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Dramatis Personae: The Passing Show Part 4

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In the first part I talked about the early days of Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, in the second part Holly Hunter and in the third part Ron Howard and Roger Rees.

John Davidson

John Davidson stopped by once to talk with me. He brought his bike up to our bookstore. You may not remember him, but in the 1960s he was a TV star, a tall, handsome man with a beautiful singing voice. He was appearing on Broadway in the stage version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein film musical, “State Fair.” He looked exactly like John Davidson, but with gray-flecked hair. He wanted to do a one-man play about Thoreau, so he wanted to read other monodramas. I talked to him for quite a while, recommending several and told him my opinions about what makes a good one-man play. He looked down and asked, “How come you know all this?” I knew that he was a Denison alum. Denison was my alma mater Kenyon’s arch revival. They always beat us in football; we always trounced them in swimming. Denison was in a dry county, so the students had no access to liquor. Mr. Hayes, who ran our local grocery store, had no problem selling alcohol to underage Kenyon students, so our frat parties were well-lubricated. The problem was, Kenyon was all-male, so we needed women. Guys would get in their cars and drive over to nearby Denison, pull up in front of the sororities, and yell to the girls coming and going, “Hey girls, party at Kenyon tonight. Anyone wanna go?” In two shakes, they had a full car. The Denison guys hated us. My reply to Davidson’s question when he asked me how I knew so much was, “’Cause I went to Kenyon.” He replied, matter of factly, “I went to Denison.” “I know,” I said. He thought about this, realized I was kidding him, and then gave me a “that’s a good one” big smile. I have never heard that he actually did a one-man Thoreau play, but he had his own theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he was probably making too much money entertaining all the geezers who trekked to Branson.

Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie

Sometimes, instead of people stopping by, they would call me up. I would answer the phone, “Lawrence Harbison.” One time, the voice on the other end said, “Mr. Harbison, this is Jon Voight. I’m an actor?” Me: “I know who you are, Mr. Voight. What can I do for you?” He said, “Well, my daughter is a student at N.Y.U. and she’s playing Nina in The Sea Gull. I was wondering if you could recommend some research materials for her.” Konstantin Stanislavski directed the original production and later he published a journal he kept during rehearsals entitled, “The Sea Gull Log.” I told Voight about that and recommended that she read a good biography of the playwright, because I was pretty sure that Chekhov based Nina on a real girl. Voight thanked me profusely and then we hung up. I found out the name of his daughter a few years later. She was Angelina Jolie. 

Buddy Ebsen

Another time, I answered a call in my usual way and heard a shakey, geezer voice on the other end: “Mr. Harbison, this is Buddy Ebsen.” Holy moly, it was Jed Clampett! We talked a bit about “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Adventures of Davy Crockett,” in which he had played Davy’s sidekick, Georgie Russell, who said things like, “Give ‘em what fer, Davy!” He had written a play and asked if I would read it. “Of course I would,” I told him, so a few days later his play arrived. The author’s name was Christian Ebsen, which was Buddy’s given name. It was a beautifully written play about an army camp during the Civil War, but it had a gazillion characters, all male, so there was nothing we could do with it. I had to return it to him. A short while later, he died. 

Goldie Hawn

One time, I got a call from a woman who identified herself as “Goldie Hawn.” I almost said, “Who is this really?” because her voice was that of a middle-aged Jewish matron, nothing like Goldie Hawn. She wanted recommendations for plays with strong dramatic scenes for a young man, because her son was auditioning for the Actor’s Studio and they expected wannabes to come in with a scene. One time, a woman called me needing help to find a scene for the same reason. In order to better assist her, I asked who her scene partner was. “Stephen Lang,” She said. Again, holy moly! In my humble opinion, Stephen Lang is one of our greatest actors, both in film and on stage. Although he has had a pretty successful career, playing major roles in the films “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” “Gettysburg” and “Avatar,” he never became the star he should have been. Anyway, I hope she got in. Back to “Goldie:” She was being driven around Manhattan, and I asked her to give me a half hour to pull some plays for her. Then, I asked her if I could have an autographed picture for a fraternity brother, Randy Giarraputo, who was nuts about her back in the day. I chose ten or so plays, and a half hour later her driver came to the counter to purchase them. He handed our clerk an 8 x10 glossy, signed, “To Randy. Thanks for being such a great fan. Goldie Hawn.” I sent this to Randy. Imagine the look on his face when he opened the mailing envelope.

Theresa Rebeck

I wrote about Jerry Sterner, Don Nigro and Ken Ludwig in my chapter on Samuel French, but there were many more playwrights with whom I became friendly, such as Tina Howe, Theresa Rebeck, William Mastrosimone, Michael Weller and John Patrick Shanley. I was Donald Margulies’ first agent; Richard Dresser’s and Mark St. Germaine’s as well. I tried for a couple of years to place their plays before hooking them up with real agents who had the time to promote their work; and the rest is history. 

