BROADWAY RECALL: Sondheim In The Park

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Welcome to BROADWAY RECALL, a bi-monthly column where BroadwayWorld.com's Chief Theatre Critic, Michael Dale, delves into the archives and explores the stories behind the well-known and the not so well-known videos and photographs of Broadway's past. Look for BROADWAY RECALL every other Saturday.

Though we still call it Shakespeare in the Park, The Public Theater’s summer offerings at the Delacorte have occasionally included new musicals and revivals of old favorites.  For the past week, early-risers have been lining up at Central Park to nab tickets for Into The Woods, with a new cast performing co-directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel’s Regent’s Park production.  Here are scenes of the London company in action:

The first musical produced at the Delacorte was inspired by the festival’s namesake.  Mel Shapiro, John Guare and Galt MacDermot’s urban rock version of Two Gentlemen of Verona transferred from Central Park to Broadway and picked up the 1971 Tony for Best Musical.  The show returned to the Delacorte in 2005.  Here’s Norm Lewis and Renée Elise Goldsberry from that revival performing the sexy “Night Letter.”

There was Gilbert and Sullivan in the Park in 1980, when the Wilford Leach directed mounting of The Pirates of Penzance played the entire summer before moving to Broadway and winning the Best Revival Tony.  Played in a broad musical comedy style, the hit show was stopped nightly when George Rose pattered “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” at a breathtaking tempo.

George Rose returned to the Delacorte in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, winning a Best Actor Tony when the show moved to Broadway, picking up the Best Musical award in 1986.  Rupert Holmes adaptation of Charles Dickens’ unfinished final novel was set in a Victorian music hall, with several endings prepared so that the audience can vote for which character they think committed a ghastly murder.

 

 

Still fresh in the minds of playgoers is the 2008 revival of Hair, which originated at the Delacorte before nabbing a Best Revival Tony.  As much as Hair reflected the attitudes of the hippie movement when it first opened at the Public in 1967, the revival helped us examine our 21st Century views of what the movement did and didn’t accomplish.

 

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Michael Dale After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.


 
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