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It is almost impossible to think of <I>Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander</I> without recalling the world premiere of <I>The Texas Trilogy</I> by the late Preston Jones on November 19, 1974, directed by the legendary Paul Baker, founding artistic director of Dallas Theater Center. <P><I>The Texas Trilogy</I> began with its first play, <I>The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia,</I> performed at DTCs Down Center Stage on December 4, 1973. <I>Lu Ann</I> followed two months later.
Approaching Salvage, part three of Lincoln Center Theater's production of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia trilogy, which begins previews on Tuesday and officially opens February 18, it might be wise to keep in mind some comments the author made at the recent SRO Drama Desk panel, A Conversation with Tom Stoppard. He was very amused by the list of background books The New York Times published not long ago in their Arts and Leisure Section as recommended reading to get a full grasp of the events and time depicted in Utopia.
In Legally Blonde, Orfeh, who's stunningly, legally blonde, and the tall, handsome Andy Karl play the irresistible "trailer trash," hopelessly-in-love manicurist, Paulette Bonafonte and the object of her manicured, pedicured lust, Kyle, the UPS guy. Their onstage chemistry is as strong as their offstage chemistry.
The ever-dependable Brian Murray, one of the hardest and always-working actor/directors in the business, is back onstage after a two-year absence. He's playing Scotland Yard Inspector Rough in the Irish Repertory Theater's revival of Angel Street, now known as "Gaslight.
The play is a dark drama about a husband with a mysterious past, who, believing his new wife is being unfaithful, submits her to psychological abuse and manipulative dominance that brings her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
Donna Murphy, the award-winning actress who is one of theater's brightest talents, lights up the stage in the <I>LoveMusik</I> as Lotte Lenya in the semi-biographical musical about the rocky and open marriage of Lenya to composer wunderkind Kurt Weill, played by Tony winner and multiple Tony and Drama Desk nominee, Michael Cerveris. <P>The show is nominated for twelve 2007 Drama Desk nominations, including Outstanding Musical, Director, Book, Actress, Actor, Featured Actor and Choreography. Will there be more to come?
We're forever hearing about the many loves and marriages
has its share of stage romances, and three of them have played out over the
years on the stages of Theater Three.
Rosetta LeNoire, "Rosie" to everyone who loved her (and that list was a very, very long one), at 5' 2" was tiny in statue but was quite the dynamo. After years of acting in starring roles and seguing into major and memorable character portrayals, she had a dream to form a theater company that wasn't black or white but a company for everyone.
Ms. LeNoire's family emigrated from the Caribbean island of Dominica. She suffered from rickets and wore leg braces for 13 years.
Actors' Equity was one of the first unions to stand up against "Jm Crow."
In 1944, the union created a committee to assist minority actors turned away on the road from segregated hotels. Jose Ferrer, who co-starred with Paul Robeson in Othello on Broadway, was outraged by segregation and announced he'd never perform in front of a segregated audience.
Wendy Wasserstein, an uncommon woman among others, left us much too early. She was only 55. As one of our best-loved, best-liked and best-known women playwrights, her unique voice will be missed; and onstage, too. She was literally at the top of her game from the time she left the Yale School for Drama and began her New York career in 1977 with Glenn Close, Jill Eikenberry and Swoosie Kurtz starring in her play about the aspirations of college women, <I>Uncommon Women Among Others</I>. <P>The dialogue was of the moment -- sharp, bitchy, smart and witty.
Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, Ricky Martin and Michael Bolton have sold millions of records with his songs, making him one of the most prosperous of all theatrical lyric writers. But David Zippel says that his name is still just an answer to a trivia question. He modestly recalls that, when a revue of his songs, "It's Better With a Band," opened, he couldn't even afford a band, and the show used only a piano.
Lillias White and Chuck Cooper's excitement on seeing posters for The Life boasting of their Tony Awards for Best Featured Performance comes as a surprise. When Cooper bursts into White's dressing room with the news, she exclaims "Let's take a picture!"
No, I didn't get nominated for a Tony Award as Leading Actress in a Musical, laughed Miss Margaret Whiting, the legendary hitmaker and saloon singer. In fact, I didn't get nominated for a damn thing from any of the awards. Nor did I expect to. And it's not that she doesn't deserve a few nominations. Here's a broad, and she doesn't mind being called one!, who has done it all and done it all memorably. Yes, I have, she says with a howl of laughter, and lived to tell about it.
Author's Note: This is a report of one city's reaction to an intense debate about Black Theater that absorbed the theater community in June 1997. It ran originally as a cover story in The Philadelphia Forum.
