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BroadwayWorld Book Club Week Four Discussion Prompts: The Al Hirschfeld Theatre

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BWW Book Club

Below are the discussion questions/prompts for the fourth chapter of The Untold Stories of Broadway: The Al Hirschfeld Theatre! Feel free to answer as many questions as you would like to get the conversation going! The author of The Untold Stories of Broadway, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, will be hosting a Facebook Live Q & A at 12pm ET today! Please post any questions here that you would like her to answer!

·       What shows have you seen at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre? Which show was your favorite?

·       Of all the shows that played at the Al Hirschfeld, which cast album is your favorite?

·       Which performer who starred in a show at the Al Hirschfeld would you most want to see perform live?

·       Annie Golden spoke about how a political statement was made during the performance she saw of Man of La Mancha. Have you ever witnessed anything like this during a show?

·       What new story or fact that you learned during this chapter surprised you the most?

·       Joanna Gleason shared the story of her run-in with a ghost in the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Have you ever had a haunted experience in a theater? Would you want to, or would it freak you out?

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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend

I've only seen Kinky Boots and Moulin Rouge at the Al Hirschfeld. One thing I'll always remember is how the ladies bathroom is downstairs and thankfully there is a small landing after the first 4 steps. At Kinky Boots a few years ago, I saw a lady in front of me fall over those steps and thankfully land in that small landing area (nothing got hurt.) I'd imagine people must have fallen on other theater staircases in the past. 



I think the Al Hirschfeld is one of the hidden treasures of Broadway, which I think is so cool! Even though I've only seen Kinky Boots there (twice in 2018) I think the theater is special in terms of the design and the location.

Since there were so many musicals that played the Hirschfeld, there clearly have been so many cast recordings! Obviously, I love the Kinky Boots cast recording, along with everything about the show. I've also recently listed to the Moulin Rouge recording, which I think is so unique. However, the Hair cast recording revival is truly something special to listen to, especially after hearing the stories from Gavil Creel, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and Caissie Levy about how they really made the theater their home. 

Even though I've already seen Bernadette Peters perform live (in Hello Dolly! two years ago), I would've loved to have seen her in Into the Woods at the Hirschfeld. She's such a talented performer, and her voice is so unique and different! I also would've loved to have seen Chita Rivera in Bring Back Birdie. Not only would I have been interested to see the show, seeing the legend that she is would truly be such a remarkable moment. 

I'm not sure if this would be considered a "political moment," but I did see John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons at Studio 54 a few years ago that I still believe is perfect for the current times we're living in. Not only did the audience respond well to it, apparently so did the critics! That's always a nice thing to see for a show. 

This is my second time reading this book, and there were certainly stories that I totally forgot about! One that stood out to me that made me laugh was Jason Alexander's hilarious story about how he opened his dressing room door naked to find Elizabeth Taylor standing there! It just goes to show that even Broadway stars have embarrassing and funny moments. 
I also enjoyed hearing about the nearby hangout spots, like Ted Hooks and the Cafe Edison. It's so sad to hear that they are no longer in existence. I would've loved to have stopped by there for a bite before a show!

As much as I wish I could say I have, I don't think I remember having a haunted experiene in a theater. I love hearing ghost stories, especially the Broadway ones. Everytime I've been to the Palace Theatre or New Amsterdam Theatre, I always wonder what the ghosts are doing or thinking. Maybe they're thinking about me, too? Who knows! 

Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend

This has for 50 years been my favorite Broadway theatre.  I guess I just like the fact that it is so different from the other theatres, including its location, which sets it apart from the many other theatres very close to it.  The look is so 'gothic' to me, for want of a better word, which results in a unique look among Broadway theatres. Also love the fact that the bathrooms are so large, and that the mezzanine lobby provides such a great history of the theatre.  Finally, it is the only theatre on Broadway where I actually like sitting in the boxes, although admittedly I would not like the inside chairs.

My fist show there was Drat! The Cat!, which I saw in (I am guessing) 1965.  I loved the show and remain amazed to this day that it was such a flop.  I still listen to the CD that was recorded many years ago with a cast that included Elaine Stritch.  The next show I saw there was also a musical flop, but I also loved it.  It was Hallelujah! Baby!, which opened I believe in 1966.  I saw it twice, once sneaking down o a box seat, which is where I discovered how good the box seats were in that theatre.

Other shows for which I have very fond memories include Dracula with Frank Langella, in the perfect theatre for that production; The Little Foxes with Elizabeth Taylor also from the boxes; a flop which I loved titled Saturday! Sunday! Monday!; A Small Family Business, with Angela Lansbury in a perfectly fun show that ran a week; Moon Over Buffalo with Carol Burnett and Philip Bosco; Nathan Lane and Faith Prince in Guys and Dolls; Grand Hotel; the Diane Paulus production of Hair; Kinky Boots; and of course my personal favorite of all productions I saw at the theatre: Moulin Rouge.

Not so great memories included Into the Woods, which I personally intensely this day I do not like the score; Onward Victoria, one of the worst musicals I every saw; Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, which just wasn't very good; the acclaimed RSC production of All's Well That Ends Well, which convinced me that I really do not like Shakespeare beyond (well-done productions of) King Lear, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet; and finally, a highly acclaimed production of Habeus Corpus, during which I struggled to stay awake.

I know there are other shows I have seen at the Martin Beck -- er, I mean the Al Hierschfeld -- theatre, but these are the ones that I am remembering.

Bottom line: favorite productions are MR and Drat The Cat; least favorite are Into the Woods and Onward Victoria.



Updated On: 4/20/20 at 03:50 PM