I’ll be directing my own play, Curtain Call, for The Drama Workshop’s Home Brew series January 20-22, in Cheviot, Ohio (Cincinnati metro).
Details are here: https://thedramaworkshop.org
Curtain Call is my tribute to Noel Coward and Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. During rehearsals for Design for Living in 1932, Noel wasn’t used to working with the perfectionists Lunts, who changed things liberally before opening night. I wanted to give my interpretations.
Here is the link to WGUC’s Cincinnati Spotlight, with yours truly talking about Let’s Murder Marsha, opening tomorrow night, from Beechmont Players.
Thanks to Elaine Diehl for having me on the show to talk about a play that I’ve enjoyed directing. Tickets on sale at beechmontplayers.org . We run October 7, 8 and 9 and October 14 and 15. Come see it. It’s funny.
In case you missed it, I have a show that I’ve directed opening Friday, October 7. It’s “Let’s Murder Marsha” by Monk Ferris, a comedy murder mystery, presented by Beechmont Players. Tickets are available at beechmontplayers.org. The theater is in the Anderson Center, 7850 Five Mile Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45230.
This is a very funny play performed by a wonderful cast, whom you can see below in the accompanying photo, taken by Kristy Rucker. I hope you’ll come.
I was interviewed for this article for the @dramatistsguild about Cincinnati playwriting opportunities. https://dramatistsguild.com/thedramatist/ohio-cincinnati-update?fbclid=IwAR1dUUZluhaIoe44nYuN0Dq7pR1bbYAN1TWYNPL9lzxvhrXztWYwmvC4Prg…#WritingCommnunity#theater#writerslife
Little article about my Moss Hart and George Kaufman show I’m directing for Village Players in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky.
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.
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.
(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.
It started in Act One.
The lunch scene.
Yes. Allen placed the glass on wrong side of the serving tray.
I don’t know what got into me. A total lack of concentration, I suppose.
That concerned me.
Oh, it concerned you, did it?
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.
Back and forth?
Ever so slightly.
But it threw me off. I nearly forgot to serve the finger sandwiches at the proper time.
I don’t know how you ever recovered.
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.
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.
My play, The Sequel to Citizen Kane, has been selected to take part in the Miami Writes Festival. It will be given a reading on Friday, March 6, at Miami University Hamilton Campus, Studio 307 (307 Phelps Hall), 1601 University Hall, Hamilton, Ohio 45011 at 7:30 PM. Admission is free.
Miami Writes is part of the Miami University Regionals Theater season. There will be about ten 10-minute plays read that evening. Here’s their website: https://miamioh.edu/regionals/academics/departments/hca/student-work/theatre/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2VGiEiL3v43ffFJESHW3ip2gsh_4tJIm1bPQWpxb4TodtlwpXhzER8Qtg
The Sequel to Citizen Kane is a comedy about two Hollywood knuckleheads thinking they have the sequel rights to the greatest film ever made.
I’m excited because it gives me a chance to hear a different voice to my play and it’s the first time this play has been performed. If you can make it, I’d love for you to hear this play performed.