Monthly Archives: June 2017


(Jennifer Schuessler’s article appeared in The New York Times, 6/2; via Pam Green.)  

In 2009, a cache of letters from the young Edith Wharton to her governess caused a stir when they turned up at auction. Now, an archive in Texas has yielded another startling Wharton discovery: an entirely unknown play.

“The Shadow of a Doubt,” Wharton’s only known finished play and the first full work by her to surface in 25 years, was set to be staged in New York in early 1901, before the production was abandoned for unknown reasons and forgotten. It survived in two typescripts held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, where it was discovered by Laura Rattray of the University of Glasgow and Mary Chinery of Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Ms. Rattray and Ms. Chinery unveiled their discovery in the recent issue of The Edith Wharton Review.

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(Allen Mogol’s article appeared in Playbill Online, 6/3; via Pam Green.)

As proven by Dear Evan HansenAnastasia and more, projection design is no longer an onstage bonus, it’s an integral part of design.

Ten years ago, projections on Broadway were viewed with trepidation. What role does such a cinematic device have in the theatre? This has been a watershed season for projections, which have been drawn on to achieve a variety of effects in productions as diverse as Dear Evan Hansen, Anastasia, Oslo, Indecent, Amélie, and Sunday in the Park with George.

“Over the past ten years, the panic has gone away,” says Aaron Rhyne, projection designer for Anastasia. “Projection design is an art form that can add to the theatrical experience and not detract from it. What are we trying to get the audience to feel and think?”

In Dear Evan Hansen, projection design functions as an additional set of characters. In Anastasia, they provide literal backdrops. For Oslo, they offer historical and emotional context while Indecent often uses projections as subtitles. Amélie’s atmosphere relied on them and Sunday in the Park with George’s titular inspiration came to life.

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(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/23; via Pam Green.)

Musicals about the aftermaths of a teenage suicide and a terror attack proved unlikely sensations. Star turns by Bette Midler, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal and Glenn Close added sizzle. And, led by “Hamilton” and “Hello, Dolly!,” the hottest shows started charging once unthinkably high prices for the best seats.

The Broadway season that ended on Sunday was one for the record books. Box-office grosses, which have been climbing since 2013, rose 5.5 percent, to $1.449 billion, a new high, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Broadway League, an industry trade group.

The growth, though, was fueled not by attendance, but by ticket cost. Producers, perfecting a strategy called dynamic pricing, used increasingly sophisticated analytics to adjust ticket prices to reflect varying demand on different days of the week and for different sections of a theater.

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(Joanne Kaufman’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/26; via Pam Green.)

What I Love

It may well be, as the saying goes, that doctors’ wives die young, shoemakers’ children go barefoot and car mechanics drive wrecks. But if Beowulf Boritt is any proof, set designers would sooner hand over their staple guns than give short shrift to home sweet (and soignée) home.

For 15 years, Mr. Boritt, who is 46 but looks like a graduate student, lived in a 1950s-era Sutton Place co-op in New York, where he and his wife, the actress Mimi Bilinski, combined a studio and a one-bedroom. The building may have been postwar, but the couple’s apartment was anything but.

“I did all my set-designer tricks to make it look prewar,” said Mr. Boritt, who added crown moldings, redid the baseboards and installed French doors.

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