BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit

Article Pixel

"Curtain Up: Celebrating Forty Years of Theatre in New York and London" opened at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center October 31st. The idea for the exhibit was conceived when the Society of London Theatre wanted to create a display in conjunction with London's Victoria and Albert Museum to honor forty years of the Olivier Awards. Doug Reside, who is the curator for the Theatre Division at the library, explained that eventually "those conversations [between SOLT and V&A] started to morph about including us and including the Tony's." From there Reside worked with Anna Landreth Strong, V&A Curator of Modern and Contemporary Theatre and Performance, to create an exhibit that worked on both sides of the Atlantic. To qualify for the exhibit a show must have been nominated for both a Tony Award and an Olivier Award, won one of those nominations, and had a production within the last 40 years.

When you make your way into the exhibit be sure not to rush into the experience without appreciating the entrance. As soon as you enter you are faced with a flurry of programs flying overhead. The exhibit was designed by Olivier Award winning scenic designer Tom Piper, who was apparently hand folded many of the programs to resemble the pigeons of New York City and London. The exhibit is a multimedia and immersive experience including a mix of the soundscapes of New York City and London and songs from some of the musicals in the exhibit.

Packed with gems that any theatre lover would recognize, from set and costume pieces featured in The Lion King to hats from the singular sensation A Chorus Line, Curtain Up gives patrons an up close and personal look at theatre history. On display is a letter written on a bar napkin from Sir Ian McKellen to his understudy when he couldn't go on for a performance of Amadeus.

Phantom of the Opera fans can see the phantom's masquerade costume in a box at the beginning of the exhibit. "Even if you were in the first row you wouldn't be able to see the little details like this, all the bows and the fabric," Reside said. When the exhibit first opened in London a publication mistakenly stated that it contained the original mask from Phantom of the Opera. "After the article came out a woman came up to a curator at the museum and wanted to see it, but of course they had to say 'no, I'm sorry we don't actually have that..' and the woman was like 'ok good because I think I have it...' The woman turned out to be Michael Crawford's [the original phantom] daughter."

If you enjoy theatre and haven't visited yet, you should get over soon before it closes at the end of the month, but even if you've already been, head back! Since the opening of the exhibit it has continued to grow through donations like the phantom mask and figures from the scenic designer of the original Carousel. Most recently, a display box has been installed at the end of the exhibit containing some pieces from this season that would have qualified for the exhibit. This includes costume designer Aline Bernstein's drawings from Regina, the musical version of The Little Foxes. "On the back here there's some faded writing which if you look are actually Tallulah Bankhead's measurements, who played Regina in the original Broadway production of The Little Foxes, so you can see there was some crossover with the designs," Reside said.

Although there are no current plans to tour Curtain Up because of its limited audience of Londoners and New Yorkers, the Theatre Division of the library is continuing to work on projects throughout the year. This summer they'll be hosting Across A Crowded Room, an event for composers, lyricists, and book writers to meet and create a 20 minute musical to be presented at a workshop at the end of the summer. According to Reside, "It's like speed dating for musicals."

The exhibit runs through June 30th, opens at 10:30am and has free admission.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

high res photos

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curator Doug Reside

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Leah Lane and curator Doug Reside

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Behind the Scenes at Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curator Doug Reside

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Theatre Programs

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Theatre Programs

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Theatre Programs at Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition on June 14, 2017 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Leah Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Leah Lane and Bonnie Comley

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curator Doug Reside

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curator Doug Reside and Leah Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Bonnie Comley

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Lion King

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Lion King

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Lion King

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Swan Lake costume and The Lion King

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Bonnie Comley

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Swan Lake Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Producers and The Audience costumes

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Producers Costume sketch

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Matilda Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Matilda Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
An Inspector Calls Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Sunday in the Park with George Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
War Horse Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Arcadia Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
In The Heights Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Carousel Set Model

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Chicago Dancer Costume Sketches

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Chicago Dancer Costumes

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Chicago Male Dancer Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Chicago Female Dancer Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
A Chorus Line

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
A Chorus Line

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
A Chorus Line

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
A Chorus Line

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Leah Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Jersey Boys and Kinky Boots costumes

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Jersey Boys Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Rudolph Nureyev Ballet Costume for Romeo and Juliet

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Judi Dench costume from Anthony and Cleopatra

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Mary Poppins Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Wicked Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Spotlight on the

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Theatre Awards

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Olivier Award

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Tony Award

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The American Theatre Wing Award

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Olivier Award

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Bonnie Comley and Leah Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Theatreland at Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Phantom Of The Opera Costume Sketches

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Phantom of the Opera costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Phantom Of The Opera Mask

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Phantom Of The Opera Costume

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London Exhibition

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Leah Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Leah Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
Stewart F. Lane

BWW Exclusive: A Visit to New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' CURTAIN UP Exhibit
The Tony Award



Related Articles

From This Author Leah Lane