April 29, 2008

She Loves Me - In the Shops

I've started a photo album - we will add photos to it as we go. Here is what goes on in the shops before a production hits the stage.

Want to see the larger photos or a bigger slide show? Just click on the photos and look around Picasa Web Albums

Photos by Brian Sears, Justin Seward and Todd Williams

Sinan Unel blogs about the critical reaction to The Cry of the Reed

I just found out that Sinan Unel has started a blog to talk about The Cry of the Reed.

The lead media critics and our audiences seem to be having very different experiences at the show and he would like to hear what you have to say about it.

I've always marveled that a group of people can watch the same the same performance, yet experience so many different things. Every one's perspective is different. It's fun to see a playwright talking about that.

You can read all of the reviews there, see what others are saying, and then add your two cents.

Head on over to cryofthereed.blogspot.com

The Cry of the Reed - Final Week

The Cry of the Reed will close on Saturday night - good seats are still available (the final week of the run is not subscribed) so head on over to the South End and catch it before it's too late.

I wanted to take the opportunity to remind you of a couple of our best ticket pricing options.

Students under 21 can see any of our productions for just 15 bucks.

Walk up 2 hours prior to curtain (see box office hours here), or call anytime (617 266-7900) and purchase a student flex pass subscription to get advance reservations. Our customer service reps will tell you how it all works.

Theater-goers between the ages of 21 and 35 can purchase tickets for just $25. Anytime. For any show. No strings attached. Just call or buy them online.

I checked out our subscription pricing for next season and now there are even more options than ever before - with subscriptions starting as low as $20 per show. Check it out here

And a shout out to all of the readers from Talkin' Broadway's All That Chat who visited the blog last week. Thanks for your comments!

foto info: Philip (Darren Pettie), a Canadian journalist who has been detained by Iraqi insurgents, dreams of freedom in the Huntington Theatre Company's World Premiere production of The Cry of the Reed by Sinan Ünel. Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

April 23, 2008

Huntington Announces 2008-2009 Season

I'm out of the office for a few days - almost missed this press release... I'll add some more links and info another day - Enjoy!


(BOSTON) – The Huntington Theatre Company announces today its 2008-2009 Season, the first under new Artistic Director Peter DuBois, who begins his tenure July 1. The season includes two world premiere productions, one American premiere, two reinvigorated classics, playwrights new to Huntington audiences, and the latest critical smash from Tom Stoppard.


· “HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST,” a world premiere by Tony Award-winner Richard Nelson, directed by Jonathan Moscone, Sept. 5-Oct. 5, 2008 at the Huntington’s main stage, the Boston University Theatre;

· Boleros for the Disenchanted” by José Rivera, directed by Chay Yew, Oct. 10-Nov. 15, 2008 at the Huntington’s Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts;

· Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Tom Stoppard, directed by Carey Perloff in a co-production with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, Nov. 7-Dec. 7, 2008 at the B.U. Theatre;

· Kate Burton in “The Corn is Green” by Emlyn Williams, directed by Huntington Artist Emeritus Nicholas Martin, Jan. 9-Feb. 8, 2009 at the B.U. Theatre;

· The Hinge of the World” by Richard Goodwin, directed by Edward Hall in an American premiere running March 6-April 5, 2009 at the B.U. Theatre;

· The Miracle at Naples,” a world premiere by David Grimm, directed by Peter DuBois, April 3-May 9, 2009 at the Calderwood Pavilion; and

· THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE,” a Caribbean-style adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic musical conceived by Gordon Greenberg, Nell Benjamin, and John McDaniel, with additional book and lyrics by Nell Benjamin. Directed by Gordon Greenberg; runs May 15-June 14, 2009 at the B.U. Theatre.

DuBois says his first season is designed to appeal to a wide range of theatregoers looking for great entertainment. “This upcoming season offers some of the best writing, directing and acting from Boston to New York to London. My goal is this: as audiences journey between our homes at the Boston University Theatre, and the Wimberly and Roberts Theatres at the Calderwood Pavilion, they will encounter some of the most exciting work on stage today.”


How Shakespeare Won the West” is Richard Nelson’s funny, heartbreaking, and highly theatrical look at a troupe of 19th century actors who cross the U.S. to perform Shakespeare for entertainment-starved panhandlers caught up in the Gold Rush. It’s based on a true story and DuBois calls it “a celebration of ambition and the human spirit. Richard has written a love letter to the theatre with his latest play.” Nelson’s work has been seen at the Huntington twice before; he wrote and directed an acclaimed adaptation of “James Joyce’s The Dead” in the 2000-2001 season and wrote a translation of “The Cherry Orchard” in 2007. This production will be directed by Jonathan Moscone, who is Artistic Director of the California Shakespeare Theatre.

