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On Stage, Jean Shepherd
Airdate: Saturday - February 1, 1975

Show Description
When Jean Shepherd stepped out under the lights at the Sub Plot Cafe on Thursday at the start of a five-night stand in the American Humorists Series at the American Place Theater, he said he was about to deliver, the first public performance of his written work. Twenty minutes later, having loosened up the audience with observations about life (perhaps "a vast, unresolved shaggy dog story''), the age of advertising, West 46th Street -("the Vatican of the porgy: World"), Mr. Shepherd set out to keep his promise and immediately subjected himself to a heavy handicap. He picked up a book and began to read a selection from his novel "In God We Trust. All Others Pay Cash." As Mr. Shepherd's legion of devoted radio fans know, he can be a fine, funny, frequently spellbinding storyteller. As his readers know, he can be a captivating writer. But by choosing to read - rather than tell - what turned out to be the tale of a young boy who craved a Red Ryder Daisy air rifle for Christmas, Mr. Shepherd robbed himself of some of the keys to a successful performance. Gone was the air of spontaneity, replaced by the rigidity of the printed passage. The simple act of holding the book and having to refer to it reduced Mr. Shepherd's opportunities to use his hands, body, face and eyes - even his voice - to portray character and build rapport with his audience. And the story itself, which ultimately built to moments of hilarity, could profitably have been shortened without any loss either of humor or its fascinating Middle Western industria-town background. Just how good this approach might have been was demonstrated when Mr. Shepherd finished by telling - but not reading - another of his published stories, about the Little Orphan Annie Decoder Pin. It was short, funny and, most of all, well performed. A man as versatile as Mr. Shepherd leaves reason to hope that before It ends its brief run, "Jean Shepherd Plays Jean Shepherd." which is already studded with chuckles and a few guffaws, will be a tighter and even more humorous presentation. ********************** The Program JEAN SHEPHERD PLAYS JEAN SHEPHERD, written and performed by Mr. Shepherd. Music by Lanny Meyers; lighting by Edward M. Greenberg; stage manager, Charlie Coco. The American Place Theater, Wynn Handman, director, Julia Miles, associate director, present the American Humorists Series. In the Sub Plot Caf, 111 West 46th Street.
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Links to Further Information:
• Original Article

February 01,1975
New York Times Review

Courtesy: Pete Delaney

Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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