I want to reminisce a bit about two lesser-known playwrights, Leonard Melfi and John Ford Noonan. Leonard was a cheerful bear of a man with long, curly, dark brown hair who spoke with a minor stutter. In his youth, in the early 1960s, he had been at the epicenter of the Off Off Broadway movement, along with Lanford Wilson, Jean-Claude Van Italie, John Guare, Sam Shepard, Terrence McNally, Tom Eyen, Doric Wilson, H.M. Koutoukas, Paul Foster and Robert Patrick. Note: all men. There were a few female playwrights then, but it wasn’t until later that they started getting much attention. Several playwrights in the above list managed to move beyond their OOB roots. Leonard never really did, I think largely because his plays were whimsical almost-fairy tales which seemed rather silly to critics, although Theodore Mann of Circle in the Square did commission him, McNally and Van Italie to write three one-acts, which he produced as MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT. Leonard started out mostly with one-acts, the kind which could be produced simply at places like Café La Mama and the Café Cino, his best-known being BIRDBATH. He did have a couple of full-length plays produced under mini-contracts later, FANTASIES AT THE FRICK and PORNO STARS AT HOME, but these came and went and are now pretty much forgotten. I lost track of Leonard, then was saddened to learn of his death in 2001 in a S.R.O flophouse. His body went unclaimed for several days and then was misplaced by the hospital staff and wound up being buried in Potter’s Field. When his brother learned of his death, he had Leonard exhumed and buried in Binghamton, his old home town. His was a sad and ignominious end for a man who never lost his child-like wonderment and optimism, even when he was struggling with alcoholism. 

Roy Scheider

John Ford Noonan started out as an actor, appearing in several films such as “Last Stop, Greenwich Village.”  Then Joseph Papp “discovered” him as a playwright, and Papp produced his early play, The Year Boston Won The Pennant (which featured a then-unknown actor named Roy Scheider in the lead) during his brief tenure at the helm of Lincoln Center Theatre. Subsequently, Papp took a lease on the Booth Theatre and announced a subscription season of 5 new plays, one of which was by Noonan. Also in this season were to be plays by Michael Weller, Thomas Babe, David Rabe and Dennis Reardon. Papp opened with Reardon’s The Leaf People, which was such a critical bomb that he cancelled the rest of the season and refunded the subscribers’ money. In 1979, Noonan had a huge hit Off Broadway with A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking at the Astor Place Theatre (where those Blue Men seem to be permanently ensconced), starring Susan Sarandon and Maureen Brennan. In his heyday, he was a large hirsute fellow; but when I got to know him, he had slimmed down considerably. This was around the time he had a modest Off Broadway success with Some Men Need Help, which starred Treat Williams and Philip Bosco. John often used to call me just to talk. I would answer the phone and I would hear, “Who’s-your- favorite-playwright?” “You, John,” I would reply. “How are you?” “Still sober,” he would reply. John had had a huge problem with alcohol and cocaine. He had received $500,000 for the film rights to A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking and in 6 months it was gone – up his nose. After I left Samuel French, I lost track of John, though I tried to contact him a few years ago on behalf of a Greek friend who wanted to direct a production of A Coupla White Chicks in Athens. Even Noonan’s agent, Buddy Thomas at ICM, had lost track of him. I told the Buddy to contact Noonan’s brother, the actor Tom Noonan, who told him that he had Power of Attorney, as John was in the Actor’s Home in New Jersey and was non compos mentis. John passed away there in 2018 at the age of 77. 

Susan Sarandon and Maureen Brennan

When we are young and just starting out, we are convinced that Fame and Fortune are just around the corner. The ends of Melfi and Noonan are cautionary tales.

For over thirty years, Lawrence Harbison was in charge of new play acquisition for Samuel French, Inc., during which time he was responsible for the publication of hundreds of plays, by new playwrights such as Jane Martin, Don Nigro, Tina Howe, Theresa Rebeck, William Mastrosimone, Charles Fuller and Ken Ludwig among many others; and the acquisition of musicals such as Smoke on the Mountain, A…My Name Is Alice and Little Shop of Horrors. He has edited over 100 anthologies for Smith and Kraus, Inc. For Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, he has edited several monologue, full length, 10-minute and 5-minute play anthologies. Currently, he is editing books solely for Applause. He has set up a new division for Applause to publish and license individual full length plays, as well as the World Premiere Club. His column, “On the Aisle with Larry,” appeared in the Chelsea Clinton News and the Westsider for several years and then moved to www.smithandkraus.com. In December of 2019, it began running on the Applause website, www.applausebooks.com. It also appears on his blog at www.playfixer.com and on www.doollee.com, the international playwrights database. He also writes occasional columns for Theatre Record, a London-based magazine. He was a member for many years of two NYC press organizations, the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama Desk, and served on the Drama Desk Awards Nominating Committee for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. He works with individual playwrights to help them develop their plays (see his website, www.playfixer.com). He has also served as literary manager or literary consultant for several theatres. He taught playwriting in the Theatre Dept. of the University of Michigan in the winter semester of 2016. He holds a B.A. from Kenyon College and an M.A. from the University of Michigan. His book, How I Did It: Establishing a Playwriting Career, a collection of interviews with playwrights, was published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books in March, 2015. His latest anthologies of monologues and 10-minute plays were published in December, 2019 by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Off Broadway