Boleros for the Disenchanted” is Academy Award-nominated writer José Rivera’s moving portrait of a loving marriage between Flora and Eusebio, two Puerto Rican immigrants whose youthful, whirlwind romance is tested and strengthened over four decades – from their homeland to rural Alabama. DuBois says “Boleros” is “a groundbreaking play and Rivera’s most exciting dramatic work to date.” He says director Chay Yew “excels in creating simple, elegant, emotionally resonant worlds.” Rivera was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay adaptation of the book, “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a sweeping, generation-spanning drama of international dissidents who experience political, personal, and musical revolutions. In 1968, Russian tanks roll into Prague; by 1990, the tanks are out and the Rolling Stones are in. Featuring 20+ years of great rock music, “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was a New York and London hit. “Stoppard’s breathtaking language and searing intellect propel this stunning new work.” DuBois says. Ben Brantley of The New York Times called “Rock ‘n’ Roll” "Stoppard’s finest play! It had me hooked." Produced in association with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre and directed by Carey Perloff.

The sure-fire team of actress Kate Burton and director Nicholas Martin (“Hedda Gabler,” “The Cherry Orchard”) returns to the Huntington with Martin’s critically acclaimed production of Emlyn Williams’ classic, “The Corn is Green.” Burton plays idealistic and hardnosed schoolteacher Miss Moffat, who arrives in a poverty-stricken Welsh coal-mining town to open the community’s first school. She takes illiterate school bully Morgan (played by Burton’s son, Morgan Ritchie) under her wing and points him toward a brighter future in this funny, life-affirming tale. DuBois says “I am thrilled that the Huntington will remain an artistic home for Nicky, and so happy to have Kate and Nicky teamed again for this poignant story.”

The Hinge of the World” by historian and former JFK speechwriter Richard Goodwin captures the moment 400 years ago when Galileo raised his telescope to the skies and created theories that shook society to its core. As word spreads from Venice to Rome, the scientist becomes a target for Pope Urban VIII and his Catholic brethren. Brought before the Holy Inquisition, Galileo is forced to choose between his religion and his life’s work in this intelligent, thought-provoking epic drama about the struggle between reason and faith. Director Edward Hall is Associate Director of London’s National Theatre and the son of British director Sir Peter Hall. DuBois calls Hall “one of the most theatrically daring directors in England. Ed and Richard proved to be an amazing team when this play was first produced by Ed’s Propeller Theater Company. It is an honor to present the American premiere.”

The Miracle at Naples” is David Grimm’s hilarious and bawdy comedy, set in Renaissance Italy and focused on the romantic adventures of a band of commedia players who arrive for the Feast of San Gennaro. The beautiful maiden Flaminia falls madly in love with actor Giancarlo, and it’s up to her nurse Francescina to maintain her virtue. Not easy to do when lovers are displaying their affections all over the piazza. This outrageous sex farce is by the author of “Measure for Pleasure,” and “Kit Marlowe.” DuBois says “if Oscar Wilde, Tom Stoppard and Charles Ludlum had a love child, it would be David Grimm. David’s dazzling language skills, romanticism, and bawdy imagination make him a truly singular writer. It’s a play about love, appetite, and the role of theatre in a changing world.”

“THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE” is a raucous and rowdy Caribbean update of the musical comedy classic – complete with swordfights, sex appeal, and all the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan songs. After a hard-of-hearing nurse mistakes the word "pilot" for "pirate," young Frederic is apprenticed to a band of swashbuckling buccaneers. Now a young man with his final days of servitude rapidly approaching, Frederic longs for a respectable life. In true Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, mishaps arise, and it takes a fair maiden, a fair amount of double-crossing, and the very model of a modern Major General to reach a happy ending. DuBois says, “Gilbert and Sullivan were sophisticated political satirists – the Jon Stewarts of their time – and this new re-imagining is a joyous conclusion to our season!”

Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso says “Peter DuBois became the Huntington’s new Artistic Director because he has great vision, enthusiasm, and access to wonderful artistic collaborators in the U.S. and around the world. His first season embraces the traditions of the Huntington’s past quarter-century, and harnesses the best of what’s happening on the American theatre scene right now. This season appeals to the Huntington’s core subscriber base and to individual ticket buyers looking for the best entertainment in the region.”


The Huntington’s 2008-2009 subscriptions, on sale now, are more flexible than ever, available in 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-play packages. Subscribers save up to 50 percent on full-price tickets to individual shows.

Subscriptions may be purchased online at www.huntingtontheatre.org or by calling the Huntington Box Office at 617-266-0800. Individual tickets for these shows go on sale in August.


The Huntington will announce the lineup for its “Huntington Presents” series in a few weeks.

Photo: "Pirates of Penzance" - Goodspeed Musicals

She Loves Me - Huntington Cast

From today's Press release:

“This is the best cast we’ve ever had for a show,” says director Nicholas Martin, who has assembled some of his favorite actors for this production.

Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee Brooks Ashmanskas (from the Huntington’s productions of “Present Laughter” and “Amphitryon”) and Kate Baldwin (last seen in the Huntington’s “Falsettos”) star as the unlikely lovers George Howack and Amalia Balash. Troy Britton Johnson, who was featured in the Tony Award-winning musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” plays Steven Kodaly. Tony Award-winner Dick Latessa (“Hairspray”), seen last season in the Huntington’s “The Cherry Orchard” plays shop owner Mr. Maraczek. Jessica Stone IRNE Award-winning star of the Huntington’s “Betty’s Summer Vacation,” and recently seen in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s “Crimes of the Heart” revival, and Broadway’s “Butley” and “The Odd Couple,” plays Ilona.

