Marymount Manhattan

Tales from the Archive

Broadway blocking scripts and sheet music with handwritten notes! Original playbills and reviews for thousands of New York productions from the 1960s-1990s! Costume photos and production stills from famous downtown drag performances! 

  • Boston, T.L. Charles Busch (left) as Irish O’Flanagan in publicity still for “Times Square Angel,” n.d. Black and White matte publicity still. MMC Coll. #006, Box 5, Folder 22. The Richard Niles/Charles Busch Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This photo of Charles Busch and who I presume to be James Borstelman is from a publicity still to raise awareness for Busch’s play Times Square Angel. Charles Busch is more than just a pretty face; rather he is a renowned playwright, actor and ‘drag legend’ (as he calls himself). Busch brought a sense of humor to New York City that was missing, while managing to parody classic films such as “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “The Bishop’s Wife,” all in creation of Times Square Angel. Originally I wanted to research burlesque theatre, but I morphed that topic into sexuality and drag queens which led to Charles Busch. After discovering this photo, I was then compelled to read Busch’s copy of Times Square Angel, which still showed his editing marks. The believability that Busch held while in drag, and while creating comedy yet not making himself and the play a joke, is an incredible feat. –Anna Whitty

  • Clipping for a review of Julius Caesar. Robert Zarken. New York, September 11, 1979. MMC Coll. # 1, Box 126, folder 3694. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    Barry Kyle’s politically charged production of Julius Caesar with a “sparse setting” lends the “bloody” violence in the play to be less about entertainment and more of a political statement. Within the program itself, Zarken claims it was “littered with references to assassinations in our lifetime since 1948.” Kyle made another shocking political reference when he made the cover of the program the people of Iran with palms outstretched in reference to the Islamic revolution happening that same year. This is reflected in the play when the conspirators washed their hands in Caesar’s blood and exit with their palms outstretched. I found this interesting to my topic of stage combat because Kyle’s use of violence on stage was not for spectacle but to directly correlate with real life events. The audience was taken back into history but as Zarken remarks “perhaps we are looking towards it.” Kyle’s revolutionary production of Julius Caesar shows the kind of impact the world has on theatre and forces us to question how our world impacts the theatre we see today.—Sarah Spurling

  • Unidentified author, “Open Meetings With Jerzy Grotowski,” Unidentified date; Unidentified author, “Jerzy Grotowski In Person,” Unidentified date. MMC, Coll. #001, Box #51, folder #164. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    I could not really decide between these two. One of the reasons it was so difficult to decide was the fact that there were two of these! Only one of them, the later, had a year indicating the date of what the clipping was sponsoring (1981). What I found so remarkable about this was the fact that these two unidentified clippings, which look as casual as New York Times or Village Voice clippings, were advertising a meet-and-greet and lecture series with Grotowski. I always understood how much of a force he was, but it was not until I stumbled upon these clippings that I truly began to understand the fundamental stronghold influence he had on the landscape of theater. He was shaping it so much that the public wanted to know what he was thinking and his opinions. It feels casual, almost like an ad for a viewing of a house or a church; such a casual clipping, for such an extraordinary man. –Justin Brown

  • Newspaper Advertisement Clipping, Anna Christie. MMC Coll #1, Box 88, Folder 2993. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.
    David Leveaux directed Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie at the Roundabout Theatre Company, starring Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson, and Rip Torn. Leveaux had a very direct view for the production. He wanted it to be simple and without flare. He wanted to focus on the passion and emotion of the play, despite having big time celebrities starring as the lead roles. The advertisement for the show remained true to David Leveaux’s vision. The newspaper ad consisted of a simple animated drawing of the characters Anna and Matt in a small rowboat, with the title of the play displayed on the backend of the boat. –Karen Franco

