Tag Archives: comedy

Village Players Present “You Can’t Take It With You”

Little article about my Moss Hart and George Kaufman show I’m directing for Village Players in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky.

https://www.rcnky.com/articles/2022/02/10/comedy-classic-you-cant-take-it-you-comes-village-players-fort-thomas

Tickets Now On Sale for “You Can’t Take It With You”

Attention all theater goers in the Greater Cincinnati area: Tickets are now on sale for the play, “You Can’t Take It With You” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, presented by Village Players of Ft. Thomas (Kentucky) and directed by me. The show runs February 25-27 and March 3-5. All information regarding the show, cast, safety protocols and other information can be found at villageplayers.org.

I wanted to do this play because I have great admiration for Hart and Kaufman. They both directly influenced my life as a young man and led me down the path of theater, writing and taking comedy seriously.

Moss Hart and George Kaufman wrote eight plays together from 1930 to 1940. They were so popular on Broadway that Hart, who was born in poverty, was able to buy a mansion in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and planted full grown trees on each side of the driveway leading up to the main house. Kaufman took one look at it and said, “That’s what God would have done, if he’d had the money.”

Two of those plays are still being widely produced today: You Can’t Take It With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner. You Can’t Take It With You won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1936, was turned into a Frank Capra film in 1938 and won the Oscar for Best Picture. The film of The Man Who Came to Dinner is now something of a Christmas staple. (And the story from Merrily We Roll Along is used in the Sondheim musical.)

I first became aware of Kaufman and Hart through Harpo Marx’s autobiography, Harpo Speaks, at an early age. I devoured it, cover to cover, and discovered a world of Broadway, literary wits, writers, artists, actors and musicians that still inspire me to this day. I was entranced by the world of Alexander Woollcott (the subject of The Man Who Came To Dinner), Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Harold Ross and the New Yorker, Frankin P. Adams, Neysa McMein, Marc Connelly and of course, George Kaufman.

Kaufman, with his many collaborators, set me on a path to wanting to emulate him, writing plays, being witty and hanging out with people that were just like that.

It took longer to really discover Moss Hart. I found his 1959 autobiography, Act One, in a used book store in the 1970’s, read it and loved it. Hart is as star struck as anyone meeting Kaufman and has to work hard to convince him to stay with their first collaboration, Once in a Lifetime, after Kaufman tells Hart that he has done all he can on the play. Hart figures out what’s wrong with the play, returns to Kaufman with the revisions and Kaufman agrees to give it another shot. They are successful and the play is a hit. Then the book ends.

Research material for me in the early 70’s was limited. I had the library, but information on Hart was scarce, especially after he and Kaufman split up. But what a career he had. He wrote (and directed) the groundbreaking musical Lady in the Dark (with Gertrude Lawrence), wrote the 1954 version of A Star is Born, wrote the multi Academy Award winning Gentlemen’s Agreement (Hart was nominated), and directed the original productions of My Fair Lady and Camelot.

I hope you’ll come to see this show. It’s very entertaining and the cast is great. I think you’ll like it. Go to villageplayers.org for all the info you need.

Curtain Call Gets Another Performance

My play, Curtain Call, about two actors who are quitting a show because their performance isn’t up to their high standards (ok, it’s really about the Lunts) will be part of the North Street Playhouse production on Nov 5 & 6, in VA. http://northstreetplayhouse.org #theater #Broadway

The Playhouse is located in Virginia, 34 Market Street, Onancock, VA 23417. I wish I could be there.

Look at some of my earlier posts nearby to read about Curtain Call. It’s very witty. It’s really about Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and Noel Coward.

//999

Thoughts on “Curtain Call”

(My play, Curtain Call, a comedy about famous actors worrying about their performances, will be part of PlayZoomers evening of live, online theater, Friday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m., ET, and Saturday, October 23, at 9:30 p.m., ET. Tickets are on Eventbrite. Visit www.playzoomers.org for more info. I hope to “see” you there.)

Thoughts on “Curtain Call”

I posted on Facebook the fact that a play I have written called “Curtain Call” is being performed later in October.  I mentioned that the play is about actors who are worried that their performances weren’t up to their usual standards.

That resulted in a friend of mine commenting that “Are people really interested in what actors think?”