The cast also includes: Jeremy Beck (lauded in the Huntington’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “The Cherry Orchard”) as Arpad; Mark Nelson (OBIE Award winner for “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” by Steve Martin, and founding member of New York’s Drama Department) as Sipos; and Mark Vietor (from the Huntington’s production of “Present Laughter” and Red Bull Theatre’s acclaimed fall 2007 production of “Edward the Second”) as the Headwaiter.

The show’s ensemble includes: Monique Alhaddad, Ashley Arcement; Jason Babinsky; Nancy E. Carroll, Aldrin Gonzales, Rosie Hunter, Matthew Kiernan, Josh Mertz, and Sarah Turner.

Swings and understudies are: Kevin Ashworth, Curly Glynn, Penny Hansen, Matthew Warner Kiernan, Josh Mertz, Marie Polizzano, and Sarah Turner.

Bios for the artist team and cast can be found here.

Photo: Design Sketch by Robert Morgan - Character "George", played by Brooks Ashmaskas

April 20, 2008

She Loves Me - Design Sneak Peek

The Huntington’s She Loves Me includes choreography by Denis Jones, musical direction by Charlie Alterman, scenic design by James Noone, costume design by Robert Morgan, lighting co-designed by Ken Posner and Philip Rosenberg, and sound co-designed by Drew Levy and Tony Smolenski. Production stage manager is Matthew Silver; stage manager is Eileen Kelly.

(Photo Credits: Robert Morgan - Costumes, above, and Jim Noone - Scenery, below. Click on the photos to view full size)

Elliot Norton and Outer Critic Circle Nominations

And the award season excitement continues with the announcement of the Elliot Norton Award Nominations this weekend.

The Huntington earned several nominations in the Large Company categories. Here are the highlights;

Designers Kevin Adams (lighting) and Mic Pool (sound) for The 39 Steps
Director Maria Aitken for The 39 Steps
Designer Alexander Dodge for Present Laughter and Brendan
Victor Garber; Outstanding Actor in Present Laughter
Nancy E. Carroll; Outstanding Actress in
Present Laughter and Brendan
Present Laughter for Outstanding Production
Cry of the Reed designer Eugene Lee received a nomination for The Fantasticks at Trinity Rep
Ronan Noone for
Outstanding New Script (Brendan)
Huntington Playwriting Fellow Melinda Lopez's Gary for Outstanding New Script (Boston Plawrights' Theatre)
John Judd for Outstanding Actor, Shining City

and Nicholas Martin will receive the Norton Award for Sustained Excellence.

Congrats to all of the winners. The full list can be viewed at StageSource and the awards this year will take place at the Sanders Theatre (45 Quincy Street, Cambridge). Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 617 496-2222 or online here. Rumor has it that Andrea Martin will host.

ADDENDUM: Outer Critics Circle Nominations, April 21
Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps won three Outer Critics nominations for New Broadway Play, and Director - Maria Aitken, and Lighting Design - Kevin Adams. Congrats! Rounding out the Best New Broadway Play nominations are next season's Tom Stoppard hit Rock n Roll, the runaway smash August:Osage County from our friends at Steppenwolf, and the newest by Shining City author Conor McPherson - The Seafarer.

April 16, 2008

IRNE Award Winners

I attended my first IRNE award ceremony on Monday night (I've been active in the Boston theatre community for 17 years... I need to get out more often). It was great to see so many colleagues and experience the pride and excitement on both sides of the podium. No doubt it was a strong season, and there were great moments onstage around the region... we are indeed making great contributions to the larger "Theatre Nation".

I'm the guy who won't do press interviews - and yet somehow I managed to find myself on stage accepting awards on behalf of designers Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design - Present Laughter) and Mic Pool (Sound Design - The 39 Steps). I was so nervous I forgot to introduce myself the first time up!

I'd like to further my tremulous gratitudes from the podium by appending this from Michael Maso, our boss, who recently emailed the following to the staff; "Each of you has dedicated yourself to an enterprise that serves others, and that brings joy, compassion, hope, empathy and understanding to thousands each week. You make it possible for young artists to follow their dreams, for masters to perfect their craft, for kids to reach far beyond their supposed limitations, for the settled to challenge their beliefs, for the people of a city to come together and share insights into other people's lives and learn about themselves in the process, for a good laugh or a quiet cry."

Thank you.

Brendan won Best New Play and was accepted by Ronan Noone who gave an obviously heartfelt thank you. Congrats Ronan!

Present Laughter garnered awards for (our scenery chewing) Best Ensemble and Costume Design by the talented Marvann Verhoven. Oops - it appears that the IRNE committee does not make use of a proofreader. There were several embarrassing moments at the podium where the presenters read an incorrect name for the winners. The winners certificates, further, listed us as 'The Huntington Repertory Company". Huh? We are hoping the committee will reprint them for us. Needless to say; our good friend and longtime colleague Mariann Verheyen, who has hung the typo on her wall and may actually be considering a legal name change, is the correct identity of our winning Costume Designer.

