Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Mike Nichols the night of September 19, 2004 with their “Angels” Emmys.

The Emmys are tonight, and though generally the least entertaining of awards show broadcasts (WAY too many categories), I always tune in with the hope of hearing a great speech from an actor or actress. And, if they happen to be a stage veteran, then the odds of seeing something memorable increase tangentially. For a few years, I had a close view of it all when I used to attend the Emmys, as well as the afterparty (the Governor’s Ball), since my ex-wife was herself a Governor in the writer’s branch of the Academy. But as I’m in Portugal tonight…


Inês Herédia (Roxie), Miguel Paposo (Billy) and Vanessa Silva (Velma) in “Chicago” (2021).

While visiting Lisbon, Portugal this week and last, my Portuguese companion wanted to know if there were any shows I would like to see. He informed me it’s a city (even in these Covid-infested times) with many old theatres I should investigate. Naturally, all the plays would be in Portuguese, of which I speak very little (if any at all), but a musical would certainly make for an easier evening of things. When he mentioned a production of Chicago had recently re-opened, that had me at “hello,” or to be more precise, at John Kander’s insistent vamp to its opening…


The 1985 DVD of the two-night only “Follies in Concert.”

It was thirty-six years ago tonight that I (along with about 2,700 others) attended the first of two sold-out performances of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies in Concert at Lincoln Center. With no hard evidence to back it up, I would stake that an overwhelming majority had seen the original production sometime during the fifteen months it ran on Broadway between 1971 and 1972. …


Geraldine Page (1924–1987).

“Way back in stock [theatre], when I was in my 20s, I played Come Back Little Sheba and I was talking to somebody about how fun it was to play older parts and they were looking at me like, ‘What are you talking about?’ They thought I was really that old.”

That story from the superb actress Geraldine Page neatly sums up the sort of roles she played in her forty-year career — mature, eccentric, and often downright peculiar women. “They did cast me as an ingenue once, and the novelty was nice, but I said, ‘’There is nothing here…


Fredric March (1897–1975) in his matinee idol days.

Fredric March was born 124 years ago today; an actor whose final Broadway appearance was in 1962’s Gideon, by Paddy Chayefsky. Fifty-nine years is a long time and there are not many around anymore who can recall March’s sterling stage work in a career that spanned forty-two years on Broadway. But due to his more than eighty films between 1929 and 1973, his legacy is secure as an actor of wide-ranging skill. I was first exposed to him as a kid when I became obsessed with the 1960 film version of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee stage play…


Shirley Booth (1898–1992).

Shirley Booth was born on this date one-hundred-and-twenty-three years ago and retired from acting in 1974 at the age of seventy-six. Happily, I was fortunate enough as a young teenager to have seen her in two shows prior to that date: a play and a musical, which came for her at the tail end of a fifty-year stage career. The first was Look to the Lilies, a musical version of the 1963 film Lilies of the Field, with Booth as a nun who enlists the help of an itinerant handyman to build a church in New Mexico. Closing quickly, it…


Colleen Dewhurst (1924–1991).

Colleen Dewhurst won two Tony Awards (nominated eight times) and four Emmys (thirteen nominations) with two Emmys awarded her for two different performances on the same night in 1989, a rare achievement. She is considered by those who saw her on stage over the course of forty years one of America’s great theatre actresses. And though she made a number of films, few of them exploited her talents the way plays could. There were many television roles but almost exclusively as guest stars on dramas and sitcoms. As for the TV movies she appeared in, almost none had her top…


I can’t help it. Even though the Tonys have all but vanished off the radar due to the 2020 ceremony being postponed fifteen months until September 26th (eight weeks away), I still have them on the brain. And today’s thought that occurred to me is that for all the brilliant roles the Bard has provided, very few actors in the seventy-three year history of the Tonys have ever won for playing in a Shakespeare comedy or drama. Let me count the ways.

First off, it should be acknowledged that Shakespeare is not a regular Broadway visitor the way it once…


William Daniels as John Adams in “1776” (1969).

As I always post something about the musical 1776 on the Fourth of July, I thought that since so much of that play’s history has already been noted by myself and many others that I would share some of the unique time I spent with John Adams himself. By that I mean the actor William Daniels, who so brilliantly played the role for two years and two months on Broadway, and later in the 1972 film version. …


Michael Bennett (1943–1987).

On this date 34 years ago, Michael Bennett died in Tucson, Arizona, from complications caused by AIDS. He was forty-four years old. Among his many credits are the multi-faceted stylings of his choreography for Follies (1971), that he co-directed with Harold Prince, and two shows he directed himself — A Chorus Line (1975) and Dreamgirls (1980) — which featured new levels of stagecraft and storytelling devices that dazzled critics and theatregoers alike. These three shows alone put him in the top ranks of those who contributed invaluably to the 20th century American musical. His death was a blow not only…

Ron Fassler

Author, playwright, director, actor, theatre critic and historian, his book, “Up in the Cheap Seats,” is available at Amazon.com.

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