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February 2013 Archives

February 19, 2013

Opening Night of Tenor at Paper Mill Playhouse

Ken%20and%20Don.jpgI spent a wonderful evening at the Paper Mill Playhouse on Sunday night. They're producing a revival of Lend Me A Tenor and I went up to New Jersey for the day to see it.

First there was the chance to see old friends. Don Stephenson and Emily Loesser Stephenson once starred in my adaptation for the Kennedy Center of Where's Charley and we had a rollicking reunion dinner together. Emily is as beautiful and sparkling as ever. Don as warm and hilarious. It was also terrific seeing Jo Loesser and Jack Fink again.

We then watched the opening night performance of Tenor directed by Don. The show clipped along with great dexterity and precision, and the cast, to a person, was terrific. Don got some laughs that I'd never seen before. If you get to see the production, watch for the Bellhop's camera, Maggie and the lunatic and the incredibly great duet in the first act. This may be the best singing duo the show has ever had. The crew did a flawless job of keeping everybody on track, John Lee Beatty's set literally gleamed with elegance, the costumes and lighting were as good as I've ever seen, and the whole show looked and sounded terrific from first to last.

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Nancy Johnston, Mark Price, Michael Kostroff and Jill Paice
Photo by Jerry Dalia

It was terrific to see some old friends in the cast, including Donna English and Judy Blazer, who were great as always. And equally great were Jill Paice - who brought all new colors and shading to the part of Maggie - and, David Josefsberg who was hilarious and touching as Max. Ditto John Treacy Egan as Tito (what a voice!), Nancy Johnston as Julia, and Michael Kostroff as Saunders.

Congratulations to everyone involved.

Pictured top left: director Don Stephenson with Ken Ludwig

Watch a preview of Lend Me A Tenor at Paper Mill Playhouse:

February 14, 2013

My Visit to UVA

Photo%206%20small.jpgLast week, by invitation, I was at the University of Virginia for two days to deliver the Keenan Lecture and work with the drama students. It was a terrific experience and I made a whole raft of new friends. And I had such a good time.

On Friday, I first met Rachel Zucker - who is a stage management senior and ended up stage managing our performance the next day. (She did a fantastic job.) She and Anne Donnelly, Adam J. Santalla, Kate Tooley and Gracie Terzian were kind enough to take me on a tour of the gorgeous UVA campus. I already knew that Thomas Jefferson designed the university, but I'd never seen it before and I was blown away by the sheer beauty of the place.

Claire McKercher, a senior acting major, and the other heads of student drama, had made all the arrangements and it went off like clock-work. Claire (and everyone) was a delight. I hope the audience enjoyed the lecture: I spoke about being a playwright and all the choices we need to make to be in the theatre as a profession. During the Q and A afterwards, I had the best set of questions I've ever heard. Really smart people down that-a-way.

Bob Chapel who heads the musical theatre program, and Doug Grissom who teaches playwriting were kind enough to take me to dinner afterwards. (Great restaurant - Orzo - Charlottesville seems to be filled with great places to eat.) Two hours of non-stop theatre talk. What could be better.

The next day, instead of doing a workshop or a master class in the traditional sense, we did a reading of a new play I just finished writing about 3 weeks ago: Tito's Revenge: Lend Me a Tenor, Part 2. We had two different casts, one for Act One, and another for Act Two, and the actors were amazing. Every single one was prepared, fun to work with and extremely talented. We had a great response from the audience. Then some of the cast kindly asked me to join them for drinks - and Anne presented me with a UVA Drama Department T-shirt! I love it and I was extremely touched and I'm going to wear it forever - if I don't frame it first.

Thanks to Gracie and Claire and Anne and Adam and Rachel and everybody for being so kind.
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Emily Via, Mitch Voss, Mike Long, Gracie Terzian, Brad Fraizer, Adam Santalla, Amy Barrick

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Mitch Voss, Anne Donnelly, Mike Long, Gracie Terzian

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Emily Via, Mitch Voss, Mike Long, Gracie Terzian

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Pictured top left: Ken, Rachel Zucker, Kate Tooley, Anne Donnelly, Adam Santalla
Photos by Andrew Noh