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Fresh Start for Performance Network Theatre

PRESS RELEASE
Ann Arbor (June 19, 2014) The Board of Directors of Performance Network Theatre voted unanimously last night to support a new production model and management structure under the direction of John Manfredi, a long-time theater producer and actor. Manfredi assumes the role of Producing Artistic Director.
The Board suspended operations on May 21. Since then it has been engaged in a deliberate assessment of the Theatre’s financial situation and has sought proposals designed to re-invigorate what to many is one of Ann Arbor’s cultural icons. Manfredi has put together an impressive team of seasoned professionals ready to do the heavy lifting needed to honor Performance Network’s 30-year legacy of artistic excellence.
Due to the sensitive nature of negotiations with funders and investors, the sealed bid was delivered confidentially, along with other proposals, to the Board of Directors of the Performance Network Theatre.

According to Manfredi, “We are a team with a mission, with passion, we trust each other, and are prepared to honor our commitment until our goal of a thriving, sustainable and nationally recognized Performance Network is accomplished.”

John Manfredi is the owner of Etico Productions LLC, a Michigan theatrical consulting and production company. Etico Productions has partnered with Olympia Entertainment, Palace Sports and Entertainment, Michigan State University, Ernie the Play and many of the state’s small professional theaters companies. He has served as Education Coordinator of the Creative Arts Center of North Oakland County; and as Managing Director of the Jewish Ensemble Theatre and The Theatre Ensemble at Meadow Brook Theatre. He was recently seen on the stage of Performance Network in the stellar, one-man show, An Illiad.
Suzi Regan will play a key role as Associate Director. She is an award-winning actor, director, sound designer and writer. She has over 30 years of experience in professional theatre.
In making this announcement Ron Maurer, President of the Board, indicated that there are a lot of hurdles facing the Theatre in the next several weeks. Manfredi and the Board will be working hard to honor commitments to Theatre patrons, donors and vendors. Maurer cautioned that it will take time, but that the Board believes the new production model being implemented is the best option to ensure the long-term sustainability of a professional theater in downtown Ann Arbor.
Patrons who missed the opportunity to see Richard III when the production was canceled mid-run are encouraged to take advantage of the generous offers made by Tipping Point Theatre, Two Muses Theatre and Michigan Shakespeare Festival to honor their tickets. In the coming weeks plans will also be announced for an additional offering to round-out the season.
Individuals who have paid for subscriptions for the 2014-15 season will not be disappointed. In presenting his proposal to the Board, Manfredi detailed preliminary plans for the season. Further announcements will be forthcoming.
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Wait…. What? 20 things You Might have missed from Richard III:

A Blog by Jahmeel Powers: Apprentice at Performance Network

Are there times when you’re reading something, and you aren’t really sure what you just read? You read a page, then go back, read the page again, and you’re still lost? Not really sure what to do, you go and try to look up the synopsis online? Well, don’t worry… you’re not alone.

What about going to see a play or performance? Particularly in a Shakespeare Play, an audience member tends to get caught up in the lovely imagery and beautiful poetry of Shakespeare’s words, and they lose track of what’s ACTUALLY going on in the play.

So, if you have some anxiety about understanding our upcoming Shakespeare play,Richard III, fear not! Because I’m going to help you out and point out 20 key facts and figures that happen in the story, and by the end, you’ll be telling all your friends about the play!

(WARNING!!! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!)

Act I:

1. Richard begins the play with a scornful, jealous, rage-filled speech which includes his distaste for his older brother, King Edward. In this speech, we discover that Richard plans to become king by any means necessary.

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2.There is a civil war between two families: The Yorks and the Lancasters. King Edward (of York) brings peace to England by winning the war.

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3.  Richard begins his plot to take the throne by manipulating Lady Anne into marrying him.

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Act 2:

4.Richard has his own older brother Clarence, executed.

(Death toll:1)

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5. Richard shifts the guilt onto his already ill brother, King Edward, in order to speed up his illness, which eventually leads to his death.

(Death toll: 2)

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6. Richard is promoted to lord protector of England, which he holds until King Edward’s children are old enough to rule. Buckingham establishes a strong partnership with Richard.

