Tag Archives: theatre history

Theatre History

Hello Friends!

We are very pleased today because Cindy Adams, Page Six writer for the New York Post, was writing an article about Theatre History in the wake of last night’s Tony Awards .

Lo and behold! The Theatre Guild got a nod from Ms. Adams:

1918. Formation of the Theatre Guild. Also, Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” That’s 99 years before the Golden’s current occupants grabbed all those nominations for “Part 2.”

Click here for the full article.

99 years!  It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a century—and we are very excited about our 100th Anniversary, as there may well be a new commemorative postage stamp similar to the one to mark the 50th Anniversary of our musical Oklahoma!.

ok stamp
Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Turning A Profit, Jersey Style

Dear Friends,

Several weeks ago, we were telling you about the joys of investing in plays and musicals even though statistically few turn an actual profit (click here to read it again!).

Today we wanted to share with you news about another Broadway hit that did just that: made a profit!  While the production company hasn’t released actual numbers yet, the investors of Jersey Boys (which closed last Saturday, January 14th) reported earning 22 times their initial investment over the last 12 years.

According to the New York Times:

“Jersey Boys” is in some ways an example of how Broadway shows are financed: The industry is rooted in New York, but many plays and musicals have financial backers who live around the world — theater enthusiasts with an appetite for risk and a taste for show business.

jersey-boys

Albeit opening to mixed reviews in 2005, Jersey Boys persevered, won the Tony in 2006 for Best New Musical, and went on to become the 12th longest running play on Broadway to date.

Click here for the full New York Times article on Jersey Boys and their investors.

It could happen to all of us—all we need is a hit!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Power of Theatre

Dear Friends,

Today we wanted to discuss with you an incredible theatre happening that occurred a couple of weeks ago:

It is the conflict between The Theatre, as represented by Hamilton, and the Government-to-be, as represented by Vice-President Elect Mike Pence.

As you all know, Vice President-Elect Pence went to a performance of Hamilton where he was specifically addressed by the cast at the end of the performance (their spokesperson being Brandon Dixon).

Mr. Dixon made a plea to Vice President-Elect Pence–as a representative of our new government starting 20th of January.  The cast requested that Vice President-Elect Pence look out for their interests, aka those of the common people.  While Mr. Pence was walking out of the theatre at the time of the speech, he stopped and listened to what Mr. Harris had to say.

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To us, it is a fascinating happening.  It is The Theatre showing its influence on our world.  Not only in the message that the play itself gives the audience, but in this historic case, the actors themselves sent out a message that was viewed—thanks to social media—all around the world.  Theatres have often had an effect on society in the past, starting with William Shakespeare himself.

Personally, we experienced this in mid-1950s with McCarthyism.  At a time when everyone was afraid of being locked up for being a Communist, Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible, which was set during the Salem Witch Trials but in fact, was the very replica of what was happening in America at that time.  The play was so sensational that Miller was interrogated by the US House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities!

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President-Elect Trump’s comments aside, we do hope that Vice President-Elect Pence will take these words to heart.  Not as an attack, but as a plea from those who have real concerns for the ideals and path that the new administration seems to be leading us down in order to “make America great again.”  We have always looked to the theatre to lead in voicing current political concerns and we are very proud of the cast of Hamilton for continuing this tradition!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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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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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

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Sunrise at Campobello

Dear Friends,

Since we’ve been celebrating American history all week, we thought we’d share this post with you again, as it is where history and theatre intersect!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Certainly one of the most exciting plays we ever produced was Sunrise at Campobello, the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the early 1920s.

We were extremely happy when Dore Schary, a prominent head of MGM, decided to leave Hollywood to concentrate on writing and producing plays in New York!

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His first play, Sunrise, was excellent!  We opened the play on what would have been Roosevelt’s 76th birthday—January 30, 1958.  It was directed by Vincent J. Donehue and starred Ralph Bellamy as Roosevelt, along with Mary Fickett, Henry Jones, Anne Seymour, Mary Welch, Alan Bunce and more!

