Post-Show Discussion: Redefining Beauty

Posted on: May 29th, 2014 by Roundabout


Sutton Foster in Violet. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Please join us for a post-show discussion on June 1 exploring the need for a wider societal definition of beauty. The event is complimentary for all ticketholders and the discussion will begin immediately following the performance. Buy tickets to this performance.

Our Panelists include:

Jill Rafson (Moderator) is the Literary Manager of Roundabout Theatre Company, where she also serves as Associate Producer for Roundabout Underground. Jill has worked with The Broadway League, New York City Center, and ART/NY, in addition to lecturing for the Commercial Theatre Institute. Dramaturgical work includes National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, CollaborationTown, and The Flea’s 50-playwright radical retelling of the Bible, The Mysteries. Nominator for Off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Awards. Served as Script Consultant for “The Importance of Being Earnest HD” (screened worldwide), member of NYFA’s Emerging Arts Leaders Boot Camp, and graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

Carolyn Spector (Panelist) is the Executive Director of myFace, an organization formerly known as the National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction. She was appointed one year ago today and is excited about enhancing myFace’s organizational vision, developing innovative programs and securing the resources to ensure the achievement of myFace’s short and long-term objectives. Prior to joining myFace, Carolyn served as the Executive Director of Mission: Restore, a Foundation that provides life-saving and life-changing reconstructive surgery both globally and locally to children and adults in need. Prior to moving to New York City, Carolyn held the position of Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was also a Visiting Professor at Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Criminal Justice. Robin Stern (Panelist) a licensed psychoanalyst, educator, and author, with over twenty five years of experience treating individuals, couples, and groups. Stern holds a doctorate in Applied Psychology from New York Univeristy and a post doctoral certificate in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. She is on the faculty of Teacher’s College, Columbia University, as well as the Training institute for Mental Health in New York, and is a consultant at Yale University’s Health, Emotion, and Behavior Lab. Additionally, Stern is one of the lead facilitators and a senior supervisor for the Inner Resilience Program, created post September 11, to help educators build resilience and coping skills. Stern is a founding member of the Woodhull Institute and has created and facilitated workshops for women in personal and professional development for 15 years. She has been a guest on many local and national radio shows and has traveled widely to lecture at the Jr. League, The American Psychological Association, The National Association for Domestic Violence Prevention, Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders, Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, Yale University, Columbia University, among others. She lives in Riverdale with her husband and two children.

Dina Zuckerberg (Panelist) joined myFace as Director of Family Programs after working in Finance for several years. Dina brings her own life experience of growing up with a facial difference to the support programs she implements for the patients and their families and to the people she hopes to educate in schools and the broader community. She also currently serves on the Next Generation Committee of Facing History and Ourselves, the Mental Health & Wellbeing Task Force at UJA Federation and is a Board Member at Parsons Dance. Dina lives in New York City. She loves to travel, read novels and take advantage of all the culture that the city has to offer.

Since 1993, Roundabout’s innovative Theatre Plus programs have enhanced the theatergoing experience for thousands of audience members through pre- and post-show discussions with industry experts, actors, and members of the creative team. Buy tickets to the June 1 performance.

Violet plays at the American Airlines Theatre through August 10. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Special Events, Violet

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Star Spotlight: Jeanine Tesori

Posted on: May 29th, 2014 by Roundabout


Long Island native Jeanine Tesori’s award-winning career as a composer came out of a dream discovered in adulthood. “I wasn’t a theatre kid,” she told TDF Stages in a 2013 interview. She entered Barnard College as a premed student, but eventually rediscovered a childhood love of piano and transferred to Columbia University’s music program, from which she graduated in 1983. After her graduation, she worked as a pianist, arranger, and conductor. Her years working in orchestra pits got her thinking about writing a musical of her own, and, in 1994, while working as the associate conductor of Broadway show Tommy, she decided it was time to take the risk of composing full-time. She gave her three-months’ notice and began work on what would become her first major musical, Violet.

Brian Crawley and Jeanine Tesori at the Violet Sneak Peek Party. Photo by David Gordon.

The story about a young woman’s quest for beauty had been on Tesori’s mind since the early ‘80s, when she first encountered the Doris Betts short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” and the short film based upon it, Violet. She teamed up with writer and lyricist Brian Crawley to adapt the story into musical form. Their finished product, also called Violet, premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons (at which, fatefully enough, Tesori had once interned) in 1997. The production was a critical success, but plans to transfer the show to Broadway never fully materialized. However, Ms. Tesori’s composing career began to take off. Her musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, written with Dick Scanlan and Richard Morris, premiered at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in 2000 and transferred to Broadway in 2002 (taking home six Tony® Awards, including those for Best Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, for Sutton Foster). In 2004, Caroline, or Change (score by Tesori, book and lyrics by Tony Kushner) also opened on Broadway, making Tesori the first female composer to have two shows running concurrently on Broadway. Her Broadway streak continued in 2008 with Shrek The Musical (music by Tesori, book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire).

