Public Relations Manager
Continued from last week...more history
highlights, picking up with the second half of the alphabet.
N Paul Newman’s
first appearance on the Playhouse stage is in Love Letters (2000), a fundraiser with his wife Joanne Woodward,
who is the newly appointed artistic director at the time. His other Playhouse credits include Ancestral Voices (2000 and 2002), Trumbo (2004), and a revival of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town (2002), which transfers to
Broadway and is filmed for Showtime and PBS.
O The groundbreaking musical Oklahoma
might never had been written if Richard Rodgers had not been in the Playhouse
audience in 1940 to see Green Grow the
Lilacs, on which the musical was based.
and Lowe, viewing Shaw’s Pygmalion starring Dolores Gray at
the Playhouse in 1952, are inspired to create the musical My Fair Lady, based on the play. It opens four years later on
Q When the Playhouse is under renovation in
2004, a shocking discovery is made in the quoin,
the external angle of the building. The
walls at the stage left corner are not touching the foundation; they are rotted
away from age. A railroad tie, shoved
under the walls in the 1950s, is all that is supporting stage left prior to the
R In 2005, the Playhouse completes a
multi-million dollar renovation, reopening
just in time for its 75th anniversary. The Playhouse becomes a state-of-the-art producing theater,
preserving its original charm and character.
no longer a summer stock theater
today, the Playhouse is for many years a theater company that keeps “in stock”
all the elements, human and material, that are needed to stage a play. The “straw hat” circuit, named for the
bucolic roots of theaters housed in converted barns or mills, reaches its peak
in the late 1940s. The Playhouse is one
of the last survivors of the New England the circuit through the end of the 20th
1941, Lee Strasberg directs Tyrone
Power in Liliom, which later becomes
the musical Carousel on Broadway. Power is about to
open at WCP when Daryl F. Zanuck, the powerful head of 20th Century Fox,
demands he return to Hollywood to re-shoot scenes for the film A Yank in the RAF.
The Playhouse's attorney, Kenneth Bradley, invokes a 300-year-old Connecticut
Blue Law under which one could prevent a person from leaving the state if he
tries to do so before fulfilling a contract. Power delightedly stays and
completes the sold-out run.
U A corps of 300 volunteer ushers serves the Playhouse each season, acting as host to our
patrons, seating them, handing out a program, and watching over their health
and safety. Some of our ushers have been
tearing ticket stubs for multiple seasons.
V There are always celebrated visitors in the Playhouse
audience. From Marlon Brando in 1953 to Katharine
Hepburn in the 1985, to Ethel Merman, Dustin Hoffman, Ron Howard, Samuel L.
Jackson, and Aaron Sorkin, to name just a few.
Woodward directs three plays during
her six-season tenure (2000-2005) as Playhouse artistic director: The
Constant Wife (2000), Three Days of
Rain (2001) and The Member of the
Wedding (2005), and co-directs with Anne Keefe David Copperfield (2005). Ms.
Woodward and Ms. Keefe serve as Playhouse co-artistic directors in 2008.
Playhouse performers have the X-Factor,
that “certain something” that propels them into stardom soon after their stint
here. In 1964, 18-year-old Liza Minnelli
receives her Equity card appearing at the Playhouse with Elliott Gould in The Fantasticks. On opening night, according to a news clipping,
"the rather gawky teenager...received a standing ovation."
Y “Your Playhouse” is a phrase we currently use to
reinforce the efforts to engage the Fairfield County community and beyond in
our productions, events, and activities.
Each year we host an “open house” where the public can tour the
Playhouse and discover all that it has to offer for every age. This year’s “Season Kick-off Block Party”
will be on Saturday, April 13, 4 to 7 p.m
Z They are all new faces in 1992 when the Playhouse premieres a 10-month national tour of Kander and Ebb's The World Goes 'Round, starring Karen Ziemba and Marin Mazzie, and directed and choreographed by Scott Ellis and Susan Stroman, respectively. Soon after, they all become award-winning artists on Broadway.
Labels: drama, History, Musicals, Theater, Westport Country Playhouse