Like a notorious crook who inspires copycat crimes, Broadway's longest-running mystery, Sleuth, has inspired countless theatrical stagings and two film versions (with the new remake, starring Michael Caine and Jude Law, due later this year). Alliance Theatre associate artistic director Kent Gash detects some fresh approaches to Sleuth with the theater's new production of the cat-and-mouse game between a whodunit author (Carl Cofield) and his wife's lover (David de Vries). Gash is enough of a thriller buff that he provided this special mystery-themed installment of Culture Surfing. (Sleuth's previews start Oct. 10.)
Chester Himes: "The great African-American author penned such novels as Cotton Comes to Harlem, If He Hollers Let Him Go, A Rage in Harlem and the entire Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones detective series. He's a no-nonsense, crackerjack detective/mystery writer who can go toe-to-toe with Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie for great plotting, tough evocative dialogue and unforgettable characters. I first became aware of him through the films based on his works, and as fine as some of them are, the books trump them every time. Read his sharp and incisive work and discover whose shoulders Walter Mosley is standing on!"
Film noir jazz: "Film noir and the mystery genre have always been great inspiration for jazz. Check out Bernard Herrmann's surprising score for Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Duke Ellington's masterful Anatomy of a Murder soundtrack, or the great Terence Blanchard's 1999 recording, Jazz in Film, which features music from both scores as well as the unforgettable trumpet wail from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Roman Polanski's Chinatown."
The Al Hirschfeld "Nina" mystery: "The witty caricaturist for the New York Times loaded a great deal of his work with the name of his beloved daughter, Nina. The name appears -- often numerous times -- buried in the creases or lines of a famous face or in the folds of a starlet's gown. Next to the artist's name on a drawing there is sometimes a number that tells you how many 'Ninas' may be found in that drawing. My parents taught me how to search for 'Nina' in each drawing, and it remains a pleasure. Hirschfeld is gone now, but many of his greatest caricatures are collected in volumes such as Hirschfeld's Harlem, Hirschfeld on Line and many others."
"Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp": "While I admire 'Columbo,' 'Murder She Wrote' and the nightly visit to the New York City acting pool that is the 'Law & Order' franchise, my all-time favorite video sleuth has got to be Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. From the archives of 1970s Saturday morning television, cartoon voice-over actors supply the voices for groovy costumed monkeys and cool chimpanzees who play all the roles in this secret agent parody. Who needs Bond or Bourne when you can watch primates playing spies and femme fatales while doing pratfalls and delivering bad puns with inadequate lip synchronization? Now that's comedy and class with a capital K! Best served with an overflowing bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal and ice-cold moo!"
The Shaffer/Hitchcock/Perkins/Sondheim movie connection: "What do Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Shaffer, Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim have in common? They're all knotted up together in some of my favorite thrillers. Shaffer wrote Sleuth, as well as the screenplay of Hitchcock's last great film, Frenzy (the only one shot in his native England -- and the only one that received an R-rating). Hitchcock directed Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Perkins co-wrote the '70s cult mystery The Last of Sheila, in collaboration with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim placed sneaky homages to the music of Psycho and other Hitchcock films in the score for Sweeney Todd, while his obsession with games, along with his puzzle-filled apartment, allegedly inspired Shaffer to write Sleuth -- which is rumored to have been originally titled Who Killed Stephen Sondheim? Whew! Not even six degrees of separation."
I wonder if Ariel and Maya's "game hosted by friends" was the Georgia Tech Band's…
Su ch a blessing!!!
Captured every detail, you'll have to come back on a clear night.
does he need the Z and the S?
love this story !!!
Evan is a very funny fella