Wed, 30 Jan 2013 09:01:07 -0500In the latest Downstage Center, "Annie" stars Katie Finneran (Miss Hannigan) and Anthony Warlow (Daddy Warbucks) discuss the current revival, James Lapine, past roles, the audition process, reputation, and awards, among other topics.
Wed, 9 Jan 2013 09:01:07 -0500(A Special encore edition) Broadway’s premier animal trainer Bill Berloni got his foot in the door in 1976 as a teenager when he rescued and trained the original Sandy for the Goodspeed Opera House original production of "Annie." Sandy went to Broadway in 1977 and so did Mr. Berloni, and he never left. Michael Price, Goodspeed Musicals Executive Director, interviews the 2011 Special Tony Award winner and friend Mr. Berloni about his career in the theater: from "Annie" to "Camelot" (with Richard Burton) to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "Woman in White"; the work he’s most proud of; and the special pride he takes in being an advocate for his four legged co-stars.
Wed, 19 Dec 2012 09:12:29 -0500Downstage Center celebrates the season with cast members from the hit holiday musical, "Elf." Cast members Beth Leavel, Adam Heller, and Mark Jacoby discuss the play, the adaptation from the film, tap dancing on stage, music in plays, other roles, and their lives in the theatre.
Wed, 12 Dec 2012 09:12:29 -0500In this special Downstage Center, we celebrate the legendary Stage Door Canteen (a war relief effort founded by early members of the American Theatre Wing). Opened on March 2, 1942 in the 44th Street Theatre, the New York Stage Door Canteen serviced an average of 3,000 servicemen a night as a recreation center before many of the soldiers went off to war. In all, eight Stage Door Canteens throughout the United States as well as in London and Paris served soldiers. Theatrical luminaries gave of their time (as volunteers) and talents (singing, dancing) in the Canteens. Listen now as Pia Lindstrom talks with one of the original Canteen volunteers, Phyllis Jeanne Creore.
Wed, 28 Nov 2012 09:12:29 -0500"Ten years after its New York premiere, The Exonerated still has the power to unsettle." - NY Times. Celebrating the ten year anniversary of their ground-breaking and thought-provoking docu-play, its writers, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, talk about its creation, style, relevance, cast, and the latest production at NYC's Culture Project.
Wed, 14 Nov 2012 09:12:29 -0500Currently in residence at the Signature Theatre, playwright (and Wing board member) David Henry Hwang is a recent winner of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. This edition of Downstage Center was originally recorded in 2007. Playwright David Henry Hwang talks about putting a version of himself -- and his father -- onstage in his new play "Yellowface" and why he doesn't want to reveal what in the play is fact and what is fiction; recalls his extraordinary leap from having his first play produced in his college dorm to having a series of plays done at The Public Theatre only a short time later; explains the origins of his award-winning Broadway hit "M. Butterfly"; reflects on his role in the controversy over the hiring of Jonathan Pryce to appear in "Miss Saigon"; shares his thoughts on the failure of his farce "Face Value"; describes his work on the musicals "Aida", "Flower Drum Song" and "Tarzan", and contemplates what he hopes to explore next on stage.
Wed, 31 Oct 2012 09:12:29 -0500Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti from "Once" talk about their Tony Award-winning musical and the successful run its enjoyed since its beginnings at the New York Theatre Workshop, their favorite songs, staying focused, and, what other Broadway shows they want to see.
Wed, 17 Oct 2012 09:12:29 -0500In the latest Downstage Center, actors Rob McClure and Christiane Noll discuss "Chaplin", from the research they put into their roles (Mr. McClure as the legendary silent film actor and Ms. Noll as his mother) to the audience and Chaplin family reaction to the production. They also discuss past roles: Mr. McClure in "Avenue Q" and Ms. Noll in "Ragtime" and "Jekyll and Hyde," and the special moment when Mr. McClure met his hero, Anthony Warlow, backstage.
Wed, 26 Sep 2012 09:12:29 -0500The latest edition of Downstage Center goes backstage with "Tribes", the provocative new play written by Nina Raine. Director David Cromer and actor Jeff Still discuss the play and the challenges they faced with the subject matter, deaf theatre, their friendship, and the Chicago theatre scene, among other topics.
Wed, 12 Sep 2012 09:12:29 -0500In the latest Downstage Center, "Silence! The Musical" writer Hunter Bell and actress Jenn Harris discuss the show The NY Post called "Gleefully submissive" and The NY Times "a hilarious take down." From its premiere at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival to its current home off-Broadway, the uproarious show continues to keep its audience in stitches!
Wed, 29 Aug 2012 09:12:29 -0500Downstage Center goes to Texas. Listen as Primary Stages Artistic Director Andrew Leynse talks with actress Hallie Foote about her father Horton's work, world, and new Primary Stages production "Harrison, TX," three plays by Horton Foote. In addition to discussing the current production directed by Pam McKinnon, Ms. Foote discusses acting, the family history, and her father's legacy.
Wed, 15 Aug 2012 09:12:29 -0500Five time Tony-winner and new ATW Chairman William Ivey Long talks about his extensive career as one of Broadway's top costume designers, from his earliest days on stage -- living in a dressing room at the Raleigh Little Theatre in North Carolina -- to his upcoming projects "9 To 5" and "Dreamgirls". Along the way, he describes how shocked he was by the first thing he saw on stage at the Yale School of Drama; how his career developed largely thanks to the support of his drama school friends; how he came up with Anita Morris' iconic body suit for "Nine" -- and how it resulted in his never working with Tommy Tune again; whether there's a difference between designing musicals and plays; how the paintings of Gauguin influenced his designs for "Guys And Dolls"; what its like to revisit the "Chicago" costumes for a variety of different actresses; and why he chooses to wear a largely unvaried "uniform" every single day. Original air date - August 22, 2008.
Wed, 1 Aug 2012 10:03:49 -0400"Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark's" Patrick Page and Isabel Keating go one-on-one about Broadway's favorite super hero and his nemesis, Page's Green Goblin. The actors talk dialects, quick changes, character development, improvising and background stories they create for their roles in the play. It's not ALL Spidey; the duo discuss acting techniques, other favorite roles, and Judy Garland, among other topics.
Wed, 18 July 2012 10:03:49 -0400Martin Pakledinaz passed away on July 8th, 2012. This edition of Downstage Center was recorded in 2010. Costume designer Martin Pakledinaz talks about creating the clothes for the recent Broadway revival of "Lend Me A Tenor", the commencement of planning for the spring 2011 production of "Anything Goes" and the revival of "Oklahoma!" that will be part of Arena Stage's opening of its furbished and expanded venue. He also talks about his early thoughts of acting and who finally disabused him of that notion; his early working doing sketches for the legendary Theoni V. Aldredge and how he ultimately had to rediscover his own voice instead of speaking through hers; his very early - and short-lived - Broadway experiences with "Inacent Black" and "I Won't Dance"; developing his skills through productions at The York Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival; the McCarter Theatre; and the Roundabout Theatre Company; why he tried to costume the kids from the 2007 "Grease" without using leather jackets - and how long that idea lasted; the differing production timetables of theatre and opera and how each effects his work; and how much of his designs rely on the particular actor cast in a role. Original air date - August 18, 2010.
Wed, 4 July 2012 09:01:07 -0500Originally performed on Broadway in 1960, Gore Vidal’s "The Best Man" returns to Broadway with an all star cast and a Tony-nomination for Best Revival of a Play. In the latest Downstage Center, two of the shows stars, Donna Hanover and Jefferson Mays, go behind the scenes of the topical political barnburner and dish the dirt on their characters, co-actors, and the view from the wings of the star–studded cast. In addition, they discuss their careers, acting process and other roles.
Wed, 20 June 2012 09:01:07 -0500The latest Downstage Center features a Broadway sibling rivalry as Andrew Keenan-Bolger from the Tony-nominated musical "Newsies" takes on his sister, Tony-nominated actress Celia Keenan-Bolger from "Peter and The Starcatcher." The duo discuss their star turns on Broadway, the development of their plays and characters, childhood in Detroit, being in plays vs. being in musicals, and the Tony nominations, among other topics.
Wed, 06 June 2012 09:01:07 -0500This week Downstage Center gets ready for the Tonys with the 2012 Tony nominated, Pulitzer Prize winning play "Clybourne Park". Stars Jeremy Shamos (also nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role) and Annie Parisse discuss the racially charged play that has had the theatre world buzzing since it opened; from its beginnings at Playwrights Horizons to its current home on Broadway. The two talented actors also expound on their complicated Clybourne characters, the acting process in general, Shakespeare, collaboration, and other memorable roles.
Wed, 23 May 2012 09:01:07 -0500The "Smash" season may be over but in the latest Downstage Center two of its stars talk about its cast, plots, and everything else you want to know about the hit show. Christian Borle and Will Chase certainly wax "Smash," but primetime TV isn't all these working actors are known for: Borle is currently starring in "Peter and The Starcatcher" on Broadway, a performance for which he is Tony nominated, and Chase was recently in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Pipe Dream" at New York City Center. Listen now to the two actors talk about their careers and craft from the little screen to the stage.
Wed, 9 May 2012 09:01:07 -0500Being in "the moment" is every good actor's mantra. In the latest Downstage Center Stacy Keach and Elizabeth Marvel talk about that moment, professional training, and Shakepeare, among other topics. Of course, the "Other Desert Cities" stars also discuss their Tony nominated play through its development, the characters they portray, and the emotional power behind Jon Robin Baitz's script.
Wed, 25 Apr 2012 09:01:07 -0500Where do the stars from Broadway’s biggest shows stop before the curtain? The Wing’s Downstage Center. From the Stratford Shakespeare Festival to the La Jolla Playhouse to Broadway, the current revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" has the theatre world buzzing. In the latest Downstage Center, two of the shows stars, Bruce Dow and Josh Young, discuss the origins of the current revival, roles, dramaturgy, the script, and surprise visits early on from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Wed, 11 Apr 2012 09:01:07 -0500From NYC police officer to Broadway, actor David Zayas has had an interesting journey from the street to the stage. In the latest Downstage Center, the accomplished actor joins his fellow LAByrinth Theater member and friend, the playwright/actor Stephen Adly Guirgis. The duo speak candidly about the beginnings, body of work, and mission of LAByrinth, Mr. Zayas’ process and life, and finish sharing tales of memorable auditions.
Wed, 28 Mar 2012 09:01:07 -0500Where are Broadway's biggest talents? Downstage Center. The latest sits down with Tony Award winner ("Avenue Q", "The Book of Mormon") Bobby Lopez. The composer and lyricist talks to Ted Chapin (American Theatre Wing Chairman of the Board and President and Executive Director of The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization) about his inspiration, the Sondheim influence, finding the comedy, and, of course, "The Book of Mormon", from its inceptions to its "I Believe" ode to "The Sound of Music."
Wed, 14 Mar 2012 09:01:07 -0500Broadway’s premier animal trainer Bill Berloni got his foot in the door in 1976 as a teenager when he rescued and trained the original Sandy for the Goodspeed Opera House original production of "Annie." Sandy went to Broadway in 1977 and so did Mr. Berloni, and he never left. Michael Price, Goodspeed Musicals Executive Director, interviews the 2011 Special Tony Award winner and friend Mr. Berloni about his career in the theater: from "Annie" to "Camelot" (with Richard Burton) to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "Woman in White"; the work he’s most proud of; and the special pride he takes in being an advocate for his four legged co-stars.
Wed, 29 Feb 2012 09:01:07 -0500Where are Broadway’s hottest stars? Downstage Center. The latest episode heads down south as Memphis’ Montego Glover plays the role as interviewer to her co-star Adam Pascal. The versatile duo expounds on, among other topics, their experience in "Memphis", the skill sets needed to be a working actor, and some of the other roles they may be known for: Mr. Pascal in "Rent" and "Aida", and Ms. Glover in "The Color Purple."
