Honoring Three Theatre Giants

Jacob Coakley

It was a sad week in the theatre community as three legendary figures died. First, James M. Nederlander, architect of the Nederlander theatre, empire died. Nederlander bought his first Broadway theatre in a handshake deal from RKO. Next, Zelda Fichandler, founder of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and one of the pillars of the regional theatre movement, died on Friday, July 29 from congestive heart failure. And on Tuesday, Aug. 2, James Houghton, founder of New York’s Signature Theatre, died after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. 

Add a comment
The American Theatre Wing’s Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative Classroom Resource Grant will help school purchase equipment to support theatre programs.

Classroom Resource Grant Now Accepting Applications

Jacob Coakley

The American Theatre Wing is now accepting applications for their new Classroom Resource Grant, part of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative. Grant requests for up to $100,000 can be made until Sept. 30. The grants will help under-resourced public schools purchase instruments, dance floors, lighting grids, and other necessary materials to help create new and enhance existing theatre programs.

Add a comment
Read more
James Houghton founded Signature Theatre in 1991

In Memoriam: James Houghton

Jacob Coakley

James Houghton, founder of Signature Theatre, died Tuesday, Aug. 2, after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. He was 57 years old. Houghton started Signature in 1991, with the radical idea of presenting a full season of one living playwright’s work. Since 2006 he has also served as the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at The Juilliard School. Among his long list of awards, he received the the William Inge Festival’s 1998 Margo Jones Medal for an outstanding contribution to the American theatre; a Special Award for Sustained Achievement at the 60th Annual Obie Awards; and in 2016, he received the Lucille Lortel Award for Lifetime Achievement and a Special Achievement Award from the Outer Critics Circle.

Add a comment
Read more
Arena Stage co-founder Zelda Fichandler. Photo courtesy Arena Stage.

In Memoriam: Zelda Fichandler, 1924-2016

Jacob Coakley

Zelda Fichandler, co-founder of The Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and prime mover behind the regional theatre movement, died Friday, July 29 from congestive heart failure. She was 94. Fichandler was a giant force in American theatre. When she started the Arena Stage in 1950, professional theatre was almost non-existent outside of Broadway. Writing in the Washington Post, Bob Levey described Fichandler’s mission: “Mrs. Fichandler wanted to train promising actors and directors, provide a venue for emerging playwrights and, above all, to reverse what she called, with characteristic dramatic flourish, ‘the contraction and imminent death of the art of the theater.’” Fichandler led Arena Stage for 41 years, producing more than 400 shows and directing more than 50. In The New York Times, Bruce Weber described her as: “a titan in the theater world, a visionary producer and teacher who was instrumental in seeding the American continent with the work of playwrights, directors, actors and designers.”

Add a comment
Read more
Audience voting is now open for the Oregon Play Prize!

Artists Rep Invites Audience to Vote on Oregon Play Prize

Jacob Coakley

After winnowing 131 plays down to three finalists, Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre is inviting the audience to choose the winner of the Oregon Play Prize. Descriptions and excerpts of the three finalists (Good Citizen, Signs and The Snowmaker) are available on the Artists Rep website. The winning play will receive a full production at Artists Rep as well as $10,000.

Add a comment
Read more
The ovation at an autism-friendly production of The Lion King

TDF Announces Sixth Season of Autism Theatre Initiative

Jacob Coakley

Theatre Development Fund continues their accessibility outreach with the sixth season of autism-friendly performances of Broadway hits. This season TDF will partner with The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin and Kinky Boots to present shows in an autism-friendly setting for children and adults who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder and their families.

Add a comment
Read more
Top to bottom: The cast and crew of The Nether; Members of the cast of Heathers, Paul Atreides (left) and the directors of the Audience Choice winner

Valley Theatre Awards Names 2016 Winners

Jacob Coakley

The Las Vegas theatre world gathered at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, July 11 to honor and celebrate the stand out productions, performances and designs of the year. The Nether from Cockroach Theatre won Best Play; Heathers from Off-Strip Productions won Best Musical;  and A Summons from the Tinker to Assemble the Membership in Secret at the Usual Place won the Audience Choice Award. Another 18 awards were bestowed, including the inaugural David Sankuer Hero Award. 4Wall Entertainment sponsored the event as a Production Partner. Jeanette Farmer, national operations manager for 4Wall’s Systems and Design Division, presented the Sound Design and Lighting Design Valley Awards. Stage Directions magazine sponsored the Best Costume Scenic and Best Scenic Design awards. 

Add a comment
Read more
B Street Theatre and 16th Street Theater are the newest core members of the NNPN

NNPN Addes Two New Core Members

Jacob Coakley

B Street Theatre in Sacramento and 16th Street Theater in Chicago joined the National New Play Network as core members. Their different budgets (B Street Theatre has a $2.5 million budget, 16th Street works with $250,000), locations and aesthetic will help the NNPN grow as they continue to champion the development of new works.

Add a comment
Read more