February 28, 2007

In Box - March Madness

Was it just me, or was there the sweetest hint of Spring in the air today. Just around lunch time. It might be enough to get me through the mess that Friday is going to be...

I have a longish post today with three updates:

Ilana Brownstein sent along some news about the Huntington Playwrighting Fellows:

Lydia Diamond has a number of upcoming productions, some already scheduled, and some still in-the-works...

"The Bluest Eye" at Playmakers Rep, North Carolina - March 2007
...and three other theatre companies may have productions in the planning stages.
"Stick Fly" at True Colors Theatre Co. (Kenny Leon's company) - Spring 2007
...and at least one other theatre company is working out details for next season.
"Harriet Jacobs" at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company - Fall 2007

Lydia recently participated in the Old Vic's US/UK playwright exchange program where she spent one week in London at the O
ld Vic working on "Harriet Jacobs." She's also been invited to the McCarter Theatre's 10-day artistic retreat in June 2007, and just inked a 3-play publication deal with the Dramatic Publishing Company.

Rebekah Maggor continues to perform her popular one-woman play, "Shakespeare's Actresses in America," most recently this last weekend at the Natick Center for the Arts.

Her play "Two Days at Home, Three Days in Prison" (Breaking Ground 2005) will receive a reading at The New York Theatre Workshop on Monday March 5.

And across the street in Studio 210, you can see Rebekah in Leslie Epstein's "King of the Jews" through March 10, in a production mounted by Boston Playwright's Theatre and fellow HPF Kate Snodgrass.

Donna Glick sent the following today:

It's March Madness in Education!

All after-school programs began their second semester. Local Boston playwrights, including Lydia Diamond and Melinda Lopez, are mentoring our Young Voices playwrighting students.

Education staffers Amanda Rota and Naheem Garcia have been gearing up for our "live" performances of KNOW THE LAW to take place in the Wimberly Theatre on Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14. We will share our work with over 1500 students from Boston and beyond. We are in the process of burning DVDs for YOU BE THE JUDGE to distribute to schools and after-school programs.

Meanwhile, the Codman Academy program, led by Lynne Johnson and Naheem Garcia, will begin rehearsals for the Spring Showcase. The 9th graders will work on an abridged version of A Raisin in the Sun and 10th graders will create an original performance piece based on their curriculum, Justice and Injustice. The showcase date is Friday, May 25th.

The entire education department is involved with POETRY OUT LOUD. Last year, we had 12 schools participating in this national poetry competition, sponsored by Massachusetts Cultural Council, the NEA and the Poetry Foundation. This year we have 31 schools participating and the competition is state-wide, adding five western MA schools. We will hold semi-final rounds for the 31 schools on Saturday, March 17th; taking place at our Huntington Ave Rehearsal Hall and at Clark University in Worcester.

Finals for POETRY OUT LOUD will be held in the Roberts Theatre on Saturday, March 24th. Times for these events vary, but all three begin at 9:30 am.

Also in March is the YOUNG ARTISTS' SHOWCASE, at the Calderwood Pavilion on Saturday, March 31st. This is the culminating event for all of the after-school programs - The Acting Classes, Scene Study, Young Voices Play writing and Know the Law.

If you would more information about any of these programs click here to send a note to the Education staffers. Have you participated in any of our educational/outreach programs? Tell us about your experience! Click on "Join the conversation" below.

And from Marketing:

There are several special events associated with our production of Well, and all are free with the purchase of a ticket to Well.

Tuesday March 13 - Sneak Preview
Presentation by a member of the Huntington's Artistic Staff, featuring contextual background and production related information, 6:30pm at the Theatre.

Tuesday March 13 - Fenway Neighborhood Night (for Fenway area residents)
Friday March 16- Beacon Hill Neighborhood Night (for Beacon Hill residents)
Join your friends and neighbors at a pre-show reception with free refreshments, and get discounted tickets. Order online at huntingtontheatre.org and use code 1132 when you login.

Wednesday March 21 - Out & About Club G.L.B.T. audience members gather for a pre-show reception and a backstage look at the production. Begins at 6pm.

Actors Forum Participating members of the cast take your questions after the 7:30pm performance on March 22 and after the 2pm performance on April 4.

