Blog Archives

I have such an urge to direct again…

… and what I really am eager to do is a production of the 1953 musical “Kismet“, whose music was adapted from classical work of Borodin.

The wonderful Arabian Nights story of 16th Century Baghdad about a fortune teller, a Wazir, a young Caliph and two very lovely women is something I have loved most of my life.

Many of it’s musical numbers became song classics. “Baubles, Bangles and Beads“, “Stranger in Paradise” and this:


“This is My Beloved.”

The show was a starring vehicle for Alfred Drake and the Broadway debut of Richard Kiley.

Unfortunately, my current physical condition makes it seem like I will never be able to direct again. If the tumor is removed it will probably endanger the part of my brain where cognitive creativity is connected. If we don’t solve the problem and I keep having seizures I will never be able to drive again and won’t be able to put in the solid effort that coordinating a musical production, especially a large and complex one as this, would be very difficult. It could certainly, however, make West Virginia community theatre history.

And then I have to find one of the local community playhouses who might let me do it… find 20 great performers … get a nice piano score for my dear collaborator Ruth Robertas to play from… and find a local choreographer who can bring the dancing girls to life.

If I get through this surgery and all that accompanies it, it will take at least a year before I can even get started (apart from notes I am doing now) putting it together. One can hope. It gives me something to focus on.

 

Director Albert Marre Dead at 86…

 

I remember sitting in the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut back in the mid sixties watching the premiere performance of “Man of La Mancha“. The musical, directed by Albert Marre, eventually won him a Best Director Tony when it appeared on Broadway at the ANTA Theatre.

I went to the La Mancha performance not because I knew anything about the show, nor did I know anything about Marre, but because my friend Charlie Leipart was in the cast (it was our summer break from Northwestern University’s Theatre Department.) I discovered, however, what a wonderful musical it was… I couldn’t wait for an Original Cast album to be released.

Marre began his theatre career as an actor, making his Broadway debut as both performer and associate director in 1950 in The Relapse. One year later, he was director alone, on The Little Blue Light.

In 1948, Mr. Marre was a co-founders of the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA, one of the country’s first classical repertory companies. In 1953, he was hired by Lincoln Kirstein to be the first artistic director of the New York City Drama Company at City Center, where he staged Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice and Shaw’s Misalliance, all in 1953.

The musical classic Kismet came next, and he won a 1954 Donaldson Award for Best Director of a Musical.

Marre introduced Broadway audiences to composer Jerry Herman in 1961, when he staged Herman’s tale of the birth of Israel, Milk and Honey.  He wrote the book for the 1970 musical Cry for Us All and the 1975 musical Home Sweet Homer.  His final non-La Mancha Broadway credit was the musical Chu Chem in 1989.

 

Actress Celeste Holm, 95, Dies…

Celeste Holm, the versatile actress who achieved fame on Broadway in the original production of Rodgers and Hammerstein‘s hit musical “Oklahoma!” in 1943 and five years later won an Oscar for best supporting actress, died today.

In a career of over 70 years, Holm did other Broadway shows such as “Bloomer Girl” and as the replacement for Gertrude Lawrence in “The King and I.” She made films like “Three Little Girls In Blue,” “The Snake Pit” and “All About Eve.”

Celeste Holm won an Academy Award for supporting actress in the 1947 film “Gentleman’s Agreement” and was nominated two other times. She also had frequent roles on television, including in the 1990s series ‘Promised Land.’

Holm died in her apartment on Central Park West in New York City.


The Tony Awards… still the best awards show on TV

Neil Patrick Harris hosts the Tony Awards

I’ve gotten frustrated watching the Academy Awards with its long and boring production values, and other awards programs seem to promote things other than what they are awarding. But then there are the Tonys.

The Antoinette Perry Awards, my favorite review of the year on Broadway with performances by the nominees and not by someone else changing the sounds and feelings to a reinterpreted mess.

I especially liked the opening (“Hello”) from The Book of Mormon, last year’s big winner.

Anyway, here’s the winners list… and if you get to New York City, don’t miss seeing a show:

Best Musical: Once

Best Play: Clybourne Park

Best Revival of a Play: Death of a Salesman

Best Revival of a Musical: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors

Best Performance by an Actress in Leading Role in a Play: Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Steve Kazee, Once

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Audra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Judith Light, Other Desert Cities

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Best Book of a Musical: Enda Walsh, Once

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre: Newsies

Best Direction of Play: Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman

Best Direction of a Musical: John Tiffany, Once

Best Choreography: Christopher Gattelli, Newsies

Best Orchestration: Martin Lowe, OnceBest Sound Design of a Play: Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Sound Design of a Musical: Clive Goodwin, Once

Best Costume Design of a Play: Paloma Young, Peter and the StarcatcherBest Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes, Follies

Best Scenic Design Play: Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Bob Crowley, Once

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz, Once

Me? I’d like, most of all, to see The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Watching Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis sing last night was exhilarating! Why Lewis didn’t win Best Male Lead in a Musical is beyond me.

