It’s every Broadway fan’s favorite time of year… the start of the World Series!
While not every theater goer is an avid watcher of baseball, it may be one of the most represented sports on stage. Here are just a few times baseball has been featured on Broadway.
Probably the most known Broadway show centered on baseball is Damn Yankees. The 1955 musical comedy, book by George Abbot and Douglas Wallop and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, follows Joe Boyd, a middle-aged baseball fan who makes a deal with the devil to help his favorite team, the Washington Senators, defeat the New York Yankees. The original Broadway production starred legend Gwen Verdon and was choreographed by Bob Fosse (both of whom won Tony Awards for the production). The show won the 1956 Tony Award for Best Musical and in 1958, the musical was adapted into a film featuring many members of the original Broadway cast. The musical was revived at the Marquis Theatre in 1994 starring Victor Garber and Bebe Neuwirth as the dynamic duo, Mr. Applegate and Lola.
Considerably less successful than Damn Yankees, Allen and Ruby Sully Boretz’s The Hot Corner opened in January of 1956. This farce comedy about a minor-league manager trying to get back to the major leagues ran for a measly 5 performances before closing. The play was directed by and starred Sam Levene, who originated the role of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls.
In 1981, The First opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The musical, book by Joel Siegel and music and lyrics by Robert Brush and Martin Charnin, depicts the life of the first black player in major league baseball, Jackie Robinson. Closing after 31 performances, the musical was the Broadway debut of Tony Award winner and Broadway veteran David Alan Grier.
Baseball plays an important role in August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Fences. Troy, a middle-aged trash collector in Pittsburg, had ambitions of being in the Major League, but was unable to get in due to his troubled past and the color of his skin. When his son receives a college football scholarship, Troy’s past clouds his judgement, further separating him from his son. The original Tony winning production opened in 1987 starring James Earl Jones and had a Tony winning revived in 2010 starring Denzel Washington (Both leading men won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor).
Most recently, baseball appeared on Broadway in the 2022 2nd Stage production of Take Me Out. The 2022 Tony winning revival will be returning to Broadway this fall for a limited engagement. Richard Greenberg’s play, which premiered in 2002, explores themes of racism and homophobia in sports. Among the returning cast is Jesse Williams and Tony Award winner Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Performances begin October 27 th at the Schoenfeld Theatre.
So, even if 42 nd St. feels more at home to you than Yankee Stadium, there’s always a way to catch America’s favorite pass time.
Three of the theatre’s most inventive, inspired and award-winning artists will return to the stage in the Broadway premiere of Pictures From Home, which brings to vivid theatrical life a comic and dramatic portrait of a mother, a father and the son who photographed their lives. Based on the photo memoir by Larry Sultan, adapted to the stage by Sharr White (The Other Place, Annapurna), starring Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein and Zoë Wanamaker and staged by award-winning director Bartlett Sher, Pictures From Home will evoke memories of childhood, parenthood, and the vicissitudes that comprise familial relationships.
Pictures From Home will begin previews on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at Studio 54 on Broadway (254 W 54 th Street) and officially open on Thursday, February 9, 2023 for a strictly limited engagement. The creative team and ticketing information will be announced at a later date.
Even Hillary Clinton is [successfully] jumping on the hot Mystery bandwagon today, as audiences seeking great ‘Whodunits’ stories are steadily growing in abundance. So, in honor of her upcoming Broadway debut for Ohio State Murders, Adrienne Kennedy takes our top spot. See who else we ranked and why!
Lately, Whodunits are all the rage. From books to famous podcasts to Netflix to HBO to the theater and the theatre, mystery content and suspenseful storytelling is showing no signs of losing steam with audiences anytime soon. Maybe it’s the promise of escapism wrapped in thrills and oftentimes chills, that viewers find so enticing. Whatever the allure, mystery writers have provided a solid niche that has satisfied the itch of readers seeking a surprise since at least the 1800s.
Keep reading for our countdown of who we’d pick to be the top ten women writers for mystery.
1. Adrienne Kennedy
Born in Pennsylvania, 91 year old author and playwright, Adrienne Kennedy is best known for her early work of Funnyhouse of a Negro. In 2022, Kennedy won a Gold Medal award for Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, solidifying her incredible career and trajectory to Icon status. Kennedy’s plays draw on the past, both her own and outside events, and address the struggles of race, sex and individuality. Kennedy often relies on metaphors and narrative fragments that can leave audiences reeling and wanting more. As a playwright, she consistently centers Black women in her incredible storytelling. Her Broadway debut, at 91 years young, with Ohio State Murders, stars six-time Tony winning Audra McDonald, and will offer a nail-biting suspense thriller like no other, this November at the stunning James Earl Jones Theatre. Get your tickets now, as the play is sure to be a hypnotic success.
1890 – 1976. Born in the UK in 1890, Agatha Christie became, and remains, the best-selling novelist of all time. Christie is known for her popular 1966 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in multiple translations.
3. Patricia Highsmith
1921 – 1995. Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, TX and later died in Switzerland. Highsmith is an American novelist and short story writer best known for her psychological thrillers. The author delves into the nature of guilt, innocence, good and evil wrapped in beautiful backdrops. Her most famous works to-date are Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Carol, to name a few.
4. Gillian Flynn
Born in Kansas City, MO, Gillian Flynn is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Gone Girl, for which she wrote the Golden Globe–nominated screenplay and film starring Ben Affleck and more Hollywood A-listers. Flynn has since released the The Times bestsellers, Dark Places, Sharp Objects, and even a novella, The Grownup. A former critic for Entertainment Weekly, she lives [and writes] in Chicago with her husband and children.