  • Edwardes, Jane. “A Doll’s House,” unidentified clipping. MMC, Coll. #1, Box #58, Folder #1931. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    For my research topic, I am writing about how the theater affected feminism, an idea that grew throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and continues today. As a woman in today’s theater, I find it particularly interesting to see how my art influenced my gender’s role in the world. This article looks at a production of A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 Norwegian play,through the lens of 1970’s England. In it, Edwardes questions whether wondering if Nora would return to her family is “heretical.” This is fascinating because when Ibsen wrote this piece, he deliberately left the ending open to interpretation regarding whether or not she would ever return to her family. It is interesting to note that as the ideas of feminism evolved over the centuries, so did the idea that Nora would not return to her role as a doll, until it becomes “heretical” to think otherwise. This one line reveals so much about the changing attitudes towards women in western society, and it would not be available had it not been preserved for future generations in the archive. –Kate Hopkins

  • Scripts for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, New York, 1962-1965, Las Vegas (undated), MMC Coll. #4, Box #6; Programs for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, New York, 1962-1965, MMC Coll. #4A, Box #5, Folder #53. The George and

    I was really interested in the Martins and their extensive involvement in the world of musical theatre all through the late twentieth century. What stuck out most to me in my research process was how many versions of scripts and playbills they had, specifically for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Upon looking through the scripts, I noticed there were countless blocking, choreography, and dialogue changes in each, and there was never what would be considered a final script. When I looked through the playbills I noticed a correlation between the changes happening in the script and who was playing the role of Pseudolus; Zero Mostel, a household name for theatre and comedy, originated the role and won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. The show’s original run was on Broadway from 1962-1964, with Mostel in the title role for almost the whole two years, and with a run that long there were bound to be changes to accommodate audiences and keep the show fresh for the actors. What I love about this find is it shows how flexible theatre can be to keep a show alive, fresh, and relevant for each new audience as well as the actors. –Brenna Hughes

  • “A Hundred Thousand Women Have Done It,” Performing Arts: San Francisco’s Music & Theatre Monthly 7:1 (January 1973), p. 23, MMC, Coll. #001, Box 58, Folder 1931. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This article reveals dramaturgy used by The American Conservatory Theatre of San Francisco’s production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Most striking is a photo of Laura Kieler, a writer and friend of Ibsen’s who became a model for his protagonist, Nora. When Kieler’s husband contracted tuberculosis, she committed forgery in order to pay for their prescribed move to a southern climate, just as Nora secretly forges her signature in A Doll’s House. The caption of the photo mentions that Ibsen even referred to Kieler as his “skylark,” Nora’s nickname in the play. This glimpse into Ibsen’s creative process showed me how contemporary and immediate the themes of A Doll’s House were to women during Ibsen’s time, despite the taboo of its performance. I wanted to research past productions of A Doll’s House because I will be seeing a current production at BAM, and thought that a comparison of past English productions would enhance my understanding of the piece. –Andrew D’Anneo

  • George Martin Speech for Company concert, May 7, 1988. Marymount Manhattan College, Coll #4, Box 3. Folder labeled Company, George Martin’s notes, undated. The George and Ethel Martin Papers Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    Twenty-three years after its debut on Broadway, the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Company came together once again for a concert version of the show. George Martin opened the night with a speech explaining how special the musical is and how “Company has often been called a benchmark musical.” He also emphasizes the wonder of live theatre because this performance was not something that could be witnessed by television or through any technological device: it was a “one time only” performance. In his closing speech of the night, he lets the audience know that the money they spent would be donated to the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and that the performance was dedicated to three important members of theatre and, especially, of Company: Michael Bennett, Larry Kert, and Fritz Holt.  He finishes by introducing George Furth, Harold Prince, and Stephen Sondheim. I’m extremely thankful to have seen this historic piece. Sondheim is one of my favorite composers and it’s remarkable to see how much influence one of his shows had on so many people. –Courtney Ross

