October 25, 2012

What's the history of the Huntington's relationship with commercial producers?

Peter DuBois
by Peter DuBois
The Boston Globe reported recently on an upcoming study about the partnership between the non-profit-theatre and commercial producers. The study was sponsored by the Center for Theater Commons at Emerson College and written by Diane Ragsdale.

With respect to the Huntington, its true that we occasionally collaborate with commercial producers, and we believe that this can be accomplished in ways that stay on mission.

I encourage you to read the Globe article and to think about your own response to the questions raised. The Globe reported a short overview of our history of collaborations that involved commercial producers. In the interest of transparency and adding additional facts to the conversation, here's the full history of the Huntington's relationship with commercial producers, dating back to the our founding.

What do you think about the relationship between non-profit theatres and commercial producers? If you're an audience member, do you think it's impacted your experience at the Huntington?

My tenure: 5 seasons, 3 projects scheduled in collaboration with commercial producers (one dropped out before production), and one co-produced with a New York-based non-profit 

2012-2013 Season
Our Town
In collaboration with an Off Broadway commercial producer

2011 – 2012 Season 
Sons of the Prophet
Co-production with New York-based non-profit

In collaboration with an outside producer

2008-2009 Season
Scheduled with the with the participation of an outside producer who ultimately pulled out before production

The Nicholas Martin years: 8 seasons, 7 projects in collaboration with commercial producers including 3 with Broadway in Boston

2007-2008 Season
Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps
West-End transfer transferred directly to Broadway

2006-2007 Season
Radio Golf
Pre-Broadway production with commercial producers involved

2004-2005 Season
Gem of the Ocean
Pre-Broadway production with commercial producers involved

2003-2004 Season
As You Like It
Commercial touring production co-produced with Broadway in Boston

2002-2003 Season
Produced in collaboration with commercial producers

2001-2002 Season
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme
Produced in association with Broadway in Boston, direct transfer to Lincoln Center Theatre

2000-2001 Season
Fully Committed
Produced in association with Broadway in Boston

The Peter Altman years: 18 seasons, 7 projects in collaboration with commercial producers

1999-2000 Season
King Hedley
Produced in collaboration with commercial producers

1998-1999 Season
Produced in collaboration with commercial producers, no commercial run

1995-1996 Season
Seven Guitars
Produced in collaboration with commercial producers, pre-Broadway run

The Young Man from Atlanta
Enhanced by commercial producers, ran on Broadway in 1997

1992-1993 Season
Pal Joey
Enhanced by commercial producers

1990-1991 Season
Two Trains Running
Produced in collaboration with commercial producers, pre-Broadway run

1987-1988 Season
The Piano Lesson
Produced in collaboration with commercial producers, pre-Broadway run

October 3, 2012

Rehearsal Dispatch: NOW OR LATER

Omar Robinson
by Omar Robinson, Assistant to the Director

One of the many wonderful things about this rehearsal process is how we start the day. Usually, after enough of us have entered the rehearsal hall, someone will ask, "Did you see the news from last night?" or "You catch that interview this morning?" These conversations lead directly into those about what's going on in the political world of Now or Later and how the events of the play align so closely with what's happening in our country today.

Last Tuesday we watched President Obama's address to the United Nations together. Many of his points touched upon issues raised in Now or Later, specifically Obama's bold defense of freedom of expression - something John, Jr. (the play's protagonist) fervently fights for throughout the play. Between our current presidential race and the controversy surrounding the recent anti-Islam film, we're finding so many parallels to the play that it's beginning to get a little eerie. (My working theory is that playwright Christopher Shinn is mildly clairvoyant.) Come see the show and see what I'm talking about.

Now or Later plays at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA October 12 - November 10, 2012. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

October 2, 2012

Producing Without a Net

Lisa Timmel,
Director of New Work
by Lisa Timmel

Last spring, in a highly unusual artistic leap of faith, Peter DuBois made an offer to Gold Dust Orphans mastermind and Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ryan Landry: the Huntington would give Ryan a production slot to do whatever he wanted. With little time to waste, Ryan got to work, handing in an early draft of the new project about six weeks later.

The resulting play (though the word "play" hardly seems to contain the exuberant clash of the ridiculous and the sublime happening on the page) is "M", a fantastically funny and astonishingly challenging deconstructed adaptation of the Fritz Lang movie of the same name.  Since this is a new play, we've scheduled a series of developmental readings and workshops where the artists working on the production read the play together and discuss what works, what doesn't, what should change, and what shouldn't. All last week, a cast and crew of twenty (including a puppeteer) spent their days in a workshop designed to help sketch out the free-wheeling, physical flow of the show.

