Category Archives: Theatre Greats

A Hal of a Guy

Dear Friends,

As you know, Broadway marquees went dim Wednesday night to say good-bye to our dear friend, Hal Prince.

hal-prince

We have known and worked with Hal on numerous projects over the last 60 years—the most notable being Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and Cabaret. He was a remarkable man, a wonderful friend, and will be sorely missed.

There were so many extraordinary things Hal accomplished in his life and we consider ourselves so blessed to have known him.

Click here for NY Times feature on Hal: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/31/theater/hal-prince-dead.html

Goodbye, dear friend, we will miss you tremendously.
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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2019 Season at the Playhouse

Dear Friends,

If you’re looking for something cool to do to escape this awful heatwave we are having, we’d like to recommend you look at your local theatre for some great summer theatre!
Of course, having run The Westport Playhouse for years, it is always our go-to for summer theatre.

Below is the list of plays in production this season, along with a short summary (which we pulled from their website).

Hershey Felder as IRVING BERLIN
July 16 – August 3, 2019
From Czarist Russia to New York’s Lower East Side to Broadway, Irving Berlin’s uplifting immigrant story epitomizes the American Dream. His songs captured our hearts. Featuring Berlin’s most popular standards including the Great American Songbook classics “Blue Skies,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “White Christmas,” and more, Felder’s one-man show celebrates Irving Berlin, the composer, and reveals the inspiration for Berlin’s countless hit songs.

MLIMA’S TALE
October 1 – 19, 2019
Mlima’s Tale is a powerful, theatrical fable about a magnificent and beloved Kenyan elephant named Mlima hunted for his coveted ivory tusks. As traffickers maneuver the illicit ivory market, the animal’s invincible spirit follows their path of desire, greed, crime, and corruption.

DON JUAN
November 5 – 23, 2019
Meet the legendary Don Juan as you’ve never seen him in this darkly comic take on a classic tale. Wherever he goes, the notorious seducer and antihero leaves behind a trail of broken hearts and society scandals, relying on his trusty sidekick, Sganarelle, to clean up his unruly messes. When an unearthly visitor arrives, Don Juan may finally be forced to confront his wicked ways. Sex, politics, religion — nothing is sacred in Molière’s brilliant comedy.

For more information or to purchase tickets click here: https://www.westportplayhouse.org/

Enjoy!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Theatre Guild on the Air

Dear Friends,

In digging through our archives today, we were reminded that on this day—July 12th—a mere 58 years ago in 1961we released Watching Out for Dulie. It was adapted to television for our series, “The US Steel Hour,” by Arthur Heinemann from a novel by David Hestheimer and starred Larry Blyden, Shari Lewis, Patricia Cutts, and Lloyd Bochner.

In 1945, The Theatre Guild began broadcasting a radio program called The Theatre Guild on the Air in an effort to bring theatre into the homes of millions of radio listeners. After 8 years of presenting weekly plays on the radio, it was decided that an even better and further reaching medium for The Theatre Guild on the Air would be television.

The United States Steel Corporation came on board as sponsor to present “The US Steel Hour” every other week. Our show ran on NBC until its final performance in 1963, starring our beloved Theatre Guild favorites Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt.

While we were unable to locate Watching Out for Dulie for online viewing, UCLA—which houses part of The Theatre Guild archives, and is alma mater to Marilyn—has posted some of the episodes of “The US Steel Hour” on YouTube, which you can find here:

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Saddest Good-bye

Dear Friends,

It is with very heavy hearts that we are writing to you today. We received the devastating news that our beloved Director/Stage Manager, Ron Nash, has passed away.

Ron and his husband Norman are very dear to us and have joined us on many adventures over the years. Ron’s death was very sudden and so shocking that it seems surreal to us that he is gone.

RoninCuernvaca

photo credit: Norman Duttweiler

Good bye, dear friend. We love you—your happy spirit, magnificent creativity, and brilliance will certainly be missed. Your passing has created a void in so many who have the privilege of knowing you, but your kindness and wonderfulness will never be forgotten.

Our love and deepest sympathies go out to Norman.

Love,
Philip & Marilyn

PS—below is Ron’s official biography, which shows but a sampling of all the great work that he did.

