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By Anita Loos
SCOTT ALAN EVANS
CAST (in formation)
Featuring TACT company members:
MARY BACON, NORA CHESTER, TODD GEARHART, DARRIE LAWRENCE, VICTORIA MACK, RON McCLARY, JAMES PRENDERGAST,
with guest artistis:
TOM BERKLUND, HANNA CHEEK, JOSEPH MASI, ANDERSON MATTHEWS, LESLEY SHIRES, JOE TIPPETT, and KAREN ZIEMBA
Set design by BRETT J. BANAKIS, Lighting design by PAUL HACKENMUELLER
Costume design by CAMPBELL BAIRD, Sound design by BART FASBENDER
The Jersey Mecca cocktail lounge in Newark, NJ really starts jumping one rainy evening when Addie Bemis, a soft-spoken librarian, decides its time to live it up.
at The BECKETT THEATRE - THEATRE ROW
410 West 42nd Street, NYC
MARCH 12 THROUGH APRIL 13, 2013
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday at 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday at 8:00pm
Saturday & Sunday at 2:00pm
*Special Wednesday matinee, April 10th at 2:00pm
CLICK HERE to watch a promo video!
CLICK HERE to see production photos
from the show!
"Write me a play that is full of fun and gaiety," Helen Hayes told Anita Loos one day over lunch. Tired of playing in serious, weighty melodramas, Hayes longed for a role that would be lively, spirited, and, most importantly, fun. Little did she imagine that the play Loos had up her sleeve was Happy Birthday, a rollicking and fast-paced comedy set in a Newark cocktail bar where Addie, the role Hayes would play on Broadway in 1946, is required to spend three-quarters of the play in a drunken stupor, imagining glowing bottles and singing cash registers as she transforms from a prim and proper tea-totaling librarian into a swilling, singing, dancing sexpot. How’s that for fun?
The actual life of Happy Birthday scribe Anita Loos is as wild and adventurous as Addie’s own adventure in the cocktail lounge. Through her stormy marriage to film director John Emerson, to her adventures in Hollywood and New York, to her status as a bestselling author with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and into her rich and full final years, when she penned two volumes of memoirs, Loos’s life was an astonishing whirlwind of creativity and excitement. Loos was born in 1888, although this is a fact she tried many times during her life to conceal from biographers, periodically shaving as much as ten years off of her life. Her unconventional California childhood, colorful and sometimes trying, provided the template for the rest of her life. In 1905, "R. Beers," Loos’s father, moved from the newspaper business to the management of an early motion picture house, which offered the public a combination of live variety acts and one-reel shorts. Beers had showbiz ambitions for Anita, and she was cast along with her sister in a variety show. From a young age, however, Anita knew that she preferred the life of a writer to that of an actor. With a rather fearless attitude, and knowing nothing about film production, Anita submitted a script to the Biograph film company, which was having an open call for writers, when she was only twenty-four. She signed her script "A. Loos," having been told that females were frequently paid less than males. Biograph bought the script, and paid Loos a sum that, to her, was quite princely – twenty-five dollars.
That first script was never filmed, but she was encouraged by the check and continued to write. In 1912, The New York Hat, directed by D.W. Griffith, became her first produced scenario and a major hit for the fledgling studio. This was the first of many, and Loos’s achievements become even more extraordinary when one realizes that she was living in San Diego, sending in all of her scripts by mail, and knew nothing about what life was like on a film set. Griffith eventually invited Loos to Los Angeles to meet him, and was flabbergasted that the young looking Loos could have written such wonderful scripts – indeed, when they first met, Griffith naturally assumed that Anita’s mother, who accompanied her, was the writer. At this point, Anita’s life reached one of those turning points where, had Anita been someone other than her tireless and ambitious self, the world would have lost a great writer – she got married. Lucky for us, she ran away six months later and returned to Hollywood, determined to continue working in the still-growing movie industry.