Sunday March 25 - Humanities Forum A lively discussion about the issued and ideas presented in the production. After 2pm show.

One last link: Well star Lisa Kron has a website, with a video. Visit it here.

February 26, 2007

I'm Well, thank you.

It's Load in week for Well, which means by Sunday we'll be in Tech. Well... why not.

I'd like to invite everyone to try getting through an hour or two of the day without using the word "well". It's not easy. I gave up trying last Fall but I suppose I'll have to live with the witty wordplay being attempted around here for at least a few more weeks.

I took a couple of photos of the lighting hang going on today, but have not yet found much inspiration for a post based just on the craft of stage lighting. I'm still sharing the pix.

Well plays with theatrical conventions, in many ways, and often challenges them. In this production you see the set and you see the stage, both onstage and off. Sometimes the lights are just lights, and sometimes they're scenery. The same happens with the set and costumes, even the "actors"; A, B,C and D. You get to figure out what's what, when and where, why and with whom; it's all part of the unexpected fun and explosive emotion of this play. Have I mentioned that this is the show you should drag your mother to? Or you could invite her to buy the tickets - even better. My mom and sis just got their invites.

Persephone is now fully cast and I'm sure marketing will be getting that word out shortly. Our stage manager, David Lurie, should be getting settled in his apartment right about now as he starts pre-production work tomorrow. Hard to believe but we'll have another cast in rehearsal in just a week. We'll be back in the South End soon; so get ready for some company Speakeasy!

I had a great time at the REPA (Regional Entertainment Production and Administration) Job Fair on Saturday. This great event is sponsored by StageSource, NETC, and USITT New England. I met a new bunch of theatrical neighbors and saw some old, long-lost friends.

A number of people there told me how much they enjoy the blog. So comment already! Or at least ask a question or two. PLEASE! I've almost got Michael Maso interested in posting occasionally... help us convince him how much fun that would be.

I digress.

Thanks to Jeff Poulos and crew for inviting me to participate in a panel discussion with fellow Production Manager Paul Melone (Speakeasy), Costume Designer Rafael Jaen (Emerson), and Lighting Designers Jeff Adelberg and Scott Clyve. We chatted strategy for portfolio presentation, networking, and interviewing with a nice crowd of at least 33. The panel discussion titled "Get Your Foot in the Door" was moderated by BC's design prof Crystal Tiala.

I get to play on a panel again next month in Phoenix when production managers from across the country descend upon the annual USITT conference to share our collective wisdom with students on the same topic. We also get to chat with each other, talk shop about our shared triumphs and woes in the world of regional theatre, dish up our mutual colleagues (be nice to your production managers), explore the theatre scene in Phoenix, and investigate the latest technological wonders on the exposition hall floor. I'll post a pic or two if I can tear myself away from the mojitos at the rooftop pool bar. Do you have any suggestions about what to do with a few free hours in Phoenix? Let me know - click on "Join the Conversation" below and give me your advice.

February 23, 2007

Rehearsal Report - WELL

Things are going great up in the rehearsal hall for Well. Here are some excerpts from yesterday's daily report from Stage Manager Steve Kaus to the production staff:

Date: Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 11:00a – 7:00p
Rehearsal # 8


1) A long and EXTREMELY productive day of rehearsal today. We started the day with a photographer in rehearsal snapping photos of the first scene. After photos, we worked with Ms. Gleason on her end of show monologue. We also worked the top of the show for an hour before we broke for lunch. After lunch we began staging the ensemble into the play. We moved exceptionally fast this afternoon while staging and found ourselves further into the play than expected. We had time left at the end of the day to review the majority of the work we did today. Everyone did great work today and was exhausted by the time we called it quits.
2) Tomorrow we will continue on from where we stopped today. The day will start with scene work for Ms. Gleason and Ms. Kron. Our hope is to have time to review work at the end of the day again.