Wed, 15 Feb 2012 09:01:07 -0500Nina Arianda’s star has never shone brighter. Recreating the off-Broadway role that her made a name to watch, the actress returns to Broadway in "Venus in Fur" in what the New York Times called "the first, must see performance of the Broadway season." Downstage Center, with NY1’s Frank DiLella, sits down with Ms. Arianda to discuss, among other things, the acting process, family, her Tony nomination for "Born Yesterday", working in Woody Allen’s "Midnight in Paris", seeing Meryl Streep in "Mother Courage", theatre education, and her dream roles.
Wed, 01 Feb 2012 09:01:07 -0500Go backstage with one of Broadway's hottest actors from Broadway's biggest show. NY1's Frank DiLella interviews "The Book of Mormon" star Andrew Rannells in the latest "Downstage Center". From "Hairspray" and "Jersey Boys" to "The Book of Mormon"'s Elder Price, Oklahoma native Mr. Rannells relishes his time in the hottest show in town. Inspired by "Into the Woods" and "The Who's Tommy", he somehow found a way to keep a straight face during each hilarious performance on his way to his first Tony Award nomination in 2011. Listen to how he ended up in the current production and pranks his co-star Josh Gad on stage, what real Mormons think of his work, working with Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the sometimes controversial subject matter of their humor, and what happens when Oprah visits him after the show. Original air date - February 1, 2012.
Wed, 18 Jan 2012 09:58:34 -0500Marlo Thomas and Lisa Emery share the stage in Broadway's "Relatively Speaking" (an evening of one-acts written by Elaine May, Woody Allen, and Ethan Coen). In the Wing's latest "Downstage Center" they get together to swap stories on the craft they love and how they got where they are today. Ms. Thomas begins as the interviewer but soon a conversation ensues about mutual director horror stories, women in the theatre, pre-show rituals, the inspiration they receive from hearing the audience entering the empty space, and, of course, "Relatively Speaking" and working with Elaine May's words and John Turturro's direction. They wrap it up discussing their "big breaks" - Ms. Thomas with Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" and Ms. Emery with Lanford Wilson's "Burn This". Original air date - January 18, 2012.
Wed, 04 Jan 2012 09:01:18 -0500What happens when "Follies" star Elaine Paige sits down to interview her co-star Ron Raines? Listen now to the lively discussion about everything "Follies" and Sondheim: his lyrics, Sondheim as teacher, and the difficulty in performing "Sweeney Todd", among other topics. Sondheim isn't the only show in town. Paige and Raines also talk about balancing life and art, musical theatre vs. opera, the economics of Broadway, career longevity in the theatre, "The King and I", transitioning from film/television acting to acting on the stage, and Paige's most embarrassing stage moment while performing in "Evita". Of course, it all goes back to "Follies" and its cast and why it's so hard for Raines to follow Paige's showstopper "I'm Still Here!" Original air date - January 4, 2012.
Wed, 27 Jul 2011 10:44:02 -0400Eugene Lee, resident designer for Rhode Island's Trinity Rep since 1967, set designer for "Saturday Night Live (SNL)" since its inception, and three-time TONY Award winner, talks about the realistic set of "Sweeney Todd"; growing up in Wisconsin and his early theatre memories and experiences; why he dislikes proscenium stages; what led "SNL"'s Lorne Michaels to hire him; working with Hal Prince on "Sweeney Todd", "Candide", "Merrily We Roll Along", and "Showboat"; how he got involved in "Wicked"; working with Gordon Edelstein at Long Wharf Theatre; working with playwright Athol Fugard; and his love of teaching. Original air date - July 27, 2011.
Wed, 13 Jul 2011 08:25:20 -0400American actress Lois Smith, whose career in theatre, film, and television spans five decades, talks about her experience of playing the originally male role, Alcandre, in the Signature Theatre production of Tony Kushner's "The Illusion", an adaptation of Pierre Corneille's "L'Illusion Comique". She also talks about her upbringing in Kansas; experience in working on the film "East of Eden"; working with Helen Hayes on "The Wisteria Trees" and "The Glass Menagerie"; working with Andre Gregory at the Philadelphia Theatre of the Living Arts at the beginning of the regional theatre movement; doing Chekhov; her experience as a company member of Steppenwolf and performing "The Grapes of Wrath" as the first American theatre company to play The Royal National Theatre in London; her experience in playing Halie in Sam Shepard's "Buried Child"; and working with playwright Horton Foote on "The Trip to the Bountiful" again at Signature Theatre. Original air date - July 13, 2011.
Wed, 29 Jun 2011 08:25:12 -0400Returning to Downstage Center five years after a 2006 conversation, the legendary Angela Lansbury talks about her most recent Broadway roles, in Terrence McNally's "Deuce", Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" and Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music". She also discusses her experiences with artists with whom she's frequently worked - Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Arthur Laurents and Edward Albee; her foray into Shakespeare, playing Gertrude opposite Albert Finney's "Hamlet" in London; why her career began on film rather than on the stage, her first love; and her opinions about the necessity of training and young people entering the acting profession to become celebrities, rather than excellent actors. Original air date - June 29, 2011.
Wed, 22 Jun 2011 10:12:37 -0400John Guare talks about his two Broadway plays of the past season: considering how the world has caught up with and changed audience responses to "The House of Blue Leaves" and which portion of the play is drawn directly from his own life, as well as the origin of "A Free Man of Color" and whether it's his practice to write plays based on ideas suggested by others. He also discusses his development as a playwright while at Georgetown University and the Yale School of Drama; why being an Aquarius was instrumental in the start of his professional career; his never-completed collaboration with Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein; how "Two Gentlemen of Verona", a musical with 37 songs, was never meant to be a musical; finding a home at The Public Theatre and his conflicted emotions about being a part of the institution at that time, where such plays as "Landscape of the Body" and "Marco Polo Sings a Solo" premiered; how place affected his writing of the "Lydie Breeze" plays and why he chose to revisit and rework them 20 years later; when he first learned of a con man pretending to be Sidney Poitier's son and when that blossomed into "Six Degrees of Separation"; the impact of his work with Signature Theatre Company in New York, including the premiere of "Lake Hollywood", which incorporated a play he'd written 39 years earlier; and why he agreed to adapt "The Front Page" and its gender-shifted remake "His Girl Friday" for the stage. Original air date - June 22, 2011.
Wed, 15 Jun 2011 10:39:52 -0400Just as she departed for Massachusetts and her first season as the Williamstown Theatre Festival's first female artistic director Jenny Gersten discussed her plans for the company under her leadership and tells the story of how she sold herself as Associate Producer to prior artistic director Michael Ritchie, which resulted in her nine year tenure in that previous position at WTF. She discussed WTF's relationship both to its local audience, those who summer in the Berkshires and visitors from New York, as well as how she's reconfigured the season to allow for longer runs, but fewer productions, on the mainstage. She also talks about growing up in a performing arts household (as the daughter of Lincoln Center Theater's Bernard Gersten and The New 42nd Street's Cora Cahan, both previous Downstage Center guests); her post college job with the the highly praised 52nd Street Project; her time as artistic director of New York's Naked Angels as they began their renaissance; and her work as Associate Producer for Oskar Eustis at The Public Theater prior to getting the Williamstown gig. Original air date - June 15, 2011.
Wed, 08 Jun 2011 08:28:30 -0400"Priscilla Queen of the Desert"'s Tony Sheldon talks about his six year journey with the show, from his dislike of the original film on which it's based to his transcontinental success as Bernadette in Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and now the United States. He also talks about growing up in a multi-generational show business family in Australia (including his mother Toni Lamond, who's still performing at age 79, and his aunt Helen Reddy) which saw him working professionally at age 7; his performing hiatus from age 12 to 17, after which he rebelled against his family's singing and dancing tradition by embarking on work in plays; his youthful roles as Alan Strang in "Equus" and Tom in "The Glass Menagerie" (as well as the hit show "Hamlet on Ice"); his first exposure to Shakespeare; his success -- after a shaky start -- as Arnold in the Australian debut of "Torch Song Trilogy"; how the burgeoning Australian film industry and resident theatre movements ran in parallel, rather than intertwined, paths; his dual career as writer and director of cabaret vehicles for many of Australia's best known performers, including his mom; his profound unhappiness at being cast as Roger De Bris in "The Producers"; and whether -- after working outside of Australia for the first time in Priscilla -- he'd like to work again in London or New York. Original air date - June 8, 2011.
Wed, 01 Jun 2011 09:51:54 -0400Bookwriter John Weidman talks about creating a new book in the 1980s with Timothy Crouse for the 1930s musical "Anything Goes", now playing in revival at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, and how their version of the oft-revised musical became the now-standard script. He also talks about growing up as the son of novelist and sometime Broadway librettist Jerome Weidman; his academic career at Harvard and then Yale Law School (though he's never practiced law); his part in the creation of the highly influential "National Lampoon" magazine in the 70s; how his law school-era fascination with the opening of Japan to the West ultimately became his first Broadway musical, "Pacific Overtures"; the true origins of his second collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, "Assassins"; why he was dissatisfied with his work on the musical version of "Big"; how one writes a dance musical that is largely told without words, namely "Contact"; and whether the long-aborning "Road Show" (aka "Bounce" aka "Wise Guys") is finished, or if further changes will be seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London this summer. Original air date - June 1, 2011.
Wed, 25 May 2011 09:23:08 -0400Marc Kudisch, currently appearing in "A Minister's Wife" at Lincoln Center Theater, talks about performing in a musical where the transitions between speaking and singing are instant and fluid, how the show, based on Shaw's "Candida", focuses its emphasis on the romantic triangle at its core, and the similarities between his character of Morrell and his early role as Conrad Birdie. He also talks about discovering himself as a performer as a senior in high school and then more fully in college; why he has always considered himself to be a character actor and how he defines that term; his performances as The Devil (in both "The Apple Tree" and "The Witches of Eastwick"), as comic villains (Franklin Hart in "9 to 5", Baron Bomburst in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"), comic foils (playing Count Carl-Magnus in four productions of "A Little Night Music", including the depth he finds in a character described by others as "an idiot") and leading man (as Jeff Moss in "Bells Are Ringing"); his admiration for directors George C. Wolfe, Tina Landau and Joe Mantello; why he has to work to get himself considered for roles in plays, when plays were what he first did when coming to New York; and the positive and negative uses of a healthy ego. Original air date - May 25, 2011.
Wed, 18 May 2011 08:52:35 -0400Joe Mantello talks about returning to the Broadway stage as an actor after a 17-year hiatus to play the role of Ned Weeks in Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" -- and what it's like to play a role that the play's author has based on himself when the author is at the theatre nightly. He also talks about his acting days in school and community theatre in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois (with classmates that included Marin Mazzie); his training at North Carolina School of the Arts and why he had to relearn his idiosyncrasies when he got to New York; his work with playwright Peter Hedges and actress Mary-Louise Parker in the self-founded Edge Theatre; the opportunities offered to him by the Circle Repertory Company; why he decided to stop acting after making his Broadway debut in "Angels in America"; the development of his directing career, including the highs and lows of his first two Broadway assignments, Terrence McNally's "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and Donald Margulies' "What's Wrong With This Picture?"; his collaborations with playwrights including Jon Robin Baitz, David Mamet, Richard Greenberg, Neil Simon and Craig Lucas, among many others; the challenge of taking on a project on the scale of "Wicked" with only one previous musical directing credit and how much he remains involved with the show's many productions nationally and internationally; why he enjoys working on intimate shows; and the irony behind "Other Desert Cities'" plans for Broadway in the fall. Original air date - May 18, 2011.