STILL at DR2 Compelling Theater Can Still be Found Off Broadway

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Two strong and vulnerable characters portrayed by two flawless actors, a script with wit, sentiment and realistic conflict, seamless well-paced directing in a set that is surprising for an Off Broadway production proves that great theater is STILL achievable in New York. STILL, a new play by Lia Romeo, opened April 18th at DR2, currently running through May 18th is a show that is worthy of a longer run.

The question raised in the first few minutes of the play paraphrased here, ‘as you keep replacing parts of a boat when does the boat become a new boat?’, also applies to a person or a relationship, as a person grows in life with various new ideas and experiences when is that person no longer the same?

Tim Daly and Jayne Atkinson Photo by Joey Moro

Two old friends/lovers, Helen and Mark effortlessly and naturally played by Jayne Atkinson and Tim Daly, meet in a hotel bar after 20 years. The conversation is one that brings them and us, as audience members, up to date on their lives. Both successful in their own professions and at a crossroads where a renewed spark is possible, they have humorous banter that leads to flirtation, despite each of them humbly admitting to the other and themselves that they are in their 60’s. The set, designed by Alexander Woodward, adds to the intimacy of the meeting and as the conversation was leading to a more amorous setting, I was wondering how on the DR2 stage where could these flirtations lead figuratively and literally. Mr Woodward answers this question and does not disappoint with his scenic design.

As polite conversation leads to the ultimate kiss and more we root for the two to find their lost love and are rewarded when they do have their night together. The conflict that arises after their lovemaking is one that all of us are experiencing in today’s world. The rewriting of our own histories, the different feelings people have while experiencing the same event and the divergent beliefs we develop after separate lives are lived all contribute to us not connecting. The question is – will these two overcome all these obstacles to finally be together – soulmates meeting again after decades?

While tempers flare and some attacks by the two protagonists could be classified as hitting below the belt, Ms Romeo throws in a few funny lines, as well as an avocado, to make those punches palatable so that we still like them both and despite our own personal views can relate to each.

Jayne Atkinson and Tim Daly Photo by Joey Moro

Neither the wonderful dialogue nor the compelling acting could have been actualized so well without the direction of Adrienne Campbell-Holt. The movement of the actors whether casually sipping wine, blissfully lying in bed or violently tossing items Is choreographed like a dance. Ms Campbell-Holt is an award winning director, a recipient of the Lucille Lortel Visionary Director Award and is the Artistic Director of the theater company Colt Coeur, which brought this show to stage. Her direction is well paced and thoughtful and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

With relatable dialogue, spoken by two seasoned pros, directed seamlessly in an impressive set STILL is a proof that theater can still bring out our emotions and make us think about ourselves and those around us.

STILL: DR2, 103 E 15th Street until May 18th.

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Out of Town

Tarragon Theatre Announces Their 2024/25 Season

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TORONTO – Artistic Director Mike Payette and Managing Director Andrea Vagianos excitedly announced Tarragon Theatre’s 2024/25 season earlier today. The 53rd season, they stated, will embrace the impact of coming together while celebrating the rich scope of bold Canadian storytellers. It’s a diverse season that focuses on collaboration, featuring stories of revitalization and courage, unveiling an electric year of new works that hopefully will inspire, move, and completely delight.

It’s an exciting moment for Tarragon as we champion the breadth of powerful artists that create, explore, and premiere beautiful stories that speak to today’s world. In the 24-25 season, we are steadfast in our mission of inviting audiences to undiscovered worlds in a season that welcomes back and introduces groundbreaking Canadian storytellers on and off the stage. We look forward to a year of laughter, passion, and heart in this unforgettable collection of stories,” reflects Artistic Director Mike Payette.

