Huntington/Coolidge's 'Stage & Screen' Series to Open 9/8 with JUNGLE FEVER

Huntington/Coolidge's 'Stage & Screen' Series to Open 9/8 with JUNGLE FEVER

Stage & Screen, a collaboration between Coolidge Corner Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company that explores the depictions of shared themes in Huntington productions and acclaimed films announces four upcoming film screenings and post-screening conversations with Huntington artists and experts. Tickets to each screening are $11 ($8 for Coolidge members with member ID and Huntington Theatre Company subscribers with promo code) and may be purchased online at coolidge.org or at the Coolidge box office, located at 290 Harvard Street, Brookline.

Monday, September 8, 2014 at 7pm:
JUNGLE FEVER in conjunction with GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER

Released in 1991, Spike Lee's Jungle Fever depicts the consequences of an interracial affair between married African-American architect Flipper Purify (Wesley Snipes) and his working-class Italian-American secretary, Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra). Scrutinized by their friends, cast out from their families, and shunned by their neighbors, Flipper and Angie soon find their relationship at a crossroads. Featuring an original soundtrack by Stevie Wonder, this "superbly orchestrated" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader) drama features electrifying supporting performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Halle Berry.

Prior to Jungle Fever, Hollywood's highest-profile take on the subject of interracial romance was Stanley Kramer's beloved 1967 film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, the film was a critical and commercial success, garnering several Oscar nominations and two wins (Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay).

In a post-screening conversation, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner playwright/adapter Todd Kreidler (Holler if Ya Hear Me featuring the music of Tupac Shakur on Broadway) and Boston Globe reporter James H. Burnett III will discuss the challenges of adapting a cultural touchstone and the ways in which these two influential works reflect changing attitudes about interracial relationships.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner ("The Cosby Show") makes his Huntington debut in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner directed by Huntington favorite David Esbjornson (All My Sons). Joanna surprises her liberal, white parents when she brings home John, her African-American fiancé, to meet them. Both sets of parents must confront their own unexpected reactions and concerns for their children as their beliefs are put to the test. Set in the 1960s, this funny and poignant new stage adaptation offers a fresh interpretation of the beloved Academy Award-winning film and also features Julia Duffy ("Newhart"), Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox, and Boston favorite Will Lyman.

Tickets to the Huntington's production of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (September 5 - October 5, 2014 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre) are available at huntingtontheatre.org/guesswho.

Todd Kreidler served as dramaturg for August Wilson's Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean in their early productions at the Huntington and other regional theatres and on Broadway. He wrote the musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, an original story featuring the lyrics of Tupac Shakur, opening on Broadway in June at the Palace Theatre. He is also writing a musical with Nikki Sixx, based on Sixx's memoir and music, The Heroin Diaries. His stage adaptation of the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner ran at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and premiered at True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta. Most recently, he directed August Wilson's one-man show How I Learned What I Learned at Off Broadway's Signature Theatre. He originally directed and co-conceived the piece with Mr. Wilson performing at Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2003. He co-founded the August Wilson Monologue Competition, a national program aimed at integrating August Wilson's work into high school curriculum, of which the Huntington facilitates the Boston semi-final.

James H. Burnett III is a regional reporter for The Boston Globe's Metro desk and a former culture writer on the Living/Arts team. He previously was a columnist and culture writer for the Miami Herald, where he contributed to award-winning projects on juvenile crime and the deadly 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Mr. Burnett has appeared on NPR and CNN.

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7pm:
SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS in conjunction with AWAKE AND SING!

In the swift, cynical Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Alexander Mackendrick, Burt Lancaster stars as the vicious Broadway gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker with Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, the unprincipled press agent Hunsecker ropes into smearing the up-and-coming jazz musician romancing his beloved sister. Featuring deliciously unsavory dialogue in an acerbic and brilliantly structured script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, and noirish neon cityscapes from Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe, Sweet Smell of Success is a crackling and cruel dispatch from the kill-or-be-killed wilds of 1950s Manhattan. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott has described Odets' dialogue in the film as "high-toned street vernacular that no real New Yorker has ever spoken but that every real New Yorker wishes he could." (From The Criterion Collection)

Clifford Odets' 1935 masterpiece Awake and Sing! takes place in a cramped Bronx apartment where a working-class Jewish family dreams of a brighter future. Matriarch Bessie Berger's fierce determination keeps her family afloat, whatever the cost. Gritty, passionate, funny, and heartbreaking, Awake and Sing! beautifully captures both the hopes and the struggles of an unforgettable American family.

In a post-screening conversation moderated by Huntington dramaturg Charles Haugland, director Melia Bensussen will discuss how Odets' distinct vernacular informs Sweet Smell of Success and Awake and Sing!.

Tickets to the Huntington's production of Awake and Sing! (November 7 - December 7, 2014 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre) are available at huntingtontheatre.org/awakeandsing.

Monday, January 5, 2015 at 7pm:
VANYA ON 42nd STREET in conjunction with VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE

In the early 1990s, theatre director André Gregory mounted a series of spare, private performances of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in a crumbling Manhattan playhouse. This experiment in pure theatre -featuring a remarkable cast of actors, including Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore, Brooke Smith, and George Gaynes-would have been lost to time had it not been captured on film, with subtle cinematic brilliance, by Louis Malle. Vanya on 42nd Street is as memorable and emotional a screen version of Chekhov's masterpiece as one could ever hope to see. This film, which turned out to be Malle's last, is a tribute to the playwright's devastating work as well as to the creative process itself. (From The Criterion Collection)

In a wickedly wonderful Chekhovian mashup from master of comedy Christopher Durang (Betty's Summer Vacation), Vanya and Sonia's quiet, bucolic life is hilariously upended when their glamorous movie star sister arrives for the weekend with her brawny boy toy in tow. A Tony Award-winning Broadway sensation, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a rollicking and touching new comedy that pays loving homage to Chekhov's classic themes of loss and longing.

In a post-screening conversation, guests from the Huntington's production will discuss Durang and Malle's disparate (but equally compelling) approaches to Chekhov's classic themes of loss and longing.

Tickets to the Huntington's production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (January 2 - February 1, 2015 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre) are available at huntingtontheatre.org/vanya.

Monday, March 9 at 7pm
TBD in conjunction with THE COLORED MUSEUM

In The Colored Museum, climb aboard for a madcap and stinging journey through 11 hilarious looks at African-American culture - from the depths of the Celebrity Slaveship to the spinning heights of Harlem. Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe's landmark comedy has electrified, discomforted, and delighted audiences of all colors, skewering stereotypes and redefining what it means to be black in contemporary America.

Tickets to the Huntington's production of The Colored Museum (March 6 - April 5, 2014 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre) are available at huntingtontheatre.org/coloredmuseum.

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