Side By Side By Barbara

Spring has come a little late this year (2002). In the past, a sure sign of spring would be Barbara Cook appearing nightly at the elegant Upper East Side Cafe Carlyle, where it seemed Cook was singing just to you as if in the intimacy of your living room. Well, it's the dog days of summer and Cook is appearing Sunday and Monday nights in Mostly Sondheim at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.

Spring Brings Barbara Cook To The Café Carlyle

There's no surer sign of spring than Barbara Cook bursting upon New York -- accompanied as always by the sensational Wally Harper -- at the Cafe Carlyle.  Through May 3rd, Cook, a legendary star of Broadway and a leading light of the cabaret, concert, and recording world, will mesmerize audiences in this intimate, elegant boite, one of the most romantic spots in town, with her lush renditions of Broadway classics.   This season's theme is "Oscar Winners II," a tribute to the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, which, as it happens is the title of her new DRG Records (91448) CD.

Heroism, The Roman Way

Responding to the comment that Shakespeare never blotted a line, Dr. Johnson quipped, "Would that he had blotted a thousand." Johnson might well have had in mind several rocky out-croppings in the stream of Coriolanus, a decidedly rhetorical play, to change my metaphor. Much of the text is reportage: something has happened elsewhere. Still more text consists in tales to be re-told, though these, blessedly, are planned for some off stage events (in Act One, scenes 1, 4, 7, 10; nearly as much in Act Two, and thereafter).

Finn de Siecle

"All I'm asking for is a tune,
Something itchy to tap my toes to...
I'll tell you why I love to make music:
I feel like I belong."

Minds and Ideals

The first time I saw Robyn (Baker) Flatt, founding artistic director of Dallas Children's Theater, she was onstage in the role of Dewey Dell in a production of Journey To Jefferson, an adaptation of the William Faulkner novel, "As I Lay Dying." The play was produced in 1964 at Dallas Theater Center and directed by Flatt's father, Paul Baker, who founded the DTC in 1959. Flatt also co-designed the lighting for that production with DTC company member, Randy Moore, now a long-time company member of Denver Center Theater Company.

Flower Blossoms Anew

David Henry Hwang's updated version of Flower Drum Song inaugurated its national tour on September 2, 2003 at the Music Hall at Fair Park as the closing production of the Dallas Summer Musicals. In a pre-show conversation with Hwang, who attended the first Sunday matinee, he said, "I saw the potential for this show that had been on the shelf for 45 years. I approached Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, and said I wanted to make a musical I hoped would reflect the values of the original creators but be more relevant to a modern audience.

The Light from the Forrest

Philadelphia's other celebrity patriot also has a significant anniversary in 2006 -- in addition to Ben Franklin. On March 9, the City of Philadelphia and area theaters commemorated the 200th birthday of Edwin Forrest, America 's first famous actor (1806-1872).

Wild Life, Long Legacy

Edwin Forrest, the 19th-century Philadelphia actor, was arguably the first American superstar. Critics praised him, politicians wanted him to run with them and working men fought -- even died -- defending him.

No Fools

Along with a small number of theater critics and reporters, I recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in a Manhattan rehearsal studio with the English actor Alan Bates -- yes, the very same revered star of stage and screen, who is presently one of the dazzling actors featured in the film, "Gosford Park." Also in attendance was the lovely Texas-born actress, Juilliard graduate Enid Graham, who appeared in Hartford Stage's Enchanted April and who won a Tony Award nomination for her role in Honour. They are a part of the cast of 13, which includes Frank Langella and Mr

Nights of the Hunter

How many Broadway musicals have the audience going wild as soon as the curtain rises? And it doesn't stop there. At the revival of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman's Little Shop of Horrors, there are standing ovations before the actors even take their bows and screaming fans at the stage door.

Perfectly Frank

Flopping on Broadway doesn't necessarily keep a musician from having a successful and interesting career. A case in point is conductor Sherman Frank. He is not, by any means, a failure. But he cheerfully admits that his big attempts on Broadway were flops.

Maybe his leaving the Great White Way led to more varied adventures. Also, as we will see in a moment, Frank's brief Broadway career included contact with one of the nastiest controversies in theater history.

Freedom's Long Road

South Broad Street in Philadelphia, also known as the Avenue of the Arts, at one in the morning on October 11, 2005. Theater folks, fresh from the annual Barrymore Awards show, are partying in the Great Hall at the University of the Arts. A solitary figure leaves the party and treks up the quiet street. One block, then two, heading north past the Kimmel Center, the Wilma and the Merriam Theaters. A threesome on their way from the gala talk loudly to each other but they ignore the middle-aged man who walks alone.

Sorrows And Rejoicings

Athol Fugard has been called "the conscience of South Africa." But he would rather refer to himself as "a harmless old liberal fossil." Regardless of which is truer, Fugard's art has been so passionately motivated by the history and the turbulence of South Africa under apartheid, one has to wonder what new pockets of unrest and social turmoil will next inspire the internationally renowned, 69-year-old playwright.

A Gem Of A Conductor

He's the dean of Broadway conductors.

