Letters to the Editor

From the week of 7/5/2007

"Entree, Stage Left," Juliet Wittman, June 28



The Sound of Icky

It seems that the Gods of Dinner Theater have struck Juliet Wittman down for having the temerity to criticize Boulder's Dinner Theatre's latest production of The Sound of Music; they managed to strip the "hell" out of her review. However, it goes to show just how far the Gods have fallen: They failed to exorcise the online copy of the review, and Ms. Wittman had her final say there, at least. The high point of her prose (for me, at least) was her succinct comment referring to The Sound of Music's drivel as being "just plain icky." How many times have I, as an American in Salzburg, been forced to hang my head in shame and embarrassment for my fellow tribesmen as they flock all over that wonderful city (where real, actual magnificent musicians have been plying their trade for centuries!) seeking out this or that spot where that syrupy silly applesauce was filmed: The Sound of Money, indeed!

And indeed, can it not also be said that dinner theater itself is also "just plain icky"? Where in the world but here would anyone want to pay good money for bad food and bad theater? Ms. Wittman says that "if any production could make me like The Sound of Music, this would be it." I heartily assume that the remainder of this syllogism goes thus: No production could make me like The Sound of Music; therefore, this one isn't it.
Bill Gardner
Denver

Editor's note: Our apologies to Juliet Wittman (not to mentionSound of Music cynics). Owing to a production error, the last half of her review of the current Boulder's Dinner Theatre production did not appear in last week's print edition — but the entire review remains available on the web, at http://www.westword.com/2007-06-28/culture/the-sound-of-music/.

"<"http://www.westword.com/2007-05-31/news/mob-rule/">Gang Way," Off Limits, May 31



Flipping Out

I would like to comment on the reporting done by Alan Prendergast for the Off Limits item in which he criticizes the Colorado History Museum's Italians of Denver exhibit and curator for not providing visitors with enough information about the Smaldone family.

If Alan had called the Colorado History Museum, he would have learned that a flip-book about the Smaldone family is among sixteen exhibit flip-books still in production. Given the amount of time needed for the editing, review and production of more than one hundred family stories, not all had been installed in the exhibit at the time of the opening. Furthermore, we could also have provided him with a much higher-quality photograph of Clyde Smaldone's paintings, rather than the shoddy picture taken through the exhibit-case glass.

Exhibit curator Alisa Zahller has worked with the Italian-American community for the past five years, scanning and digitizing thousands of photographs, collecting hundreds of artifacts, and documenting personal stories and family histories from extensive interviews with Italian-American families — from the poorest to the most wealthy, the most unknown to the most notorious — so that these histories will be preserved and available for future generations. The exhibit is just one part of this larger project.

We are always pleased when a writer takes the time to see an exhibit and critique it, whether good or bad. But Alan's attempts to reduce this exhibit to the inclusion of a single object from a well-known family does a disservice to the Italian-American community and to Westword readers.
Elisa Phelps
Director of the Collections and Library Division, Colorado Historical Society

Alan Prendergast responds: The exhibit is impressive and worth seeing, but I wasn't trying to critique it — that's the job of a reviewer. I was simply pointing out that there was a lack of information about a particular painting of some historical interest, by Clyde "Flip Flop" Smaldone. To say that you're going to someday get around to putting in a flip-book about Flip Flop is a bit like a film producer saying she's going to recut the movie after it's been released; is that fair to the people who come to see the show as soon as it opens? The exhibit's neglect of the painting's backstory and the Smaldones' contributions to Denver history — positive and otherwise — was reason enough for a quickly posted blog item that later appeared in our print edition. I am pleased to learn that the museum intends to correct its omission.

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