September 29, 2011

5 Ways To Be a Theatre Locavore

contributed by Lisa Timmel, Director of New Work

Picture a playwright. If the person you picture is dead, white, and male, I have news for you. Playwrights walk among us, living, breathing, and creating. One may be sitting next to you right now. (Generally speaking, they tend to love theatre) Unlike actors, they can be hard to spot, but if you look carefully, you can find them in warm hospitable places — mostly small, black box theatres — where these rare creatures grow. A few tips for exploring your own theatrical backyard:
    1. Bring your sense of adventure. The uncertainty of what you will find when you get to the theatre is half the fun. The next new play you see will not be exactly like one by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, or even Lydia Diamond. The playwright may throw Aristotle out the window and start a whole new form. Surely, some plays won't suit your taste; however a play written and developed in your own community is likely to speak to truths of your own life. Occasionally, a homegrown play or company makes good in another city — the Huntington's Stick Fly and Sons of the Prophet have New York productions this fall — and it gives you one more reason to be proud of the Boston theatre scene.
    2. Go on a new play binge. Local theatre festivals and reading series are great ways to accumulate a lot of knowledge about the local theatre scene very quickly. The Boston Theater Marathon is a great place to start. The Marathon stages 50 ten-minute plays in one day. Nearly the entire theatre community participates. Just like samples at the farmer's market, the festival is a good way to learn what suits your palate. This year's Marathon will be May 19 and 20 here at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
    3. Forage through the internets. I recommend Twitter. Playwrights like Huntington Playwriting Fellow Patrick Gabridge (@patrickgabridge) tend to be "in the know" about where to go. You can also follow theatres like the Huntington (@huntington) to get the latest updates on readings and new play productions. If you, like many people, are horrified by the idea of going on Twitter, you can sign up for mailing lists. The websites for Central Square Theatre, The Factory Theatre, and Company One are good places to visit. Visit the StageSource website and sign up for StagePage, a quarterly listing of area productions that highlights work by local playwrights.
    can4. Follow the youths. Hordes of talented young people move to the Boston area to study and many of them stay and start new theatre companies. I am really curious about Fresh Ink Theatre (@FreshInkTheatre), a company whose mission is to develop new work with emerging theatre artists in the New England area. Their premiere production opens this December.
    5. Join us! Do you have a story to tell? There are lots of places to start. The "great granddaddy" of local playwright organizations is Playwrights Platform. Anyone can become a member and receive readings, feedback, and other support. The Huntington Playwriting Fellows has implemented an open application process every spring. StageSource is a local theatre networking organization that sponsors writing workshops. A new kid on the local cultivation block is Playwrights' Commons. They aim to provide retreats and other kinds of support to local writers.
Bon chance!

September 21, 2011

CANDIDE: Audience Comments

Lauren Molina (Cunegonde) and Geoff Packard (Candide)
Have you seen Candide? Please share your comments with us.

What do you make of the philosophies put forth in Candide -- that everything happens for the best as Dr. Pangloss teaches, or for the worst, as Martin believes?

Have you seen other productions of Candide? How did this one differ?

Were any storytelling techniques director/adaptor Mary Zimmerman utilized in her script or staging particularly memorable for you?

Did you attend a post show conversation? What comments surprised you or made you think differently about the play? Would you attend a post show conversation again? What were you thinking about on the way home from the theatre?

The Huntington Theatre Company's presentation of Candide plays now through October, 16, 2011 only at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

September 19, 2011

An Interview with playwright Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro

contributed by Charles Haugland:

I recently interviewed playwright Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro to write a note for the program of her upcoming show, BEFORE I LEAVE YOU. Parts of the interview were excerpted, so we are offering the whole, uncut interview here on the blog. Enjoy!

Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro
Charles Haugland: What was your first play about?  Why did you write it?
Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro: My first play was Behind Enemy Lines about the Japanese American internment camps.  It was an angry political play that followed the Toda family from the horse stalls in the assembly center to the tarpaper barracks in the camps and the segregation center.
CH: Tell me two big turning points in your career?
RA: Before Behind Enemy Lines (which I wrote in my late 30’s) I had published many short stories and a handful of poems.  I was enchanted when stage characters became flesh and blood.  I was utterly fascinated by the interaction of director, actors, and audience. It was a case of love at first sight, and I never wrote another short story.
The other big turning point in my career was this year when at 72 I became a Huntington Playwriting Fellow, received a MCC Artist Fellowship, and was given a slot in the 2011-2012 Huntington Theatre Season.  My son Pablo said, “It sounds like the beginning of a brilliant career.”

