Friday, July 24, 2009

Thurs, July 30th: Thomas Kelly, "Back Stage Guide to Stage Management"

Time: Thursday, July 30, 2009 5:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Thomas Kelly, "Back Stage Guide to Stage Management"

Join Thomas Kelly, professional stage manager, for a short presentation on stage management with anecdotes and stories from his 30 years in the industry. Kelly will answer audience questions and sign copies of his book, The Back Stage Guide to Stage Management, 3rd Edition.

Thomas A. Kelly has been a professional stage manager for more than 40 years, calling shows on Broadway and at Lincoln Center, at the Lyric Opera in Chicago, and at the Houston Grand Opera. He has taught stage management Rutgers and Columbia Universities and is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from USITT.

The Back Stage Guide to Stage Management: Traditional and New Methods for Running a Show from First Rehearsal to Last Performance
by Kelly, Thomas A.
Paper. $19.95

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Intermission Talk

June 29, 2009

by Tony Vellela

"Norman Conquests," "Mary Stuart,"

"Waiting for Godot" & "9 to 5"

Ever wondered what they're saying about you in the next room? Playwright Alan Ayckbourn takes that universal question and crafted three hilarious plays to answer it. [In fact, he crafted five, but more about that later.] "The Norman Conquests", Tony winner for Best Play Revival, shows us three separate views of the same star-crossed weekend at a Victorian house in England, in July, 1977.

"Table Manners," appropriately set in the dining room, "Living Together," the living room setting, and "Round and Round the Garden" all take place between Saturday evening and Monday morning. And during that time, the three siblings who grew up in the house suffer planned and unplanned mild indiscretions that up-end everyone's lives. The catalyst? Norman, the husband of sister Ruth. Norman has orchestrated a 'dirty weekend' with unmarried sister Annie, who has arranged for her brother Reg and his rigid wife Sarah to mind mother, confined to bed upstairs. And the (un)wild card in all this is socially inept Tom, the village vet, and Annie's clueless suitor.

Got it? Don't even try, because the genius of these three plays is that each one stands alone as a brilliant comedy about six people who listen to each other but don't hear what's being said, resulting in that rarest of theatrical commodities - a truly witty comedy that does not rely on inflicting pain on someone, on crude body functions references, or on unearned physical mishaps. And the invisible hand pulling all the multitude of strings, and keeping them from getting hopelessly tangled, is director Matthew Warchus, whose wizardry earned him the Tony Award for Best Director of a Play. You can see these plays in any order, or only see one or two. Best advice: see them in the order listed above. But be prepared to laugh in spite of yourself, because once again, playwright Ayckbourn, who has turned out more than 70 plays, stitches and weaves and stirs and jostles every possible comic combination. Norman wants to seduce every woman in sight, including his wife, and his relentless, almost manic need to "make you happy" succeeds, at least with every member of the audience.

Set around the same time period [1980] as "Norman Conquests," the musical "9 to 5" is yet another screen-to-stage transfer. This one's based on the smash picture of the same name, wherein three underappreciated female workers in a corporate office setting plot revenge on their boss, leading to a merry menu of mayhem. It was written by Patricia Resnick, who captured the ebb of the feminist movement's assault on the workplace, and who contributed the book to the musical. And drawing from her winning performance in the film, Dolly Parton came up with the music and lyrics. Although she penned the catchy title tune, she's a bit out of her element doing an entire Broadway score, but her best work here are the songs written for Doralee, her movie character. Now, if you loved the movie, you will like the show. The degree of "like" depends on how much you need a big, brassy musicals fix.

There are notable elements, particularly the performance of Megan Hilty, who captures the no-nonsense gutsiness of the Doralee character. Other roles, created on screen by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman, are mimicked by Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block and Mark Kudish. And Ms. Janney, late of "The West Wing" as C.J. Craig, very appreciated Presidential aide, manages to pull out some spot-on moments as the leader of this inadvertent triumvirate.

On the minus side of the ledger, the entire show seems like the concept to bring it to the stage was to take one part "How to Succeed," one part "Three's Company" and one part seventies T-V variety show, add [loud] music, and a sneer-and-snigger factor large enough to satisfy any Penthouse reader, and then put it out there. And like "Legally Blonde," this is a show that snubs its nose at the critical community, because it will fill those seats for a long time.

The time is drawing near when three true theatrical gems will disappear, so be warned. Two recent revivals, "Waiting for Godot" and "Mary Stuart," won't make it through the summer, both in final weeks. "Godot," [pronounced correctly in this production as "GUH - dough"] is about the best incarnation of the Samuel Beckett classic likely to grace the Broadway boards. Directed with his typical grace and humor by Anthony Page, it counts Bill Irwin, Nathan Lane, John Glover and John Goodman as its pitch-perfect cast. And Page takes full advantage of this ensemble's depth of knowledge when it comes to finding humor, and delivering it without having a laugh overwhelm the text.

Peter Oswald's new version of Frederick Schiller's "Mary Stuart" is both lean and steely, two adjectives that easily fit the central characters, two monarchs whose clashes set a course for the western world. Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth struggle with their advisors, their co-conspirators and their consciences, in a titanic battle of wiles and wits. The most apt word to describe this production is breath-taking.