5. Ngaio Marsh
1895 – 1982. New Zealand born, Ngaio Marsh, is best known internationally for her 32 detective novels published between 1934 and 1982. Along with Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie, Marsh has been classed as one of the four original “Queens of Crime” – a group of female writers who dominated the genre of crime fiction in the Golden Age of the ‘20s and ‘30s.Several of Marsh’s novels feature her other loves—the theatre and painting. A number of her works are set around theatrical productions (Enter a Murderer, Vintage Murder, Overture to Death, Opening Night, Death at the Dolphin, and Light Thickens).
6. Ruth Rendell
1930 – 2015. Born in the UK, Ruth Rendell is a British writer of mystery novels, psychological crime novels, and short stories and was perhaps best known for her novels featuring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford. Rendell initially worked as a reporter and copy editor for West Essex newspapers. Her first novel, From Doon with Death (1964), introduced Wexford, the clever chief inspector of a town in southeastern England, and his more stodgy associate Mike Burden. The pair appear in more than 20 additional popular novels thereafter.
7. Dorothy Salisbury Davis
1916 – 2014. Born in Chicago, Dorothy Salisbury Davis was an accomplished writer in the crime-fiction genre. She was nominated eight times for the renowned Edgar Award for Best Novel, and eventually served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America group in 1956. Davis is well known for such works as A Gentle Murderer, and A Gentleman Called. She continued working with literary organizations, such as Sisters in Crime, until her death in 2014.
8. Margaret Maron
1938 – 2021. Born in Greensboro, NC, Margaret Maron’s 1992 novel, The Bootlegger’s Daughter, is part of her famous Deborah Knott Series. She is also one of the founders of Sisters in Crime, an organization that helps and encourages women mystery writers and includes the likes of fellow writer Dorothy Salisbury Davis.
9. Charlotte Armstrong
1905 – 1969. Born in Michigan, the Edgar Award-winning Charlotte Armstrong was one of America’s finest authors of classic mystery and suspense. The daughter of an inventor, Armstrong attended college at Barnard, in New York City. After college she found work at the New York Times and the Breath of The Avenue magazine. For a decade she wrote plays and poetry, and though she had work produced on Broadway and published in The New Yorker, Armstrong was unsatisfied. In the early 1940’s, she began writing suspense. The Unsuspected (1945) and Mischief (1950) were both made into films–the latter was renamed “Don’t Bother to Knock”, starring Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark and Anne Bancroft. A Dram of Poison (1956) won the Edgar Award for best novel that year.
10. Margaret Millar
1915 – 1994. Born in Canada and died in California, Margaret Millar was well-known for her suspenseful writing style and shocking novel endings. Beast in View, a novel that won the 1956 Best Novel honor for the Edgar Award clearly shows why. This psychological thriller was also adapted into an Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV episode.
With so many incredible female mystery writers throughout our time, this list wasn’t easy to breakdown and rank. But that’s a great problem to have thanks to a huge, insanely talented pool of both old and newer contenders steadily pumping out hard-to-beat stories and characters that we can’t get enough of.
Be sure and see Adrienne Kennedy’s debut masterpiece, Ohio State Murders, for all the thrilling twists and turns on Broadway, beginning November 11.
All week long, we celebrate the life and legacy of Angela Lansbury. Here are tributes, stories, memories and the love we remember.
Today: Jefferson Mays, Phylicia Rashad, Jeffrey Richards, Molly Ringwald, Michael Rupert, Matthew Byam Shaw, Phillipa Soo, Richard Thomas
“I performed with her in Jeffrey Richards’s 2012 revival of Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN at the Schoenfeld. Even though the combined ages of everyone above the title was around 500 years she was always, somehow, the youngest person in the rehearsal room and on stage —it was like performing with a 14 year old with the acting chops of an 87 year old. Play was always the thing with Angela. I remember hiding from her backstage during performances and she’d always hunt me down and hit me with her cane. I was first mesmerized by her in BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS, (which she graciously condescended to discuss with me as a child in my 50’s), but my favorite role of hers was Mrs Lovett in SWEENY TODD — In the early 80’s, I checked the album out of my hometown public library every two weeks for the better part of a year. And, of course, my favorite photo is of her, resplendent in medieval dress, tucking into a big hamburger with Basil Rathbone at the Paramount commissary while filming THE COURT JESTER. Pure Angela!”
I was privileged to work with Angela Lansbury in “Murder She Wrote.” She was wonderful! Warm and personable, professional, and oh so kind. Her eyes were filled with light. She was filled with light and love. I treasure her memory.
“For my memories all are exciting My memories all are enchanted My memories burn in my head with a steady glow”…those are the lyrics from the hauntingly beautiful Jerry Herman song which Dame Angie (as I called her) sang so memorably in “Dear World” I had the privilege of presenting her in “Blithe Spirit” and “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man”…one word captures what she meant to me and to so many of us Class.
What a legend. I don’t believe we ever met. I think I would’ve remembered, and I wasn’t lucky enough to have seen her onstage since I grew up a California kid, but of course I know her film career. Let me think about it. I have many connections TO her (I did a film with Len Cariou who was in Sweeney Todd on Broadway) and She was the great aunt of my friend Ally Sheedy’s son. Off the top of my head, I would have to say the Manchurian Candidate always blows me away. Especially the fact that she was playing Laurence Harvey’s mother when they were almost the same age.
Angela Lansbury, in all the times I saw her on stage, made me want to constantly work to be better, to be truly committed to the work at hand and to be a real professional. She made the theater an amazing profession by example. My favorite performance of hers Mrs.Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Though, Elvis Presley’s doting mother in Blue Hawaii is a close second.