Tarragon’s season begins with the Toronto Premiere of GOBLIN:MACBETH, a Spontaneous Theatre Creation from Rebecca Northan and Bruce Horak. Having wowed audiences in Stratford and Calgary, the Goblins make their home in “the Six”, bringing their hilariously unique, partly improvised, and entirely immersive take on Shakespeare’s text of Macbeth. From the team that brought smash hits Blind Date and Undercover to Tarragon, it’s the perfect way to begin, as we enter the season of wicked delights. This Toronto premiere is onstage October 3  – 27, 2024.

Across the lobby, Tarragon welcomes back Governor General’s Award finalist Rosa Laborde (Léo, Light) for the world premiere of Interior Design. Directed by Dora Award-winner, Kat Sandler (Mustard, Yaga), Interior Design is a fast-paced and timely comedy where an attempted intervention leads to a series of messy truths between a tight-knit group of girlfriends. Featuring four powerhouse performers, including Sara Farb (Fun Home, Musical Stage Company) and Anita Majumdar (Boys With Cars, Nightswimming/YPT). The world premiere of Interior Design will be onstage from October 15 – November 10, 2024.

Next, a co-production with Modern Times Stage Company, innovators supercharging the voices of marginalized communities. Written by Rouvan Silogix (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Modern Times/Crow’s) and Rafeh Mahmud(Daytime Emmy Award-winner) with direction from Tarragon Artistic Director Mike Payette (Cockroach 曱甴; Choir Boy, Canadian Stage), Craze is a sexy, surrealist, laugh-out-loud comedy, featuring an outstanding cast including Augusto Bitter (Year of the Rat, Factory Theatre), Ali Kazmi (Behind the Moon), Kwaku Okyere (Choir Boy, Canadian Stage), Lisa Ryder (Orestes – Online) and Louisa Zhu (Lady Sunrise, Factory Theatre). The biting Craze evokes the traditional living-room comedy into a sensorial feast for a modern audience. This world premiere is onstage November 19 – December 15, 2024.

The new year starts by welcoming Nightswimming Theatre, as an in-association partner for an intimate and exciting world premiere offering. An engaging and powerful theatrical exploration, The Wolf in the Voice invites performers Neema Bickersteth (Treemonisha, Volcano in association with Canadian Opera Company/Soulpepper/Luminato/Movable Beast), Jane Miller (These Are The Songs I Sing When I’m Sad, Nightswimming) and Taurian Teelucksingh (My Fair Lady, Shaw Festival) to share their stories of vocal artistry through song, and asks audiences “Is your voice warmed up?” Created by Martin Julien and Brian Quirt (Why We Are Here!, High Performance Rodeo – Calgary) in collaboration with the performers, The Wolf in the Voice will have its world premiere February 4 – February 23, 2025.

Next, the thrilling Toronto Premiere of Guillermo Vedecchia’s Feast. Directed by Dora Award-winner, Soheil Parsa (Wildfire and Monster, Factory Theatre), Feast is a charged look at the globalized world in which some are movers and some are moved, and how long we can last when family falls apart. Featuring Rick Roberts (The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Stratford) in a powerful return to Tarragon’s stage. This Toronto premiere is running from April 1 – April 27, 2025.

From the lauded creative mind of Kevin Matthew Wong (The Chemical Valley Project) comes the world premiere of Benevolence. Developed in part during our inaugural Greenhouse Festival, this intimate and revelatory story speaks to intergenerational legacy and heritage; opening a world into the experience of a thriving Hakka community. Guided by Mike Payette’s direction, Wong makes his Tarragon mainstage debut in this world premiere run from April 8 – May 4, 2025.

Closing the season is the highly-anticipated co-production of Tarragon‘s 2023 Bulmash-Siegel Award Winners Rose Napoli (Mad Madge, Nightwood Theatre) and Suzy Wilde’s (Retold, Musical Stage Company) new musical After the Rain. In partnership with Musical Stage Company – the first time Tarragon and Musical Stage Company have partnered on a project – this premiere is based on a heartwarming true story that unflinchingly embraces the throes of growing up and growing together through the exceptional healing power of music. Directed by Marie Farsi (15 Dogs, Crow’s) and featuring Eva Foote (Fall On Your Knees, Canadian Stage/NAC/Grand/Neptune) in her Tarragon Theatre debut, After the Rain is sure to be an unforgettable spring treat. This world premiere is onstage May 27 – June 22.

Tarragon is also excited to welcome dance Immersion as 24/25 Company-in-Residence, which will invite unique mentorship opportunities to artists, as well as the Toronto premiere of the acclaimed touring presentation Black & Rural; an artistic inquiry into the hearts and minds of Black folks tucked away on Canada’s countryside. With 30 years of experience producing, promoting, and supporting dancers and dances of the African Diaspora, dance Immersion is one of the city’s most dynamic dance companies that will bring an exciting disciplinary and new creation bridge to Tarragon.

