Dec. 15, 1973: Ruth Buzzi, Richard Crenna
|Harvey and Carol in |
Raised to be Rotten
|Harvey and Carol in |
Raised to be Rotten
|The cast of A Strange Loop|
at Woolly Mammoth Theater.
Credit: Marc A. Franklin
|Lionel Zalachis and Charlotte Kah in|
The Little Prince at the Sydney Opera House.
Credit: Prudence Upton
Credit: Erika Kapin Photography
He was 91, so it wasn't unexpected and he did go out on a high note. There are new productions of Assassins and Company playing as well as a new film version of West Side Story about to open. In addition, he was working on a new show, Square One, with David Ives. He recently revealed on Stephen Colbert's talk show, it had just been workshopped with Nathan Lane and Bernadette Peters and he was hoping for it to open on Broadway next season. Let us all pray that comes to pass.
|The cast of for colored girls|
at the Public Theater in 2019
Credit: Joan Marcus
The Paley Center still has not reopened since the COVID pandemic, so I have not been able to view missing portions of pre-season 6 Carol Burnett Show episodes. However, I have found some interesting segments from Season 8 on Amazon and IMDB.com. The show was really at its near height of hilarity at this point. In two of these episodes, the only regular was Harvey Korman. Lyle Waggoner had left to star as Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman. I believe Vicki Lawrence may have been having a baby (?). Tim Conway was not yet a regular. But Harvey alone is a strong enough supporting actor to carry the burden. Many of these shows featured priceless movie parodies.
|Wayne Rogers with Carol|
in West Dakota County Fair
|Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell |
and Darren Criss will star in
Credit: Matthew Murphy
American Buffalo, David Mamet's gut-punch of a play about three petty thieves planning a burglary of a rare coin collection, had been in rehearsals when COVID shut down all the theaters. The show, directed by Neil Pepe, will now begin previews at the Circle In the Square (currently the home of Chicken and Biscuits) the week of March 22, 2022 and open on April 14. Tony and Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne, Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, and Emmy winner Darren Criss will star.
|Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga|
will star in MacBeth,
opening on Broadway in April 2022.
|Tony nominees James Cusati-Moyer and|
Ato Blankson-Wood in
(Credit: Matthew Murphy)
I can also understand the controversial programming decisions for this weirdest of all Tonys. For the first time in decades, the majority of the awards presentation will be not be available for free on broadcast TV. From 7-9PM EST almost all of the awards will be handed out in a ceremony hosted by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald on Paramount Plus, CBS's streaming service. Then from 9-11PM, there will be a "Back to Broadway" concert, hosted by Tony winner and Oscar nominee Leslie Odom, Jr. on CBS, celebrating the return of live theater with musical numbers from the nominated and long-running shows. The awards for Best Play, Musical and Play Revival will be distributed during the CBS portion (there are no nominees for Best Musical Revival). Paramount Plus is NOT free, but there is a free seven-day trial period and I'll bet there was a surge of subscriptions made by theater fans like me today. Paramount Plus will probably see a huge number of cancellations within the coming days once every Broadway baby has commented, memorized and hashed over the ceremony.
|Joe Biden acts like a human being|
rather than throwing paper towels
after a hurricane.
|David Tenant as Richard II|
Credit: Keith Pattison
Richard II: David Tenant (one of my all-time favorite Doctor Whos) RSC at BAM in rep with both parts of Henry IV and Henry V; Steven Skybell (Theater for a New Audience); Peter MacNichol (Delacorte).
Henry IV, Parts I and II: Alex Hassell (RSC at BAM, the same series as the David Tenant Richard II, Anthony Sher was a brilliant Falstaff); a really weird production directed by JoAnne Akalitis at the Public; a one-evening adaptation at the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center with Kevin Kline as Falstaff, Michael Hayden as Prince Hal, Richard Easton as King Henry IV, Ethan Hawke as Hotspur, with Dana Ivey, Audra MacDonald and Dakin Matthews (who did the adaptation); Shakespeare and Company, Lenox, Mass.
