Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cuddly makes his Debut!

I love previews at George Street Playhouse mainly because of the discussions with the audience afterwards. In most cases, Artistic Director David Saint is joined on stage by the director and occasionally members of the cast. Last week was a little different when Frank Dunlop the director of Oscar and the Pink Lady and Rosemary Harris, the show's star, surprised everyone (including David), for the talkback. All three nights, Ms. Harris took questions from the audience and also spoke briefly about her distinguished career in theatre and film.

The discussion took a personal twist, when she mentioned that the bear used in the show, was actually from her childhood! As she told it, Ms. Harris was sent to boarding school when she was a girl, and was incredibly homesick. "Cuddly," as she named the bear, comforted her for almost a year. She has since lent him to her sister and her three kids. "Cuddly" has withstood the test of time, though he's lost some of his padding, and is worn after years of use. Oscar...marks Cuddly's stage debut!

"Cuddly" photo by T. Charles Erickson. - posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Keeping up with GSP!

So much has happened since our last post....let's get up to speed

This past Sunday, Rosemary Harris had her final dress rehearsal for Oscar and the Pink Lady. What a treat it is to see this amazing actress fluidly move to play so many characters. In attendance were the tech staff (who have been working so hard to put this show up with just TWO WEEKS!), select members of the staff, and Ms. Harris' husband John Ehle (their daughter is Tony Award Winner Jennifer Ehle from The Coast of Utopia). As the director Frank Dunlop noted, it was the first time they were going to attempt running the show without stopping. Much has changed since their run in San Diego. The show was formerly in the round, keeping Ms. Harris moving all the time. Now at GSP, she's tailored her movement and facial expressions, making it all the more nuanced. Midway through the transformation has completely taken hold, and she comes so believable as a 10 year old boy it's truly astonishing. At the final moment of the show, there was barely a dry eye in the house.

There's an elegant simplicity to the show that is just so moving, it's hard to explain, so you'll just have to get out here and see it!

Meanwhile, the fun at GSP never stops. We're just one week away from beginning rehearsals on The Scene, Theresa Rebeck's funny, sexy, racy comedy about trying to make it big. Hopefully, I can convince a member of the cast to join in the blogging fun.

BUT WAIT! There's more! David Saint, our fearless Artistic Director has just begun attending auditions for Roger is Dead our final show of the season starring Marlo Thomas, written and directed by Elaine May.

Somewhere in between all this, our touring company read a new piece in development for next season about the dangers of cyber bullying, and the staff has begun to read scripts under consideration for next season. NEXT SEASON already can you imagine?!

Well, that's all the news for now...stay tuned.

posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Monday, January 7, 2008

Frank's Diary

Thought I'd share this bio of Oscar and the Pink Lady director Frank Dunlop...courtesy of The Old Globe

Several years ago Frank Dunlop’s good friend, restauranteur Jean-Claude Baker of Chez Josephine in New York City, gave Dunlop a copy of Oscar and the Pink Lady by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. The novella, originally published in French, was so popular internationally that it was translated into over 20 different languages. By the time Dunlop read Oscar, the stage adaptation had been running in Paris with popular French actress Danielle Darrieux for a couple of years. Recognizing the universality in the story of Oscar, Dunlop immediately tried to get the rights from Schmitt to do a stage adaptation in English, an effort that took another two years. Earlier Dunlop had done another English adaptation: his 2004 production in New York of Kathrine Kressman-Taylor’s novella condemning Nazism, Address Unknown. (editors note: Address Unknown played at GSP in 2005 direct from New York under Dunlop's direction)

Born in Leeds, England, Dunlop says he inherited the theater bug from his parents. They were ballroom dance partners and instructors during the Depression, a fact he claims he didn't discover until a few years ago. It was during his youth spent in Leicestershire that he began going to see all the plays at the city's three theaters. Although he had gone off to “the old Free Thinkers University" in London to become a teacher, he was called up to serve in the Royal Air Force. During his time in the desert, he made the decision to make the theater his career. Just out of the service, he was accepted at the Old Vic School.

Dunlop's career got its biggest boost when he became an associate director with(Sir) Laurence Olivier at London's National Theater in 1967. He recalls his most vivid memory of Olivier: “It was 1970, and I had gone in to see Olivier in his office to tell him that I was leaving to start up the Young Vic Company. Olivier burst into a fit and hysterics that I'd never seen in my life, and he screamed at me, ‘How could you?' conveniently forgetting that I only promised to stay three years. We had a falling out but made up eventually." The year 1974 was good for Dunlop, as two of his productions traveled to Broadway and became big hits. They were Scapino, his opening production for the Young Vic, that starred Jim Dale, and his Royal Shakespeare Company production of Sherlock Holmes starring John Wood as the famous sleuth. From 1983 to 1992, Dunlop was director of the Edinburgh International Festival, where earlier he had premiered Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1972. His many London and international productions include Kopenick with Paul Scofield and Son of Oblomo with Spike Milligan. On Broadway, he also directed Richard Burton's return to Camelot. Dunlop was also the founding director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Theater Company, whose distinguished members included Blythe Danner, Ellen Burstyn, Tovah Feldshuh, Rex Harrison, Denholm Elliot, Rene Auberjonois, Richard Dreyfuss, and good friend Rosemary Harris.

Kim Montelibano Heil, with excerpts from Simon Saltzman of TheatreScene.net.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Poll and subscriber stories

We know you've been waiting to hear from us...well we're waiting to hear from you?

After a highly successful poll for Doubt (blog readers felt he was innocent over guilty, though it remained fairly close all along), we're rolling out a new one.

So tell us which show you're looking forward to this 2008!
  • Oscar and the Pink Lady starring Rosemary Harris
  • The Scene by Theresa Rebeck with Matthew Arkin, Henny Russell, Christy McIntosh, and Liam Craig
  • Roger is Dead by Elaine May starring Marlo Thomas

This is perhaps the most exciting season in quite some time, but many of you have been attenting quite awhile. We want to hear from you! What are your fondest memories, stars, shows, seasons you've attended, etc. Let us know by leaving a comment on this blog OR email sgoldman@georgestplayhouse.org. You could be featured on this site!