As luck would have it, Griffith was beginning a new studio, Fine Arts-Triangle, and hired Anita on salary. Her first screen billing appeared on an adaptation of Macbeth starring Herbert Beerbohm Tree: "Macbeth by William Shakespeare and Anita Loos." She later quipped that the producer would have given her top billing, had she asked. Over the next several years, Loos became one of Hollywood’s most respected and sought after screenwriters, working on Griffith’s Intolerance, several pictures with Douglas Fairbanks, and a personal assignment for William Randolph Hearst, producer for the Marion Davies vehicle, Getting Mary Married. Loos had developed a reputation for wit and humor, especially in her title cards, a unique art form that would become lost with the advent of sound. She was also one of the few writers regularly covered in the press, partly because she was female, and she enjoyed posing for photographs to accompany interviews and society columns. It was also during this time that she met her second husband and, in many ways, a defining element in the rest of her life: John Emerson.
Emerson, a film director at Griffith’s studio, became Loos’s close collaborator for many years. The two gave an image to the press of a creative partnership, a happy husband and wife team, but behind the scenes, things were far rockier. Some have claimed that Emerson forced Loos to give him credit as a co-writer on work to which he contributed nothing. Emerson could be controlling, and he was an impossible hypochondriac, plagued for years with an imaginary throat ailment. At the same time, he was at least partly responsible for Loos’s success, persuading her to move from film to the theater. Yet her breakthrough success was in prose – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a book for which Emerson could not claim co-credit. Needless to say, he disapproved of its publication.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, published in 1925, tells the story in diary form of Lorelei, a sultry young girl with the ability to turn men into boys. Anita had hobnobbed with celebrities for years, but the almost immediate success of the book turned her into a celebrity herself. After a 1927 sequel, Loos planned to retire from writing, but the stock market crash brought her back into the fold. Over the next few decades, she wrote for MGM and continued her stage work, highlights of which include the 1949 musical of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, later made into the 1953 Marilyn Monroe movie, and the 1951 stage version of Gigi, starring Audrey Hepburn.
Happy Birthday, opening in 1946 with director Josh Logan and produced by Rodgers & Hammerstein, was Loos’s return to the Broadway stage after an absence of fifteen years, and after she had started to rid her life of John Emerson’s influence. The story of Addie, who gains control of her life by temporarily letting herself go to drink, has many parallels to Anita’s own – a difficult father, a charming male love interest, and a cast of colorful characters. The original production ran for 563 performances, and it is easy to see why audiences flocked to the charming, energetic, and bubbly play, which picks up steam and flies off the rails to a gut-wrenchingly funny climax. Loos, whose outlook on life was anything but proper and prim, refuses to play safe, daring to tell the story of a female with wit and attitude who doesn’t follow the rules. The title of the play, which emerges from an impromptu birthday party Addie throws for a down-on-her-heels bar patron, is especially appropriate since this is a big birthday for TACT - our 20th anniversary season! We are incredibly proud to present this neglected classic from an underrated and truly extraordinary writer, someone who lived through the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, the Postwar Boom, and beyond, and was unmatched in her ability to capture the social customs and behaviors of her times with charm and a warm intelligence. So as Helen Hayes once requested of her friend Loos, join TACT this March for a night of "fun and gaiety" not to be forgotten!
MARY BACON (Addie Bemis) TACT: Company Member since 2001/02. 19 productions with the company, most recently, Separate Tables. BROADWAY: Rock N’ Roll, Arcadia. OFF- BROADWAY: GIANT (The Public); Harrison, Texas;Motherhood Out Loud, and Happy Now? (Primary Stages); Becky Shaw (Second Stage); Eccentricities of A Nightingale (TACT/Clurman), The Late Christopher Bean (TACT/Beckett);The Madras House (The Mint). REGIONAL: Crimes of the Heart (McCarter); Children (Westport and Williamstown); Happy Now? (Yale Rep); Misalliance (Old Globe); Hazard County (Humana Fest.), Stephen Wadsworth’s adaptation/direction of Don Juan (world premiere, Seattle Rep, McCarter), and others. Film/TV: Mildred Pierce (HBO); The Good Wife; Alexander Hamilton; Jonny Zero; Law & Order; L&O Criminal Intent, L&O SVU; The Gaveltons. Carnegie Mellon BFA.