It was a crazy week. 

Ryan's aesthetic trades in highly theatrical mash-ups of cultural touchstones. In his Gold Dust Orphans productions, the veddy, veddy highbrow meets the verrrry, verrrry low.  For five days, Ryan, director Caitlin Lowans, the cast, and a whole phalanx of dramaturgs worked scenes, listened to read-throughs, incorporated rewrites, and talked, talked, talked. True to Ryan's idea that "the lowest form of comedy and the highest form of struggling with our existence can come together on stage," these discussions have teased out the deep existential panic that underlies the more farcical elements of the play.

Best of all were the hours the actors were up on their feet, experimenting with style, timing, and physicality. Ryan's dramaturgy has deep roots in the high camp style of The Theatre of the Ridiculous, rather than the staid psychological realism of most new plays. This means that more than with most rehearsal processes, the actors have been finding the play with their bodies, transforming from one character to another via posture and voice. Landry likes to remind us that the world of the play "...is not an essay; it's music." 

"M" plays at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA March 29 - April 27, 2013. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

September 28, 2012

What Audiences Are Saying About GOOD PEOPLE

Have you seen Good People? Please share your comments with us.

  • What was your experience like seeing Good People in Boston? Did the characters and setting feel familiar to you? How did that affect your enjoyment of the production? 
  • Who do you think are the "good people" in this play?
  • 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 production of Good People plays through October 14, 2012 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

September 27, 2012

Michael Maso on the Death of John Silber

We learned today that John Silber passed away early this morning. As transformative a figure as Dr. Silber was to Boston University, he was even more critical to the Huntington, which would not have come into being without his personal determination that the City of Boston have a world-class resident theatre. When asked why he would invest the University's resources in what might be perceived as a risky proposition, he said "If Boston University can support a football team, it can damn well support a theatre company!"

Thirty years later the Huntington is an independent organization, but our strategic partnership with and support from BU continues to this day. Over 3.5 million people have seen more than 180 productions since the Huntington's founding in 1982, and 450,000 young people have been served by our education and community programs. The Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, which the Huntington built and opened in 2004, would not exist if the Huntington had not been founded by BU 22 years earlier, and a proud John Silber was with us at its dedication.

I last saw John about a year ago when he attended our production of Candide, which he greatly admired. I look forward to finding a way to honor him and his role in the founding of the Huntington in the coming weeks, and I take great pleasure in knowing that the service to BU and to Greater Boston that he envisioned for us over 30 years ago continues stronger than ever. As you can see from his obituary on Boston.com, the founding of the Huntington is recognized as an important part of John Silber's legacy.

The Huntington family and I send my deepest sympathy and condolences to the entire Silber family.
-- Michael Maso, Managing Director

September 6, 2012

A Dispatch from GOOD PEOPLE Rehearsal: Week 2

Melanie Garber
We now find ourselves about halfway through our rehearsal process for Good People. The clarity of story is becoming a reality onstage. In a constant effort to serve the play, we comb through the complex layers of each scene, and at times even each beat, which continues to fuel a wonderful sense of discovery for the artists in the room.

For the actors who are representing Southie natives, a focus on keeping things light and funny, no matter how actually horrible circumstances might be, permeates the room. This approach seems to be the ultimate modus operandi of Good People. Characters taunt and tease each other as a form of entertainment.

The concept of back story keeps emerging, almost, in its own right, as another one of the characters. Do the choices we make really inform our social status? Economically speaking? Are people who are happy just lucky? How does our past affect our present? I suppose it depends how much we hold onto it…

Until next week…

- Melanie Garber, Assistant to the Director, Good People
The Huntington Theatre Company's production of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire runs September 14 - October 14, 2012 on the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115. Tickets and information here or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

September 5, 2012

Tessitura: More Than Your Average Software Conference

Contributed by Lisa McColgan, Annual Fund Coordinator
I recently got back from a software conference where - in addition to making a presentation in which the red sheep from Candide were prominently featured - I ate meals in a giant ballroom with around 1,200 arts administrators, pocketed several teeny-weeny bottles of Tabasco from the buffet line, and performed in a rock band on the flight deck of the storied USS Midway.

One generally doesn't equate "software conference" with "a real good time." That is, unless one works with Tessitura.