1) The metal clipboard holders at the end of the beds should match the brushed aluminum trim on the beds.
2) The chip bags we have in rehearsal are too big. We’re looking for the SMALL kids lunch size.
3) Some of the cupcakes have come unglued from the plate. Can you re-glue when you get a chance.
4) The stack of Styrofoam coffee cups will need to be glued to the table. There should still be removable cups from the stack…we just need to prevent the stack from tipping over.
5) The props on the coffee service table will need some touchup work. We can chat more later.
6) Mr. Domingo and Mr. McAdams will need ID badges made for their nurse costumes. They should be hospital style (picture, name, etc./laminated/clipped onto scrubs).
7) We will need two new notebooks. (Green, Staples composition style)

1) None.

1) On Pg. 20, Mr. Domingo will be entering as “Nurse 2”. This is not in the script…so FYI.
2) Mr. McAdams would like small doctor’s glasses for when he plays HEAD NURSE.
3) Can we have Ms. Kron’s “Young Lisa” wig in rehearsal? Thanks.
4) We still need a pair of glasses for Ms. Grays and one more chain for glasses on necks. Thanks.

1) None.

1) None.

1) JMK – Photos went smoothly this morning. Thanks for coordinating.
2) M&M – Program proof received…we’ll get it back to you by Monday.

PS> Marketing sent along a link to Mary Pat Gleason's Stopping Traffic website. Be sure to click on the Media link. It features some great video clips from an array of her film and television appearances.

Do you have any questions about the rehearsal process? Click on "join the conversation" below and ask away.

February 21, 2007

Kiki & Herb: Alive from Broadway

I've been hinting about something happening in the Wimberly in June for a while. Here it is...

Kiki & Herb: Alive from Broadway will be playing at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA for a limited engagement June 13-30, 2007.

This is NOT the usual Huntington fare but will be great fun and a good fit for the Wimberly Theatre. Tickets are on sale now to our subscribers, and go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 5th. Further Huntington info about Kiki & Herb, including ticketing is here.

Kiki & Herb have a website here that includes the NY Times review of the Broadway production being reprised, a myspace page here, and lots of video on You Tube. Below is a clip titled "People Die".

Disclaimer: Adult Content, Equal Opportunity Offenders, Be prepared to laugh whilst taking umbrage. And to that girl who is singing along; enuf already!

"Pure Marketing", you say??? Nah - this is a personal reccomendation. Have you seen Kiki & Herb? Tell us about it. Click on "Join the conversation" below.

February 20, 2007

Well, Well, Well

Today was our Meet and Greet for Well. We all gathered for a little nosh and nod with the entire cast now in town. Everyone in the company who was working today, and could get away from their work for a little while, headed over to the rehearsal hall to say hello.

I only have a couple photos, sorry. I was too busy eating. Here's Nicky Martin entertaining Director Leigh Silverman, Lisa Kron (who plays Lisa Kron, in this play about Lisa Kron, written by Lisa Kron), and General Manager Gilbert Medina... from whom I am expecting a phone call at any moment asking me to remove his photo. Something about union rules. Really though; he and Leigh are much more attractive when they're in focus.

Leigh told us that she enjoyed last week's rehearsals with Mary Pat Gleason immensely (I understate) and it's clear that we're in for a great production with these new cast members.

Mary Pat plays Ann Kron; Lisa's Mom. I seem to have many photos of the back of Mary Pat's head. Here's one of her chatting up the costume department; Costume Director Nancy Brennan, Costume Designer Miranda Hoffman, and Design Assistant Lynn Hoffman. In the background is Development's Katie DeBonville, and Yours Truly (eating).

If you didn't get enough of Mary Pat above, here's a sneak peek at the chair where she spends most of the play. Use your imagination, but please, don't touch.

To find out more about Mary Pat (and see her frontside) check out her Stopping Traffic website and be sure to click on the Media link. It features some great video clips from an array of her television appearances.

We'll be in performances again in 17 days... and then off on our spring marathon that brings the following three shows in fast order. Persephone in late March/early April , La Boheme in mid April, and Present Laughter in mid May. Looks like we'll have an early June offering in the Wimberly too... stay tuned.

February 15, 2007

Water Everywhere

This one definitely qualifies as a "behind the scenes scoop"!

On Tuesday evening this week it was discovered that the water main feeding the sprinkler systems of one of our Huntington Ave. buildings broke. The break was outside, just next to our foundation, and water was pouring into our basement props and costume storage areas through every possible weakness in the foundation wall it could find. Water eventually began pouring up through the cracks in the sidewalk too!

