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Blog Posts by Subject: Performing Arts

Richard Attenborough's Shadowlands

Most of the articles memorializing director and actor Richard Attenborough cite his role as the nearly-mad scientist, Dr. John Hammond, in the film version of Jurassic Park or his directoral work on the film biography, Gandhi. Today, though, NPR's Morning Edition cited an interview in which Attenborough stated that his best work was the movie version of William Nicholson's play, Shadowlands.Read More ›

Robin Williams on Stage

While reading about riots in my hometown last night, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a headline announcing the shocking death of Robin Williams. I really can add very little to the many expressions of grief from those whose for whom his films were foundational stories of childhood. Read More ›

Symphony of the New World: 50th Anniversary of a Pioneering Organization

In May 1964, two months before The Civil Rights Act (outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin) became law, noted conductor Benjamin Steinberg formed a committee of 13 musicians, 12 of whom were African American, with the intention of forming a new integrated orchestra called the Symphony of the New World (SNW).Read More ›

How Much is a TONY Worth to a Broadway Show?

In the week following the announcement of the TONY awards, the winner for best musical, Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, enjoyed its best week ever, bringing in more than $100,000 than the week before. The winner for best play, All The Way, seems to have been helped even more by the award, bringing in $200,000 more than the previous week. If it ever was in doubt, a TONY award is clearly good for business. At least if you win the big one.

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Musical of the Month: Show Boat

In the following blog post, Professor Todd Decker examines four of the early typescripts of Show Boat that can be studied at the Library for the Performing Arts. He uses the Library's call numbers to identify the four copies. There are two copies in box 5 of the Billie Burke/Florenz Ziegfeld papers, one of which was once separated from the papers under the classmark: RM7430. One is in our collection of older musical theater libretti (NCOF+) and other remains separate under classmark (RM7787). Digital images of all four copies, presented here with the kind permission of the rights Read More ›

Big Deal: Researching Bob Fosse at the Library

The life and career of Fosse, the only director to win the triple crown of show business awards in one year (an Oscar for Cabaret, a Tony Award for Pippin, and an Emmy Award for Liza With a Z—all in 1973) is well-documented through the holdings of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (LPA) and elsewhere. Clippings, reviews, posters and lobby cards, Playbills and programs—all the standard theatrical ephemera—on Fosse's shows and films are easily available in the Billy Rose Theatre Division and Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Read More ›

Archiving Amram: The Beauty of Now

In the following blog post David Amram shares his hopes for the upcoming programs. Read More ›

David Amram's New York

Join Amram, plus author Bill Morgen and sociologist Audrey Sprenger, for a walking tour of the Lincoln Center campus and other nearby cultural landmarks that have influenced his life and music. David has many inspirational and charming stories to share.Read More ›

Memorial for Jean Léon Destiné at 92nd Street Y

A memorial is being held for Jean Léon Destiné, master Haitian dancer, choreographer and drummer, who passed on January 22, 2013. This will be at the 92nd Street Y on January 24, 2014, during their program Fridays at Noon: The Legacy of Jean-Léon Destiné. Read More ›

Khmer Dance Project Videos Available Online

One of the stunning new collections from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division now available in the Library’s Digital Collections is the Khmer Dance Project (KDP). Funded by a grant from the Anne Hendricks Bass Foundation, the KDP began in 2008 when the Center for Khmer Studies partnered with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division to interview and film the three generations of artists - including dancers, musicians and singers, as well as embroiderers and dressers - who kept dance alive during and in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime. The New York Public Library offers streaming video of all 

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Treasures, Oddities and Ephemera: 3-D Objects from Billy Rose Theatre Division’s Theatre Cabinets

The Theatre Cabinets (or T-Cabinets as we call them) of the Billy Rose Theatre Division are packed full of objects large and small. The cabinets are a repository for all the three-dimensional items that have accompanied our larger collections or have been given to the division separately as a gift. I absolutely love the T-cabinets. Being hidden in the back of a locked cage and full of mysterious items is only part of the allure. The other part is the extreme variety of the items themselves.