When I was a young teenager, I moved to NYC from California to be in a Broadway show, The Happy Time. For my performance, I got a Tony nomination. The day of the Tony Awards show, we gathered for rehearsal and camera blocking at The Shubert Theater, where the televised awards were to be presented that year. At some point in the afternoon, I was sitting alone in the house, watching everything that was happening, when Audrey Hepburn (who was a presenter that year) came and sat beside me and started quietly chatting, asking to know all about me, my career and what show I was in, etc.. Then Angela joined us. And she seemed to be as genuinely interested in my young life in the theater as Ms. Hepburn. They both made a 16-year-old making his Broadway debut feel like a true member of the theater and acting community. And made him feel very special that day.
MATTHEW BYAM SHAW
Angela Lansbury had the grace, intelligence and enormous talent which made her a true star and a joy to work with. She had an unstoppable mix of charisma and empathy which made her beloved by the public and colleagues alike. Her family political history in the British Labour movement rooted her in the proper principles of decency, respect and fellowship which shone through in her work and elevated her further.
MY favorite Angela performance from stage (and/or screen)? As a small boy I was besotted with Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
After her triumph on Broadway she enjoyed the same great success with Blithe Spirit here in London at the Gielgud with such humility and delight. It was intoxicating and made the company and all of us at Playful Productions determined to have the best time possible with a great legend in our midst.
Though I never met Angela Lansbury, her portrayal as the voice of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast is one of most distinct voices I can recall from my childhood. It was familiar, like a warm hug. What an icon. She has lived the exemplary life of an artist.
I believe she had the perfect career. Long and varied in all mediums. Success both artistic and commercial. Delicious performances laced with wit, warmth and occasional creepiness. And an unswerving loyalty to the theater.
I can never get Mrs. Lovett out of my mind. She’s always there, inviting me to have a pie.
We shared the same neighborhood and enjoyed many conversations in that orbit. I never played with her, but knew her and revered her as a colleague. And she was a truly lovely person. Here’s to Angie!
Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Topdog/Underdog, is receiving a first-rate, totally enthralling revival at the Golden Theatre on Broadway. Anchored by sensational performances from its two stars, Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and directed by Kenny Leon, the play focuses on two brothers, aptly named Lincoln and Booth. Both are driven by their obsession with three-card monte and haunted by their past which inevitably forces them to come to grips with their history and their connective tissue. Watching Hawkins and Abdul-Mateen reflect on the hustle, exposing what it means to be family, makes for a truly riveting two handers. The surprise of the evening comes from Hawkins who graces the audience with his soul stirring vocals…leaving us wondering is a musical on his horizon? Once again Kenny Leon proves he is a master at honoring the writer’s words, trusting his actors to deliver them and providing his audiences with a winning evening at the theater.
All week long, we celebrate the life and legacy of Angela Lansbury. Here are tributes, stories, memories and the love we remember.
Today: Eric McCormack, Ian McShane, Jessie Mueller, Casey Nicholaw, Kelli O’Hara, Steven Pasquale, Austin Pendleton, Neil Pepe, Kenneth Posner, Zachary Quinto and Ann Roth
I fell in love with Angela the first time I heard Sweeney Todd. I was seventeen. While I came to realize, years later, how many iconic roles she’d originated, and how incredibly versatile she was, I was blown away. But Mrs Lovett will always be my favorite hilarious at first, then sweet as pie when she fantasizes about living with Sweeney; heartbreakingly maternal with Toby, and finally downright vicious with Lucy… Angela was such a treasure because she brought so much depth and range to a character. Her dedication to coming back to the theatre year after year, despite such an incredible run in film and on TV, has always been inspirational to me. Her career just screams, “You can have it all, but you gotta WORK for it, constantly. And you gotta LOVE it.” There was nothing cynical in Angela; the work mattered, right up till the end.
I got to share the stage with Angie for six months, during Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. Still vital at 86, funny and chatty. My son was 10 at the time, and stood backstage during curtain call for a whole week once; and every night, as she exited the stage, she and James Earl Jones would high five my boy as they passed him. He knew who Darth Vader was; I hope one day he comes to appreciate the other giant of the theatre who greeted him all that week.
On stage, screen and Life …….
She was fabulous
One of the GOATs, and sexy .
I grew up with Angela Lansbury in two of my favorite childhood films, The Court Jester and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. There was something about her voice, her cheeky sense of humor; she could do it all. In later years, I realized she was Mame, a Sondheim darling and of course the star of Murder She Wrote. She’s one of those great dames of the theatre that I’m not sure we’ll ever see the like of again. May she rest in peace! What a legend.
Angela Lansbury was an icon to me growing up – the elegance, the voice, the comedy. She was musical theater personified – truthful, yet heightened. My family didn’t have any money when I was a kid in San Diego so my entertainment was checking out albums from the library and learning about all of the Broadway musicals. I loved Sweeney Todd and Mame and also Anyone Can Whistle – especially her songs. My favorite Angela performance (from stage or screen) The Manchurian Candidate. I only got to meet her once – and it was such a thrill – she sat directly in front of me when she came to see Anyone Can Whistle at Encores and it was so much fun to watch her watch it – and she was also so complimentary afterward. It was a dream come true for my teen aged self.
She was the sort of star I admire the most. She never had to tell the world she was a star. It was just undeniable because of her work. I loved her gentle kindness.
I grew up watching her on television, so it wasn’t until I heard her recording of Sweeney Todd that I truly understood just how versatile she was, just how brilliant. One of a kind sound, one of a kind look, unmatched ability. I was often at different events or galas performing somewhere in the same line-up (Jerry Herman’s Kennedy Center Honor, etc.) so it was the personal interaction back stage or just off the stage when i could really see her true colors…a moment under pressure and yet her warmth and generosity to take a moment of her own time to acknowledge the gawking admirer. She would beat me to a compliment or a word of encouragement rather than let me shower her. That sort of star, who eases the air for a younger admirer, holds a special place in my heart.
Angela Lansbury is the shining example of a theater artist. Despite lots of success in tv and film she always always returned to the stage. A great example for those of us addicted to a life in the theater.
