Thursday, September 28, 2006

Zimbalist Insults Her Audience

Zimbalist Insults Her Audience

Immediately after the performance of Tea At Five I saw last evening, playwright Matthew Lombardo and actress Stephanie Zimbalist participated in what was billed as a post-show “talk back” session hosted by Minneapolis Star Tribune theatre critic Rohan Preston. It’s safe to say that nearly one third of the audience in the smallish McKnight Theatre stayed for their opportunity to talk about the show. Preston and Lombardo amiably discussed the thoughtful evolution of the play while Zimbalist herself was evolving back to that lovable actress we all know and adore. Right!

Once Zimbalist came back to the stage, she announced that hers was not the only role in the show -- that the audience is the other player. She proceeded to berate the audience saying they were an “oil painting” -- essentially an object that wouldn’t or couldn’t respond to her thespian craft. She then went into a rather boring stemwinder on how she never bothered to see a Katharine Hepburn movie until rather recently, but learned in past weeks that she was related to the great actress.

I’m sorry, Ms. Zimbalist, but you should have realized that with such a sizable portion of your audience remaining for a Q&A that it meant that they did appreciate your wonderful portrayal of this great actress. And you should have allowed for more of them to ask you questions. Yet you chose to insult and demean them to their face. Even more so, you demeaned Katharine Hepburn and yourself. As outstanding as your overall portrayal of this iconic actress may have been, Ms. Zimbalist, perhaps now we know why you’ll never be as great as Katharine Hepburn.

If I were rating this supposed talk-back session, it would have merited no more than one star (despite the best efforts of Preston and Lombardo). Thanks for ruining a perfectly nice evening, Ms. Zimbalist.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 28 September, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Lucky Bitch, got to dance Tommy Tune in My One and Only. I'M JELLI- Mike

At 28 September, 2006, Anonymous Tamara McClellan said...

My comment is that you are a pompus ass with little education. Stephanie is highly intelligent and after her comments you are probably the only one that took it as an insult. I'd say this sounds like a disgruntled fan who didn't get to ask a question and felt bitter. I think someone needs a better education to understand the vocabulary of such an articulate woman. Don't feel so emasculated.

At 29 September, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Michael, Since don't want to censor anyone's comments, I'm posting yours. But I certainly would not refer to the actress in question as a b****.


At 29 September, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Tamara, Thank you for your comments.

First, if you were there at the Ordway, you'd know that Ms. Zimbalist's comments about the audience went downhill after she referred to them as an "oil painting." She berated them for not giving her the response or gratification she was seeking.

Second, I'm not a fan of hers nor have I ever been. I am a fan of Katharine Hepburn, which is why I took in the show in the first place. Obviously from Ms. Zimbalist's comments regarding never having sat through a Hepburn movie, she's not a fan of ther very source material she sought to mine for the type of audience reaction she was seeking.

Third, as I have made very clear, both in my posting and in my review of the show itself, I thought she captured the essence of the great actress -- which is probably made all the more amazing given her admittedly limited understanding of Hepburn.

Fourth, I was far from bitter that I didn't have an opportunity to ask a question. Let me be clear that several people did have the opportunity, but my reason for staying for the Q&A was because I enjoyed the show enough to want to learn more from Ms. Zimbalist and the playwright. But most of the time for that Q&A was limited to her aforementioned rants. And far from coming across as articulate, her diatribe was very disjointed.

I won't comment on your first point since we have never met and you simply don't know anything about me, my education or my motives. (Although -- no offense intended -- the word pompous is spelled P-O-M-P-O-U-S.)

But I will say this: I go to see live theatre because of my absolute love for the art. I go to be entertained. I don't go to be insulted, especially when I'm paying $100 for two tickets. I don't go to be hypercritical, but I will use this forum to advise those who share my affinity for live theatre was has happened in an unvarnished capacity.

Let me close by reiterating points I made when I started Steve On Broadway back in April:

Critics: Sharpen Your Pencils!

