Category Archives: Theatre Tales


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…

View original post 22 more words

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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.


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


Tagged , , , , , , ,

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…

View original post 95 more words

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.


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


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

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

Tagged , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.


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.


Tagged , , , , , ,

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:

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:

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.


Philip Langner and Marilyn Clark Langner

Tagged , , , , , ,

What A Fake!

Dear Friends,
A few days ago we read an article in the New York Times that made us shake our heads in disbelief.
We just can’t believe it!  Never in our long history of theatre have we experienced fake tickets at the box office!  Even the Times article said that “counterfeit tickets were rare.”
Well, as we mentioned at the beginning of the month, Hamilton’s popularity is sky-rocketing and–apparently indicative of their popularity–there are reports of fake tickets almost daily!
DAILY!  Wow.  This is such a surprising trend for Broadway.  Oh sure, you hear about it at sporting events and music concerts, but as we mentioned it’s not anything we’ve seen in theatre.
Imagine, as one poor guy trying to surprise his wife, spending $600 on tickets that are fake!
While on one hand it seems silly to be saying this, we would urgently like to remind you to buy your tickets from the theatre or your usual source–even if it means waiting many months to see Hamilton!
Tagged , , , ,

Green Grow The Lilacs

Dear Friends,

As we have been reminiscing during this holiday season about our childhood and things that we loved, we remembered a favorite song–Green Grow the Lilacs.

Green grow the lilacs, all sparkling with dew

I’m lonely my darling since parting with you

And by the next meeting, I hope to prove true

To exchange the green lilacs for the red, white, and blue!

It was an Irish folk song that was made popular in the United States during the 19th century. Mexican soldiers during the Mexican-American War misheard the American soldiers singing “Green Grow” and started calling our soldiers “gringos!”

Later on, it was turned into a play of the same name by Lynn Riggs. The Theatre Guild produced it on Broadway in 1931, starring Franchot Tone, June Walker, and Tex Ritter. The Theatre Guild then decided to make it into a musical, and engaged Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein to write it. Oklahoma! opened on Broadway in 1943 and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances! Out of the 128 plays The Guild produced on Broadway, it became its greatest hit!

But of course, Green Grow the Lilacs started it all and we were able to find a wonderful YouTube video of the song sung by Tex Ritter (ahhh, the marvels of the internet!).

Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Philip & Marilyn

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,