Fair question.  I never really thought of it that way.  “Curtain Call” is what we call a “backstage” comedy, revealing the behind-the-scenes action.  It’s a device that gives us the true motives of the actors performing in a play that are often far different than what they present on stage.  Plenty of playwrights have used this backstage contrivance to advance their play, such as “The Royal Family” by Kaufman and Ferber, “Present Laughter” by Noel Coward, “Noises Off” by Michael Frayen, “A Chorus Line” by Hamlisch, Kleban, Kirkwood and Dante, “Kiss Me Kate” by the Spewacks and Cole Porter.  Now perhaps I shouldn’t compare my play to those above, but the principle is the same.  Audiences will care what actors think as long as it’s entertaining them.

Providing the entertainment in “Curtain Call” are three actors, two of them who are based on the true antics of perhaps the greatest acting team in American theater, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, and the other is based on Noel Coward.  They were perfectionists, constantly talking about their roles, day and night, and how to improve their characterizations.  On the day before one of their long-running shows was about to close, Lynn mentioned to Alfred that she was going to change an inflection on how she delivered one of her lines to get a bigger laugh.

In “Curtain Call,” my character, Lydia Francis, ever the perfectionist, tells her husband, Allen Hart and the playwright, Neil Collins, just how Allen threw off her performance.

                   Lydia

It started in Act One.

                   Allen

Scene Five.

                   Neil

The lunch scene.

                   Lydia

Yes.  Allen placed the glass on wrong side of the serving tray.

                   Allen

I don’t know what got into me.  A total lack of concentration, I suppose.

                   Lydia

That concerned me.

                   Neil

Oh, it concerned you, did it?

                   Lydia

Yes.  I saw it right away.  Of course, I looked at Allen and saw the terror in his eyes.  That threw me.  I panicked as well and before I knew it, my head was moving back and forth as I delivered the lines.

                   Neil

Back and forth?

                   Lydia

Ever so slightly. 

                   Allen

But it threw me off.  I nearly forgot to serve the finger sandwiches at the proper time. 

                   Neil

I don’t know how you ever recovered.

                   Allen

I didn’t.  I was thinking about it for the rest of the play.

Hopefully, that answers the question “are we interested in what actors think”.  We need to look at them as not just actors, but as characters about which we care and take an interest and laugh at their hard-driven perfectionism.

I hope many of you will “stop by” to see the play. I think you’ll enjoy it.

The Sequel to Citizen Kane Is On the Air!

My play, The Sequel to Citizen Kane, will be performed, via Zoom, on Monday, November 9, at 7:00 p.m. EST, by the New City Players Lab, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Registration is required to get the Zoom link, but it is free to all. Here’s the link to registration: https://www.newcityplayers.org/lab

I hope you’ll make plans to attend.

The Sequel to Citizen Kane is a comedy about two Hollywood knuckleheads who think they have the sequel rights to the greatest movie ever made. It’s one of my favorite plays and I think you’ll like it.

That’s A Myth

I woke up with this sketch in my head for some reason.  It’s That’s A Myth, a sketch I wrote for The Act, which was my comedy duo with Scott Levy.  I don’t have too many sketches posted on my YouTube page because, frankly, they’re not so hot.  We were one of the first to use public access equipment and we rushed the shows.  As I was looking at the shows recently, they just didn’t seem to hold up very well.  I do have a couple that I could post, but for the most part, I think we’ll pass.

This one, though, is pretty good and represents something we were attempting.  It’s a fast paced sketch and still holds up.  I’m the guy on the left.  The other guy is Bill Balfour, who helped us in the studio with directing and acting occasionally.

Here’s That’s A Myth:

Tonight’s the Night: My New Play is Performed

It all happens tonight!  I hope to see you there.

Playwright Steven G. Martin says in a recommendation:   Sophisticated humor — through wit, wordplay, and charm — infuse this light, one-act comedy set in 1950s New York. Hatfield clearly understands and enjoys the high-brow charm of shows of this period, and has created a group of characters — world wearing magazine writers, a misled wife, and a tortured editor — that fits right in. Stylish and enchanting. 

PREMIERE OF LILY BLOSSOMS, OR MODERN SUBDIVISION ZONING IN THE PRESENT DAY, AT THE ARONOFF CENTER, JANUARY 14

The Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative New Voices series presents the premiere of Lily Blossoms, or Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day by Greg Hatfield, in a staged reading, on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Fifth Third Bank Theater in the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut Street, in Downtown Cincinnati.

This sophisticated comedy is set in New York City in 1954. Lily Palmer and Theodore Barkley, the star writers for Manhattan magazine, are the very best of friends. Hating their present assignments, they decide to mix things up a bit to the consternation of their editor. Barkley has also been moonlighting as an actor and gets an offer from a movie studio in Hollywood. This could break up the team and his marriage.

