ROUNDABOUT BLOG

 

Summer TCA Portrait Session 2014I am thrilled to share the news of another exciting production for our 50th Anniversary Season. It is my pleasure to announce that Clive Owen will be making his Broadway debut in Harold Pinter’s Old Times, in a production directed by Douglas Hodge.

You know Douglas Hodge from his incredible performance in Roundabout’s Cyrano de Bergerac in 2012. Doug is a Tony and Olivier Award-winner and an accomplished actor, director, writer, and composer, currently appearing as Inspector Rusk in Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful.” He is known as a leading interpreter of Pinter’s work and has appeared in Pinter plays at the Donmar Warehouse, the National Theatre, and the Comedy Theatre (now the Harold Pinter Theatre), among others. Doug will be making his Broadway directorial debut with Old Times, and I know the show could not be in more capable hands.

I am honored to welcome Clive Owen to the Roundabout stage. Clive is perhaps best known for his film and television work, which includes Children of Men, Sin City, and The International as well as the HBO film Hemingway & Gellhorn (Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe nominations) and Cinemax’s “The Knick” (Golden Globe nomination). Clive is also an acclaimed stage actor, having performed at the Young Vic, the Donmar Warehouse, and the Royal National Theater. He originated the role of Dan in Patrick Marber’s Closer and appeared in Mike Nichols’s film version of the play as Larry, a performance for which he received a Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, and Academy Award nomination.

I am so excited to have these two incredible artists join the 50th Anniversary Season and to bring this powerful, haunting play to our audience.

Tickets are currently available when renewing your subscription or as part of a ‘Choose Your Own’ subscription package. I encourage you to join our Email Club to be notified when tickets go on sale.


Related Categories:
2015-2016 Season, From Todd Haimes, Old Times


No Comments

Interview with Lyricist Amanda Green

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by Ted Sod

 

Amanda Green Headshot

Amanda Green

Education Dramaturg Ted Sod interviews lyricist Amanda Green about On the Twentieth Century.

Ted Sod: Where were you born and educated and when did you decide to write for the musical theatre?
Amanda Green: I was born in New York City and grew up in the apartment my mother, Phyllis Newman, still lives in on Central Park West. I went to Brown University, got a BA in Dramatic Literature, and I attended the Circle in the Square actors training program after that. I started to write for the musical theatre after I'd been singing at various cabaret gigs and writing country songs. On a whim, I applied to the BMI musical theatre workshop. As soon as I started writing theatre songs, I thought, oh, of course, this is what I should be doing. I went a round-about way to writing musical theatre songs because, at first, I wanted to act, and then I thought I'd write contemporary, non-theatrical music – maybe subconsciously I thought, don't go there. My father, Adolph Green, and my mother both were notable in the musical theatre world. But as soon as I started writing theatre songs, I felt at home. I realized this is what I know how to do and what I love doing.

TS: How did you get involved with the revival of On the Twentieth Century? Can you describe exactly what your role will be?
AG: Scott Ellis, the director, asked me to come aboard to look at one specific moment in the show -- Oscar's “11:00 number,” originally titled “The Legacy.” It's a superb song that is totally in character with Oscar. But Scott was looking to make that moment have more heft, and when I studied it, I agreed the moment could be more emotional and revelatory about Oscar. As it exists, it is hilarious, but essentially a list song. I thought it could be a reckoning with himself about how much he loves and needs Lily – not just for his success on stage, but in his life, and owning his part in why she left. At the same time, it should be funny and, like him, a bit grandiose and myopic. Musically, I toyed with using melodies from several songs in the show, or maybe even using a Cy Coleman trunk song. In the end though, the existing melody to “The Legacy” suited the moment perfectly; as did the brilliant and hilarious lyrics of the song’s introduction. So I kept both those intact.

TS: Is that difficult, to get into the heads of the original writers, one of whom was your father?
AG: At first, I didn't know if it could be done or if it needed to be done. I love On the Twentieth Century, so I wasn’t thinking, “Oh my God, how can you fix this show?” I really went into it saying, “Let me see if I can come up with something. If not, then not.” Anyway, as I started to write, I asked myself that very same question: what is this going to be like? But Oscar is such a huge, rich character, thanks to my father and his writing partner, Betty Comden, that he is really, really fun to write for. I had a blast working on it.