  • “Dresses for Success” Lifestyles: Gannett Westchester Newspapers, Jacques le Sourd, October 1st 1985, p. 3, MMC, Coll#001, Box 9, Folder 101. The Richard Niles/Charles Busch Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This Lifestyles Press article entitled “Dresses for Success” is written by Jacques le Sourd, who discusses Charles Busch’s performance career in the New York “underground” theatre community. Le Sourd particularity comments on “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” which had huge Off-Broadway success in 1985 when it opened in June. The reason I found this particular coverage interesting is because it illustrates the interaction between director and the critic. Specifically, the half page image of Busch in front of the Provincetown Playhouse page reveals this relationship. Behind Busch the advertisement for his play can been seen, the words that can be read say “Puts The Rich Uptown Boys To Shame!” I found it interesting that this quote happens to be from the drama critic Jacques Le Sourd, who is also the author of this press article that was printed four months later. This interaction Le Sourd had with “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” also tells me about the amount of power the printed word has on shows and perhaps their success. –Cosmo Rapaport

  • Film Review, “Don’t Cry For the New Eva, Either,” New York Times, May 5, 1996, MMC Box #145. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This newspaper article reviews the movie version of the musical “Evita,” starring Madonna as Eva Peron. This article is a great example of how news outlets strongly influence how a movie, musical, or play is viewed by its potential audiences. I learned from looking at this how it was so important for the success of this film to have a major star playing the lead role. The article itself states: “One icon playing another.” This can often be the case with theatre, where a big star is needed to fill the seats of a Broadway house. Although, at one point, there was no such thing as a “star” in the theatrical world, that is clearly different now in 2014. This shows how marketing in theatre and film has come such a long way, from mere photographs of actors in costume to full campaigns featuring iconic stars. What I found interesting in this article is how the author mentions Madonna taking singing lessons for this particular role, and how much prep she did in advance to recording and filming. –Katherine Dunford

  • Interview with playwright Martin McDonagh found in BOMB Magazine, New York, Spring 1998, MMC Coll. #001, Box 77, Folder 2622. The William B. Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    I chose to explore the William Harris Papers. I knew that I wanted to research avant-garde theatre because I love theatre that challenges the brain. I was ecstatic to discover that there was a folder on Martin McDonagh, one of my favorite playwrights. I learned that he often attempts to re-tell the fairy tales he was told as a child in a truthful manner in his plays. McDonagh discusses his personal preference for film and how that influences him when writing stage plays. He hopes to increase the number of movie buffs dabbling in the theatre. It was incredible to read this interview because I previously learned that avant-garde theatre is often about igniting change, and McDonagh’s goal is to bring moviegoers to the theatre. Without these theatre archives, I might have gathered some of this information in a book or on the internet, but the archive allowed me to immerse myself in what I was studying because what I was holding was the real magazine interview from 1998. –Brian Patterson

  • Company, George Martin’s notes, undated. MMC Coll. #004, Box #003, Folder 76. The George and Ethel Martin Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This item consists of a variety of George Martin’s notes on the Company Revival Concert on January 23rd, 1993. These papers include the speech that he gave on this night, which explains how he is the only person working on the project who was not involved with the original 1970 production. Next is a detailed production report from the first rehearsal, defining everyone involved and their responsibilities for the rehearsal and performance process. The following papers are staging notes for the cast on their blocking in the opening number titled “Company!” Martin goes into specific detail about what actor he wants where and what gesture they are to perform on each word and beat. The final papers in this pile are a detailed list of what actor and character are in each musical number, a reference for his staging notes. –Dana Searing

  • David Richards, “Tennessee Williams, With Love and Pain.” New York Times. 16 November 1994. p. C17. MMC, Coll. #1, Box 149, Folder 4398. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    Stowed away in the Harris Papers is this original print of this New York Times review of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival starred the late Julie Harris and a young Calista Flockhart in the roles of Amanda and Laura, respectively. Richards comments on the potential impact of William’s language and how the actors’ performances falter when they stray from the givens of the text. He praises the scene between Flockhart and Kevin Kilner (as Jim, the gentleman caller) as a result of their honest connection to the script, thus leading to a touching and memorable moment. Yet, he jeers Zeljko Ivanek for portraying Tom as uncontrollably angry rather than the sensitive artist that Williams intended. Not only does this source remind me of the constant need to return to the script for acting inspiration but the review as a whole proves the lack of ambiguity in The Glass Menagerie as Williams’ themes and characters are cemented within the text. –Trevor Nalepka