Tessitura is "the leading enterprise-wide, fully integrated software system for arts and cultural organizations." It was originally developed by, and for, The Metropolitan Opera. Once they realized what a good thing they had, they decided it would be silly not to share it. The Huntington has been using Tessitura since 2004. How popular is it becoming? Well, at the first Tessitura conference I attended (here in Boston in 2005), there were 550 attendees representing about 90 organizations. This year, in San Diego, there were over 1,200 folks from over 350 organizations in 6 different countries. Chances are, if you've bought a ticket, made a donation, or asked to be sent information about an upcoming performance, you've indirectly dealt with Tessitura.

August 29, 2012

A Dispatch from GOOD PEOPLE Rehearsal

Melanie Garber
Rehearsals began last Tuesday for our production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People. The magic from page to stage is particularly poignant this time around because we have a local story (Southie native Margie, played by Johanna Day, is our protagonist) being told by actual locals (actors Karen MacDonald and Nancy E. Carroll and director Kate Whoriskey, to name a few).

In keeping with this focus on local authenticity, we've had a lot of discussion at the table where we can pull our inspiration from to perfect the Boston accent and attitude. We've talked about going out into the city and observing first hand, as well as drawing on movies like The Departed and Gone Baby Gone.

There is also a continuous effort to stay true to the pacing of the language. For example, deciding when these characters have forethought versus when they plow ahead with unfiltered reaction in the heat of the moment keeps cropping up as we muck about in rehearsal. The juxtaposition of playing these two elements adds a humor and sincerity to the performances that’s already paying off as we rounded out our first week together on Sunday.

Until next week...

- Melanie Garber, Assistant to the Director for Good People

August 23, 2012

281 Offices on the Move

Contributed by Jessica Andrewartha, Development Associate

There in an orange crate in my cubical big enough that I could crawl into it. At least one of my co-workers has already done just that. The orange crate is the physical evidence of the big inter-office move that just happened here at the Huntington. The co-worker inside the packing crate? That’s evidence of the mental toll the move took on all of us.

 Last week, the Administrative Offices of the Huntington Theatre Company were reorganized. It was basically one big fruit-basket turnover as many of us changed offices or cubes to so Finance and HR could be next to each other, making daily operations easier, and so Marketing and Development could be next to each other, making our patron services more streamlined. Of course, a move that big involved a lot of cleaning, purging, well thought-out preparation, and snacks. Lots of snacks.

My highlights of the move:
  • The “move lounge” which contained juice, bagels, and sandwiches, as well as very eclectic musical selections and soothing pictures of nature to help us all cope with the moving stress.(Thank you, Michael Comey.)
  • The moment (at hour 6) when my co-worker created a circus act using one of the big orange packing crates.
  • Finding not one, not two, but three screwdrivers we didn’t know we had in the back of a drawer.
  • Going back to my old cubical and discovering that half of one of the walls was gone.
  • Watching everyone wander around the office in a bit of a daze trying to find each others' new spaces.
  • Being one of the three people managing the move of a lamp known as “Faboo-Kitty,” the “biggest rock star of our office.”

Now my Chewbacca bobble-head, my inexplicable buffalo calendar, and I are all settled into a brand new cube and ready to start the 2012-2013 Season!
Jessica Andrewartha

August 10, 2012

Rehearsals begin in Washington, DC for INVISIBLE MAN

By Lisa Timmel, Director of New Work

Monday nights are usually a night off for theatre folk, but last Monday night sixty or so artists, administrators, and patrons gathered at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC for the first rehearsal of the Huntington/Studio co-production of Invisible Man. After a buffet of barbecue chicken, sweet potato fries, and cornbread we gathered in the theatre for a welcome from Studio artistic director David Muse and remarks and presentations from the Invisible Man creative team. Muse spoke eloquently about how moved he was by the world premiere production that he saw last winter at Chicago's Court Theatre. This play, in his view, is a labor of love, a unique experience that captures the whole variety of style in the novel in theatrical form, and a remarkable feat of adaptation.

Teagle F. Bougere in Invisible Man, photo: Michael Brosilow

Director Chris McEleron assured everyone gathered that this ambitious new production would "kick our ass just as it did in Chicago, just as it will in Boston." Along with his projection designer, he emphasized that he novel and the play are reflections of the collective American experience. With an ensemble of nine actors, the set and costume design, as well as the projections, the production will create a mosaic of memories out of iconic, original and some contemporary images. With that, the cast assembled and read on into the night. When they were done, we left, exhausted and exhilarated.

We can't wait for this ambitious, important, fascinating play to get here.