As we scrambled to move as many valuables as we could to higher ground the water rose to up to perhaps 4 inches in some areas. Not much, you might say, unless you've ever seen how much stuff we've got packed in down there! It was eventually shut off and cleaned up and a company was brought in with commercial equipment to dry us out. It was an exciting evening with Boston Fire Department, Boston Water and Sewer, and easily a dozen staff from BU's Facilities Management and Safety offices joining the Huntington staff all working to get the potentially catastrophic situation under control.

Damage was pretty minimal, thank you Theatre Gods, though it will be a few days before we're all put together again.

We didn't get any photos while water was in the building because, well - we were busy, but here are a few photos of the mess created in the aftermath. The missing pipe that is supposed to be coming through this hole in the wall (Photo R) is the one that broke just outside the wall.

This shot shows some of the equipment used to dry the room out. This area is where we store furniture, carpets, fabrics, luggage, pictures and art, and all the rest of our props. Another room effected was our costume department's "large women's" room. The clothes aren't necessarily for large women, rather it's the largest room that women's clothes are stored in.

We had to move a lot of the furniture out of the way so that repairs to the pipes and foundation could be made. It just got piled into other spaces. Here's a peek.

Here's the scene out on the sidewalk earlier today.

And finally... ever wondered what the iron deposits on the inside of a water pipe look like?? Enjoy...

PS> You can click on any of the photos for enlargments.

February 12, 2007

Monday, Monday

Not a whole heck of a lot to report today;

We're getting ready for Leigh Silverman, Lisa Kron, and Mary Pat Gleason to arrive later this week for Well rehearsals. The remainder of the cast will be here next week, and I'll post some "Meet and Greet" photos then. Meanwhile our scene shop is assembling, retrofitting, and otherwise sprucing up the set. The props are all unpacked and ready to go, and the costume shop has been lining up sources to re-build all of the wigs (thanks Jason!) and doing some minor alterations to the clothes in anticipation of fittings.

The design team consists of Tony Walton (scenery), Miranda Hoffman (costumes), Chris Akerlind (Lighting), and John Gromada (Original Music and Sound). Tony Walton, as far as I know, is here for the first time. Miranda designed our fall production of Mauritius, Chris hasn't been here for a number of years (Seven Guitars, 1995), and John returns having done Rabbit Hole earlier this season.

We're also working away on Persephone, with a short video clip of Props Master Kris Holmes (off Camera) and Associate TD Adam Godbout prototyping an "insta-bloom" flower. I won't say much more to avoid a spoiler, but let's just say there is a lot of R&D going on for this production.

In closing; we're missing the Cherry Orchard cast already. Here's one last photo; Dick Latessa was spotted at Uno Chicago Grill following a Friday night performance. The two ladies had a note delivered to Mr. Latessa on a napkin, asking him if he would mind taking a picture. He kindly obliged. (R to L) Elisha Sawyer, Latessa, Ashley Wadsworth. Elisha is a sophomore BU student and a new intern in our education department.

February 7, 2007

Well - Sneak Peek

From the ashes...

the Phoenix will rise...

The above picture is the set model for Well, designed by Tony Walton. We began reconstructing the set today, and will make repairs and rebuild a few of the elements from the Broadway production which closed at the Longacre Theatre last spring.

A side note... I'm happy to let you know that the number of daily visitors to the blog has more than doubled in the past three weeks or so. I'm glad you're here. We're trying to make this blog as interactive as we can, so keep those comments coming. Below is a little poll. We would love to know who our visitors are.

February 4, 2007

In Box - Letter to the Editor

Last week brought an interesting article in the Boston Globe by Louise Kennedy, and today an equally interesting reply from the Huntington. Michael Maso sent the staff and board a note including his response earlier this week, and he had hoped that the Globe would print our lengthy reply in full. They did not. This link will send you to the edited reply they printed, in case you want to see what was cut, but here is the Letter the Editor in full:

To the Editor:

In last Sunday’s Globe, Louis Kennedy referred to Huntington Artistic Director Nicholas Martin as a "Broadway-centric show-businessman" and criticized the occasional appearance of famous actors such as Kate Burton and Nathan Lane, even while she acknowledged the excellence of their performances. "I'd get more genuine excitement” she wrote, “from watching a relative nobody in a play that a director feels driven to stage."

