- April 2020
The King and I is a musical, the fifth by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, which derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical's plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King's drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love that neither can admit. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway's St. James Theatre. It ran nearly three years, then the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history, and has had many tours and revivals.
In 1950, theatrical attorney Fanny Holtzmann was looking for a part for her client, veteran leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Holtzmann realized that Landon's book would be an ideal vehicle and contacted Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were initially reluctant but agreed to write the musical. The pair initially sought Rex Harrison to play the supporting part of the King, a role that he had played in the 1946 movie made from Landon's book, but he was unavailable. They settled on actor and television director Yul Brynner.
- April 2020
Bye Bye Birdie is a stage musical with a book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse.
Originally titled Let's Go Steady, the satire on American society is set in 1958. The story was inspired by the phenomenon of popular singer Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army in 1957. The rock star character's name, "Conrad Birdie," is word play on the name of Conway Twitty. Twitty is best remembered today for his long career as a country music star, but in the late 1950s, he was one of Presley's rock 'n' roll rivals.
The original Broadway production was a Tony Award-winning success. It spawned a London production and several major revivals, a sequel, a 1963 film and a 1995 television production. The show also became a popular choice for high school and college productions.
- March 2020
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1962 play by Edward Albee. It examines the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple, Martha and George. After a university faculty party, they receive an unwitting younger couple, Nick and Honey, as guests late one evening and draw them into their bitter and frustrated relationship. The play is in three acts, normally taking a little less than three hours to perform, with two 10-minute intermissions. The title is a pun on the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" from Walt Disney's The Three Little Pigs, substituting the name of the celebrated feminist English author Virginia Woolf. Martha and George repeatedly sing this version of the song throughout the play.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won both the 1963 Tony Award for Best Play and the 1962–'63 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play. It is frequently revived on the modern stage. The film adaptation was released in 1966, written by Ernest Lehman, directed by Mike Nichols, and starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal and Sandy Dennis.
- January 2020
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince Hamlet's mother. The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness – from overwhelming grief to seething rage – and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption.
Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature, with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others." The play was one of Shakespeare's most popular works during his lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed, topping the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance list since 1879. It has inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch, and has been described as "the world's most filmed story after Cinderella".
Shakespeare based Hamlet on the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum as subsequently retold by 16th-century scholar François de Belleforest. He may also have drawn on or perhaps written an earlier Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet. He almost certainly created the title role for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare's time. In the 400 years since, the role has been performed by highly acclaimed actors and actresses from each successive age.
- November 2019
Assassins is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. It uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue-style portrayal of men and women who attempted to assassinate Presidents of the United States. The music varies to reflect the popular music of the eras depicted.
The musical first opened Off-Broadway in 1990, and the 2004 Broadway production won five Tony Awards.
- July 2019
Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and a book by Linda Woolverton, based on the 1991 Disney film of the same name. Seven new songs were written for the stage musical. Beauty ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007, becoming Broadway's eighth longest-running production in history.
The musical has grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide and played in thirteen countries and 115 cities. It has also become a popular choice for high school productions.
- April 2019
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart.
Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus, specifically Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus and Mostellaria, the musical tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. The plot displays many classic elements of farce, including puns, the slamming of doors, cases of mistaken identity, and satirical comments on social class. The title derives from the line that vaudeville comedians often used to begin a story: "A funny thing happened on the way to the theater".
The musical's original 1962 Broadway run won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. A Funny Thing has enjoyed several Broadway and West End revivals and was made into a successful film starring the original lead of the musical, Zero Mostel.