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

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