Wed, 11 May 2011 08:26:34 -0400Jason Robert Brown, who prefers the title "songwriter" over "composer," talks about why he spends so much time performing his own material and engaging directly with his fans. He discusses writing all of his songs "in his own voice"; his short time at Rochester's esteemed Eastman School of Music; coming to New York, getting work in piano bars and how that led to rehearsal pianist jobs; the evolution of "Songs for a New World" and whether it began as a collection of existing songs or whether the material was newly created for the show; the nature of his collaboration with William Finn on the vocal arrangements for "A New Brain"; how he got hired for "Parade" after Stephen Sondheim passed, having the opportunity to choose his collaborators when the musical team was assembled for "Parade", and the changes he has made more recently to move the show away from Hal Prince's vision; how the origin of "The Last Five Years" began out of a desire to be free of collaborators and how it fuses "Songs for a New World" and "Parade"; why he enjoys writing incidental music for plays; his sojourn in Europe and his decision to return to the U.S. by moving to Los Angeles; the origin of "13" in a handful of songs that he happened to share with Michael Ritchie of the Center Theatre Group, the "trauma" of Broadway and subsequent revisions to musical; and the status of upcoming projects including the film version of "The Last Five Years", the "difficult, scary" chamber musical "The Connector", his collaboration with Marsha Norman on "The Bridges of Madison County", and the long-aborning stage adaptation of the film comedy "Honeymoon in Vegas". Original air date - May 11, 2011.
Wed, 04 May 2011 07:39:19 -0500Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire talks about returning to his South Boston roots with the play "Good People", how the characters are amalgams of the people he grew up with in that private neighborhood and why he chose it as the setting for a play about the class system in America. He also talks about moving beyond his "Southie" roots as early as seventh grade, when he received a scholarship to a private school and how he had to learn to fit in there; his earliest plays, written for his classmates at that same private school; his theatrical studies at Sarah Lawrence College and later at The Juilliard School; his professional "Plan B", a career in arts administration, fostered by his work at New York's Dance Theatre Workshop; his excitement at his first New York production, "A Devil Inside", at SoHo Rep, which began his long collaboration with (and perpetual atonement for) actress Marylouise Burke; how Manhattan Theatre Club, now his longtime creative home, showed early interest in, and then almost passed on, his breakthrough play "Fuddy Meers"; the origin of "Kimberly Akimbo" in a chance comment by a friend about his infant daughter; his candid thoughts on "Wonder of the World" and why it shouldn't have too elegant a production; his experience with writing musicals, including "High Fidelity" and "Shrek", and why he'll always write both the book and lyrics for any future musical projects; his shift to naturalism with "Rabbit Hole" and how the film differs from the play; why he's still part of a writer's group and how the group helped him to strengthen one particular character in "Good People"; and how he has always followed Marsha Norman's advice to write about "the thing that frightens you most." Original air date - May 4, 2011.
Wed, 27 Apr 2011 08:14:22 -0500Laurie Metcalf talks about her role in Sharr White's play "The Other Place" at MCC Theater, and the challenge of playing someone whose mental faculties are diminishing in a non-linear play, requiring her to constantly leap between varying states of mind. She also talks about her embrace of theatre during her college years at Illinois State University, where she first studied German, then anthropology, before settling on theatre; being one of the original company members of the acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre and her satisfaction with her day job during those early years; her Chicago breakout role in "The Glass Menagerie" and how that production fit with the company's reputation for "rock and roll theatre"; her participation in both the Chicago and New York productions of Lanford Wilson's "Balm in Gilead", and how she is still approached on the street by people recalling that show 25 years later; her regular returns to the Steppenwolf stage throughout her television run on "Roseanne" and other TV and film work; her opportunities to play Kate Keller in "All My Sons" twice -- both at London's National Theatre and Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse; how The New Group's production of "A Lie of the Mind" "saved" her after the brief run of "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and the failure of its companion piece, "Broadway Bound", to open; her affinity for the play "Voice Lessons", which she'll be returning to for a third time; and the appeal of Steppenwolf's "Detroit", scheduled for Broadway in the fall. Original air date - April 27, 2011.
Wed, 20 Apr 2011 07:51:59 -0500Co-director and choreographer of Broadway's "The Book of Mormon", Casey Nicholaw, talks about his initial reaction on reading the irreverent new musical and how it was to work with Matt Parker and Trey Stone, heretofore most experienced with work in animation for "South Park". Nicholaw also talks about his early work at the San Diego Junior Theatre, his decision to leave California at age 19 and embark on a career in New York without even a completed college degree under his belt; his early acting gigs regionally and his later New York appearances in the original companies of "Crazy for You", "The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public", "Victor/Victoria", "Steel Pier" and "Seussical"; how he gathered his friends to start building piece to showcase his choreographic skills; how a gig as a replacement choreographer for Encores! 2004 "Bye Bye Birdie" led directly to his Broadway choreographic debut with "Spamalot" and how that immediately led to his directing debut with "The Drowsy Chaperone"; his work on the still developing "Minsky's" and "Robin and the Seven Hoods" back in California; and what he might have up his sleeve for the stage adaptation of Disney's "Aladdin", debuting this summer in Seattle. Original air date - April 20, 2011.
Wed, 13 Apr 2011 09:38:46 -0500From London, National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner talks about his tenure leading that influential institution, including whether, as some have said, it was always his career goal; why he thrives on the need to embrace a general audience for the organization's survival; the impact of the £10 (now £12) Travelex season on the company and why he prefers to work under the budgetary rigor it imposes on the theatre's staff; his commitment to seeing new, "muscular" work by young playwrights on the National's large stages; and his assessment of the success of the NT Live screenings of the National's stage productions in international cinemas. He also talks about growing up in Manchester and later returning there as artistic associate of the Royal Exchange Theatre; his apprenticeship under great directors at a time when there was little director training in England -- and his bad early work in regional rep companies; why he thinks the British "megamusicals" are actually popular opera in the European tradition -- and how the "completely crazy" idea of "Miss Saigon" appealed to him; the pleasure he took in directing "The Wind in the Willows" at the National and how it began his ongoing collaboration with playwright Alan Bennett, including "The History Boys" and "The Habit of Art", which he considers the most important feature of his directing career; what drew him to "Carousel" and how it ushered in the British era of reexamining the musicals from Broadway's Golden Age; why he thinks the musical of "Sweet Smell of Success" is deserving of rediscovery; and why the National's production of "His Dark Materials" will never transfer to a commercial run and how he would do that enormous hit differently if he had the chance to do it over again. Original air date - April 6, 2011.
Wed, 06 Apr 2011 07:13:00 -0500"Arcadia"'s Lady Croom, Margaret Colin, discusses grappling with the intellectuals concepts in the play, the experience of spending several days having Tom Stoppard explain them, and what it's like to do a show in which she never shares the stage (or the green room) with half the cast once the curtain goes up. She also talks about growing up and performing in Baldwin NY, where her school shows included a production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", directed by her classmate, noted producer Scott Rudin; her intermittent studies at Hofstra University and why never quite managed to get a degree; the challenges she had finding stage work after first achieving success in soap operas; playing the not-so-long-deceased Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in her Broadway debut, "Jackie: An American Life"; the opportunities she had with Manhattan Theatre Club ("Aristocrats", "Psychopathia Sexualis") and Roundabout; working on such plays as "Sweet Bird of Youth" and "Six Degrees of Celebration" at the accelerated production pace of the Williamstown Theatre Festival; playing Queen Gertrude in "Hamlet" in Central Park, her first Shakespeare since playing Desdemona as a teen in community theatre; and why she felt the central relationship in "Old Acquaintance" never quite came together. Original air date - April 13, 2011.
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 07:13:07 -0500Royal Shakespeare Company veteran Janet Suzman discusses her early years with the company, including her daunting audition for for Peter Hall, John Barton and Peter Brook; her repertory roles of Portia, Rosalind and Ophelia; opening the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in "The Taming of the Shrew"; and her career defining role as Cleopatra in "Antony and Cleopatra". She also discusses her upbringing in cultural limited Johannesburg, South Africa; her student years at a highly politicized university where she began an interest in theatre because that's where she found the best parties; her decision to "get the hell out" of South Africa and its position as "a hectic in her blood" calling her back; her early exposure to theatre upon her move to London, including "West Side Story", Paul Scofield in "King Lear" and Vanessa Redgrave in "As You Like It"; her early work at the Library Theatre in Manchester alongside Patrick Stewart; her professional return to South Africa for the opening of the integrated Market Theatre; her decision to become a director after deciding that John Kani needed to play "Othello" under the apartheid government; her experience doing comedy in the West End in Wendy Wasserstein's "The Sisters Rosensweig"; and her recent return to "Antony and Cleopatra" as a director, leading Kim Cattrall into her former role. Original air date - March 30, 2011.
Wed, 23 Mar 2011 08:33:29 -0500Acclaimed for his works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and theatre, Michael Frayn discusses how he determines when an idea is right for the stage when he has multiple forms to choose from. He also recalls writing and performing childhood puppet plays; the reason why his edition of Cambridge's "Footlights Revue" was the only one not to be seen in London; his days as a newspaper columnist, during which he frequently mocked and parodied the popular theatre of the day -- and whether he later regretted some of his jabs at theatre; his first invitation to write a one-act play; the play he wrote that producer Alexander H. Cohen found 'filthy'; whether his comedy "Alphabetical Order" was directly based upon his journalistic experiences; the plays of his that have never been seen in America; his longstanding professional association with director Michael Blakemore and why he value's the director's "stupid questions"; whether he fully visualized the madcap frenzy of "Noises Off" as he wrote it -- and why he's still prepared to tinker with the end of that highly successful play; why he only does English versions of French and Russian plays; how "Copenhagen" required him to do massive research, although his background in philosophy had given him a foundation in quantum mechanics; whether American audiences were less familiar than English audiences with the story of Willy Brandt as told in "Democracy"; what attracted him to the story of German director Max Reinhardt for "Afterlife"; and why it's easier to write about the distant past as opposed to the recent past. Original air date - March 23, 2011.
Wed, 16 Mar 2011 08:03:03 -0500Austin Pendleton, director of the recent production of "The Three Sisters" at Classic Stage Company in New York, talks about the many Chekhov productions he's appeared in and directed over the years, including five "Uncle Vanya"s and four "Three Sisters". He talks about falling in love with theatre via his mother's involvement in community theatre in his hometown of Warren, Ohio; writing original musicals while an undergraduate theatre student at Yale; being directed by Jerome Robbins in his first two major shows after college, "Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad" and "Fiddler on the Roof"; how he began his directing career with "Tartuffe" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and his long association with that company; and why unlike many directors who begin as actors he has never given up performing. He also considers the evolution of his writing career, starting with the elongated development of "Booth", which began as a college musical and ultimately made it to New York 34 years later as a play; why he wrote "Uncle Bob", his most produced play, for actor George Morfogen out of guilt; his hesitancy about showing "Orson's Shadow" to anyone and how Steppenwolf Theatre, where he is a company member, lured it away from him; and why he agreed to write the book for the musical "A Minister's Wife" for Chicago's Writer's Theatre. Original air date - March 16, 2011.
Wed, 09 Mar 2011 08:04:58 -0600Barry Grove, Executive Producer of the Manhattan Theatre Club, talks about his three-and-half decades of partnership with Lynne Meadow at the top of one of New York's largest not-for-profit theatres. He recalls about his introduction to theatre while growing up in Madison CT; his college experiences at Dartmouth and his participation in the very first semester of The O'Neill Theatre Center's National Theatre Institute; his earliest experiences working in New York Theatre while still a student; coming to MTC when there was only a staff of six in a theatre complex on the east side that they couldn't afford to fully use; the company's transition from neighborhood venue to midtown mainstay at City Center; the long search for a permanent Broadway home; and explains how he's still energized by work at the same company after so long, and the challenges still ahead. Original air date - March 9, 2011.