There's a breach between blacks and whites on the subject of theater that's as wide as the gap on the recent OJ verdicts. The public debate between playwright August Wilson and critic Robert Brustein -- and the reaction to their debate -- makes that clear.
Mary Louise Wilson, after years of playing showy featured roles in musicals and plays, finally has a starring role: fashion doyen Diana Vreeland in Full Gallop. "And," she quips, "I had to write it myself!" Her one-woman show was six years in the works -- originating in Sag Harbor, NY, followed by a successful Manhattan Theater Club run before moving to the Westside Theater (43rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues). "The hardest thing was to write and then perform it," said Wilson. "I'd often said to friends, 'Let's write a show.' Mark Hampton took me seriously.
Right from the start it was easy to predict that with its critical acclaim and box-office success, Margaret Edson's first play, the Off-Broadway hit Wit, would be a contender for "Best Of" awards this season and even the Pulitzer Prize. This week, Edson, a 37-year-old kindergarten teacher, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Also, in the first awards announcements of season, Wit won Outer Critics Circle nominations for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play and Best Actress. It's not too much of a gamble to predict that Drama Desk and Obie Awards will be next.
When I was planning a trip to New York to visit playwright Doug Wright, I asked him for some restaurant recommendations. The places he recommended turned out to be not at all where you'd expect an Off-Broadway playwright to eat. My wife and I checked out several of them and none of them were cheap.
Titanic opened to some mixed and negative reviews. Maury Yeston is reminded of this in the heady days after the show's Tony-win as Best Musical and a now-booming box office. "But let's not forget," reminds Yeston, "we got some very good ones!" Immediately after the opening, which was preceded by rumor-plagued previews, there was the perception among the cast that the mega-musical might close. Some sources close to the production said cast reaction bordered on panic. "We did get mixed reviews," said Yeston. "We took our knocks. But the cast didn't think we were going to close.
Is Jerry Zaks the most beloved director in the history of modern theater? Well, he is if the accolades heaped upon him by such stars as Nathan Lane, Richard Dreyfuss, Kristin Chenoweth and Lewis J. Stadlen at the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life gala (held December 2003), which also honored Tovah Feldshuh, the award-winning and acclaimed star of Golda's Balcony] are any indication. It was a love fest for the three-time Tony Award winner, who obviously has as much of a devilish sense of humor as those who were "roasting" him.
Karen Ziemba is known on Broadway for her versatility in tripping the light fantastic. A sort of quintuple threat, she's adept at singing (what pipes!) acting, slapstick comedy, drama and dance. Then, there's that infectious smile. Ziemba's been doing "the showbiz thing -- live theater, musical theater, dancing, singing," as she puts it, a long time. So "never gonna dance" are the least likely words you expect to be associated with her. And yet, here she is co-starring in Never Gonna Dance.
Written 2,700 years ago, Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey" remains arguably the greatest most fantastical tale of all time for the armchair adventurer. Adapter-director Mary Zimmerman agrees. And that is why she has taken the 12,000 lines of verse, which would take 12 to 13 hours to read in one sitting, and put the romance, sea voyage, ship-wreck, seduction, and supernatural doings into one theatrical package lasting a little more than three hours.
Camille Forbes introduces us to a long-ago world of intense racism in America, but a world where the color barrier was broken on Broadway and a medicine-show performer became a star in "Introducing Bert Williams" [Basic/Civitas Books, 404 pages; Photos, index, extensive bibliography; SRP $27.50].
It's your last chance to catch one of the stand-out gay-themed productions in this season of numerous gay-themed shows, Joseph and David Zellnik's Yank! A WWII Love Story, Lortel nominated for Outstanding Musical - at the York Theater Company's Saint Peter's home. (Lexington and East 54th Street). It's been one of the company's biggest box office bonanzas but finally must close on Sunday.
Last Monday at the Players Club in Gramercy Park, the Theater Museum honored Disney film musical legends Richard M Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with its Theater Museum's Career Achievement Award, the Mint Theater Company for Theater Preservation in their mission to revive long ago classics; and Samuel French, the publisher/licensee of countless plays, for Theater Arts Education.
An economic downturn, rampant unemployment, home mortagemania, terrorist plots, and a drop in tourism must have happened in a Dallas-type dream. It certainly hasn't affected theater attendance with Broadway and Off Broadway boasting their best season yet.
His musical theater roles have ranged from the dashing pretend-fop Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel to the strutting peacock Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music to the over-the-top-theatrical Oscar Jaffee in On the Twentieth Century. He also played a villain, in the creepy person of the masochistic Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. in Little Shop of Horrors. And now, Douglas Sills is taking on the iconic mantle of the villainous Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Paper Mill Playhouse, opposite the wonderful Nancy Anderson in the title role.