'Candide' at the Huntington: Then and Now

contributed by Charles Haugland

Candide is one of three shows we have done twice at the Huntington – along with Heartbreak House (1986 and 2001) and As You Like It (1994 and 2003). Candide was seen on the B.U.T. stage in 1989. At the post-show conversations, people have been asking what was different about that production. So, I did some digging in the archive! Here's a few things I learned. 
What was different? A few major differences:
  • Larry Carpenter directed the 1989 version. Mary Zimmerman, of course, directs the current adaptation.
  • The 1989 production was the 1982 “Opera House” version. The book was by Hugh Wheeler. Unlike the 1973 Broadway version, it was in two acts. For the new production, Mary Zimmerman went back to the Voltaire, restructed the musical, and rewrote some major sections.
  • In the 1989 version, Maxmillian, Cunegonde’s brother, ends up in the New World with Paquette, the maid from their home in Westphalia. The Governor’s song “My Love” is sung to him, not Cunegonde, while he is in drag.
  • The song “Bon Voyage” was also sung by the Governor after he swindled Candide out of his riches, as there was no character of Mrs. Vanderdender in that version.
  • Voltaire was a character, double cast with the actor who played Dr. Pangloss.
  • Peter Altman was artistic director of the Huntington, and the theatre was closing its seventh season.
1989 production of 'Candide' at the Huntington
What’s stayed the same?
  • Most of the major songs were in that version: “The Best of Possible Worlds,” “Oh Happy We,” “Make Our Garden Grow,” “Auto da Fe,” and “I Am Easily Assimilated”
  • Daniel Pelzig was the choreographer for both productions.
  • Michael Maso was the Managing Director, and current Huntington costume shop staffers Denise Wallace and Anita Canzian were also on duty already. We are now opening our thirtieth season.

2011 production of 'Candide' at the Huntington
Long-time subscribers: Did you see the 1989 production? We’d love to hear about it. Post about your experience below.

The Huntington Theatre Company's CANDIDE plays September 10 thru October 16, 2011 at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

September 18, 2011

Huntington Audiences donate to flooded Weston Playhouse

Cast member Tom Aulino, Production Manager Todd Williams, and the cast of CANDIDE collected over $3800 in donations to benefit the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company Flood Relief Fund at CANDIDE performances on Thursday and Friday evenings of this week. To learn more about the damage to the Weston Playhouse visit facebook  or Here's a letter from  Producing Director Mal Ewen:


Todd and Tom, 

On behalf of the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, please express our heartfelt thanks to you both, the company of CANDIDE, Michael Maso and the staff of the Huntington Theatre Company for their generosity in soliciting audience contributions following your previews the next two nights. 

As you know on August 28th the lower basement level of the Weston Playhouse received flood water of almost nine feet of water in depth as a result of Hurricane Irene. The flood water destroyed our prop shop, our new orchestra pit, all our dressing rooms, the green room, our cabaret, a restaurant (separately operated) and the restaurant kitchen. Three days before the hurricane struck, we had opened our first world premiere of a musical (called SAINT-EX, based on the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of "The Little Prince"). Through a tremendous effort by our staff, actors, musicians and around 100 volunteers from the local community, we were able to reopen the show in a slightly restaged version five days after the storm. The theatre is facing losses of income and property that will likely be in the $400,000 range with only minimal insurance coverage.

The outpouring of support from the local community and from the professional theatre community across the country has made us very humble and very grateful. The response shows that live theatre does matter to a lot of people in this internet age. The fact that you are willing to raise money for our flood relief effort, even though many of you had probably never heard of the Weston Playhouse until a few weeks ago, reflects the generous spirit of theatre people.

Again, please accept our undying gratitude for your support!



Malcolm Ewen
for the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company

September 16, 2011

Celebrating 30 Years of Timeless Theatre

It's our 30th Season! We want your Huntington stories. Help us celebrate our anniversary by sharing your memories with us. What is your favorite production? Who introduced you to the Huntington? Do you have a ritual for each time you come?

Click here to submit your memories online

or email your thoughts to
Video and Audio testimony also welcome

PS; We're having an open house an the Boston University Theatre on Monday, October 10, 2011. Come visit with us, take the stage like an actor, and explore our production shops where our award-winning designs are brought to life. More info at

September 13, 2011

CANDIDE Cast to sing at Red Sox game!

Contributed by Todd Williams


Fifteen members of the cast of the Huntington Theatre Company’s production Candide will perform the National Anthem at the 1:35pm Boston Red Sox game on Wednesday, September 14. A duck boat provided by Boston Duck Tours will transport the group from Fenway Park to the Huntington Theatre Company’s BU Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts/Huntington Avenue immediately following the Anthem for the first of the day’s two performances of Candide. The Huntington has delayed the 2pm curtain to 2:15pm to accommodate the cast’s return from this special appearance.

Cast members participating include Geoff Packard, who leads the cast as Candide, and Erik Lochtefeld (Maximilian), a native of Concord, MA. The group will be conducted by Candide music director Doug Peck.

Here's the video (added 9/15/2011)

The Huntington Theatre Company's CANDIDE plays September 10 thru October 16, 2011 at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

September 12, 2011

CANDIDE - Production Photos

Here are some photos from our production of CANDIDE. Hope to see you in the theatre.

The Huntington Theatre Company's CANDIDE plays September 10 thru October 16, 2011 at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.