Without question my favorite Angela Lansbury performance…Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I have no idea if that movie even holds up but I have incredible memories of seeing it for the first time as a small child.
I’ve done a handful of concerts/benefits with her and found her to be utterly charming and aware of how impactful interacting with us would be for us.
What she meant — and means — to me is that, as an actor, you can just keep on stretching. You can be adventurous. Continually.
I think, if I had to choose, that Sweeney Todd is my favorite of her performances.
I knew her slightly. I worked with her once, on an episode of “Murder, She Wrote.”
She was DEMANDING. Excitingly so. I’d love to have worked with her again and again.
To me, Angela Lansbury has always been an inspiration for the incredible range of her roles and her extraordinary work ethic. From theater to film to TV, she consistently delivered surprising and rich performances in everything she did. Angela performances that jump out to me when I think of her are Gaslight, The Manchurian Candidate and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I never met Angela Lansbury but she continues to give me hope for longevity in this business.
I had the good fortune to design the lighting for one of Angela Lansbury’s last Broadway shows, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. She was a kind force and I remember her being very gracious to all of us on the other side of the foot lights. Her range and diversity as an artist was an inspiration to anyone who cherishes making theatre.
Angela – to me – represented longevity via authenticity and good old fashioned talent. She was eloquent and tenacious and nuanced and always understood the assignment. The theater is a more vivid community because of her performances and the excellence of her craft. She was an anchor of the art form – and her absence will be felt deeply by anyone lucky enough to have seen her on stage.
My favorite Angela performance is hands down Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. I never got to see it live – but watched the recording dozens of times. She brings that character to life with equal parts humor heart desperation and devotion to dizzying effect. It is in my estimation peak Angela Lansbury.
Sadly I never got to meet her. A fact which I find particularly lamentable now that she’s gone. May she rest well in the knowledge that she shaped and inspired the lives of generations of young performers and delighted audiences the world over.
Angela has always meant the gold standard. You knew from the minute you began to work with her that you had to raise yourself up to her standard as best you could. That is what she has meant to me and I believe to the theatre at large. Her presence and work was an example to everyone who worked with her.
Everyone says Manchurian Candidate is their favorite performance of hers and I would like to watch that every year. But Ms. Lansbury was in my first picture The World of Henry Orient and I was introduced to her ethic and her humor then and so it has a forever spot in my heart. She was also so very brilliant as Mama Rose in Arthur Laurents’ Gypsy. What an actress!
Let it be known that, when I was living in Dorothy Jerkins’ garage in the late fifties, Dorothy arranged for me to babysit Angela’s children. This consisted of me putting the, then maybe six and seven year olds, into the roof well of my MG convertible and driving them around. But, in the last play we did together, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, we had the most giggles ever working on the fabulous wig that Paul Huntley made for her. Not every actress, in fact practically none of them, can work a wig like that, let me just say.
All week long, we celebrate the life and legacy of Angela Lansbury. Here are tributes, stories, memories and the love we remember.
Today: Marin Ireland, Cherry Jones, Adam Kantor, Stacy Keach, John Larroquette, Kenny Leon, Patti LuPone, Joe Mantello and Michael Mayer.
One of the things I’m proudest of in my life is losing a Tony Award to Angela Lansbury.
I first became aware of the breadth of her career when I watched the movie Gaslight to prepare for a summer stock production of Angel Street the year I turned 21. She knocked my socks off. Her self-assured charm and comedic vitriol seemed otherworldly, I couldn’t believe she had done that a few years younger than I was. I had only known of her as Jessica Fletcher and heard tell of her Broadway career, the stuff of legend.
Then it was 2009 and I was on Broadway for the first time. And she was there too, making a triumphant return in Blithe Spirit. I was lucky enough to witness her performance. Once again, I could not believe my eyes. How was she moving like that? Those high kicks? Getting those laughs upon laughs? She was pure magic. The epitome of ease and grace.
Whenever the five nominees were at an event, the other four of us would shyly gather and someone would say what we were all thinking “should we go say hello to Dame Angela?”
We were too starstruck individually. And none of us would have dared if we didn’t have the excuse of sharing a category. It was a little silly, the idea of being “up against” Dame Angela. But I was so grateful for the excuse to be near her.
We would go and genuflect and she couldn’t have been kinder or more gracious, every time. We attempted small talk but mostly just fawned and tried to be cool. It was giddying, humbling, and inspiring to be in her presence.
And I’ll never forget the rush of emotion—joy and awe and reverence—as I leapt to my feet to applaud her when she won, tears in my eyes. I turned to my mother and she had the same look on her face I did. “Look at her”, I said. “Wow.”
In 1974 on my Thanksgiving break Freshman year at Carnegie Mellon I came to NY to visit a friend who surprised me with tickets to Gypsy. I already worshiped Angela Lansbury. The previous Spring I’d played Mame in MAME at Henry County High School in Paris, Tennessee. I’d STUDIED the original Broadway cast album and every syllable, every note that came out of Ms Lansbury. I’d never heard a speaking voice or singing voice like hers. As unique as any voice I’ve ever heard.
What I remember most about her Gypsy was the force, the power the speed of her Rose. Her energy level was through the roof. She had no time to waste making her girls stars. By the time she sang “Rose’s Turn”, arms stretched over her head, her force was so tremendous it was as though she was lifting the roof like a pot boiling over and lifting the lid. At curtain call she seemed she seemed as though she could have asked the conductor to “hit it” and performed the entire show again from the top.
I saw the same tremendous burning captivating energy in her Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. I was on the last row in the theater for the first act and found an empty single seat in the middle of the front row for the second act.
I was feet away when she sang “Nothing’s gonna harm you…”. Her hands as she wrapped herself round the boy were so large, beautiful and eloquent. I felt wrapped by her too.
She was a Sequoia.
