Theatre yesterday and today



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Moss Hart was born today on October 24, 1904, one-hundred-sixteen years ago. That’s a long time. Long enough to fade into oblivion, especially taking into consideration that some men who were elected President of the United States are barely remembered anymore. In his day, Moss Hart was a very famous name, especially for a writer and director, whose main prominence was Broadway. But such were the times when these movers and shakers were of paramount interest to people, with columnists in newspapers across the country dedicated to recording the comings and goings of the theatre district’s denizens. Playwright-director Moss Hart on a U.S. Postage stamp, issued in 2004. Ordinary people outside

Montgomery Clift ON STAGE

Credited with bringing a bold and newfound realism to the big screen, Montgomery Clift distinctively transformed movie acting in the mid-20th century with his roles in "Red River," "From Here to Eternity" and "A Place in the Sun," to name a few. Marlon Brando and James Dean complete this holy trinity, each receiving invaluable training in the theatre before they ever made a film. With Clift's 100th birthday this past week, I return to his stage roots for today's "Theatre Yesterday and Today." Edward Montgomery Clift was born October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska (coincidentally, three-and-a-half years later, the birthplace of Marlon Brando). Clift's twin sister Roberta was born several hours e


I’m re-running this column from four years ago to honor the 85th birthday of Jerry Orbach (born October 20, 1935). One of the highest compliments I’ve ever received was when shortly after posting it, I got an email from Chris Orbach (who I don’t know) and who wrote: “You captured my dad perfectly.” You can read all about this beloved actor in today’s “Theatre Yesterday and Today.” Was there anyone more well-liked in the Broadway community than Jerry Orbach? I’ll go further and include the film and television community. Hell, how about the entire community of New York City? The stories of police men and women calling out to him on their street beats and out of patrol cars, in deference to his


I saw Heidi Schreck’s astonishing play What the Constitution Means to Me just over two years ago and it remains one of my most special experiences in a lifetime of theatergoing. With its filmed version debuting today on Amazon Prime, I thought I would rerun the column I wrote then in its entirety in order to once again reiterate what a special achievement it was for theatre and for the world, and the unique circumstances upon which I saw the show. September 28, 2018: THEATRE YESTERDAY AND TODAY It was a rather extraordinary thing to pick myself up off the sofa last night, where I had been glued to the TV for nearly eight straight hours, before heading downtown to the New York Theatre Worksho


Try as I do with these columns to divert from the troubling headlines we are forced to confront upon waking up every morning, I felt compelled today to write about something with a connection to Broadway, but really about something else entirely in this edition of “Theatre Yesterday and Today.” Today marks the anniversary of an event, that upon closer inspection, offers some eerie parallels to what’s going on right now. The year was 1969 and the war in Vietnam was literally tearing the country apart. Fifty-one years later, Americans are more divided than ever, possibly going even further back to when it was brother against brother during the Civil War. Today, everyone is digging in their hee


“The theatre is not so much a profession as a disease,” wrote playwright and director Moss Hart in his iconic autobiography 1959 Act One, offering in one sentence an apt encapsulation on the dangers of a career in show business. And though it could be argued that Hart was being somewhat facetious, I tend to doubt it. For those obsessed with the theatre, it is a disease. But as Tevye the Dairyman cleverly retorts when told by Motel the Tailor that money is a curse: “Then may the good Lord strike me with it — and may I never recover!” Moss Hart: playwright, director and novelist (1904–1961). People ask me how I keep the flames of passion from extinguishing after so many nights at the theatre a


October 11th is a date firmly imprinted in my memory as it was the night I saw my very first Broadway show — I Do! I Do! — starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston. The year was 1967, I was ten and a half years old, and it delightfully marked the start of my lifelong devotion to the theatre. This is the column I wrote for “Theatre Yesterday and Today” three years ago on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of that special night: It’s not hyperbole to say that when I saw Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s two-character musical I Do! I Do! that it changed my life forever. Based on the Tony Award winning Best Play The Fourposter, by Jan DeHartog, it was a sensationally entertaining vehicle for two m


As long and as varied a career as Martin Sheen has had, he will always be President Jed Bartlet from his seven-year run on The West Wing. With the current battle for who’ll be in the White House for the next four years draining our very souls, enjoy some time reading about the actor who gave us a Commander-in-Chief who felt more real than what passes for real these days, in today’s “Theatre Yesterday and Today.” Martin Sheen showed up in a movie I was watching last night. Nothing strange about that; at eighty years of age he’s been showing up in movies for the past fifty-three years; ever since he made his debut in a tense, low-budget thriller The Incident (1967). Prior to that, he had guest


September 24, 2020: Theatre Yesterday and Today In the predominately male world of the New York theatre, beginning as far back as 1933, Cheryl Crawford broke new ground over a fifty-three year period as a female theatrical producer. She worked with some of the greatest artists there have ever been and made significant contributions to some of the most important Broadway productions in the middle to late 20th century. Here's a bit of biography by way of today's "Theatre Yesterday and Today." Having recently posted a salute to the director and theatre scholar Harold Clurman, his longtime friend and contemporary Cheryl Crawford — born within the same week (one year and six days later) — is also

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© 2016 Ron Fassler - All rights Reserved

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