Since it’s summer and lately it feels too hot to think, we thought we’d share with you one of our first posts about some of the amazing playwrights we have worked with in the last century!
Philip & Marilyn
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 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.
Philip & Marilyn
We hope this finds you well and if you’re in the Northeast, we hope you survived the latest (4th!) nor’easter!
We thought we’d take a moment today to share with you one of our most popular posts on our Newsletter—that is of a photo we have of Paul Robeson dressed as Othello.
We originally shared this with you in January 2015, so we thought it was a great time to re-share for all of our members, including new members who have subscribed to our Newsletter since then!
Philip & Marilyn
This Throwback Thursday features a great photo of Paul Robeson in his garb as the well-known character of Othello, which The Theatre Guild produced on Broadway in 1943-1944.
Robeson’s portrayal of Othello was so masterful and well-performed that John Dover Wilson—one of the premier Shakespeare critics at the time—commented that Robeson’s Othello was the best performance of the century!
When I was about 10 years old, I used to spend wonderful times wrestling and playing with Paul’s son, Paul Jr.!
Paul broke through so many barriers coming from the son of a former slave, and knowing him and his family was indeed an honor!
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!
Philip & Marilyn
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.
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!
Philip & Marilyn
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
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!
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.
Philip and Marilyn
Lo and behold! The Theatre Guild got a nod from Ms. Adams:
1918. Formation of the Theatre Guild. Also, Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” That’s 99 years before the Golden’s current occupants grabbed all those nominations for “Part 2.”
Click here for the full article.
99 years! It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a century—and we are very excited about our 100th Anniversary, as there may well be a new commemorative postage stamp similar to the one to mark the 50th Anniversary of our musical Oklahoma!.
Philip & Marilyn Langner
Last Saturday a film we produced played on NBC. It was Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer.
We enjoyed it so much—it was so filled with the author, Abby Mann’s screenplay. And, despite being thought of as too “intellectual and thoughtful,” it was one of our greatest successes! We just love the story about how the film came together and decided to re-share our story with you today (we originally posted the story below November 2014).
KATHARINE HEPBURN’S UNKNOWN TRIUMPH!
In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.
Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.
At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT (created by Lawrence Langner). On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate. After the matinee, they went to her cottage. She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!” Kate said with her typical Locust Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”
Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at The Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.
She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film. Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries. The film was released in 1961.
Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:
- Spencer Tracy
- Richard Widmark
- Burt Lancaster
- Marlene Dietrich
- Max Schell
- Montgomery Clift
- Judy Garland
- William Shatner
- Warner Klemperer
Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.
And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.
AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World.
Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Philip and Marilyn
PS—The discussion in this film on the subject of war is so important, and of course, it is wildly pertinent in today’s world with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Yemen all hoping(?) for some war excitement.
And also: we bought a DVD of Judgement at Nuremberg at Amazon, which is currently for on sale for $12.00. To order your copy, click here.