TS: Do you have any recollections of the original production? You must have been a tween at the time.
AG: Yes, exactly. I was a tween. I remember being out of town one weekend. My brother, Adam, and I were with my dad in Boston. I remember the fun of it. God, I love that show. Who can forget Kevin Kline and Madeline Kahn and John Cullum? I have vivid memories of that production. The set was so exciting and the train - it was amazing when the steam came out, seeing it at different vantage points - it was all very dazzling.

TS: Can you talk a bit about Comden and Green and their working relationship from your perspective? What was that like?
AG: They were true partners. Whatever their private talks were about work, they always presented a unified front. They really created one voice together. I think that they were loyal, and they absolutely shared a theatrical mindset and an exquisite sense of humor. They had tremendous fun, intelligence, intellect and understood and loved human foibles and relationships. Theirs was a truly symbiotic partnership.

Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Betty Comden and Adolph Green

TS: Were you ever able to watch them work or was that a private thing of theirs?
AG: It was a private thing. I certainly heard them when they were rehearsing, and I was there at early readings or backers’ auditions. I could hear them all at the piano: Cy Coleman, my father, and Betty doing backers’ auditions for On the Twentieth Century and then later, I remember them singing “Never Met a Man I Didn't Like” from The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue when it was first written. And I know what they ate when they were working. They'd go over to the kitchen and come back with a tray of soup and lots of matzo and things like that. They liked to snack to a lot. I could tell you what they snacked on when they wrote.

TS: Do you personally relate to any of the characters in On the Twentieth Century? If so, which one and why?
AG: I think one of the reasons why it's such a beloved musical is because of these characters they’ve created with these huge theatrical egos. I can relate to all of them in different ways. Actually, they remind me of my father. Oscar reminds me of my dad because I can hear him singing “I Rise Again,” which he loved. The show makes you love theatre people because of their egos, vanity, and fun, and their undeniable love of the theatre. That's why the show is so much fun; it obviously loves the world of the theatre and it pokes fun at it, too. You love the characters even as you see them scheming and trying to put one over on each other. It makes you fall in love with theatre people even with all their flaws.

TS: Do you see it as a love story between Oscar and Lily?
AG: I do. I do. If they have a true love, it is each other, absolutely.

TS: I was wondering if you would share what other projects you're working on currently?
AG: 2014 has been the year of my dad and Betty. I just finished doing Peter Pan Live, which was really fun. I wrote a few additional songs using Jule Styne's music and starting with the base of the songs that he wrote with my dad and Betty to create some new song moments for Captain Hook, Wendy, Mrs. Darling, and Peter. That was very exciting. Again, another outsized character that reminds me of my dad, Captain Hook. I just started working on a new musical I am very excited about.

TS: Is there a question you wish I had asked but didn’t?
AG: I just think that people today will enjoy On the Twentieth Century as much as, if not more than, when it first came out. It's truly a fantastic musical. It's so funny and smart, and you fall in love with these characters. I love the operetta style of it. And I'm so excited to have Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher and the rest of this great cast be part of the first Broadway revival.


 

On the Twentieth Century is now in previews at the American Airlines Theatre. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.


Related Categories:
2014-2015 Season, Education @ Roundabout, On the Twentieth Century, Upstage


No Comments

Profile on Composer: Cy Coleman

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by Roundabout

 

Neil Simon and Cy Coleman

Neil Simon and Cy Coleman

“A permanent gem in Broadway’s crown." So said theatre critic Clive Barnes in praise of Cy Coleman and his nearly half-century of contributions to the American musical. Coleman was born Seymour Kaufman on June 14, 1929, the son of Russian immigrants. His mother owned an apartment house in the Bronx, where Seymour started playing music at age 4 when a tenant vacated, leaving behind a piano. The building’s milkman heard Seymour play and was so impressed that he introduced Seymour to his son’s piano teacher. Seymour made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 7. He attended the High School of Music and Art and at age 16 changed his name to “Cy Coleman” on the advice of a music publisher.