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of INVISIBLE MAN by Oren Jacoby runs January 4 through February 3, 2013 on the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115. Tickets and information here or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

August 8, 2012

Our visit to DC's Studio Theatre for INVISIBLE MAN.

Contributed by Justin Seward, Asst. Props Master 

This past week our Asst. Technical Director Dan Oleksy and I took a trip to Washington, DC to visit our friends at the Studio Theatre, who are currently building our co-production of Invisible Man, an adaptation of Ralph Ellison's novel by Oren Jacoby, A co-production allows multiple theatres to join its resources and budgets, as well as actors, artists, and staff in order to produce the best possible production. Scenic designer Troy Hourie recently visited our prop stock to choose items for the production. Last Wednesday morning (August 1), the prop shop loaded the Huntington van with props and set dressing for the journey to DC. 

I met Studio Theatre's Props Master Deb Thomas on Thursday afternoon to unload.  Afterward, she gave me a tour of their great facility.  At the same time Dan O. visited the scene shop to check out the progress of the set construction. The Huntington’s BU Theatre is very different from the Studio’s theatre, so both scene shops face a bit of a challenge to make sure the show fits properly into both spaces.
That night, I was lucky enough to see Studio's production of “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which was fantastic. The Studio’s run of Invisible Man begins Sept 5th After DC, the production will be packed and shipped to Boston where we will then load it into the BU Theatre for its Huntington run.  It's already shaping up to be a fantastic production. 

As a bonus, I was able to stay with my brother and sister-in-law in Gaithersburg, MD... and see my new nephew, Huey!

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of INVISIBLE MAN by Oren Jacoby runs January 4 through February 3, 2013 on the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115.  Tickets and information here or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

June 6, 2012

What Audiences Are Saying about PRIVATE LIVES

Have you seen Private Lives? Please share your comments with us.

  • What do you think Coward is saying about relationships? Do his views resonate today, more than 80 years after the play was written?
  • Have you seen Private Lives before? How did it compare to previous productions you've seen? If you haven't, what struck you about this classic comedy?
  • 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 production of Private Lives plays through June 24, 2012 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

May 10, 2012

An Incredible New York City Experience for Three Boston Teens

More from Meg Wieder, Education Manager:

This weekend proved to be an incredible experience for our department and for the three young people who represented Boston at the August Wilson Monologue Competition. The pool of 21 competitors was narrowed down to 15 Finalists, including our very own Tyrel Joseph and Reeana Johnson. The national title went to Saidah Wade from the Atlanta competition.

Though our contestants did not place in the top three, it's clear they were treated as winners all weekend, with top-notch experiences to match.

PICTURE IT! A Photo Scavenger Hunt!

Get ready for this June's Emerging America Festival, the third annual collaboration between the Huntington Theatre Company, American Repertory Theatre (ART), and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), with an epic citywide Scavenger Hunt!


Teams will complete challenges as they dash around some of Boston's coolest spots, racing against the clock and documenting the insanity along the way. Not to mention -- we’ll be giving away tickets to the hottest shows next season, just in case the thrill of the hunt and pride in a photo snagged wasn't enough. (Of course it is).

So now that we've got your interest, here's how to play:
Step One: Sign Up!
Shoot an email to
scavenger@huntingtontheatre.bu.edu with team member anmes, contact info, and most importantly...your team name!

Step Two: Check out the Facebook event!
Check out the event
here. We'll be posting teaser challenges, keeping a running list of registered teams, and adding other fun tidbits leading up to the big event, including the announcement of a suprise twist to the game.

Step Three: Join In!
Check in with your team at 1pm on June 16th at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA (Hutington Theatre Company's South End location) at 527 Tremont Street.


May 7, 2012

Hit "The Luck of the Irish" Sets Huntington Record as it Closes

CONTACT: Rebecca Curtiss, rcurtiss@huntingtontheatre.bu.edu / 617 273 1537
 (BOSTON) – The Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Huntington Playwriting Fellow Kirsten Greenidge’s The Luck of the Irish closed yesterday as the highest grossing and attended Huntington world premiere at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA since the fall of 2004. The Luck of the Irish played for a total of 41 performances from March 29 through May 6, including a one-week extension due to popular demand that was announced on April 13. Ticket demand for The Luck of the Irish was so high that an advanced waiting list was introduced in April and final extension performances were sold out.
The production, which was directed by Obie Award winner Melia Bensussen, received universal critical acclaim:

  • “Superb! Kirsten Greenidge is a writer of compassion and deep understanding...How rich Greenidge’s dialogue is, how satisfyingly detailed the two interwoven stories are, and how uniformly well acted The Luck of the Irish is.” – The Boston Globe

Two Boston Students Compete in Final Round of August Wilson Monologue National Championship Tonight!

