Well known (little known) RPCV writer

I went to see Anything Goes on Broadway last night which is not a great musical, but has one great dance number, and during the intermission, reading the program I spotted Timothy Crouse’s name. Now who is Timothy Crouse? Well, first of all he is the brother of actress Lindsay Crouse, and secondly, he is the son of Russel Crouse, who with Howard Lindsay, wrote Anything Goes. Reading the program I saw that Tim, who was an RPCV in Morocco 1968-69, co-authored the New Book for the play. In other words, attempted to bring the ‘story’ up to date.

Tim’s background is interesting and impressive. After the Peace Corps he wrote for Boston Herald, then the Rolling Stone. At the Rolling Stone, in 1971, he was writing music stories but got interested in covering the 1972 presidential election and the only other writer in the room sharing his interest was Hunter Thompson. Together, they went off ‘on the bus’ to report on the ’72 election. Tim writes that “it only took a few days of riding the bus for me to see that the reporters themselves would make a great story” and that turned into the classic account of the role of the press in presidential campaigns, The Boys on the Bus.

It was in this book that Tim coined the term ‘pack journalism’ and wrote, “The press likes to demonstrate its power by destroying lightweights, and pack journalism is never more doughty and complacent than when the pack has tacitly agreed that a candidate is a joke.”

After this book, he became the Washington columnist for Esquire and also wrote articles for The New Yorker and The Village Voice. In 1982 he conceived the idea of reviving Anything Goes and co-authored a new libretto for the musical with John Weidman that opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 1987 and ran for 784 performances. What they did was re-ordered the musical numbers, borrowing Cole Porter pieces from other Porter shows including “Easy To Love” from the 1936 movie Born to Dance.

In 2000 Knopf published his and Luc Brebion’s translation of Nobel-prize winner Roger Martin du Gard’s nearly 800 page memoir Lieutenant-Colonel de Maumort. Today he is a teacher for the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Arts Institute working with the youth division and currently is writing short stories, one of which, “Sphinxes,” was included in the O. Henry Prize Stories, 2005.

4 Comments

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  • ANYTHING GOES is “not a great musical?” Oh, John, John, I am tempted to say you are sooooooo not gay. But of course you’re right.

  • I was going to comment: ANYTHING GOES is “not a great musical?” But Dick beat me to it.
    However, I must disagree with you both. A great musical has songs by Cole Porter (“Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose–Anything goes!”) including one of the all-time most romantic love songs duet (between a man and woman though two gay guys would work fine) and nonstop wild and wooly tap dancing where you think the stage might collapse. Then you leave the theatre and find yourself singing, “You’re the top, you’re the colliseum, you’re the top, you’re the Louvre Museum…”

    And so dear readers, please read the NYTimes reviews which points out the rediculous inanity of the plot (which I find to be hilarious not unlike a Shakespeare tragegy where a guy holds up a severed head and the severed head’s mother doesn’t recognize that it’s her son’s head), but still admits that AG is a great musical.

  • ps.
    You’re the top!
    You’re Mahatma Gandhi.
    You’re the top!
    You’re Napoleon Brandy.
    You’re the purple light
    Of a summer night in Spain,
    You’re the National Gallery
    You’re Garbo’s salary,
    You’re CELLOPHANE!

    And what makes me really crack up:

    [RENO]
    You’re the top!
    You’re an arrow collar
    You’re the top!
    You’re a Coolidge dollar,
    You’re the nimble tread
    Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
    You’re an O’Neill drama,

    [BILLY]
    You’re Whistler’s mama,

    [RENO]
    You’re camembert!

    IMAGINE RHYMING “FRED ASTAIRE” WITH “CAMEMBERT.” Genius.

  • Okay, Mary-Ann & Richard. As Fitzgerald said: there are no second acts in American life. Well, there is no second act in this play. See it, and you will see what I mean.
    Or as Cole Porter might sing:

    It’s not the best.
    And we’re not here to test
    Whether Dick and Tirone-Smith
    Can write a second Act that is better than best.

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