May 23rd – Larson’s Legacy

2002

At tonight’s Outer Critics Circle Awards, the musical “tick..tick..Boom!” written by Jonathan Larson wins for Outstanding Off Broadway Musical, eight years after his death.

Jonathan Larson who died in 1996, aged 35

Jonathan Larson who died in 1996, aged 35

Larson, noted for writing about social issues such as homophobia, racism and addition, was the genius behind the musical phenomenon “Rent”, a modern re-working of “La Boheme” set in New York.

“tick…tick…Boom!” is largely autobiographical and Larson started performing it as a solo piece in 1990. He died on the morning that “Rent” was to open off-Broadway in 1996 and shortly afterwards it was revised by playwright David Auburn as a three-hander and premiered in 2001.

It has since been performed all over the US and in London.

Larson has posthumously received three Tony Awards, two Drama Desk awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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April 6 – The Birth of the Tonys

Tony Award

Tony Award

1947

Today marked the very first American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards ceremony.

On the evening of Easter Sunday 1947 in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in New York, the American Theatre Wing established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre in an evening of dinner, dancing and entertainment by some of the best in the business.

They were named for the dynamic war time leader of the Wing, actress, director and producer Antoinette Perry and the evening was presided over by her successor Vera Allen Perry. Eleven Tonys were presented and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the famous theatrical haunt on West 44th Street. Among the winners that night were José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Ingrid Bergman and Agnes de Mille.

The idea took off and this year will be the 68th annual awards.

January 30th – A Prince Among Men

1928Image

Today Hal Prince, legendary theatre director, producer and performer was born in New York. He was adopted by stockbroker Milton A. Prince and Blanche Stern

Starting out as an errand boy for Broadway producer George Abbot, he was drafted into the US Army in 1950, before returning to stage manage “Wonderful Town” in 1954.  He went on to produce and direct over 50 stage productions and has won an astonishing 21 Tony Awards. In 2006 he was given the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

His producing debut was for The Pajama Game in 1954 and his shows include West Side Story, Damn Yankees, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cabaret, Follies, Company, A Little Night Music, Candide, Fiddler On The Roof, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom Of The Opera and Evita.

Prince collaborated with rising young composers including Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber and has been both celebrated and criticised for daring subject matter and his unconventional treatment of it.

All you need as a young person is one person who you respect to say: “You can do this. Do it”. ~ Hal Prince.

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January 23rd – After The Fall

1964

Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe

Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe

Today Arthur Miller’s new autobiographical play, “After The Fall”, exploring his life and failed marriage with Marilyn Monroe opens at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre on West 4th St, New York.

Starring Jason Robards Jnr and Barbara Loden and directed by Elia Kazan, it ran for 208 performances and won Barbara Loden a Theatre World award and a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play, as well as a Tony nomination for Jason Robards Jnr.

The play takes place inside the mind of Quentin, a New York intellectual who tries to decide whether to marry his latest love by re-examining his past. It was unpopular with critics for its non-linear format and for the all too accurate portrayal of the character Maggie’s suicide, uncomfortably similar to Monroe’s.  Miller even fell out of favour with one of his biggest admirers, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who found his lack of loyalty to Marilyn’s memory highly distasteful.