For the past year, Tarragon has been proud to offer programming that invites young people and the young at heart to experience the magic of theatre together. We look forward to furthering this mission with the continuation of The Sally Stavro Family Series. Welcoming programming for a variety of artists with a youth focus to Tarragon, this initiative is supported through the Steve and Sally Stavro Family Foundation.  The series offers free tickets to youth under 12 years old on select Saturday mornings throughout the season and beginning in October.

Closing the series, Tarragon looks forward to hosting the 11th edition of the Wee Festival, a unique curated offering of presentations inspired by theatre and performing arts from around the world created for children 0-6 years and their families.

Tarragon’s 2024/25 season emboldens the scope of Canadian voices and their stories within an ever-shifting world, bringing communities and theatre-goers together in celebration of the breadth of artistry and generations. We hope you’ll join us.

TARRAGON THEATRE’S 2024/25 SEASON AT-A-GLANCE

GOBLIN:MACBETH (Toronto Premiere)
A Spontaneous Theatre Creation
by Rebecca Northan & Bruce Horak with music by Ellis Lalonde

October 3 – 27, 2024
Mainspace

When three Goblins come across a copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, they’re eager to take over a theatre and take a stab at Macbeth. A unique blend of comedy and tragedy, with a spatter of improvisation, GOBLIN:MACBETH is a fresh-blood take on a Shakespearean classic.

Created by Spontaneous Theatre, who brought you Blind Date, and Undercover, this is like no Macbeth you’ve ever seen.

INTERIOR DESIGN (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre Production
Written by Rosa Laborde
Directed by Kat Sandler

October 15 – November 10, 2024
Extraspace
Tarragon commissioned

True friends stab you in the front. – Oscar Wilde

An attempted intervention between a group of girlfriends backfires spectacularly in this new play from award-winning playwright Rosa Laborde (Léo, Light), directed by Tarragon favourite Kat Sandler (Mustard, Yaga), Interior Design is a comedy of messy renovations and even messier truths.

CRAZE (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre and Modern Times Stage Company Co-Production
In Association with Theatre ARTaud
Written by Rouvan Silogix and Rafeh Mahmud
Directed by Mike Payette

November 19 – December 15, 2024
Mainspace

Out of the storm and straight into the inferno.

Two couples shelter from an epic storm for a late-night drinking session where technological mayhem and sexual frivolity may turn into something more… At times surrealist, dangerous, and laugh-out-loud outrageous, Craze is sure to keep you right on the knife’s edge.

THE WOLF IN THE VOICE(World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre production in association with Nightswimming
Created by Martin Julien & Brian Quirt

February 4 – February 23, 2025
Extraspace

An exploration of the very first musical instrument…the singer’s voice.

From Nightswimming (These Are The Songs I Sing When I’m Sad, Tarragon Greenhouse Festival) comes a trio about trios. Join Neema Bickersteth, Jane Miller, and Taurian Teelucksingh for an intimate and uplifting evening as they swap stories and songs about their struggles and triumphs as singers, and the mystery of The Wolf in the Voice.
FEAST (Toronto Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre Production
Written by Guillermo Verdecchia
Directed by Soheil Parsa

April 1 – April 27, 2025
Mainspace

A culinary tour, a global crisis, and yet, still always hungry.  Can one ever be truly full? From celebrated artist Guillermo Verdecchia, Feast is a biting look at a world where some are movers and some are moved, chaos, and how long we can last when your family is falling apart.

Mermaid or siren? Paradise or dystopia? Travel the globe, just don’t forget your loved ones…or your soul.

BENEVOLENCE (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre Production
Created and Performed by Kevin Matthew Wong
Directed by Mike Payette

April 8 – May 4, 2025
Extraspace

Kevin is a theatre creator. Kevin is Hakka (客家)…he thinks. Out of the blue, he gets a phone call asking him to write a play about Hakka identity. For seniors. In Markham.

From creator and performer Kevin Matthew Wong (The Chemical Valley Project) comes a charming and intimate story that transforms into a layered Chinese-Canadian tale spanning continents, migrations, and generations.

AFTER THE RAIN (World Premiere)
A Tarragon Theatre & Musical Stage Company Co-production
Supported by the Bulmash-Siegel Foundation
Written by Rose Napoli & Suzy Wilde
Directed by Marie Farsi

May 27 – June 22, 2025
Mainspace

Tarragon and Musical Stage Company co-commission

Her parents are famous. Her boyfriend is stupid. And Suzie is a mess.

When she accepts a mature piano student obsessed with mastering only one song, Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1”, struggling songwriter Suzie’s life takes an unforeseen turn. Full of family turmoil, life’s complexities, and centred around a devastating discovery, After the Rain is a musical based on a true story about the healing power of music.