From Meg Wieder, Education Manger:

Very exciting news coming from Education and Community Associate Naheem Garcia in New York City today!  After a preliminary round of competition this morning, two of our three representatives will be competing tonight for the August Wilson Monologue National Championship.
Tyrel Joseph at Boston's August Wilson Monologue Competition, photo: David S. Marshall
Tyrel Joseph, a sophomore at Codman Academy Public Charter School automatically advanced as he is the Boston Champion. Boston's first and second runners up competed in order to win a spot tonight.

Reanna Johnson at Boston's August Wilson Monologue Competition, photo: David S. Marshall
Reanna Johnson, a student at Dorchester Academy, performed her piece this morning and has made it into tonight's competition. Halima Ibrahim, our representative from Snowden International School, did not advance in the competition, though all students will perform their pieces tonight as part of the celebration of August's work.

We are confident that Tyrel and Reanna will continue to make us proud, with every finger (and toe) crossed that we place strongly, perhaps even win, this evening's event. Please send all good vibes and thoughts to NYC tonight, and we will be sure to keep you posted if/when we have more good news to share.

April 24, 2012

More Awards News: Huntington Receives 12 Elliot Norton Award Nominations

The IRNE Awards were presented last night, and so now our attention turns to the Boston Theatre Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards, to be presented on Monday, May 21. The 2012 Elliot Norton Awards will honor productions that played April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012.

The Huntington received 12 nominations, second only to SpeakEasy Stage Company, our friends and neighbors in the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, who recieved 13.

Outstanding Visiting Production: Richard III and The Comedy of Errors
(Propeller Theatre Company)
Richard Clothier, photo: Manuel Harlan

Huntington Sweeps IRNE Awards!

It was a joy-filled night for the Huntington at the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Awards presentation yesterday as our our 2011 productions of Candide, Sons of the Prophet, and Ruined were honored with a combined total of 17 awards!

Huntington dramaturg
Charles Haughland with Stephen Karam
(Sons of the Prophet)
The second award of the night went to recently-named Pulizter Prize finalist Stephen Karam for Best New Play (Large Theatre) for Sons of the Prophet. In his speech, he praised and thanked Boston audiences for coming to a play they'd never heard of by a writer they didn't know. Our production of Sons..., which was directed by Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois, transferred to the Roundabout Theatre Company last fall where it was extended through January 1. The accolaides continue: the NYC production has just been nominated for 3 Outer Critic's Circle Awards (Best new Off Broadway Play, Best Actor in a Play - Santino Fontana, and Best Actress in a Play - Joanna Gleason), to be announced on May 14. It was wonderful to have Stephen back in Boston with us for the night to celebrate all of his recent success.

Then the night got busy, as Huntington productions and artists were honored in 17 of the 24 categories recognizing large theatre productions.
Cheryl Stern and Mary Zimmerman
Candide director Mary Zimmerman and cast member Cheryl Stern (Old Lady) were with us to celebrate the success. For Candide:
The cast of Candide, photo: T. Charles Erickson
Best Actor – Musical: Geoff Packard

Best Supporting Actress – Musical: Cheryl Stern

Best Choreography: Daniel Pelzig

Best Music Director: Doug Peck

Best Set Design: Daniel Ostling

Best Costume Design: Mara Blumenfeld

Best Lighting Design: T. J. Gerckens

Best Sound Design: Richard Woodbury

 Best Director of a Musical: Mary Zimmerman 

Best Ensemble: Candide

 Best Musical: Candide

The cast of Ruined, photo: Kevin Berne

For Ruined:

Best Supporting Actor – Drama: Oberon K.A. Adjepong

Best Supporting Actress – Drama: Pascale Armand

Best Actress – Drama: Tonye Patano 

Best Director of a Drama: Liesl Tommy

Best Play: Ruined

In addition, a number of members of the Huntington family were honored with IRNE Awards, including the Actors' Shakespeare Project production of Huntington Playwriting Fellow John Kuntz's The Hotel Nepenthe, which we'll present this June as part of the Emerging America festival.

See the full list of winners. Congratulations all!

Our two most honored productions from the year are certainly different in a number of key ways, but each tell a story about characters' experiences with hardship and their resulting world-views, which perhaps suprisingly prove to be more optimistic than their expereinces should inspire.

Which Huntington production from 2011 was your favorite?