RON NASH lists among his directorial and design credits national tours of Song of Singapore starring Loretta Swit, The Wiz starring Peabo Bryson and Grace Jones, Murder Among Friends starring Lana Turner, Tammy Grimes, and Arlene Dahl, Janus starring Joan Fontaine, Dreamgirls starring pop vocalist Mikki Howard, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starring Stella Parton, and Under Milkwood starring Judith Light. He directed a new production of Shirley Valentine starring Loretta Swit in Toronto. Mr. Nash also co-directed the Broadway production of Oh! Calcutta!, which ranks as the fifth longest running musical on Broadway, as well as productions in Tokyo, Oslo, Tel Aviv, Milan, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Chicago. Mr. Nash has been a Production Stage Manager on Broadway for 12 years, as well as with the New York Shakespeare Festival for 7 productions. Mr. Nash also directs and coordinates productions for the Theatre Guild’s cruises on the Mediterranean and the Amazon, with celebrities such as Helen Hayes, Patrice Munsel, Claire Bloom, Patricia Neal, Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, Alan Arkin, Sandy Duncan, Cliff Robertson, Judy Kaye, Zoe Caldwell, Lynn Redgrave, Jean Stapleton, Carol Channing, and Gena Rowlands. He directed 5 time Emmy Award winner Ed Asner in FDR and toured with him to over 150 American cities. He toured for 3 years with both Jean Stapleton and Loretta Swit in different productions of Eleanor: Her Secret Journey. He served as Artistic Director at the Forestburgh Playhouse, in which capacity he directed over 25 shows including A Christmas Carol, The Sunshine Boys, Deathtrap, Witness for the Prosecution, 1776, On Golden Pond, Driving Miss Daisy, Ragtime, Titanic, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, The Diary of Anne Frank, Miss Saigon, West Side Story, South Pacific, Dial M for Murder, Born Yesterday, Carousel, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, M. Butterfly, The Night of the Iguana, The Chosen and Equus. Since 2014, he has lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico with his husband Norman Duttweiler and has guest lectured at New Mexico State University and guest directed a local production of The Laramie Project. Mr. Nash holds an M.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of Actors’ Equity and the Society of Directors and Choreographers.

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All Hail The King!

Dear Friends,

We wanted to share with you an wonderful happening that cannot be missed: Glenda Jackson starring at King Lear on Broadway.

This is a limited run at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street). It is currently in previews and will be opening April 4, 2019.

Ms. Jackson is such a phenomenal actress and we are so excited to see her in such an iconic Shakespearean role!

Glenda Jackson

To purchase tickets or read more about it, click here.

Best,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Saving The Drama

Dear Friends,

We can’t tell you how happy we were when we heard the news that the “Hamilton Team” were purchasing The Drama Book Store to prevent it from closing permanently. In a recent New York Times article, the new owners—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Jeffrey Seller; and James L. Nederlander—cited the book store as having played an important role in their lives and we couldn’t agree more!

We have lost count of the numerous times in our 100 years that we have frequented the Drama Book Store looking for our next inspiration for our 228 plays on Broadway. We were deeply saddened to hear that it might close and breathed a huge sigh of relief when the news broke last month that it would be saved!

We understand that the book store is currently closed while the new owners search for a new home. And when they do, you can bet we’ll be one of the first in line celebrating.

To read more about it, click here and here.

Thank you Hamilton Team for your wonderful help in saving this immeasurable support network for the theatre district. We salute you!

Best,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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100 Years of The Theatre Guild

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

We are so excited about this upcoming year, which marks the 100th Anniversary celebrations for The Theatre Guild. The Theatre Guild was started in 1919 in New York City by my (Philip) father, Lawrence Langner along with Philip Moeller, Helen Westley, Maurice Wertheim, Lee Simonson, and Theresa Helburn. Lawrence’s wife (Philip’s mother), Armina Marshall, served as a co-director.

As we head into the new year, we would like to remind you that January is the perfect time to renew your love of theatre and urge you, now that the holidays will be winding down, to find a show or musical that has piqued your interest and go see it!

