Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just for Hits and Giggles

You would think a blog update that was weeks in the crafting, and for which a 12-hour composing session was lost to the ether by a random flailing of a finger on the keyboard, should be better than this. But here it goes anyway. (There's a whole lotta RH goin' on, so let's hope you're a fan. But a good deal of JE too).

Giggles and more, the JE-centric part.
As we know, Rosemary Harris has been very visible and active in New York recently, leading to some interviewage about "Jen" growing up and grown up.

Barbara Hoffman in the New York Post reported a conversation with Rosemary Harris about her scheduled Reading at 92Y.
The mother of actress Jennifer Ehle (now a mother herself) says she loved reading books to her daughter.

“I read her all the classics — ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘Winnie the Pooh,’ the Narnia books,” Harris says.

“Then Jennifer started reading to me, and that was the most fun. I’d leave a little tape recorder on, just to catch her giggles as she read a funny book like ‘Harriet the Spy,’ I listened to it the other day, and she was giggling so much, she could hardly read!”
CELIA McGEE in the New York Times reports on The Royal Family & some chat with the cast in her jam-packed article (a must read, for more than just the quote included here) titled The Tangle of Branches in a Royal Tree.
Ms. Harris remembers a tiny Jennifer Ehle drawing of herself with her father on one piece of paper; her mother, alone, on another. She was surprised, she said, when her daughter announced, at 14, that she wanted to be an actress. “Of course, I had always taken her with me a lot. We just stuck her in our pockets and off we went.“
Not To Be Missed: My Royal Family Reunion By Rosemary Harris.
[...] "So many things in this play ring true today, particularly the way the women characters find themselves torn between work and their families. Fanny’s line, “Marriage isn’t a career. It’s an incident!” must have gotten shocked laughter in 1927 from all those society ladies, because marriage was a career to them. In 2009, the same line gets understanding laughter. I remember so distinctly when I was doing Hay Fever on Broadway and my daughter [actress Jennifer Ehle], who was about 13, wanted to take a taxi uptown alone to see a movie with friends. I said, “Jennifer, darling, please don’t! I won’t be able to go on the stage, I’ll be so worried.” [...]

Harry Haun's article at Playbill, The Royal Family — A Blast of Troupers! features conversations with the cast and has Ms. Harris talking (although possibly seriously mis-quoted!) about many interesting things!
Harris doesn't subscribe to Fanny's hard line of career-over-marriage, and she hasn't lived it. "It's a juggle," she allowed. "I know Jen finds it a juggle. She has an 11-year-old [????] son and a wonderful husband, and she has to keep everything on an even keel."

"Jen" is her daughter, Jennifer Ehle, herself a two-time Tony winner. She is currently filming an HBO television pilot in Northern Ireland, her mother reported.

The Royal Family would seem to be a perfect opportunity for mother-and-daughter at last to co-star. They have done two films together — a 1992 TV-film, "The Camomile Lawn," and a 1999 feature, "Sunshine" — but, playing the old and young versions of the same character, they never had the chance to do a scene together.

Ehle was indeed offered the play but opted to pass. "She said, 'Mom, you did it, and I would only do it the way you did it.' Comparisons are odious, and maybe, like Julie Cavendish, I didn't want her to be better than me — so I didn't encourage it."


RH is not the only one speaking of JE lately as evidenced by Broadway World's eavestwitting on John Lithgow's September 29th Tweet
"Saw Pride & Glory on HBO and there she was, playing cancer victim Abbey, my next NY leading lady the wonderful Jennifer Ehle."




It's a Hit, the RH-centric part
CHRISTINE DOLEN/McClatchy Newspapers says "The changing season promises to be extra hot this year both on Broadway and off", mentioning The Royal Family, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, and Cate Blanchett.

The Royal Family's run was Extended by one week before it even opened!
Oh wait, make that Extended by Two Weeks!

Harry Haun at Playbill reported on the play and chat with some of the cast. Jan Maxwell said, "... it's a real honor to play this with Rosemary."

A Playbill article by Matthew Blank includes some nice Photos of the Friedman Theatre

Mondschein's in a review at Third Row, Mezzanine blog found the play disappointing in many respects but noted "It's certainly a worthy goal [to] get Rosemary Harris on a Broadway stage..."

Photo Gallery at Playbill, especially photos 3/5 and 5/5.

In an Interview by Zinta Lundborg Ms. Harris reminisced about the 1975 revival, when she played Julie.
“It’s lovely to be in the driving seat, which Julie is,” said Harris, dressed in a bright flowery shirt, silver hair smoothed back from her unlined face. “But you’ve got to keep your foot on the accelerator all the time.”

