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Blog Posts by Subject: Performing Arts

Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and How to Boil an Egg

It's coming up, 5 lectures from really smart people on the one and only Mr. William "Bard" Shakespeare.

Hamlet, Hamlet (redux) Taming of the 

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Shakespeare Week at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building - April 23 to 27

It's here again, featuring the one and only Robert Armitage, Humanities Bibliographer and Blogger Extraordinaire, and 4 cracker-jack scholars from the Wertheim Study.

Full disclosure is here, but in short - (each at 1:15 

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Musical of the Month: "Bitter Sweet"

A Guest Post by Project Co-Director Professor William Everett

Nöel Coward's Bitter Sweet is in many ways an ode to the world of romantic operetta. In 1929, when the show first appeared, operetta was all too often thought of as embodying some sort of sentimental nostalgia for a time entrenched in the pathos of nevermore. Ivor Novello (1893-1951), who, like Coward, was an actor, composer, and singer, wrote to the show's creator: "The whole thing is so full of regret — not only for that darling lover who died but for a vanished kindly silly darling age" (Barry 

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Kids Talent Show at Richmondtown Library

Gabriella playing piano at the talent showOn Wednesday, February 22, Richmondtown Library hosted "Staten Island's Got Talent!" in the its spacious community room. Children in the neighborhood signed up to play instruments, sing, read poetry, and even demonstrate karate. It is a great way for kids to have fun and build confidence in performing in front of an appreciative audience. Check out Richmondtown Library's website for upcoming "Staten Island's Got Talent!" events.

Shrupi plays clarinetWant to share some creative ideas and find guidance in how 

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The "Mad Men" Reading List

You might remember my original list, which will always be available here.   

This revised list will be easier to follow and, like my previous list, it will be updated as books appear in new episodes. Details on literary references will continue in the comments field. As mentioned in my original blog post, some of the books on the list are featured more prominently in the series than others, but all are a great way to gain insight into the episodes and the social and cultural times in which the 

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Musical of the Month: A Few Thoughts on "Babes in Toyland" and the World of Operetta

A Guest Blog on Victor Herbert's Birthday by Professor William Everett Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland is typical of turn-of-the-century musical theater in that it encompasses various musical styles and tropes drawn from multiple genres. Musical comedy, as Babes in Toyland is described in the libretto, is evident in the comedic dialogue and contemporary references. Extravaganza, the designator it shares with The Wizard of Oz, comes through dazzling spectacle. But it is operetta, the quintessential Continental European style, that concerns us here.

Herbert 

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Musical of the Month: "Babes in Toyland"

A Guest Blog by Larry Moore

Original cast of "Babes in Toyland"In the NYPL Rare Books Division, among the Townsend Walsh correspondence, there is an undated 1902 letter from director Julian Mitchell to his publicist/business manager, Townsend Walsh, informing Walsh in confidence that he had asked Glen MacDonough to rewrite the libretto for The Wizard of Oz before it opened at New York's Majestic Theatre at 

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A "Mad Men" Mystery Solved

I am a librarian. I like things to be in order. I like things to be complete, but I have been troubled for the past year. You see, Sally Draper was shown reading a book in Mad Men season four, episode five ("The Chrysanthemum and the Sword"), and I could not for the life of me figure out what that book was. The Mad Men Reading List was incomplete and, as a 

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The Lost Musicals, Hollywood Edition: Comden and Green’s "Wonderland"

Wonderland isn’t technically lost — it was never made, but I found a rare script for this would-be film musical in the Betty Comden Papers. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were the two halves of the longest-running writing partnership in Broadway history. They met in 1933 at New York University and first worked together in the late 30s, writing sketches for the comedy group the Revuers, in which both also performed. They continued writing lyrics and scripts together until Green’s death in 2002. They are known for their lyrics to great Broadway shows like

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Musical of the Month: "The Wizard of Oz" and Victor Herbert

A Guest Post By Professor William Everett

Billboard advertising "The Wizard of Oz" at the Majestic TheaterThe Wizard of Oz, this month’s Musical of the Month, has ties to one of the most important musical theater composers of its day, Victor Herbert (1859-1924). The Irish-born and German-trained cellist, conductor, and composer had written several significant works for the musical theater in the years leading up to the appearance of The Wizard of Oz, most notably The Fortune Teller (1898).

After producer Fred R. Hamlin and director Julian Mitchell scored 

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Happy New Year from NYPL's Music Division!

