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2008-2009 Season

Roundabout remembers Brian Bedford

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 by Todd Haimes

 

On January 13, 2011, Roundabout opened Brian Bedford’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring the man himself as Lady Bracknell, and now, five years later, we are mourning Brian’s passing. I can’t tell you how heartening it is to be able to think back to that opening night, with the walls of the theatre practically vibrating from the audience’s peals of laughter, and to remember the joy that Brian brought to us, even in this time of loss.

Brian Bedford as Lady

Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.

Brian’s life story was as theatrical as the man himself. Growing up in poverty, he was transported into a whole new world when, as a teenager, he was accepted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. There, he became part of a class of fellow working class young men who would turn out to be some of the greatest actors of their generation, including Peter O’Toole and Alan Bates. He was taken under the wing of the legendary John Gielgud, from whom Brian would learn how important it was to share his wisdom with the next generation of artists.

Brian’s remarkable career spanned from a West End debut in 1956 and a Broadway debut in 1959, to several decades as a member of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and a Tony Award for his performance in Moliere’s The School for Wives. He would be nominated for Tony Awards six more times.

Brian Bedford and Henry Goodman in TARTUFFE.

Brian Bedford and Henry Goodman in TARTUFFE.

Brian was one of the greatest modern day interpreters of classic roles I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. His performances at Roundabout in The Moliere Comedies (1995), London Assurance (1997), Tartuffe (2003), and The Importance of Being Earnest (2011) showed us a man at the top of his profession, reinvigorating the great works for a new generation. His direction of that Earnest resulted in what I expect to be the most perfect production of that play that I will ever see.

All of us at Roundabout will miss Brian for his artistry, his kindness, his friendship, and all the roles still left to play.


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We remember Brian Friel

Posted on: October 2nd, 2015 by Todd Haimes

 

The Roundabout family mourns the loss of Brian Friel. This gifted playwright gave so many beautiful stories to the world, and we will treasure those that we were able to bring to life with him. Brian always wrote with great depth, whether through his unmatched sense of language, surprising humor, righteous anger, or incredible heart. His commitment to bringing stories of his Irish homeland, often through the town of Ballybeg that he created and populated with so many memorable tales and characters, was admirable.

Brian Friel, cover of Front & Center, Fall 1999.

Brian Friel, cover of Front & Center, Fall 1999.

In Roundabout's first season at the original Laura Pels Theatre, we were honored to produce the American Premiere of Brian's brilliant Molly Sweeney, a truly memorable production that starred Alfred Molina and Jason Robards.

Jason Robards in MOLLY SWEENEY. Photo: Carol Rosegg

Our revival of Philadelphia, Here I Come! remains one of the most stunning productions in this institution's long history.

Company of GIVE ME YOUR ANSERS, DO.

Company of GIVE ME YOUR ANSWER, DO. Photo: Joan Marcus

And his Give Me Your Answer, Do, our final collaboration with Brian, was yet another new work of great impact, with an incredible cast (including Kate Burton, Joel Grey, Lois Smith, John Glover, and Michael Emerson) bringing his words to full life. We will miss the friendship and the talent of this singular artist.

 


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We remember Polly Bergen

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by Todd Haimes

 

Roundabout mourns the loss of our dear friend, Polly Bergen.

Polly’s career spanned several decades, but I had the privilege of getting to know her back in 2001, when she took on the role of Carlotta Campion in our revival of Follies. Watching her perform Sondheim’s great anthem, “I’m Still Here,” every night was always breathtaking.

Polly Bergen in Follies, 2001.

Polly Bergen in Follies, 2001.

A true showbiz creature, Polly had done it all, and the words rang true as she sang them out. She would later return to us as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, once again bringing the wisdom of her experience to her onstage role.

Polly Bergen in Cabaret, 2002.

Polly Bergen in Cabaret, 2002.

 

Offstage, she was a committed lover of the theatre, joining Roundabout’s Leadership Council so she could have a role in shaping our future. She was a real talent and a wonderful supporter of the arts that she loved. Polly will be missed by all of us in the Roundabout family.


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