Decades of shoe-leather reporting taught the New York journalist Joseph Mitchell that, as sure as the key to a good movie lies in the casting, the secret to a great story depends on the subject at its center.
But great characters dont fall from the sky; you have to know where to find them. Joe Mitchell knew where to find them. The most interesting human beings, so far as talk is concerned, wrote Mitchell in the late-1930s, are anthropologists, farmers, prostitutes, psychiatrists, and the occasional bartender. And theres enough evidence in this reporters glorious 60-year career to suggest that he spent more time in taverns than he did on farms or in bordellos, and that, in the end, he probably valued the street-level wisdom of the local barkeep most of all.
The same sentimental approach to your average drink slinger is at work in Louis Mustillos popular one-man show, Bartenders, which receives its first local staging tonight at the Iola Community Theatre. Bartenders weaves its story, an anthology of sorts, around the whiskey-soaked monolgues of six New York barmen Bobby, Patty, Benny, Jimmy, Eddie, and Richard.