Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Walter Kerr, fully Walter Francis Kerr

America Writer, Lyricist, Director and Broadway Theater Critic

"The work we are doing is more or less the work we meant to do in life [but] it does not yield us the feeling of accomplishment we had expected... If I were required to put into a single sentence my own explanation of the state of our hearts, heads, and nerves, I would do it this way: we are vaguely wretched because we are leading half-lives, half-heartedly, and with only one-half of our minds actively, engaged in making contact with the universe about us."

"He had delusions of adequacy."

"Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them. "

"It has an air about it of having strolled in from the street with a few tricks up its sleeve, and if everybody would relax, please, it would do its best to pass the time whimsically."

"In a contrary and perhaps cruel way the twentieth century has relieved us of labor without at the same time relieving us of the conviction that only labor is meaningful."

"Harpo Marx looks like a musical comedy."

"Reviewers...must normally function as huff-and-puff artists blowing laggard theatergoers stageward. "

"A bright, brassy, and jubilantly sassy show [that] takes a whole barrelful of bright new talents, and a handful of stimulating ideas as well, and sends them tumbling in happy profusion over the footlights."

"A man who is suffering from delusions of adequacy."

"A most satisfying resurrection.... Candide may at last have stumbled into the best of all possible productions.... The show is now a carousel and we are on it quite safely...The design of the unending chase is so firm, the performers are so secure in their climbing and tumbling ... that we are able to join the journey and still see it with the detachment that Voltaire prescribes."

"I needn't tell you that Stephen Sondheim is, both musically and lyrically, the most sophisticated composer now working for the Broadway theater."

"It is easy to say that all things are both good and beautiful at once and that these qualities exist in nature simultaneously. It is not possible, however, to enjoy what is "good" about a thing and what is "beautiful" about it at the same moment. A pear is good: to know its goodness I must eat it. A pear may be beautiful: to know its beauty I must not eat it, I must resolutely refuse its goodness, I must let it alone. Goodness yields itself to use; the reason I am justified in calling a pear "good" is that when I do use it, when I eat it, it proves to be good for me. But in the process of eating it, of using it up, I am of course destroying all of the properties that enabled me to call it "beautiful.""

"Seymour Peck's editorial hand ranged far, wide and deep, touching lightly but expertly He seemed less an editor of any sort than the very best sort of guardian angel."

"The evening at the Imperial is finally heavy with its own inventiveness, weighted down with the variety and fulsomeness of a genuinely creative appetite. It's as though Mr. Loesser had written two complete musicals ? the operetta and the haymaker ? on the same simple play and then crammed them both into a single structure."

"The most savage, restless, electrifying dance patterns we've been exposed to in a dozen seasons.... The dancing is it. Don't look for laughter or ? for that matter ? tears."

"The score is a gift, the ladies are delightful, and producer Harold Prince has staged the moody meetings with easy skill."

"Wherever it came from, the musical came with its hair mussed and with an innocent, indolent, irreverent look on its bright, bland face."