Category Archives: Theatre Tales

Final Chance!

Dear Friends,

Just a reminder that Prince of Broadway will be closing its limited run in only 12 more performances–with its final performance on 10/29/2017!

It showcases the life and times of our dear family friend, Harold Prince, including some of his greatest productions, like:

West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Evita, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and The Phantom of the Opera to name a few!

You definitely do not want to miss out on this spectacular show!  Click here for your last chance at tickets!
prince of bway 2
Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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The Show Must Go On!

Dear Friends,

While we are on vacation, we thought we’d share with you some of our favorite posts over the years.  This was our very first post, which we thought we’d share for some of our newer members.

Of course, it reminds us of plays of Ancient Greece that are still circulating today!

We hope that you are well and enjoying these last few weeks of summer!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

 

The theatre is such a wonderful happening!

We had an unbelievable evening a few weeks ago when we saw Beautiful: The Carol King Musical.  It lifted us so—from our ordinary daily lives we were brought to an evening of heaven.

And it led us to an exciting idea: staring this website to share with you the theatre that we know and love so well.  The events, the history—all of the past, present, and future!

We (my talented wife, Marilyn Clark, and I) have lived our lives in the theatre: Marilyn from the time she was an actress at 15.  And my parents were writers and producers, so I literally grew up in theatre.  Now as we reminisce a lot about all the trials and tribulations and success and stars, we decided to start this website—a place where theatre lovers everywhere can come together and find both information about the American Theatre, and personalization of the theatre as well.

So to start off: perhaps you knew that theatre as we know it began 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece. BUT! Did you know that there are still 11 plays currently circulating that were written at that time by Aristophanes?  And it’s fascinating that three of them (in bold!) were about women’s rights.  They are:

  1. The Archarnians (425 BCE) about the formation of a peace treaty.
  2. The Knights (424 BCE) an attack on Cleon, an Athenian statesmen and general.
  3. The Clouds (423 BCE) criticising Socrates for corruption and sophistry.
  4. The Wasps (422 BCE) poking fun at the Athenian jury system and the Athenians’ preoccupation with litigation.
  5. Peace (421 BCE) on the peace with Sparta.
  6. The Birds (414 BCE) where birds construct a new city in the sky and better the gods.
  7. Lysistrata (411 BCE) where women across Greece go on a sex strike to compel their men to make peace.
  8. The Poet & The Women or Thesmophoriazusae (411 BCE) where women debate the elimination of Euripides
  9. The Frogs (405 BCE) where Dionysos visits Hades and judges a poetry competition between Aeschylus and Euripedes.
  10. The Ecclesiazusae (c. 392 BCE) where women take over Athens and make all property communal.
  11. Plutus or Wealth (388 BCE) where the god of wealth regains his sight and no longer distributes riches at random.

[from http://www.ancient.eu.com/Aristophanes/ ]

Theatre then went on to Rome, then France, England, and finally to America.  Now we have it ON BROADWAY and beyond—to every state in the country and every country in the world.

Of course, just like the theatre, our Theatre Guild website is a work in progress!  But here are some of the things that we want to focus on:

  •  Recommendations for plays—what is fun and enjoyable and hot right now!
  • Suggestions on getting the best seats and the best bargains for great theatre.
  • New plays that are coming to the theatre or revivals making a comeback (HINT: it is NOT Cats!)
  • Theatres worth checking out all over the country
  • History of American Theatre—we’ve lived it and want to share it with you!
  • And of course, the actors!  We’ll be looking at some of the greats, those who will be sorely missed, and those to keep our eyes on—so we can say that we knew them when they were just starting out!

What would we like from you?  Participation!  We want to know what interests you about the theatre—be it a play, or actor/actress, or theatres or history.  What ideas and things would you like to see?  We have a lot of information to share and we’d love ideas of things that you’re interested in!

And now, but of course the show must go on, we pull back the curtain and invite you in to our world of theatre!

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Playwrights

With the end of summer looming and a new school year and theatre season on the horizon, we thought we’d take a bit of a break and head down the coast to spend a bit of time with our daughter and granddaughters.