Wed, 02 Mar 2011 08:32:22 -0600Elizabeth Marvel talks about whether being "a bad kid" has influenced her more daring stage performances, and discusses the challenges of remaining alienated from her on stage family in Jon Robin Baitz's "Other Desert Cities" while she grows ever closer to her castmates. She also discusses how she was drawn to theatre after a small town upbringing, including the moment when she knew she had to act; the influence of her Juilliard mentor, the late Michael Langham, both on her craft and her career; how she managed to get jobs at Canada's Stratford Festival, The Guthrie and A.R.T in her first year out of school; what it was like to switch between Mark Ravenhill's "Shopping and Fucking" and Wendy Wasserstein's "An American Daughter" in the same year; why she is so drawn to work with director Ivo van Hove on such classic plays as "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "The Little Foxes", and how that work has expanded her range as an actor; how her pregnancy informed her performance as a lizard in Edward Albee's "Seascape"; what it was like to work with playwright and director Woody Allen; how violence has been a recurring theme in her performances, including Michael Weller's "50 Words"; and how she handled the decidedly mixed response from audiences to Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls". Original air date - March 2, 2011.
Wed, 23 Feb 2011 07:11:26 -0600Interviewed at the keyboard, composer Stephen Schwartz chronicles his career from college to "Wicked" and beyond. He explains how "Pippin" began as a college musical based on one paragraph in a history book and a deep love of "The Lion in Winter", and how the show that ended up as the Broadway version was completely different; tells the story of being asked to write songs for "Godspell" with only five weeks until the show's first rehearsal; plays and sings his first song ever to be heard on Broadway, from the play "Butterflies are Free"; talks about structuring a musical around a lead actor who didn't sing at all, for "The Magic Show", and whether he's disappointed that the show's technical demands have limited subsequent productions; describes how he developed and directed "Working", and why he made the decision to invite other composers onto the project; shares his feelings about the original productions of "The Baker's Wife", "Rags" and "Children of Eden", and why they met with greater success after their first incarnations; reveals that he has gone back and rewritten some of the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" -- with utter fidelity to every note that Bernstein wrote; gives his opinion on whether writing songs for animated films such as "Pocahontas" and "Prince of Egypt" is just like working on a Broadway show; relates how he began seeking to option "Wicked" even before he'd read the book; recounts his involvement as a producer on the musical "The Blue Flower", written by others, at American Repertory Theater -- and why he won't be producing again; and talks about what he's learned about writing for the musical theatre from his 15 years running the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop. Original air date - February 23, 2011.
Wed, 16 Feb 2011 09:08:20 -0600While playing both a farmer and his wife in Red Bull Theatre Company's "The Witch of Edmonton", Everett Quinton talks about appearing in Jacobean drama and getting to watch the rest of the company at work when he's not on stage. He also talks about studying theatre at Hunter College after a stint in Thailand during the Vietnam War; meeting Ridiculous Theatrical Company founder Charles Ludlam without really understanding who Ludlam was; becoming Ludlam's life partner and a member of the Ridiculous Company's "outer circle" of artists; becoming an actor under the tutelage of Ludlam; coming into his own as a performer in such pieces as "Galas" and "The Mystery of Irma Vep", confessing he only really came to understand "Vep" 14 years after its debut, when he directed it in revival, even though he'd performed in it 331 times; how Quinton came to be a leading actor and the costume designer for the Ridiculous; the challenge of sustaining the troupe after Ludlam's death from AIDS in 1987, when he assumed the mantle of artistic director; whether he was able to expand his own theatrical horizons after Ludlam's passing; what it meant to become a working actor when the Ridiculous closed in 1997; having the opportunity to do work in regional theatres such as McCarter and The Shakespeare Theatre; and the experience of auditioning to play the Wicked Stepmother in a tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" when all of the other finalists were women. Original air date - February 16, 2011.
Wed, 09 Feb 2011 09:48:32 -0600During her visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Abbey Theatre's production of Ibsen's "John Gabriel Borkman", Fiona Shaw discusses taking on one point of this lesser-known play's unromantic triangle and links her work with co-stars Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan back to their membership in the Royal Shakespeare Company 25 years ago. She also talks about having to get a degree in philosophy before she was allowed to enroll at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; her quick leap from RADA to the stage of the National Theatre in "The Rivals" -- and why she stayed too long; the unique confluence of talents that came together at the RSC during her time there; her ongoing collaboration with director Deborah Warner and the uproars that accompanied their productions of Beckett's "Footfalls" and Shakespeare's "Richard II"; why she spent a lot of time as "Hedda Gabler" rearranging the furniture; how she finds modern equivalencies in the great tragedies like "Medea" and "Electra"; her first encounter with Chekhov, doing "The Seagull" under the director Peter Stein, and how the rehearsal process at Stein's Italian home influenced the production; how she and Warner were permitted to do Beckett's "Happy Days" after being "banned for life" from Beckett's work 13 years prior; how she approached T.S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land" as a theatrical text; and the great fun she had throwing off her tragedian's mantle to appear in "London Assurance" with Simon Russell Beale. Original air date - February 9, 2011.
Wed, 02 Feb 2011 09:43:39 -0600Stockard Channing discusses her work in Jon Robin Baitz's new play "Other Desert Cities", acknowledging the ambiguity of the character for the audience and explaining whether she has defined her character's secret motivations with certainty. She also talks about her years breaking into theatre at Harvard, alongside other students like John Lithgow and Tommy Lee Jones, and her subsequent work around Boston before coming to New York and getting her increasingly bigger break in the Broadway musical "Two Gentlemen of Verona", which also began her association with John Guare; her years in Los Angeles, including a film gig she did simply because she needed money, namely "Grease"; her return to the stage in successive productions of "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" at Williamstown, Long Wharf, Roundabout and finally Broadway; being given the opportunity to choose between playing Bunny and Bananas in the Lincoln Center Theatre revival of "The House of Blue Leaves"; how it felt, as a native Upper East Side New Yorker, playing an Upper East Side New Yorker in "Six Degrees of Separation", and how her performance had to change when she acted in the film version; whether she knew how divided response would be to Guare's "Four Baboons Adoring the Sun"; why she wasn't daunted about stepping into the shoes of Rosemary Harris or Katharine Hepburn for "The Lion in Winter" in 1999 -- and what about doing the show did give her pause; what it was like to do "Pal Joey", her first musical in over two decades (having previously followed Liza Minnelli into "The Rink"); and how she approached the role of Lady Bracknell in "The Importance of Being Earnest" for a production at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland last year. Original air date - February 2, 2011.
Wed, 26 Jan 2011 08:13:06 -0600From Arena Stage's newly opened Mead Center for American Theater, artistic director Molly Smith discusses the development and construction of the new building, which encompasses the company's original theatres and adds a third stage, and how the plans for the venue began during her interview process by the board back in the late 1990s. She also talks about her connection to theatre in her youth, first in Washington State and then in Juneau, Alaska; her theatre studies and 7-year residency in Washington DC in the 70s, when she had the opportunity to see the early work of Arena Stage; her return to Juneau to found the Perseverance Theatre, which she led for 19 years, and how that company operated within the geography and frontier spirit of Alaska; how she managed to get the Arena job without a more traditional artistic resume; the theatrical scene she found in Washington upon her return, and how that led her to focus Arena Stage on American works, both new and classic; and what her personal focus on classic American musicals over the past decade has meant to her creatively. Original air date - January 26, 2011.
Wed, 19 Jan 2011 07:13:37 -0600Playwright/director Geroge C. Wolfe discusses the seven year development of John Guare's "A Free Man of Color", from approaching Guare with the idea of merging Restoration comedies and life in New Orleans leading up to the Louisiana Purchase, to receiving a script that would have run some five hours, to the just-finished production at Lincoln Center Theater. He also recalls his earliest directing urges as a child in Frankfort KY; provides the details of the first play he ever wrote, "Up for Grabs", while a student at Pomona College; recounts the "horror" of his first professional productions, his musical "Paradise!" in both Cincinnati and New York; describes the sudden success of "The Colored Museum" and the subsequent development of "Spunk", the latter being the first time he directed his own work; explains who he sees as his collaborators when he's both writing and directing; recounts his combative but ultimately fruitful work with Gregory Hines on "Jelly's Last Jam"; lays out the whirlwind of work that surrounded the Broadway production of "Angels in America" and his concurrent hiring as artistic director of New York's The Public Theater; acknowledges that his role as The Public's producer forced the artist in him to take a back seat; considers his ongoing artistic relationship with actor Jeffrey Wright; reveals the conceptual work that animated the household objects that were so integral to the story of "Caroline, or Change"; and answers the question of whether he will ever write another play. Original air date - January 19, 2011.
Wed, 12 Jan 2011 08:41:32 -0600"The Addams Family" and "Elf"'s lighting designer Natasha Katz talks about the path of her career, beginning with a high school community service requirement that saw her volunteering at a (now-defunct) Off-Broadway theatre and her semester away from Oberlin College as an intern/observer of designer Roger Morgan on the musical "I Remember Mama" which brought her into immediate contact with such notables as Liv Ullmann and Richard Rodgers. She discusses her on the job training (sans graduate school) with such figures as special effects whiz Bran Ferren and lighting designers Marcia Madeira and Ken Billington; explains why she thinks it takes longer now to mount a musical than it did when she began; how a tumultuous relationship with director Clifford Williams led to her Broadway debut at a very young age; what she learned from her work Off-Broadway and in regional theatre, including some 30 productions at the Dallas Theatre Center; why her task is to focus on two key elements -- people and sets -- and to both separate and unite them; how she comes to love a show that she didn't necessarily enjoy reading simply by virtue of working on it; when she joins the creative process with the director and other designers -- and whether that's always at the right time; how she constantly references and stays familiar with lighting in other shows and even other mediums; what it was like to be part of a triumvirate of designers for "The Coast of Utopia"; and why she thinks lighting design was initially very open to female designers and why she believes it's headed in the wrong direction today. Original air date - January 12, 2011.
Wed, 05 Jan 2011 07:55:50 -0600From his home base in Scarborough, England, playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourn makes a return visit to "Downstage Center" during the run of his 74th play, "Life of Riley". He discusses why he chooses to mention his parents' unhappy marriage in his program biography; why so many of his plays involve infidelity; his feeling about happy endings; the challenge and opportunity of creating characters who never appear on stage, but are often spoken about, as is the title character in "Riley"; whether as a director of his own plays he enjoys the benefit of knowing what every character is thinking; the advice he gives to other directors who are tackling his plays and seek him out; his feeling about star casting and how it influenced his early hit "How The Other Half Loves"; why he imposed a moratorium on his plays being done in the West End for several and why it remains in place for his new plays; the experience of bringing work to New York to critical acclaim ("Private Fears in Public Places", "Intimate Exchanges" and "My Wonderful Day") and why he's content to have it seen for a limited run in a small venue; why he called off plans for "Private Fears" to be remounted with an American cast; whether he can still create "event theatre" along the lines of "The Revenger's Comedies", "The Norman Conquests" and "House and Garden"; and whether he misses being the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, his primary occupation for the better part of four decades. Original air date - January 5, 2011.
Wed, 29 Dec 2010 09:14:14 -0600Composer John Kander talks about his decades-long collaboration with Fred Ebb, with particular focus on the four projects that were not fully completed before Ebb's death in 2004: "The Scottsboro Boys", "The Visit", "All About Us" (aka "Over and Over") and "Curtains", speaking directly to the issues of utilizing the minstrel show construct for "Scottsboro". He recalls his first meeting Ebb and their earliest, never produced collaboration, "Golden Gate"; beginning work on "Cabaret", at the behest of Hal Prince, the morning after "Flora the Red Menace" opened; what factors resulted in "Chicago" being only a moderate success in the 70s but a smash in the 90s; why he thinks musicals are best written at a certain "remove" from their subjects; whether he believes there is a "signature" Kander and Ebb writing style; how he, Ebb and and their collaborators spent a great deal of time talking, asking "what if," long before any writing began; whether any of the more than 60 songs written for "Cabaret", most unused, will ever escape his "trunk"; what it was like to write for the particular voices of Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera; whether he thinks writing teams benefit from working in the same room, as he and Ebb did throughout their career together; and what he's working on now. Kander also demonstrates how the same melody can be used to change tone over the course of a show, using examples from "Cabaret" and "The Visit". Original air date - December 29, 2010.
