Great Balls of Fire and other exultations of exclamatory joy! Hoo-roo and hoo-rah! We made it by the skin of our teeth through one more year of daily posts. I hope they’ve provided some sort of diversion and interest for you. As is my custom, on anniversary day, I post what I feel were my favorite audio pieces of the year. I’ll try to keep the list short this time, a baker’s dozen, so that you can get a chance to sample the ones you missed or re-visit posts that you enjoyed.
The SAG-AFTRA actors strike has now been going since July 14th, more than 3 months without a contract. We’ve heard a lot in the press from both sides about the seemingly intractable negotiations–when there are negotiations–but I thought it could be brought closer to home by talking with someone who our regular listeners know, having done so many wonderful readings and performances on Arts Express, the wonderful actress Mary Murphy.
Click on the triangle or the mp3 link above in order to hear my interview with Mary Murphy as as broadcast on the Arts Express radio program today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
I’m grateful to Stephanie Schubert, Operations Coordinator of the Pacifica Network, for conducting and publishing this interview she did with me about the recent Arts Express production of To The Lighthouse. At the end of the article, you’ll find a link to our podcast page, if you’d like to hear the production.
Leonard Bernstein rehearses and conducts the orchestra for a 1984 recording of West Side Story. Oh, the perfection!
Thanks to YouTuber Cristiano Pieraccini
To The Lighthouse was a novel I had been intrigued with since my twenties. When I heard that it had just gone out of copyright, I thought it would be fun to write a radio adaptation and to direct and edit it.
I started writing this adaptation back in January of this year, rehearsed it and recorded it in April and May with a fine company of actors, and then edited it in June and July. I’m happy to say we’ve finally completed it.
Here’s the logline:
In this adaptation, prepared especially for radio, Virginia Woolf’s ground-breaking stream of consciousness novel, To The Lighthouse, is brought to life.
In a sort of ghost story that plays with time, memory, and recollection, a young boy, over a period of ten years, tries to journey to the lighthouse, a stormy boat ride away from his family’s summer vacation home. The life of his nurturing mother, hemmed in by social and family strictures, is contrasted with that of her artist friend who lives in artistic freedom, but alone.
Included is a brief three minute introduction to give the context of the novel and the era in which Virginia Woolf was writing.
Our cast, in order of appearance:
James Ramsay…..Byron O’Hanlon
Mrs Ramsay….Mary Murphy
Mr. Ramsay…Jack Shalom
Charles Tansley….Joe Levine
Andrew Ramsay….KeShaun Luckie
Lily Briscoe….Lucy McMichael
William Bankes….Marty Levine
Cam Ramsay….Sarah Taylor
Prue Ramsay….Vivienne Shalom
Minta Doyle….Emma Mueller
Paul Rayley….David Lepelstat
Kitchen sink realism, Monty Python style.
Thanks to YouTuber moogrogue
Tony award winning director/actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson gives a beautiful speech, under the marquee of Broadway’s August Wilson Theater this past June 29th, “Lloyd Richards Day,” celebrating the great American director, nurturer of playwrights, acting teacher, and artistic director.
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Thanks to Borough President Mark Levine, and City Council Member Erik Bottcher and everyone else who worked to make this happen at the August Wilson Theater today. And our next job is to get West 47th Street, where Raisin in the Sun was performed at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, co-named after Lloyd Richards as a permanent marker of his contribution to Broadway, NYC, and American Theater.
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!!UPDATE: The event will happen under the marquee of the beautiful August Wilson Theater on West 52nd Street at 12 noon, June 29th!!
We are so happy to announce the details about the public ceremony for Lloyd Richards Day. The public ceremony will happen in Times Square, Thursday, June 29th, 12 noon. We anticipate some Tony and Emmy Award winning theatrical colleagues of Lloyd to be there. You’re all invited! Feel free to share this notice.
To learn more about what Lloyd Richards has given to Broadway, New York City, and American Theater, see this post.
The City of New York is proclaiming June 29th, 2023 as Lloyd Richards Day!
This is personal for me. First let me tell you about Lloyd.
Lloyd Richards was a fabled theatrical director, acting teacher, and theatrical artistic director; in addition to directing the groundbreaking Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun in 1959, starring Sidney Poitier, he won a Tony award for best direction of the play Fences starring James Earl Jones by August Wilson. In fact, it was Lloyd Richards who discovered August Wilson at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, of which Lloyd was the Artistic Director for many years. There is much more I can say about him, including his work as the Dean of the Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of the Yale Repertory company, and of his students, including Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, Steven McKinley Henderson, Kate Burton, Courtney Vance, Angela Bassett, and on and on.
He also taught at Hunter College when I was a student there back in the 1970s. I was extraordinarily lucky to have wandered as an undergrad into taking acting and directing classes with Lloyd.
He was the finest teacher of anything that I have ever had. He was a master pedagogue. I was also cast in a play he directed at the college. Though I didn’t go on to act professionally, his teaching profoundly affected me and my outlook on art and life. It was the same with literally thousands of his students. He was a deeply generous, unassuming, brilliantly perceptive and modest man.
Some forty-five years after taking class with Lloyd, I met up with some alums from Hunter who I had not seen since then. How that happened is a story for another time! But we decided it was high time the City of New York honored Lloyd in one way or another. After all, he had been awarded the National Medal of Arts by the Clinton White House, yet the City of New York had never officially honored him. We were determined that we would work to make more of the public aware of Lloyd’s essential and enormous contribution to American theater and Broadway.
And so, after two years of forming the Committee to Celebrate Lloyd Richards 6.29 and working to make this happen, we were thrilled when Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and City Councilmember Erik Bottcher agreed to proclaim June 29th–the day that Lloyd Richards was born, and the day that he passed–as “Lloyd Richards Day.”