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Act 3:

7. Richard goes on a killing spree!He has Queen Elizabeth’s Kinsman (Rivers, Gray, and Sir Thomas Vaughn) arrested and executed.

(Death Toll: 5)

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8.Richard has Lord Hastings beheaded, after he discovers that Hastings will remain forever loyal to the late King Edward.

(Death toll: 6)

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9. With help of Lord Buckingham, Richard starts a campaign amongst the commoners to have himself crowned as king. His plan backfires, when the commoners do not rejoice at the idea of Richard as king.

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ACT 4:

10.With Queen Elizabeth and her young princes unprotected, Richard imprisons both of them in the London Tower, which he later sends two murderers and their leader, Tyrell, to kill them.

(Death toll: 7)

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11. Because of Richard’s brutal actions, the country begins to fear and loathe him, including his own noblemen, even Buckingham.

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12. A rumor begins to spread about the coming of a challenger to the throne, the Earl of Richmond (a descendant of Lancaster). Many begin to flock to France to join his forces.

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13.Desperate to regain control of his kingdom, Richard has his wife (Queen Anne) executed, so that he can marry young Elizabeth, daughter of Queen Elizabeth, and his own niece.

(Death toll: 8)

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14. Queen Elizabeth manages to stall Richard from marrying young Elizabeth. When Richard leaves, the Queen makes a promise to young Elizabeth that she will be married off to the coming savior, the Earl of Richmond.

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15. Buckingham joins forces with the Earl of Richmond, and gathers his own army. He is then captured by Richard and taken to prison to be executed.

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ACT 5:

16.Buckingham is taken to be executed, where he had a long lament about betraying King Edward, after vowing to always be by his side.

(Death Toll: 9)

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17. Richmond and his troops finally arrive in England. The night before the battle, both Richard and Richmond have prophetic dreams.

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18. Richard has a nightmare in which the ghosts of all he’s killed return to curse him, revealing that he will die the next day.

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19.  Richmond has a dream of slaying his enemy! The next morning, there is a huge battle, in which Richard is killed by the Earl of Richmond.

(Death toll: 10)

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20. Richmond is then crowned King Henry VII. Richmond then marries young Elizabeth, in order to bring peace between the warring families of York and Lancaster.

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And…. That’s It! You now have the knowledge you need in order to figure out what  goes on in the play and still get lost in the beautiful, colorful, unique language of William Shakespeare.

Richard III runs from April 24- June 1st. Tickets can be bought either on our website by clicking here or by phone (734)-663-0681.

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S&M with S&M (Sebastian Gertner and Maggie Meyer) – Questions for the cast of “Venus in Fur”

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Sebastian Gertner and Maggie Meyer, the cast of Performance Network Theatre’s latest play VENUS IN FUR, were kind enough to answer some questions about their experience working on the play….among other things! Enjoy!

A Blog by Megan Rosenberg – PNT Apprentice

What is your favorite line in the play?

S: “My favorite line in the play would have to be Vanda’s reenactment of her version of an ‘old play’. For me, as Thomas, this is one of those gear shift moments that I have always enjoyed where Thomas can take down his guard for an instant. I also love saying: ‘this isn’t anthropology, or sociology, this is a play.’ It feels like David Ives’ way of making the play feel somewhat self-aware without being pedantic.”

M: “I don’t have a favorite line in the play really. I have favorite moments, I guess! The play is so well written- too many to chose.”

If you were any prop in Venus in Fur, which one would it be and why?

S: “If I were a prop in Venus in Fur, I’d want to be that bag. I mean, it’s extremely functional and yet it’s like the adult version of the Mary Poppin’s bag. Anything could come out of that thing.”

M: “No clue. Pass.”

What is your theatrical background?

S: “I started acting in High School. I was kind of nervous about it at first so I decided I’d start behind the scenes. Therefore, my first role was the bat in Dracula and literally all I had to do was swing a bat against the set window. I then went to Michigan State University where I received my BFA in Theater.”

M: “I moved to New York and studied Musical Theatre, Acting, and Dance at AMDA. I continued my education as an Apprentice at the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, MI.”

What is the proudest moment of your acting career to date?