  • Hair playbill, 5:9 (September 1968), p. 8, 11, 19, 35-37. Marymount Manhattan College, Coll. #001, Box #77, Folder 2619. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    The original Broadway production of Hair opened at the Biltmore Theatre on April 29th, 1968.  Now, almost forty-six years after “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” debuted, it is regarded as one of the most influential works in musical theatre history.  I was elated to find a playbill from the original Broadway production among The William Harris Papers here at Marymount.  This particular archival source had an incredible amount to offer from cover to cover.  From the quite simplistic artwork on the front cover, to period advertisements throughout, the playbill was incredibly fun to look through.  Perhaps the most valuable aspect to the playbill, however, is that it contains an immense amount of information regarding the writing, production, and concept of Hair.  Personally, I think that it would be quite a task to better capture the essence of a show than this playbill does, for although we are decades past the sixties, I for sure, felt like I was there. -Kevin Brelesky

  • “At Home with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; Art and Politics: Keeping It All Fresh,” by Felicia R. Lee, April 20, 1995, MMC Series 2, Box 35, Folder 1046. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This article serves much like a lifestyle piece on both Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee at a time in their careers when both had already been well established. Although it briefly highlights Dee’s distinctly political show that she penned herself entitled “Two Hah Has and a Homeboy,” the article depicts a vivid portrait of both Dee’s and Davis’s influence on Americans’ perception of African American entertainers. Dee notes that her play uses a comedic twist to socially critique America’s lack of eagerness to accept a rather motivated and rising black middle class. She mentions her insistence on utilizing African American folklore to tell this story to embrace a quickly fading art form. This article sparked my interest because the author chose to highlight an influential African American couple in the arts in the 90s, whose fame arose much earlier in a time where African Americans were not celebrated as much in theatre and film. –Fatima Cadet-Diaby

  • “Third World Theatre Arts Festival” Program, n.d., MMC Coll. #1, Box 67, Folder 2234. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    “Ritual of a Body in Moon,” a liberating dance piece choreographed by the sensational Brazilian dancer Ismael Ivo, is one of a series of performance pieces that premiered for the “Third World Theatre Arts Festival” at the La Mama Annex, in 1984. Born through the collaborative efforts of F.A.C.E. (International League of Folk Arts for Communication and Education), T.W.I.T.A.S. (Third World Institute of Theater Arts Studies), and La Mama’s founder, Ellen Stewart, this festival celebrated cultural traditions with dance and music. Ismael Ivo, originally discovered by the legendary Alvin Ailey, choreographed “Ritual of a Body in Moon” as a lyrical spectacle divided into 13 scenes that is driven by the purity and equilibrium every culture exhibits through the diversity of their sound, movement, and environment. Revealing an existential and primitive flavor, Ivo tried to encourage humanity to “dance to life” together-despite their diverse living conditions.   I chose to research this piece because it’s a beautiful example of how performance art is a language of its own that cultivates community and unity! —Sierra Steplewski

  • Busch, Charles interview transcripts, New York, February 20, 1990 and March 9, 1991, MMC Coll. #006, Box 6, Folder 23. The Niles/Busch Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    Charles Busch, a well-known female impersonator, never settles when it comes to performances. Throughout two separate interviews conducted on 2/20/90 and 3/9/91 by Richard Niles, Charles Busch describes his meticulous creative process. What struck me about these interviews was Busch’s strive for perfection; whether it was a costume piece, a fellow collaborator, or a joke that fell flat, Busch never tolerated anything less than dazzling. Busch describes the creative development for “Lady,” one of his more popular characters, in great detail as well as certain “trademarks” that are found throughout his different performances (such as not wearing fake breasts, otherwise known as “falsies”). I wanted to research these interviews because I knew absolutely nothing about Charles Busch. Upon my research, I was pleasantly surprised that Busch is not just your run of the mill drag queen (a term that he refuses to associate with himself), but rather an extremely pedantic, dedicated artist who happens to specialize in female characters. –Tricia Sorresso