Henry V: Twice at the Delacorte with Kevin Kline and then Andre Braugher; Alex Hassell in the RSC/BAM four-part production; Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, set during World War I. Act One had the soldiers in a trench rehearsing for a performance of Henry V, then Act Two, they are all in the hospital, wounded, and the nurses take part.
|Kevin Kline and Blythe Danner|
in Much Ado About Nothing
All's Well That Ends Well: Delacorte.
As You Like It: Shakespeare's Globe at the Armory, The Bridge Project at BAM (in rep with The Tempest), CSC with Ellen Burstyn as Jacques.
The Comedy of Errors: Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater playing both sets of twins at the Delacorte; the Flying Karamazov Brothers in an all-juggling production at Lincoln Center; all-male production at BAM.
Love's Labour's Lost: Stratford Festival; Public Theater.
Measure for Measure: Campbell Scott/Kate Burton/Len Cariou/Jack Weston/Lois Smith (Lincoln Center); twice at the Delacorte: Kevin Kline/LisaGay Hamilton and Billy Crudup/Sanaa Latham; Elevator Repair Service did a really weird, stylized version with everyone talking really fast.
rom my collection of Hamlet playbills: I did not see Richard Burton or Albert Finney (Middle row); but I did see Kevin Kline (twice, both at the Public), Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes (on Broadway), Stephen Lang (Roundabout), Peter Sarsgaard (CSC), Michael Stuhlbarg (Delacorte), John Glover (Philadelphia Drama Guild at the Walnut Street Theatre), Peter Stormare (brilliant production directed by Ingmar Bergman at BAM), Tom O'Neill (at Villanova University, performed in rep with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead), Brian Hugh O'Neill (performed in the 79th Street Riverside Park Boat Basin), Toby Stephens (Maggie Smith's son in London).
|In my high school production of |
The School for Scandal
Barn Playhouse, Jeffersonville, PA: Albert Amundsen in A Thousand Clowns, Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter, Foot/Moon in After Magritte/The Real Inspector Hound, Harding in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Stage Manager in Our Town, File in The Rainmaker, chorus in Can-Can, Jonathan in Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Momma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad (workshop), policeman in Wait Until Dark.
Community Theater in Philadelphia area: Edmund Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Sparger in Kennedy's Children, Henry Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth, the butler in The Philadelphia Story, Don Basile in The Barber of Saville (the play, not the opera), the mean cousin in Holiday, a prince in a fairy-tale play called The Square Egg of Gratchit (so it would rhyme with hatch-it, get it?).
|Simon Russell Beale |
in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers
|Glenda Jackson as Mother Courage|
Tales from the House of an Usher, Part II: So in addition to the Lucille Lortel, I ushered for a brief period at the now-gone Promenade and Jack Lawrence and its studio theater, the Audrey Wood. I spent the summer of 1984 at the Promenade ushering for David Rabe's Hurlyburly until its move to Broadway. It was a hot ticket because Mike Nichols was directing and the cast was stuffed with stars: William Hurt, Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel, Jerry Stiller, Sigourney Weaver, Judith Ivey and Cynthia Nixon (who was in college then). Nichols insisted no one be seated once the show started, so there were some difficult moments (particularly when the producer Alexander Cohen came late--we did seat him.)
The original company of Hurlyburly:
Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel,
William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver,
Jerry Stiller, Judith Ivey
and Cynthia Nixon
Because of the cast, we had as many stars in the audience as on stage. On the first night of previews, Candace Bergen and Steve Martin attended. Bergen was so beautiful and glamorous she took my breath away. During the run we had Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Warren Beatty, Meryl Streep, Leonard Bernstein, Gregory Hines, Tom Stoppard (who tipped me $5 when I poured him a Coke at the concession stand), Mary Gross of SNL, Charles Haid of Hill Street Blues (who expressed his anger at the portrayal of TV actors in the play), Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, Jack Weston and Marge Redmond (of the Flying Nun), Bob Dishy and Judy Graubart (of The Electric Company), Sandra Bernhardt, Lauren Bacall, David Cassidy, Charlotte Rae, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Kenneth MacMillan (then he was on Rhoda as her boss), Carroll O'Connor (that's all I can remember). Christopher Walken left to film a James Bond movie and Ron Silver (Rhoda, Speed-the-Plow) took over his part when the show moved to Broadway. I got to see him rehearse with the stage manager. Judith Ivey stopped the show every night and won a well-deserved Tony.