We started this Newsletter just over a few years ago and we have been very fortunate in our ever-increasing number of subscribers. But we also realize that many of you haven’t had time to go back and read all of our articles, and so we thought we’d share a few with you while we’re lounging away on the beach, watching our granddaughters play!

In this post, we revisit some of the great and phenomenal playwrights The Theatre Guild has worked with over the years…enjoy!

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

One of the fascinating aspects of The Theatre Guild is all of the wonderful playwrights we have worked with in our 95 years, such as:

George Bernard Shaw—possibly the greatest playwright of the century—had 14 plays produced by The Theatre Guild.

george bernard shaw

The Theatre Guild produced 9 of Eugene O’Neill’s plays.

Eugene O'Neill

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine starred in 25 plays on Broadway for The Guild over a 30 year period from 1925 to 1956.

Lunt and Fontanne 2

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote Oklahoma! at the suggestion of The Theatre Guild and collaborated with The Theatre Guild to create Carousel and Allegro.

rodgers and hammerstein

Of course, we can never forget Dore Schary—who wrote Sunrise At Campobello, which we produced and then later adapted to our current running play FDR, starring Ed Asner, which will be performing in Laguna Beach, CA in November, and Chicago in April 2015.

dore schary

These playwrights were so talented…

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The Judging of Shylock

Dear Friends,

We just wanted to share an article we read the other day in the New York Times:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Presides Over Shylock’s Appeal

It’s a delightful article about what a Supreme Court Justice does in her free time: go to Venice and not only watch her grandson perform in a mock trial based on The Merchant of Venice, but preside over the trial.  Justice Ginsburg seems to enjoy participating in Shakespeare mock trials, as she has participated in several.

You can read the full article here:

Ginsburg NYT

We just love that Justice Ginsburg spends some of her free time promoting and participating in the Arts!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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Chaplin’s World

Dear Friends,

We received an email today about the opening of Chaplin’s World—a museum in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland dedicated to the life and works of Charlie Chaplin.  But it is more than just a museum—it is an experience and a peek into Charlie’s world.  You can visit their website to read more about it.  It looks like a wonderful place to spend a few vacation days.

It made us think about our lovely visit with Charlie at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey.  Needless to say, he was incredible!  Here is a picture from the weekend Marilyn and I spent with Charlie and his lovely wife, Oona.

chaplin

Top Left to Right: Marshall Young and Philip Langner
Bottom Left to Right:  Oona O’Neill Chaplin (daughter of Eugene O’Neill), Marilyn Langner, Charlie Chaplin

 

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Sunrise at Campobello

Dear Friends,

Since we’ve been celebrating American history all week, we thought we’d share this post with you again, as it is where history and theatre intersect!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Certainly one of the most exciting plays we ever produced was Sunrise at Campobello, the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the early 1920s.

We were extremely happy when Dore Schary, a prominent head of MGM, decided to leave Hollywood to concentrate on writing and producing plays in New York!

campo 2

His first play, Sunrise, was excellent!  We opened the play on what would have been Roosevelt’s 76th birthday—January 30, 1958.  It was directed by Vincent J. Donehue and starred Ralph Bellamy as Roosevelt, along with Mary Fickett, Henry Jones, Anne Seymour, Mary Welch, Alan Bunce and more!

The play ran for 16 months with 556 spectacular performances.  It was nominated for 6 Tonys in 1958 and won Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director…

  • Best Play (winner)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Play—Ralph Bellamy (winner)
  • Direction—Vincent J. Donehue (winner)
  • Featured Actor in a Play—Henry Jones (winner)
  • Featured Actress in…

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Saving Hamilton!

Dear Friends,

We often find it remarkable at those who ask “why is theatre important?”  And guess what?  We found the perfect response to that in the New York Times the other day!

As you may know, the US Treasury has been contemplating changing some of the faces on our bills—and one of the first up for a complete make over?  The $10 bill—the bill that currently has on its face none other than our first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

10_dollar_bill

And here is where the theatre’s influence comes into play:  the Treasury Secretary promised to put a woman on the face of the new $10 bill.  However, last summer he came to Broadway and went to see Hamilton.  Additionally the star and creator of Hamilton Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as theatre patrons in love with the musical, have been lobbying the Department of the Treasury to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill.  The result?  This week the Treasury Secretary just made the announcement that Hamilton is going to stay on the $10 bill!!

hamilton official

THE THEATRE!