While attending New York College of Music, Coleman formed a jazz trio and earned money playing in cocktail lounges and clubs, where his enthusiasm for jazz and standards drew him away from classical music. He met lyricist Carolyn Leigh in the early 1950s and embarked on a fruitful but stormy collaboration. Coleman’s pop-jazz melodies combined with Leigh’s sophisticated, often suggestive lyrics to produce songs like “Witchcraft” (1957) and “The Best Is Yet To Come” (1959). Recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman and Leigh’s classic songs have been described as “the ultimate musical distillation of sophisticated cocktail party banter of the period.”

In 1960, Coleman and Leigh were brought on to compose a Broadway vehicle for Lucille Ball. The show, Wildcat, had a short run, but the song “Hey Look Me Over” became a standout hit. Next, the team scored Little Me (1962), book by Neil Simon, directed by Bob Fosse, and starring Syd Caesar. Despite its success, this was the final collaboration for Coleman and Leigh, who were fighting constantly.

Coleman continued to work with Fosse and Simon and paired with lyricist Dorothy Fields for Sweet Charity. The score included the numbers “Hey Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” Coleman and Fields followed up with Seesaw, a modest success, featuring a young Tommy Tune. Fields passed away in 1974, and Coleman next worked with Michael Stewart on I Love My Wife (1977).

When approached about composing On the Twentieth Century with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Coleman was initially reluctant. He thought the 1920s pastiche had been overdone, but when he realized that the larger-than-life characters could be musically expressed using a light opera style, he got on board. Coleman won his first Tony Award for Original Score for this show in 1978.

Coleman's next triumph was the circus-style show Barnum (1980). He later took the Tony two years in a row, for the film-noir inspired City of Angels (1990) and the country spectacular The Will Rogers Follies, again with Comden and Green (1991). His last Broadway show was the gritty urban musical The Life (1997). For each new show, Coleman established a unique musical idiom and never repeated a style.

Remarking on his work ethic, Coleman said, “I don’t like to let go. I will drain to the last drop." Until his death he was was juggling multiple projects: a 2005 revival of Sweet Charity and several new shows, including a stage version of Wendy Wasserstein’s children’s book Pamela’s First Musical. He also continued to perform his own cabaret act regularly at Feinstein’s. Coleman passed away in February 2004; the following evening, the lights in all Broadway theatres were dimmed to honor his memory.

American Operetta

At first, Cy Coleman was reluctant to compose On the Twentieth Century because he felt there had been too many other musicals set in the ‘20s and referencing popular music of that decade. But as he considered the characters’ large personalities and “tikka-tikka-tikka” patter sound of a train, Coleman was excited to reference operetta, also known as “light” or “comic” opera, which had its peak popularity in America in the 1920s.

The origins of operetta go back to 19th-century Europe, with Jacques Offenbach in France and the ever-popular W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan in England. For his inspiration, Coleman drew largely from two great composers of American operetta: Sigmund Romberg and Rudolf Friml. Both came from Eastern Europe in the first decade of the 20th century. They struck musical gold collaborating with American lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. How else could Friml, a piano virtuoso from Prague, dream up Rose-Marie, an operetta set in the Canadian Rockies, with lovers yodeling the “Indian Love Call”? Romberg’s great success, The Desert Song, traded on the success of American movie star Rudolph Valentino and the adventures of Lawrence of Arabia.

With sweeping scores and romantic stories, operetta appealed to middle-class audiences who wanted something in between the rough entertainments of the Bowery and the highbrow refinements of the Metropolitan Opera. With the Great Depression, the attraction of operetta’s grandness shifted to more sophisticated musical comedy. Productions of Friml and Romberg shows are rare today, but their works would influence musical theatre for many decades. Hammerstein went on to pen the books and lyrics for some of Broadway’s greatest romantic musicals, including Showboat, The King and I, and South Pacific.


On the Twentieth Century is now in previews at the American Airlines Theatre. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.


Related Categories:
2014-2015 Season, Education @ Roundabout, On the Twentieth Century, Upstage


No Comments