"UP IN THE CHEAP SEATS"

Theatre yesterday and today

 

 

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SUPER HERO

On Sunday, Alan Alda received a much-deserved SAG Lifetime Achievement Award at the televised SAG Awards. On Monday, he celebrated his 83rd birthday. Today, a day or two late (and a dollar or two short), I would like to offer a tribute to him for the simple reason that he has (and always will be) one of my heroes. Alan Alda with his SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, January 27, 2019. I was first introduced to Alan Alda by way of one of his natural talents perhaps not known to many: his singing. In 1966, he had billing above the title in a new Broadway musical called The Apple Tree, alongside Barbara Harris and Larry Blyden. In those days, at the age of nine and still in elementary school, I co

HAPPY 88 TO THE GREAT JAMES EARL JONES

James Earl Jones, who turns eighty-eight years old today, was the first dramatic actor I ever saw on the Broadway stage who took my breath away. Seeing him as Jack Jefferson in Howard Sackler’s The Great White Hope was one of the highlights of my young theatregoing life (in fact, it was only my sixth Broadway show and my very first straight play— what a way to start!). Watching him felt like being punched in the stomach; I was literally gasping at the range and scope of his performance. I had never seen anything like it. And today, almost fifty years later, it remains so. James Earl Jones as Jack Jefferson in The Great White Hope (1968) Jones made his Broadway debut in 1958 with a small role

RICHARD WAYNE VAN DYKE

No, it’s not Dick Van Dyke’s birthday (and thank god this isn’t a memoriam piece). I wanted to write about him — that’s all. You see, he’s been on my mind of late, what with his cameo appearance in Mary Poppins Returns currently on the big screen. And from the moment he made his entrance late in the film, I was reduced to tears. The sheer nostalgia element he brings to the sequel, having played Bert the chimneysweep in the original Mary Poppins back in 1964, is palpable. When that film debuted fifty-four years ago, Van Dyke was already a Tony Award winning Broadway musical star and the eponymous lead in the multi-Emmy Award winning The Dick Van Dyke Show. Now at the age of ninety-three, his

OVER 21

On this date in 1944 (seventy-five years ago today— and notoriously bad at math as I am, I used a calculator to assure it's correct), a hit comedy opened at the Music Box Theatre titled Over 21. It was a semi-autobiographical play (nothing new about that), but what was original at the time was that it marked the debut of a writer who was already a renowned Broadway and film star: Ruth Gordon. She was forty-eight, just past the half-way mark of what turned out to be a rich, long and varied career, that only ended with her death at age eighty-eight, after an Oscar and an Emmy and many other notable highlights. But it bears mentioning that for a mere actress to have attempted to take on the man

HAPPY NEW YEAR

* This is a reprisal of a column posted on this date last year. In the spirit of ringing in the new year, I thought I would report on the only Broadway show to have been titled Happy New Year, a musical version of Philip Barry’s wonderful 1928 comedy Holiday. It opened April 27, 1980 and, like all shows, started out with the best of intentions and more than a few good things going for it. Burt Shevelove, its writer/director, had nine years earlier taken 1927’s No, No Nanette out of mothballs and turned it into one of the biggest and most surprising musical hits of the 70s (thus beginning an obsession with revivals on Broadway that has gone unabated to this day). Happy New Year also counted t

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© 2016 Ron Fassler - All rights Reserved

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