Wed, 22 Dec 2010 08:37:34 -0600Having recently steered "Driving Miss Daisy" to Broadway, director David Esbjornson discusses what it's like to direct a "brand," why he thinks older actors can play younger much more easily than the other way around, and what it was like to work with powerhouse actors like Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. He also talks about growing up as the child of a high school drama teacher in Minnesota and how The Guthrie Theatre developed theatrical influence and inspiration among audiences in a five-state area during his formative years; reflects on working with his grad schoolmate Tony Kushner on the very first production of "Angels in America" at Eureka Theatre; explains how he came to collaborate with Arthur Miller on "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" and "Resurrection Blues", and with Edward Albee on "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?"; considers the different experiences of being artistic director at Classic Stage Company in New York and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and how they compare to being a freelance director; and ponders what challenges he'd most like to tackle in the coming years. Original air date - December 22, 2010.
Wed, 15 Dec 2010 08:22:11 -0600Founding artistic director of both the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven and the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Robert Brustein discusses how each of those organizations came into being, including the circumstances surrounding his departure from Yale which led him to take the company to Harvard. He also discusses his early years as an actor, in academia and as a critic; how he managed the dual rules of being the head of an artistic institution as well as a working critic commenting on the work of others - including why he took a hiatus during most of the Yale years but returned to the critical role while at A.R.T.; whether he has any regrets about his debate with August Wilson over the role of African-American plays and theatres; his many books on theatre thus far as well as several coming up; and his recent turn to play writing, with a focus on stories about William Shakespeare. Original air date - December 15, 2010.
Wed, 08 Dec 2010 09:20:11 -0600Stephen Ouimette, who plays Bejart in the current Broadway revival of "La Bête", talks about what it takes to hold the stage, with little dialogue, throughout the show's fabled 30 minute opening monologue -- especially after having played the voluble role of Valere himself almost 20 years ago in his native Canada. He also discusses his acting training at the University of Windsor; joining The Young Company at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario immediately after graduation; his 17 (soon to be 18) seasons with Canada's famed Stratford Festival, where his roles have included Mozart in "Amadeus", Hamlet and Richard III; how he has kept himself fresh by alternating work at Stratford with work at many of Canada's major companies; his prior forays to the U.S., including plays at Chicago Shakespeare and a run at City Center in New York in 1998; how he feels about Stratford's "The Importance of Being Earnest", in which he played Rev. Chasuble, coming to New York without him; his rare forays into musicals, notably "Oliver!" in Edmonton and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" in Stratford; what it has been like to make his Broadway and West End debuts in a single year; his anticipation of appearing with Brian Dennehy in both "Twelfth Night" and "The Homecoming" in summer 2011 at Stratford; and the singular experience of playing Oliver Welles in the television series "Slings and Arrows", which afforded him the opportunity to work one last time with his early mentor, legendary Canadian actor William Hutt. Original air date - December 8, 2010.
Wed, 01 Dec 2010 09:21:45 -0600Executive Director of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Teresa Eyring, talks about the work of the 50 year old service organization which boasts membership if some 500 of the country's professional theatres. She talks about her own professional journey in theatre, including her youthful encounter with Orson Welles, her college studies in international relations; her job in the very early days of Washington DC's Woolly Mammoth Theatre, "where everyone did everything" and her graduate work at the Yale School of Drama; the work of TCG on fostering professional growth for the next generation of leaders, both artistic and managerial, through a mentorship program; the challenge of keeping people in the field, which despite growing "against all odds" has more artists seeking work than there are jobs; whether she perceives a difference in the institutional theatres as they move far beyond their founders; how TCG responds to criticism of its member theatres, such as the book "Outrageous Fortune" and the monologue "How Theatre Failed America"; TCG's efforts to foster artistic relationships beyond the U.S. borders; and as she travels the country, what message she wants to bring to U.S. theatres -- and what in turn she's hearing from them. Original air date - December 1, 2010.
Wed, 24 Nov 2010 09:19:15 -0600"Lombardi"'s leading lady Judith Light talks about her research into both the role and the real-life Marie Lombardi, and whether she thinks "Lombardi" is a "football play." She also talks about her early training at Carnegie Mellon University; her first professional job, touring European military bases in "Guys and Dolls" during the Vietnam War; shuttling between regional theatres, particularly Milwaukee Rep and Seattle Rep in the early 70s; what she learned from comedian Pat Paulsen when she appeared with him in "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers"; playing small roles in the New York Shakespeare Festival's productions of "A Doll's House" and "Measure for Measure" and a major role on Broadway in the short-lived "Herzl"; why she took a 22 year hiatus from the stage -- and then chose to return in a role as challenging as Vivian Bearing in "Wit"; the opportunity to work with playwright and director Athol Fugard on "Sorrows and Rejoicings" in both New York and Los Angeles; and her appearance as Joanne in "Company" for Reprise! -- and whether there are more musicals in her future. Original air date - November 24, 2010.
Wed, 17 Nov 2010 08:36:45 -0600"The Divine Sister"'s Teutonic nun Alison Fraser talks about her role, her prior work -- and sharing a dressing room -- with playwright/actor Charles Busch. She also discusses her musical theatre roots in high school in Natick MA, where she met prior graduate William Finn, leading to her creating the role of Trina in both "In Trousers" and "March of the Falsettos"; how being cast in "Beehive" gave her her first opportunity to show she could be funny; the pleasure of performing in the two one-act musicals known as "Romance, Romance"; how having her own child informed her role as Martha in "The Secret Garden"; her longstanding connection with David Saint and his George Street Playhouse; the experience of working with Arthur Laurents on shows both old (the most recent Broadway "Gypsy") and new ("Come Back, Come Back, Wherever You Are"); and she reveals, despite her oft-stated affinity for creating roles in new works, the roles from the classic musical theatre canon she'd most like to play. Original air date - November 17, 2010.
Wed, 10 Nov 2010 07:26:32 -0600Called "the most powerful man in English theatre" by "The Stage", co-CEO (with his wife, Rosemary Squire) and creative director of the Ambassador Theatre Group, Howard Panter, talks about the impact of his company's recent purchase of the Live Nation venues in the UK (giving the company 40 theatres and 400,000 seats a week to sell) and how he sees the company being "vertically integrated," not unlike the way in which, he says, Shakespeare worked. He talks about his own early love of theatre and being drawn to the visual and physical aspects initially, as a result of what was later diagnosed as mild dyslexia which rendered him a problematic student; how he managed to do, at one point of another, just about every job in theatre except for acting; his transition from stage manager, director and set builder into theatrical impresario; the differences he sees between producing in England, Australia and on Broadway, notably in regards to theatre ownership, unions and critics; how he happened into becoming the caretaker of "The Rocky Horror Show" for the past 21 years, and the network of theatres he hopes to forge internationally in the coming years that would allow productions to play for several years without ever needing to set down on Broadway. Original air date - November 10, 2010.
Wed, 03 Nov 2010 08:18:09 -0500Jim Simpson, artistic director of New York's Off-Off-Broadway The Flea Theater, charts the company's 15 year journey from a collective meant to last for only five years to an ongoing institution on the verge of moving to a home that they own. Along the way, he tells about his years as a child actor in Honolulu appearing in touring musicals with stars such as John Raitt; his teenage summer spent studying with landmark Polish director and theorist Jerzy Grotowski; the highly politicized spirit of the Boston University theatre program during his time there; bridging the Robert Brustein and Lloyd Richards eras while in graduate school at Yale, including Richards' quashing of Simpson's all-male "Hamlet"; his ongoing development of the play "Benten Kozo" across multiple productions; his years as a freelancer at theatres including Williamstown and Hartford Stage; his forays into commercial runs both successful ("Nixon's Nixon") and incomplete ("Citizen Tom Paine"); why The Flea's central tenets included clean dressing rooms for the actors and bathrooms for the patrons; the company's ongoing relationship with playwrights, notably A.R. Gurney; and how the 9/11 tragedy nearly closed the theatre and then, largely thanks to "The Guys", spurred it into a new era; whether the presence of stars at The Flea, including Simpson's wife Sigourney Weaver, as well as John Lithgow and Marisa Tomei, has given them a profile beyond that of the customary downtown house; and why The Flea's resident young company, The Bats, forces the theatre to keep moving on to new challenges. Original air date - November 3, 2010.
Wed, 27 Oct 2010 08:54:45 -0500South African playwright Athol Fugard discusses his newest work, "The Train Driver", during rehearsals at the Long Wharf Theatre, and explains why this play marks the end of a stage in his writing -- but promises that he'll die with a fountain pen in one hand and a blank sheet of paper in the other. He also talks about the artistic collaborators who have been so important to him -- actors Zakes Mokae and Yvonne Bryceland, author/actors John Kani and Winston Ntshona, and designer/co-director Susan Hilferty; explains why guilt has been such a driving force behind his work; considers why he has on occasion been actor and director in his own work; defines the effect of his recent U.S. residency on his playwriting; considers the effect that the official end of apartheid has had on him and his work; and emphatically addresses recent comments both made by and attributed to him regarding the state of political playwriting in the world today. Original air date - October 27, 2010.
Wed, 20 Oct 2010 09:47:53 -0500One of the greatest classical actors of his generation, Sir Ian McKellen reflects on his more than 50 years on stage, explaining that he's really only qualified to voice his opinion on two topics: gay issues and theatre. He talks about the recent production of "Waiting for Godot" in which he played opposite Patrick Stewart in London, then Roger Rees in both London and Australia, and which he'd happily perform in yet again (and wonders what the production would have been like had director Sean Mathias have received approval for McKellen's originally proposed co-star, Dame Judi Dench); why he feels that despite performing it in venues around the world, he never really "cracked" the role of "King Lear" and would like to try again; offers his first thoughts on recalling such roles as Iago, Macbeth, Richard II and Richard III; explains the British system which allowed him to move into a professional career quickly after his university days despite having no formal acting training; how he found himself on Broadway with Ian McShane and Eileen Atkins -- only six years after graduating from university -- in a Russian play that was a big English hit but a U.S. flop; explores the experience of playing the leading role in "Bent" in both the original production, prior to coming out publicly, and playing it again 10 years later after he had declared his sexuality; and why without his Broadway performance in "Amadeus", which was entirely the result of Paul Scofield declining to play it in the U.S. and McKellen having gone to school with Peter Hall, he might not even be sitting for a Downstage Center interview. Original air date - October 20, 2010.
Wed, 13 Oct 2010 07:17:00 -0500Playwright Alfred Uhry recalls the original production of "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1987 at Playwrights Horizons, lists the actresses he's had the opportunity to see play the title role - based directly on his own grandmother - and discusses the cast of the play's Broadway premiere. He also talks about his Atlanta upbringing and being the beneficiary of his mother's love of the stage; moving to New York after graduating from Brown University and his apprenticeship under the great Frank Loesser; the Broadway musical he regularly leaves out of his bio and resume, which featured a book by another novice, Terrence McNally; the good fortune that smiled on "The Robber Bridegroom", which featured Raul Julia, Kevin Kline and Barry Bostwick in successive New York incarnations; how the failure of his Al Capone musical "America's Sweetheart" led him to shift away from musicals towards playwriting with "Daisy"; drawing once again on his own family for "The Last Night of Ballyhoo"; collaborating with director Hal Prince and one living composer (Jason Robert Brown) and one deceased (Kurt Weill) for the musicals "Parade" and "LoveMusik"; and how his fact-based drama "Edgardo Mine" has now become "Divine Intervention". Original air date - October 13, 2010.