  • Neil Simon’s “The Cheap Detective,” photocopy of the screenplay, no city, no date, MMC Coll. # 4, Box 3. The George and Ethel Martin Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.
    Neil Simon’s screenplay “The Cheap Detective” proved both interesting and informative. The screenplay is a Rastar productions motion picture for Columbia. The producer is Ray Stark and the director is Robert Moore who has worked with Simon before on television, stage, and films. The story was a parody of private eye movies in Hollywood during the 30’s and 40’s. The story revolves around a private eye named Lou Peckinpaugh who is played by Peter Falk. This private eye is forced to deal with a multitude of situations at once including the murder of his partner, a search for golden eggs, and an attempt to secure safe passage for a woman’s husband, all the while with women competing for his affections. I found this source interesting because I am pursuing a career in film and television. I had never read a screenplay and I assumed it would look like a play. This screenplay however was a summary of the story and the biography of those involved in the production. Unfortunately this source is a photocopy of the original and therefore the date and city of publication are not present. –Anna Newman

  • Kenn Brodziak to George Martin, New York, 5 July 1978, MMC Coll. #4A, Box 3, Folder labeled Annie Correspondence. The George and Ethel Martin Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    In this letter, Kenn Brodziak asks George and Ethel Martin if they would like to direct a production of Annie in Australia. Since the Martins do not reside in Australia, Brodziak highlights things such as approvals, visas, and contracts. He emphasizes that he would like the Martins to obtain any specific changes that were made in the London version so that they can be implemented in the Australian production. Brodziak mentions that a few changes were made to clarify some of the local and political references that are evident in the show. This shows how theatre continues to be a vessel that reflects a country’s current events. It reinforces that theatre can be used to start conversation about things that people might feel uncomfortable addressing. –Catherine Wilson

  • McNulty, Charles. “Scenes From a Scary Marriage.” Review of Macbeth. The New York Times. New York, 2013: Print. MMC Coll #1, Box 94; Folder 8. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    The article, “Scene From a Scary Marriage” written by LA critic Charles McNulty, criticizes and analyzes  CSC Theatre’s production of  Shakespeare’s Macbeth. McNulty introduces Falstaff Presents, “a troupe of young, sexy, classically trained actors.” Stimulatingly, McNulty addresses the unique atmosphere of the classic tale, as a male ballet opens the production. Showcasing the evolution and development of iconic female characters, McNulty reviews Alyssa Bresnahan’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth, claiming it “seems more real, more horrible, and ultimately more tragic than the traditional demonized approach to the role.” Conversely, other creative alterations to the classic Shakespeare tragedy are not in alignment with McNulty’s ideals. He argues that Stehlin’s portrayal of Macbeth remains “less credible” exposing that his “unfortunate mannerisms…seem truer to the Actors Studio than the Scottish King.” Overall, McNulty gave a decent review to CSC Theatre’s production of Macbeth. Despite, McNulty’s approval of Bresnahan’s Lady Macbeth, he seems to prefer more traditional interpretations of the tragedy. –Gayle Rinaldi

  • Hoyle, Martin. The Children’s Hour/Derby Playhouse. MMC Coll. #1, Box 55, Folder 1795. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    Martin Hoyle writes this article about The Derby Playhouse’s production of The Children’s Hour for an unknown paper.  He references the “most recent” film version of the play, the 1961 film with Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn, though the precise date of the paper is also unknown.  He asserts that playwright Lillian Hellman was a compulsive liar.  Mr. Hoyle is also comfortable stating in his article that to consider homosexuality as a heinous crime is incorrect.  I find the animosity interestingly flopped for the potential time period of the article; Mr. Hoyle has a bigger problem with seeing Ms. Hellman as a fiction-teller than he does with the subject material.  What’s interesting about this article is that the production seems to have its problems – frighteningly large schoolchildren – but Mr. Hoyle considers one of the teachers more convincing than Ms. Hepburn.  For me, the clues left by this article would be fun to track down. –Adrienne Brammer