Paul Gemignani received a special Tony Award on June 3, 2001, for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater. And that isn't his first statuette. The Los Angeles Drama Critics gave him an award in 1994 that has the citation "in recognition of consistently outstanding musical direction and commitment to the theater."

She's Still Here

Once the toast of Broadway and the West End, Dolores Gray is in retirement once again. This time, unlike previous ones, it is a forced retirement. However, her name has suddenly popped back into the theatrical venues with the release on CD by Decca Broadway of the original cast album of her summer-of-1951 smash, Two on the Aisle, also starring the legendary Bert Lahr.

Tuna Returns

Those Tuna guys are back at the Majestic Theater, as Dallas Summer Musicals hosts the touring production of A Tuna Christmas, November 4-9, 2003, starring two of its co-creators, Jaston Williams and Joe Sears. As often as I've seen the Tuna shows, I never miss the opportunity to see them again -- and again.

A Life Remembered As He Would Have Wanted

Arriving at the memorial for writer, lyricist and performer Adolph Green at the Shubert Theater on Tuesday morning, December 3, 2002, you were treated to an usual sight: Hundreds huddling in 19 degree weather, battling winds with a Wind Chill Factor of 4, in a V.I.P. line that snaked down to and around 45th Street. It was probably the first time in theatrical history that stars and Who's Who stood in a line.

Joel Grey In Chicago

Joel Grey is back. Wilkommen! He's starring in Kander and Ebb's Chicago, one of Broadway's biggest hits in decades and one of its most acclaimed revivals, and "Mr. Cellophane" is his song. But Grey's presence -- in the role of Amos, Roxie Hart's wronged husband -- isn't meant to be a dominant force. He's supposed to be there without being there, do this showy number, and not be there again. Amos is at the other end of the spectrum from Grey's most famous role, the amoral emcee in Cabaret, for which he won a Tony Award, plus an Oscar for the movie adaptation.

Six Degrees of Nine and Chicago

The family that plays together -- or, at least, the family where the wife plays across the street from her husband -- stays together.
That was Melanie Griffith's thinking after hubby Antonio Banderas' Broadway debut as ladies' man Guido Contini in Nine at the O'Neill Theater on 49th Street. Instead of enduring a bi-coastal marriage, Griffith made her Broadway debut, too, as man-killer Roxie Hart in Chicago, literally across the street at the Ambassador.

From Floyd To Florence, With Saturn In Between

Adam Guettel stands on the brink of a great career. Maybe two. He's certain to be an important composer for the American musical theater. And possibly he could be a star performer, attracting audiences with his voice and his stage presence. He's slender and handsome, sings gorgeously and plays at least four instruments.

Jim Dale: Kidding Aside

Jim Dale is jumping for joy. Literally.  He rushes from the single digit temperatures and arctic winds of the New 42nd Street into the warmth of West Bank Cafe and shakes himself down. It may be downright frigid outside, but Dale is filled with the warmth of the accolades he and his cast in Trevor Griffiths' Comedians are receiving. The New Group's revival, directed by Scott Elliott, has many critics touting the ensemble as the best so far this season.

Jennifer Hudson & Beyonce Knowles Break Out in Dreamgirls

Twenty-five years after first bringing audiences to their feet, Dreamgirls finally arrives onscreen. David Geffen, who controlled the rights, was very protective and wanted to make sure he put the show in the right adapter's hand. He did. It was a long wait, but well worth it. "Dreamgirls" is a dream!

Flatt Raised High

Robyn Baker Flatt, founding artistic director of Dallas Children's Theater in 1984, was inducted into the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Theater on April 22, 2007 in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

This was an honor also bestowed in 1996 upon her father, Paul Baker, founding artistic Director in 1959 of Dallas Theater Center. Ms. Flatt's award marks only the second time in the 42-year history of the organization that members of two generations of the same family have received this honor.

Grand Banner Season for Granville-Barker

Can you imagine that there was a playwright George Bernard Shaw envied? Better still, that he would admit there was a playwright he envied?
Shaw was so impressed with the talent – and success – of post-Victorian era leading light Harley Granville-Barker that he actually wrote Misalliance as an answer play to Barker's then hit, The Madras House, about family, courtship, marriage, marital separation, commerce, greed, sexual politics and harassment.

Hamburger Helper

To understand Richard Hamburger's role as artistic director of Dallas Theater Center, one needs to follow the path of how he got there. He is only the fourth permanent artistic director in DTCs 42+ year history (its first production was in December 1959).  Hamburger stepped into some formidable shoes and a powerful legacy when he assumed the post in 1992.

Sing, Sang, Sung

Two eras came to an end over the Labor Day weekend, and, by coincidence, they were related to each other. Firstly, when Lionel Hampton died at age 94, it marked a finality to the swing-era generation. Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, and Hampton was the last surviving member of the landmark Goodman quartet that not only set new standards in jazz but also integrated the pop music industry.