***

HOW TO GET TICKETS TO TARRAGON SHOWS:

Subscriptions and tickets can be purchased online at www.tarragontheatre.com, by phone at 416-531-1827 or in person at the Tarragon Theatre Box Office at 30 Bridgman Avenue.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Tarragon Theatre continues to offer the most flexible subscription packages in the city, allowing patrons to choose their productions and change their dates free of charge, and offering many different price points to suit all schedules and budgets.

2024-25 Earlybird Subscriptions

7-Play, 5-Play and 3-Play subscriptions are currently on sale, with discounted subscriptions for Students and Artsworkers. Early bird Subscriptions are available until June 30, 2024.

ABOUT TARRAGON THEATRE

Tarragon Theatre is a creation and playwrights’ theatre. We seek to create theatre that investigates artistic form, which may incorporate non-traditional practices and methods of storytelling, and may integrate other disciplines such as movement, music or non-text based performance – all toward creating enriching and provocative theatre experiences for the artist and audience. Our philosophy is to create an environment that fosters artistic discourse within the ecology of Canadian theatre, new play development and dramaturgy practice. We open our doors to celebrate and learn from the scope of voices that make up our country and the various artistic practices that resonate within them. To that end, Tarragon is equally a hub for creation and development as it is a production company, with the ultimate goal of creating a meaningful experience for our artists to thrive and bridge their ideas from concept to realization. Mike Payette has been the Artistic Director since September 2021.

For more information visit www.tarragontheatre.com.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Broadway

Vanessa Williams & Bebe Neuwirth Announce the 2024 Drama League Award Nominees

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This morning Vanessa Williams and Bebe Neuwirth announced the Drama League announced their  2024 award nominations honoring Broadway and off-Broadway productions for Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Production of a Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Outstanding Direction of a Play, Outstanding Direction of a Musical, and the much-coveted Distinguished Performance Award. Honoring Broadway and Off-Broadway achievements,

Bonnie Comely

President Bonnie Comely was on hand to introduce the two presenters at the official announcement held at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, which was streamed live online by BroadwayWorld.com.

And the nominees are:

Outstanding Production of a Play
The Comeuppance
Flex
Grief Hotel
The Hunt
Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Mother Play
Oh, Mary!
Patriots
Prayer for the French Republic
Stereophonic
Wet Brain

Outstanding Revival of a Play
An Enemy of the People
Appropriate
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea
Doubt: A Parable
The Effect
Mary Jane
Our Class
Purlie Victorious
Uncle Vanya
The White Chip

Outstanding Production of a Musical
Buena Vista Social Club
Dead Outlaw
Harmony
The Heart of Rock and Roll
Hell’s Kitchen
Illinoise
Lempicka
The Notebook
The Outsiders
Suffs
Teeth
Water for Elephants

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Cabaret
Gutenberg! The Musical
Here Lies Love
I Can Get It For You Wholesale
Merrily We Roll Along
Monty Python’s Spamalot
The Who’s Tommy
The Wiz

Outstanding Direction of a Play
Tara Ahmadinejad, Grief Hotel
Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic
Sam Gold, An Enemy of The People
Rupert Goold, The Hunt
Rupert Goold, Patriots
Jamie Lloyd, The Effect
Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
Lila Neugebauer, Uncle Vanya
Sam Pinkleton, Oh, Mary!
Eric Ting, The Comeuppance
Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Outstanding Direction of a Musical
Saheem Ali, Buena Vista Social Club
Sarah Benson, Teeth
David Cromer, Dead Outlaw
Rebecca Frecknall, Cabaret
Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
Des McAnuff, The Who’s Tommy
Leigh Silverman, Suffs
Alex Timbers, Gutenberg! The Musical!
Alex Timbers, Here Lies Love

Distinguished Performance
Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
Gabby Beans, Jonah
Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
Ali Louis Bourzgui, The Who’s Tommy
Steve Carell, Uncle Vanya
Jenn Colella, Suffs
Danny DeVito, I Need That
Caleb Eberhardt, The Comeuppance and An Enemy of the People
Alex Edelman, Just for Us
Cole Escola, Oh, Mary!
Eden Espinosa, The Gardens of Anuncia and Lempicka
Paapa Essiedu, The Effect
Melissa Etheridge, Melissa Etheridge: My Window
Laurence Fishburne, Like They Do in the Movies
Josh Gad, Gutenberg! The Musical!
Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
Brody Grant, The Outsiders
Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along
Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
Willam Jackson Harper, Primary Trust and Uncle Vanya
Amber Iman, Lempicka
Eddie Izzard, Hamlet
Nikki M. James, Suffs
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Spamalot
Jessica Lange, Mother Play
Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen
Nichelle Lewis, The Wiz
Maribel Martinez, Bees and Honey
Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
Tobias Menzies, The Hunt
Cynthia Nixon, The Seven Year Disappear
Eva Noblezada, The Great Gatsby
Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious, A Non-Confederate Romp Through The Cotton Patch
Patrick Page, All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain
Nicole Ari Parker, The Refuge Plays
Jim Parsons, Mother Play
Sarah Paulson, Appropriate
Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
Aubrey Plaza, Danny and The Deep Blue Sea
Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along
Gayle Rankin, Cabaret
Andrew Rannells, Gutenberg! The Musical!
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret
Conrad Ricamora, Here Lies Love and Oh, Mary!
Corey Stoll, Appropriate
Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots
Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People
Zenzi Williams, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through The Cotton Patch
Jehan O. Young, The Cotillion

