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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

a-mad
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joined:8/25/11
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I recently re-watched the film "Wait until Dark" - one of the favorites from my youth.  I hadn't seen it in years...

Did any of you on this board see the 1998 play revival with Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino?  If so, how was it?  I could see Tomei being really good and Tarantino being really annoying...

Final question - why hasn't it been revived since?  It's a tight, tense little play and I could see it doing well again.

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Jordan Catalano
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joined:10/9/05
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I did see it and remember thoroughly enjoying it. I do remember being surprised at how wonderful I thought Tarantino was. If you’ve seen him act before in any of his films, he plays that role quite well.

I can’t believe it’s been TWENTY YEARS since that production. Im sure it will be revived again when they can get two other big names. Maybe Claire Danes & Hugh Dancy could do it...
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Flowerlovestage5
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I saw it. The cast did a great job. Tomei was very good in the role..

The pre-set was that of a brick apartment complex high rise with a window. At the top of the show it rotated to reveal the apartment.

**SPOILERS BELOW**

The character spends a great deal of play preparing for the robbery and assault that is about to threaten her and she did a superb job maneuvering around the set of the apartment. I will never forget the image of her crawling along the edge of the stage with her hand up against the “fourth” wall as she dragged her body in panick.

Tarantino was Tarantino though with that role, it did suit him.

I will tell you, similar to the image I have of Tomei above; there was a moment as she is silent in the dark living room and there is a pause. Suddenly he leaps out of the bedroom and onto her. I mean LEAPED and the entire audience jumped in their seats/screamed...

Moments like that made the evening of a live thriller chilling to witness. The story is simple, I think, as it all depends on their pacing, specifically the physicality of it — in the dark. They did a great job.

There were a few moments where they used the “flash” device (flash of light) similar to his film sequences. He obviously influenced this though it did not take away.

Updated On: 8/1/18 at 07:50 PM
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Flowerlovestage5
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Jordan Catalano said: "I can’t believe it’s been TWENTY YEARS since that production...”

 

Times flies!!!

 

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dramamama611
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joined:12/4/07
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I saw it too, and remember it being quite wonderful. And it remains one of the scariest events I've seen on stage. I think I saw it up here in boston before it went to NY.

Also, while I dont know if it's a available anywhere, HBO produced a version, too. 1982ish with Katherine Ross & Stacey Keach. That was my first foray.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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Matt Rogers
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I cannot believe people are saying this revival was good. It got trashed by just about every critic and closed after a couple of months. Below are pasted just a few of the horrible reviews. However, a few years ago, there was a production at Geffen Playhouse in LA that starred Alison Pill and it had been given a "dust off" by Jeffrey Hatcher. I thought I read it was coming to NYC but that never happened. Anyway, check out the 1998 reviews below:


New York Daily News: "Turn Out the Lights on 'Wait Until Dark'"

This revival of Frederick Knott's 1966 thriller is grim, gruesome and very scary. And that's just the acting. Anyone who can emerge from this evening of theatrical terror without recurring nightmares must be made of stern stuff.

In "Wait Until Dark" Marisa Tomei plays Suzy Hendrix, a young woman cruelly tormented by a group of men who adopt assumed names and characters. If the aim of the evening is to make us empathize with the heroine, it is a roaring success. By the end of its 100-odd minutes, we know just how she feels.

The only thing standing in the way of complete identification with her plight is that her character is blind and therefore, unlike us, does not have to witness the tics, mannerisms and poses that parade before her. Seldom can a serious disability have seemed so enviable.

Knott's play, shortened and modernized for this revival, is no work of genius. It is not even as clever a piece of schlock as his "Dial 'M' For Murder." But it could, as the 1967 movie version with Alan Arkin and Audrey Hepburn showed, be enjoyable enough in a hokey, over-the-top way.

The rather strained plot concerns a musical doll full of heroin that Suzy's husband has innocently brought from Canada to their Lower East Side apartment, believing it is for a sick child. When Suzy is alone, the crooks stage an elaborate and utterly incredible hoax to try to get her to hand over the doll.

They pretend to be a friend of her husband's; the father and jilted spouse of her husband's supposed lover; and a policeman. To no one's surprise, all of this leads to Suzy being confronted by the vicious, dagger-wielding leader of the gang.

Quentin Tarantino plays this bad guy. Such is his performance that you wonder why he needs a knife when he could just beat his enemies to death with his heavy wooden acting.

As a movie director Tarantino may be the new Alfred Hitchcock, but as a stage actor he is the new Ed Wood. He has the vocal modulation of a railway station announcer, the expressive power of a fence post and the charisma of a week-old head of lettuce.