Plans for a new Funny Girl have been in the works for years with Lady Gaga, Lauren Ambrose, Idina Menzel, and Lea Michele all mentioned for the lead at one time or another. Further casting, specific dates and a theater will be announced later.
Broadway buffs are now guessing who is cast as Feldstein's leading man, Nicky Arnstein, Brice's husband. I'm more interested in who's going to play Fanny's mother (a role for which Kay Medford earned an Oscar nomination for the movie). A few months ago Rosie O'Donnell hinted she was in the running, but it may be a Broadway veteran with more credits such as Mary Testa (Xanadu, 42nd Street, etc.), Jackie Hoffman (On the Town, Hairspray, The Addams Family) or Julie Halston (Tootsie, You Can't Take It With You, Twentieth Century). Or maybe all three will be cast as Mrs. Brice and her poker-playing buddies.
Beanie Feldstein said, “The first time I played Fanny Brice was at my third birthday party, in a head-to-toe leopard print outfit my mom made for me. So, it’s safe to say that stepping into this iconic role, on Broadway and not in my family’s backyard, is truly my lifelong dream come true. I am immensely grateful to be able to do so alongside such a remarkable creative team, and cannot wait for audiences to get back in theaters again!”
|The company of Ivo van Hove's|
West Side Story
Credit: Jan Versweyveld
"It is with great regret that we are announcing today that the 2020 Broadway revival of West Side Story will not reopen. This difficult and painful decision comes after we have explored every possible path to a successful run, and unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, reopening is not a practical proposition. We thank all the brilliant, creative artists who brought West Side Story to life at the Broadway Theatre, even for so brief a time, especially the extraordinary acting company, 33 of whom made their Broadway debuts in this production." The production was nominated for six 2020 Drama Desk Awards and won for Outstanding Projection Design. Administrators for the Tony Awards judged West Side ineligible for its accolades since too many nominators and voters did not get a chance to see it before it closed. A remake of the film version of WSS, directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, is scheduled for release this winter.
After discussing summer stock, national tours, out-of-town tryouts and theatre on TV, the next category would be ushering. For a few years during the late 1980s and into the 1990s, I ushered quite a few Off-Broadway shows (Broadway is unionized, so it was easier to do Off) at the Lucille Lortel Theater, the Promenade and the now defunct Jack Lawrence and the Audrey Wood, its smaller studio theater. It was fascinating watching the same show for several consecutive performances and seeing cast replacements bring different interpretations. Here are the shows I ushered for at the Lortel:
|Joan Rivers (center) visits the cast of|
Steel Magnolias: (l to r) Mary Fogarty,
Rosemary Prinz, Margo Martindale,
Constance Schulman, Betsy Aidem
and Kate Wilkinson.
In the past few days, I've listed my memories of summer stock, national tours, out of town tryouts and regional productions. Next is TV productions of theater. Before moving to NYC, TV was my main means of seeing theater. Some video recollections:
|John Glover was in many|
productions with the
Philadelphia Drama Guild
Here are the ones I recall seeing from PDG: The Glass Menagerie and Long Day's Journey Into Night with Geraldine Fitzgerald; Ceremonies in Dark Old Men with Douglas Turner Ward; Hamlet (Glover was magnificent); The Miser; Hedda Gabbler with Roberta Maxwell and Glover as Eliot Lovborg; Pinter's The Birthday Party with Leonard Frey and Glover; The Importance of Being Earnest; Twelfth Night with Domini Blythe; Saint Joan with Domini Blythe in the title role, David Rounds as the Dauphin and Tony van Bridge as the Bishop of Beauvais; The Night of the Iguana with Douglas Seale as Nonno; The Royal Family, soon after it was done on Broadway; Watch on the Rhine; Of Mice and Men; Joe Egg; Thark, a silly haunted house farce with Paxton Whitehead and comedienne Anna Russell; Robert Prosky and his two sons in The Price; The Front Page and AN Enemy of the People which featured several fellow theater students from Temple University.
|Irene Worth and Christopher Walken |
in Sweet Bird of Youth.