Angela not only represented ferocious talent and commitment to character, but a rare generosity of spirit — an inimitable blend of warmth and grace. She emanated humanity from every pore, and one could feel a sense of empathy that she carried — so evident in her work and how she approached her characters.
I loved how she seemed to love and embrace what Mrs Potts meant to the world – particularly to younger generations. It makes me think of her genuine care and interest in her own grandchildren, and my own relationship with my grandmother.
She graced our lives with an elegance and a generosity of spirit that left a trail of love and inspiration for actors everywhere. Regrettably, I never had the honor and privilege to work with her, but her presence among us, the gifts she bestowed on us with her iconic performances, matched only by her gracious warmth, places Angela Lansbury in a class all by herself. Her legend will live in our hearts and minds forever.
Angela Lansbury was, to me, a beacon. A remarkable human and a towering talent. Working with her on Broadway was a privilege and a soul enriching experience I will never forget. She was kind, witty, charming and dedicated to our craft like no one I had met before. To stand on stage with her was a dream. Often I had to remind myself to keep acting and not just sit and admire her.
I was able to do the latter a few years ago when my wife and I had the pleasure of seeing her in Blithe Spirit on stage.
She will always be a giant of the theatre and a remarkable artist who will live on forever.
I remember seeing Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd. How could an actor engage me so deeply in a story? The performance was transformative and has lived within my artistic soul for so many years. It has inspired me to realize that if one tells a story, fully committed the audience is always ready to take the ride. Thank you Ms Lansbury for giving me the courage always needed to tell the stories that need to be told.
My favorite Angela performance Sweeney Todd.
She spoke to me during Tony Awards week… She spoke to me… I’m a soldier in her army…she spoke to me. So grateful for her sharing her gift with us.
Angela has always been a standard bearer, whether on stage or on film. She was an effortless actor, an intelligent, empathetic, technically dazzling actor. Her performances on stage were indelible. There may be other interpretations but Angela’s always leads. She was certainly never far from my mind when I played my first Sondheim role, Nellie Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
I can’t pinpoint one role of Angela’s. But Gaslight, The Manchurian Candidate and Sweeney Todd jump out at me.
Angela was a great lady. Kind, generous, supportive. When we did see each other there was such warmth. If she saw a performance of mine she let me know. She was always gracious when I visited her backstage. And I know from experience sometimes you just want to go home. Her last performance I believe was A Little Night Music. I visited her but was keenly aware of not keeping the Lady too long. But I had to pay my respect. She was a jewel. She was adored. She was an Artist of the highest caliber.
The theatre definitely lost one of the greats this past week. I was lucky enough to see Ms L give many remarkable performances over the years, starting with my very first Broadway show—SWEENEY TODD. I’m not sure I ever recovered.
AL was a consummate artist, and her dedication to the theatre was an ongoing source of inspiration for generations of theatre makers. She was a living reminder that generosity, kindness, and personal dignity were compatible with enormous talent and drive and the quest for excellence.) I saw the original cast of Sweeney Todd at the Uris Theatre and her Mrs. Lovett made an indelible impression. I also loved her Rose in Gypsy which I saw on tour. My favorite screen performance is The Manchuria Candidate, but because she had scenes with Judy, I am a little obsessed with her in The Harvey Girls. I had the great honor of directing the Drama League benefit honoring Angie, so I spent some real time with her, and to say that those moments were memorable would be a gigantic understatement. She also gave us our Best Musical Tony for Spring Awakening. #bucketlist
All week long, we celebrate the life and legacy of Angela Lansbury. Here are tributes, stories, memories and the love we remember.
Today: Kerry Butler, Brian Cox, Bryan Cranston, Michael Feinstein, Santino Fontana and Julie Halston
Angela had the career we all dream of. She crossed over into theater, television and film and did it effortlessly. She is a theater icon for roles like Mame and Mrs. Lovett. My family and I loved to watch her on Murder She Wrote. I am a huge Disney fan, so I’m partial to Beauty and the Beast and Bednobs and Broomsticks.
Working with Angela Lansbury on The Best Man was an honor and privilege. She has an unmatched career- what I didn’t know was how kind she was. No one on that show could be a diva because Angela and James Earl Jones (I think both in their 80’s at the time) were so kind, down to earth and such hard workers. Before one scene I got to sit on a couch with Candice Bergen and Angela, and Angela would tell us stories about growing up in the business. She said her mother (also a performer) would travel with her when she was a baby, and she would sleep in a dresser drawer! Working with her was a highlight of my career.
Angela has to be admired and wondered at for the sheer extraordinary range of her work from Film, TV…Dramatic and Musical Theatre …which is probably unequalled by any other actress..ever.
She was such a tremendous, benevolent and consistently constant force in our business.
It’s extremely hard to imagine our game without Angela Lansbury.
Of course her greatest performance for me was…Eleanor Shaw in the Manchurian Candidate.
To think she was actually three years older than Laurence Harvey who played her son. A compelling study of Matriarchal Evil. And so much the antithesis of who she was as a kind an considerate person. An awe inspiring acting achievement. I was 16 when I saw it… she completely scared the shit out of me.
One of my regrets, having been such a fan…is ..sadly I never met…but…What an actress!
Angela was an amazing actor. A champion among us all. Those of us who go to do a Murder, She Wrote (or three) and got to experience her craft that she handled with such grace. On film she was treacherous in The Manchurian Candidate and delightful in Beauty and the Beast. But it was on stage where she truly lived and I was marveled by her work in Blithe Spirit, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man and, of course, Sweeney Todd. The curtain is lowered now, Ms. Lansbury…the show’s over, and you were splendid!
One of the most powerful and inspiring things about Angela was her strong sense of self combined with true compassion and kindness towards all. Everyone was treated equally. She knew exactly who she was and what she could do, and her unwavering sense of that eventually resulted in achieving her goals when others might have given up earlier in the game.