The "ensemble" from Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, Arnie Burton and Cliff Saunders - who played about 148 roles between them - also took the Best Supporting Actor award. I am heading to NYC next week where I will visit The 39 Steps company in tech at their new digs at the Cort Theatre on Broadway.

For the full list of IRNE award winner visit StageSource.

Two presenters gave kudos to the press reps and marketing folks at the theatres for helping them get the news out there. This reminded me, sadly, that our Press guy, "sweet little" John Michael Kennedy, recently took a new job with Goodman Media International in Manhattan, and will be leaving us in a few weeks. I would like to thank JMK for the great work he's done here and for being such a great colleague.

April 15, 2008

It's a Party!


(BOSTON) – Academy Award-winning theatre and film star Olympia Dukakis (best known for her work on the films “Moonstruck” and “Steel Magnolias,” the play “Rose,” and the acclaimed TV miniseries “Tales of the City”) will host the Huntington Theatre Company’s 2008 “Spotlight Spectacular!” gala benefit on Monday, May 5, 2008 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel and Towers.

Proceeds from “Spotlight Spectacular!” support the Huntington’s programs, including its award-winning youth, education, and community outreach initiatives. Last year the event raised more than $700,000.

This year’s event honors Huntington Trustee Carol Deane and her husband Disque, who have been loyal patrons and supporters of the company for many years. The Deanes will receive The Wimberly Award, the Huntington’s highest honor -- named for long-time Board Chairman J. David Wimberly and presented to those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the company.

Chaired by Huntington Trustee Kristine Scoon and her husband Davey, “Spotlight Spectacular!” features an elegant cocktail reception where guests can bid on unique and interesting silent auction items while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and mingling with high-profile VIPs, including stars of recent and upcoming Huntington productions. A seated dinner, live auction, and entertainment by the Huntington’s special friends follow the reception.

An online auction, now open on www.huntington.cmarket.com, allows Huntington patrons and friends to bid on exciting auction items prior to the event. Among the items are Red Sox/Yankees tickets, the video game “Rock Band,” a tour of the “America's Test Kitchen” set, dinners at Boston’s best restaurants, golf outings, theatre tickets, and much more.

“Spotlight Spectacular!” tickets sold out last year. Table prices range from $7,500 to $25,000. this year and individual tickets are $500 and $1,500. For more information about the event, to sponsor a table, or to purchase tickets, contact Michelle Williams at (617) 273-1536 or MWilliams@huntingtontheatre.bu.edu.


Olympia Dukakis became a household name and sought-after film actress when she turned in an Oscar-winning performance as a sardonic mother in the 1987 romantic comedy “Moonstruck.” But she had been a staple on the New York theatre scene since her Broadway debut in 1961. Her virtuosity from cutting-edge comedy to stark tragedy has kept her in high demand for the past 30 years as of one of Hollywood's top character actors.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Dukakis majored in physical therapy at Boston University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. During her fledgling actor days she supported herself as a physical therapist. She returned to B.U. later and received a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Dukakis made her Broadway debut as an understudy in "The Aspern Papers" at age 30. After marrying Yugoslav-American actor Louis Zorich, the New York-based couple co-founded The Whole Theatre Company in Montclair, New Jersey, and ran it for 15 years. She scored theater triumphs in "A Man's a Man", for which she won an OBIE Award in 1962, and made an impact in productions of "The Cherry Orchard," "Mother Courage," "Six Character in Search of an Author," "The Rose Tattoo," "The Seagull"; "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" (OBIE Award) and many performances of the title role in "Hecuba".

Dukakis’ scene-stealing work in the Broadway comedy "Social Security" (1986) caught director Norman Jewison's eye and earned her the “Moonstruck” role in 1987. In addition to the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress that year, “Moostruck” earned Dukakis awards from the New York Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics, and the Golden Globes. Dukakis began landing high-profile roles in “Steel Magnolias” (1989), “The Cemetery Club” (1993), “Mr. Holland's Opus” (1995) and many more. On TV, she broke ground with her portrayal of the sympathetic transgender landlady in the epic miniseries "Tales of the City" (1993) and its sequel, “More Tales of the City” (which earned her an Emmy Award nomination).

In 2007 Dukakis revived her solo turn in the play "Rose" (2000), which earned her an Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award nomination.

April 13, 2008

She Loves Me: The Videos

So it was really late on Friday night and I thought I'd look and see what You Tube had for videos from She Loves Me. I had no idea.

Here is a selection for your viewing enjoyment; there are currently 27 of them and I'm adding more as I go. Heck - I might even add yours if you send me the URL. There are some gems here including Ruthie Henshall, Barbara Cook, Audra McDonald, even Jack Cassidy. Then there are a few recitals, High School and College productions, and even an abridged version (clips 21-27), each with a charm of it's own. Enjoy!!