S: “I think being a part of this show will be my new proudest moment. I mean, it’s not every day where you do a show that is essentially an actor’s boot camp. This has been such an incredible show to work on and it certainly has stretched me and made me look at myself as an actor and figure out the things I still need to work on. Honestly, I wish we had more time; I’d love to work on this show forever.”

M: “Being a part of an Ensemble is where the pride comes from for me.”

Who are your acting inspirations?

S: “My acting inspirations stem from a lot of different places. There’s a lot of wonderful local talent in the area that I look up to and contact when I’m in need. It’s great to be in an area where there is this sort of access to a tight knit actor’s community that’s open and accepting. Beyond that though, I of course idolize Meryl Streep not only for her ability to dive into character work but her ability to do it consistently. But as far as inspirations go, I look for truths and honest performances and just try and tap into the world around me. My friends and the people I meet and work with all become my inspirations because they teach me new things about myself and the world in which we all live in.”

M: “I’ll give you 3: Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, and Charlie Chaplin.”

What’s the most awkward moment you ever experienced at an audition?

S: “There’s been a lot of awkward moments at auditions for me, but it’s hard to remember them since I try so hard to just block them out! I think every audition is (in its own way) awkward. It’s like any other business interview but instead of talking about my life, I’m talking from the point of view of someone else’s, and yet we are supposed to ‘be ourselves’ in an audition. The whole concept of auditions bothers me and I’m horrible at it! But the most awkward I have ever been at an audition was when I went to Strawhats in NYC and it’s a huge cattle call for summer stock theaters and after you audition you get a bunch of callbacks to different theaters and you go up to each of their rooms and perform for them again. Well, one of the theaters hated the songs I sang for my audition and asked for something else and went through my entire book and essentially told me I had a terrible book! So they pulled out a song they wanted me to sing and I didn’t know it which of course did NOT look good. Needless to say, I didn’t sing it particularly well and I did not get the job and life went on.”

M: “I try to have fun at auditions, and usually they’re all a bit awkward, because I’m awkward.”

What do you like most about working on Venus in Fur?

S: “I love this script. The moments are always changing and clipping along and yet the words are so smart and poignant. It’s like a poem that you could dissect and think about for days and yet when you’re watching it, it just goes by like a whirlwind. It’s also just been a wonderful pleasure to be working with Maggie. She constantly keeps me on my toes and forces me to just be open and vulnerable with her on stage. I also think this show has opened my eyes to a broader issue of discrimination and sexism that I didn’t necessarily understand before. I could write a thesis on it but I’ll save everyone the time.”

M: “I’ve never done a two-hander play before. It hasn’t been easy, and I love that. I’ve had to up my focus, and I’m grateful for that challenge.”

What’s a challenge you have faced while working on Venus in Fur?

S: “This show has been very hard for me, which is also a reason that I have loved working on it, but it’s been a struggle as well. I usually have been playing characters in the area that are a little more clueless and comedic, the kind of guys that playwrights want you to laugh at. Thomas is essentially the opposite of that and it’s his psychological force and internal confusion between desire and resistance that ultimately drives his character and it has been a struggle to find the ways to balance that and not have it get in the way of the show. It’s also a struggle to even say some of the things that I have to say in this play as a human being. I’ve been scared of myself in rehearsals to the ease at which some of these words come out at times and what that could mean for people who live their lives like Thomas. It’s also a struggle as a man in a world that desires men who are emotionally stunted to find the vulnerability in a character who, at heart, has fit that mold of being ‘the man’ (which I am most definitely not).”

M: “Ah, see answer above.”

If you were to adapt a book into a play, which book would it be and why?

S: “If I were to adapt a book into a play, it would have to be Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. It would be a little gruesome, but I think its themes are highly relevant to audiences today with a female model who has lost her beauty by taking a bullet to the face. You could also write the play like the book and have the scenes jump around the timeline keeping the audience on the edge of their seats… hmm maybe this really could work.”

M: “My favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has already been made into a play. Scout is such a great character. I need to read more books that leave me feeling hopeful. Those kind of stories make for the best plays, I think.”

What is a weird talent that you have?    

S: “I don’t have a lot of weird talents which is unfortunate. I can play the oboe which I guess not many people do? I also can tap dance and will do it sometimes when I am just standing around. OH! I used to walk on my toes as a kid and can still do it mainly because I think I killed my toes as a child and now have no feeling in them so that’s weird! Phew, I thought I was going to be ‘that guy’ with no weird talents.”