TOM BERKLUND (Don Hosmer) TACT: Debut. BROADWAY: A Chorus Line (Greg, Zach u/s); The Addams Family (Ancestor, Lurch u/s). REGIONAL: The Normal Heart (Arena Stage and American Conservatory Theater); Leap of Faith (Ahmanson Theatre); West Side Story (Portland Center Stage); Cabaret (Houston TUTS). FILM/TV: Enchanted (Disney); The David Letterman Show; Rosie Live! EDUCATION: BFA University of Michigan; Matthew Corozine Studio.
HANNA CHEEK (Bella Lane) TACT: Debut. With Waterwell (member since 2003) devised and performed in: GOODBAR (The Public), The Persians…a comedy about war (Perry Street Theatre), The King Operetta (Barrow Street), #9 (59e59), Marco Millions (Theatre Row). With Pumpkin Pie Show (member since 2001): Hostage Song (Belt Theatre), Junta High (PS122), Commencement (Under St Marks, U.S. & Canadian tour). OTHER NYC: Sovereign (The Secret Theatre), Artifacts of Consequence (The Wild Project). FILM/TV: The West Wing, Titus, Ugly Americans, All Roads Lead. EDUCATION: Sarah Lawrence College, British American Dramatic Academy, Improv Olympic.
NORA CHESTER (Emma) TACT: Company Member since 1997/98. 44 productions with the company, most recently, Broadway and Lovers. OFF-BROADWAY: Lovers, Eccentricities of a Nightingale, The Sea (TACT); Pagans (Abingdon). REGIONAL: The Long Wharf, McCarter, Asolo, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alliance, The Alley, Syracuse Stage, GeVa, Connecticut Reparatory, Philadelphia Festival Theatre, The Attic, Alaska Rep, Delaware Theatre Company, Stage West, Northern Stage, Peterborough Players, Monomoy Theatre. FILM/TV: Texas, The Fisher King.
TODD GEARHART (Paul Bishop) TACT: Company Member since 2007/08. 7 productions with the company, most recently, I am a Camera and Semi-Monde. BROADWAY: Bye Bye Birdie. NY: Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, Playwright’s Horizons, The Vineyard Theatre, The Beckett Theatre, The McGinn/Cazale. REGIONAL: The Guthrie, Pioneer Theater, The Alliance, George Street Playhouse, The Ford’s Theatre, The Ogunquit Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Human Race, The Vineyard Playhouse. TV: David Elias on Law & Order: SVU, Gossip Girl, Lipstick Jungle, Law & Order, The Education of Max Bickford, All My Children, The Guiding Light, One life to Live. FILM: The Dark Night Rises, Dog’s Lie, Moving Mike, Peppermills. TRAINING: BFA from CCM and studied with Uta Hagen at HB Studios.
DARRIE LAWRENCE (Tot) TACT: Company Member since 2000/01. 19 productions with the company, most recently Children. NATIONAL TOUR: Doubt; Quilters; Great Expectations. BROADWAY: Dead Accounts; Come Back Little Sheba; Buried Child; Steel Magnolias. OFF-BROADWAY: Long Island Sound (TACT); The Other Side (Manhattan Theatre Club); Portraits (Union Sq.); Everybody’s Ruby (Public); La Ronde (Ohio). REGIONAL: The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Noises Off, The Foreigner (Salt Lake City); Three Tall Women (Syracuse); Angels in America (Buffalo); Retreat from Moscow, Ten Little Indians, Merry Wives of Windsor-Texas (St. Louis); Night of the Iguana (Denver); Over the Tavern, Dancing at Lughnasa (Cincinnati); Seascape, Harvey (Cleveland); Anything Goes (Birmingham). Summer stock at Monomoy Theatre, Geneva Summer Theatre, Peterborough Players. FILM/TV: Pretty; Hitch, August Rush, Kettle of Fish, Third Watch, ONN. Ms. Lawrence has an MFA from Penn State University.