But before we jump ahead, we also wanted to take a moment to tell you about a very special place that was created by our dear friend Ed Asner. As you will remember, in recent years Ed had been touring around the U.S. in our production of Dore Schary’s play, FDR. Ed has, along with his son, Matthew, and daughter-in-law, Navah, created The Ed Asner Family Center. This center was created as:

a one-stop shop for those with special needs and their families seeking wholeness in all attitudes of life. The Center will act as an oasis of balance and thought, of interaction and education. Most importantly, The Center will give children and adults of all levels of ability a chance at dignity, confidence, and self-respect. At The Ed Asner Family Center, we do not only cater to the needs of the special child. We aim to enroll the complete family and help them meet the challenges they face with grace.

If you are looking to make a charitable contribution this holiday season, we ask you to please consider this inspiring and wonderful place that is truly making a difference in people’s lives. To read more about The Ed Asner Family Center, learn about the programs and services they offer, or make a donation, please visit their website at http://edasnerfamilycenter.org/

Best wishes for a Happy 2019!
Philip and 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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The Power of Theatre

Dear Friends,

One more prior newsletter to share with you before we head back to New York City and the realities of summer coming to an end.

We cannot—CANNOT—stress the importance that the theatre can—and should!—have in the political realm. The tradition started with Shakespeare himself, and who knows, perhaps even before that!

Our friend Arthur Miller once said that it is the job of an artist to remind people of what they have chosen to forget. And in this political climate, nothing could be more true!

Best,
Philip & Marilyn

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Today we wanted to discuss with you an incredible theatre happening that occurred a couple of weeks ago:

It is the conflict between The Theatre, as represented by Hamilton, and the Government-to-be, as represented by Vice-President Elect Mike Pence.

As you all know, Vice President-Elect Pence went to a performance of Hamilton where he was specifically addressed by the cast at the end of the performance (their spokesperson being Brandon Dixon).

Mr. Dixon made a plea to Vice President-Elect Pence–as a representative of our new government starting 20th of January.  The cast requested that Vice President-Elect Pence look out for their interests, aka those of the common people.  While Mr. Pence was walking out of the theatre at the time of the speech, he stopped and listened to what Mr. Harris had to say.

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To us, it is a fascinating happening.  It is The Theatre…

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Tracy & Hepburn

Dear Friends,
As we have mentioned before, Katharine Hepburn played a huge role in helping us bring our film, Judgement at Nuremberg, to the big screen (for that story click on this link) by bringing the script to Spencer Tracy.

At that point, early 1960s, Hepburn and Tracy had starred in eight movies together, with one final movie in 1967. Last night on Turner Classic Movies, we watched their film, Desk Set, and we just loved it so! We decided that we wanted to share with you a list of their movies for you to enjoy as well:

Woman of The Year (1942) Hepburn and Tracy play married reporters working for the same newspaper, where Hepburn’s character gets all the accolades.

Keeper of the Flame (1943) Tracy plays a reporter covering the sudden death of a beloved war hero, whose widow is played by Hepburn.

Without Love (1945) Tracy plays a scientist in need of a place to work and Hepburn a single woman with a conveniently unused house with a science lab in the basement.

Sea of Grass (1947) Hepburn plays a St. Louis woman wooed by a New Mexican rancher (Tracy), only to discover when she arrives in New Mexico he’s not as charming and debonair as she thought.

State of the Union (1948) is a political drama where Tracy plays a Presidential Candidate and Hepburn his estranged wife, who is skeptical, but campaigns for him on the road to the White House.

Adam’s Rib (1949) based on a true story, Hepburn and Tracy play a married prosecutor and defense lawyer pitted against each other in a murder trial where Hepburn defends a woman accused of shooting her husband.

Pat and Mike (1952) Hepburn plays a brilliant athlete with a domineering fiancé and Tracy her slightly unscrupulous manager, who helps her escape from the clutches of her fiancé.

Desk Set (1957) Hepburn plays Department Head of Research for a big television company and Tracy the man sent in to computerize the entire department.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967) in their final movie, Hepburn and Tracy play a married couple whose daughter introduces them to her new boyfriend (played by Sidney Poitier).

They were so magical on the screen together! All of these films are worth watching—and if you’d like to own the whole collection, Amazon has a set for sale which you can access by clicking here or the picture below.

tracy and hepburn

We hope you enjoy!
Best,
Philip & Marilyn

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