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The Lion King Turns 20 on Broadway

Today is the 20th anniversary of the opening of “The Lion King.” Now the third-longest running show in the history of Broadway, the musical is worth celebrating.

 

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Sondheim Originators on His Advice to Them

Len Cariou, one of the five performers who recently reminisced about having originated roles in musicals by Stephen Sondheim, recalls getting the script for “Sweeney Todd” and thinking “You’ve got to be kidding!”  At the end of the first preview, although it was plagued by technical glitches, Sondheim came backstage and exclaimed about the audience: “The understood it! They f— understood it,” and performer and composer hugged. By that time Cariou had long since come around: “We realized this was one of the great musicals of all time, a work of genius.”

Cariou and the others — Harvey Evans, Pamela Myers, Kurt Peterson and Teri Ralston, who variously originated roles in “Anyone Can Whistle,” “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” and “Sweeney Todd,” (and performed in the original “West Side Story” and “Gypsy”)  — gathered over the weekend to talk for 90 minutes about their experiences with the composer who changed their lives. The video below is an 18-minute excerpt, answering the question: What advice did Sondheim give you?

“I don’t remember his giving us too many notes,”says Harvey Evans, who performed in the original Broadway productions of West Side Story, Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle and Follies. “I wish he had given me more personal help.” But he did give them stories.

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Androboros Review. America’s First Play: Political, Satirical, Scatological

Androboros: Benjamin Strate, Caiti Lattimer, Roy Koshy, Hank Lin

Nearly everything about “Androboros” makes it sound like a must-see show.

It was America’s first published play, printed in 1714, yet there is no record it has ever been publicly performed until this production by the Peculiar Works Project.

The playwright, Robert Hunter, ruled as Governor of New York, and his play is reportedly rooted in stories that are true, bizarre and occasionally scatological.

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Christopher Columbus on Stage: from Satirical to Savage

Even on Columbus Day, Christopher Columbus has largely gone out of favor – in America, and on stage. The closest recent nod to Columbus on a New York stage was a character named Before Columbus in the recent revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World”

If that’s not the way it always was – the first play about Columbus goes back to the 1500’s (“El Nuevo de Mundo” by Lope de Vega); the first to be staged in America itself was in 1794 (“Columbus, or The Discovery of America. A Historical Play” by Thomas Morton) – yet even as far back as 1858, the theatrical treatment was far less than worshipful of the Italian explorer of the New World.

That’s the year that John Brougham is said to have toured a show (starting at the Boston Theatre) whose satirical intent is evident in its lengthy title: “Columbus el Filibustero!! A New and Audaciously Original Historica-Plagiaristic, Ante-National, Pre-Patriotic, and Omni-Local Confusion of Circumstances, Running Through Two Acts and Four Centuries”

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Google Celebrates West Side Story

“West Side Story” opened on Broadway on September 26, 1957. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture is presenting a virtual exhibition that explains its history, profiles its makers, assesses its impact, and showers us with imagery  (some of it digitized for the first time).The online collection was created in partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Below is a glimpse (Click on any photograph to read the captions supplied by Google.). Check out Google Arts and Culture’s whole West Side Story exhibition.

 

A 360-video of “Cool”, one of the most popular songs of the musical, performed at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY as part of Carnegie Hall’s, The Somewhere Project.

From Sarah Bernhardt to Meryl Streep: the new BAM Archives

Performances by Sarah Bernhardt, Martha Graham, and Meryl Streep; meetings about equal rights with Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass  in 1869; a lecture by Helen Keller in 1913.  These are among the  people and events chronicled in some 70,000 items now available in an online archives of The Brooklyn Academy of Music, starting with the cultural institution’s grand opening in 1861 attended by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

If BAM is now known primarily as a venue for avant-garde performance, its long history demonstrates the huge variety of uses over the years for its buildings in Brooklyn. Some 40,000 artists are searchable in the archives.

Check out the newly launched Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive

Click on any image below to see it enlarged and read the caption.

 

Happy World Theatre Day 2017 #WTD17

Today is World Theatre Day!  How will you be celebrating?

This year’s World Theatre Day  messages are from actress Isabelle Huppert and director Kwame Kwei-Armah

10 Facts about Theater

(via the Daily Express) 

1. Theatre as we know it began in ancient Greece with a religious ceremony called ‘dithyramb’ in which a chorus of men dressed in goat skins.

2. The word ‘tragedy’ comes from a Greek expression meaning ‘goat song’…

3. …and ‘theatre’ comes from a Greek verb meaning ‘to behold’.

4. Ancient Greek audiences stamped their feet rather than clapping their hands to applaud.

5. World Theatre Day has been held on March 27 every year since 1962 when it was the opening day of the “Theatre of Nations” season in Paris.

6. The longest continuous dramatic performance was 23 hours 33 minutes 54 seconds, achieved by the 27 O’Clock Players in New Jersey, USA, on July 27, 2010.

7. They performed The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionescu, a play written in a continuous loop and said to be totally pointless and plotless.

8. According to Aristotle, the plot is the most important feature of a dramatic performance.

9. Walt Disney World, Florida, has a record 1.2 million costumes in its theatrical wardrobes.

10. The oldest play still in existence is The Persians by Aeschylus, written in 472 BC.

The World’s Most Beautiful Theaters

Take a look at some of the photographs in my Pinterest collection of the world’s most beautiful theaters.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged