June 22, 2007

Discounting Kiki & Herb?

I've seen a few discount ticket offers floating around out there for the remaining Kiki & Herb performances. This one is pretty good.

Text KIKI to 22122 to receive 50% off on tickets.

You'll get a reply message with discount instructions. It's easy, it's cheap...

As usual, my rec for best seatings are weekday evenings and matinees.

June 20, 2007

Kiki, Herb, Judy?

I've seen stranger combinations...

Show business Legends Kiki & Herb (a.k.a Justin Bond - right, and Kenny Mellman - left) and Judy Garland (a.k.a. Kathy St.George - center) shared a rare, iconic moment together on the stage of the Wimberly last Tuesday evening. Rumor has it that Kiki had Judy up the tree at one point. No surprise there! After the photos, Kathy joined the enthusiastic audience in the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA for a shot of the Year of Magical Drinking tour.

Also attending were the Huntington's Managing Director Michael Maso, and ART's Associate Artistic Director/Dramaturg Gideon Lester. They were a little confused. The Huntington's got Kiki & Herb, ART has Noel Coward. Go figure. I just checked out the website for ART's upcoming "A Marvelous Party" - it's chock full of local favorites and sounds like a great time.

Here's a pic of Justin and Kenny with a friend celebrating at Kiki & Herb Night at Club Cafe last Friday after the show. There is no telling where these guys may turn up next.

Especially if there is a bar.

OK - that's not entirely fair. There is, really, much more to this show (and Kenny and Justin's talent) than booze, such as some rockin' piano playing (we've only had to replace a couple of piano strings), 90 minutes of scorching vocals, lots of opinion, and more than a few surprisingly moving moments. I'd hate to give the impression that this is all just fun and games, but I'll leave it to you to experience it for yourselves.

I have to confess I've not got much in the way of behind the scenes news for you on this production, so I'm still hoping that a few more our readers will step up and help us out by sharing their experience with this show. Hit that comment button below and share the spotlight. I'll keep adding links to the "It's all talk" post below.

Nightlife photo courtesy of Edge Boston

June 18, 2007

It's all talk

Justin and Kenny spill the beans,
the newspapers testify,
and join the fun.

The critics assess,
Kiki & Herb burble.
and the bloggers chronicle. Some folks are even looking for a hotel room (ahem - and happy anniversary).

WBUR broadcasts (and points out the blog)!

Why are tongues a waggin'? Kiki and Herb, of course. Click on the links to find out why.

Most of all we would love to hear what YOU have to say... click on "Join the conversation" or "comment" below to leave word(s). Send us your questions and we'll see if we can get the answers. Click on the envelope to send this post along to a friend or two.

In no particular order:
Alive and kitsching
It's the end of the world...
Boston Herald:Inside Track
What's on my Mind? Eve treats herself
Broadway to Boston rants
"She's a banshee" Bond tells the Boston Globe.
Playbill Online Points
"What the hell," says Rising from the Ashes
Culture Bot travesties (?)
The Globe makes it a date
Out.com features
Kiki & Herb(?) blog
Kenny and Justin talk Tony
Sushi, Kiki & Herb
Alive and Kicking
The Dig Previews
Song of the South End
This is not your Mother's cabaret program...
"Wake up. Eat your cereal. Be nice."

Have a good link? Send it my way.

Photo courtesy of Foster Management

June 14, 2007

Kiki & Herb Opens

I watched Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman in their KIKI & HERB ALIVE FROM BROADWAY dress rehearsal yesterday afternoon. If you could use a few laughs - including a few at yourself, well... you know...

I think the tour now has a new title - THE YEAR OF MAGICAL DRINKING. I'll have to agree - it is magical, and there is drinking. Have you ever seen anyone down a gallon of Bourbon in 90 minutes? It's only one of the many pleasures this evening of theatre offers. Aside from the electricity that Kiki and Herb themselves provide I was also impressed with the production value. This is the Broadway show - (ok, with a little new material - who can blame Kiki for talking about the Tony nomination and losing to a ventriloquist) and it shows - a great set by Scott Pask and Lighting by Jeff Croiter, ably executed by LD assistant Joel Silver.

I had intended to catch tonight's press opening, but I messed up and double booked myself with a prior committment to see Present Laughter. So I'll have to catch it another night. Are you going? Tell me about your experience...

>PS - See the special offer in the sidebar for tickets this weekend only!

Photo: Carol Rosegg

June 11, 2007

Tony Tony Tony

A few folks have been wondering... wasn't that featured actor nominee Brooks Ashmanskas (Present Laughter) at the Tony Awards last night? Yes it was - he was whisked off to NY at approximately 4:18 yesterday afternoon following the matinee performance. There were lots of familiar Huntington faces at the Tony's and I'll share a few of my favorite moments:

Mary Louise Wilson unapologetically howled in delight after commenting how articulate everyone prior to her speech had been, and it was priceless. Ms. Wilson won Featured Actress - Musical (Grey Gardens) and appeared at the Huntington in the 2005 production of The Rivals. It was, hands down, the most enjoyable part of the evening for me.

Julie White is always enthusiastic and last night was no exception! Julie won Best Actress - Play, for Little Dog Laughed. Julie was in our 2004 production of Bad Dates and has been a regular at our Breaking Ground New Play Festivals.

It was also great to see a few other Huntington related folks there including Frank Langella (who was in Broadway's Match directed by Nicholas Martin), and director Scott Ellis (Broadway's Little Dog Laughed, Curtains, and next season's Streamers). Best special event nominees Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman (aka Kiki and Herb) were looking fabulous, Debra Monk (last seen in the Huntington's Laughing Wild directed by Nicholas Martin) was stealing scenes from Curtains co-star David Hyde Pierce. Radio Golf's Anthony Chisholm and John Earl Jelks were looking dapper as always. The Huntington's production of Butley with Nathan Lane was featured nicely in a video segment. In the design categories Lighting Designers Kenny Posner and Kevin Adams both took home prizes. We're looking forward to seeing them here next season. And finally, I must send a big shout-out to our friends at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre who took home the Regional Theatre Award.

There were several calls for a "repertory" or "national" theatre company in New York City, especially from the folks at Lincoln Center's Tony winning Company of
Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, but with top flight regionals such as The Roundabout, Lincoln Center Theatre, and the Manhattan Theatre Club I don't quite understand what it's all about. I'm sure someone will fill me in...

Click for today's Boston Globe coverage and a full list of winners. For photos of some of the above visit our awards season post.

Congrats to all of the nominees and winners!

June 8, 2007

Rhythm and Bruise

I've been a guest at the Calderwood Pavilion twice this week... it's very odd, but fun. Monday I attended "The Party" as a guest of Jeff Poulos over at StageSource. It was a great evening and nice to see so many familiar faces all in one place. Tonight I attended the 10th Anniversary Party for Wilson Butler - the Calderwood Pavilion's Architects. More familiar faces... it hardly seems like almost three years have passed since we cut the ribbon there together.

Anyway - as part of the Wilson Butler celebration we had a command performance from Snappy Dance Theater, who are also celebrating 10 years. I've been hearing from my staff about how much fun the String Beings piece is, and they were right, it's a great example of how you can use live digital projection as part of a performance. It is a truly enjoyable evening of dance theater, and since you probably won't be able to get tickets to Saturday evening's performance of Present Laughter why don't you head down to the Calderwood and enjoy Snappy Dance instead. Tickets at BostonTheatreScene.com, of course. And - I found this fun video from Snappy on You Tube. Enjoy!

Snappy Dance Theater Photo: Odd Egg Out, 1999, photo by Roger Ide

June 6, 2007

Opening Night Photo Album

JMK stayed late last night to send us a LOT of Opening Night photos. Thanks!
I have trouble when there are too many choices, so here are a bunch.
FYI - a bunch is less than a lot.

Our May 23rd opening night festivities included;
a) Dinner for 130 in Studio 210 with invited donors and special guests,
b) A red carpet reception complete with photographers prior to curtain,
c) A sold out high energy crowd for the evening's rousing opening performance of Present Laughter,
d) A post show cast party with staff, crew, board members and other special guests,
e) ...and a late start to the day on Thursday.

It's always a long long day, but it feels great to kick off the run with a big celebration, especially on our final subscription offering of the season. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of the magic this year.

Here's a few peeks behind the scenes.

Huntington favorites Andrea Martin and Victor Garber

Overseer John and Trustee Susan Spooner

Overseer Sherry and Trustee Gerard Cohen

Cheryl McMahon and Nancy E. Carroll (Miss Erikson)

Audience services Staffers Penny Hansen and Will Roberts

Don Cornuet and Trustee Stephen Weiner

Sarah Hudnut, (Monica Reed) right, and her Mom, left

Richard Snee (Henry Lyppiatt)

Development staffers Kristina Stanley, Katie DeBonville, Michelle Williams, and PR staffer John Michael Kennedy

Chairman of the Board David Wimberly and Sue Dahlie

Huntington Favorites Jessica Stone, Christopher Fitzgerald and Andrea Martin

Woody Crowther and Trustee Jeanne Ryan , Trustee Judi and Douglas Krupp

Lisa Banes (Liz Essendine) and Pamela Gray (Joanna Lyppiatt)

Jill and Mitch Roberts (Trustee)

President of the Board Bill McQuillan, Managing Director Michael Maso, and Artistic Director Nicholas Martin

Trustee Bob Scott and Devo staffer Howard Breslau

Brooks Ashmanskas (Roland Maule)

Overseer Christopher Yens and marketing staffer Temple Gill

Click on the pix for larger images. Photos taken by Eric Antoniou and Laura Wulf. All names left to right unless otherwise noted. Please forgive me if I've mis-spelled your name.

