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Blog Posts by Subject: Theatre

Musical of the Month: The Pink Lady

When I asked Miles Kreuger, founder of the Institute of the American Musical in Hollywood, if there were any pre-1923 (out-of-copyright) titles he would especially like to see online, he replied, "Ohhh, the Pink Lady" with the sort of fond recollection usually reserved for a dear, departed loved one. I was embarrassed that I had never heard of it. Asking around amongst my friends and fellow musical theater scholars, I found, somewhat salving my pride, that I was not alone. 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and The Merchant of Venice, Updated

E M DelafieldSt. John Ervine was an English theatre critic in 1920s, '30s, writing often for Time and Tide, that remarkably sensible middle-class magazine which first featured the dry and sly E. M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady (reserve this book right away!). But I digress.

He also wrote a play, The Lady of Belmont, which takes the Merchant of Venice 10 years later.  Below is a sample of the dialogue, which is dated, though perhaps it 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and that of 2011

The late, and very great, Bernice W. KlimanThinking a great deal just now about the Great One, I thought of last years venture, April 11-15 2011.  It was a great deal of fun, and inspiration, and I felt great admiration for the Allen Room and Wertheim Study scholars who presented such fine work.  The week was audio-taped 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Romeo and Juliet

Since in less than a week you will have heard a terrific lecture incorporating and marmorializing [sic] Romeo and Juliet, I thought to prime the pump with a reprint of an earlier post: The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper.  It is still one of my favorite, for joyous, books.


Enough of the oceanic understanding of Dickens, the truth and tragedy of Balzac, the flawless technique of Sylvia 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Poems about Shakespeare

Its'a comin'.  Five presentations on Him.  At 1:15 in the South Court Auditorium at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. 

In the meantime, last night at the Columbia Shakespeare Seminar, a friend and I began to explore the 

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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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Frank McHugh: A Beloved Character Actor Who Played an Important Role in World War II

Unless you’re a classic film buff, you’ve probably never heard of Frank McHugh, and most of the hundred odd movies he appeared in during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have fallen into obscurity. Born into a theatrical family, McHugh (1898-1981) grew up touring in a Vaudeville act with his brother and sister. He honed his acting skills in the 1920s, performing in regional/stock productions and on the Broadway stage. He landed in Hollywood in 1930, along with the rash of New York theatre actors talking pictures created a demand for.

McHugh quickly became 

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150 Years of Loïe Fuller, Modern Dance Pioneer

150 years after her birth in Fullersburg, Illinois on January 15, 1862, Marie Louise "Loïe" Fuller is less well known than her peers. Yet her work, flowing and abstract and free from the constraints of classical ballet, predated and paved the way for more familiar modern dance pioneers like Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis.

On April 12, the

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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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The Pompadour's Book: A Mystery Manuscript Owned by Madame de Pompadour

It's a small volume, neatly but unostentatiously bound in mottled calf. The gilt ornamentation is discreet, except for an impressive coat of arms on both boards. That becomes even more impressive when we identify it as the blazon of one of the standout personalities of 18th-century France, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour — elevated from her haute-bourgeois background and a boring union with a certain M. Lenormand d'Étioles (nephew of her mother's lover) to become the official maîtresse-en-titre to 

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When They Trod the Boards: "Star Trek" Edition

STAR TREK. The Musical! OK, not really, but even Mr. Spock would find fascinating what we dug up in the Library's Billy Rose Theatre Division about the original Star Trek actors before they went stellar. Who knew that Nichelle Nichols sizzled in the local cabaret scene before taking up her earpiece on the starship Enterprise? Or that George Takei was an activist (OK, not surprising), or that William Shatner, of Shatner's World; We Just Live in It..., first 

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Musical of the Month: Shuffle Along

A guest post & edition by Brian D. Valencia

When Shuffle Along opened at the 63rd Street Music Hall on May 23, 1921, it marked the return of all-black musical shows to Broadway after nearly a decade-long silence. The last successful musical wholly written and performed by African Americans to be performed south of Harlem had been the George Walker–Bert Williams vehicle Bandanna Land in 1908. When Walker fell ill on its tour, Williams was left to star alone in the following year’s Mr. Lode of Koal, which ran only half as long as its predecessor with half of its 

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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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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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Ghost Light: Illuminating Our City's Theaters: RKO Coliseum

A thing of beauty is a joy forever... — Keats

(quoted in opening night program, B. S. Moss' Coliseum Theatre, 1920)

The end of 2011 also brought the quiet demise of the last movie theater in WashingtonHeights, Coliseum Cinemas. Known to most residents as the RKO Coliseum, the large theater, occupying the entire corner of 181st and Broadway, has been a fixture of the neighborhood for over 90 years. As the community now debates the future of the Coliseum 

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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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Musical of the Month: "Ozma of Oz"

(From "The Tik-Tok Man of Oz" keysheets in the Billy Rose Theatre Division) The end of the year frequently inspires an introspective comparison of one’s ambitions against one’s accomplishments and an increased (if temporary) resolve to close the distance between the two. I suspect among the crowd celebrating in Times Square this Saturday night, there will be at least a few web designers who wish they were actors, bloggers who wish they were novelists, and bankers who wish they were rock stars. Hopefully this will be the year for some of them.

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Musical of the Month: A Production History of the 1903 Oz

A Guest Blog By David Maxine of Hungry Tiger Press

The Wizard of Oz is one of the best-loved fairy tales and one of the best-loved films of all time. Yet few people know that it was a Broadway musical in 1903 that made Oz, Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman household names. L. Frank Baum’s children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, forever securing Baum’s reputation as an author for children. But Baum’s first love was the theatre. In the summer of 

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