Tag Archives: Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne

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 Celestials of Broadway

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you today to urge you to go see Lunt and Fontanne: The Celestials of Broadway.

Lunt and Fontanne 2

It is playing at The New York International Fringe Festival 64E4 Mainstage: Venue #11 (64 East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue & Bowery) for four more performances this month: Wednesday 8/17 at 7pm, Saturday 8/20 at 7pm, Tuesday 8/23 at 2:15pm, and Saturday 8/27 at 4:45pm.

In LUNT AND FONTANNE: THE CELESTIALS OF BROADWAY, Mark E. Lang’s new stage play about the Lunts, today’s audiences get a chance to meet Alfred and Lynn, explore their life on and off the stage, see them perform scenes from their favorite plays– including Shakespeare’s TAMING OF THE SHREW and Molnar’s THE GUARDSMAN; interact with famous friends such as Noel Coward and Laurence Olivier; and share their experiences on Broadway, in London during World War II and on tour.

Alfred and Lynn were very dear to us here at The Guild—they performed in our productions from 1920-1960, with 25 consecutive seasons from 1929-1949!  We are excited that real-life married couple Mark E. Lang and Alison Murphy are portraying these beloved theatre stars and throwing them back into the limelight where they belong.

Click here to purchase tickets or learn more about the play.

lunt and fontanne flyer

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

lunt stamp

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The Lift of a Lifetime!

The events at the Theatre Guild leading up to the arrival of Oklahoma! on Broadway are quite interesting, and as always with the theatre: precarious!

While Oklahoma!  was in the creation mode, Broadway theatre was in huge difficulty as a result of the Great Depression.  Needless to say, no matter how much people wanted to go to the theatre, in the 1930s they didn’t have the money to do it.  And in the 1940s the war came along and made theatre-going feel like a frivolous thing to do when so much destruction was occurring around the world.

The mid 1930s brought a series of mistaken choices in the plays the Theatre Guild produced.  Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who had done 20 plays with the Theatre Guild, decided to part ways and join Noel Cowart in a partnership.  The Guild was in serious debt, but fortunately was rescued by producing Philip Barry’s play, The Philadelphia Story with Katherine Hepburn in the lead.

It helped the Guild through the end of the 30s.  However, with the war the mood at the Guild fell into a low ebb and only received “a lift of a lifetime” when they produced Oklahoma! in March 1943.

Oklahoma-Playbill-03-43

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A Play for A Season

I came across a fascinating aspect of theatre in the earlier days in New York (when the Theatre Guild first began).

I was reading about the different great theatrical people who worked with the Theatre Guild from 1920-1960.  An amazing finding was that Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne—undoubtedly the two greatest stage stars we’ve had in America—actually played every single season for the Theatre Guild for a quarter of a century.  So the situation perhaps became “what play should we get for the Lunts to do this year?” and, as such, from 1924 to 1949 they would perform a new play each and every season: 25 in all!

Of course, their acting in these plays guaranteed that these plays would succeed artistically and financially—the plays always ran long enough to pay back their production costs—usually within one season!  As Ring Lardner once said: “if you want to pack ‘em out front, hire Fontanne and Lunt!”

Lunt and Fontaine

Theatre today is such a different matter.  Because of the continually rising costs of production, plays now try to run as long as they can and certainly some of the most successful have seen decades on Broadway.  Our own play, FDR, is currently in its 5th season of touring the U.S. with hopefully years to continue.  This difference makes it harder and harder to hold on to actors, who want to move to the next step in their career.

A very interesting change in theatre today!

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