April 19, 2012

What Audiences Are Saying About THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

Have you seen The Luck of the Irish? Please share your comments with us.

  • Which characters or themes resonated most strongly with you?
  • Playwright Kirsten Greenidge touches on the rarely discussed topic of ghostbuying. Do you have any experiences with ghostbuying?
  • 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 production of The Luck of the Irish has been extended by popular demand through May 6, 2012. It plays at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.

March 22, 2012

Authentic Instruments for MA RAINEY'S

Glenn Turner, Jason Bowen, G. Valmont Thomas, and
Charles Weldon in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,
photo: T. Charles Erickson
Music is a major component of our current production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom -- the contrast between the old style of blues and the new, the opportunities it can afford its performers, and the act of performance. An audience member at last night's show asked about the authenticity of the onstage instruments, and Justin Seward, our props assistant, explains:

"We consulted a brass specialist at Rayburn music who to confirm that the instruments we had selected are of the correct vintage. We made the design choice to keep them in decent condition in order to convey that these musicians take pride in their instruments. From the stage they look more pristine than they actually are, when in fact they are slightly tarnished with dings here and there. If they were shined and polished, they would gleam too brightly under the stage lights."

The Huntington Theatre Company's presentation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom plays now through April 8, 2012 only at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

Students' Reactions to a Recent Performance of MA RAINEY'S

We recieved this wonderful note from a instructor/actress who brought her students to a recent performance of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom:

Apart from thank yous from me and my Bunker Hill students that attended Ma Rainey's..., I want you to know that it mattered immensely to them. One student (an articulate, sensitive, intelligent, terrific guy of about 30) had never seen a play. He was blown away!!!!! Another fellow, from Guatemala - (ditto regarding attributes) had never seen a play in this country and had only ever seen musicals in Guatemala. Most of the students had only seen "musicals" via high school or other venues. The black students I think could especially relate to the characters --- as could the musicians (of which there were a few in the group.) 

Jason Bowen in
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,
photo: T. Charles Erickson
They were so impressed with the actors. They valued everyone of them -- and especially Levee - what a really gifted, skilled actor ---and his antagonist, Toledo, and Ma Rainey. They couldn't get over how believable ALL the fellows in the band were. I thought the bass player, with perhaps the least rewarding role - was just amazing ---and others thought the band leader did an amazing job of trying to provide a balance (as the bass player did as well) The rapport between the musicians was wonderful. True ensemble acting.

They appreciated that the play - after the first act where not so much seems to be happening - in the second act, built on everything that had come before. I was proud of their observations.

Taking students to Ma Rainey's was a wonderful experience and we thank you, Huntington. You all did a very good thing for my students. Those that couldn't make it were so inspired (and clearly felt they'd really missed out) listening to everyone else talk about the play in both classes -- a few have said they're going to figure out a way to go on their own so hopefully, they'll get themselves there! (Last year, a student who had never seen theatre but that I took to his first play---the very next night brought his brother to see it!)

- D. Sorbello - Instructor/Actress

Learn more about bringing students to Huntington productions by contacting Meg Wieder at 617 273 1558.

The Huntington Theatre Company's presentation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom plays now through April 8, 2012 only at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

March 20, 2012

What Audiences Are Saying About MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

Have you seen Ma Rainey's Black Bottom?
Please share your comments with us.

  • Wilson's play is rich with themes. Which ones resonated with you?
  • What do you think happens to these characters after the curtain comes down?
  • Have you seen other August Wilson plays at the Huntington or elsewhere? What are your memories of them?
  • 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 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom plays now through April 8, 2012 only at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

March 16, 2012

A Message from Michael Maso in the Aftermath of the Great Back Bay Blackout

As most of you know the power outage in the Back Bay had Huntington Avenue as its epicenter, and as a result we lost the Tuesday preview and Wednesday opening night performances of Ma Rainey. In addition to the BU Theatre our administrative operations and key servers were shut down, leaving us without any email or box office capability. Many of us used the Calderwood Pavilion as a base of operations for the past few days, with tables in the upper lobby and nomadic staff members at makeshift stations with iPads and phones plugged in everywhere.

Early yesterday morning we realized that we were at risk of losing Thursday night's performance as well, and so I reached out to the Mayor's office for help getting a generator from NStar. Thanks to the Mayor's office and to NSTAR a generator arrived just before 1 PM at the BU Theatre and power was restored to the BUT at 5:00 last night! With a heroic effort by cast and crew and staff we were able to have a full performance last night starting at 8:00 PM — only 30 minutes late, though box office systems were still incapacitated.