Jeanine Tesori's Tony Award-winning musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Sutton Foster. Photo by Joan Marcus.

This year, Ms. Tesori has had an exciting season both on and Off-Broadway. Fun Home, written with playwright Lisa Kron and based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, enjoyed a four-times-extended, multi-award-winning run at the Public Theater. And, of course, Violet finally made it to the Great White Way in Roundabout’s currently running, critically acclaimed production, now nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, for Sutton Foster.

2014 Tony nominee Joshua Henry, Colin Donnell and 2014 Tony nominee Sutton Foster in Violet. Photo by Joan Marcus.

With nearly two decades of experience behind them since they first put pen to paper on Violet, Ms. Tesori and Mr. Crawley decided that it was time, in this Broadway incarnation, to reconsider the structure of the musical. The Roundabout production is thus a revision, as well as a revival, with a new one-act structure, a new song, and changes within both the score and the script. Director Leigh Silverman explains that “the heart and the guts of the piece are what's being revived, and what's being reexamined is the form. It certainly doesn't feel like a revival in the strictest sense of the word.” The twofold categorization of the musical reflects its position in Ms. Tesori’s life, as both a beginning and a high point in a varied and successful career.


Violet plays at the American Airlines Theatre through August 10. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Star Spotlight, Violet

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A Personal Response to Violet

Posted on: May 27th, 2014 by Roundabout


The organization myFace recently reached out to us to share a personal response to the musical Violet  by journalist and blogger Jeryl Brunner.

myFace, was founded and continues to provide sustaining support for the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center to ensure that patients with craniofacial disfigurements receive state-of-the art, personalized, and integrated team care regardless of the severity or type of the condition, length of the treatment, or financial means of the family. The Institute treats over 2,000 patients each year, 85% of them children, 95% of whom are in long-term care. myFace is concerned not only with the physical effects but also the devastating emotional impacts of facial deformity and addresses all of the psycho-social needs of patients and their families through The Newman Family Support Center, which was created in 2011 and housed within the IRPS.

Ms. Brunner has been kind enough to let us reproduce her blog post here. You can read it in full below:

By Jeryl Brunner

“YOU have got to see this show!” It was 1997 and my editor was emphatic. At the time, I was working at a popular entertainment and celebrity magazine that was known for placing beautiful actresses on the cover. My editor knew my story, or at least parts of it. I was born with a severe unilateral cleft lip and palate. I had surgery after surgery to wipe it all away, yet was forever disappointed. But my scars were so very deep. They reached to my heart.

Day after day at work, I would stare at the photos of those seemingly flawless actresses and wish I were them. I thought, if I looked like those women, then I would be good enough, worthy enough - deserving of love and joy.  As Violet would say, “I’d like a pair of Gene Tierney eyes and Ava Gardner’s eyebrows...” That would give me everything I needed (or so I thought).

I listened to my editor and saw this miracle of a show. I sat motionless in the intimate theater at Playwrights Horizons, breathless. Violet spoke to me.  In many was, I was her longing so much to be transformed. All my life, I turned to surgery again and again to solve everything. But like Violet, I couldn't really see.

Many years later, in 2009, I met Jeanine Tesori and had the chance to tell her how much I loved Violet. She mentioned that the show had a special place in her heart too. I shared how I longed to see Violet staged again in New York. I knew that there was more I had to learn from Violet. There was so much to be gleaned from the gentle wisdom of this simple yet-richly complex masterpiece of a show.

And now Violet has been revived. Once again, the cast is inspired. The music is gorgeous. The show is still so profoundly beautifully uplifting. And this time, I finally I got it. I understood. For so long, I didn’t understand that my healing lay far beyond my surgeries. Just maybe my self-worth doesn’t begin and end with my face. Maybe it sounds too simple, but it took me so long to figure this out:  When I hinge everything solely on my looks, without feeling good enough within, I will always be disappointed and never feel truly beautiful.

In Violet, as the wise Flick sings: "You’ve got to give yourself a reason to rejoice. Cause the music you make counts for everything. Now every living soul has got a voice. You’ve got to give it room. And let it sing."

As Edith Wharton says, “there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” In many ways, Violet has been my mirror. And I am so profoundly grateful to Jeanine Tesori, director Leigh Silverman, Sutton Foster, Joshua Henry, Colin Donnell, Alexander Gemignani and the entire cast of Violet for inspiring me to illuminate my voice and let it sing.

Violet plays at the American Airlines Theatre through August 10. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Violet

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