Tag Archives: The Theatre Guild

Memories On The Small Screen

Dear Friends,

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.

Judgement at Nuremberg

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.

Best regards,
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.

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Great Actresses on Broadway

Dear Friends,

Today we are coming back to a subject that we’ve discussed previously—namely the bravura performance of Glenn Close in her Broadway play, Sunset Boulevard.

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.

glenn-close

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.

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More Farewells.

Dear Friends,

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!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

Dear Friends,

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.

Sincerely

Ruth

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Goodbye Tammy

Dear Friends,

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.

tammy-grimes-1

Here is a brief look at the projects that Tammy worked on over the years:

Filmography

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)

Stage

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:

Tammy Grimes, the Original ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ Dies at 82

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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.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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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…

View original post 22 more words

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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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Dear Friends,

We just wanted to take a quick moment to wish all of our dear Theatre Guild members who are mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

We thank you for being with us!

We also wanted to share with you a darling picture of our beloved Dorothy Parker, who really embodies the spirit of what we like to call “Home Office”!

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Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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To The Bard!

Dear Friends,

As April 23rd approaches, there are many celebrations for the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s life!  As a tribute, Channel 13 (aka PBS) is honoring his work!  He was such an instrumental and important person, both in terms of literature and theatre…and well, so many other things.

We at the Theatre Guild are so proud of our founder, Lawrence Langner, creating The American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT.  While it is currently not open, many lovely plays were showcased there—such as The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing, both starring Katharine Hepburn.  And my (Philip) mother played in As You Like It at Westport Playhouse—so one could say that Shakespeare runs deep in the family roots!

No writer is more celebrated than The Bard and if you need any reasons why, just check out some of the Shakespeare inspired and/or written shows Channel 13 will be presenting over the next 10 days!

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is being observed throughout the world in April 2016 with celebrations of the great English playwright and poet (April 1564 – April 23, 1616) and his many works. THIRTEEN celebrates with the premiere of Shakespeare’s Tomb, a new documentary about Shakespeare’s final resting place in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and encores of favorite broadcasts. See the six installments of Season Two of Shakespeare Uncovered (Fridays beginning April 8) and three of Shakespeare’s history-based plays in the Great Performances series “The Hollow Crown” – Richard II and Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (April 22 & 23).

CHANNEL 13 Lineup:

Friday, April 22

  • 9-10 pm: Shakespeare Uncovered: Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall
  • 10-11 pm: Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes
  • 1:30-2 am: Theater Talk: Professor James Shapiro on Shakespeare
  • 2-4:30 am: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 1
  • 4:30-7 am: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 2

Saturday, April 23

  • 1-4 pm: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Richard II
  • 4-5 pm: Shakespeare’s Tomb

Sunday, April 24

  • 4-5 am: Shakespeare Uncovered: Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall
  • 5-6 am: Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes
  • 11:30-noon: Theater Talk: Professor James Shapiro on Shakespeare

 

Go to their website to learn more!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—for a bit of fun, PBS also has this quiz to see which Shakespeare character you are !

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Happy Easter!

Dear Friends,

We just wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a very Happy Easter!

Best regards,

Philip and Marilyn Langner

and Dorothy Parker, our darling kitty cat watching over us as we work!

dorothy parker with flowers

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The Kennedy Center

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.

 

 

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