  • Program for A Doll’s House, The Other Theatre, 1931, MMC Coll. # 1, Box 58. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This program for a 1931 production of A Doll’s House is a very accurate image to describe the play. This play not only gives audience members a view into the lives of people, but also ends by using the door as a symbol. What makes this specific program important is the symbolism in the image. There’s a large double meaning. One meaning is that the door is open for the audience members to walk in and view people’s lives. The other meaning is that if this image is after Nora leaves, Nora may come back, and so Torvald leaves the door open to her. It is also used to provoke interest from audience. Out of all images available, it’s interesting that this is the one chosen. I wanted to research this because we briefly discussed A Doll’s House in class, and I went to see the production at BAM this past Thursday and thought it would be interesting to read reviews and read the different reactions to this show from over the years. –Jazzy Sinkoff

  • Review for Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. New York, April 10th, 1985, MMC Coll. #009, Box 5, Series III, Folder 103. Niles/Busch Collection. Marymount Manhattan College. Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, New York, MMC Coll. #006, Box 5, Folder 53-56, Photo #15. Nile

    My goal for this paper was to compare the reviews with some photographs that I found in the archive, and see how that translated to the audience. Could an audience member tell what was happening or going to happen in the play before they saw it by just looking at the pictures? This is an important topic to me because I feel back in earlier years theatregoers were more open to going to see any show despite the reviews or what the promotional posters or photographs looked like. Today in the theatre world if one show gets one bad review people will become so hesitant to go and see that show, and will automatically start trash talking it as well. Another reason why I chose to research this was because when I was researching this topic I noticed that the reviews corresponded well with the photographs of the show. Nowadays I find it harder to read a review of a show and then see a picture and correlate them. –Jasmin Levin

  • Barnes, Clive, “The Stage: ‘Same Time, Next Year’,” unidentified, undated clipping, Marymount Manhattan College, Coll. #001, Box 133, Folder 3833. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    Same Time Next Year is a romantic comedy and a sentimental play. Playwright Bernard Slade focuses on the significance of lovers who are distant from each other and live two different lives. This particular source enhanced my knowledge of the topic I was researching by giving me ideas about different kinds of comedy. Clive Barnes’ idea that there are two different kinds of comedy, “innocent comedy” and “knowing comedy,” interested me because it made me question the many definitions of comedy. I have not thought much about how to research theatre history before now. Now I have found a new kind of evidence—theatre reviews. I learned that the reviews do not tell me just about a play; the reviews also tell me something about a theory of theatre. –Tiffani Matthews

  • Ford Motor Company industrial show. “Better Ideas,” by Fred Ebb and John Kander. Sheet music, undated. 11” x 14.” MMC Coll. #4. Box 2. The George and Ethel Martin Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    One lyric of Fred Ebb and John Kander’s song “Better Ideas,” pictured here, reads, “F- is for a Fine Idea, O- is the for the Other Ideas, R- is for the Right Ideas, D- is for you’re Dog-gone Right.” This archival source provides insight into the world of corporate musical production in the 20th-century. Particularly amazing is the participation of important theatrical figures in the creation of this Ford Motor Company Industrial Show. Ebb and Kander, the musical-writing duo of Cabaret and Chicago fame, wrote all the music for this production. Additionally, George and Ethel Martin choreographed. The Martins were Broadway choreographers who are most popularly known for choreographing the film A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I chose to research corporate musicals because I recently read an article that indicated how these shows were important to theatre professionals in the early 20th-century, because they helped them to sustain a living wage. This specific source helped to capture for me what an industrial book would have really been like. –Amanda Fick

  • Program for The Phantom of the Opera, London, October 1986, MMC Coll#1, Box 146, Folder 4305. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    The discovery of an original program from the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera (from the opening month, no less) served as a major coup in the topic of the stage spectacle and how its various incarnations strike commercial and/or critical success. The differences and similarities in the way the information is presented to the general audience are valuable tools in understanding the mindset of the audience member from thirty years ago to the audience members about to take their seats in a modern day theatre. The program yields a wealth of information about the time period in regards to the commercialism present and its evolution (or lack thereof); most of the advertisements and biographies are strikingly similar to ones seen in today’s programs in New York theatre, along with the cast’s and creative team’s biographies. –Ryan Hestand

