Since it’s summer and lately it feels too hot to think, we thought we’d share with you one of our first posts about some of the amazing playwrights we have worked with in the last century!
Philip & Marilyn
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.”
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.
Philip & Marilyn
As you may know, the revival of our musical Carousel opened this week on Broadway to great reviews.
Of course, we are not surprised. We (The Theatre Guild—at the time, Philip’s father, Lawrence and Theresa Helburn) urged and paid Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II to create a musical adaption Ferenc Molnár’s play, Liliom. It took multiple requests from Lawrence and Theresa, but Rodgers and Hammerstein II finally agreed and we opened Carousel on Broadway in 1945, and it has had several revivals since.
This revival has an all-star cast led by Joshua Henry, Renee Fleming, and Jessie Mueller, is directed by Jack O’Brien and is choreographed by Justin Peck.
According to his review in the New York Times, Ben Brantley observes that:
The tragic inevitability of “Carousel” has seldom come across as warmly or as chillingly as it does in this vividly reimagined revival. As directed by Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Justin Peck, with thoughtful and powerful performances by Mr. Henry and Ms. Mueller, the love story at the show’s center has never seemed quite as ill-starred or, at the same time, as sexy.
Carousel is playing at the Imperial Theatre (249 W. 45th Street). Call the box office for tickets 212/239-6200 or click here to order online.
Philip & Marilyn
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!
Philip & Marilyn
Hurray! Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel is coming back to Broadway!
The Theatre Guild originally produced this play on Broadway in 1945–it was the second musical Rodgers & Hammerstein had written for The Theatre Guild.
Carousel was adapted from the play, Liliom, which The Theatre Guild had produced on Broadway in 1921. In some ways we love it even more than Oklahoma! (the first Rodgers & Hammerstein musical The Theatre Guild produced) because the love story in Carousel is so fantastic!
We think you will love seeing Carousel (again?) because it has so much to offer! It will be playing at the Imperial Theatre (249 W. 45th Street). Previews begin February 28, 2018 and it opens April 12, 2018. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here.
Philip and Marilyn
Last Saturday a film we produced played on NBC. It was Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer.
We enjoyed it so much—it was so filled with the author, Abby Mann’s screenplay. And, despite being thought of as too “intellectual and thoughtful,” it was one of our greatest successes! We just love the story about how the film came together and decided to re-share our story with you today (we originally posted the story below November 2014).
KATHARINE HEPBURN’S UNKNOWN TRIUMPH!
In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.
Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.
At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT (created by Lawrence Langner). On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate. After the matinee, they went to her cottage. She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!” Kate said with her typical Locust Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”
Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at The Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.
She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film. Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries. The film was released in 1961.
Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:
- Spencer Tracy
- Richard Widmark
- Burt Lancaster
- Marlene Dietrich
- Max Schell
- Montgomery Clift
- Judy Garland
- William Shatner
- Warner Klemperer
Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.
And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.
AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World.
Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
Philip and Marilyn
PS—The discussion in this film on the subject of war is so important, and of course, it is wildly pertinent in today’s world with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Yemen all hoping(?) for some war excitement.
And also: we bought a DVD of Judgement at Nuremberg at Amazon, which is currently for on sale for $12.00. To order your copy, click here.
In years past, great actresses would play on Broadway every year, sometimes in a new play and sometime in an old one.
We are thinking of acting greats, such as Helen Hayes and Lynn Fontanne (who performed for The Theatre Guild in 19 plays over her career!).
Each year we would ask ourselves “which play is Helen Hayes in this year?” and then we would go see that play. This seems almost directly opposite to modern times when we ask which is the most popular play showing on Broadway this season.
So it is in this spirit of focusing on the great stars that we urge you to see one of our greatest actresses, Glenn Close, in Sunset Boulevard, which is currently running on Broadway only until June 25th.
That is only 12 more weeks! We are urging you to not miss out on seeing her amazing performance!
Click here for tickets while they last! Or call the Palace Theatre 212/730-8200.
In response to our post about our dear Tammy Grimes, a lovely Theatre Guild subscriber, Ruth—who accompanied us on many of our wonderful Theatre At Sea cruises—wrote about her recollections of Tammy.
We wanted to share these with you because they are so special, and a testament to how much Tammy will be missed. Thank you, Ruth, for taking the time to share!
Philip & Marilyn
Appreciate your post on Tammy Grimes. I was one of the many shipmates privileged to sail with Tammy Grimes during your many Theatre at Sea sailings. What lovely days we all enjoyed in her company. She was indeed all that you say and more. I was not a celebrity and yet she always greeted me by name with warmth and charm. Needless to say, I was very flattered and touched by her warmth.
On a personal note, some years ago, we shared the same hairdressing salon which we frequented on the same day. On one occasion during one of our chats, she spoke of Private Lives and mentioned that she wished she had the playbill. I told her that I would bring mine, since we were savers. When we met again, I handed her the playbill. She was overcome with surprise that I remembered and truly pleased to own it. I was thrilled to be able to fulfill this request. Her graciousness and sincerity could not be measured. As everyone knows, she was not only a lovely lady, but also a great actress.
Sadly, we did not meet again and I soon realized that her health had become a major issue.
Theatre at Sea sailings were indeed special times for everyone.
Today we celebrate the life of a beautiful and wonderful friend, actress Tammy Grimes, who died on Sunday.
We first knew Tammy when she was an apprentice at our Westport Country Playhouse in 1949. She was always outstanding, funny, and brilliant!
She starred in our musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, on Broadway—for which she won a Tony.
Here is a brief look at the projects that Tammy worked on over the years:
Three Bites of the Apple (1966), Arthur? Arthur! (1969), Play It as It Lays (1972), The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973), The Borrowers (1973), Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978), The Runner Stumbles (1979), Can’t Stop the Music (1980), The Last Unicorn (1982), The Stuff (1985), America (1986), Mr. North (1988), Slaves of New York (1989), Backstreet Justice (1994), A Modern Affair (1995), Trouble on the Corner (1997), High Art (1998)
The Littlest Revue (1959), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960), Rattle of a Simple Man (1963), High Spirits (1964), The Only Game in Town (1968), Private Lives (revival) (1969), A Musical Jubilee (1975), California Suite (1976), Tartuffe (revival)(1977), Trick (1979), 42nd Street (1980), Sunset (1983), Orpheus Descending (revival) (1989), Wit & Wisdom (2003)
Here is the article in today’s New York Times:
Click on the title or the picture above to link to the full article.
We knew her so well—she was so charming and fun, and we will miss her so much.
Philip & Marilyn