While Sondra Katz and Todd Williams were the key point people for most of us, the department heads contacted the rest of the staff. Peter and the rest of the Artistic department plowed ahead with key season planning meetings while General Management kept our artists in the loop and as comfortable as possible, with one show in suspension and another in rehearsal.

As usual it was our Production Manager Todd Williams who was on the call in the wee hours of this morning when full power was finally restored and shortly afterwards working with EMF and our audience services team to get the box office up and running. Production staff continued to prep for our next show as much as possible and of course were on call at the theatre as our power was in the process of being restored by generator yesterday and quickly got the show restored in the BUT.

Marketing, development, audience services and front of house kept our communications open to audience and donors alike — much of it through our Facebook account but also by being at the theatre to greet those few who didn't get the cancellation notices — with the result that when we did decide to go ahead last night we had a great house full of happy people delighted that we were able to get the show back and running!

At the present time things are better — our box office systems are up and running on-line, and our inbound phone services are finally working in the box office as well as our administrative offices. Moving forward, press is being encouraged to come to the show beginning tonight and so reviews should be forthcoming beginning Monday morning. Many thanks to our remarkable staff, so many of whom maintained key operations over the past few days, to those who stood by to be ready to restore systems once power came back, to the Pavilion staff for being gracious hosts during the invasion from Huntington Avenue. The truth is that every staff member we have who had an opportunity to contribute did so admirably and with great energy and commitment, as they always do. Peter and I know how fortunate we are to have a staff with such deep reserves of dedication, integrity and sheer professionalism.

Very warmest regards,

March 8, 2012

Seeking Performers and Performing Arts Groups for the May Fair Performance Challenge!

As part of the launch for the 2012 Emerging America festival, the Huntington Theatre Company is seeking performance groups to participate in the May Fair Performance Challenge, a fun event aimed at showcasing the creative skills of local Boston performers.

First, develop a piece from a provided short script and quirky style inspired by the upcoming Emerging America offerings.

Second, on May 6, engage in a fun-filled scavenger hunt in Harvard Square to assemble additional components to creatively incorporate into your performance.

Finally, perform your 5 to 10-minute piece on the Emerging America Stage at May Fair for the crowd and a panel of judges. The winners take home a fabulous prize!

Both individual artists and companies are invited to apply. Groups must be comprised of 2-6 people.

For more information, email Marketing Professional Intern Solange Garcia at sgarcia@huntingtontheatre.bu.edu.


Learn more about the music of MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM and playwright August Wilson's obsession with the blues from director Liesl Tommy and members of the cast, including Jason Bowen, Yvette Freeman, and G. Valmont Thomas. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org/marainey.

March 6, 2012

We've Received 39 IRNE Award Nominations!

We've received 39 IRNE Award nominations from the Independent Reviewers of New England, which recognized each our 2011 productions. The 39 nominations are five more than we received for our 2010 productions and more than twice as many as any other company in New England.

The cast of Candide, photo: T. Charles Erickson
Our September-October 2011 production of Leonard Bernstein’s glorious musical Candide received 13 nominations, more than any other production of 2011, and was nominated in every category in which it is eligible: 

March 5, 2012

23 High School Students Advance to this Sunday's Finals of Poetry Out Loud

CONTACT: Rebecca Curtiss, rcurtiss@huntingtontheatre.bu.edu / 617 273 1537



(Boston) – Twenty-three students from the 72 semi-finalists that competed last weekend have advanced to Sunday’s State Finals in the national Poetry Out Loud (POL) spoken word competition. Sunday’s winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete in the National Finals May 13-15. The Huntington facilitates the Massachusetts competition with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The State Finals, to be held Sunday, March 11, will begin at 9:30am at the Old South Meeting House (301 Washington Street, Boston), site of the historic meeting of colonists that led to the Boston Tea Party and a continued haven of free speech today. The competition is free and open to the public.

