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Blog Posts by Subject: Performing Arts

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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When They Trod the Boards: Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad-Ass on Broadway

Being an actor doesn't shield you from having a conscience.

—Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito, as Gus Fring, stares down a sniper in the TV series Breaking Bad, 2011.Giancarlo, as Julio, sings in the Broadway musical Seesaw, 1973.A true NYC moment: Giancarlo and brother Vincent take a sidewalk hotdog break during the musical The Me Nobody Knows, 1971. Photo: NewsdayI don't know how the final season of the TV series Breaking Bad will end, but it is pretty clear that Walter White is on a one-way trip to hell. As the well-intentioned chemistry 

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The Ken Dewey Collection

All images were used with permission from the Dewey estate.

Dewey's notes for Museum Piece on a map of the Moderna Museet.Picture this: it is April 1963, and you are in Stockholm at the Moderna Museet. Currently on display is the American Pop Art Show. You walk into the museum and are instructed to sit in one of the galleries in a section of chairs arranged to mimic the seats of a subway car. Other people are in chair arrangements that resemble boats, a helicopter, and a tank. Over the next two hours the following events take place: a woman holds forth a conversation with a 

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Stephen Porter (1925-2013)

Photo: Martha SwopeA death notice for the theater director Stephen Porter appears in today's New York Times. Porter, who died on June 11 at the age of 87, won two Drama Desk Awards (for They Knew What They Wanted and Man and Superman) and was twice nominated for the Tony (for The School for Wives and Chemin de Fer).

Porter was associated for many years with the APA Phoenix and New Phoenix repertory companies, where he directed actors like Rachel 

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"Across A Crowded Room": Announcing the Musical Theater Summer Songwriting Series

Musical theater is an exceptionally collaborative art form, and finding the right collaborator can be as complicated as dating. Although New York City is filled with hopeful musical theater writers and composers, it is also, as Sondheim's Marta sings in Company, "a city of strangers" where making connections of any kind can be difficult.

However, part of the mission of the New York Public Library is to "strengthen our communities," and so today I am pleased to announce Across A Crowded Room a summer project that I hope will strengthen the 

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When They Trod the Boards: Christopher Walken, Song and Dance Man

How do we love Christopher Walken? On his 70th birthday, let us count the ways. Star of film, TV, and NYPL's own iBook Point, somehow everyone has a favorite film that stars him, be it The Deer Hunter, True Romance, or Pulp Fiction. The consummate villain, he faced off

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Interviews with the Rich and Famous: The Brant Mewborn Interview Collection

The Brant Mewborn collection of interviews was recently processed, preserved, and cataloged.  This collection is a treasure trove of original interviews — conducted by Mewborn for his background research for various Rolling Stone articles, and for freelance pieces — with personalities of the 1970s and 1980s.

Brant Mewborn (1951-1990), a staff reporter and chief editor at Rolling Stone, conducted numerous interviews during this period 

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Announcing the Dorothy Loudon Exhibition

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce the release of the Dorothy Loudon Digital Exhibition.

Dorothy Loudon (1925-2003) was a Tony Award-winning Broadway star, cabaret singer, and television performer. She is best remembered for her performance as Miss Hannigan in the original Broadway cast of Annie and for the playing the leading role of Bea Asher in the 1978 musical Ballroom.

This online exhibit, funded by a generous grant from the

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Musical of the Month: Evangeline

A guest post by Brian D. Valencia

Evangeline Ad - Ann Arbor Courier 1-18-1888 (Old News, Ann Arbor)

Evangeline, or The Belle of Acadia rounds out the Musical of the Month blog's consideration of the four most popular American-devised musicals of the late 19th century. Only The Black Crook  (1866) surpassed Evangeline in frequency, longevity, and popularity—and  

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Dorothy Loudon and Annie

Dorothy Loudon wasn't working. Neither was Annie.

Loudon, by the mid-1970s, had gone into a semi-voluntary semi-retirement. The Women, in 1973, was the last of a half-dozen promising Broadway shows (if you count Lolita, My Love, which never quite made it to New York) that closed in less than three months. She had enjoyed more success touring — Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, in 1971-1972, had been her favorite stage role — but Loudon was tired of the road, and hated leaving New York.

She turned down 

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The Lost Musicals: Redhead

Musicals are often most associated with women, or at least with divas: the larger than life stars that musicals are built around. To get a show produced you want to have a decent score and story, but another thing that sells the backers — and the audience — is having a name attached. You need Ethel Merman, Gertrude Lawrence, Mary Martin, Julie Andrews, Chita Rivera, Angela Lansbury, Carol Channing, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, or last but not least, the star of our show, that improbably sexy, brittle but strong, mercurial, redheaded dancer, Gwen 

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You Never Can Tell: Musical Revue Research Guide, Part 1

Visitors to the exhibition and blog channel The Great American Revue have peppered me with questions that can be summarized as: "where do you find that stuff?" Substitute artifacts for "stuff" and it becomes a request for a research guide.

The New York Public Library has been collecting performing arts content since the 1880s and online cataloging since the 1980s. Most of the material in the Revues 

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Theatre Special Libraries and Museums

I took a Theatre, Film and Dance class while I was studying abroad in Australia, and I also took an acting class at my undergraduate college in New York State. I loved attending the student theatre productions at the beloved Firehouse Theatre at my undergraduate college, and later at the new Performing Arts Center. Below are some theatre libraries and museums that I found.

Special Libraries

from the Directory of 

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Creative Aging Continues to Bloom at The New York Public Library

In recent decades, much has been said about the demographic changes that New York City shares with the rest of the world. Yes, we are getting older!

One widespread response has been a surge of programs to promote creativity in mid- and later life. NYPL has happily participated in these efforts, especially since 2010 when we started partnering with Lifetime Arts Inc. to offer our first Creative Aging courses, which took place in six branch libraries. Each course was taught by a professional teaching artist 

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Dorothy and Noël

Marquee for Noël Coward's Sweet Potato (1968) / Dorothy Loudon Papers (Peter DeNicola)

The season of Noël Coward at the NYPL is coming to a close, as we near the end of the Library for the Performing Arts's exhibition Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward, which comprises photographs, scripts, video clips, and other artifacts culled from the Library's own collections as well as the Noël Coward Foundation, the Museum of Performance and Design, 

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