Category Archives: The Theatre Guild Archives

The Kennedy Center

Dear Friends,

Last week, we watched the Kennedy Center Honors and we thought we might share with you a newsletter we wrote several years ago about our connection with the Kennedy Center.

To watch the full broadcast of this year’s Honors, click here to go to CBS https://www.cbs.com/shows/kennedy_center_honors/

Happy New Year!
Philip & Marilyn Langner

 

Dear Friends,

Today we want to tell you about the Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.–a GREAT U.S. theatre!

We have been thinking about the Kennedy Center since we saw President and Mrs. Obama attending a performance there recently.

We were very involved in opening the Kennedy Center because The Theatre Guild was designated as the subscription organization for the Kennedy Center theatre-goers to subscribe to each winter series of plays.

We began in 1971 and had a subscription audience of 15,000 members.  We remained at the Center for 15 years, and during that time we also presented some of our own plays there.

The Eisenhower Theatre is great for plays and musicals, with a seating capacity of 1,161!  It is a lovely theatre and one of the very best places to bring a play.

eisenhower theatre

It’s a wonderful historic theatre that has come into existence in our lifetime.  According to The Kennedy Center’s Archives:

Two months after President Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Congress designated the National Cultural Center (designed by Edward Durell Stone) as a “living memorial” to Kennedy, and authorized $23 million to help build what was now known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Fundraising continued at a swift pace–with much help coming from the Friends of the Kennedy Center volunteers, who fanned out across the nation to attract private support and nations around the world began donating funds, building materials, and artworks to assist in the project’s completion. In December 1964, President Lyndon Johnson turned the first shovelful of earth at the Center’s construction site, using the same gold-plated spade that had been used in the groundbreaking ceremonies for both the Lincoln Memorial in 1914 and the Jefferson Memorial in 1938.

From its very beginnings, the Kennedy Center has represented a unique public/private partnership. As the nation’s living memorial to President Kennedy, the Center receives federal funding each year to pay for maintenance and operation of the building, a federal facility. However, the Center’s artistic programs and education initiatives are paid for almost entirely through ticket sales and gifts from individuals, corporations, and private foundations.

The Center made its public debut on September 8, 1971, with a gala opening performance featuring the world premiere of a Requiem mass honoring President Kennedy, a work commissioned from the legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. The occasion enabled Washington to begin earning a reputation as a cultural hub as well as a political one; as The New York Times wrote in a front-page article the next morning, “The capital of this nation finally strode into the cultural age tonight with the spectacular opening of the $70 million [Kennedy Center]…a gigantic marble temple to music, dance, and drama on the Potomac’s edge.”

The Center’s presence also enabled Washington to become an international stage, hosting the American debuts of the Bolshoi Opera and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, as well as the first-ever U.S. performances by Italy’s legendary La Scala opera company.

To read and learn more about the Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts, visit their website.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

 

 

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A Shakespeare Christmas on Broadway

Dear Friends,

As we head into this last weekend before Christmas, we are reminded of Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night, involving twins Viola and Sebastian who are separated in a shipwreck. In the spirit of Epiphany (or the Twelfth Night of Christmas), Viola disguises herself as a man, falls in love with Count Orsino, has Lady Olivia fall in love with her in disguise, and hilarity ensues.

We presented the Twelfth Night on Broadway the Winter Season of 1940-41 at the St. James Theatre starring Helen Hayes and Maurice Evans. It was 129 performances of Shakespeare comedic bliss!

 

 

It’s hard to imagine that was 78 years ago! Time surely flies when you’re having fun in the theatre!

Merry Christmas and warm wishes for a happy holiday season!
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Oklahoma….OK!

Dear Friends,

Big things are happening next year!

In additional to our 100th Anniversary, we are so excited that our beloved Oklahoma! –the biggest hit we ever produced—is returning to Broadway! This will be the sixth time since we opened the musical at the St. James Theatre in 1943 that it has appeared on Broadway.

oklahoma

Previews will begin March 19, 2019 and it will open April 7th at the Circle in the Square Theatre (235 West 50th Street). It will be a limited run, closing on September 01, 2019.

Tickets are not currently available, but will be released January 05, 2019.  Click on the picture above for more information.

Best,
Philip & Marilyn

PS–if you’re interested in reading more about Oklahoma!‘s history, here are a handful of our posts over the years:

  1. Oklahoma!
  2. A Match Made In Music
  3. Green Grow The Lilacs
  4. The Lift of a Lifetime
  5. Broadway Hit!

 

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Actors’ Strike of 1919

Dear Friends,

Today we’d like to tell you about an exciting Theatre Guild happening that took place on Broadway in 1919.

Actors’ Equity Association was formed by Broadway actors in 1913. After they were formed, they started approaching theatrical producers  to arrange contracts for their actors with each of them. The producers and Equity were not able to come to an agreement–with one notable exception–and in 1919 the Broadway actors decided to strike.

Happily The Theatre Guild was that one notable exception who chose to recognize Actors’ Equity and agree to a contract. The result was that The Theatre Guild was the only producer with a play running on Broadway during the strike.

The play was John Ferguson running at the Fulton Theatre on 46th Street, and it became a huge sell-out lasting for six months!