I'll be blogging a lot more over the next month or so - there will be tons to write about and show you. I thought about committing to doing a post every day. Then I regained my sanity for a millisecond. I hope you will ask questions and comment... I do like talking to myself, but only so much.

April 11, 2008

Singing Spring

It is getting mighty songful around these parts. We've presently got the cast and crew of Il Barbiere di Siviglia is here for first tech tonight. You can tell how much I've got to do during tech in my role of the buck stops here supervisor. Usually my staff can handle most of the stuff that comes at them during tech - leaving me to watch, take notes, and well - blog.

The photo above is of the lit set model by BU School of Theatre Designer Julia Noulin-Merat. Julia is a Master's candidate. If you click on the above picture you can see more of the model pictures and learn almost all there is to know about Julia. Check out her links page - some pretty cool browsing there...

Barber - as I like to call it 'cause I'ma nota so good with the Italiano - is our annual co-production with Boston University's College of Fine Arts. The School of Music (The Opera Institute) provides the direction and talent, The School of Theatre provides the designers, stage managers and some backstage crew, and the Huntington builds and installs the scenery, props, costumes, lights and sound. It is a great partnership where we really get to work with the students with whom we so intimately share our production and performance facilities. We all benefit. Click on some of the BU links here - the school has been updating their websites and it all looks pretty swell.

Oh yeah - tickets for the production which plays (next weekend only)
at the Boston University Theatre can be purchased at our BostonTheatreScene.com website.

"Your ticket to Boston's most exciting Theatre"! (exclamation point mine)

April 9, 2008

Select your own seat

I'm not sure why I find this so exciting - but I do. We have been wanting to enhance our online ticket purchasing for quite some time and we are now testing a new web ap that allows buyers to select the exact seats they want - as well as offers up the most often used ticket discounts.

Check it out - go to any of our shows here - pick a date and you're off. We'll continue to refine the look, feel and functionality of it as we move forward.

If you have any feedback for us - send it in here.

April 8, 2008

The Cry of the Reed Opens

It was a great time last week with the final performances of Shining City, previews for The Cry of the Reed, and our 5th Breaking Ground Festival. I witnessed some great performances and some really interesting, funny and/or moving work from our five playwrights. Thanks to Lauren for her great blog posts.

I'm off to celebrate the opening night of The Cry of the Reed tomorrow night and I am really looking forward to seeing the show again. I haven't seen it in over a week - it was riveting then - and word has it that the cast, director and playwright have continued to develop the work culminating in an amazing performance on Sunday last weekend.

We are loading in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) this week, and rehearsals for She Loves Me start next week. I'm heading down to NY for a last minute design meeting with Nicholas and team on Thursday. Meanwhile - I'll leave you with some rehearsal footage and audience reaction from The Cry of the Reed.

Video by: Laura Haughey & Paul Lyzun
(yehguah@yahoo.com & plyzun@idc.com)

Music composed by Eric Shim
Ney performed by Gamal Lotfi

Blogging Breaking Ground: Next Year?

Lauren sent in the following today:

Written Sunday Night…

I'm sad to report that the festival is now all but over, as we are headed to Picco for our 2008 Post-Breaking Ground Festival. It's been a wonderful 5th anniversary and many thanks to all the incredible staff members, cast members, playwrights, directors and other administrators who made it possible.

Thanks so much to Todd Williams for allowing me to serve as the Breaking Ground guest-gabber this week on the Huntington Theatre Company blog. It's been great fun!

All best to you, dear blog readers.

I better see you all next year at BG09 !!


April 6, 2008

Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Five

It is already our final day of Breaking Ground! Thus far we have had 33 hours of rehearsals in three different rooms with 27 actors, 4 directors, 1 music director and 5 playwrights/librettists/composers. We have had eager audiences stick around after readings for four post-play discussions, made dozens of copies of rewrites and new drafts and welcomed scores of new play fans to the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End.

For the final reading of BG 08, we’ll be hearing the latest from Boston-based playwright/actress Melinda Lopez read tonight. Having helmed the recent world premiere of Gary at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, director M. Bevin O'Gara again teams up with Lopez for this first public reading of Caroline in Jersey. Caroline was born out of a commission from a company on the other side of the country (South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, CA, to be exact) and will delight the East coast this evening with a cast of incredible actors (Becky Ann Baker, Will Lebow, David Beach, Karen MacDonald and Libby Woodbridge).

Prepare for this evening’s reading a bit by checking this out.


Emergency update!

Breaking Ground is nothing if not exciting. Midway through the rehearsal today, Will Lebow fell ill and had to be replaced! The well-oiled machine of BG went into immediate effect. Casting Director Justin Waldman happened to be watching The Cry of the Reed, so the House Manager Katie Most found him and asked him to meet HTC Literary Manager Ilana Brownstein in the lobby. Five minutes later, we had a substitute: thank you Jerry Kissel! Jerry left his house so quickly he forgot his reading glasses, so Festival Associate Brett Marks ran to CVS to buy a pair. Within about an hour and fifteen minutes of Will falling ill, we were back up to a full complement of actors in the rehearsal hall.