Wed, 06 Oct 2010 08:52:29 -0500Playwright Jules Feiffer, perhaps best known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, explains why he sees little difference between his comic work, screen work and stage work, as well as why he has no issue with his 42-year-legacy of provocative work in the "Village Voice" being called, simply, a comic strip. He also talks about his early involvement in moving from the comics to the stage, including Paul Sills' adaptation called "The Explainers" and his own "The World of Jules Feiffer", which featured the first "Passionella" musical, with a score by Stephen Sondheim; how he feels about the "Passionella" segment in "The Apple Tree" and whether he prefers the original production or the recent revival; the journey of "Little Murders" from Broadway flop to London award-winner to Off-Broadway success -- all in a two-year span; how "The White House Murder Case" started off a hit and why the audiences suddenly stopped laughing; how he came to contribute to the infamous revue "Oh! Calcutta"; what shifted his play "Carnal Knowledge" from the stage to the screen before it was ever produced, and what prompted him years later to resurrect the stage script; how his troubled personal life yielded the comedy "Knock Knock"; why "Elliot Loves" drove him from the theatre for over a decade, and why he came back with perhaps his most personal play, "A Bad Friend"; and what's happening with his long-aborning collaboration with Andrew Lippa on a stage musical of his children's book, "The Man in the Ceiling". Original air date - October 6, 2010.
Wed, 29 Sep 2010 09:11:52 -0500Veteran director Daniel Sullivan talks about his suddenly busy 2010-11 Broadway season, which will see transfers of his productions of "Time Stands Still" from Manhattan Theatre Club, "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino from The Public's Delacorte Theater, as well as the premiere of David Lindsay Abaire's "Good People" for MTC. He also talks about getting his start as an actor and his early experiences with the San Francisco Actors Workshop, run by Herbert Blau and Jules Irving; moving to New York with the Workshop when it became the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center; working as Stage Manager and Assistant Director on the original production of "Hair", and why he had to restage the show almost every night; getting his first directing opportunity with the debut of A.R. Gurney's first play, "Scenes From American Life"; how quitting his first directing job at Seattle Rep (a production of "The Royal Family") didn't impede his becoming Resident Director there, and two years later, Artistic Director, a post he held for 16 years; why his greatest disappointment at Seattle Rep was ultimately the inability to create a full resident company of artists; how it felt to embark on a freelance career again in 1997; and his thoughts on the playwrights with whom he's most associated: Herb Gardner, Wendy Wasserstein, Donald Margulies, Charlayne Woodard, Jon Robin Baitz and David Lindsay Abaire. Original air date - September 29, 2010.
Wed, 22 Sep 2010 10:04:00 -0500West End musical theatre star Elaine Paige discusses her three month sojourn in New York, including the recording of a new album of duets with artists ranging from Paul Anka to Sinead O'Connor, as well as her ongoing BBC2 program, "Elaine Paige on Sunday" and what it's like to be the interviewer instead of the guest. She also talks about having her first show, the original production of "The Roar of the Greasepaint", "The Smell of the Crowd" close during its pre-London tour; her early roles in the original London companies of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar"; how she managed to secure the coveted role of Evita and why she had to live like a nun just as she attained stardom; the accident that led to her being cast in "Cats" at the very last minute; the holiday musical "Abbacadabra" that prefigured "Mamma Mia!" and led to her role in the premiere of "Chess"; why she signed on to produce "Anything Goes" in the West End; her experience succeeding Betty Buckley in both the London and New York productions of "Sunset Boulevard"; and her mystification over the brief run of "The Drowsy Chaperone" in England. Original air date - September 22, 2010.
Wed, 15 Sep 2010 08:28:39 -0400Director, artistic director and playwright Moisés Kaufman discusses his newest project, the U.S. premiere of the 1940s opera "El Gato con Botas (Puss in Boots)", a collaboration between his Tectonic Theater Project, Gotham Chamber Opera and London's Blind Summit Theatre puppet troupe, debuting at The New Victory Theater -- whether it's an opera meant for children and why it fits into the Tectonic aesthetic. He also talks about his youth and schooling in Caracas, Venezuela and how an annual festival bringing in work by such artists as Peter Brook and Pina Bausch turned him on to theatre; why he felt he needed to come to the U.S. to become a director; why he was done with his schooling at NYU's Experimental Theater Wing but never actually finished; how and why he came to create the Tectonic Theater Project so quickly after leaving school; the development of "Gross Indecency", "The Laramie Project" (and its epilogue), "I Am My Own Wife" and "33 Variations", including his evolution as a writer; why, as someone who has had such success creating his own works, he also enjoys directing existing texts as well; and the reason he listed "Pixar" as his religion on Facebook. Original air date - September 15, 2010.
Wed, 08 Sep 2010 09:28:39 -0400Marin Mazzie talks about taking on the role of Diana Goodman in Broadway's "Next to Normal" and whether she and her co-star/husband Jason Danieley take their work home with them after the show. She also talks about her early professional experiences, including The Barn Theater in Michigan and An Evening Dinner Theatre in Westchester NY; appearing in the ultimately truncated national tour of "Doonesbury"; stepping into roles in the original productions of "Big River", "Into The Woods" and "And The World Goes Round"; her first opportunity to create a role, Clara in Sondheim and Lapine's "Passion", and having it created around her; the journey of "Ragtime" from Toronto to Broadway; her foray into the classics with Charles Mee's version of "The Trojan Women" for the site-specific company En Garde Arts; the differences between appearing in both "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Spamalot" in New York and London; and her forays into non-musical roles with "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Barrington Stage and "Enron" on Broadway -- and why she wants more opportunities to do more than just musicals. Original air date - September 8, 2010.
Wed, 01 Sep 2010 08:34:36 -0400Cora Cahan, president of The New 42nd Street in New York, discusses her 20 years in the role of recapturing what was once the epicenter of Manhattan sleaze for theatre and family audiences. She talks about her early work as a professional modern dancer; her shift into management with the Feld Ballet, having had no prior experience whatsoever in management (despite being married to the Associate Producer of The Public Theater); her discovery of what became Michael Bennett's fabled 890 Studios; her dual position as the head of the Feld Ballet and the Joyce Theatre, which she and Eliot Feld conceived as a home for dance companies at a time when New York didn't have an appropriate small venue; the Joyce's brief effort in the mid-80s to curate an annual festival of the best work from America's regional theatres -- and why it didn't work; why her first act upon arriving at her 42nd Street job in 1990 was to rename the organization; the chronology of how 42nd Street shifted from Triple XXX to G-rated; the development of The New Victory Theatre as a home for innovative children's and family programming, and why she felt that was a gap in New York's cultural life that needed to be filled; what's on tap for The New 42nd Street now that the environment has changed, the theatres are reclaimed, the rehearsal studios are always filled and even the long-delayed commercial buildings now anchor the corners of the stretch between 7th and 8th Avenues; and what she thinks of nostalgia for the former grit and danger for the street she has reclaimed. Original air date - September 1, 2010.
Wed, 25 Aug 2010 08:39:13 -0400Downstage Center welcomes its second starship captain as actress Kate Mulgrew visits during her stint in the Off-Broadway comedy "Love, Loss, and What I Wore". She talks about being raised in an Iowa household that groomed her for an acting career, even though she saw little theatre and had no TV growing up; getting her big breaks in theatre and TV simultaneously, playing Emily in "Our Town" at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford CT and debuting on "Ryan's Hope"; her participation in the first workshop of Wendy Wasserstein's "Uncommon Women and Others" at the O'Neill Theater Center; playing Desdemona in Stamford CT and Tracy Lord in Anchorage AK; why "Hedda Gabler" was the hardest role she's ever tackled, why she wishes she could do it again, and why it was a relief to be performing it in rep with "The Real Thing" at L.A.'s Center Theatre Group; the particular challenges of the "stew" that is "Titus Andronicus", which she did in Central Park; the lonely but rewarding experience of playing Katharine Hepburn in "Tea At Five" around the country; her joy at having Marian Seldes play her mother in "The Royal Family"; her feelings about having only appeared on Broadway twice in her 35 year career; and her excitement at finally playing the queen in "Antony and Cleopatra", her dream role, this coming season at Hartford Stage. Original air date - August 25, 2010.
Wed, 18 Aug 2010 10:03:49 -0400Costume designer Martin Pakledinaz talks about creating the clothes for the recent Broadway revival of "Lend Me A Tenor", the commencement of planning for the spring 2011 production of "Anything Goes" and the revival of "Oklahoma!" that will be part of Arena Stage's opening of its furbished and expanded venue. He also talks about his early thoughts of acting and who finally disabused him of that notion; his early working doing sketches for the legendary Theoni V. Aldredge and how he ultimately had to rediscover his own voice instead of speaking through hers; his very early - and short-lived - Broadway experiences with "Inacent Black" and "I Won't Dance"; developing his skills through productions at The York Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival; the McCarter Theatre; and the Roundabout Theatre Company; why he tried to costume the kids from the 2007 "Grease" without using leather jackets - and how long that idea lasted; the differing production timetables of theatre and opera and how each effects his work; and how much of his designs rely on the particular actor cast in a role. Original air date - August 18, 2010.
Wed, 11 Aug 2010 10:35:20 -0400Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of television legends Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, talks about how Angela Lansbury and Vivian Vance prompted her towards a career on the stage. She recalls her earliest appearances in regional productions of such shows as "Cabaret" and "Once Upon A Mattress", done while on hiatus from "Here's Lucy"; some pointed direction she received from Michael Bennett during the national tour of "Seesaw"; how she, Sandy Duncan and Stockard Channing mirror the characters they played in the west coast premiere of "Vanities"; getting her first Broadway musical "They're Playing Our Song" and the fun and challenges of acting with Robert Klein, then best known for his stand-up comedy; why she turned down a chance to audition for "City of Angels"; how Hugh Jackman caused her to be the only American cast in the West End musical "The Witches of Eastwick" and why she thinks that production didn't cross the Atlantic; her rewarding and ultimately problematic relationship with the Coconut Grove Playhouse; the many hats she wore in creating her recent concert tribute to her father, "Babalu", seen so far in New York and Miami; and how she came to choose "Baby June" Havoc as a surrogate grandmother for her children. Original air date - August 11, 2010.
Wed, 28 Jul 2010 09:46:12 -0400Veteran director Jerry Zaks talks about his role as Creative Consultant on "The Addams Family" since joining the production after its opening in Chicago and the work he has planned for "Sister Act" as a result of seeing its current London staging. He also talks about his introduction to theatre while a student at Dartmouth; his early years as an actor in productions including "Grease" and "Tintypes"; his role in the founding of Ensemble Studio Theatre; finding Christopher Durang's "Sister Mary Ignatius" and why a nice Jewish boy was drawn to a play about a nun; how he fully made the shift from acting to directing; his relationships with playwrights Durang ("Beyond Therapy", "Baby With the Bathwater", "The Marriage of Bette and Boo"), Larry Shue ("The Foreigner", "Wenceslas Square") and John Guare ("The House of Blue Leaves", "Six Degrees of Separation"); how he approached productions of such revered classics as "Guys and Dolls" and "Anything Goes"; why he likens his relationship with actor Nathan Lane to that of orchestra conductor and concertmaster; his plans for the new revue of Randy Newman songs "Harps and Angels"; and why he's always hoping to provide his audience with an "ecstatic experience." Original air date - July 28, 2010.