Whatever credibility the play might have vanishes in his presence. It is simply impossible to believe that Suzy would not give him the doll, or anything else he might want, just to get rid of him.

Presumably in an effort to spare Tarantino as much embarrassment as possible, his co-stars seem reluctant to show what real acting is like. Stephen Lang, as the inevitable crook with the heart of gold, is strangely uncertain.

Marisa Tomei, for her part, is more bland than blind. Though she has mastered the physical demands of the part, she never really conveys the idea of someone whose senses are attuned to the world around her, picking up invisible signals.

The result is that Leonard Foglia's production is about as tense as a burst balloon. The basic elements of a thriller fear, suspense, an atmosphere of gripping uncertainty are entirely absent.

And without them, you start asking the kind of questions that the show simply can't answer. Why doesn't Suzy just give them the doll? Why don't the crooks just kill her and search the apartment themselves? Why would anyone want to see Quentin Tarantino in a play?


Fintan O'Toole New York Daily News
04/06/1998
New York Post: "Waste Until Dark"

That old thrillmeister Alfred Hitchcock knew a lot about suspense, and perhaps even more about surprise. Who would have expected Janet Leigh, nominally the star of his "Psycho," to be rubbed out so early in the movie - and in a shower?

The star of the revival of Frederick Knott's "Wait Until Dark," which opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theater last night, is Marisa Tomei, playing a young blind woman whose life is threatened by unsavory thugs. (Come to think of it, most thugs are unsavory - but no matter).

Now, what do you think? Will Tomei be alive at the end, stumbling if not kicking? Make a bet, and I'll bet you're right.

Knott earlier gave us the rather better, but, as I noticed from the recent London revival, still somewhat dated, "Dial M for Murder," and he tries hard in this 1964 Broadway vehicle, originally for Lee Remick and Robert Duvall, to make our flesh creep. For me, then as now, while the flesh was willing it remained resolutely uncrept.

Even a piteously unsighted Audrey Hepburn in the superior movie version, with Alan Arkin as sadist-in-chief, left my hackles unrisen and my withers unwrung. So perhaps I start out unsympathetic to this little grand guignol with all its dirty works, and muddy plotting.

A photographer has returned from a Canadian trip, duped into carrying back a doll stuffed with heroin. For reasons I've never been quite sure, this is hidden somewhere in the Greenwich Village apartment he shares with his blind wife.

The details are a little blurred, but the play starts off with a bang and a scene of murky mayhem, and it ends with a rather good scene of even murkier mayhem - wait until murk! - but in-between, things not only get tedious, but suspense (so important in such matters) is virtually suspended.

The plot is extraordinarily vague, with red herrings smelling up every blind alley, and such plot refinements as the chief villain at one point disguising himself to fool a woman that he knows is blind! Wasted effort. Like much else in the rambling narrative.

Characterization proves as muddled as the plot, and to call the quality of the writing stilted is to be unnecessarily charitable. Now hokum is hokum, and one doesn't expect it be Samuel Beckett, but surely even hokum has its standards.

The acting was less than so-so, and a lot of the blame for should probably fall on the head of the director, Leonard Foglia. Now unless you have been living in the outer reaches of Patagonia, you have probably heard the poor advance word on Quentin Tarantino, making his Broadway debut as the head crook and bottlewasher, Harry Roat.

He was far better than I had been led to expect - in fact he was merely terrible. A condition, admittedly, not made easier by his unfortunate air, probably quite unconscious, of seeming extraordinarily well-satisfied with himself. It added an odd touch of hubris to commonplace mediocrity.

But in all fairness to the comparatively inexperienced Tarantino, Foglia got every bit as bad a portrayal from Stephen Lang, who we know to be normally an excellent actor, and the direction even seemed to nullify Tomei herself, who again has given some fine stage performances, but here only seems to come to life towards the end.

So like Lang and Tomei, Tarantino was perhaps not entirely to blame. And absolutely no one can blame the very efficient basement setting provided by Michael McGarty, replete with the necessary refrigerator light and those awful Venetian blinds which play a crucial, if boringly sophomoric part, in the schoolboyish vagaries of Knott's twisted plot.


Clive Barnes New York Post
04/06/1998
Variety: "Wait Until Dark"

An eleventh-hour scream is the payoff for both an implausible and an overly intricate buildup in the new Broadway revival of "Wait Until Dark," a late-season entry whose success will depend on whatever audience still exists for pulp theater. With Marisa Tomei and (most intriguingly) Quentin Tarantino top-billed for the limited run, Leonard Foglia's expertly designed production is by no means the disaster that the out-of-town Boston reviews may have led one to expect. Whether it will amount to anything more than a lucrative curiosity, on the other hand, remains open for debate: In our current slash-and-run culture, Frederick Knott's 1966 play doesn't so much take place (largely) in the dark as seem a product of the Dark Ages.