My favorite performance of hers was the reunion with Len Cariou at the Hollywood Bowl for the Sondheim 80th Birthday Tribute when they recreated “A Little Priest”. It was a time capsule and we were all transported back to 1979. She was ageless.
Accompanying her at the piano (for a special event) was a wonderful experience, and I was taken by how insecure she felt when she wasn’t portraying a character and just being herself. She needn’t have been, for she sang wonderfully just as Angela Lansbury!
One time I went to see her in Blithe Spirit I noticed that the once fearsome critic John Simon was seated to my left and was out cold, snoring in his seat. When I went backstage and mentioned it to her, thinking she’d find it funny, she didn’t. She responded “Who does he write for?” and I said “Bloomberg”. She lightened up immediately, and laughingly said, “Oh, then it doesn’t matter”.
I’m thinking back to my childhood and remember seeing her in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, then hearing her singing the title song in Beauty and the Beast. All while the adults in my family were watching Murder She Wrote. Then I remember the older theater kids in my school passing me a top secret video tape of this adult show called Sweeney Todd. Was that the same woman? My high school did a production of this never done show, Anyone Can Whistle…”here Santino listen to the cast album, it’ll make more sense.” That’s the same woman again? Then once I was old enough, my grandfather recommended I watch The Manchurian Candidate. That’s her too??? Years later, I was asked to sing at a benefit honoring Hal Prince. Afterwards, a gentle, warm woman approached me. “Hi, I’m Angela. That was quite good. Who are you?” She could be considered a legend for the sheer volume of work she created. She could be considered a legend for the expansive diversity of her work dramatic feature films, children’s animated films, musical dramas, musical comedies, television series and movies, Noel Coward plays, Terrence McNally plays…it goes on and on. She was limitless. But what I think makes her truly legendary is how in all of her performances she somehow found her way into our hearts. She made us feel like we knew her and she loved us. My favorite Angela performances Sweeney Todd, Manchurian Candidate, Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
A few words regarding this simply legendary performer and person.
The quality of her work is known of course but the longevity of her career is what I find so amazing and frankly inspiring as an artist. That this woman , whose charm and grace and professionalism was very well known could also keep reinventing herself with a variety of skills is what means so much to me as an artist. Film star, Broadway Star, Television Star, Animation Star -was there anything she couldn’t do?! and all with the above mentioned charm and grace.
Her performance as Laurence Harvey’s ruthless mother, Eleanor in the film TheManchurian Candidate still makes me shudder with her sly, flirtatious and utterly terrifying portrayal.
And although I did not see her on Broadway in Mame , I remember very well the 1975 Tony Awards when she came down those stairs and ended up in the arms on Mayor John V. Lindsay -she was surprised and laughing ( it’s on YOUTUBE) I just thought this was the most glamour I’ve ever seen ! ( I had not met Charles Busch yet !)
Speaking of Charles Busch, Angela was a great admirer of Charles’ work and we were all beside ourselves when she came ( with Ian McKellen !!) to the downtown Soho Playhouse to see The Divine Sister – She and Ian had a wonderful time and of course pictures were taken ! And then , a few years later I did a workshop with Angela of the Ahrens / Flaherty musical Anastasia . The minute she saw me , she threw her arms around me and said “ Darling I’m still laughing about the nuns you and Charles played !” She was so kind to me and everyone and I kept thinking “ Is this happening ?”
We were blessed to witness this extraordinary talent , this fabulous woman and this true legend. We were lucky – we may never see the likes of her again.
All week long, we celebrate the life and legacy of Angela Lansbury. Here are tributes, stories, memories and the indelible life we remember and will never forget.
Today: Jason Alexander, Debbie Allen, Annaleigh Ashford, Elizabeth Ashley, Candace Bergen, Andre Bishop and Danny Burstein.
Let me just share a personal story.
It is fairly well known that I was reluctant to be in the cast of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway because when I was approached it was conceived as a giant dance review of Jerry’s best Broadway choreography. And clearly, I couldn’t dance it. But they kept saying that I was to be “the host” of the show. And that didn’t sound like much of a task for an actor so I kept passing.
Eventually I understood what the role could be and took it and eventually won a Tony for it. But during the early part of the run, the New York Times did an interview with me in which I was trying to explain my reluctance to be cast as I have done here for you. And I said to the interviewer, “they kept telling me I was going to be the host. The host? I mean, what is that? Angela Lansbury is the greatest host in Tony history but even she wouldn’t want to do that eight times a week”.
Somehow, when the article came out, that quote was paraphrased by the author saying something like, “Jason feared he’d be stuck in a hosting role like Angela Lansbury”. So not what I said!!!!!! It felt so demeaning and dismissive of Angela. I was devastated. I wanted to reach out to her to explain but I didn’t know her and didn’t now how I could reach her. So, I just let it go and hoped she wouldn’t see it.
Months later she came to our show. And in true Great Lady of the Theater form, she came backstage to shower compliments on our company. But she specifically came to my dressing room and gushed over my performance for a solid five minutes with compliments so lush that I could barely stand. And all the while I was thinking, “should I say something? Should I mention the article?” I remained silent and after a thorough exhalting from Dame Angela, she began to walk away. And at that moment I broke.
I ran to her and said, “Ms. Lansbury, I have to tell you…I don’t know if you ever saw it or heard about it but I was so horribly mis-quoted in the Times. I was trying to explain that being a great host is not an easy task but that it is not something an actor would necessarily find challenging in a long run of a show and I referenced you lovingly but they got it all wrong and I have felt terrible ever since thinking you would think I would ever go anything but revere every moment of your work and I’m sorry I didn’t say this earlier but I’ve just been so embarrassed”.