Wed, 21 Jul 2010 08:41:31 -0400While playing the "anchor role" in Off-Broadway's "Love, Loss and What I Wore", actress Penny Fuller talked about her wide-ranging career, noting (even to her own surprise) how many times she got roles because someone else dropped out or was let go fairly late in the production process. She recalls her first Broadway break, understudying Elizabeth Ashley (who would later play her mother in "Dividing the Estate") in the original production of "Barefoot in the Park"; standing by for Jill Haworth and going on more than 100 times in the original "Cabaret", performing "Henry IV Parts 1 and 2" in repertory in Central Park with Sam Waterston as Prince Hal and Stacy Keach as Falstaff; playing the world's most infamous understudy, Eve Harrington, opposite Lauren Bacall in "Applause"; the challenges that faced the ill-fated musical "Rex"; the thrill of appearing in William Finn's "A New Brain"; playing Mrs. Kendal both on stage and on TV in Bernard Pomerance's "The Elephant Man"; and why she's a leading lady in the theatre but a character actress on television. Original air date - July 21, 2010.
Wed, 14 Jul 2010 08:37:33 -0400As his play "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" marks the 25th anniversary of its opening at the Provincetown Playhouse, playwright and actor Charles Busch recalls the circumstances surrounding the play's production and the evolution of his career as a writer and performer, including his years as a solo artist and his transition to writing for other actors -- and himself, as his own leading lady. He also talks about his theatregoing experiences growing up in New York and his study at Northwestern University; explains that despite frequent declarations that his work is rooted in classic films, he believes them to be based more in his knowledge of theatrical history and style; wonders whether he could achieve success today, now that Off-Broadway has become relatively inhospitable to commercial productions of plays; ponders why his forays into musical theatre, including "Taboo", haven't been entirely successful; describes the ups and downs of his relationship with his "co-muse" Julie Halston, including its inauspicious beginning; makes clear why he never had any intention of playing the title role in "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife"; describes the challenges he faced getting the rights to perform a role he's now done several times, "Auntie Mame"; and reflects on why he's inexorably drawn back to Theatre for the New City, most recently with "The Divine Sister", even after success in larger, more upscale environs. Original air date - July 14, 2010.
Wed, 07 Jul 2010 08:45:04 -0400"Promises, Promises" scene stealer Katie Finneran talks about creating the character of Marge McDougall for only two scenes and why she had to be "the anti-Kristin," what it's like having so much free time during the course of a performance and what's beyond the secret door in her dressing room's bathroom. She also talks about why she left Carnegie Mellon's theatre program after a short stay; how she came to New York intent on studying with Uta Hagen and managed to do so, on and off, for some 15 years; why we've only seen her in three musicals over the course of almost two decades of Broadway gigs; how instrumental Lincoln Center Theater has been in her career, providing her with parts in such shows as "Two Shakespearean Actors", "The Heiress" and "My Favorite Year"; what it has been like working with Neil Simon on the "Promises" revival and, earlier, on his new play "Proposals"; how she handled performing in the lengthy "The Iceman Cometh" -- and why she compares that experience to "Love, Loss and What I Wore"; and the often dangerous experience of appearing in the 2001 revival of "Noises Off". Original air date - July 7, 2010.
Wed, 30 Jun 2010 09:30:07 -0400Trans-Atlantic star of "Chicago" Ruthie Henshall discusses her 14 year history with the show, from creating the role of Roxie in the original London company (opposite Ute Lemper) to subsequently playing Velma in both London and New York to her current stint on Broadway as, once again, Roxie; she also reveals her favorite co-star, the inevitable competition between the women playing those two roles, and which role she prefers. She also discusses her early work in the West End in "Cats" and "Miss Saigon"; the experience of creating a role for the first time in "Children of Eden"; her apprenticeship in plays at the Chichester Festival; her breakout success in the London production of "Crazy for You" followed quickly by plaudits for "She Loves Me"; her decision to move to New York and "start again" without any immediate prospect of work; how her "godfather" Cameron Mackintosh continued his support of her career by casting her in Broadway's "Putting It Together", where she appeared with Carol Burnett; what she thinks of the musical "Peggy Sue Got Married" and why it didn't move beyond the West End; the extraordinary collaboration she had with Schönberg, Boublil and Legrand on the musical "Marguerite"; the book she's writing about the craft of musical theatre; and her real first name and whether she'll ever grow up and become just plain Ruth. Original air date - June 30, 2010.
Wed, 23 Jun 2010 09:53:27 -0400"Lend Me a Tenor"'s Tony Shalhoub talks about the challenge of playing farce, including the shifts from rehearsal room to theatre to playing in front of a live audience, how you can suddenly "lose" a consistent laugh, whether the actors ever crack each other up on stage, and why he's lost 20 pounds since starting the run. He also talks about his journey from Green Bay, Wisconsin to the University of Maine to -- with considerable prodding -- the Yale School of Drama; the experience of working in both student productions and with professional actors at Yale Rep during his Drama School days; his continuing education over four years as a member of the company at Cambridge's American Repertory Theatre, under the leadership of his former Yale dean Robert Brustein; his Broadway debut in Neil Simon's gender-reversed "The Odd Couple" -- and why he turned down the role that ultimately went to Kevin Spacey in "Lost in Yonkers"; how he healed after the loss of his own father by playing a yearning son in Herb Gardner's "Conversations with My Father"; why he has appeared twice in "Waiting for Godot", at A.R.T. as Pozzo and for CSC in New York as Didi opposite John Turturro, and why he'd like a chance to do the play yet again; and the continuing "problem" that prompts him to pick up stakes every so often and put himself in the position of starting over again as a novice. Original air date - June 23, 2010.
Wed, 16 Jun 2010 08:54:13 -0400Playwright Sarah Ruhl, whose "Passion Play" made its New York City debut with the Epic Theater Center, talks about the roots of that play during her graduate work at Brown University, what initially got her musing on the story of the people who appear in passion plays, and why she wrote a third act for its production at Arena Stage more than a decade after its debut in Trinity Rep's New Play Festival. She also talks about growing up in a household that was intellectually and theatrically oriented; her days at the Piven Theater Workshop while in her teens; why she thinks that everyone has an "opera inside"; the visual images that become the starting point for her plays, and whether starting a play, "Dead Man's Cell Phone", in which the title character is deceased at the start, was a handicap; the impact of receiving a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" on her life and career; the unorthodox gift that gave rise to "In The Next Room or the vibrator play" and why she chose to subtitle the play; and she responds to the suggestion that as her career has progressed, her plays have contained their flights of fancy more with each successive work. Original air date - June 16, 2010.
Wed, 09 Jun 2010 10:35:31 -0400Douglas Hodge, who appears as Albin in the current Broadway revival of the musical "La Cage aux Folles", explains what appealed to him about the story and character, which he did not know, when he was first approached to play it at London's Menier Chocolate Factory, and how the show has changed around him as it progressed from that small venue to a West End house to Broadway, notably the impact of his "trois Georges": Philip Quast, Denis Lawson and Kelsey Grammer. He also discusses his earliest days with England's National Youth Theatre; his first failed attempts to enter drama school and his successful efforts just a year later; why he left the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts before completing their program; his early work in regional theatres -- as well as his early London roles as "Coriolanus" for director Deborah Warner at the Almeida and Edmund opposite Anthony Hopkins in "King Lear" at the National; how he found himself acting opposite Harold Pinter in the noted playwright's "No Man's Land" and the professional relationship and personal friendship that led to him appearing in and directing numerous Pinter plays; how as a noted Pinter interpreter he suddenly became a musical comedy star in a "Guys and Dolls" revival opposite Jane Krakowski; and what it was like to play "Titus Andronicus" at London's Globe Theatre -- including how many people fainted from the gore at every show. Original air date - June 9, 2010.
Wed, 02 Jun 2010 08:11:49 -0400Scenic designer Christine Jones, a Tony nominee for "American Idiot", discusses the development of the project from album to Broadway musical, including when she came into the creative process and how her ideas influenced the piece. She also talks about her youth in Canada, including her original plans to be a professional dancer, her flirtation with acting and her shift into the visual medium of scenic design; why she moved to the United States to train; how she got her first design jobs, at Hartford Stage and The Public Theatre; her work on the musical "Spring Awakening", including the genesis of the onstage seating and how the show managed its shift from the Atlantic Theatre Company to its Broadway berth; whether she thinks the Great White Way is hospitable to female set designers; and how she developed "Theatre for One," her unique hybrid of theatrical performance and peep show booth that recently finished a high-profile residency in Times Square. Original air date - June 2, 2010.
Wed, 26 May 2010 08:32:14 -0400"Fences" director Kenny Leon discusses his long association with August Wilson, both personally and professionally, dating back to Leon's 1987 NEA Directing Fellowship which first introduced him to Wilson and continuing through his direction of nine of the ten plays in Wilson's "Century Cycle" -- including five separate productions of "Fences" -- as well as the Broadway debuts of "Gem of the Ocean" and "Radio Golf". He also discusses his rise from an impoverished childhood in Florida to his high school rebellion against a drama club which only cast African-Americans in subservient roles to his pursuit of a political science degree in college; how he rose to the position of artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre and his efforts there to integrate the audiences and the artistic work; his decision almost immediately after leaving the Alliance to found his own company, True Colors, in Atlanta which would dedicate itself to diversity but with African-American dramatic literature at its center; whether despite his acclaimed work on Broadway he feels that he's not in the running for work beyond the African-American canon; and what projects he'll be working on next, notably Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning play about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "The Mountaintop", and why he expects and hopes it will generate controversy over its portrayal of the famed civil rights leader. Original air date - May 26, 2010.
Wed, 19 May 2010 09:28:37 -0400"Collected Stories" star Linda Lavin discusses why she's playing the role of Ruth Steiner in Donald Margulies' play for a fourth time, likens the two-character play to a duet that changes with each new co-star, and explains why she turned the role down the first time she had the opportunity to play it. She also talks about her musical heritage growing up in Maine; how she got her Equity card after her freshman year studying drama at the College of William and Mary; how a chorus role in her first Broadway show, "A Family Affair", grew to afford her four character roles by opening night; the unexpected success of "The Mad Show", which was originally planned for a two-week holiday run; the experience of creating roles in two Neil Simon plays, "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and "Broadway Bound", including the story of how swiftly Simon wrote her impressive act two monologue for the latter; whether it was tough for her to be considered for stage roles after nine seasons on TV's "Alice"; how she saw the character of Mama Rose when she took over for Tyne Daly in "Gypsy"; what she thinks prompted Charles Busch to create the title role in "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife" with her in mind; and why when she's not busy with professional acting roles she spends her "spare time" running the Red Barn Theatre, a community theatre in Wilmington NC. Original air date - May 19, 2010.
Wed, 12 May 2010 10:23:02 -0400Progenitor of fight direction in America and 2010 Tony Honor recipient B.H. Barry talks about his decades of developing and staging fights across the country, starting with "Hamlet" in 1978 at Arena Stage and continuing with countless productions for the New York Shakespeare Festival, such Broadway shows as the fabled 1981 "Frankenstein", "City of Angels", "My Favorite Year", "An Inspector Calls" and most recently "Dividing the Estate". He discusses his upbringing and education in England, his early days as an actor and how he was drawn into fight directing, his role in establishing the Society of British Fight Directors -- and his lack of participation in its American counterpart, how he develops fights by probing the director's vision of the characters participating in the fight, why his fights are rooted more in acting then athleticism, and what it was like to be part of a tabloid saga when actors famously strayed from his direction in Broadway's "I Hate Hamlet". Original air date - May 12, 2010.