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

You've seen him as Captain Hook in the Peter Pan revival, or as Growltiger/Asparagus in Cats (Tony nomination, Best Featured Actor in a Musical) or the NYSF production of  The Pirates of Penzance.  In fact, Stephen Mo Hanan's credits roll on and on. He's known as a singer/actor's singer/actor. Now you can add writer to his credits. And star turn. His Al Jolson in the York Theater Company's world premiere of Jolson & Co., which he co-wrote with director Jay Berkow) is a showstopper.

Ed Harris Is Taking Sides

Ed Harris' popularity in such movie blockbusters as last summer's "The Rock" and 1995's "Apollo 13" (Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor) has kept him busy in front of and, as producer, behind the camera.  But he yearned to return to the stage, where he had triumphs on and off Broadway.  However, on his first read of Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood (1982 Tony-nomination for The Dresser), Harris felt his character, American army Major Steve Arnold, was too cut and dried.  Arnold is assigned to the American sector of 1946 occupied Berlin to investigate symphony conductor Wi

The Belle Returns To Amherst

Julie Harris, in the midst of a revival tour of her 1976 hit, The Belle of Amherst, says these are her farewell performances of the play.  She's not retiring from the stage - just retiring the role. "I'm 75 years old," she says, "and the character I'm playing [poet Emily Dickinson] is 55. I'm getting too old. When I started the play I was just 50."

It's Far From `All Over' for Rosemary Harris

The place is Afghanistan 1934, the northwest frontier territory, what was once a part of India. Upon a makeshift, stage a family-staged theatrical is in progress. The seductive "Dance of the Seven Veils" is reaching its climax (i.e., Princess Salome's seventh veil is about to drop). Standing in the wings, Queen Herodias gets her cue. In high dudgeon, she makes her grand entrance. "I had no words to speak, but I put my nose in the air, kicked my train and made my way slowly across the stage, looking with disgust at the King and Salome, and made my exit.

Hart For Hart

The National Arts Club Fourth Annual masked Red Ball last week honored stage, screen and concert legend Kitty Carlisle Hart. On hand to pay tribute in song were Tammy Grimes, Lee Roy Reams, K.T. Sullivan, Mary Bond Davis (Hairspray), Marni Nixon and cabaret artist Anna Bergman.

The indefatigable Miss Hart is 95 and a legendary star of operetta, stage and film ("A Night At the Opera") and a New York society doyenne. She's the widow of prodigious Broadway producer/director, playwright and best-selling author Moss Hart, who died in 1961.

Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart

A lot of memories have surfaced in the last two days about the incredible life of Kitty Carlisle Hart.

Kitty Carlisle Hart - by Those Closest To Her

The death of singer, actress, arts champion and philanthropist Kitty Carlisle Hart on April

Donny Osmond Sheds His Dreamcoat

After selling out houses across the United States and Canada in the lead role of Livent, Inc.'s touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Donny Osmond left the show in Toronto to join the cast of an upstate New York outdoor religious pageant, playing a prophet of the Mormon faith. But he plans a "major return to theater" in a role that might surprise his legion of fans.

Elaine Paige - Broadway At Last

On London stages, Elaine Paige's reputation was heralded. Now that she has assumed the lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black's Sunset Boulevard, a dream to play Broadway has come true. And this tiny dynamo delivers the goods.

Panaro's Panache

Like The Greatest Show On Earth [the circus], The Phantom of the Opera has never been short on hyperbole. But unlike another Andrew Lloyd Webber show, it hasn't gone quite so far as to boast "POTO: Now and Forever." However, 16 years [as of January 26, 2004] and counting on Broadway and, as of February 4, 2004, 6,681+ performances under that dangling chandelier is a sort of "forever" in the world of theater.

Song & Dance & Sexiness: The Allure of Bernadette Peters

Aside from her talent -- and, of course, that's a big aside -- the most impressive thing about Bernadette Peters is how she combines sex and innocence in her persona. Never has there been a performer who exudes such overt sexuality, with prominent bust and revealing necklines, while maintaining an innocent, little-girl character. This is most prominent in her concert appearances, but it also colored her portrayal of Annie Oakley. She certainly had more youthful vulnerability and sex appeal than Ethel Merman.

Pen Pal: Director Lisa Peterson And The Night Governess

The suspense that lurks within the plot of Polly Pen's new musical, The Night Governess, is also active behind the scenes at New Jersey's McCarter Theater. However, the suspense is also marked by hopeful anticipation, as Pen prepares a new musical for the first time without the assistance of her long-time director-collaborator Andre Ernotte, who died last Spring.

Phantom on Philm - The Phorgotten Ones

The critics and movie-going public -- and a legion of Michael Crawford fans -- are now weighing in on the fate of the $70-million film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.Some pans have been especially vicious, so who knows if the piece will resonate with audiences around the world, capturing and enthralling them, making them wishing they were there -- or anywhere else -- again, driving them to the point no return or having them humming the dark music of the night?

Can Phantom Be a Vegas "Spectacular"?

Bets are still being wagered on the Vegas Strip on whether or not the debut of the "all new" reconception of The Phantom of the Opera here, 18+ years after premiering on Broadway and becoming a worldwide phenomenon, will have staying power.