With Fanny, she said, it’s a lot easier. “I just pop in and out delivering bon mots.”
At Playbill Kenneth Jones posted the article
Broadway Curtain Goes Up on Royal Family


LINDA WINER at Newsday thinks On Broadway, 'The Royal Family' rules
" ... there are many pleasures in Doug Hughes' sumptuous joy of an old-fashioned revival, including a keepsake performance by the legendary Rosemary Harris as the aging matriarch of the Cavendish (think Barrymore) family. ...

... there is the thrill of seeing Harris, who had the role of Julie in 1975, portray the ailing, stage-enamored star of a mother with a ravishing sense of playfulness."
Terry Teachout in a Review at The Wall Street Journal was less than happy with the play, but more happy with a couple of the performers.
Fortunately, Rosemary Harris and Jan Maxwell manage to give neatly turned performances—Ms. Harris is stately and sardonic, Ms. Maxwell fey and winsome—that are just about worth the price of admission.
David Sheward presents a glowing Review at THR
The leading light of the 1975 staging was Rosemary Harris, who played Julie Cavendish, the glamorous leading lady not unlike Ethel Barrymore, who must choose between her career and marriage to a wealthy old flame. Now playing the matriarch Fanny, Harris is just as glowing and youthful as she was then. She radiates the joy of acting, which animates this feisty, lovable, indomitable figure.
A review By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY observes,
" ...the central relationship between a grand old dame of the stage and the glamorous, much put-upon daughter following in her footsteps is a fine showcase for two marvelous actresses featured here.
[...] Harris similarly makes us laugh and breaks our hearts as Fanny, a life-long trouper determined not to let age or illness keep her out of the spotlight. Where Julie has clearly had some ambivalence about the personal sacrifices made for her craft, Fanny, though an adoring mother, considers art her greatest passion. Her struggle to carry that flame, with mortality nipping at her heels, is the sweetest, most moving aspect of this play, and the masterful Harris gives it a depth it might not have had in other hands.

Under Dough Hughes' sprightly direction, the other ensemble members all perform gamely, if less consistently. As Fanny's foolish, pompous brother, the excellent John Glover wins us over in spite of his role; as his cloying wife, Ana Gasteyer doesn't. Larry Pine is a tad pallid as Julie's wealthy, gallant love interest, while Reg Rogers is a bit overzealous as her brother, a movie idol with a talent for trouble.

None of this detracts, of course, from Harris' and Maxwell's star turns. Women wear the pants in this Family, and they're a joy to behold.
The Royal Family is discussed at tapeworthy blog where some vibrant stills are also included.
"The cast is superb with a bemused Rosemary Harris ... leading the pact [sic] as Fanny (and devastating in the final scene)."
David Rooney in Variety reviewed The Royal Family
"There's a sentimental satisfaction in watching Rosemary Harris -- who played equivocating diva Julie Cavendish in the 1976 Broadway revival of "The Royal Family" -- still navigating the stage with grace and good humor ... while the ensemble work could be tighter, its lead performers rise to the occasion in sparkling turns.
[...] Harris delicately balances graciousness and hauteur [...]"
Tom O'Neil in The Awards Insider (The Los Angeles Times) maintains 'The Royal Family' revival rules Broadway and mentions the T-word.

At Broadway.tv blog is a Royal Family Broadway Review Matrix providing a commentary on several reviews with links.

The Hollywood Reporter's Showbiz 411 blog has coverage of the Great “Royal Family” Opening

Michael Kuchwara [The Canadian Press] write about An effervescent revival
[...] "The cast is headed by the ever-lovely Rosemary Harris, portraying Fanny Cavendish, the grande dame of this exotic troupe.

Harris has a serene stage presence, even when Fanny is zinging the other characters on stage ..."
BWW presents a special feature, Ken Fallin's Illustrations - THE ROYAL FAMILY

Opening night photo galleries Here and Here and Here.

Robert Feldberg says Rosemary Harris leads a triumphant revival.
"Harris, one of the great actresses of the American stage (she began her Broadway career 57 years ago, and played Julie in the 1975 revival of "The Royal Family") is deliciously droll as Fanny ..."
Brendan Lemon at the Financial Times reviews and reveals a discerning eye for the proper way to wear costumes.
"Rosemary Harris, who was Julie in a 1975 revival, resists the temptation to play Fanny with grande-dame hauteur; weakened by health problems, Fanny still possesses the driest wit in the house.

