Category Archives: Theatre History

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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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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Tickets Flourishing

Dear Friends,

It’s time for our yearly talk about ticket prices on Broadway.

Our favorite comparison, which we remember well, is when the Broadway ticket prices skyrocketed from $4.80 to $5.75. Can you believe that the producers were terribly worried that Broadway would crumble at that sharp increase in ticket prices!!!!

At any rate, those $5.75 tickets would cost $80.68 today (based on the inflation rate). This $80.86 price is two-thirds of the current ticket price, which seems to be holding steady at $125.00 per ticket.

We find it interesting that in those days we felt that Broadway might come to an end because there were only so many seats in a theatre, whereas most other goods and services could expand to meet the higher demand.

All our worries were unfounded because Broadway is flourishing, both in terms of average ticket price and number of viewers going to shows. Who knew?!?

And, Hurray!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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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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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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Playwrights

Dear Friends,

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!

Happy Summer!
Philip & Marilyn

Continue reading

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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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