Tag Archives: Musicals

Oh What A Beautiful Opening!

Dear Friends,

The Theatre Guild was founded in New York City in 1919 by my (Philip) father Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Helen Westley, Maurice Wertheim, Lee Simonson, and Theresa Helburn. My (Philip) mother, Armina Marshall served as a co-director. The Theatre Guild evolved out of the work of the Washington Square Players and departed from the usual theatre practice in that its board of directors shared the responsibility for choice of plays, management, and production and is known for the production of high-quality, noncommercial American and foreign plays. Our first production was the play “Bonds of Interest”, which opened April 14, 1919 at the Garrick Theatre.

Since last week marked our 100th Anniversary, we found it fitting that a revival of our most successful musical, Oklahoma!, opened to rave reviews. This production, directed by Daniel Fish, was originally developed, produced, and premiered at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College.

oklahoma

Ben Brantley of the New York Times writes:

How is it that the coolest new show on Broadway in 2019 is a 1943 musical usually regarded as a very square slice of American pie? The answer arrives before the first song is over in Daniel Fish’s wide-awake, jolting and altogether wonderful production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!,” which opened on Sunday night at the Circle in the Square Theater.

To read the full review, click here.
Oklahoma! is playing at the Circle in the Square Theatre. To buy tickets, click here or on the picture above.

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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Rolling Back To Broadway

Dear Friends,

As we already announced in December, our beloved Oklahoma! is making its 5th appearance on Broadway—and previews are only a few weeks away! At the time we wrote to you, tickets were not on sale—but they are now! Click here for tickets.

In 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!.

Our original production, which opened on March 31, 1943, was by far our most successful Broadway hit, playing for five years (2,200 performances) in its original run! It was so popular we actually had to hire NYPD to handle the lines of ticket buyers!

This most recent production will be at the Circle in the Square Theatre (235 West 50th Street) with previews starting March 19th, opening on April 7th, and closing on September 01, 2019.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary musical! Click on the picture below to purchase tickets
oklahoma
Best,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Flying Down To Rio

Dear Friends,

As we are preparing for a snowstorm due to hit New York City tomorrow, we thought we’d take an opportunity to share with you another one of our favorite classic movies: Flying Down To Rio.

The 1933 movie is a romantic comedy musical that stars Dolores Del Rio and Gene Raymond, who fall in love on an ill-fated plane trip to Rio.

flying to rio

Most remarkably, this is the first time Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire appeared on screen together and help save the day!

We think it’s a great movie to watch anytime, but most especially when hunkered down trying to stay warm on snowy, cold days!

Best regards,
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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Show Boat

Dear Friends,

The other night we saw one of our favorite musicals on television: Showboat.

show boat 1951

This film was produced in 1951, starring Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner, and Howard Keel and directed by George Sidney. It was based on the original Broadway musical written by Oscar Hammerstein II with music by Jerome Kern. It tells the story of late 19th century hijinks aboard a Mississippi River show boat. It features some of Broadway’s greatest show tunes including Ol’ Man River, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, and Make Believe.

This musical is so superb that it makes us want to discuss the importance of theatre in our lives. We seldom think about it, but what if, at 5:30pm every night after a day of work, we simply had dinner and went to bed? Our workdays are usually not very spiritual or uplifting, so it is at nighttime and weekends that we get to observe and participate in the “finer things in life,” as in “what are we living for?” So this film says it all!

It’s wonderful and we’re so glad to have seen it on television! If you want to see it, it is available to watch via streaming or to purchase on Amazon (click here )

Best wishes,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Week in Review

Dear Friends,

It’s been a week full of excitement in the theatre!

As you may know, the Tony Award Nominations have been announced. We will be discussing these more in detail in the upcoming weeks leading up to the June 10th celebration, but in the meantime, you can find a list of all the nominees here.

Also, May kicks off the summer theatre season.  Just today we received a brochure from The Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY announcing their line-up. If you are going to be in the Sag Harbor area, you should definitely add seeing a show at this wonderful theatre to your list. Their performances are always brilliant!

Their season kicks off May 29th with the world-premiere of the play Fellow Travelers by Jack Canfora. It is set in Hollywood and explores the relationships between Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, and Elia Kazan.

bay street theatre.jpg

The rest of their summer line-up includes: Frost/Nixon, Confessions of A Mormon Boy, and Evita. To learn more or book tickets, click here.

If you’d like us to highlight your Summer Theatre, please email us theatguild@aol.com

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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Mean Girls

Dear Friends,

Last week we went to see the new Broadway musical, Mean Girls. And what a fun time we had! There was so much laughing, we weren’t sure we were ever going to stop!

Of course, we’d expect nothing less from the remarkable Tina Fey, who has adapted her screenplay into this must-see Broadway musical.

The Washington Post effuses that “at the conclusion of 2½ hours of exuberant Broadway-style pop and hip-hop, the feel-good resolution actually now does make you feel good.”

means girls 2

Photo: Joan Marcus

Of course, we must admit we hold a bit of a soft spot for any production that plays in the August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd Street, as it was originally the Guild Theatre, constructed by the Theatre Guild in 1925! However, we certainly think this is a must-see for Broadway! To order tickets or learn more, click here.

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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Once On This Island

Dear Friends,

We wanted to share with you a wonderful musical that we think is simply fantastic and our daughter and granddaughters keep raving about: Once On This Island.

It is a powerful story about life and love, where one island girl embarks on a journey to find the love of her life. The story is filled with laughter and amazing music with vibrant costumes. It stars Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Alex Newell, Tamyra Gray, and Norm Lewis as the Island Gods who help the girl along her way.

Jesse Green, The New York Times, says that “the hallmark ingenuity, warmth and intensity bordering on excess that characterize Mr. Arden’s style is recapitulated everywhere within the production, from the frankly stupendous singing (Chris Fenwick is the music supervisor) to the electric choreography of Camille A. Brown.” You can read the full review here.

OOTI 2

It is currently playing at the Circle in the Round Theatre (235 W. 50th Street)—and it’s something you do not want to miss! To learn more and order tickets, click here.

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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A Match Made in Music

Dear Friends,

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!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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Journey From A Play To A Musical, Part 1

Dear Friends,

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.

Carousel

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!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

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