Special Awards
Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater – Jonathan Groff
Founders Award for Excellence in Directing – Schele Williams
Contribution to the Theater – Jessica Lange
Gratitude Award – Kandi Burruss

The nominations announcement begins a month of celebrations leading up to the 90th Annual Drama League Awards, which will be held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom (141 West 54th Street, New York City) on Friday, May 17, 2023 at 12:00PM. Tickets and tables to the star-studded luncheon are available for purchase at dramaleague.org/2024-awards or by calling The Drama League event office at 212.625.1025.

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Theatre News: The Heart of Rock and Roll, Gutenberg! The Musical!, The Who’s Tommy, Jelly’s Last Jam, Follies,

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Tonight The Heart of Rock and Roll opens at the James Earl Jones Theatre. Two nights before there was a celebration performance with Huey Lewis with The News, Jimmy Kimmel, Cyndi Lauper, Casey Cott, Rosanna Scotto, Ben Vereen, Lorna Luft and more.

Cyndi Lauper and Huey Lewis

The Heart of Rock and Roll, stars Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe and John Dossett.

The Original Broadway Cast Album of Gutenberg! The Musical! featuring GRAMMY® Award winners and Tony Award® nominees Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells will be released digitally on Friday, May 3 and physically on Friday, May 17 from Center Stage Records and Yellow Sound Label. The album will also feature comedy legend Mel Brooks in the role of the ‘Guest Producer.’

The Museum of Broadway will host original Broadway cast reunions for The Who’s Tommy on April 22 at 2pm and Jelly’s Last Jam on April 26 at 2pm. Each reunion will include a panel featuring multiple cast and crew members from the original Broadway productions.

For one night only—on Thursday, June 20, at 8:00 p.m. at Carnegie Hall Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. Directed and presented by Transport Group Artistic Director and five-time Drama Desk nominee and two-time Obie Award winner Jack Cummings III with musical direction by Joey Chancey.

The cast of Follies includes Broadway stars Julie Benko (Funny Girl), Mikaela Bennett(Renascence, BBC Proms West Side Story), Michael Berresse (Tony nominee, Kiss Me Kate), Alexandra Billings (Wicked), Klea Blackhurst (Everything the Traffic Will Allow), Harolyn Blackwell (Candide, Porgy and Bess), Stephen Bogardus (Tony nominee, Love! Valour! Compassion!; Falsettos), Norbert Leo Butz (two-time Tony winner, Catch Me If You Can, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Len Cariou (Tony winner, Sweeney Todd), Carolee Carmello (three-time Tony nominee, Parade; Falsettos), Jim Caruso (Liza’s At The Palace), Nikki Renée Daniels (Company, The Book of Mormon), Christine Ebersole (two-time Tony winner, Grey Gardens, 42nd Street), Katie Finneran (two-time Tony winner, Noises Off, Promises, Promises), Santino Fontana (Tony winner, Tootsie), Alexander Gemignani (Tony nominee, Carousel; Sweeney Todd), Miguel Gil (Kimberly Akimbo), Olivia Elease Hardy (Kimberly Akimbo), Erika Henningsen (Mean Girls), Grey Henson(Tony nominee, Mean Girls, Shucked), Fernell Hogan (Kimberly Akimbo), Jennifer Holliday (Tony winner, Dreamgirls), Rachel Bay Jones (Tony winner, Dear Evan Hansen; Here We Are), Isabel Keating (Tony nominee, The Boy from Oz), Adriane Lenox (Tony winner, Doubt), Norm Lewis (Tony nominee, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), Ryan McCartan (Heathers), Donna Murphy (two-time Tony winner, Passion, The King and I), Thom Sesma (Pacific Overtures, Man of La Mancha), Barbara Walsh (Tony nominee, Falsettos; Company), Nina White (Kimberly Akimbo), Jacob Keith Watson (Merrily We Roll Along, Carousel), and Karen Ziemba (Tony winner, Contact).

The evening will feature the original Jonathan Tunick orchestrations played by a thirty-piece orchestra, and will also feature a selection of Michael Bennett’s original choreography restaged by original cast member Mary Jane Houdina.