Competing students include:

Haley Berube, Doherty Memorial High School (Worcester)
Molly Brennan, Sturgis Charter Public School East (Hyannis)
Ashly Brun, Malden High School (Malden)
Christa Celestin, Revere High School (Revere)
Liliana Costa-Smith, Meridian Academy (Brookline)
Meredith Derecho, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (Sudbury)
Rebekah Dowdell, Springfield Central High School (Springfield)
Noelani Gabriel, Springfield High School of Science and Technology (Springfield)
Micaela Garrison-Desany, Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School (Marlborough)
Nicholas Gilfor, Wilbraham and Monson Academy (Wilbraham)
Dariana Guerrero, Math, Science & Technology High School at Lawrence High (Lawrence)
Stephanie Igharosa, Randolph High School (Randolph)
Ezra Marcus, Monument Mountain Regional High School (Great Barrington)
Diana Milkey, Sturgis Charter Public School West (Hyannis)
Michaela Murray, John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science (Roxbury)
Meredith Omer, Acton-Boxborough Regional High School (Acton)
Aurelia Paquette, Boston Latin School (Boston)
Sarah Pizzano, Stoneham High School (Stoneham)
Chelsea Rivera, Global Learning Charter Public School (New Bedford)
Danielle Robbins, Algonquin Regional High School (Northborough)
Emma Rogalewski, Falmouth Academy (Falmouth)
Jessica Seng, Dracut Senior High School (Dracut)
Ariana Yates, Worcester Technical High School (Worcester)

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national recitation competition that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating self-confidence and an appreciation of students’ literary heritage as they take poetry from the page to the stage. Since its inception seven years ago, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover and appreciate both classic and contemporary poetry.

A record 20,000 students from 81 Huntington-supported high schools across the Commonwealth competed in recent months in classroom and school-wide competitions. A complete list can be found at the end of this release.

The Finals will be hosted by playwright, filmmaker, and performing artist Mwalim, who will also perform, along with poet Dr. Daniel Thomas Moran. Massachusetts Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of Joint Committee on Education, will speak. The Finals will be judged by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro (Before I Leave You); Michael Curry, attorney and president of the Boston NAACP; teacher and dancer Mayra Hernandez; and poet and professor of dentistry Moran. Huntington Overseer Katherine Jones will serve as Prompter.

“Poetry Out Loud creates an incredibly powerful sense of community in our school,” says Burlington High School English teacher Benjamin Lalley. “For weeks after the competition, I still hear students telling each other, ‘You did a great job. You really knocked that one out.’ From performers to student athletes to ESL students, everyone gets engaged in our school-wide celebration of poetry.”

“The Huntington is proud to lead Massachusetts’ support of Poetry Out Loud,” says Huntington Theatre Company Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “Its growth over the years speaks to its success. Poetry Out Loud provides a forum for the next generation of orators and creative voices to be heard.”

About Poetry Out Loud: poetryoutloud.org
Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre into the English class. The NEA and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Huntington sponsor the Massachusetts contest; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation sponsor the competition on the national level.

Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at huntingtontheatre.org/pol.

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About the Huntington Theatre Company: huntingtontheatre.org
Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council: massculturalcouncil.org
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The MCC is committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities across the Commonwealth. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.

2012 Participating High Schools:
Acton Boxborough Regional High School
Algonquin Regional High School
Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School
Amherst Regional High School
Artovotion/Teen Empowerment
Avon Middle High School
Barnstable High School
Berkshire School
Boston Adult Technical Academy
Boston College High School
Boston Latin School
Brookline High School
Burlington High School
Claremont Academy
Codman Academy Public Charter School
Covenant Christian Academy
Dartmouth High School
Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School
Dexter School
Doherty Memorial High School
Dracut Senior High School
East Boston High School
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Everett High School
Fairhaven High School
Falmouth Academy
Fitchburg High School
Framingham High School
Francis W Parker Charter Essential School
Global Learning Charter Public School
Groton-Dunstable Regional High School
Harwich High School
Haverhill High School
Hingham High School
Humanities and Leadership Development High School at Lawrence High School
The John Dewey Academy
John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science
Leominster High School
Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School
Malden High School
Masconomet Regional High School
Math, Science & Technology High School at Lawrence High
Melrose High School
Meridian High School
Minnechaug Regional High School
Monument Mountain Regional High School
Mt. Everett Regional High School
Needham High School
Newburyport High School
Newton North High School
New Mission High School
Old Rochester Regional High School
Peabody Veterans Memorial High School
Pittsfield High School
Presentation of Mary Academy
Prospect Hill Academy Charter School
Provincetown High School
Putnam Vocational Technical High School
Randolph High School
Revere High School
Rockland High School
Salem Academy Charter School
Saugus High School
South Hadley High School
South Shore Charter Public School
Southfield School
Sparhawk School
Springfield Central High School
Springfield High School of Science & Technology
Stoneham High School
Sturgis Charter Public School East
Sturgis Charter Public School West
Swampscott High School
Tyngsborough High School
Waltham High School
West Springfield High School
Westfield High School
Whitman-Hanson Regional High School
Wilbraham and Monson Academy
Wilmington High School
Worcester Technical High School