There's something positively quaint 32 years later about Knott's plotting, which is far too pointlessly dense for the chills that, after all, are the evening's raison d'etre. Despite Foglia's generally cracking pace (both intermissions have, wisely, been scrapped) and the altogether separate charge of Brian MacDevitt's ace lighting, the script remains nine parts set-up to one part showdown in a protracted battle over a musical doll laced with drugs. Though the faceless urban facade of Michael McGarty's set could not be more contemporary, "Wait Until Dark" suggests why it has been years -- even decades -- since Broadway regularly hosted the sorts of thrillers that still proliferate across the Atlantic ("The Woman in Black" and so on). Perhaps this production's more natural home might well be London, where Tarantino and not James Cameron is king of the world.

Can the perpetrator of "Pulp Fiction" act onstage? The question is largely academic -- his character, Harry Roat, is hardly Hamlet, notwithstanding a penchant for play-acting that does little more than pad the script. Inasmuch as it's a vehicle for anyone, "Wait Until Dark" belongs to its blind victim, Susy Hendrix (played by Tomei), and Tarantino obsessives should be prepared to find their hero playing second fiddle to an East Village damsel in distress. That the part is pretty silly has little to do with Tarantino, who brings to it a surprisingly strong voice and a virtually constant sneer. (Why Roat's fondness for disguises faced with a blind woman who can't see what he's wearing anyway?) What the actor doesn't do is camp it up in obeisance to any existing claque. As psychos go, his is unexpectedly straightforward; entering with sunglasses, hair slicked-back, he's no more or less cheesy than Alan Arkin in the 1967 film.

Tomei, by contrast, must fight memories of an Oscar-nominated Audrey Hepburn, whose nobly sustained panic is the chief interest of a film that otherwise hasn't aged well. A theater regular making her Broadway debut, Tomei gives a likable, if not wildly interesting performance as a 28-year-old car crash victim who claims to be able to "hear" groups of three when, that is, she isn't demonstrating a most peculiar facility for memorizing phone numbers. If she's less fragile than Hepburn -- at one point, her Susy inadvertently gives photographer husband Sam (James Whalen) a bloody nose -- that's in keeping with the vaguely PC tendencies of the revival, which extend to the racial diversity of the casting and to the presence in the final scene of a policewoman. This Susy is a woman warrior in the making, at first groping, then battling, her way about the stage: She's a modern creation trapped in a plot as antiquated as Susy's method of defrosting the fridge.

Of the rest, Stephen Lang muscles his way through the part of Roat's thuggish sidekick (Juan Carlos Hernandez completes the trio of terrorists) without matching Richard Crenna's screen charm, which lends the faintest of sexual tension to the movie. As Gloria, the none-too-helpful 9-year-old neighbor whose propensity for inexplicable tantrums would seem to demand instant therapy, Imani Parks gently finesses the play's most ludicrous part. This child, we are told, wants "something like this every day," which suggests that as danger junkies go, she's off the menu and, as such, is the single scariest aspect of "Wait Until Dark."
bk
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I JUST lost a post and whilst losing it Matt Rogers said just what I was going to say.  This thread is hilarious.  I have never heard ONE person say a good word about this revival.  It was HORRIBLE, perhaps the worst revival I've ever seen.  Tarantino was like a high school actor and I am here to tell you not one person in my audience screamed or jumped at the big "moment" because it was timed improperly.  Tomei was fine, and the rest of the cast was a bore.  Leonard Foglia's "direction" was about loud noises coming from God knows where (and music, I think).  It's a really good play when done correctly.  Since Matt left out Mr. Brantley's review, here it is: https://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/06/theater/theater-review-fear-loathing-and-vulnerability-downtown.html

And John Simon was even less kind to Mr. Tarantino's "performance."  

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Matt Rogers
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bk said: "I JUST lost a post and whilst losing it Matt Rogers said just what I was going to say. This thread is hilarious. I have never heard ONE person say a good word about this revival. It was HORRIBLE, perhaps the worst revival I've ever seen. Tarantino was like a high school actor and I am here to tell you not one person in my audience screamed or jumped at the big "moment" because it was timed improperly. Tomei was fine, and the rest of the cast was a bore. Leonard Foglia's "direction" was about loud noises coming from God knows where (and music, I think). It's a really good play when done correctly. Since Matt left out Mr. Brantley's review, here it is:https://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/06/theater/theater-review-fear-loathing-and-vulnerability-downtown.html

And John Simon was even less kind to Mr. Tarantino's "performance."
"

I could not agree with you more.

