Tag Archives: The Theatre Guild

100 Years of Great Theatre

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow night there will be a celebration in honor of our Centennial Anniversary.

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The evening format is an interview led by the talented Foster Hirsch to our former Theatre At Sea artistic director: the incomparable Lee Roy Reams and longtime Theatre Guild star, who has co-written and stars in our most current production, Adoption Roulette:  the wonderful Joel Vig.

It will be presented at The Coffee Club starting at 6pm and there are a few seats left, with an entry fee of $10 for the interview and cocktail hour. Please email us if you are interested in attending: theatguild@aol.com

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Theatre Guild on the Air

Dear Friends,

In digging through our archives today, we were reminded that on this day—July 12th—a mere 58 years ago in 1961we released Watching Out for Dulie. It was adapted to television for our series, “The US Steel Hour,” by Arthur Heinemann from a novel by David Hestheimer and starred Larry Blyden, Shari Lewis, Patricia Cutts, and Lloyd Bochner.

In 1945, The Theatre Guild began broadcasting a radio program called The Theatre Guild on the Air in an effort to bring theatre into the homes of millions of radio listeners. After 8 years of presenting weekly plays on the radio, it was decided that an even better and further reaching medium for The Theatre Guild on the Air would be television.

The United States Steel Corporation came on board as sponsor to present “The US Steel Hour” every other week. Our show ran on NBC until its final performance in 1963, starring our beloved Theatre Guild favorites Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt.

While we were unable to locate Watching Out for Dulie for online viewing, UCLA—which houses part of The Theatre Guild archives, and is alma mater to Marilyn—has posted some of the episodes of “The US Steel Hour” on YouTube, which you can find here:

Best 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.

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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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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.

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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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Actors’ Strike of 1919

Dear Friends,

Today we’d like to tell you about an exciting Theatre Guild happening that took place on Broadway in 1919.

Actors’ Equity Association was formed by Broadway actors in 1913. After they were formed, they started approaching theatrical producers  to arrange contracts for their actors with each of them. The producers and Equity were not able to come to an agreement–with one notable exception–and in 1919 the Broadway actors decided to strike.

Happily The Theatre Guild was that one notable exception who chose to recognize Actors’ Equity and agree to a contract. The result was that The Theatre Guild was the only producer with a play running on Broadway during the strike.

The play was John Ferguson running at the Fulton Theatre on 46th Street, and it became a huge sell-out lasting for six months!

According to my father, Lawrence, “I was looking for a play for us to produce and I picked a book off the shelf—little thinking that I held the future of the new Theatre Guild in my hand! It was just the play we were looking for! My fellow Board members were all as excited about the play as I was and we decided to produce it at once.”

Wasn’t it fortuitous that The Guild had a sensible reaction to actors on Broadway wanting to have a union, and what a happy result!

Best wishes,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Playwrights

Dear Friends,

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!

Happy Summer!
Philip & Marilyn

Continue reading

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2019 Centennial Celebration

Dear Friends,

TG Centennial Press Release

Read more about Nicolosi by clicking here www.artistnicolosi.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.”

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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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Carousel Has Opened!

Dear Friends,

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.

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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.

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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