M: “I’ve been told I do a pretty spot-on Cyndi Lauper impression. I can also cross just one eye. I’m pretty proud of that.”

Don’t miss out on more S&M! Come see VENUS IN FUR through April 13th!

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Venus in Forms – Influences and Adaptations of VENUS IN FUR by David Ives

A Blog by Megan Rosenberg – Performance Network Theatre Apprentice

When I try to explain this play to people, I am at a loss. My first impulse is to say, “Well, it’s a play about S&M,” which is a drastic oversimplification and also makes it sound like Performance Network is inviting its audiences to come see some porn…which couldn’t be less true. Next, I would try a different angle: “It’s a play within a play.” That sentence either evokes this idea of a very meta production, Hamlet, or possibly the contrived literary device Mise en Abyme… all of which are partially true (except maybe Hamlet), but none encompass what the play is ACTUALLY about. And then I start to flounder: “It’s a play about gender roles!”  “It’s a play about psychology!”  “…about repression” “…mythology” “…the comparisons between now and then!”  Maybe it would be better if I just didn’t try at all and instead assured you that it’s a great play. Well written. Witty. And it has been carving out a place for itself on the shelf of modern theatrical genius since it opened off-Broadway in 2010. As an alternative to explaining what the play is about, I thought a good place to start would be to explore how it came to be. Then, once you’re as hooked as I have become over the last week and a half of rehearsal, I’ve also found some interesting tidbits about the other adaptations of Sacher-Masoch’s text that exist.

 

Influences

1.) Venus in Furs (Venus im Pelz): The german novella was published in 1870 by the Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The term “masochism,” meant to identify human behavioural phenomena and classify a distinct psychological illness, derives from Sacher-Masoch’s name and was coined because of the themes of domination explored in this book and in Sacher-Masoch’s life.

(http://books.google.com/books/about/Venus_in_Furs.html?id=dvk-96_4esQC)

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(Image from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_in_Furs)

THOMAS: The word “masochism” comes from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch because of this book.

VANDA: “Masochism,” “Masoch,” I shoulda seen that.  Wow.  So S&M is like named after that guy!  Cool!

THOMAS: I’m not sure that’s what Sacher-Masoch had in mind.

2.) Venus: The Roman goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, and prosperity, and her Greek counterpart Aphrodite are the embodiment of sexuality, beauty, enticement, and persuasive female charm. Symbols of Venus include doves, apples, roses, and wine. Look closely for some of these in Performance Network’s production.

(http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/aphrodite.html)

Image(Image from: http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/S10.1.html)

3.) Venus with a Mirror: The painting (about 1555) by Titian plays a significant role in the play by fueling Kushemski’s fascination with the goddess Venus.

(http://www.nga.gov/collection/gallery/gg23/gg23-41.html)

Image(Image from: http://www.3pipe.net/2011/03/titian-mirrors-courtesans-and-queen-of.html)

VANDA/DUNAYEV: I can certainly understand your fascination.  The plush red velvet.  The dark fur outlining her naked body.  The bracelets cuffing her wrists.  Her golden breasts.  The picture’s ravishing.  But is Venus covering herself with the fur – or is she opening the fur to reveal her glories?

THOMAS/KUSHEMSKI: We’ll never know.  Both, I suppose.

 

Other Adaptations of Sacher-Masoch’s book

1.) Venus in Fur (La Venus à la Fourrure): The film by Roman Polanski, released in 2013, stars Emmanuelle Seiger and Mathieu Amalric.  Click here to see the tralier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RXtmQxeKPY

(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2406252/)

Image(Image from: http://www.impawards.com/intl/misc/2013/la_venus_a_la_fourrure.html)

2.)  “Venus in Furs”: The song by The Velvet Underground was written by Lou Reed and released in 1967. Click here to listen:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwzaifhSw2c

(http://www.last.fm/music/The+Velvet+Underground/_/Venus+in+Furs)

Image(Image From: http://thescope.ca/music/venus-in-furs-by-sonny-tripp)

 

More to come soon about rehearsing VENUS IN FUR by David Ives!

