AVO Playhouse Premieres GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE Today
If audiences today know the name of John Barrymore, it's most likely as the paternal grandfather of movie star Drew Barrymore. They may have a vague idea that he was a great actor from a family of great actors, but do they know he was also an infamous world-class drunk?
But there is much, much more to John Barrymore's story, and now a new one-man play starring veteran actor David Graham Richmond will capture the legendary movie star and matinee idol during the declining and heartbreaking years of his life as a great classical actor of his generation. He was a giant of the silver screen, a matinee idol, and scion of a troubled "Royal Family" of actors.
Written by Steven J. Conners, GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE will receive its world premiere today, October 30, 2013 at the AVO Playhouse in Vista, California.
GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE looks at the final unhappy years of John Barrymore's intriguing life and his heroic efforts to keep working in order to pay the IRS, his mounting debts, and alimony to three wives, despite a lethal addiction to alcohol. The talented David Graham Richmond brings the great Barrymore to life, from his landmark Shakespeare performances to his unsatisfying Hollywood career.
The play recounts the true story of an older John Barrymore, who returned to the stage late in life to regain his former glory. On the road in a mediocre play, Barrymore re-writes and re-stages it nightly, eventually making it a smash hit on Broadway. From the opening curtain to the final exit, the audience will share a heartbreaking and humorous evening of entertainment with a theatrical legend: John Barrymore, a man facing the final curtain with grace, style, good humor, and only a few regrets.
Performances will be held today, October 30--one day only--at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. The AVO Playhouse is located at 303 Main Street in Vista. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by phone at 760-724-2110 or at www.vistixonline.com.
John Barrymore was born in 1882 into a multi-generation theatrical dynasty, the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama, and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespeare and on Broadway in the 1920s.
Barrymore entered films around 1913 and quickly became a star of the silent film era. He delivered some of the most critically acclaimed performances in theatre and film history and was widely regarded as the screen's greatest performer during a movie career spanning 25 years as a leading man in more than 60 films. He worked opposite many of the screen's foremost leading ladies, including Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, and Carole Lombard.
In 1939, in order to pay alimony to three ex-wives, support his new wife, and pay his ever-mounting debts, Barrymore took the lead in a mediocre stage play, My Dear Children. He ad-libbed the lines each performance to make it a solid play and after a stand in Chicago, the show moved on to New York and got sensational reviews. Even after that Broadway hit, when he returned to Hollywood his remaining screen roles were broad caricatures of himself.
John Barrymore was a famous drinker and carouser, even throughout Prohibition, along with friends W. C. Fields, Anthony Quinn, John Carradine, Errol Flynn, Gene Fowler, and others. His chronic alcoholism led to recurring health problems and his eventual death in 1942 of cirrhosis of the liver and other complications. His last words were "Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him."
The Barrymore family's legacy of great and sometimes troubled actors continues today with actor and producer Drew Barrymore, John's granddaughter, who has been able to overcome substance abuse to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
A veteran of Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatre, David Graham Richmond's acting career spans productions ranging from Shakespeare, Shaw, and Chekhov to The Threepenny Opera. He is the co-author and co-producer, with Bob Hall, of The Passion of Dracula, which opened Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York starring Christopher Bernau and ran for two years, with a subsequent West End production in London at the Queen's Theatre, starring George Chakiris, Geraldine James, and Roy Dotrice. It became a standard of Ginza theatre in Tokyo, Japan, and had national tours in Australia, Africa, and in the U.S., where it starred Jose Greco as the Count.
Richmond co-wrote, with Steven J. Conners, the national arena tour of The Bugs Bunny Revue for Warner Brothers Entertainment in New York and produced the nostalgic revue Big Bad Burlesque at the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway in New York, under the direction of the legendary Celeste Hall, to rave reviews. He co-authored an adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus, which premiered at CSC Repertory in New York and had its regional premiere at Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati. He is the author of Parlay, a political thriller, which premiered at the George Street Playhouse starring Catherine Burns and Lou Bedford, and Cue the Violins, which won the Stanley Drama Award.
Richmond has adapted Dumas' The Three Musketeer for the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, and partnered with Drew Fracher to create Zorro for the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati and The Adventures of Robin Hood, commissioned by Ensemble Theatre. Recently he performed the role of Tupolski in the Martin McDonagh play Pillowman, under the direction of Natasha Isakova-Williams.
Steven J. Conners has been in the entertainment field all his life, as a manager, producer, writer, performer, and director. In the 1960s he created and toured special event promotions across all of North America, and in 1965 conceived, wrote, and co-produced a children's show, The Magic Land of Mother Goose. In 1972, Conners conceived, co-wrote, and staged the first living cartoon show for Warner Bros. Entertainment, simply called The Bugs Bunny Show. In 1976 he conceived, wrote, co-produced, and toured a lavish impersonator show, A Bi-Sextenial Celebration: What a Drag!
In 1982, Conners wrote, produced, and toured two live shows, Dr. Silkini's Great Ghost Show and The Asylum of Horrors, across the United States. In 1988, he produced the Great Ghost Show in Hollywood, California, and formed a company to manage and tour special retail-broadcast events. Encompassing a wide range of interests, he is the author of several books and was the host and moderator of a radio show, "The Voice of Reason."
For more information, visit the website: GOODNIGHT, MR. BARRYMORE.