|Peter Ustinov (playwright-star), |
Beau Bridges, and
George S. Irving in
Who's Who in Hell
|Jane Alexander and Henry Fonda|
in William Saroyan's
The Time of Your Life
|Lauren Bacall, Lee Roy Reams, and (I think)|
Sammy Williams in the gay bar scene
The scene is the living room of the Flintstone house. It is dark and gloomy, though it is early afternoon. All the shades are drawn. Fred Flintstone is seated in is favorite comfy rock chair, asleep in front of a TV set. The sounds of a rerun of The Prize is Price can be softly heard. Fred snores loudly and is surrounded by bones from a brontosaurus steak. The decaying carcass of Dino the dinosaur is one corner. A long-
|What if Sam Shepard and Tracey Letts |
wrote an episode of the Flintstones?
Wilma: Fred! Wake up, you old ton of guts!
Fred (struggling to wake, mumbling): What, what is it? (Sees Wilma) Oh, it's you. I was dreaming of Gina Lolabrickita and here you are, like a nightmare. Why did you have to wake me up?
Wilma: To tell you I'm going out. I didn't want you to panic if you saw I was gone.
Fred: Panic? Are you kidding? I'd probably be so happy, I'd give myself a heart attack.
Wilma: Very funny.
Fred: Where you are going all dolled up, anyway? Who'd want to see an old buzzard like you?
Wilma: Give it a rest, Fred. I'm going to meet Reverend Rockbury to discuss your final arrangements.
Fred: Final arrangements? I ain't dead yet, goddamnit. (He tries to rise but can't) You already got me dead and buried, why you scheming hussy. I'll bet you and that Bible shaker are plotting to steal all my money--- (he flops back into the chair).
Wilma: Don't make me laugh. What money? After 50 years at Slate Gravel what do you have to show for it? This dump? A dead dinosaur we can't afford to have buried. A broken-down hi-fi set that can't even play CDs? Ever since you started seeing that little green man from outer space, you've just fallen apart. You sit in that chair and watch old game shows and wrestling matches all day while I try to put food on the table. I tell you, Fred Flintstone, I am glad our daughter ran away. Glad, do you hear!
My earliest memories of Nichols were listening to those LPs with May. Their hilarious sketches recreated the push-pull war between the sexes as well as commented on contemporary foibles of society with satire by turns gentle and barbed. I used to do imitations of the pair at post-performance parties for the community theaters in which I acted. The one time I encountered May in person was at an awards event where her partner the legendary movie director Stanley Donen was a presenter. I told her I loved her and Nichols' routines and would do them at the drop of a hat. She said "Do one now." So I did the first few minutes of the Telephone sketch. She said, "It's amazing that you remember all that." I now wish I had done the Mother and Son sketch ("Hello, Arthur, this is your mother. Do you remember me?")
| Is This a Room? (top) and Dana H (bottom)|
will alternate performances at
Broadway's Lyceum Theatre
(Credits: Carol Rosegg; Craig Schwartz)
Each presentation is unique and not your typical Broadway fare. Is This A Room, directed and conceived by Satter, concerns the real-life Reality Winner (her actual name), an Air Force linguist who was imprisoned for leaking information that the Russians interfered in our 2016 Presidential election. The entire 70-minute play is composed of transcripts from her FBI interrogation and the search of her home. Emily Davis repeats her stunning performance as Reality. She won an Obie and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and the production won a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.
Dana H. is also based on actual events and transcripts. The playwright's mother Dana was abducted and held captive in a series of Florida motels for five months. Deirdre O'Connell lip-synchs to recordings of an interview conducted with the real-life Dana and directed by Obie winner Les Waters. The production was interrupted by the COVID shut-down and O'Connell won the Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Circle awards.
|Terence Archie, Patti LuPone and Katrina Link|
Credit: Brinkoff Moegenburg
|Dame Jasmine Hughes and Reza Salazar |
in the Guthrie Theater’s production of “Floyd’s”
which will open as "Clyde's" on Broadway
Credit: T. Charles Erickson
|Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Williams, and |
Jesse Tyler Ferguson will star in
Take Me Out
Credit: Catherine Wessel