It's in the details

I've added some detail about the beautiful Present Laughter costumes to a previous post. Take a second look.

And here's another shot of Gary Essendine (Victor Garber) attempting to make an escape from the fray. I believe that this suit was provided by one of our generous sponsors, Bloomingdale's Chestnut Hill. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Out and About

Tomorrow (Thursday, June 6) is our Out and About Club Boston Pride performance of Present Laughter. Club patrons are invited to a post show reception and a backstage tour (hosted by yours truly).

Log on to buy online or call 617 266-0800. Opening night photo by Laura Wulf.


You never know what's going to come across your desk...

Our clip service managed to come up with today's gem. Who's picture do you see when you look up the word "malapropism"? Why Mrs. Malaprop's of course. This particular definition features a photo of Mary Louise Wilson in our 2004-2005 production of The Rivals. Enjoy!

June 4, 2007

BU Today

BU Today is running a five part series called "Backstage at BU" starting off today with a feature on BU Alumni and Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ronan Noone and his play Brendan, which was performed as a workshop by the University last fall and we'll produce in October.

Click here for Part 1. (Brendan)
Click here for Part 2. (La Boheme)
Click here for Part 3. (The Cherry Orchard)
Click here for Part 4. (Tonight, Tonight)
Click here for Part 5. (Mauritius)

I'll quote a couple of paragraphs of the article:

"Boston University loves drama, from the moodiness of Anton Chekhov to the humor of George Bernard Shaw. The GRS Creative Writing Program’s elite playwriting program has produced some of today’s most successful young playwrights, such as Ronan Noone (GRS’01) and Melinda Lopez (GRS’00), and benefited from decades of partnership with BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, founded by Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize winning poet and a BU professor, and the Huntington Theatre Company, in residence at Boston University. The 25-year relationship between BU and the Huntington has given one of the country’s best professional companies a performance space and offered BU students an opportunity for hands-on experience.

This week BU Today looks at five shows produced at Boston University in 2006 and 2007, ranging from workshops at the College of Fine Arts to full-scale productions by the Huntington.

Father and Daughter

I'm still waiting for JMK to hand over the opening night photos and some production video, even though he sent this photo our way today. We had a great performance last night, and the audience had an extra special treat.

Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Victor Garber, and Nicholas Martin visit backstage following Sunday's performance of Present Laughter. Jennifer and Victor worked together on ABC's Alias. Ben was in town to do some work for the Greater Boston Food Bank and to cheer on the Sox. More info here. And a follow up here.

Present Laughter begins it's final two weeks tomorrow. Best bet for tickets are weekday and matinee performances, though availability is good for all of the remaining performances.

WBZ's Liz Walker has an interview with Victor Garber here which aired Sunday, June 3rd. Joyce Kulhawik has a review here. Both pieces include some performance video.

June 2, 2007

Present Laughter Costumes

I've finally filled in some details about the costumes shown in these blog exclusive Present Laughter photos. Thanks to Costume Director Nancy Brennan for telling us what's going on. Take a look...

Joanna Lyppiatt (Pamela J. Gray) is prepared to travel in this red and black ensemble, having just reserved the honeymoon suite for herself and Mr. Essendine on the impending transatlantic voyage. It took a couple of tries to find just the right fabric to create this suit - something that could look well while still being fitted to within an inch of it's life. This character's costumes were intentionally very body-conscious. The cape lining was dyed to match the suit, it originally was the same black and white as the cape exterior.

Liz Essendine (Lisa Banes) and Daphne Stillington (Holley Fain) meet the morning after. Daphne's fluffy white ballgown renders a laugh every evening. Our designer, Mariann Verheyen, had a ball embellishing this gown and capulet, which are studded with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. The gown gets "fluffed up" every night to maintain it's wonderful volume.

Fred (James Joseph O'Neil) serves up some sass in his morning service wear.We went through a few options before settling on a look for Fred that would immediately convey his station in the house but also stand out on the set and have a hint of humor to it. We think this striped vest fits the bill. The sleeve garters were the final flourish.

Morris Dixon (Marc Vietor), looking dour and confused in this dark pinstriped suit, gets an earful from Garry Essendine (Victor Garber). Mr. Garber has four of these beautiful silk dressing gowns. We copied dressing gowns of the period to try and keep the fluidity and drape of the originals. This particular gown fabric was, of course, chosen with a nod to the character's upcoming trip to Africa. Morris went through a few permutations of ties and pocket squares before we chose this combination.

