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Hedy Praise

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To the editor:

I was delighted to read Mike Miner's tribute to Hedy Weiss as drama critic [Hot Type, February 1]. It's been an open secret (at least, to me and my memory) that Hedy is the most perceptive and exciting observer of our theatrical scene since Claudia Cassidy in her vintage days.

What astonished me was the Tribune's missing a wondrous opportunity of hiring her on the occasion of Dick Christiansen's retirement. I'm confident that his successor will fulfill the decent standards set by Dick; but Hedy is something else.

More than half a century ago, Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick, acclaimed by one of his top correspondents as "the finest mind of the 12th century," recognized the 20th century in stealing the youngish Cassidy from Marshall Field III's Sun. It was something of a turning point in Chicago's theatrical scene.

Remember, it was Claudia, along with her colleague Ashton Stevens, who may have saved the career of a young kid from Saint Louis, Tennessee Williams. One horrendously blizzardly night, before a handful of frostbitten theatergoers, they sensed lightning and caught it. The play was The Glass Menagerie. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hedy Weiss consistently captures lightning, and often in the most unexpected, seedy little quarters, aside from her appreciation of the giftedness of the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Court, and other justly acclaimed companies.

I'll never forget her coverage in some neighborhood joint of a one-man show: an actor re-creating the art of Bobby Clark, one of the great comedic geniuses of my boyhood. It was a remarkable review she wrote, evoking in me all those exhilarating memories.

She has in her deceptively simple style (an art in itself) the spirit of Kenneth Tynan, the most perceptive critic of our epoch. They both relate theater to our felt lives. They have the feeling tone. Tynan's gone, but Weiss is around. In any event, thanks, Mike, for your salute to a critic who's as good as they come.

Studs Terkel

W. Castlewood Terrace

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