"Just Out" polka by Francis H. Brown (New York: Hall & Son, 1856)

Happy New Year!

Just as a new chick emerges from its shell, so does the new year come upon us. This polka was composed by Francis H. Brown (1818-1891), one of numerous and forgotten 19th-century American composers of popular music.

The colorful lithograph above was produced by the firm of Sarony, Major and Knapp. According to Wikipedia, Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896) worked as a lithographer for the noted firm of Currier & Ives, before launching his own business.

In 1867, 

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When They Trod the Boards: "I Love Lucy" Edition

This series is designed to showcase the often little-known stage background of popular TV and movie stars. In this installment, we'll explore the Broadway origins of the cast of I Love Lucy, including the secret life of Ethel Mertz!

Who didn’t grow up with Lucy? I Love Lucy, one of the most popular television programs of all time, has been in continuous syndication since it premiered in 1951. Ever since the first television signals of Lucy began to leak out of our atmosphere, now heading towards distant star systems 60 light years away, here on earth the 

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Findings from the Miscellaneous Personal Name Collection: Georgie Barrymore’s 1884 acceptance of a stage production role

In this heavily faded 1884 letter written from the New Jersey beach town of Point Pleasant, actress Georgie Barrymore accepts a role in a New York stage production for a salary of $100.

Detail of 1884 Georgie Barrymore letter containing quote to right.Ms. Barrymore, an ancestor of the legendary Barrymore acting family (and great-grandmother of Hollywood star Drew Barrymore) writes:

“I will accept the weeks engagement commencing Sept 8th + two rehearsals in NY for 

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Musical of the Month: "Katinka"

A Guest Blog by Project Co-Director, William Everett

A scene from Katinka (photograph by White Studios)Orientalism* and propaganda were common themes in American musical theater and popular song during the years surrounding World War I. Revues frequently included scenes set in the Middle East, and some of Broadway’s most famous composer-lyricists wrote music in direct response to the conflict. Orientalist manifestations include Irving Berlin’s “In My Harem” (1913) 

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Wikipedia! The Musical! A Review!

Wikipedia! The Musical! design created by Lauren Lampasone

On October 22, “Wikipedia! The Musical!” was staged at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Despite its whimsical name, it was not really a musical but an editathon — a chance to edit Wikipedia with a group of people in an inspiring location. Though its focus was improving articles on musical theater, anyone interested in the performing arts was welcome.

For me, 

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Finding a Life at The New York Public Library

This last week of October, 2011 is Magic Week. Perhaps it's a good time to tell this true story about how I found a life at The New York Public Library:

In the spring of 1923, my grandfather, a magician, disappeared. This well practiced man of magic had pulled off his greatest trick of all. He was never seen again — at least not by my family. His love for the circus could not hold him to a small town, a young wife, and a three-year-old son. He left, and the memory of him was put aside. Occasionally my grandmother would 

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Musical of the Month: Flexible Operetta and Micro-History (Guest blogger Tracey Chessum)

A second blog post from guest blogger Tracey Chessum:

Here’s a question: If John Philip Sousa wrote at least 10 comic operas, most of which were well received not only on Broadway but on tour around the United States, and if he has been identified as a composer who filled the void between Gilbert & Sullivan and Victor Herbert, why have most of us never heard of his musicals? The obvious reason is that his marches outshine his musicals, and thus his collection of comic operas is often overlooked. However, I would argue that there is a further explanation: these 

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When They Trod the Boards: John Lithgow

We hereby announce the new blog series When They Trod the Boards, designed to highlight notable film or television actors who have a substantial background in stage work as documented in the collections of the Library's Billy Rose Theatre Division. We launch the series with John Lithgow and his new memoir, 

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Works Created with the Help of the Music Division, 2010-2011

As we go over statistics from the previous fiscal year (ending on June 30), we note with pleasure and pride numerous works that have been created utilizing materials from the Music Division.

Have you published a book or article, given a talk, or participated in a performance where your have benefited from research in the Music Division? We want to know about it! Please send me an e-mail so that I may include you in the list of works for the current fiscal year.

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Slam Poetry in NYC

Slam Poetry is alive and well in New York City and beyond. Check out this slam the NYPL and Urban Word hosted at the Bronx Library Center, featuring the Precision Poetry Drill Team.  With so many of the Urban Word visiting poets coming from the Slam tradition, I want to take a moment and discuss the art form and point you towards exciting Slam events, videos, and resources in New York City.

The history of slam poetry is complicated, almost as 

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