You can read more about it—and how all the bills are changing at the New York Times website.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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The Secret Life of the American Musical

Dear Friends,

We wanted to tell you today about a wonderful book that we’ve read about in The Washington Post.

The book is called THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL: How Broadway Shows Are Built by Jack Vietal.

secret life of american musical

According to The Post:

Viertel offers such examples throughout, making related but different points. His close analysis of craft doubles nicely as an account of the American musical’s evolution over the past century.

We know Jack—and have worked with him on plays in the past.  His backstage anecdotes are what really bring this book to life!

It is currently on sale at Amazon.  If you love Broadway musicals or Broadway history, then we think that this is a book you will absolutely love!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Actors’ Temple

Dear Friends,

We wanted to share with you a great event that will be happening this Monday, March 21st: The Actors’ Temple Annual Gala.

This annual fundraising event will be at 7:30pm on March 21st at The Actors’ Temple.  The performance will be to help raise fund for much-needed restorations for The Actors’ Temple.

We have only recently read the history of this amazing building at 339 West 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.  It was built in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

actors temple

 

The stars who built this Temple paved the way for Jewish actors, dancers, comedians, directors and Broadway productions to be taken seriously and to have careers in New York—the likes of Sophie Tucker, The Three Stooges, The Ritz Brothers, the Marx Brothers, Milton Berle, Shelly Winters and so many more.  To read more about it, click here.

The performance for the evening will be Falling in Love with Love: The Romantic Songs of Richard Rodgers, starring our dear friend and wonderful performer Anna Bergman.

annabergman actors temple

To buy tickets to this wonderful event, click here.

Best,

Philip and Marilyn Langner

PS—We will soon be sending you fascinating information that appeared on PBS last Monday, March 14th, about all the musicals in Broadway’s history.

 

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A Woman’s Place

Dear Friends,

As we alluded to in our last post—and that you undoubtedly know—there were no women actors during Shakespeare’s time, their parts usually played by young boys.  We did a bit of digging to find out exactly why, but there doesn’t seem to be anything exact about it!

We found a great article from Stage Beauty about it: http://stagebeauty.net/th-women.html

The most widely accepted theory was the Church during this time vilified the traveling acting troupe, even blaming the Great Plague on them!  As such, it was thought to be too “unseemly” for a woman to be allowed on stage.

Of course, not everyone thought this way—on mainland Europe things were changing more rapidly than in England.  In fact, during Elizabeth I’s reign, women were established in Italian theatre with France quickly following suit.

It wasn’t until the reign of Charles I (1625-1649) where women in England were allowed to take the stage.  That is to say, not English women—oh no! The very first was a Frenchwoman named Henrietta Maria who came to England with a French company.  However, apparently the novelty of having a woman on stage was still too radical for England and the French troupe soon went back to France having been booed off many stages.

Then all of theatre took a huge backslide, when Oliver Cromwell rose to power during the English Civil War.  Without the protection of the crown, the Puritans were allowed to dictate and not only were women banned from the stage, but the entire performance was banned and “theatre found itself cast into another dark age.”

With the downfall of Cromwell, theatre found itself back in favor with Charles II with a mixed reaction to women on the stage.  It finally happened on December 8, 1660—the first Englishwoman took the stage.  Margaret Hughes played Desdemona in The Moor of Venice, which was thought to be a success.

From that point, the gates opened and slowly women were welcomed to the stage until we finally arrived at the point where the idea of theatre without a woman playing in a woman’s role seemed implausible.

You can read the whole article here: http://stagebeauty.net/th-women.html

And to think now we are at the point (as we told you about in an earlier post) where the Donmar Warehouse produced a version of Henry IV with an all-female cast!

We find this so interesting—that theatre shows this ascent of women from the “dark days” of Shakespeare’s time to now when we are enthusiastically enjoying the glorious tide today.

Best,

Philip Langner and Marilyn Clark Langner

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