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10 Questions with David Wells: From the Page to the Stage…

DavidWellsBLOGAnn Arbor playwright David Wells

Performance Network Theatre is proud to present a new work to start off 2014. County Line, which will be premiering on January 16th, was written by Ann Arbor playwright David Wells. Last year, Wells was able to premier Brill in Performance Network’s space, which was a great success. To share some insights in the world of playwrighting, David Wells has answered some questions about County Line and his career.

1. What first inspired you to start writing County Line?

DAVID: I had the characters of Lois and her father floating around my brain in a very general, non-specific way.  At the same time, I’d been reading a fair amount of Raymond Carver short stories, which gave me an idea of the overall voice that I wanted for the play.  This was around the Spring/Summer of 2012, at a time when we were putting the cast together for BRILL Alissa Nordmoe read for BRILL, and everything sort of crystallized around her. I could see her as Lois, which gave me a very tangible touchstone to start writing.

2. What is your proudest moment in your writing career?

DAVID: Not sure if it’s the proudest, but it was a moment of encouragement when I needed one.  It was probably my junior year at the University of Michigan, and I’d been accepted into an advanced playwriting class (you couldn’t just sign up; you had to submit a writing sample).  Even though we were 19 or 20 years old, everyone else in the class was already a tortured artist. I remember they were all from New York, wore a lot of scarves, and smoked clove cigarettes. And then there was me — just a Midwestern loaf of Wonder Bread.  But the professor took me aside and told me not to worry, because I was the writer in the group.  He probably told that to everyone, but it definitely helped.

3. At what age did you start writing? Were plays the first medium you attempted to write?

DAVID: It was my freshman year at [the University of] Michigan when I just started writing a screenplay, although I’d never actually seen one.  By my sophomore year, I remember going to the library most nights with friends — and while they were studying, I was writing plays and screenplays longhand in a notebook.  That’s when I decided I’d better find some screenwriting and playwriting classes, since that’s what I was already doing.

4. What would you say are two major differences between playwriting and screenwriting?

DAVID: In terms of the actual writing, playwriting obviously limits the types and number of settings at your disposal, but it is more patient with character-driven stories. In terms of the process, though, in the theater world they actually listen to the playwright.  There’s an acknowledgement (and not a begrudging one) that the script wouldn’t exist without the writer.  However, in the world of studio movies, the writer is the lowest on the totem pole.  The writer is actually the part of the totem pole that’s underground.  If they could do it without a writer, they would.

5. Are there other projects/scripts you working on?

DAVID: The next play is gestating — I’m taking notes and doing some research.  I’m also working on the book and lyrics to a musical called IRRATIONAL, which will be in Performance Network’s Fireside Festival of New Plays next March.

6. Do you have any rituals to help you in your writing process?

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A berated monkey goes back to work in Wells’ basement.

DAVID: I have a hundred or so monkeys set up with typewriters in my basement.  So my main ritual is berating the monkeys.  They’re surprisingly lazy.

7. What is the most interesting part of transforming the text on the page to a live theatrical setting?

DAVID: The best part is the chance to be with humans again.  Writing a play means spending a few months to a few years alone with the voices in your head.  It’s great to then become part of a community.  Then, on top of that, to watch talented actors come in and do their thing, elevating the material in the process — that is a real rush.  It’s also incredibly humbling when you think about all the talent and time that everyone (designers, stage manager, director, actors, dramaturg, technical director, apprentices) brings to the table with the common goal of creating this living, breathing experience.

8. When do you consider a play that you are working on “finished”?

DAVID: There’s an old saying that a play is never finished, it’s abandoned.  Couldn’t be more true.

9. Do you aspire to write a certain amount within a given week?

DAVID: I don’t put a page count in place, but I do shoot for a time allotment.  I try to get in an hour or two just about every day.   I had a professor who said that writing is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised daily.  I believe in that.

10. Who are your favorite playwrights?

DAVID: I’m in the middle of a Horton Foote jag right now.

County Line opens on January 16th and runs until February 16th Thursdays through Sundays. A full calendar is available on performancenetwork.org. Tickets can be ordered online or can be ordered over the phone at (734)-663-0681.

