Saturday, February 2, 2019

I’ll Eat You Last—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland




        The Terror of Tinseltown

    This one-woman show about the notorious, Hollywood agent, Sue Mengers, starring Helen Raptis, popular, local TV hostess for AM Northwest at 9 am weekdays on KATU, is written by John Logan and directed by Donald Horn.  It is playing at their space, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking lot, West of the bldg.), through February 16th.  For more information, go to their site at www.trianglepro.org or call 503-239-5919.

    The almighty majesty of the movies, or Broadway, has little to do with what an audience observes.  It is all about what goes on behind the scenes.  Note, such films about these industries, such as the classics, All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard, or Altman’s clever, The Player.  They hint at more complex and seedy sides to these entertainment avenues.  Dare we mention Harvey Weinstein, as a recent example, as proof as how far it has slipped into the abyss.  “All that glitters is not gold,” perhaps.

    What goes into show biz that creates magic is more smoke and mirrors than substance.  In a way, success is more accidently than planned, but everyone is willing to take credit if it hits big, and the same ilk are willing to point the fingers of blame/shame if it bombs (an attitude Congress/White House seems to have adopted).  But, because of it all, we have a wealth of stories, that themselves, make headlines.

    Mengers (Raptis) was a Hollywood agent of some 50 years ago.  As many famous names of renown nowadays, she did not grow up with “a silver spoon in her mouth.”  She and her family were Jewish immigrants fleeing Nazi Germany.  They landed in the New York area and she learned English from watching movies and, perhaps, in part, as an homage to that industry, became enamored with it.  She learned the ropes in agencies on Broadway and even “discovered” Streisand at a seedy bar (later she was to become, perhaps, her most famous client).  Soon she migrated to Hollywood and worked for a couple of agencies there before she branched out on her own.

    Agents, like editors and writers, et. al., are instrumental in getting a film made, but it is not unusual that you wouldn’t know their names, as they are the “unsung heroes” behind the scenes.  They are patiently, strip by strip, draping the glitter that others will take credit for.  It is simply the nature of the business and, as Ray Walston once told me (I worked as a featured extra on the film, Paint Your Wagon), getting your name above the title is not the ultimate for me.  It is just to work a lot with some remarkable artists and be comforted that the film does not rest on my shoulders.  And, so it is with the above “heroes.”

She had many famous clients over the years and has some amazing stories to tell about some of them including, Ms. S., as well as Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Ali McGraw, Steve McQueen, Sissy Spacek, et. al., but I’ll let her go into those stories and her philosophy about what makes a good agent (or star).  It is really all quite engaging.

    Raptis is wonderful and you quite forget she is an actor playing a part, so convincing is she.  Horn, as usual, has given us a slice of life that would have gone “unsung” had it not been for his intervention, not only of social issues that should be discussed but also personalities that may have otherwise been forgotten.  It is an evening of two, very talented icons of the media themselves, but also of some nuggets of years gone by.  Bravo.

    I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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