Style is a funny thing with writers, often portrayed as the opposite of substance, as though the two can't happily co-exist. One could argue - and one will - that the style of a David Mamet play is its substance; imagine his work without the staccato chatter, the pauses, the repetition, the doubling-back fragments, the New York-infused vulgarity sweetened with a drop of Los Angeles gloss. His characters talk fast, think fast, and invariably all sound the same. A Mamet play remains an exercise in speed. Speed, I believe Mamet would say, kills.
Ten countries performed traditional theater to circus and dance drama in the International "Festival in Paradise" 2010 hosted by Venice Theatre, FL, June 22-26. Murray Chase, VT's artistic and administrative leader, coordinated the event.
Off-stage classes and workshops covered Clowning, Suzuki Theatre, Senior Theatre, Commedia and Travel to Theatre in addition to traditional performance techniques, design, and rehearsing and
MILLER: Last year, I did Joseph [and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat] at the Arkansas Rep for a long stint, and I did 42nd Street at Goodspeed and on tour. I didn't sleep in my own bed at all last year. I was supposed to go into Joseph in London, but then the show closed. I was really upset, because that's another one of my dream roles, so I'm glad to get to do it in Little Rock.
TOTALTHEATER MASTER LIST
"I have to say, I'm happy The Addams Family and a few other shows that got bad reviews are selling out week after week. I love it when people ignore the critics and just go see what they want to see."
As you might imagine, I was taken aback when a friend of mine expressed this sentiment, especially because he works in the theater industry. It's not unusual to hear regular theatergoers badmouth the critics, but when people in the business do so, it gives me pause.
There's a huge problem in reading theater historian and critic Peter Filichia's "Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit & the Biggest Flop of the Season, 1959 to 2009" [Applause Books; 277 pages; trade softcover; SRP $20]. It's all but impossible to get past the table of contents. Anyone who loves theater and reads Filichia's columns on Theatermania.com is aware of his amazing knowledge, always presented in an engaging way, of everything theater and his witty way with words.
"Pick Yourself Up: Dorothy Fields and the American Musical" by Charlotte Greenspan [Oxford University Press, Broadway Legacy Series; 298 pages; 16 pages of vintage photos; Index, Song index, 17-page section of source notes; SRP $28] is a lively biography of one of the most prolific and pioneering lyricists in American popular music history.
If you live in New York City and you adore flop musicals, there are several options available for your entertainment dollar. The "Closing Notice" series of piano-only concert revivals, presented by Opening Doors Productions at the Duplex, is specifically dedicated to shows that failed to find an audience in their day.
THE BEST AND WORST OF 1993
Editor's Note: This look at the best and worst New York productions of 1993 was the cover story for the December 23, 1993 issue of Performing Arts Insider.
1. Angels in America
It took both parts of this epic to convince me, but so much of Tony Kushner's fantasia is fantastic, Angels dwarfs nearly everything else around, not because of the scope, but because of its power. And Ron Leibman's Roy Cohn is the kind of miracle we'll tell our kids about.
TOTALTHEATER MASTER LIST
Men of Broadway
It's springtime in New York City, and gala benefits are coming at us fast and furious. One that should definitely be on your calendar is "The Broadway Beauty Pageant," an annual event in support of the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and other services for homeless LGBT youth. The 2010 edition of this all-male pageant will be held on Monday evening, April 19, 2010, at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street).
Roundabout at Studio 54's Sondheim on Sondheim not only brings the master composer back to Broadway and is his (sort of) onstage Bway debut but also marks the return of a list of long-time faves.
Welcome back Tony winner Barbara Cook, after an absence of 37 years*; Tony nom Vanessa Williams; and Euan Morton, returning after an absence of some three-and-a-half years. Of course, it's always good to have Tom Wopat, Norm Lewis, and Leslie Kritzer back. Even though they've not been missing that long, welcome back Erin Mackey and Matthew Scott.
Playwright Lucy Prebble, about to turn 30, says she didn't want to write a conventional docudrama about how tangled finances, superegos, and greed brought down an American energy giant. "I collaborated with Rupert [Goold, an associate director at the Royal Shakespeare as well as Headlong's A.D.] to shape a hyper-theatrical event."
The acclaimed London production of Lucy Prebble's Enron, a docudrama using song, movement, projections, and raptor costumes, tells the story of the collapse of the once fabled energy giant in a most unconventional way.