Starting a new blog -- my very first -- is more than a little daunting. But I'm relying on old friends, and complete strangers, to keep me honest in my assessments. I'm looking for real dialogue with those of you who enjoy the entire theatrical experience as much as I do. So regardless of what you think of this site, I invite you to post your comments.

While I'm known to be a bit of an SOB (thus Steve On Broadway), this site has a few simple ground rules. First, we don't need to be vulgar to make our points. Instead, we'll engage in polite discourse on a topic -- theatre -- on which we're unmistakably passionate. We may not like a particular actor, actress, playwright, composer or director, but we'll not take the low road with our comments. Instead, we'll engage in true critical analysis that aims to be thought-provoking and stimulating.

So go ahead, post your comments and let the critical analysis begin!

At 29 September, 2006, Blogger StephenMosher said...

Steve: I think you are wonderful. I think your blog is wonderful. It is a regular read of mine and one I would not do without. I think your responses to both Michael and Miss McClellan are perfect (I noticed the mis spelling of pompous, immediately). I don't understand why Miss McClellan chose to berate you when you are simply stating your opinion (and I think it takes a lot of courage to tell a story or state an opinion that involves casting negativity--and this one does cast a negative light on Miss Zimbalist). I applaud you for your eloquent writing and your personal opinion, in this, as in every piece you write.

I have always admired Miss Zimbalist's work and found her to be a ravishing beauty. I am saddened by this report; but I do not doubt it, as I have found you to be a passionate and truthful writer.

Katharine Hepburn was and remains my favourite actress--even ranking about my friends and other favourites Misses Dench and Murphy; but I always figure everyone in the world just takes it for granted that Kate the Great was and always will be the very best of them all. I thought Kate Mulgrew was extraordinary and was curious about Miss Zimbalist. I am glad to hear she did a good job, no matter what her personal behaviour was like.

But's always sad to hear that someone whose work you have admired has behaved in a manner that you find unbecoming.

Thank you for retaining your dignity, while responding to unflattering postings that, while meant to disgrace you, only disgrace the writer.

Cheers and


At 29 September, 2006, Anonymous Tamara said...

Okay so in my quickness to type I left out a letter, I never said I was the articulate one with a great vocabulary ;). I humbly apologize for the comment about you, you are right, I don't know you and it wasn't fair.

The point is that I agree that you're here to write about the theatre and your take on it. All I am saying is give a girl a break. I apologize for feeling so angered and passionate about Stephanie Zimbalist and the comments you made in your blog. Though I do appreciate theatrical reviews, I feel that we all become defensive when the person in question is someone we admire or have admired. I can say that most theatre actors have never read pieces about the people they are portraying but that does not make them bad people.

I admire Stephanie Zimbalist and I appreciate that you did not censor my comments and were willing to show both sides. I also think that your review of the play itself was great. I just feel that your blog regarding the Q&A itself dripped with sarcasm and not a true review of the evening. You ask us to just have a pleasant conversation about the theatre, but this whole blog was unpleasant and though some facts were stated, the rest was sarcastic and demeaning.

I humbly apologize for commenting about you as a person when we are mere strangers. I hope you can accept my apology for the insults they were unnecessary. People should know that this is one person's opinion of what took place.

Thank you for your time. And for the record, I was asked not to respond to your blog however I felt on my behalf an apology was warranted.

At 30 September, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...


Your apology is not necessary. I give you credit for feeling very passionate about Stephanie Zimbalist, and she's fortunate to count you among her fervent supporters. I'm every bit as passionate about Katharine Hepburn and great theatre, which is why I was at the Ordway in the first place. It's also why I decidedly kept my review of the show separate from my secondary comments about the Q&A.

Was I perhaps too sarcastic? Perhaps, but my goal with my blog is for it to specifically serve first and foremost as my personal online diary of my musings -- and passion -- for theatre. If I offended, I am sorry.


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