Cincinnati community theater lovers will recognize this cast: Cathy Jo Judge, Darren Lee, Peggy Allen and Chris Bishop, as all are very familiar faces throughout the city, working consistently on plays and musicals with every theater company.

The playwright and director, Greg Hatfield, is no slouch, either. For years, he was a writer, actor and director in Dr. Browndog’s Moneytime, a theatrical comedy troupe in Cincinnati. His other plays have been performed by companies in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Tickets are now on sale at https://www.cincinnatiarts.org/events/detail/cpi-ghost-girl or the Aronoff Box Office. Tickets are $10.00. There is another play, The Ghost Girl by Ariel Rodgers, also performed that night.

For more information, go to cincinnatiarts.org or cincyplaywrights.org.

PREMIERE OF LILY BLOSSOMS, OR MODERN SUBDIVISION ZONING IN THE PRESENT DAY, AT THE ARONOFF CENTER, JANUARY 14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact
Greg Hatfield, greghatfield@yahoo.com

PREMIER OF LILY BLOSSOMS, OR MODERN SUBDIVISION ZONING IN THE PRESENT DAY, AT THE ARONOFF CENTER, JANUARY 14

The Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative New Voices series presents the premiere of Lily Blossoms, or Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day by Greg Hatfield, in a staged reading, on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Fifth Third Bank Theater in the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut Street, in Downtown Cincinnati.

This sophisticated comedy is set in New York City in 1954. Lily Palmer and Theodore Barkley, the star writers for Manhattan magazine, are the very best of friends. Hating their present assignments, they decide to mix things up a bit to the consternation of their editor. Barkley has also been moonlighting as an actor and gets an offer from a movie studio in Hollywood. This could break up the team and his marriage.

Cincinnati community theater lovers will recognize this cast: Cathy Jo Judge, Darren Lee, Peggy Allen and Chris Bishop, as all are very familiar faces throughout the city, working consistently on plays and musicals with every theater company.

The playwright and director, Greg Hatfield, is no slouch, either. For years, he was a writer, actor and director in Dr. Browndog’s Monkeytime, a theatrical comedy troupe in Cincinnati. His other plays have been performed by companies in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Tickets are now on sale at https://www.cincinnatiarts.org/events/detail/cpi-ghost-girl or the Aronoff Box Office. Tickets are $10.00. There is another play, The Ghost Girl by Ariel Rodgers, also performed that night.

For more information, go to cincinnatiarts.org, cincyplaywrights.org and greghatfield.com.

Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day

My comedy monologue, Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day, will be performed as part of “Tales from the Script Festival” from Darkhorse Dramatists, on November 1 and 2, at 8:00 p.m., at the Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center, in Owega, New York.

Adam Ruff performs the monologue, directed by Cat Robinson.

http://www.tiahwaga.com

Cincinnati audiences will get a chance to see it on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, when the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative presents my play, Lily Blossoms, or Modern Subdivision Zoning in the Present Day, at the Fifth Third Bank Theater in the Aronoff Center. More details on that to come.

 

modern sub

So, What’s Been Going On: An Update

I feel like I’m close to finishing some of the essays I’ve been working on.  Just to give you a preview of what is in store for my readers, I have the following in various stages of completion:

A Short History of the Dublin Gate Theater, featuring the founders, Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir.  This has been all-consuming lately, with the reasons detailed in my essay.  Founded in 1928, in Dublin, Ireland, the Gate is one of the longest-consecutive running theaters in the world.  It’s difficult writing about productions and actors you’ve never personally seen (except maybe in filmed clips), but I hope to get across the passion and brilliance of both Edwards and MacLiammoir, and all the paths that lead to them.

What Moss Hart Means to Me.  Playwright and director Moss Hart was a very talented man, known for being George S. Kaufman’s most successful collaborator.  He certainly influenced my life and Hart has seen a bit of a renaissance lately with the production of his autobiography, Act One, on Broadway, so I’ll take a look at his career and life.

I’m trying to figure out a couple of stories about, well, me.  I’d like to write about a play I directed in college, Neil Simon’s The Gingerbread Lady, because it was memorable and interesting, I think.  I might also write about my time in comedy, starting with The Act, my duo with Scott Levy.  I may also publish some unpublished work, including parts of my novel The Dick Beaks Show, or sketches that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.

This is all part of the bigger picture leading to my memoirs called Scrap Heap.

In the meantime, it’s the start of the holiday season, so my timeless Bing Crosby article gets shoved to the front.

See you soon.

G