Ilana Brownstein adds: “Thanks to everyone for amazingly quick triage!”

Get better soon, Will.


April 5, 2008

Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Five


Tonight’s reading of Nathan Louis Jackson’s Broke-ology was especially exciting, as it was the beginning of Mr. Jackson’s storm of Massachusetts! As you know, Jackson’s play was read tonight in Boston and, as you might not know, it will receive its world premiere production this summer just west of the city. It was recently announced that Jackson’s play will be produced this July as a part of Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 54th season.

Massachusetts state bird? Chickadee.
Massachusetts state insect? Ladybug.
Massachusetts state bean? Baked navy bean.
Massachusetts state playwright of the season? Nathan Louis Jackson.

Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Five

Ok.. I wrote this earlier, but I’m only posting now.. Sorry!!

We're again juggling two casts today and are thrilled to have so much going on here at the Calderwood Pavilion! Mat Smart's Thomas Repair is having spacing rehearsal (it’s like a mini-tech) in the Deane Rehearsal Hall before their 2pm performance, while Nathan Louis Jackson's Broke-ology will rehearsing this afternoon before their reading this evening. After talking to Evan Cabnet last night about my previous post regarding the Six Degrees of Breaking Ground, he added to my list of connections between readings -- noting that Ken Urban originally began Sense of an Ending while at Soho Rep for a director/playwright series that also included Mat Smart. The world gets smaller and smaller.

After these long days of rehearsals, readings and discussions, Breaking Ground cast and crew head to area watering holes. So far, we've hit the Red Fez and Coda (Brickhouse had a line and I've heard rumors that Delux was so crowded last night that the waitress had to exit out of the front door to get around to the back door/kitchen). It's a great time for discussion (both of the readings and aforementioned Kevin-Bacon-style connections). So now you know where we go after the readings.


Here is an incredibly brief glimpse of just a few of the productions Breaking Ground plays have received (Festival Producer Ilana Brownstein shared this exciting overview at a Development event earlier this week.) Consider it a sampling:

Etan Frankel’s Create Fate (BG05)
Williamstown Theatre Festival, 2005

David Marshall Grant’s Pen (BG05)
Playwrights’ Horizons, 2006
Guthrie Theater in 2007

David Rambo’s The Ice-Breaker (BG04)
New Repertory Theater, 2006
Laguna Playhouse, 2007
Magic Theatre, 2006

Huntington Playwriting Fellow John Kuntz’s Jasper Lake (BG04)
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 2004

Huntington Playwriting Fellow Melinda Lopez’s Alexandros (BG01-02)
Laguna Playhouse, 2008

The following Breaking Ground plays have appeared on HTC stages:
Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez: BG04, produced 2004
Carol Mulroney by Stephen Belber: BG03, produced 2005
The Hopper Collection by Mat Smart: BG05, produced 2006
Persephone by Noah Haidle: BG06, produced 2007
Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck: BG06, produced 2006 (Broadway 2007!)
The Atheist by Ronan Noone: BG06, produced 2007
Brendan by Ronan Noone: BG05, produced 2007
The Cry of the Reed by Sinan Unel: BG07, ON STAGE NOW AT THE WIMBERLY!

Great track record, right?

Ok, now it’s time to catch a swift bite to eat, then prep for tonight’s reading of Broke-ology.


April 4, 2008

Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Four - Six Degrees of Breaking Ground

Hi all--

We are in full-swing here at Breaking Ground 2008. As I type, both Ken Urban's SENSE OF AN ENDING and Mat Smart's THOMAS REPAIR are in rehearsal, with both casts hoping to catch a simultaneous break to see friends in the other room. The world of the theatre is very small. Let me illustrate for you...
  • Ken Urban is a current Huntington Playwriting Fellow (HPF) and has been working on SENSE OF AN ENDING in HPF group meetings, which include fellow Fellow Jacqui Parker, who is playing Sister Justina in the reading of his play this evening.
  • Jacqui was in the HTC production of BREATH, BOOM, directed by Michael John Garcés, with her fellow SENSE cast member Chinasa Ogbuagu.
  • Chinasa and Jacqui were joined in that 2003 production of Kia Corthron's play about a Bronx girl gang by Zabryna Guevara, who will be reading the role of Sam in Mat Smart's THOMAS REPAIR tomorrow afternoon.
  • Zabryna appeared in HTC's 2006 production of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST with fellow THOMAS REPAIR cast member Noah Bean, and with SENSE OF AN ENDING's James Fouhey.
  • Noah is a 2000 graduate of Boston University's College of Fine Arts (CFA); James is a current BU senior; and Chinasa graduated from CFA in 2003.
  • Not only did the 2005-2006 Huntington season include LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, but it also included the a production of Mat Smart's THE HOPPER COLLECTION on the Boston University stage.
  • Evan Cabnet, director of SENSE OF AN ENDING, has previously directed Mat Smart's work.
  • Evan also recently worked on a production of SHIPWRECKED! AN ENTERTAINMENT at Long Wharf Theatre, where THOMAS REPAIR director Melia Bensussen has helmed several productions.
  • Melia has directed for Hartford Stage, where THOMAS actor Keith Randolph Smith has performed (TARTUFFE in 1992, Google says).
  • Keith has appeared on "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: SVU," as has THOMAS actor Lisa Joyce.
  • Actually, so has Chinasa.
  • Like Keith, SENSE's Ato Essandoh and Gilbert Owuor have performed at the Public Theater in New York (Ato in MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN and Gilbert in the recent production of THE BROTHERS SIZE).
  • (FYI: Ato recently appeared in STREAMERS at the Huntington... and has also been on Law & Order.)
  • Gilbert has previously performed in Boston with the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, as has his fellow SENSE cast member Johnny Lee Davenport, who has worked at Watertown's New Repertory Theatre, like THOMAS REPAIR's Maureen Keiller.

