Blog Archives

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.

Opera and Communities…

I was so sorry to read the article in Opera News about the bankruptcy and fall of the Baltimore Opera, especially after last winter’s closure of the Connecticut Opera. Both of these companies had served for around six decades, through times of triumph and times of desperation, only to be destroyed by this wretched economy and threadbare community support.

I say this as I prepare The Hunting Of The Snark, the opera for children that Ed Roberts composed and that I was librettist  and director on back in the early 70s in NYC, for it’s February production at Full Circle Theater in Shepherdstown.

While I know we can push this as “children’s theatre” or as a “family piece”, in the long run it is sung drama in operatic form … opera … and it is anyone’s guess how this community will respond to it.

Potomac Stages reviews the CATF

This set of reviews was just published on line by Potomac Stages in DC.

The fact that Shepherd University is across the border in a neighboring state makes it seem like a long way to go for theater, even for great theater. But it is actually only 65 miles from the Beltway to the idyllic site of the Contemporary American Theatre Festival at West Virginia’s Shepherd University. That makes it close enough to drive out for one or two shows (they run matinees as well as evening shows on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). Or, it is far enough to make the trip a special getaway if you stay overnight in order to see the four or five plays they stage in repertory each summer.

Either way, a summer visit to Shepherdstown is rapidly becoming a tradition for theatergoers from throughout the Potomac Region and beyond. At one performance we were flanked by audience members from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at this year’s festival:

CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

I disagree with the reviewer on the second act of Yankee Tavern… so far it’s my favorite play of the five… but note, I still have two more to see this weekend.

Looking for a great Theater Event on Tuesday Night? Here’s a Free one:

Shepherdstown, WV – The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) will be offering a free staged reading of  Steven Dietz’s new play SHOOTING STAR on Tuesday (July 13) at 7 PM. And they are having it at our very own Full Circle Theatre,  113 Princess Street in Shepherdstown.

I’ll be up in the booth running lights and I just can’t wait for this one. We saw Dietz’s YANKEE TAVERN on Friday Night at the CATF and met the author… he is a great writer with around 30 plays to his credit.

I suggest you get there at least 1/2 hour early as the house will probably fill up (we’re only a 90 seat theater) and you won’t want to miss this one.

What is a LobsterScope?

I know I get asked this when new readers come to the blog. A LobsterScope is a piece of stage lighting equipment that predates a strobe light, but gives a similar effect.

For a great description (and picture) go to Limelight Productions which will tell you all you need to know.

CATF Begins This Weekend

Linda and Cecil, our friends from Silver Spring, are coming this week for CATF (we’ll be going to a couple of the shows with them, although they are coming in early for at least one of the previews and we’re waiting for the Opening Night on Friday.)

We’ll be seeing :
FARRAGUT NORTH by Beau Willimon

YANKEE TAVERN by Steven Dietz

FIFTY WORDS by Michael Weller

THE HISTORY OF LIGHT by Eisa Davis

DEAR SARA JANE by Victor Lodato

As most of you who read this blog know, Linda and I have worked on theatre productions together for years… first at Laurel Mill Playhouse and then at the Greenbelt Arts Center. Cecil is one of the hidden hands behind those fabulous Russians at the Synetic Theater whose Dracula opens at the Rosslyn Spectrum in September.

Elly and I always tell people that the CATF is why we moved to Shepherdstown, so we didn’t have to drive all the way in and could attend all the free lectures and other things. Indeed, it WAS a part of the reason.

If you are coming into the Shepherdstown, WV, area this month (into the first week of August) there are probably still tickets available. Check out their site at http://catf.org. It certainly shouldn’t be missed… and it’s only a little over an hour from DC or Baltimore… and just 45 minutes from Frederick.

Another Broadway Producer Dies— Morton Gottlieb is gone at 88

“The Broadway theater is the only place in the world where the easiest way to break in is by starting at the top.” That was the word of Morton Gottlieb, a Broadway producer I had immense respect for.

The biggest hit he produced was “Sleuth”. I had a friendship at the time with one of his big investors, which got me a chance to see the show and visit with the leads in their dressing rooms after.

Gottlieb produced “The Killing of Sister George, Enter Laughing, Same Time Next Year and others. He was famous for early repayment to his investors.

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.

Yesterday… an almost indescribable experience… Today: Father’s Day.

Buddy, my son down in DC, called at 9:00 AM to say Happy Father’s Day… that’s one down and I am waiting for the rest to make a phone call or an on-line appearance.

I got back from Full Circle’s visit to St. Elizabeths Hospital (where we presented POUND for an audience of about 100 patients and staff) and had dinner with Elly at the Blue Moon. I tried to describe what happened at the performance, but how do you explain something like this?

For instance, every time I threw a blackout using the one switch I had that controlled the unfocused and somewhat inadequate lights, one of the audience members yelled out something like “If you turn the lights out again I will KILL YOU!”  The Stge Manager was controlling the Houselights from three different switch locations at the back of the auditorium and she told me that at one point when she turned the houselights out, this guy who yelled started walking up the aisle toward her… until a staff member led him back to his seat… and she got out of there fast.

Joe Jurand, the Director,  came backstage  during the show and said not to black out the lights again… so I wasn’t sure how we were going to change scenes. When the first cue to blackout came and I just sat there, I got a signal from Joe in the audience to turn them out… I was confused, of course, but it seems that they decided along the way to put houselights, some of them at least, back on, so the scene changing stage blackouts could happen and it wouldn’t go dark. Of course, no one told me or I wouldn’t have been late on the blackout.

This was a noisy audience… not sure if they got anything out of the play. And, on top of everything, for the whole last scene a fire alarm was going off. This cast was amazing, however. Nothing caused them to break character and  they made it right through the curtain calls.

One of the audience members came up to a couple of us as we were taking the props out and said “It was better than watching soap operas.”  So I guess that was the overall effect of the show.

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.

David Carradine 1936-2009

 David Carradine David Carradine has been found dead in Bangkok, Thailand, an apparent suicide by hanging.

The 72-year-old actor, best known for the Kung Fu television series and the Kill Bill movies was in Thailand to make a film. The police say it was suicide and have ruled out an assault.

From a famous acting family, David was the son of John Carradine and the brother of Kevin Carradine.

I remember back in the seventies when the Kung Fu series was a great influence on the Martial Arts movement in this country and one of the reasons Berta Walker and I produced John Driver’s martial arts musical, RIDE THE WINDS, on Broadway.

I’m sorry to read about this death… Carradine was an actor whose work I liked.

Tech Week – Every Night at the Theatre

We open Importance of Being Earnest on Friday night and I just hope everything is ready. Fortunately I have very few light cues.