  • Williams, Monte. “From a Planet Closer to the Sun,” New York Times (April 17, 1996). Marymount Manhattan College, Coll. #001, Box #90, Folder #3061. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    If you were to read some of Suzan-Lori Parks’ works, you might just think that she was from Venus. You know the whole Venus versus Mars thing? Men are from Mars and women are from Venus? You know. Parks’ early works involved female characters that were strikingly bare, powerful, and independent. She had a real knack for bringing forth three-dimensional women in her plays. Works like In the Blood (1999), Fucking A (2000), and, of course, Venus (1996) depict women with all of the aforementioned qualities. I decided to choose the archive box that had Suzan-Lori Parks’ work in it because I was looking for reviews of one of my personal favorite plays: Topdog Underdog. I was unable to find anything on that play because the archive only had reviews of her work up to 2000 in it. What I was able to find was a heap of reviews based on many of her works that incorporate strong women. Oddly enough, Topdog Underdog is a play with only two characters, both of whom are men, and yet here I sit writing about “Suzan-Lori Parks’ women,” if you will. Advantage Venus? –Ronald Emile

  • Mel Gallow. “Lee Strasberg of Actors Studio Dead.” New York Times (1923-Current file) Feb 18 1982: 1.MMC, Coll. #1, Box # 11, Folder #114. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    This is a short and sweet biography of Lee Strasberg’s life, where the author does a great job of explaining the importance of Strasberg, if someone was not familiar with him. This article was written as an obituary and briefly describes one of the greatest acting teachers in America. This is a great article because it focuses on major points in Strasberg’s life and could really spark the interest of someone to delve into further research about Strasberg and the impact of his “Method” acting. There is a great picture of him at the academy awards with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, which is ironic because they were the speakers at his funeral. I wanted to research Lee Strasberg because his “Method” fascinates me. I have used this article as a starting point to further my knowledge of Strasberg and his “Method Acting” technique, and I hope it could be used by others until the end of time. –Anthony Potter

  • Cueing Script for Me and My Girl, New York, October 1986, MMC Coll. #004, Box #009, Folder. The George and Ethel Martin Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    One of the interesting aspects of a 1986 cueing script of Me and My Girl is that it did not include cues that I expected to see, such as light and sound cues, but it was more about the actors’ blocking movements, set changes, props, and costume changes. The script included two typed and several other hand-written and enumerated “character breakdowns.” In the script, each character’s name was indicated with three letters and the action movement rather than current blocking notation practice, which is numbering the actions of all characters for each page of the script. I chose to research a cue script because as a stage manager myself I wanted to find out how the technology has changed over time. But in it I found the personality and thought process of a different stage manager, and how he or she approached a problem and solved it. –Fiona Murray

  • Playbill for Blues for Mr. Charlie, New York, 1964, MMC Coll #1 Box 16, Folder 302. The William Harris Papers. Marymount Manhattan College.

    The James Baldwin folder is full of newspaper articles that demonstrate what an innovative playwright Baldwin was, and the playbill for his first play produced in New York, Blues for Mr. Charlie, a play influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, is no exception. A man ahead of his time, Baldwin had a unique point of view, and the playbill speaks to the world he was writing in, as a professional black playwright, putting on plays for mostly white audiences, in a mostly white-dominated theatre world. It’s from 1964, so the main advertisements are for various brands of cigarettes and whiskey and Broadway’s “unique and newest star” Barbra Streisand. Less antiquated however, the playbill also contains a more surprising article, “Is There a Negro in the House?” which comments on the lack of black audiences in the theatre because of their obvious cultural obstacles. The playbill reflects the theatre’s struggle with race relations, and Baldwin’s ability to transcend them by allowing The Actor’s Studio Theatre (Lee Strasberg) to produce his play for all walks of life to enjoy. –Nadia Brown