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Top 13 Moments at Performance Network in 2013

Top 13 Moments of 2013 - Top

We have had quite an exciting year at Performance Network Theatre. Check out our Top 13 Moments at Performance Network in 2013 and check out how you can celebrate New Year’s Eve with the coolest thespians in the state!

1. We launched a new website!

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In June we launched a brand new website! Check it out.

2. Pay-What-You-Can Every Thursday!

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We have a long standing tradition of hosting a Pay-What-You-Can on the first preview performance of each show. Our smash hit “Good People” inspired us to make sure our theatre was accessible to ALL audiences by offering 10 Pay-What-You-Can tickets every Thursday! All you have to do is call the day of the performance and make your reservation!

3. We started two new partnership programs with other non-profits and local artists!

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Last January we began our #Artnership program in which we feature works by local visual artists in our lobby. Since the beginning of our #Artnership program we have featured fourteen local artists and even hosted a Backstage Art Show behind the set of “My Name is Asher Lev”! AND we began the revolutionary Community Partner Program. The mission of the Community Partner Program is to harness the energy and inspiration an audience feels after a live performance and put it back into the community. Click here to learn more about the Community Partner Program and all of our amazing partners!

4. Our Artistic Director David Wolber returned to the stage after a 7 year hiatus!

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PNT was thrilled to get Wolber (or D-Wo as we like to call him) back on stage with the sexy dark comedy, “Becky Shaw”. He and Sarab Kamoo were nominated for Best Duo in the Rogue Awards!

5. We had our highest attended Fireside New Play Festival of all time!

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This program has been around for 13 years and it finally got the attention it deserves at our July 2013 Festival! Our next Festival is December 15 – December 18. Click here to learn more!

6. “A Little Night Music” swept the Wilde Awards!

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We had the highest awarded show and tied for most awards overall with our pals at Williamston Theatre! “A Little Night Music” took home:

- Best Actor in a Musical (John Seibert…Who ALSO won the award for Best Actor in a Comedy for “In the Next Room or: the Vibrator Play”.)

- Best Actress in a Musical (Naz Edwards)

- Best Music Direction (R. MacKenzie Lewis)

- Best Musical (Directed by Phil Simmons)

7. Three new staff members!

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Former apprentice Anna Simmons joined us Company Manager and Resident Stage Manager.

Josh Parker joined the team as our new Technical Director.

Former apprentice Jen Pan was promoted to Graphic Designer and Assistant Technical Director!

Check out our staff listing!

8. …And five new board members!

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Welcome Ed Abbott, Mary Avrakotos, Hanna Goodstein, Alex Merz and Sheila Sasser! We are so happy to have you a part of our team. Your support is essential!

9. We also welcomed four new Corporate Sponsors!

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MLP-Foresight

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Thank you to our brand new sponsors, Amadeus, Millennium Business Systems, Foresight Group, and Plastic Tech!

10. Our Children’s Theatre Network travels to Ann Arbor schools to provide a show for free!

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That’s right! Our Children’s Theatre Network is traveling to Ann Arbor schools to provide music, laughter, and education through theatre FOR FREE! Not in the Ann Arbor School District? See a kid’s show at the theatre! Read more about the free shows on BroadwayWorld.com.

11. We wrote and produced a rap video.

We know how to party at PNT…and rap! We wanted to share our season lineup in a brand new way! WARNING: The chorus gets stuck in your head.

12. “Good People” and “An Iliad” received Four Star Review from the Detroit Free Press.

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These two shows took the Michigan theatre scene by storm. Check out all of our amazing reviews and awards!

13. “County Line” receives the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.

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…and it begins previews January 16, 2014! Click to buy tickets!

Thank you for making 2013 a year we will never forget!

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21 Facts You Didn’t Know About Jerry Herman, but Probably Should.

Peformance Network Theatre is proud to celebrate the work of Jerry Herman with our fabulous, divalicious musical “Jerry’s Girls”, now playing through January 5, 2014. A lot of people are asking us…WHO’S JERRY?! Well, get ready for a dose of American Musical Theatre knowledge from Ann Arbor’s professional theatre!

