Joe Mantello Responds To Wicked Critic Who Compared The Scarecrow To A Lynched Black Man
By Amy Somensky May 17, 2005, 3:36 GMT
Weiss said, "Don't, at any cost, forget to mix in a large quantity of political jingoism -- everything from George Orwell (and his warnings about the corruption of speech and thought), to a nod to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. And if you can insert a man with a haircut resembling Hitler's, why not? And by the way, are the Munchkins, in their blue-and-white striped uniforms, supposed to be inmates of a concentration camp?"
Montello responded, "It's shocking to learn that Weiss sees Susan Hilferty's Tony Award-winning, blue-and-white striped school uniforms on an exuberant, dancing chorus as a reference to 'inmates of a concentration camp.' Or that the black bowl-cut wig on a bumbling Ozian official seems to her an allusion to a 'haircut resembling Hitler's.' (I, myself, see Moe Howard from 'The Three Stooges,' but hey, maybe I'm a lightweight.) These provocative interpretations are ludicrous and exist solely in the fever dream of Weiss' paranoid imagination. Blithely invoking the (still) shocking iconography of the Holocaust was never the intent of the creative team, and Weiss offers no textual evidence to the contrary. Her excessive, stop-at-nothing refusal to critique the production on its own terms is irresponsible and insults the millions of people who suffered unspeakable indignities and horrors at the hands of the Nazis. She should be ashamed of herself."
Weiss further said, "The cinematic "Oz" is, of course, little more than a footnote here, with the Scarecrow now revealed to be a lynched black man, the Tin Man a romantically challenged Munchkin, and the Cowardly Lion -- well, that's a long story."
Mantello called that a "preposterous accusation" and wrote, "Once again, she provides no evidence to corroborate this statement. In fact, by her own admission, the tour's staging is a 'clone of the Broadway original' (meaning rope is never used as a restraint and there's not a tree in sight). The only fact that seems to support her theory is that the character, which has been played on Broadway by three different Caucasion (sic) actors, was now being played by an African American...How ironic that in reviewing a show about the vilification of a green girl she should cite an actor's skin color to make such a baseless, illogical point."
Weiss also disliked The Producers and Spamalot due to jokes invloving Jews and the Holocaust, and called Tony Kushner (Caroline of Change) a "self loathing Jew," to which Kushner responded by saying, "'Caroline' has received many reviews -- some great, some mixed, some negative. None has accused me of me being a Jewish anti-Semite. Ms. Weiss doesn't quote a word from my play to support her slur." Kushner wrote in an e-mail explanation, Weiss responded "that she decided I hated being Jewish and hated Judaism not because of what I wrote, because of the 'tone' of the production, the 'body language' of the actors, and the fact that Caroline's black characters have, in her opinion, better music."
*Some quotes obtained from Broadwayworld.com