David Alan Grier as Sportin’ Life in “Porgy And Bess”

For old guys like me who remember Ichabod Mudd…

…the actor who played Captain Midnight‘s sidekick, Sid Melton, has died at age 94.

One of the many second tier actors on Broadway, in films and on early TV, Melton’s face was immediately recognizeable from his regular roles in the television shows “Make Room for Daddy” and “Green Acres,” and for his unflagging reliability as the comic relief in many science-fiction and noir films of the 1950s.


His career ranged from 1939 to the early 1990s with a role on The Golden Girls.

Playwright Lanford Wilson Dies at 73…

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lanford Wilson has died of pneumonia complications at the Kindred St. Joseph Hospital in Wayne, N.J. Wilson lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Wilson was one of the founders of the Circle Repertory Company, an off-Broadway repertory group where he premiered his plays. Known for such works as “The Hot l Baltimore” and Talley’s Folly“, he explored such themes as contemporary gay identity, youthful angst and the  modern lack of the usual social or ethical standards.

A number of Wilson’s plays reached Broadway, and he received three Tony nominations for best play. But today he is most closely associated with the off-off-Broadway scene. He won the Pulitzer for “Talley’s Folly.”

A revival production of “Burn This,” directed by Nicholas Martin, is set to open at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles on April 3.

As promised, here are the Tony Winners for 2010

Best Play
Red Winner Author: John Logan

Best Musical
Memphis Winner

Best Book of a Musical
Memphis Joe DiPietro Winner

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Memphis Music: David Bryan
Lyrics: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan
Winner

Best Revival of a Play
Fences Winner

Best Revival of a Musical
La Cage aux Folles Winner

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Denzel Washington Winner Fences

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Viola Davis Winner Fences

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Douglas Hodge Winner La Cage aux Folles

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Catherine Zeta-Jones Winner A Little Night Music

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Eddie Redmayne Winner Red

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Scarlett Johansson Winner A View from the Bridge

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Levi Kreis Winner Million Dollar Quartet

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Katie Finneran Winner Promises, Promises

Best Direction of a Play
Michael Grandage Winner Red

Best Direction of a Musical
Terry Johnson Winner La Cage aux Folles

Best Choreography
Bill T. Jones Winner Fela!

Best Orchestrations
Daryl Waters & David Bryan Winner Memphis

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Christopher Oram Winner Red

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Christine Jones Winner American Idiot

Best Costume Design of a Play
Catherine Zuber Winner The Royal Family

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici Winner Fela!

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin Winner Red
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams Winner American Idiot

Best Sound Design of a Play
Adam Cork Winner Red

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Robert Kaplowitz Winner Fela!

Special Tony Award® for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Alan Ayckbourn
Marian Seldes

Regional Theatre Tony Award®
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Connecticut

Isabelle Stevenson Award
David Hyde Pierce

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York
B.H. Barry


Midtown North & South New York City Police Precincts

Tom Viola


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Two Great Producers Have Died…

David Brown, who, with Richard Zanuck, brought us THE STING, JAWS, THE VERDICT, COCOON and DRIVING MISS DAISY, has died at age 93.

The mustachioed husband of Helen Gurley Brown, also produced several films and live Broadway shows on his own.

Aaron Ruben, Television producer of so many shows … from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW to SANFORD AND SON… has also died at age 95.

In his later years, Ruben was a court-appointed special advocate for abused and abandoned children.

Broadway in 1977

Here’s a kick. Would you like to hear radio interviews of Broadway stars, writers and producers that were taped in 1977?

I originally went to this site because it had an interview with Meryl Streep who was starring in HAPPY END, the Brecht Weill Musical. It was one of the first dates I took my wife of 30 years on in NY (took her Mother, too). Listening now it brought back memories… and it was a great show, too.

You can hear Hermione Gingold, John Kander, Jack Gilford and more. Go to “This Is Broadway” which is adding interviews every day.

Shelley Gross is dead at 88

Sheldon (Shelley) Gross, partner of the late Lee Guber, has died in Florida at age 88. Guber and Gross were the kind of theatrical producers I really admired when growing up in the theatre of the sixties and seventies. They developed the tent theatre idea in the suburbs, produced on Broadway (shows like Man of La Mancha and the revival of King and I with Brynner) and brought so much entertainment to people living far away from new York.

He should be remembered.

