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A week of Hal Holbrook – Part 3

After college, Hal Holbrook and his wife, Ruby, developed a two-person show that they took on the road to high schools, figuring that was a good way to make a living and break into show business. They put together four scenes – from “As You Like it,” the poem scene between Rosalind and Orlando; from [...]

A week of Hal Holbrook – Part 2

The acting bug bit Hal Holbrook when he was a student at Culver Military Academy. He was far from a model student. He had failed algebra and squeaked through Latin with a D. He decided he had to load up with soft courses if he were to graduate . . . and he did. Nineteen [...]

The writer who invented Broadway – Part 1

One night in Manhattan, Kansas, Larry Marcellus and I were sitting around after a theater rehearsal talking about “Guys and Dolls”. Larry says to me, “Did you know Damon Runyon was born right here in Manhattan?” The Damon Runyon whose stories in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s of Harry the Horse, Dave the Dude, Nicely-Nicely, [...]

Shakespeare said it – Part 4

So many great lines in the Henry plays. Here are three: King Henry IV, Part 1 . . . Act I, Scene II, Hal (Prince Henry) speaking to Ned Poins: “He will give the devil his due.” Here’s the full line: “Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his bargain; for he [...]

Shakespeare said it – Part 3

Ron Scott Fry, as Shakespeare, described his Globe Theater as a wooden O, the center of the O open to the sky. “Why was that?” he asked. We in the audience stared at one another. No one wanted to hazard a guess. “We didn’t have lights,” Fry said. “We presented all our plays in the [...]

Shakespeare said it – Part 2

Here’s Shakespeare’s line that all of us actors love: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” The play, “As You Like It,” Act II, Scene VII, Jaques speaking to Duke Senior. The entire [...]

Shakespeare said it – Part 1

“I have killed kings,” said Shakespeare to those of us in the audience at the Stoughton library the other evening. “I have been a thief, a witch, a bumbling officer of the law, I have been in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. All these things I have done from my writing [...]

The Broadway musical and Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker” started life as “Einen Jux will er sich machen,” a play written in 1842 by Austrian Johann Nestroy. Nestroy’s play had a previous life, too, as Britisher John Oxenford’s 1835 one-act farce “A Day Well Spent.” Wilder adapted “Einen Jux” for Broadway production under the title of “The Merchant of [...]

“The Skin of Our Teeth,” Thornton Wilder’s giant work for theater

I’ve directed “The Skin of Our Teeth” twice, both times as high school productions. In the first, I tried to be true to the Broadway set designs, as true as one can be on a teeny-tiny budget. The second, 40 years later, I modified the set design created for the 1983 live telecast of the [...]

Super Bowls, Broadway, and books

Disclaimer: I live in Wisconsin, the land of brats, beer, cheese, and the Green Bay Packers. So I have a modicum of interest in the outcome of Sunday’s football game. So does my wife. Marge grew up in Pennsylvania. And most of the White clan, of which she is a proud member, still live in [...]