Tag Archives: Actors Equity

Get the scoop

Best to get the scoop on all things theater from trusted sources

Folks eager to get the scoop on celebrity comings and goings turn too often to unreliable sources. Before you buy that next gossip rag, or grace some tacky tell-all website with another hit, consider the source.

Folks who love theater will soon find plenty of compelling fare on the Actors’ Equity Association website — which recently launched “The Narrative Project” to gather and share accounts of actors’ professional experiences. The project is part of preparations for next year’s AEA “Centennial Celebration.” The organization was founded in 1903.

Actors’ Equity Association is (“AEA” or “Equity”) is a labor union representing more than 49,000 actors and stage managers in the U.S. The union “seeks to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society.” They negotiate wages and working conditions, and provide benefits like health and pension plans to members.

Tonight’s Tony Awards ceremony will include the presentation of a special award to the Actors’ Equity Association, but also something a local AEA member put on my radar. This year’s event will feature not only live performances from several shows (including two shows not nominated who graciously accepted the invitation to perform), but also a beamed-in performance aboard a cruise ship. Not everyone is doing their happy dance.

Whatever your position, be wary of where you get the scoop. I’ve talked this week with folks I respect on both sides of the issue. Best to consult primary sources for such things. In this case, it’s Actors’ Equity Association and the organizations who’ve jointly administered the Tony Awards since 1967 — The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

If you’re eager to learn more about Broadway behind-the-scenes, check out this morning’s CBS Sunday Morning story on the “Gypsy Robe” — a longtime tradition for opening nights on Broadway.

When it comes to getting the scoop on individual actors, look for opportunities to hear actors themselves doing the talking. They beat all those other talking heads every time. Frequent interviewers of theater professionals include Charlie Rose and James Lipton.

Click here for more information on tonight’s Tony Awards ceremony.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the gypsy robe tradition (including where these babies live today). If it’s a real ice cream scoop you seek, check out this blog where I spotted the lovely specimen pictured above. For actor accounts of earning their AEA card, click here.

Coming up: The adventures of Arizona Tony Awards travelers, From big stage to small screen

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12


Easter bonnets, Broadway style

As Easter Sunday drew to a close last weekend, it suddently dawned on me. For the first time since we’ve had children, there were no Easter baskets at our house.

We’ve long celebrated Easter as more of a cultural tradition than a religious observance, so bunnies and baskets are the mainstay of our celebration.

I suggested to my husband James a few years ago that it might be time to let the baskets go. All three kids were in high school and college — so they knew not to wait up for the bunny to magically appear.

But he wasn’t ready to give up the tradition. I suspect his affection for chocolate was to blame, or perhaps it was his hesitance to admit that our children weren’t really children anymore.

Oddly enough, I found myself missing those Easter baskets on Monday. Even wondering how Christmas might be different once our youngest heads to college in the fall.

But then I heard about the “Easter Bonnet Competition” — a 25-year-old tradition that “celebrates and concludes six intensive weeks of fundraising by the theatre community benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.”

I’m starting to question my decision last Saturday to actually get on that plane from the East Coast back to Arizona. Were Lizabeth and I still near NYC, I’d be hopping over to the Minskoff Theatre for Monday or Tuesday night’s “Easter Bonnet” event.

This year’s “Easter Bonnet Competition” features “more than a dozen companies of Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring productions offering skits, songs and dances, as well as bonnets created specially for the event.”

The celebration features a cast including “many of the season’s biggest Broadway performers.” Those scheduled to appear include Robin Williams, Judith Light, Dan Lauria, Christie Brinkley, John Leguizamo, Heidi Blickenstaff, Roger Rees, Josh Gad, Andrew Rannells, Jose Llana, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jayne Houdyshell, Maxwell Caulfield, Ron Kunene and Tshidi Mayne.

Think “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” “Lombardi,” “Chicago,” “Ghetto Klown,” “The Addams Family,” “The Book of Mormon,” Wonderland,” “Good People,” The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Cactus Flower,” and “The Lion King.”

You get extra points if you can match the actors to their respective shows, although the only prize I might have to offer is a cracked or crushed chocolate bunny from the half-price bin up at the local drug store.

You can click here to check your answers. Or here to see highlights of last year’s competition. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS reports that “the previous 24 competitions have raised more than $42 million.” Makes me wonder if we need to suggest a similar event for Congress.

Tuesday night’s performance will honor select actors with “top fundraising” and “best presentation” awards. Awards are being presented by Harvey Fierstein (“La Cage aux Folles”), Sutton Foster (“Anything Goes”) and Daniel Radcliffe (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”).

For those of you who missed the memo, consider this a gentle reminder that we can all stop calling Radcliffe “Harry Potter” now. And you can drop the “Equus” wand jokes too. Better to tastefully applaud Doris Eaton Travis — an original Ziegfeld Girl who died last year at the age of 106.

Several productions, including “Billy Elliot,” are scheduled to perform and present their own fabulous takes on the Easter bonnet. I’m big on “Billy” this week because the touring production opens Tuesday night, April 26, at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

Also “The Addams Family,” “Avenue Q,” “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” “Chicago,” “Freud’s Last Session,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia!,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”

Others taking part include the national tours of “Les Miserables,” “The Lion King,” and “Wicked” — all shows we’ve enjoyed at ASU Gammage in recent years. Those who’ve missed it on previous tours can watch for “Wicked” to return to Tempe Feb 15-March 11, 2012.

Valley families eager to see the school edition of “Les Mis” can head to Peoria for the Creative Stages Youth Theatre production running through April 30. The new 25th anniversary production of “Les Miserables” comes to ASU Gammage June 7-12, 2012.

Folks attending the 2011 “Easter Bonnet Competition” in NYC will also experience the work of “Dancers Responding to AIDS” and “R.Evolucion Latina.”

I’ll be glued to the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS website later this week in search of photos of the 2011 event and news of dollars raised in the ongoing effort to beat AIDS.

But first, I’m off to hit the clearance bins in search of hollow chocolate bunnies and fluffy marshmallow chicks. I just hope James hasn’t beat me to it.

— Lynn

Coming up: More new season announcements