1. He doesn’t read music.

Jerry Herman 1

Image source: Richard Skipper

2. He writes all of his music by ear.

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Image source: Woolfe and Wilde

3. …Which meant that he would travel with his favorite actors to their auditions to play his music.

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Image source: Washington Post

Not only did Jerry not know how to write out the music, but at that time, he didn’t have enough money to hire a copywriter to come in and write the music out for someone else to play it. So, Jerry would come to the auditions and accompany the actors himself with music from the show! Throughout the run of one of his early revues, “Parade”, Jerry was the show’s piano accompanist. During the daytime when they didn’t have performances, the show’s actors (like Charles Nelson Reilly), would go out for auditions. The actors wanted to sing the fabulous and largely unknown music that Jerry wrote so they could stand out from the crowd.

4. He won the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award…

Jerry Herman, Angela Lansbury

Image source: JerryHerman.com

5. …And he skipped two grades in school!

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Image source: last.fm

Jerry was a hardworking young person. He was an excellent student and obsessed with his music. He didn’t want to socialize with his peers when he got home from school; he only wanted to write his music and practice the piano!

6. The first musical he saw was “Annie Get Your Gun”…

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Image source: Opera Queen

7. …And he fell in love with Ethel Merman.

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Image source: Pinterest

8. He wrote “Hello, Dolly!” in the hopes Ethel would star as Dolly.

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Image source: Richard Skipper

9. Sadly she turned down the role…

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Image source: Pinterest

10. …AT FIRST,and then she starred as Dolly on Broadway after it’s amazing success!

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Image source: Pinterest

In his original version of the show, with Merman in mind, Jerry had written two songs: “Love Look in My Window” and “World Take Me Back” that had too much of a range for the other actresses playing the role. But when Merman took over the role years later toward the end of its Broadway run, the songs originally created for her were put back in the show.

11. His favorite of his shows is “Mack & Mabel”.

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Image source: Bernadette-Peters.com

12. And his favorite of his songs is I Don’t Want to Know from “Dear World”.

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Image source: Pinterest

13. The original name of “Hello, Dolly!” was “Dolly: A Damned Exasperating Woman”.

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Image source: Tumblr

14. But Louis Armstrong’s 1963 radio version of the song “Hello, Dolly!” was such a success…

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Image source: Seaweed and Gravel

15. …That they changed the name of the musical when it opened on Broadway on January 16, 1964.

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Image source: Pinterest

16. Jerry almost studied architecture and interior design because he thought music was not a reliable field.

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Image source: realestalker

Check out his dining room!

Worried that he couldn’t make it as a musician and facing pressure from his father to pursue a more traditional educational and career path, Jerry enrolled in the Parson’s School of Design. However, his mother, believing in his abilities, used her connections to have Frank Loesser (“Guys and Dolls”, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) come and listen to some of Jerry’s music. Loesser, impressed with the young man’s abilities, encouraged Jerry to pursue a career in music, and Jerry decided to go after his dreams!

17. Good thing he stuck to music, because he has won a total of four Tony Awards.

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Image source: Woolf and Wilde

18. He’s one of only two composers/lyricists to have three musicals (“Hello, Dolly!”, “Mack & Mabel”, and “La Cage Aux Folles) run 1,500 consecutive performances on Broadway.

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Image source: Soundtrack-Covers.com

-The other is Stephen Schwartz with “Pippin”, “Godspell”, and “The Magic Show”.

19. He’s the winner of two Grammy’s.

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Image source: Miami Herald

20. And in 1961 he legally changed his name to Jerry Herman from Gerald Sheldon Herman.

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Image source: JerryHerman.Tumblr

21. He’s also quite fond of cats!

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Image source: Digital Gallery and Pinterest

Get your tickets to “Jerry’s Girls” today to learn EVEN MORE about Jerry Herman OR enter to win two free tickets here!

This blog was written by our apprentice, Kat Altman.

Sources:

Citron, Stephen. (2004). Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune. New Haven, CT. Yale University Press.

Herman, Jerry, & Bloom, Ken. (2003). Jerry Herman:  The Lyrics: A Celebration. New York, NY. Routledge.

Edwards, Amber (Producer/Writer/Director/Editor) (2007). Words and Music by Jerry Herman[DVD]. New

Jersey: PBS Home Video.

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