More to follow!
Left to Right: Julius Hollingworth and Sharron Cannon of the Committee to Celebrate Lloyd Richards 6.29, New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and myself. (Click to enlarge)
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View from the Central Park Reservoir
Famous residents of the San Remo apartments included Diane Arbus, Harold Arlen, John Barrymore, Bono, Eddie Cantor, Glenn Close, Jack Dempsey, Rita Hayworth, Dustin Hoffman, Mick Jagger, Barry Manilow, Steve Martin, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Mary Tyler Moore, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Spielberg, Isaac Stern, and Tiger Woods.
I wonder if any other private residential building housed so many different celebrated people.
The song “Shy” from the Broadway musical, Once Upon a Mattress, made a star out of Carol Burnett. The score was composed by Mary Rodgers, and of course, the last name Rodgers should ring a bell because indeed, Mary Rodgers was the daughter of Richard Rodgers, which was both her blessing and her curse. “Shy” is not only the name of the song but also the name of Mary Rodgers’ recent autobiography, published posthumously with the help of NY Times theatre critic Jesse Green. if there is a major theme in the story of Mary Rodgers life, it is how does a talented daughter get out from under the shadow of a very famous musical genius.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review of Shy, as broadcast today on the Art Express radio program, heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Monday morning, Ella Fitzgerald with a great Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart song.
More at Ella Fitzgerald
Imagine please: A working class uprising. The lower classes are starving. They demand the right to eat. They want access to the great stores of grain that have been won in the recent war, confiscated from the enemy, but withheld from the peasants. And so begins the most class-conscious play that Shakespeare ever wrote, called Coriolanus.
Click on the triangle above or mp3 link to hear our commentary on Coriolanus, as broadcast yesterday on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation
I’ve been looking for this clip for a long time for three reasons!
One: It’s one of my favorite magic illusions. It just looks great to an audience.
Two: When I was in college, I played the role of Houdini in a musical about his life–and I got to perform this illusion.
Three: And finally, the woman in the clip above, performing with Doug Henning, is actress Didi Conn. I was in the play Carousel with her when I was in junior high school–she was a grade ahead of me–and I thought then that she was the best dancer I had ever seen. Later she became famous for her role in the film Grease as “Frenchie.”
This is a radio segment based on an article I wrote a few decades ago about the theatrical elements of hustles like three-card monte.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the piece as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
What does it take for a writer/actress to perform a play she’s written about prisons, at a prison? And in particular, at one of the most notorious prisons in the country, Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, America’s largest prison-plantation. A new documentary about that performance and its aftermath, titled Angola Do You Hear Us?, has been shortlisted for the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject. I was happy to speak with the director of the film, Cinque Northern, and the playwright/performer, Liza Jessie Peterson.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast on the Arts Express radio program today, aired on WBAI -FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
The film is streaming on Paramount +
Here in the US, January 6th has taken on a particular political meaning, but for most of the world, it’s the celebration of the twelfth night of Christmas, partridges in pear trees and all that. It’s a traditional time of partying and celebration, and Shakespeare titled what I believe is his best comedy, Twelfth Night. But it might be have been better called, Love Makes Idiots and Fools of Everyone!
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the rest of the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
The wild comedic imagination of Eleanor Morton takes the gender switching theme from the Robin Williams film, Mrs. Doubtfire, and transplants it into Robert Louis Stevenson’s horror story. A really brilliant turn by Ms. Morton.
More at Eleanor Morton
Richard Kiley in his greatest Broadway role, as Miguel Cervantes/Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, book by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh, and lyrics by Joe Darion.
Wikipedia tempts us with the information that the original lyricist was to be W. H. Auden, but his lyrics were considered too satirical and biting towards the bourgeois audience and so was replaced.
What I would give to see those discarded lyrics!
Thanks to YouTuber The Ed Sullivan Show
Welcome to our inaugural Arts Express episode of our “Shakespeare Without Tears” series, making Shakespeare accessible and relevant for the 21st century. We start off with an episode based on an a post I wrote here some time ago.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the episode as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
And for our New York City listeners, we’re happy to tell you that we are now on at a new time, Wednesdays at 9PM.
Making shopping decisions can be tough, but this holiday we’ve come to the rescue! Take a listen to our latest Arts Express Playhouse sketch, written and produced by your correspondent, and featuring the brilliant talent and skill of Mary Murphy and Lucy McMichael.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the piece as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show on WBAI-FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the country
About 58 years ago, Malcolm X was murdered, but his legacy has only grown in the ensuing years. In 1986, Anthony Davis, composer, and Thulani Davis, the playwright and poet, wrote an opera about Malcolm X called X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Although it did have a premiere at New York City Opera, it was never recorded commercially in full. Since then, the opera has been revised with a tighter libretto. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project has just released the world premiere of a new recording of the opera, starring Davone Tines as Malcolm X. With permission, here are excerpts from that opera.
Click on the triangle or MP3 link above to hear the opera selections as broadcast on the Arts Express program this morning on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
** Actress Inger Tudor of Goliath speaks about Voodoo Macbeth and playing Rose McClendon, the legendary Depression-era African-American theater actress.
** A portfolio of photos from the actual historic 1936 Federal Theatre Project production of Macbeth
** 28 Children: Artist Mary McClusker’s moving tribute to children killed by guns
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Well time flies when you’re having fun, and here we are at the 8th iteration of the Shalblog Industries® (division of Axlotl International) daily blog anniversary. As is our wont on such occasions (and who wouldn’t want to wont on such an occasion?) herewith a list of some of our favorite radio work of the past year that you may have missed.