Harris also is an adept at a lost art: wearing a peignoir as if it were a second skin."
Robert Hofler writes about Rosemary Harris at the kick-off part. [The link includes a photo of Rosemary Harris chatting with Tovah Feldshuh at the opening night of 'The Royal Family]
"Legit legend Rosemary Harris returns to the Broadway boards [...] Return visits have their advantages, even after all these years.

"I know all the parts. I hear the whole play in my head," said Harris, who turned 82 last month.

At Thursday's preem party, at Planet Hollywood, Harris said that Eva Le Gallienne's Fanny from the 1975 production was "more acerbic" than her portrayal, while Harris' former role of Julie is "marvelous, very controlled" in the capable hands of Jan Maxwell.

"I was smoking when I played Julie, and after my second-act meltdown, I would be huffing and puffing all the way to the dressing room. Then I stopped smoking during the run, and I could whistle right through it," she said."
Andrew C. McGibbon reviewed the play.
"Rosemary Harris, at the age of 83 is a wonder to behold. She moves about the stage and strikes poses as fluidly as a woman half her age ..."
Chesley Plemmons at The News-TimesMerry and madcap

From a Wilton Villager review By DAVID. A ROSENBERG, who may have found a solution to the energy problem, at least in regard to lighting. (I suspect with JE and RH both being noticeably luminous that the electric bills in the Ryan and Ehle households are significantly lower than average.)
"Genuine stars have a tendency to take over, consciously or not. Take Rosemary Harris who lights the galaxy in the current revival of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's 1927 "The Royal Family. [...]

[...] As Fanny, the irreplaceable Harris sweeps her words from orchestra to second balcony while eyeing all the folks along the way. In her hands and voice, "get out" is a symphony, "quaint" is a three-part novel. She ought to be bronzed.
The Village Voice review By Michael Feingold

Blogger James Camner remembers seeing the 1975 version at Broadway Bridge and Tunnel Test
"We saw the 1975 revival of The Royal Family, an unforgettable experience featuring magical performances by Eva Le Gallienne as Fanny Cavendish and Rosemary Harris as her daughter Julie. So it is an indescribable and rare pleasure to see the radiant Ms. Harris ascend to the role of Fanny."
Stephanie Zacharek's article at New York Magazine Ladies’ Nights expresses some disappointment with the acting, with at leas one major exception.
" {...} Rosemary Harris, as the dowager matriarch Fanny, may wear the heaviest costumes—she’s draped in exotic, old-fashioned (by twenties standards) velvets—but her performance is the spriangiest, the most fleet, in the show. Her lines have the texture and glow of South Sea pearls; if any voice could reflect light, it would be this one."
Here's a struggling artist anecdote from RH's past By CINDY ADAMS at the NY Post



Other news

[RH at Broadway Flea Market photo by Aubrey Reuben]

[John Ehle photo by Jan Hensley Special to the Citizen-Times]




Miss Harris participated in the Broadway Flea Market. (photo gallery available Here)
The 23rd Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction held Sunday, September 27 raised a grand total of $403,929 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA).
interviews and reactions at the market include this with a starstruck Thomas Sadoski.
Q: Enjoying your experience at the Flea so far?
Sadoski: Oh yeah — anything to help out this organization. It's such an essential organization. You spend a long time working in this business to get to a point where you are invited to donate your time to something like this. It is really cool. I was in the other room signing posters and trying to squeeze my name in as neatly as I could underneath Rosemary Harris. That's a really cool thing.

Rob Neufeld in the Citizen-Times (Asheville) reported that Press 53, a Winston-Salem publisher, launched the release of its 25th anniversary edition of John Ehle's “Last One Home”, the sixth book in his six-novel epic about Western North Carolina.


Sharmistha Gooptu has reviewed Before the Rains





Lizzy rules
The voting may still be open for choosing your Favorite Elizabeth Bennet. At my last peek, the results stood as shown below; had this been a national election it would be a mandate for dictatorship.



Paul Whitington at the Irish Independent has written an article about Austen adaptations and rightly notes,
"... The beautiful Jennifer Ehle was easily the most sultry and glamorous Elizabeth Bennet thus far ..."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic epic post, Janet.

Janet said...

Thanks! I assume by your comment that you actually read the entire thing. I salute your stamina.

strangerface said...

Very glad to find this blog. I loved Ms. Ehle in P&P and have renewed interest now that she's been cast as one of my favorite characters in "Game of Thrones." Filming started today and I've been avidly reading the set reports. Apparently Jennifer Ehle was there today with Tahlulah. Please god, let this be picked up!