"UP IN THE CHEAP SEATS"

Theatre yesterday and today

 

 

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LENNY

Louis Bernstein (1918–1990) was born one hundred and two years ago on this date in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As the story goes, it was the wish of his grandmother he be named Louis, but his parents always called him Leonard; later Lenny, as he would come to be known by all who knew him. Bernstein was (naturally) a child prodigy, which began when his Aunt Clara needed a place to store her piano while going through a divorce. The ten-year-old sat on its bench, fascinated by the instrument, which did nothing to impress his father Samuel who wouldn’t pay for any lessons. However, Lenny’s desire to play was so strong, it drove the boy to seek odd jobs in order to pay for lessons on his own. Over t

THE EYES OF BROADWAY

“The Circle of Life” begins in one of the great openings in Broadway history (photo by Joan Marcus). With the proliferation of cameras on cellphones, taking a photograph these days seems about the easiest thing in the world to do. Point and shoot, right? But even with how sophisticated things have gotten, does anyone recall how hard it was to get a decent shot for a family holiday card? Or attempting to photograph your kid in a school play? How often did it result in the shot you intended? Wasn’t there always a blurred arm or one actor in a quartet whose eyes are shut? Okay, you’re an amateur and the people I cite in this column are professionals, but it’s so much more than that. Have you ev

GHOSTS OF BROADWAY

The column I posted last week on some of the oldest and most beautiful Broadway theatres led me to think a bit more about the Belasco, named for impresario David Belasco, a major figure from a long-forgotten period of American theatre history. Originally the Stuyvesant, this 1,059 seat theatre first opened its doors in 1907, one hundred and thirteen years ago. It was with an operetta called A Grand Army Man, co-written by Belasco, who had built it to house his own productions. As a popular producer-playwright, he aided its architect, George Keister, in its design, not only the stage itself, but also a ten-room duplex penthouse apartment above it. Renaming the theatre for himself in 1910, the

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© 2016 Ron Fassler - All rights Reserved

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