According to my father, Lawrence, “I was looking for a play for us to produce and I picked a book off the shelf—little thinking that I held the future of the new Theatre Guild in my hand! It was just the play we were looking for! My fellow Board members were all as excited about the play as I was and we decided to produce it at once.”

Wasn’t it fortuitous that The Guild had a sensible reaction to actors on Broadway wanting to have a union, and what a happy result!

Best wishes,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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2019 Centennial Celebration

Dear Friends,

TG Centennial Press Release

Read more about Nicolosi by clicking here www.artistnicolosi.com

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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Carousel Has Opened!

Dear Friends,

As you may know, the revival of our musical Carousel opened this week on Broadway to great reviews.

Of course, we are not surprised. We (The Theatre Guild—at the time, Philip’s father, Lawrence and Theresa Helburn) urged and paid Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II to create a musical adaption Ferenc Molnár’s play, Liliom. It took multiple requests from Lawrence and Theresa, but Rodgers and Hammerstein II finally agreed and we opened Carousel on Broadway in 1945, and it has had several revivals since.

This revival has an all-star cast led by Joshua Henry, Renee Fleming, and Jessie Mueller, is directed by Jack O’Brien and is choreographed by Justin Peck.

According to his review in the New York Times, Ben Brantley observes that:

The tragic inevitability of “Carousel” has seldom come across as warmly or as chillingly as it does in this vividly reimagined revival. As directed by Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Justin Peck, with thoughtful and powerful performances by Mr. Henry and Ms. Mueller, the love story at the show’s center has never seemed quite as ill-starred or, at the same time, as sexy.

Carousel broadway

Carousel is playing at the Imperial Theatre (249 W. 45th Street). Call the box office for tickets 212/239-6200 or click here to order online.

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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A Match Made in Music

Dear Friends,

Today we are writing you about Carousel, which is coming back to Broadway with previews starting February 28th.

Carousel has a fascinating history.

In about 1940, the Theatre Guild decided it would like to make a musical from the play it had previously produced, called Green Grow the Lilacs. They invited Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to write the musical which became, as you know, Oklahoma!.
With the glorious success of Oklahoma!, The Guild wanted Richard and Oscar to write another musical. The Guild examined the previous 50-60 plays it had produced on Broadway. Ultimately, a play The Guild presented in 1922, Liliom by famed Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár, was chosen.

The musical, now called Carousel, was acclaimed everywhere and The Guild had another musical hit!

After Carousel, Richard and Oscar wrote one more musical, Allegro, for The Guild, but it was not as well received as Oklahoma! and Carousel. Richard and Oscar were great friends of ours, as were their children. I (Philip) grew up with Mary Rodgers, who was a great long-time friend.

We are so delighted that Carousel, which is being produced by Scott Rudin and Roy Furman, is being presented again next month at the Imperial Theatre. To purchase tickets, click here. It’s a great show!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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Journey From A Play To A Musical, Part 1

Dear Friends,

Over the holidays, we came across the French movie Liliom on television. The movie was based on the play written by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár in 1909.

Of course, Liliom was not unfamiliar to us—The Theatre Guild brought the play to Broadway in 1921 and in 1945 convinced Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to turn it into a musical, with a notable name change: Carousel.

Carousel has been on our minds lately, as it is coming back to Broadway starring Joshua Henry, Jessie Mueller, and Renée Fleming and directed by Jack O’Brien. Previews begin next month (February 28th) and the musical opens on April 12th.

Carousel

We are so very excited at its return to Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on 45th Street—and we cannot wait to see it!

Tickets are now on sale, which can be purchased in person at the Imperial (249 W. 45th Street) or clicking here.

Stay tuned next week for more history behind the creating of Carousel!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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Giving Thanks.

thanksgiving

Dear Friends,

This being Thanksgiving week, we are thinking about thanks in the theatre world.

We always felt that the theatre would suffer—and perhaps come to an end—because it is not a mass-production enterprise.  Therefore, it cannot equal automobiles, electric lights, and all sorts of items in our daily lives that are mass-produced by machines.

We have previously told you that in 1943, when we brought Oklahoma! to Broadway, Orchestra tickets were $5.75 each, the equivalent to $81.53 today.  Since currently  Broadway musical tickets are averaging $125.00, it is clear that ticket prices have gone up faster than inflation—although only somewhat faster!

The good news is that all 40 Broadway theatres currently have plays running or will be opening new plays this Spring.  This make us very happy because the fact that plays are not mass-produced has not yet ended the theatre!

We are happy and giving thanks this week to all of those who work hard to make the theatre the success that it continues to be!

Best regards and Happy Thanksgiving!
Philip and Marilyn

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Carousel

Dear Friends,

Hurray!  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel is coming back to Broadway!

The Theatre Guild originally produced this play on Broadway in 1945–it was the second musical Rodgers & Hammerstein had written for The Theatre Guild.

Carousel was adapted from the play, Liliom, which The Theatre Guild had produced on Broadway in 1921. In some ways we love it even more than Oklahoma! (the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical The Theatre Guild produced) because the love story in Carousel is so fantastic!
Carousel
We think you will love seeing Carousel (again?) because it has so much to offer!  It will be playing at the Imperial Theatre (249 W. 45th Street). Previews begin February 28, 2018 and it opens April 12, 2018.  To learn more and purchase tickets, click here.

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

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