The play ran for 16 months with 556 spectacular performances.  It was nominated for 6 Tonys in 1958 and won Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director…

  • Best Play (winner)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Play—Ralph Bellamy (winner)
  • Direction—Vincent J. Donehue (winner)
  • Featured Actor in a Play—Henry Jones (winner)
  • Featured Actress in…

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The Secret Life of the American Musical

Dear Friends,

We wanted to tell you today about a wonderful book that we’ve read about in The Washington Post.

The book is called THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL: How Broadway Shows Are Built by Jack Vietal.

secret life of american musical

According to The Post:

Viertel offers such examples throughout, making related but different points. His close analysis of craft doubles nicely as an account of the American musical’s evolution over the past century.

We know Jack—and have worked with him on plays in the past.  His backstage anecdotes are what really bring this book to life!

It is currently on sale at Amazon.  If you love Broadway musicals or Broadway history, then we think that this is a book you will absolutely love!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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The Actors’ Temple

Dear Friends,

We wanted to share with you a great event that will be happening this Monday, March 21st: The Actors’ Temple Annual Gala.

This annual fundraising event will be at 7:30pm on March 21st at The Actors’ Temple.  The performance will be to help raise fund for much-needed restorations for The Actors’ Temple.

We have only recently read the history of this amazing building at 339 West 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.  It was built in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

actors temple

 

The stars who built this Temple paved the way for Jewish actors, dancers, comedians, directors and Broadway productions to be taken seriously and to have careers in New York—the likes of Sophie Tucker, The Three Stooges, The Ritz Brothers, the Marx Brothers, Milton Berle, Shelly Winters and so many more.  To read more about it, click here.

The performance for the evening will be Falling in Love with Love: The Romantic Songs of Richard Rodgers, starring our dear friend and wonderful performer Anna Bergman.

annabergman actors temple

To buy tickets to this wonderful event, click here.

Best,

Philip and Marilyn Langner

PS—We will soon be sending you fascinating information that appeared on PBS last Monday, March 14th, about all the musicals in Broadway’s history.

 

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Les Misérables

Dear Friends,

Today we are writing to you about the glorious musical, Les Misérables.  It has set its final Broadway performance for September 04, 2016.  Tickets are now on sale, starting at $37—an amazing bargain for such a remarkable musical.

Les Mis Playbill

This musical is based on the novel by Victor Hugo, set in France in the beginning of the 19th Century and spanning the life of Jean Valjean, a peasant who was freed from prison after 19 years of being incarcerated for stealing bread for his nephew.  Helped by a priest, Valjean sheds his identity—thus breaking his parole—to become a man of importance and stature in his community, all the while he is being hunted by his arch-nemesis, Inspector Javert.

It is a story about the eternal struggles of honorable men taking separate paths to do what they deem is right.  Of course, no musical would be complete without a love story, which features Valjean’s adopted daughter and one of the French revolutionaries.

Les Misérables was first brought to stage in Paris in 1980.  In 1986, it opened in London.  This production is still running—after 30 years!—making it the longest consecutively running musical in the West End.  It opened on Broadway in 1987 and when it closed in 2003, it was the second longest running musical on Broadway.

The production that is currently playing on Broadway opened in March 2014.

It is quite simply a magnificent musical and if you are in New York City—or planning to visit before September 04, 2016—we urge you to go see this production while you still can!

Here is the link to order ticketsand you can save up to 35% if you order before April 03, 2016 using the discount code MIZBFC16!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

 

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Summer Theatre Series: Forestburgh Playhouse

For those of you on the East Coast (or interested in theatre history), we are continuing our tours of top Summer Theatres in the US. We started with the first one, which opened in 1927—The Cape Playhouse.

Today we are visiting another summer theatre—The Forestburgh Playhouse, which has just announced the show line-up for next season—that happens to be its 70th season!

forestburgh

Click here for 2016 schedule!

It had humble beginnings as a barn just outside of Monticello, NY and with the popularity of other spots in the Catskills, there was some doubt as to whether it could handle all the competition:

Nevertheless, by July 8, 1947, enough work had been done to transform the barn into a theatre, and the Forestburgh Playhouse, then called the Forestburgh Summer Theatre, opened its first of more than 250 subsequent productions, Blithe Spirit.

Today–70 years later–it has over 30,000 patrons a year and is dubbed “The Miracle of the Forest.”
You can read more about it at http://www.fbplayhouse.org

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