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Commémoration du cinquantenaire de la mort de Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)

Jean Cocteau était un écrivain français, cinéaste et artiste aux multiples talents reconnu internationalement et cette année marque le cinquantenaire anniversaire de son décès. Pour cette occasion on veut commémorer l’héritage littéraire, cinématographique et artistique de son œuvre.

« D'abord attiré par la société aristocratique, il publie le Prince frivole (1910). Il se tourne ensuite vers les dadaïstes, avec lesquels il organise des spectacles de choc 

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Beyond the Jersey Shore: 1920s Snapshots From a Chorus Girl's Scrapbook

Today's guest blog is by Suzanne Lipkin, who processed the Marion Lichtman Setlowe papers for the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Marion Lichtman, 1920'sFriday April 9, 1926 I left Atlantic City to go on the road. I was in Second Year High School. I was 16 years of age on March 25, 1926. I joined the Dancing Debs. at Levoy Theatre, Milville, 

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Number One Hits for the Year: 1979

I was recently going through a box of old photographs and came across photos from the first concert I ever attended: Kiss. October 21, 1979. Houston Summit. I was 10.

That got me to thinking of the music from that year.

1979 marked the end of arguably one of the most unfortunate eras in American music history:

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Children's Theater in New York City

A patron wrote in to ASK NYPL, the virtual reference service of The New York Public Library, to find out about the state of children's theater in New York City. More specifically, the patron wanted to know the total number of children age 6-11 in each of the five boroughs of the City; the various theaters in the City that feature children's 

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Across A Crowded Room Meetup

UPDATED: September 25, 2013

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is excited to announce the first ever meetup for participants in the musical theater writing game, Across A Crowded Room

Participants have been placed into nine groups, each with a composer, a lyricist, a book-writers, and a singer, and given 10 days to a plot a synopsis with song titles and at least one complete song (with music and lyrics) in response to the prompt:  

Write a musical set during the 2013 NYC mayoral 

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Musical of the Month: Bless You All

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

Between March 1946 and December 1948, six highly successful musical revues opened on Broadway, playing a combined total of 2,653 performances and marking a brief resurgence of the once fashionable form. The rapturous response to these half-dozen hits was quite likely the driving force behind the pack of ten new entries that stormed the scene in the three years that followed (1949-1951).

However, with the exception of the Bert Lahr-Dolores Gray vehicle

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Vandamm and the Antarctic, Part 2

Vandamm scrapbook, Billy Rose Theatre DivisionThere is evidence that Commander Evans distributed autographed copies of portraits at his lectures, probably the Vandamm portrait. There is a description, here in the LPA collections, of attending his lecture and receiving an autographed portrait. Unfortunately, it is fictional, but…

Such an experience is detailed in descriptions of New York activities in Our Mutual Girl, a promotional magazine for fans of a film serial made by Mutual and 

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Vandamm and the Antarctic, Part I

Vandamm scrapbook, Billy Rose Theatre DivisionOne of the factors that brought success to the Florence Vandamm Studio in London and, later the Vandamm Studio in NYC, was her ability to keep track of negatives. This blog contains a prime early demonstration of that ability. Spoiler Alert—it gets a little bit surreal.

Like many photo studios, she created pairs of photographs of military officers and their wives, before assignments overseas. In 1912, she made a set of photographs (profiles, seated, standing, together, and separately) for a Royal Navy officer, 

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Florence Vandamm

Perhaps the most widely published and least understood visual record of 20th century performing arts, the output of the Vandamm Studio has largely been utilized only as illustrative backdrop for the retelling of Broadway history. The prints, contact sheets, and negatives of theater, music and dance in London (1908–1923) and New York (1924–1963) are among the Library for the Performing Arts's most requested treasures.

Few are aware that the visionary photographer and portraitist who lent her talent and name to the studio was a woman and one who opened her 

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