2009 Tony Awards… Nominees and Winners

The Tony’s were last night. Here’s the Nominees and Winners list courtesy of the NY Times (winners marked with asterisk):


BEST MUSICAL

* Billy Elliot

Next to Normal

Rock of Ages

Shrek the Musical

BEST PLAY

33 Variations

Dividing the Estate

* God of Carnage

reasons to be pretty

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

Guys and Dolls

* Hair

Pal Joey

West Side Story

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Mary Stuart

* The Norman Conquests

Waiting for Godot

BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL

* Lee Hall, Billy Elliot

Brian Yorkey, Next to Normal

David Lindsay-Abaire, Shrek the Musical

Hunter Bell, [title of show]

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATER

Billy Elliot
Music: Elton John, Lyrics: Lee Hall

* Next to Normal
Music: Tom Kitt, Lyrics: Brian Yorkey

9 to 5
Music and lyrics: Dolly Parton

Shrek the Musical
Music: Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY

Jeff Daniels, God of Carnage

Raúl Esparza, Speed-the-Plow

James Gandolfini, God of Carnage

* Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King

Thomas Sadoski, reasons to be pretty

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Hope Davis, God of Carnage

Jane Fonda, 33 Variations

* Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage

Janet McTeer, Mary Stuart

Harriet Walter, Mary Stuart

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

* David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish, Billy Elliot

Gavin Creel, Hair

Brian d’Arcy James, Shrek the Musical

Constantine Maroulis, Rock of Ages

J. Robert Spencer, Next to Normal

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Stockard Channing, Pal Joey

Sutton Foster, Shrek the Musical

Allison Janney, 9 to 5

* Alice Ripley, Next to Normal

Josefina Scaglione, West Side Story

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

John Glover, Waiting for Godot

Zach Grenier, 33 Variations

Stephen Mangan, The Norman Conquests

Paul Ritter, The Norman Conquests

* Roger Robinson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY

Hallie Foote, Dividing the Estate

Jessica Hynes, The Norman Conquests

Marin Ireland, reasons to be pretty

* Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit

Amanda Root, The Norman Conquests

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

David Bologna, Billy Elliot

* Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot

Marc Kudisch, 9 to 5

Christopher Sieber, Shrek the Musical

Will Swenson, Hair

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

Jennifer Damiano, Next to Normal

Haydn Gwynne, Billy Elliot

* Karen Olivo, West Side Story

Martha Plimpton, Pal Joey

Carole Shelley, Billy Elliot

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY

Phyllida Lloyd, Mary Stuart

Bartlett Sher, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

* Matthew Warchus, God of Carnage

Matthew Warchus, The Norman Conquests

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

* Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot

Michael Greif, Next to Normal

Kristin Hanggi, Rock of Ages

Diane Paulus, Hair

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

Karole Armitage, Hair

Andy Blankenbuehler, 9 to 5

* Peter Darling, Billy Elliot

Randy Skinner, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS (Tie)

Larry Blank, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

* Martin Koch, Billy Elliot

* Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt, Next to Normal

Danny Troob and John Clancy, Shrek the Musical

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY

Dale Ferguson, Exit the King

Rob Howell, The Norman Conquests

* Derek McLane, 33 Variations

Michael Yeargan, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Robert Brill, Guys and Dolls

* Ian MacNeil, Billy Elliot

Scott Pask, Pal Joey

Mark Wendland, Next to Normal

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY

Dale Ferguson, Exit the King

Jane Greenwood, Waiting for Godot

Martin Pakledinaz, Blithe Spirit

* Anthony Ward, Mary Stuart

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Gregory Gale, Rock of Ages

Nicky Gillibrand, Billy Elliot

* Tim Hatley, Shrek the Musical

Michael McDonald, Hair

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY

David Hersey, Equus

David Lander, 33 Variations

* Brian MacDevitt, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Hugh Vanstone, Mary Stuart

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Kevin Adams, Hair

Kevin Adams, Next to Normal

Howell Binkley, West Side Story

* Rick Fisher, Billy Elliot

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A PLAY

Paul Arditti, Mary Stuart

* Gregory Clarke, Equus

Russell Goldsmith, Exit the King

Scott Lehrer and Leon Rothenberg, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

BEST SOUND DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

Acme Sound Partners, Hair

* Paul Arditti, Billy Elliot

Peter Hylenski, Rock of Ages

Brian Ronan, Next to Normal

SPECIAL THEATRICAL EVENT

* Liza’s at the Palace . . .

Slava’s Snowshow

Soul of Shaolin

You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W Bush

SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATER

Jerry Herman

REGIONAL THEATER TONY AWARD

Signature Theater (Arlington, Va.)

ISABELLE STEVENSON AWARD

Phyllis Newman

SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATER

Shirley Herz

Shirley Herz
My extra congratulations to Shirley Herz who, so many years ago, handled the press on Ride The Winds, my long-forgotten experience as a Broadway producer.