Angela gave me a big, heartfelt hug and then put my face in her hands and said, “my darling boy, the papers never get it right. I saw it. And I was delighted just to see that a young artist like yourself even knew who I was”. She had seen it. And despite what it sounded like, she came backstage and showered me with affection and praise, and then walked away. If I hadn’t said something, she would never have known if the paper was right or wrong. And it didn’t matter to her. She knew who she was. She knew her worth. She was a woman of the theater.
I met Angela several times over the years after that, even doing several benefits with her. We always shared a good laugh over that experience. She was grace and dignity and good fun and true professionalism through and through. She was a queen. And she left us with her amazing legacy of work and spirit. God bless her.
I had the distinct pleasure of being in Angela’s company during her many appearances
on THE ACADEMY AWARDS celebrations when Gil Cates was producing. I think he was surely one of her greatest fans. She was beyond delightful and fun to be around. So funny, so many great stories and so gracious, while being very grounded by her personal life. Her son was her favorite and best companion. She was one of a kind, and will be remembered with tremendous respect and always a smile.
Angela Lansbury was one of the greats. A truly magical artist. She had the wonderful combination of craft and God given talent. Most of all, she was not only a great performer but she was a great human. There was clearly such a love and respect for the theatre as an artform and for the theatre community. She also showed those of us who are mothers in the theatre that it is possible to do eight shows a week and have a family.
My favorite Angela performances Mrs. Lovett, Mame, Mama Rose. The list goes on and on. But I will aways have a uniquely special place for Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
I met her three times. I cried every time. She is one person that I was truly unable to control my emotions in front of. I couldn’t talk and had to walk away. I had such a profound sense of gratitude for her as an artist. I have always felt connected to her body of work and her commitment to being a character actress. I want to be her when I grow up. Always have and always will.
Countless hearts were broken last week when beloved Angela Lansbury left us for that big ole dressing room in the sky. Where else would she go?
I know exactly where she is right this minute because –
it’s always ‘half hour’ somewhere.
She’s at her dressing table, staring in the mirror and putting herself through that ancient ritual actors have been doing since Euripides wrote the script.
First, pinning and securing her wig cap and starting her makeup. Then, Angela’ll take that little piece of sandpaper she always has tucked under her hairpin box and scratch the soles of the shoes she’ll be wearing when she makes her first entrance onstage. “Insurance against slippage,” Angela says.
“15 minutes please” will be heard over the dressing room intercom, until “five minutes please” blares everywhere backstage. Then comes the always slightly terrifying “places please, ladies and gentlemen. Places, please.” And off she goes, like the thoroughbred she is.
In the weeks, months, and years to come, every superlative in the dictionary will be used in remembrance of Angela Lansbury. All will be accurate and true. I racked what’s left of my brain to recapture my immediate visceral response when I first heard “Angela Lansbury died.” Two words blazed thru me –
1.) Monumental – defined in Oxford Dictionary as ‘Great in importance, extent, or size.’
2.) Champion. Bottom line, she is and will always be the Muhammad Ali of performing artists in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Her artistry, creative imagination, strength, generosity of spirit, perseverance, humility, determination, kindness, immeasurable talent, professionalism, and dedication set a bar so high it can never be attained – only aspired to.
I’ve known Angela since the early 1970’s. Later, I did a couple of guest shots on Murder, She Wrote, and we became friends. Once, I was being considered for a job that I desperately needed both financially and professionally but was told I was at the bottom of the list because much more famous actresses were being considered. During the ‘waiting to hear’ period I ran into Angela on a film lot. She asked what I was doing, and I told her. I’ll never forget her response. She told me she’d never been first choice for any of the best parts she’d done in film or on stage! She said – “you walk into that room and just tell them they should know that part has your name all over it!”
One of the most daunting jobs I ever did was when Jeffrey Richards asked me to replace Angela when she was leaving The Best Man on Broadway. Angela would continue for a week while I rehearsed during the day. She not only insisted that I use her dressing room when I had a break in rehearsal, but she also helped clarify the blocking that was all new to me. She even gave me tips on how to navigate the sometimes-complicated scene changes.
It goes without saying I was always a super fan. Her range was unmatched and awesome. Her body of work is so vast it’s impossible to single out any one thing.
I’m always fascinated by the choices actors make in extremely difficult roles. Angela’s work in The Manchurian Candidate – She was terrifying, but at the same time you understood and empathized with her.
I’ll never forget the opening night of Sweeney Todd. You fell in love with her and just wanted more and more of her horrifying pies. Truly, we’ll not see her like again.
So, to the original genuine ‘wild Irish rose,’ – One last time, “Places, please.”
P.S.- Thanks for leaving that little scrap of sandpaper on the dressing room table – it’s my ‘Angie-treasure’ –
Angela has been, to an actor, Eternal. Like the coastline or the Empire State Building. Always excellent and always with great range. She could sing, probably dance, and she won tons of awards for acting.
One memory I have of her (which I was actually shocked by) was her doing leg lifts and tours jetes holding onto the podium backstage before the curtain went up. She’d had hundreds of surgeries hip and knee replacements and she was almost cocky about her flexibility. I got it. She was remarkable. Meticulous about her work on stage. A couple of times I tripped her up because I was late with a cue and afterwards she told me, “It all makes a difference. Every little thing triggers something else. I need it all to be exact.” She was right and I learned the importance of discipline in one’s work from her. Discipline and pride.
She had enormous stamina, she was 86 when we worked together in THE BEST MAN and she never missed a performance, never arrived a minute late. She had a system and she kept to it and it paid off. I’ve never worked with anyone more professional . She was a pleasure and it was a privilege.
In 1968, I was in ninth grade in Wilmington, Delaware. My mother had been so disappointed that she hadn’t seen Angela Lansbury in MAME, so when this incredible ad appeared in the Sunday Arts and Leisure section announcing DEAR WORLD, my father sent right off for ticket for the whole family to trek to NYC so we wouldn’t miss out again.
