BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY, VOLUME 3 - The Lyric Theatre
Have you ever wanted to spend time with Stephen Sondheim in the lobby during one of his shows? Did you know that Patti LuPone once had a Broadway ghostly encounter? Have you wondered what it was like to be in the landmark Broadway premiere of Angels in America?
From opening nights to closing nights. From secret passageways to ghostly encounters. From Broadway debuts to landmark productions. Score a front row seat to read hundreds of stories about the most important stages in the world, seen through the eyes of the producers, actors, stagehands, writers, musicians, company managers, dressers, designers, directors, ushers, and door men who bring The Great White Way to life each night. You'll never look at Broadway the same way again.
DRESS CIRCLE PUBLISHING will release THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY, VOLUME 3, the latest in a series by acclaimed historian and producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper on Tuesday, November 15. To pre-order the book, please visit www.dresscirclepublishing.com.
This is the third book in a series that will tell the stories of all of the Broadway theaters. Volume 3 includes the Broadhurst, the Belasco, the Edison, the Lyric, the Majestic, the Schoenfeld, the St. James and the Walter Kerr: eight Broadway theaters that light up New York City.
Below, BroadwayWorld is excited to give you a sneak peek of the new book, with a look at: The Lyric Theatre...
The Lyric Theatre
Did You Know:
The Lyric boasts a memento from every show that has played its stage?
Brian Mahoney, Deputy Theater Manager
The stagehands here collect a poster or piece of artwork from each show that plays here. They have everyone sign it, and then the memento gets hung backstage in the rafters. That way, you can look around in the wings and see all of the shows that have come before. On the back wall of the theater, toward the top of the stage, there's also a flat picturing two stage hands playing cards, from 42nd Street. From afar, it actually looks like two dudes playing cards! On The Town left us their giant American flag and we have an image of Spidey that everyone signed.
Did You Know:
Fifty Million Frenchmen received special attention from New York mayor Jimmy Walker?
Cole Porter clocked some time at the Lyric with Fifty Million Frenchman in 1929, introducing songs including "You've Got That Thing", "Find Me A Primitive Man", and "Paree, What Did You Do To Me?". The musical did quite well under the circumstances of opening just a month after the Stock Market Crash, running for over seven months.
Irving Berlin was a producer on the Frenchmen, and took out an advertisement in the New York Times quoting himself about the show: "The best musical comedy I have seen in years. More laughs than I have heard in a theatre in a long time. One of the best collections of song numbers I have ever listened to. It's worth the price of admission alone to hear Cole Porter's lyrics." The ad also boasted that there were "300 Good Seats at $1.00 at All Performances".
Frenchmen almost didn't happen at all. The head chorus girl was Betty Compton, well-known mistress to current mayor, Jimmy Walker. Walker even took time off during the show's pre-Broadway tryout in Boston to secretly visit. When Compton wasn't pleased with her dressing room at the Lyric, Walker declared multiple safety violations at the theater. The show couldn't open until these were revoked. The lead actors agreed to switching dressing room assignments around and the mayor allowed the show to open, with Compton cozy in her new space.
Did You Know:
Watching the Ford Center be built and opened with Ragtime was like watching Follies in reverse?
Stephen Flaherty, Writer
We used to sneak into the Ford Center lot with construction hats to see what was going on. It looked like they were filming Follies, but in reverse. The area was going from debris to this beautiful theater. It was literally the opposite experience of watching the Broadway theaters being torn down in 1982; a new Broadway house was being created.
There was a ribbon cutting ceremony when the theater was done. I still have my scissors and piece of ribbon. The day was thrilling, and everyone from Garth Drabinsky's shows was there. Marvin Hamlisch was there, because he was working on Sweet Smell of Success, and Jason Robert Brown because he was working on Parade. The cast from Show Boat was there, including Elaine Stritch. There's an amazing group photo of all of us with our scissors, because we all got to cut the ribbon.
To pre-order the book, please visit www.dresscirclepublishing.com.
Jennifer Ashley Tepper is the Director of Programming at Feinstein's/ 54 Below, and the author of The Untold Stories of Broadway book series. As the leader of Feinstein's/ 54 Below's creative team, Tepper has curated or produced over 1500 shows, ranging from musicals in concert, to original solo acts, to theatrical reunions, to songwriter celebrations, and beyond. On Broadway, Tepper has worked on shows in directing, producing, and marketing capacities, including [title of show], The Performers, the 2011 revival of Godspell, and the 2013 revival of Macbeth. In addition, she is the co-creator of the Bistro Award-winning concert series, "If It Only Even Runs A Minute," now in its 6th year. Tepper was recently named one of the 10 professionals on Backstage's "1st Annual Broadway Future Power List." According to the article, "Proving herself both a zeitgeist predictor and theatrical historian with her eclectic programming, Tepper is leading the conversation on contemporary musical theatre." Follow her on twitter @jenashtep