This unique concert series features a different lineup of performers for each song, rather than a role portrayed by one actor for the entire evening. Additionally, in lieu of the musical’s book scenes, backstage stories and anecdotes from the creation of the original production are woven between songs.

The evening will be hosted by Kurt Peterson, who originated the role of Young Ben in the 1971 Broadway production, as well as licensing executive and theatre historian Ted Chapin, whose memoir Everything Was Possible is taken from his daily diaries during the pre-Broadway run of Follies, on which he served as intern during his senior year of college.

Follies, book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, produced originally on Broadway by Harold Prince, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, premiered on Broadway on April 4, 1971, at the Winter Garden Theatre in a production directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, with choreography by Bennett.  The winner of seven Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for best musical, Follies developed almost immediate cult and legendary status following its closing on July 1, 1972, after playing 522 performances and 12 previews.  Scores of revivals followed on Broadway, in the West End, in regional theaters, and throughout the world.  This concert is presented by special arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh.

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Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Pat Addiss and Dan Lauria

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I am so pleased to announce our guests for next Wednesday’s show on April 24th are Producer Pat Addiss and Dan Lauria.

Pat Flicker Addiss has been a producer on the following shows: Little Women​, Chita Rivera: A Dancer’s Life, Bridge & Tunnel, Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, 39 Steps, Vanya, Sonia, Masha & Spike, Promises, Promises, Gigi, Love Letters, Eclipsed, War Horse, A Christmas Story ​and Harmony on Broadway. Off-Broadway she produced Jane Anger and Buyer and Cellar starring Michael Urieher show, Dinner With The Boys with Dan Lauria and Desperate Measures, is currently playing around the country. A native New Yorker, Pat was a child model and actress. Went to Finch College where she majored and graduated in honors in Costume Design and Merchandising. She started her own Company Pat Addiss Enterprises which designed and manufactured all items and widgets with Corporate names and logos. For her work she was honored by the LPTW Oral History that was filmed for the archives of Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. She was also given the Woman of Purpose Award by the “Three Tomatoes.”. With colleague, Magda Katz, she has initiated a formula to connect women through YaYa lunches, dinners and now the addition of upscale tea. She loves to speak to women over 50 “How to Reinvent Yourself.”

Dan Lauria is best known for playing the dad Jack Arnold on the TV series The Wonder Years. He also played NASA Administrator James Webb in the 1998 TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon and Commanding Officer, USA in 1996’s Independence Day. More recently he has appeared as Police Commissioner Eustace Dolan in The Spirit. He appeared as Coach Hamstrung in The Three Stooges N.Y.U.K. on AMC in 2000. Lauria appeared on stage in New York in the summer of 2006 in an off-Broadway production of A Stone Carver by William Mastrosimone with Jim Iorio and Elizabeth Rossa. Lauria also had a small role in a season two episode of Army Wives, as well as a season one episode of The Mentalist. In 2009, Lauria has appeared as General Lee Whitworth, M.D. in Criminal Minds season 4. He has also appeared in an episode of Boy Meets World. In late 2009, Lauria returned to the off-Broadway stage, appearing as Jimmy Hoffa in Brian Lee Franklin’s Good Bobby, a fictionalized account of Robert F. Kennedy’s rise.

Dan is also a very familiar face to the off-off, off and regional theatre scene having performed, written or directed over 50 professional stage productions.  He has appeared as a guest star in over seventy television episodic programs and more than twenty ‘Movie Of The Week’ productions plus a score of motion picture credits.  

In 2010-11 Dan was seen on Broadway in the long running production of Lombardi as the legendary coach Vince Lombardi with the beautiful and talented Judith Light, directed by Thomas Kail of Hamilton fame and returned again in the 2013-14 productions of the Tony nominated A Christmas Story: The Musical, directed by John Rando. 

Dan and dear friend, the lovely and talented Ms. Wendie Malick have performed the play The Guys by Anne Nelson (about our first responders) for numerous theatre and fire departments, around the country. Wendie and Dan also perform Love Letters as a fundraiser for regional theatres, for the development of new plays.  

Dan has now wrote and starred in the off Broadway production of Dinner With The Boys produced by the one and only Pat Addiss and the NJ Rep. This was followed by a off Broadway production of The Stone Witch  and the upcoming Regional production of Lee Blessings new play; Tea With The Boss with Gwenn and Wendie Malick.  

He is about to star in Just Another Day written by Lauria. The show will run May 3-June 30 at Theater555 and also stars Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed). Between them, Lauria and McCormack have over 100 years of live theatrical experience, as well as over 150 television shows and films.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a new show filmed in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our first episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode here, six episode here, seventh episode here, eight episode here and ninth episode here.

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