Dollypop
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I played Harry Roat in a regional production of the play about 35 years ago. I don't remember much about it, other than the leading lady and I were comparing bruises after every performance---and the "death leap". The director had me jumping off a special offstage platform for a more dramatic effect. I also recall a patron suffering a heart attack during that scene.
"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
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Flowerlovestage5
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#10
Posted: 8/1/18 at 9:20pm
Dollypop - Love that! Good for you!

Thank you for taking the time to copy/paste ALL of those excerpts. That must have taken a good amount of time to apparently prove the rest of us wrong...

... the few of us on this thread who enjoyed it, who actually SAW it. We are just stating our opinions.

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Matt Rogers
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#11
Posted: 8/1/18 at 10:03pm

Flowerlovestage5 said: "Dollypop - Love that! Good for you!

Thank you for taking the time to copy/paste ALL of those excerpts. That must have taken a good amount of time to apparently prove the rest of us wrong...

... the few of us on this thread who enjoyed it, who actually SAW it. We are just stating our opinions.


"

I'm the one who did the cut and paste. And I "actually" saw it too. On Opening Night. It was an abysmal production.

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BobbyBubby
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#12
Posted: 8/1/18 at 11:02pm
Why do certain posters make such an effort to try to make others feel ****ty and stupid about their opinions? Nobody could have enjoyed it because you hated it and critics trashed it?
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Flowerlovestage5
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#13
Posted: 8/1/18 at 11:11pm

BobbyBubby said: "Why do certain posters make such an effort to try to make others feel ****ty and stupid about their opinions? Nobody could have enjoyed it because you hated it and critics trashed it?"

Thank you! 

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Matt Rogers
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#14
Posted: 8/1/18 at 11:14pm

BobbyBubby said: "Why do certain posters make such an effort to try to make others feel ****ty and stupid about their opinions? Nobody could have enjoyed it because you hated it and critics trashed it?"

I don't think that is what is going on at all. We are talking about a production that happened 20 years ago. The critics were all solidly negative on this. The production closed as a critical and financial disaster after two and a half months. I just think that those of us not saying how wonderful it was are putting this in perspective. If people enjoyed it, good for them. That doesn't make their opinion any less valid than the critics. 

bk
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joined:7/20/03
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#15
Posted: 8/2/18 at 2:00am

Flowerlovestage5 said: "Dollypop - Love that! Good for you!

Thank you for taking the time to copy/paste ALL of those excerpts. That must have taken a good amount of time to apparently prove the rest of us wrong...

... the few of us on this thread who enjoyed it, who actually SAW it. We are just stating our opinions.


"

Are you trying to say I didn't see it or that Matt didn't see it?  Are you?  Because I believe if you use your eyeballs and actually read my post you will see that I saw it.  How is that not clear to you?  Please explain.

bk
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#16
Posted: 8/2/18 at 2:01am

Matt Rogers said: "BobbyBubby said: "Why do certain posters make such an effort to try to make others feel ****ty and stupid about their opinions? Nobody could have enjoyed it because you hated it and critics trashed it?"

I don't think that is what is going on at all. We are talking about a production that happened 20 years ago. The critics were all solidly negative on this. The production closed as a critical and financial disaster after two and a half months.I just think that those of us not saying how wonderful it was are putting this in perspective. If people enjoyed it, good for them. That doesn't make their opinion any less valid than the critics.
"

Oh but we have to LOVE everything and everyone because if we dare not then we get subjected to that marvelous and quite endless BroadwayWorld faux outrage.  

 

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BobbyBubby
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#17
Posted: 8/2/18 at 6:12am

bk said: "Oh but we have to LOVE everything and everyone because if we dare not then we get subjected to that marvelous and quite endless BroadwayWorld faux outrage. "

 

I don't think the issue here is having a negative opinion about something.  It's the attitude being used when stating the opinion, basically saying "I know more than you do" and "Your opinion is wrong". Even if that's not your intention, that's certainly how it's being read.   " This thread is hilarious.  I have never heard ONE person say a good word about this revival." basically is telling anyone who thinks differently than you, and those you have spoke to previously about this production, that they are wrong.  It's not really what you're saying, it's how you're saying it.  The comments you made here don't look like you're interested in having a dialogue with someone, or sharing your personal experience.  It looks like you're trying to make people who liked something you didn't dumb.  

I have never heard ONE person say a good word about your Paul Simon album.  But I really liked it. Does that make me wrong?