Wed, 05 May 2010 08:05:24 -0400While appearing the new comedy "White's Lies", Betty Buckley talks about the career that has taken her from Texas to New York to London and back many times over. She discusses why she chose to play her current supporting role in an Off-Broadway comedy by a first-time writer for her first stage role in New York in seven years; how being discovered while still a Texas teen led to her Broadway debut, fresh off the bus, as Martha Jefferson in "1776" -- and what it was like to be one of only two women in a cast of 30 men; how she quickly followed that debut with her West End debut in the leading role of "Promises, Promises"; the professional challenges she faced in even getting seen for a role in "Pippin", where she ultimately replaced Jill Clayburgh; her bi-coastal stints in "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road"; how she convinced Trevor Nunn that she should play Grizabella in "Cats" and when she realized that the role wasn't really very big; what it was like to appear in the solo musical "Tell Me On a Sunday" as part of "Song and Dance"; the circumstances surrounding her succeeding Barbara Cook in the role of Margaret White in the now-legendary musical "Carrie" -- and why she believe the show should have gone the "Rocky Horror" route; why she considers Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard" to have been her most fulfilling acting challenge; her affinity for the role of Mama Rose in "Gypsy" and the main reason that her performance was never seen in New York; and why she has taken so enthusiastically to Twitter. Original air date - May 5, 2010.
Wed, 28 Apr 2010 09:10:07 -0400During her month in the cast of the Off-Broadway comedy "Love, Loss and What I Wore", Shirley Knight discusses the appeal of the "stool and music stand" style of presentation while pointing out that she had the only continuing narrative among the many interwoven stories. She also explains why she considers her every appearance on stage to be a rehearsal, not a performance; her attraction to the groundbreaking play "Dutchman" by LeRoi Jones (now Amiri Baraka), which she did in Los Angeles and on film; how she shifted from a planned career in music to acting and her trek out west to the Pasadena Playhouse to pursue that new goal; the extraordinary experience of appearing as Irina in "The Three Sisters" in her Broadway debut, with Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley as her siblings under the direction of Lee Strasberg -- and why she chose that role over playing Ophelia to Richard Burton's "Hamlet"; her years working in England, notably in plays by her husband John Hopkins, which she continued to perform upon their return to the U.S.; her memorable role in Robert Patrick's "Kennedy's Children"; what it was like to have Tennessee Williams write a role expressly for her in "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur"; her affinity for the plays of fellow Kansan William Inge and her role in creating the ongoing Inge Festival; and her affection for the work of Horton Foote, which marked her most recent Broadway appearance, in the Pulitzer-winning "The Young Man from Atlanta". Original air date - April 28, 2010.
Wed, 21 Apr 2010 09:42:42 -0400Janet McTeer talks about her experiences in "God of Carnage", having starred in the play's London premiere (where the characters were still French) and now playing it on Broadway (as an American) and whether there are differences between her performances as Veronique and Veronica. She also shares her highly fortuitous experience of applying to the top English acting schools, with virtually no prior stage experience; the shock of moving from her hometown of York to London and the emotional crisis that hit her while attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; her first jobs out of school, including the Nottingham Playhouse, the Royal Exchange in Manchester and, after only two years, the Royal Shakespeare Company (in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as Hippolyta and Titania); her participation as more than simply a performer in the development and production of "A Doll's House" -- and why the role ultimately caused her to take a four year hiatus from the stage; why working on Broadway is such a thrill even after her great acclaim in England; the fun she had playing Petruchio in an all-female "The Taming of the Shrew" at London's Globe Theatre; and how she made the choice between playing Elizabeth or Mary in the acclaimed revival of "Mary Stuart". Original air date - April 21, 2010.
Wed, 14 Apr 2010 10:42:14 -0400Director David Cromer discusses his most recent New York project, Andrew Bovell's "When The Rain Stops Falling" at Lincoln Center Theater, and how even he had to be reassured that the play's intertwining timeline does grow clearer to the audience as the show goes along. He also recounts the story of how he came to direct and appear in "Our Town", and what it's been like to "put in" actors to replace himself multiple times during the play's lengthy New York run; talks about the series of schools he attended without ever finishing; explains how Columbia College launched him into a successful acting career in Chicago, despite his lack of a degree, and how the size of, and fluidity between, Chicago theatre companies fostered his career as a director; shares what he considers the pinnacle of his acting career; reveals how most of his directing projects all stem from a single book; describes what it was like to work with playwright Austin Pendleton on the premiere of "Orson's Shadow" after years of working almost exclusively without an author in residence; considers his feelings about his new-found New York success, and why he'll always go back to Chicago; and reflects on the unfortunate circumstances that surrounded "The Neil Simon Plays" earlier this season, particularly not being able to open "Broadway Bound". Original air date - April 14, 2010.
Wed, 07 Apr 2010 09:15:50 -0400Hallie Foote, perhaps the leading interpreter of the works of her father, the late Horton Foote, talks about her past year of work on "The Orphans' Home Cycle", the epic compilation of nine of her father's plays into a theatrical triptych spanning nine hours of performance. She discusses the process of condensing the plays to in order to find their central storyline; how far work had progressed before her father's passing in early 2009; how the plays have created their own repertory company, with actors even playing different roles in different plays in a single evening; and how it feels to now be playing a character based upon her great-grandmother, having originated the role based on her grandmother in the premieres (and films) of the original plays. She also discusses how she finally came around to a career in theatre after first pursuing music; why she has spent most of her professional life performing in her father's plays; what it has been like to also appear in plays by her sister, Daisy, once under the director of her father, in addition to often appearing with her husband (including playing his aunt in "Dividing The Estate"); the importance of her father's artistic homes at Signature Theatre and Hartford Stage, and their directors James Houghton and Michael Wilson; and her plans for her acting career now that she is also the literary executor of her father's more than 60 plays. Original air date - April 7, 2010.
Wed, 31 Mar 2010 08:41:34 -0400During rehearsals for Keen Company's revival of "I Never Sang For My Father", Marsha Mason talks about the differences between playing in a Broadway house and a small Theatre Row venue. She also talks about her Broadway debut in "Cactus Flower" after countless auditions; her unique experience of appearing in the only plays written by two famed novelists, Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut; appearing on a one-act double bill -- where the other play featured Al Pacino and John Cazale; how she found herself in San Francisco appearing at the American Conservatory Theatre in "Private Lives" -- directed by Francis Ford Coppola; her long-standing partnership with director Jack O'Brien, spanning from ACT's 1972 "You Can't Take It With You" to 2009's "Impressionism" on Broadway; how she met and married her husband, playwright Neil Simon, in only three weeks and why he only wrote movies, not plays, for her, even when "Chapter Two" was based on their life together; what prompted her to buy a farm in New Mexico 17 years ago; her extensive work with L.A. Theatre Works doing plays for radio in front of live audiences; and her efforts to duplicate elements of the British actor training tradition here in the U.S. Original air date - March 31, 2010.
Wed, 24 Mar 2010 09:14:45 -0400Jordan Roth, President of New York's Jujamcyn Theatres, discusses his ascension to the top spot running a quintet of Broadway houses, which makes him one of the handful of people who can decide what is (or isn't) a Broadway show. He talks about his lifelong love of theatre; how he grew to be dissatisfied with performing while still a student at Princeton; his wholly unplanned evolution into the producer of "The Donkey Show" and the freedom on that production to create new ways of putting on a theatrical production; his move into Broadway producing and how he worked to push beyond conventional boundaries with the revival of "The Rocky Horror Show"; the profound impact closing of "The Mambo Kings" out of town had on him; how he came to produce "A Catered Affair" and why he bridles at the show being considered a more conventional work than his previous efforts; and, six months in, how he's enjoying his new role, the difference between being "the producer" and "the house," and how he hopes to achieve artistic goals while operating the theatres. He also explains his new role moonlighting as a moderator for the 92nd Street Y's new "Broadway Talks" series and his role in creating Givenik.com, which merges ticket selling with philanthropy. Original air date - March 24, 2010.
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 08:18:55 -0400Jessica Hecht, now on Broadway as Eddie Carbone's long-suffering but cleared-eyed wife Beatrice in the Broadway revival of "A View From The Bridge", talks about her role in the play's tragic love triangle and why her preparation for this performance was so different than her usual practice. She also discusses how she began studying at Connecticut College, only to have the famed actor Morris Carnovsky send her off to New York to study at New York University; her earliest roles, including an appearance in "Hamlet" at Hartford Stage, near her hometown of Bloomfield CT, as a silent lady-in-waiting to Pamela Payton-Wright as Gertrude; her Broadway debut in "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" where, after being raised in an observant Jewish home, she appeared as part of a Southern family disconnected from their Jewish roots; how she handled portraying a character alternating between dawning love and heart-rending tragedy in the non-linear "Stop Kiss"; working on "After The Fall" at the Roundabout with Arthur Miller and her interaction with the legendary playwright; playing in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" with Denzel Washington -- and how that yielded the greatest entrance ovation she's ever experienced; the joy and pain of opening in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" but never being able to perform for an audience in the prematurely closed "Broadway Bound"; and why she's drawn back to the Williamstown Theatre Festival year after year. Original air date - March 17, 2010.
Wed, 10 Mar 2010 08:58:45 -0500The "resident character woman" of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Rondi Reed, talks about her current stint as Madame Morrible in the Broadway juggernaut "Wicked", a role she originated in the musical's Chicago company, including why we're suddenly seeing her in a big Broadway musical for the first time, after 30 years in Chicago's best-known theatre ensemble. She also discusses her college years at Illinois State University, where she first met the team who would become the founders of Steppenwolf; why after graduation she decamped for Minnesota; when the invitation to join Steppenwolf actually came; why she didn't journey to New York for the famed production of "Balm in Gilead"; her directing debut with John Guare's "Lydie Breeze"; her extended tenure in the original production of "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" and the brief Broadway run of "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice"; whether she has the opportunity at Steppenwolf to ask for plays to be done specifically based on her interest; why the company seems to have so many meetings and how they've sustained that over the years; her reasons for initially declining the role of Mattie Faye, written by Tracy Letts with her in mind, in "August: Osage County", as she sets the record straight about whether or not the company resisted bringing the show to New York; the remarkable experience of returning to "August" for its final performance at the last minute, playing the [...]
Wed, 03 Mar 2010 08:51:14 -0600Turnabout is fair play, as actor Richard Thomas is the guest host for a conversation with Howard Sherman, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing. The longtime friends discuss the changes in the Wing since Sherman arrived in 2003, the unifying idea beyond the program expansion that has taken place since that time, and how ATW has evolved repeatedly over its 70 year history to meet the changing needs of the theatre community. Sherman also talks about his high school and college years as a performer; his eight years of "graduate school" at Hartford Stage under the mentorship of artistic director Mark Lamos and managing director David Hawkanson; the celebrity who helped to ease his parents' minds about his choice of a risky career in theatre; how Goodspeed Musicals' executive producer Michael Price gave him the opportunity to move beyond p.r. and into management; his stints at Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut; how personal priorities rather than professional ones led him to the Wing; and what has always motivated him throughout his career. Original air date - March 3, 2010.
Wed, 24 Feb 2010 07:42:16 -0600Gregory Mosher, director of the current Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge", talks about how he initiated the production himself, personally approached Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson about appearing in it, then brought the project to a producer after 17 years away from directing on Broadway. Mosher also discusses his journey through three institutions of higher education, including the acting program at The Juilliard School -- all without once graduating; his failed efforts post-college to even get unpaid employment in New York or at the country's major regional theatres; his migration to Chicago, where as assistant to William Woodman at The Goodman Theatre, he did everything from casting to producing their Stage 2 season; his ascension to artistic director and the challenges he faced securing the rights to new plays at a time when Chicago theatre wasn't yet "on the map"; his working relationship with David Mamet on the original production of "American Buffalo" and other plays -- as well as the one Mamet play he rejected and how that turned out; his tenure as artistic director of the new regime at Lincoln Center Theater beginning in 1985, including his early pilgrimage to meet with Peter Brook to understand how to make the Beaumont stage "work" and the LCT show that proved most surprising and rewarding in its success; what prompted his d[...]