Monica Reed (Sarah Hudnut), looking well ordered, helps to restore some sanity to yet another mad morning at the Essendine studio. This costume started with the sumptuous green wool that makes up the outer coat. We wanted the look of the suit, with the skirt and coat matching, but the coat wool was too heavy to create a graceful skirt. Therefore, our expert craftsperson, Denise Wallace, dyed an ivory wool to match the coat fabric perfectly. Voila, an ensemble!

Henry Lyppiatt (Richard Snee) blusters up a storm, in his gray morning suit, at Garry Essendine (Victor Garber). Richard Snee makes every tailored suit look wonderful, he's the picture of perfection here, right down to his matching gloves.

Joanna Lyppiatt (Pamela J. Gray) attempts to claim some turf while Miss Erikson (Nancy E. Carroll) doubtfully looks on, noting yet another occupant in Mr. Essendine's clothing. When one of Gary Essendine's lady friends finds herself "without a latchkey", she sometimes borrows one of his many dressing gowns. We made this green silk paisley gown to fit Victor, so that the audience would immediately make the connection as to where the gown came from.

Daphne Stillington (Holley Fain) once again expresses her devotion to Gary Essendine in this pleated and polka dotted wonder. This costume has a custom sunburst-pleated skirt that has a wonderful movement onstage. A few embellishments to this costume were edited out in the fitting room and/or dress rehearsal, though. The original wide fabric sash of red polka dot was traded for this sleeker and more flattering belt, and we decided to forgo bangle bracelets and extra painting on the shoes that made the overall effect too busy.

Roland Maule (Brooks Ashmanskas), never one to be outdone, is also packed (complete with Teddy) and ready to accompany Mr. Essendine on his tour of Africa. For the character of Roland Maule we thought the quirky vests that he wears are part of his signature. They also lend a youthful quality that's quite different from the more mature men.

The flowery Lady Saltburn (Alice Duffy) makes her acquaintances with Garry Essendine (Victor Garber). This costume became a case of less-is-more. The original dress, well into the dress rehearsal process, had another layer of ruffles, fuller and more dramatic sleeves, and a long, floaty chiffon scarf. Onstage it was too much of a good thing, so off came the ruffles and extras. We toned down the accessories a little, too, and designed a new hat shape that flattered Alice and made a statement but didn't overpower. You'll have to go see the show to see it.

Joanna Lyppiatt (Pamela J. Gray) wins a round in this hot pink seduction. Well, this dress, as one might imagine, required more fitting time than anything else in the show. Sometimes things that look the simplest are actually quite complicated. Our actress, Pamela Gray, graciously stood for several hours to get this one just right, a feat which was accomplished by our talented staff draper, Penny Pinette.

All Photos by T. Charles Erickson

News (Brief)

Even I can't believe that I haven't posted in over a week... thanks for looking around the blog in the meanwhile.

We said farewell to a number of our production staff for the summer, mostly in the costume shop, but even though it's much quieter in my wing of the theatre there is still plenty going on!

Present Laughter (company taking their bows, above) is enjoying great success with fantastic reviews (see my Shared Items in the sidebar), standing ovations, and lots of VIP guests. Ticket sales are taking off and may meet some daily sales records not seen since Ain't Misbehavin' or Butley. There are still, however, plenty of tickets available through the run ending on June 17th. The Boston Globe has been keeping up with our special guests in their Names Column.

We are gearing up for the upcoming production of Kiki and Herb beginning June 13th at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The details are coming together and I still think it's going to be a great time.

If you've ever needed a good excuse to come into the city, have a great dinner, and see some truly entertaining theatre we've got two great reasons; Present Laughter and Kiki and Herb. I've got lots of friends coming in this month and am looking forward to catching up with a few of them on Sunday with dinner at Petit Robert Bistro on Columbus Ave before Sunday evening's show. With two locations relatively close to the theatre, Petit Robert is one of your best options for reasonably priced pre-theatre fine dining. For Dessert - try a Noel Coward tune sung by the Company of Present Laugher (below).

Our Playwriting Fellows continue to enjoy success with new productions and new plays being announced seemingly every day for the past few weeks. I'm hoping Ilana Brownstein will have a comprehensive update for us early next week.

Lastly - we are very busy wrapping up details on our creative teams for next season. Look for some announcements on that front soon too. I'm hoping we'll be starting construction on The 39 Steps by the end of the month.

So if I add a few summer capital improvement projects to the above list - it's easily a dozen major projects that have been keeping me busy for the last couple of weeks. Plus I'm enjoying weekends off again.

We'll get you some more Present Laughter content soon, promise!

(Photos by T. Charles Erickson)