aware of what was or was not money well-spent. In short, everything one hopes for in a producer.
As a member of the profession, I am convinced that Jo Ann's powers are undiminished. I saw her recent productions of Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway and Two by Two, and was again struck by the cleanliness of her direction and the ease with which she moved from turn-of-the-century nostalgia to a 1970s biblical romp. My wife and I sat in the packed opera house and delighted in the laughter and applause.
Now the woman responsible for bringing such quality and consistency to an art that wants for both has been booted out to make room for what? More "country" music? A "junior league" show?
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It is perhaps a sad fact that most Americans have no respect for tradition--tradition in the arts least of all. And while we can thank some yuppie bean-counters for keeping arts organizations afloat, we can also curse others for turning small gems into big paste. It seems that the ignorant always find ways to undermine the truly talented, and Granbury's jewel on the square may be another victim. One of Jo Ann's favorite expressions has always been, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Granbury Opera House was anything but "broke." I fear, however, that it has been "fixed but good."
David Pasztor's article concerning the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ["Snoozepaper," January 4] caused me to wonder whether any similar evaluation of The Dallas Morning News has been made. The DMN is an extremely biased and right-wing publication with a blatant disregard for the rules of journalism, layout, and sometimes even the English language.
One example of this is an article published in a September issue concerning a student who was struck by lightning at Forney High School. The reporter who covered the story took great pains to portray Forney as a charming little backwater town. This story, as do many other stories in The Dallas Morning News, seemed more concerned with creating a (false) charming atmosphere than reporting the story at hand. Perhaps DMN reporters should pay more attention to publishing objective and truthful news stories than using fictional means to make the stories interesting. After all, The DMN is a newspaper, not a literary magazine.
Thanks so much for your review of Cry, the Beloved Country ["In black and white," December 28, 1995]. I knew Alan Paton quite well and saw the movie last month in Johannesburg. Most of the movies about South Africa, racism, and apartheid or Africans vs. Europeans or other Africans have been so one-sided and distorted that they have missed the complex dynamics in that society and have misled millions.
I'll make my 56th trip to South Africa in February. I appreciated your more sensitive and balanced view.
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