Tag Archives: Musicals

An American In Paris

Dear Friends,

Last night we rewatched one of our favorite musicals—An American in Paris—and if you haven’t seen in the 1951 movie starring Gene Kelly, we urge you to watch it as soon as possible!

Like most of Kelly’s movies, this one is filled with wonderful songs and fantastically choreographed dance sequences. Of course, we loved it the first time we saw it many, many years ago–and we weren’t the only ones!

AAIP

After digging through the archives, we found an original review from Variety, where they called An American in Paris

one of the most imaginative musical confections turned out by Hollywood in years, spotlighting Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch, and a pair of bright newcomers (Leslie Caron and Georges Guetary) against a cavalcade of George and Ira Gershwin’s music.

You can read the full review by clicking here or on the photo above.

It swept the 1951 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Story & Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction, Score for a Musical Picture, Color Costume Design. And personally speaking, we think it’s the best film of all!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Tonys

Dear Friends,

Just a quick reminder that this Sunday evening will be the 73rd Annual Tony Awards. They will be held at Radio City Music Hall here in New York City and televised on CBS starting at 8:00pm (Eastern Time).

The Tonys are always such a wonderful show—and this year should be no exception, as the talented and always wonderful James Corden is returning as host of the evening’s festivities.

Tonys Corden

With so many wonderful plays and musicals currently running, the field is packed with a lot of different favorites, including a revival of Oklahoma! (originally commissioned and produced by The Theatre Guild), which earned 8 nominations.

We certainly have our favorites whom we hope will win. How about you? To read more about the nominees visit the Tony’s website https://www.tonyawards.com/

Best,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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What’s In A Name?

Dear Friends,

Today we are writing about something we think about all the time: titles of plays.

So many titles, in our opinion, are not at all helpful to a play’s success.

I remember talking with Richard Rodgers about the title Oklahoma!. While it is very recognizable now, back then it was a really bad idea to name a musical about a lonely, grim sounding state. Of course, the most obvious title would have been to leave it as the same title as the play it was based on: Green Grow The Lilacs, a romantic sounding title.

However, for legal reasons that title could not be used and believe it or not, the title Oklahoma! was about 312th on the list of possibilities.

At any rate, it is so easy to think of titles that would intrigue us into going to see the play of that title.

So we urge you to look at the theatre directory of New York Times and have your thoughts about the titles you see there. Some are very good, others not so much. Which ones catch your eye and makes you want to see them and which ones make you want to stay far, far away?

Regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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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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