 

BWAY Baby2
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joined:11/10/14
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#18
Posted: 8/2/18 at 6:43am

I saw the original production. Funny story. I was in the first row- and during one of the pivotal scenes- one of the characters leaped out of a dark shadow and surprised and scared Lee Remick. Well, it scared me, too. I had my shoe halfway off my foot- and when I got scared-my foot went up- and my shoe went up on stage- right near Remcik. She very quietly pushed my shoe back in my direction- and I grabbed it. Before the show, we met her in the stage door alley- and she was all alone- no crowd or autograph seekers at all. We said hi- and got an autograph. Still remember that- I was probably 13 years old.

LarryD2
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#19
Posted: 8/2/18 at 6:50am

The production was slapped together very quickly. Tarantino, at that point the hottest director in Hollywood, was total stunt casting. The run was only supposed to be for 12 weeks, but he ended up leaving the show very quickly after the negative reviews came out and didn't finish the run. FWIW, I saw it and he was pretty flat; Tomei, though miscast, gave at least a competent and professional performance.

The play was hopelessly dated 20 years ago -- I can't imagine how cheap it would seem now.

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CarlosAlberto
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#20
Posted: 8/2/18 at 8:07am

BWAY Baby2 said: "I saw the original production. Funny story. I was in the first row- and during one of the pivotal scenes- one of the characters leaped out of a dark shadow and surprised and scared Lee Remick. Well, it scared me, too. I had my shoe halfway off my foot- and when I got scared-my foot went up- and my shoe went up on stage- right near Remcik. She very quietly pushed my shoe back in my direction- and I grabbed it. Before the show, we met her in the stage door alley- and she was all alone- no crowd or autograph seekers at all. We said hi- and got an autograph. Still remember that- I was probably 13 years old."


That’s a very funny story! I’ve always wondered why Lee Remick wasn’t chosen to do the film. I know she wasn’t as huge of a box office draw as Hepburn but she was still well known. Now that I think of it I believe that Hepburn’s husband at the time was the one that purchased the screen rights. 

 

 

Updated On: 8/2/18 at 08:07 AM
bdboston
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#21
Posted: 8/2/18 at 8:21am

Now this post takes me back! I saw this production of "Wait Until Dark" when it had it's pre-Broadway tryout at the Wilbur Theater (back in the day when the Wilbur was an actual theatrical venue - probably the most perfect space for plays). With Tarantino and Tomei attached, it was actually a sell-out. I remember I saw it towards the end of the run and they had run out of actual Playbills (not anticipating the near-capacity crowds), so they were handing out photocopied, truncated versions with just the actors' and creative team's bios. I also recall that Tarantino was a bit of a lech around town at the bars after the show got out, hitting on several young college girls (a friend of mine being one of them). Definitely makes me miss all the out-of-town tryouts that Boston hosted.

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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#22
Posted: 8/2/18 at 8:56am
I saw this production at the time, and I remember there not being good reviews but enjoyed it anyway. I do remember feeling Marisa Tomei was carrying the whole thing on her little back and she was quite good. Tarantino wasn’t anything special but not particularly bad either. I also remember the audience I saw the show with DID gasp and get startled by the end sequence and him jumping out at her. If I recall correctly the flash sequences referenced were scene changes scattered throughout, meant to depict the flash of a camera. I don’t remember the details but either her character had been a photographer or the boyfriend or something like that. And I think the item Tarantino was trying to find was changed either drugs to jewels or jewels to drugs .... it’s been twenty years. At the end of the day I remember the show as an enjoyable experience and purchased the window card signed by the cast which still hangs on my wall today.
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Lot666
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#23
Posted: 8/2/18 at 9:23am

BobbyBubby said: "Why do certain posters make such an effort to try to make others feel ****ty and stupid about their opinions? Nobody could have enjoyed it because you hated it and critics trashed it?"

Because this board is largely a nest of vipers.

==> this board is a nest of vipers <==

"Michael Riedel...The Perez Hilton of the New York Theatre scene"
- Craig Hepworth, What's On Stage
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HogansHero
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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#24
Posted: 8/2/18 at 9:33am

I am always mystified by the need folks here have to treat opinions as having a right or wrong quality. They don't, so anyone suggesting someone else's opinion is wrong is just exposing their own lack of security in their own opinions, as is anyone who takes such suggestions with more than a grain of salt. The fact is: the reviews were really bad, but that does not make them right. FWIW I did not like the production and QT in particular. I'll just say he did not strike fear in the hearts of this audience member.

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Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

#25
Posted: 8/2/18 at 10:53am

I have very fond memories of this production, though I was not the savvy theatergoer I am now Wait Until Dark 1998 Revival and Question

And I do vividly recall the jump scare!