I share Ms. Kennedy’s pleasure in seeing new faces on stage, and there are plenty of them in any Huntington production. The Cherry Orchard has a mix of some of the best-known actors of New York and Boston, alongside lesser-known performers and some BU theatre students. Part of the excitement of the theatre is seeing a veteran performer interact with a newcomer, and of bringing the very best actors possible — even famous ones — to Boston.

So what, exactly, is Ms. Kennedy’s concern? Does she think that our directors are not driven to direct the work we produce? That certainly isn’t the case. The Cherry Orchard is one of the greatest of all plays, and Nicholas Martin has wanted to direct it for many years. Is the problem that Kate Burton, one of the country's most accomplished stage actresses, wants to play a great role; or that she treasures her artistic relationship with Mr. Martin and the Huntington; or that audiences are interested in seeing Ms. Burton on stage?

Any glance at the Huntington's full schedule of productions makes it clear that stars don't drive our programming. But serving our artists and exciting our audiences is what the Huntington is about, and there are supremely gifted actors with national profiles who can help us make that happen. We have no intention of turning our backs on them — or on our audiences — either during Mr. Martin's tenure or during that of his successor.

Later in the article Ms. Kennedy expressed a wish for the Huntington to “find more ways to work with other theatres in town” and “increase outreach to local schools…which are the source of the next generation of theatregoers.” These comments make it appear as if the Globe is unaware of the Huntington's significant efforts in both areas.

When the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion opened at the Boston Center for the Arts in 2004, it became a home for new American plays produced by the Huntington and a linchpin in strengthening the city’s theatre scene. The Huntington uses these new facilities for our own work less than 20% of the available weeks; the rest of the weeks are used by more than 40 other, mostly smaller, non-profit companies, such as Speakeasy Stage Company and The Theater Offensive, Opera Boston and Snappy Dance Theatre, allowing them to expand their own artistic and institutional capacities, for which they pay rents that are subsidized by the Huntington. The Boston Theatre Marathon, the African American Theatre Festival, Boston Public School System’s TheatreFest and other educational fundraisers benefit from an even stronger level of Huntington sponsorship.

The Huntington also created BostonTheatreScene.com, which provides ticketing services and marketing support for companies using the Pavilion venues, the two other BCA theatre venues, and the BU Theatre. It’s one of the city’s most popular theatre web destinations, selling almost 50,000 tickets to non-Huntington productions last year.

Our 25-year commitment to theatre education in Greater Boston is second to none. The Huntington’s student matinee program serves thousands of students each year, providing most with a student club card that gets them free admission until they are 21. Dedicated staff members and teaching artists visit 100 schools each year. We provide after-school programs for budding young actors and playwrights, teach students backstage workings, run the statewide “Poetry Out Loud” program for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, work with youth organizations and the Boston Municipal Court to present shows that teach legal rights and responsibilities, and have had great success using theatre training and dramatic literature as the core of Dorchester’s acclaimed Codman Academy charter school's humanities programs.

I invite a reporter to spend time with our education staff members over the next few months, and would be delighted if the Globe wanted to devote anywhere near the number of column inches as it did this past Sunday to an upcoming edition, this time to bring greater awareness of these vitally important programs to your readers. As Ms. Kennedy indicated, the future of our next generation of theatregoers is at stake.


Michael Maso

Managing Director

Huntington Theatre Company

February 2, 2007

New Toys

My previously planned Friday post has been delayed, so I thought I would try out a new blog toy... a live poll widget. I like toys. Widgets are good. It's from polldaddy.com - how could one possibly resist? And polls can be fun. Really. Give it a try...

What other topics would make for a fun poll? Click on "Join the conversation!" below and let me know.


I found another toy tonight. I'll now be sharing news and blog items of interest (at least of interest to me) with you. Look for Todd's reading list on the right hand sidebar.

BTW - Kate Burton was WONDERFUL on Grey's Anatomy last night. Missed it? Watch the episode titled Wishin' and Hopin' here.