So you see, it's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon -- I mean, Breaking Ground -- around here.



Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Four-- Check this out!

Here's an awesome interview with Breaking Ground Festival producer, Literary Manager Ilana Brownstein, on the Arts Fuse blog.

Check it out.


Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Four

As you already know, Breaking Ground is a weekend full of rehearsals, rewrites and readings. For all these readings, we need lots o'actors, which means a lot of work for the company manager -- the great unsung hero of every theatre company. What exactly does a company manager do, you ask? Well, I had an e-interview with Teresa Gozzo, our hero-in-residence, to get a rundown on what BG2008 is like in her office.

L: You have over 30 actors converging on the Huntington this week for Breaking Ground readings alone, and the Huntington's production of SHE LOVES ME is right around the corner. This must be a particularly hectic time for you! What are your days like with so much going on?

T: You're right -- it is a hectic time! Anna Fisher, our Management Assistant, and I are spending a lot of our time calling actors and talking to them about their upcoming trips to the Huntington. We also spend a good chunk of the day on Amtrak's website, booking trains between NY and Boston and back again. When we're not trying to get ahold of actors, we check in with the casts of SHINING CITY and THE CRY OF THE REED to make sure they're holding up ok.

L: So how does your job differ as you work on these readings vs. Huntington productions?

T: When we're working on the Breaking Ground readings, actors,directors, and playwrights are typically only with us a day or two.They usually stay in a hotel instead of the Huntington's block of apartments on Bay State Road (especially this year, since those apartments are full of actors from the two shows currently in production). It's convenient because they can check into the hotel on their own, whereas when we house artists in apartments, a Huntington representative has to meet them at the train station or airport, give them keys, and take them to Bay State Road. With so many artists in for the Festival, we don't have the manpower.

L: For those blog readers who have never heard of a company manager, what does you job usually entail?

T: In a nutshell, I'm responsible for arranging transportation and housing for all visiting artists, as well as being a general resource for them once they're here. If someone needs to go to the doctor, wants to know about things to do in Boston during their free time, or has any kind of emergency (and I do mean *any* kind), they come to me. I help them to feel at home as best I can, since actors can spend months at a time jumping from project to project. It's a crazy job, but I have a lot of fun.

[L: And it shows! I'm really impressed with the way Teresa runs this show, with a smile on her face the whole time. You can really tell she's having a great time, so I had to ask her...]

L: What's your favorite part of your job? What's your least favorite?

T: The first question is easy. I really enjoy getting to know so many different people. My least favorite part would probably be getting a late night phone call from someone who has locked themselves out of their apartment... or worse, forgotten where they live.

L: What's your least favorite question, that you get asked on a regular basis?

T: "My best friend/brother/second grade teacher is coming to the performance tonight. From out of town. I know it starts in 20 minutes, but can I get three comps? To a sold out show?"

L: Ok Teresa. Fill in the blanks. (Teresa's additions are in all caps.)

1. A typical work day for me includes BURNING UP A LOT OF CELL PHONE MINUTES.


3. I really can't live without ANNA (Management Assistant and Huntington rock star).

[L: Anna, there's your job security.]

4. A good company manager should never TELL SECRETS.

[L: We're trying to figure out how much Teresa could make by publishing her memoirs. Any guesses? Would she be all set for retirement? Send in your guesses and/or bids!]

5. Never leave home without your COMPANY MANAGEMENT CELL PHONE.

6. My company manager mantra is, "TWO MONTHS AT A TIME."

Thanks to Teresa for guest-starring in this blog entry. Your answers are great and I hope our readers enjoyed learning about yet another part of all the work that goes into the festival and all the incredible staff that make it happen..



April 2, 2008

Blogging Breaking Ground: More from Day Two

Today is our second afternoon of rehearsal for UNKNOWN SOLDIER with the whole creative team here at the Calderwood Pavilion in the Deane Rehearsal Hall. Before Thursday evening's reading of Michael Friedman and Daniel Goldstein's new musical, the cast will have spent a total of approximately 18 hours in rehearsal. This is time to be spent learning and working music, on the discussion of characters and structure, sometimes figuring out rewrites/refinements, and discovering opportunities for further development of the piece before it's shared with an audience tomorrow night. In addition to all these points on their rehearsal to-do list, they are also trying to figure out the simple logistics of how actors will navigate the space in performance on Thursday night (when actors are to move to their places for scenes and songs, who stands where, etc).