I think it was a Saturday night in December, up to The Big City we came, all seven of us, full of anticipation. I, who had always wanted to be an actor, was out of my mind with excitement. We stayed in the Howard Johnson’s at 51st and Eight Avenue (now the Hampton Inn) right around the corner from The Mark Hellinger. We had dinner at Les Pyrénées, now long gone, next to the theater and my oldest brother who was 18, had his first legal drink, a daquiri. We arrived in our coats and ties at the gorgeous theater (still unchanged inside even though it has ceased to be a theater.) The lobby was out of control with excitement. They were handing out the souvenir programs for free (I still have it) because the creative team detailed inside had been replaced, the director Peter Glenville was out and Joe Layton had taken over. The play was supposed to have already opened by the time we were there but because of the switcheroo, changes were still being made, songs listed in the Playbill were gone and new ones not listed were sung. The show must’ve been in trouble because Peter Glenville hadn’t even been the first director, the ad had announced Lucia Victor.
None of that mattered. The memory of sitting there at 14 is as vivid to me today as it was that cold and long ago Saturday night. Angela Lansbury’s iconic status even then– just within our family– was permanently sealed. Her performance that night was seared into my still plastic brain, and when she won the Tony the following spring, we were all as proud as if she’d been a member of our family.
I think for all of us in the theater, we felt like she was a member of our family, a great aunt–is her name Mame?–who was always there full of joy and celebration. I saw her many times on stage after that, and it was always the same incredible jolt I felt at 14 to be in her presence and see her making magic. And my children saw her on stage. I certainly can think of no other actor, even legendary ones, who appealed to so many of us for so many reasons. She could do it all, and did, so the musical theater aficionados had that that Angela, straight play lovers had their Angela and movie buffs worshiped her for her gorgeous performances on film. Plus she was one classy classy lady, always carrying herself impeccably, even after the days when that was no longer in fashion. She set very high standards in every aspect of her life.
Forty years after I saw her in DEAR WORLD, I asked was to do a reading with her. It was a talented and seasoned group of actors but we were all flabberghasted that she, at that point in her astonishing career, would be into spending her day like so many of us do, in a conference room with a handful of fellow artists, exploring a new play. She was incredibly collegial, relaxed and generous and stayed after to discuss the flaws and strengths of the play, just like the rest of us. Still setting a standard of integrity and artistry. How to be an artist, on and off the stage.
I, of course, couldn’t believe, that my journey had led me from that cold night at The Mark Hellinger Theater to sitting in a conference room with Angela Lansbury. Such was the miracle of her career, it just seemed that she was just always there, a beacon for generations, and we had no reason to think she wouldn’t continue to always be there.
But actually, she lived one of those lives that will always be there. Her work is incredibly well documented, and the fact that her first performances on film remain as fresh and alive today as when they were filmed lets us know her work will never go out of fashion or appear dated. Several of her film performances are touchstones and inspirations for me on how to be a great film actor THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, ALL FALL DOWN. She has a moment in THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT that continues to take my breath away, even thinking about it. Such is the result of living an authentic and truthful life that she brought effortlessly to her work. And also being as talented as a person can be.
How lucky we all are to have shared the planet with a soul as transcendent as Angela Lansbury’s.
When we got home to Wilmington the next day after seeing DEAR WORLD, I went off to a Christmas party at a friend’s house. As I was leaving to go, my mother, seeing how hopped up I was from our excursion to The Big City and Broadway, said, “Now, don’t go to the party and brag about our trip to see Angela Lansbury.” I can’t remember if I bragged at the party that night, but I have been bragging about it ever since. And I imagine I will for the rest of my life.
Angela Lansbury was a great artist, and she was impressive particularly because she kept reinventing herself. First she was a saucy young movie actor; then a musical comedy star, then a beloved television icon. She taught us that you could be talented and impressive and still be decent and nice. She was fun and smart and she was an example of excellence to those of us in show business.
My favorite performance of hers would have to have been – what else – Mame!
I knew her only slightly but I remember one day when she was doing a reading here of The Chalk Garden she suddenly turned and said to me “I’ve played everywhere but I have never played the Beaumont. Do you think you might have room for me someday?”
Angela Lansbury epitomized “class” in the Theater. She was kind. She was a true professional. She worked hard and showed up night after night. She was incredibly talented. She led by example. And she was always good.
My favorite Angela Lansbury performance? How can I not say Mrs. Lovett? She was fierce, funny, sexy and brilliant. And, what the hell, The Manchruian Candidate wasn’t bad either.
I met Angela on several occasions throughout the years. But my favorite time was after an early preview of Fiddler on the Roof. She came backstage to say hello to me. About a year before I’d gone backstage to visit John Lithgow after a show and he asked me to sign his “remembrance book”. I thought to myself, I should do this for all the people who come backstage after Fiddler – it’ll be a wonderful way for me to remember that time. The first person who came back was Angela and I was a little nervous & embarrassed to ask her to sign the book. I explained to her that John had done this and I thought it “might be a nice keepsake”. In an instant she grabbed the book, held it close to her heart, closed her eyes and said, “Oh, Danny, I have always wanted to do this!!!” Immediately all my nerves about asking people were gone. I mean if Angela Lansbury loved the idea, then it was definitely okay! She signed her autograph with a huge flourish, gave me a hug and was on her way. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget her.
Today we celebrate what would have been Angela Lansbury’s 97th birthday with Broadway’s Best Shows’ 2021 “Show of Titles” special tribute to Angela, “Angie” as friends called her, performed by Len Cariou, Rob McClure and Aaron Tveit. We miss you deeply already, Angie.
All week long Broadway’s Best Shows will be sharing memories from friends and colleagues.