Juan Darien Opens on Broadway

By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Viagas
November 25, 1996

Julie Taymor's Juan Darien has opened Nov. 24 at the newly refurbished Vivian Beaumont Theatre, reflecting Lincoln Center Theatre's vision for opening major shows by artists more closely associated with Off- and Off-Off Broadway. Spalding Gray's It's a Slippery Slope, also recently opened, playing Sun. and Mon. eves. at the Beaumont.



Julie Taymor's Juan Darien has opened Nov. 24 at the newly refurbished Vivian Beaumont Theatre, reflecting Lincoln Center Theatre's vision for opening major shows by artists more closely associated with Off- and Off-Off Broadway. Spalding Gray's It's a Slippery Slope, also recently opened, playing Sun. and Mon. eves. at the Beaumont.

Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal's Juan Darien, is one of the most influential experimental music-theatre pieces of the past decade, Based on a short story by Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga, Juan Darien uses puppets, masked actors and unusual instruments to tell -- in the form of a "Carnival Mass" -- a folk tale about the effects of savagery on civilization. Taymor directs, adapted the text and designed the play's distinctive puppets and masks. Goldenthal composed the music.

Juan Darien debuted off-off-Broadway at Music-Theatre Group in 1988. It won the 1989 Richard Rodgers Award for musicals in development, and opened later that year off-Broadway.

Taymor was acclaimed in spring 1996 for her off-Broadway production of Carlo Goldoni's The Green Bird. She's also currently working with Disney to adapt its animated hit, The Lion King for Broadway.

A studio album of the show, featuring many members of the Broadway cast, was released Oct. 29.

On "off" nights, Spalding Gray, the monologist of Swimming To Cambodia and Monster In A Box,performs his new solo show, It's A Slippery Slope. The show has a limited run through Jan. 6, 1997.

Gray's latest monologue concerns his adjusting to life after 50, including discovering "the joys and terrors of learning to ski."

Prior to its New York run, It's A Slippery Slope played in Chicago, Boston, Atalanta, Toronto and North Carolina.

Reviewing the Goodman Theatre tryout of Slippery Slope in mid mid-September, This Month ON STAGE critic Richard Allen Eisenhardt wrote, "Gray doesn't shy away from telling stories at his own expense, such as the extensive accounts of his hapless experiences on the ski runs of Colorado and New England... The last third of the show shifts to Gray severing his long-term relationship with his companion and collaborator to embark on an affair with another woman. He eventually has a son by her, an event that overwhelms him spiritually... Matter-of-fact about his conduct, Gray doesn't judge or indulge in self-pity... [Gray is] a one-of-a kind entertainer offering spellbinding presentations of a particular type of contemporary American theatre."

Several of Gray's monologues have been captured on film, including Swimming To Cambodia, Monster In A Box and the soon-to-be released Steven Soderbergh film, Gray's Anatomy.

An interview with Taymor can be found in Feature Stories.

An interview with Goldenthal can be found in Theatre News in a story about the recently-released cast album.

Playbill On-Line went on a walking tour of the refurbished theatre, read about it in Feature Stories.

Tickets for both shows can be ordered through Tele-Charge, (212) 239 6200.