Theater: Blues for Mr. Wellington

Golden Boy, as Clifford Odets originally wrote it in 1937, posed the conflict of making good versus being good. The young hero, a violinist turned prizefighter, was guiltily aware of the betrayal of his better self. The new Broadway musical version drops that theme and chronicles the racially embittered saga of a kind of Negro Sammy Click.

Joe Wellington (Sammy Davis) is a Harlem nobody who wants to be a Big Town somebody, a punk with a yen for a penthouse and all the other Cadillacto-caviar goodies. His aims would immediately classify him as the crassest sort of bourgeois philistine if the...

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