And if you need to relax, let out a sigh and have a modern work of masterful writing, creative staging, tuneful musical numbers, and an insanely-wild premise wash over you, get yourself down to the Golden Theatre before Labor Day and see "Avenue Q." I mean it.

On Book

Now, the 'later.' You can certainly have a good time reading the "Norman" plays, but you should also know about Ayckbourn's "House & Garden." Written in 1999, this pair of comedies uses the same device - first, in "House," we meet and chuckle at a group of delightfully daffy Brits inside the summer sitting room, between 8 A.M. and 6 P.M. on a Saturday in August. Then, in "Garden," we meet ... get it ? These have been written with the same clockwork precision as the Norman plays, and are just as satisfyingly riotous.

If really great lyric-writing gives you a thrill, pick up "Grey Gardens" and see how it's supposed to be done, how lyrics not only advance the story, but also give added texture to the 'voice' of the character singing the song. Michael Korie's "GG" haunting lyrics tell great stories, and can be very instructive for anyone planning to sing songs, write songs, dance to songs, or listen to songs.

Finally, great directors, like Warchus, have styles, rules, taboos, methods or none of the above. One of the American theatre's most celebrated stage directors, who dominated the mid-century Broadway landscape, was Elia Kazan. The new "Kazan on Directing" compiles notes, lectures, essays and interviews with the legendary director, and features a foreword by John Lahr and a preface by Martin Scorcese. Kazan shaped, enhanced and brought to life some of the classic works of Arthur Miller, William Inge and Tennessee Williams. This is a worthy companion to Kazan's own autobiography.

TONY VELLELA wrote and produced the PBS documentary series about theatre, "Character Studies." He has covered theatre for forty years for a wide variety of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor and Dramatics Magazine. His award-winning play "Admissions" was published by Playscripts. He teaches at HB Studio in the Village.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seen and Heard at The Drama Book Shop: July 13, 2009

Zack Spicer
Actor, Director of Security at New York's Public Theatre, and soon to be appearing in David Mamet's AMERICAN BUFFALO at TheaterWorks in Hartford.What was Spicer doing at The Drama Book Shop? "Shopping for are the Drama Book Shop!" You might know Zachary as the charming diplomat in charge of the line at Shakespeare in the Park.

Agent: Hartig Hilepo Agency, Ltd.
Manager: Bill Treusch, Treusch/Erickson Associates

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sun, July 19th: How to Begin an Acting Career in NYC with Actress and Career Coach, Annie Chadwick at The Drama Book Shop

Time: Sunday, July 19, 2009. 2:00 pm
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: How to Begin an Acting Career in NYC with Actress and Career Coach, Annie Chadwick

Have you just finished an acting training program and are ready to begin seeking work but don't know where to start?
  • Are you a new actor to NYC, and want to know the best, most effective ways to market your talent in the Big Apple?
  • Are you returning to acting or just starting to perform after working in the business world?

In this 2 hour workshop, Actress and Career Coach Annie Chadwick will give you clear and current tools to begin building an acting career in NYC.

The Workshop will cover:

Marketing Tools and Strategies
Are your marketing tools a current representation of your talent?
This is one of the most important parts of building a career and introducing your talent to the industry. Learn the most current trends in effective Pictures, Resumes, Cover Letters and Postcard content, Website, Reels, Email Submissions, Industry Mailings and Personal Appearance. Get specific letter writing skills and tips to make your cover letters, postcards, follow-ups and submissions more targeted. Are emails, faxing, website promotion the way of the future?

Learn the most effective ways to introduce yourself to the industry agents, personal managers, casting directors, showcases, seminars.
Film/TV and theatre opportunities are greater than ever in NYC. Learn how a talented actor can get auditions without representation and start developing a legit career. Get information on how to self-submit and get your own Film/TV auditions from Online Casting Opportunities and Trade publications. Learn what TV/Film projects are shooting in NYC and who is doing the casting. For theatre projects you will get specific tips on how to find out six months in advance what's being produced before casting notices go out; the best ways to get auditions, target and identify the roles you are most right for; and how to see the latest NYC Off-Broadway theatre for free.

Classes, Coaches, and Resources
Training for artists never ends. Get recommendation of on-going classes and coaches that will help you get noticed in the very competitive NYC market. We'll also go on a tour of the Drama Book Shop with a list of resources that are essential to keeping-up with the latest projects and acting techniques.

For more information on Up-to-Date Theatricals and Annie Chadwick, visit:

The cost of this workshop is $50, payable on the day of the workshop. For reservations call 212-265-0260, or the Drama Book Shop at (212) 944-0595 (option 3) during regular business hours.

Annie just worked with director P.J. Hogan on the new Jerry Bruckheimer film, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, playing John Lithgow's wife, Mrs. Edgar West.

