Theatre yesterday and today



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Tonight at 6:45 p.m. the lights of Broadway will dim for one minute in tribute to Neil Simon, who died on Sunday at the age of ninety-one. His death, due to complications from pneumonia and having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was a sad end. To me, he was a personal hero, since he was among the key playwrights I encountered when I first began going to the Broadway theatre on a regular basis, starting at the age of twelve. The year was 1969 and Simon, the author of Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple and Plaza Suite (to name only three of around thirty), was then at the height of his powers. After his debut with Come Blow Your Horn in 1961, he would go on to write twenty plays and music


Seventeen years ago today, the actress Kim Stanley (born Patricia Reid) died at her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, around 200 miles from Tularosa, the city in which she was born seventy-six years earlier. At the time of her death, she had been living in New Mexico for many years, far away from the lights of Broadway, where she had once been one of its brightest stars. Alongside Julie Harris and Geraldine Page, she was considered to be among the finest stage actresses of her day (and, in an odd coincidence, all three were born within a thirteen-month stretch of one another between 1924 and 1925). Beyond the theatre, Stanley was prolific in the early days of live television in the 1950s, and in


Last week, I had the pleasure of once again seeing Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein's Fiddler on the Roof, for probably around the 50th time. Broadway, regional theatre, student productions, as well as my having been in it and directed it (though on two separate occasions), all add up to such a high count. Certainly among my top five favorite musicals, I have to rank this particular theatregoing experience as the most profound. That is because in this glorious rendition by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, it is performed entirely in Yiddish; the language that these Sholem Aleichem characters would have spoken. That, and the significance of it being staged in the auditoriu


The novelist Truman Capote (1924–1984) burst onto the literary scene in 1948 (at the age of twenty-four) with a book of short stories Other Voices, Other Rooms. An overnight sensation, he followed it with other triumphs, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and his true masterpiece, In Cold Blood (1965). He also aimed his sights on the theatre, and even if it was only twice in his career, they were interesting attempts. The first was an adaptation of an early novella, The Grass Harp, which played the Martin Beck (now the Al Hirschfeld) for four weeks in 1952 (funnily enough, it would return briefly to that same theatre nineteen years later as a musical, but Capote had nothing to do with i

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