For all the other readings, all of above has to occur in even less time -- 5 hours to be exact. It's quite a whirlwind, and it's what makes Breaking Ground so very exciting (and possible!) as 5 readings take place this year over only 4 days, during which I will surely continue humming the songs of UNKNOWN SOLDIER I've heard over the past two days ("Cut that meat!")

Speaking of the songs, the lyrics are proving to be quite a riot. If you make it to the reading tomorrow night, be prepared for some slightly, um, adult-themed songs. They are AMAZING.

(PS: It turns out that Maria wasn't the only one involved in UNKNOWN SOLDIER who was called away unexpectedly. Near the end of rehearsal, co-creator Michael Friedman found out he was needed later this evening in NYC for a last-minute adjustment to current project in production. He'll be back tomorrow, but it looks like Michael is going to spending a lot of time on Amtrak in the meantime. Now that we have his car keys, I wonder what kind mischief we can get into?)

Mwa ha ha ha..


Blogging Breaking Ground: Day Two

Hi all!

Yesterday was a wildly productive day. UNKNOWN SOLDIER Musical Director, Steven Malone, worked through all the music with the cast, many of whom were wielding digital recorders to get samples of all they have to learn by Thursday night. Doing a reading of a musical seems an awful lot like actor/singer bootcamp. They sang all day yesterday, are sure to review everything today, and then jump right into textwork with their director, Will Frears, and creators Michael Friedman and Daniel Goldstein. They have a couple hours tomorrow to finish-up and then they'll perform for all of you on Thursday night. Whew.

As a former intern at HTC, and after having worked in similiar capacities at a handful of other theaters, I know, first-hand, the adventures of interning. Today holds such excitement for Faye Stone Intern (and recent BU grad, fabulous actor, and all-around nice guy) Jared Craig. Here's the story: Maria Thayer, the accomplished actress playing Lucy LeMay in UNKNOWN SOLDIER, was called back on short notice to return to the set of her latest film project. She'll be in D.C. for the day, then return for Thursday's rehearsal and reading. This is part of the excitement of bringing in exceptionally talented actors from out of town -- they're always in demand!

[Note for all you Amy Sedaris fans: Ms. Thayer played Tammi Littlenut in the STRANGERS WITH CANDY film of 2005. See you at the reading on Thursday night.]

So, what is the point of this reflection on the intern experience, Jared Craig, and Tammi Littlenut, you ask?

We're out an actress today, so Jared is stepping in to read her part during rehearsal. (It's been an exciting few months for Jared -- he recently played Lucius, the deaf mute boy in ART's production of Julius Caesar.)

Hey Maria... watch out!

More soon--


She Loves Me?

Boy Meets Girl
Boy Loses Girl
Boy Gets Girl

It's the core premise of many a musical. We went out looking for your stories of romance found, lost and rediscovered. Here are our favorite three "aw - shucks" moments. Who is your favorite?

The couples in this video visited Finale Dessert Company in Coolidge Corner on Thursday, March 6 to tell us how they met their sweetheart.

Our viewers voted and the winners are Adam and Megan. Congrats! They get free tickets and VIP treatment when they come see the show.

She Loves Me
May 16 - June 15, 2008

Book by Joe Masteroff
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Music by Jerry Bock
Based on a play by Miklos Laszlo

April 1, 2008

This week only

Hi folks -

We have 7 plays for you to see this week - 6 of which run this week only!

Shining City closes on Sunday. Click here to buy tickets.

Breaking Ground runs Thursday through Sunday. Five plays in four days. Click here for more info. Please call the Box Office at 617 266-0800 to reserve your seats, or send your reservation request to tickets@huntingtontheatre.org. Please note that seating is limited and reservations are strongly recommended. Admission is free - recommended donation is $10.

This nationally-recognized new play festival provides development opportunities to writers at all stages of their careers, and invites Boston audiences to experience the excitement of new work from the ground-up. This year, Breaking Ground features two Huntington commissions, two plays by Huntington Playwriting Fellows (including local favorite Melinda Lopez), and a new work by a young Juilliard writer whose play goes to Williamstown this summer.

Breaking Ground also features work by accomplished directors and actors from Boston and beyond. This year, see actors from previous Huntington productions like "Sonia Flew," "Love's Labour's Lost," "Breath, Boom," and "Streamers" (among others), as well as from the critically acclaimed New York theatre company The Civilians, HBO's "The Wire," and local favorites like Will Lebow, Jacqui Parker, and Karen MacDonald (among many others).

I welcome Breaking Ground Festival's Lauren Ignaut to the blog. She will be posting here all week about the behind the scenes activities. Be sure to comment and send in your questions!

The Cry of the Reed is now up and running. Click here to buy tickets.

Playgoers 35 and under can get best available tickets for only $25. Click here for info