Workshop Reviews
"I came to Annie's workshop hoping to at least get some decent info for $50. What I came away with was not only worth the price, but much more than I had hoped for. Annie is genuine, goes out of her way to not only make you feel special, but to really give you that extra individualized attention, which is completely unexpected but absolutely appreciated. Her workshop was not only chalked full of relevant and useful information, but she added something that I did not expect to find there...hope and inspiration. What a truly fabulous workshop! I highly recommend it to anyone who is beginning their career or feeling like they are at a stalemate here in New York!"--Krista, NYC actress/singer/musician

"I took your career-building workshop yesterday. I wanted to drop you a line to say how thankful I was for your advice, attention, and for all the wonderful information you gave us. It was so awesome! I was so energized and excited after the meeting that I felt hopeful I could indeed pursue this career on a professional level. I feel like I have a clear-cut focus for how to approach the next six months and I feel awash in relief! Where to put your time, money and energy in your acting career feels so overwhelming, so it was nice to get some solid, practical advice. Thank you again."--Jennifer, NYC actress

Thursday, July 09, 2009

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by James McLure

Change isn't easy. Take it from Roy, the Vietnam vet returning home to his beloved Texas. He goes back to everything and everyone he remembers, only to find things aren't the way he left them. Thank goodness he has a brother like Ray. Right?

The brothers spend the night at the town bar, where they slug Lone Star beers while swapping stories about the "good ole days". Roy’s problem: now that he’s been introduced to "the ocean," he is now a fish out of water – no longer the big fish in his own little pond. Ray’s problem: he's not that smart. He’s got the heart of an angel but the intelligence of a lawnmower.

McLure's Lone Star is a terrific two man piece that skillfully balances vaudevillian humor with dramatic scenes steeped in the after-effects of war. Their hilarious conversations range from Roy's old Thunderbird convertible to a secret Ray is holding in for fear it will change his relationship with his big brother forever. And under all this remains the sinking feeling that one can become estranged to one’s hometown, one’s brother, even oneself.

Cast: 2 M.

Scenes/Monologues: Great comedic scene work for two actors in their early 20s to early 30s. Roy is the straight man who sets up all the punch lines for Ray's ignorance to deliver. McLure's scenes are character interaction at it's best.

Recommended by: Matty A.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

July 4th, Holiday Store Hours

Friday, July 3rd
10am to 5pm

Saturday, July 4th
Store Close.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thurs, July 2nd: Free reading, talk and Q&A with Louise Shaffer, author of the new Serendipity.

Time: Thursday, July 2, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Author Louise Shaffer presents her novel Serendipity

Reading, talk and Q&A with Louise Shaffer, author of the new Serendipity.

Louise Shaffer brings to life three generations of Italian American women in this stunning novel of surprises, secrets, and serendipity.

A child of theatrical royalty, Carrie Manning is having a hard time getting her own act together. Thirty-seven, aimless, and having just buried a famous mother she never understood, she is desperate to uncover her family's mysterious past in the hopes that it will help her understand herself.

Carrie's search reveals the fascinating life stories of her estranged grandmother Lu, a glamorous Broadway star whose dreams came with a price; her great grandmother Mifalda, who gave up everything to come to America as a sixteen-year-old Italian bride; and her father, Bobby, the charismatic Broadway genius who wrote some of Lu’s greatest musicals and died tragically young. At the heart of Carrie's discoveries lies the reason for her mother's complicated life, and a dark secret that has been buried for thirty years.

by Shaffer, Louise
Paper. $14.00

Wed, July 1st: FREE Talk and Book Signing with Playwright CAROLE GAUNT at The Drama Book Shop

Time: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 5:00 p.m.
Location: The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
Title of Event: Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse with Garole Gaunt

FREE Talk and Book Signing with Playwright CAROLE GAUNT
Author of Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse, a New Play Currently Running at The Beckett at Theatre Row in New York City.

Directed by Christopher McElroen for a limited engagement through July 25th with Joseph Adams, Laura Bonarrigo, Molly Ephraim and Lauren Currie Lewis.

About the Play
The fault lines are exposed when a seemingly picture-perfect Fifth Avenue family faces the harshest of realities - the death of their daughter. A father turns to work to drown his sorrow, while his wife drifts into a haze of pills and booze. When their surviving child Avril inexplicably drops out of her prestigious New England boarding school, her roommate Juliana arrives for a visit, determined to lure her back. Acting as a catalyst and witness, Juliana exposes the gaping cracks in the family's Upper East Side façade, forcing its three surviving members to engage with one another and the tragedy they share. Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse is a tale of love, loss, and acceptance from Carole Gaunt, award-winning author of the memoir, Hungry Hill.

About the Author
Carole Gaunt received the inaugural Anne Bancroft Memorial Memoir Writing award from the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference for Hungry Hill. Her book has been listed in the 2008 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) University Press Books Selected for Public and Secondary School Libraries and was featured on CSPAN's "Book TV" with the theme "Women with Gumption." A graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute, she was an associate producer for the South African doo-wop musical, Kat and the Kings, which ran on Broadway for 180 performances. A former board member of the Alcoholism Council of New York, she often writes about the effects of parental addiction on the children in the family. Also, she has appeared as an actor on Lifetime Television.

Hungry Hill: A Memoir
by Gaunt, Carole O'Malley
Paper. $19.95