VICTORIA MACK (Maude Carson) TACT: Company Member since 2012/13. 3 productions with the company, most recently, You Can’t Take It With You. BROADWAY: Venus In Fur (Vanda u/s). OFF-BROADWAY: A Little Journey (Drama Desk nomination, Best Revival); The Truth About Blayds, Mr. Pim Passes By, and Far and Wide (Mint); Flight (Lucille Lortel w/ Brian D’Arcy James). OTHER NY THEATRE: Jester’s Dead, Dear Penthouse (Studio Tisch). REGIONAL: Sense and Sensibility (Milwaukee Rep); Private Lives (The Pittsburgh Public Theater); world premiere of Dead Accounts by Theresa Rebeck (Cincinnati Playhouse); 39 Steps (Denver Center); The Turn of the Screw (Fulton Theater); Othello, Taming of the Shrew, Pride and Prejudice, As You Like It, Pygmalion, and many others (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ). FILM: The Stare (with Wynona Ryder and James Franco), Atlantis, A Song in the Shell. TV: The Good Wife, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and MTV. MFA: NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
JOSEPH MASI (Policeman/Mr. Nanino) TACT: Debut. NEW YORK: Better Lucky Than Smart, Lyric Is Waiting, Jane’s House. REGIONAL: Anna In The Tropics (American Stage, Tampa), Beauty and the Beast (AFT). TV: Law & Order: SVU as Tommy Bandolche, One Life To Live as Mr. Blue, All My Children as George Spencer. TRAINING: Deborah Hedwall, Bill Esper, and Maggie Flanigan.
ANDERSON MATTHEWS (Judge/Homer Bemis) TACT: Debut. BROADWAY: The Robber Bridegroom, Peter Ustinov’s Beetoven’s 10th, Arcadia (Lincoln Center). OFF BROADWAY: Driving Miss Daisy, Ten By Tennessee. REGIONAL: Flea in Her Ear, Betrayal, The Goat, You Can’t Take It With You (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); American Splender (Arena Stage); Love’s Labor’s Lost (Old Globe); Superior Donuts, As You Like It (Pittsburgh Public Theatre); Hamlet (Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis); Pig Farm, Farragut North, Race, Ages of the Moon, Yankee Tavern (Contemporary American Theatre Festival); The Cradle Will Rock (London’s Old Vic). TV: The Equalizer, Law & Order. FILM: The Hard Way, Duane Incarnate, Old 37.
RON McCLARY (Herman) TACT: Company Member since 2006/07. 15 productions with the company, most recently, The Matchmaker and You Can’t Take It With You. OFF-BROADWAY: Summer ‘69 (Douglas Fairbanks Theatre). OFF-OFF BROADWAY: The Lightning Field (Flea, Winner - Outstanding Play, 2005 Fringe); Dear Vienna, Idiot’s Delight (Vital Theatre); Passion (Dicapo Opera); Moonwork’s What You Will (Connelly); The Cherry Orchard (Ohio); Three Sisters (Greenwich St.). REGIONAL: Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, Much Ado, Three Musketeers, Macbeth (Actor’s Shakespeare Company of New Jersey); The Foreigner (Connecticut Rep). TELEVISION: Law & Order, Ed, Law & Order: SVU, Conan O’Brien. FILM: Neurotica, Crazy Little Thing, The Weatherman, The Pleasure of Your Company.
JAMES PRENDERGAST (Dad Malone) TACT: Company Member since 2002/03. 32 productions with the company, most recently, Separate Tables. ON THE TACT MAINSTAGE: The Memorandum; The Eccentricities of a Nightingale; Incident at Vichy; The Late Christopher Bean. NEW YORK THEATRE: Playwrights Horizons; Ensemble Studio Theatre; Directors Company; New Georges; Lark; Irondale Center. NATIONAL TOURS: Harvey; My Daughter, Your Son. REGIONAL: Old Globe; Dorset; Hangar; Allenberry; Shadowland; Mountain Playhouse; Woodstock; Arts Center of Coastal Carolina; Public Theatre of Maine; Washington’s National Theatre. FILM: The Adventures of Paul and Marian; The Changeling; Quiz Show; The Purple Rose of Cairo; Moscow On The Hudson. TV: As The World Turns; Guiding Light; All My Children; David Letterman; Conan O’Brien; Dana Carvey Show.
LESLEY SHIRES (June) TACT: The Matchmaker. NEW YORK: Henry Box Brown by Tony Kushner, Acquainted with the Night by Keith Reddin (world premieres, NYU Grad Acting). REGIONAL: Homestead Crossing (world premiere, Berkshire Theatre Group, Merrimack Repertory and Portland Stage Co.); Laughing Stock (Pioneer Theatre Company); Gruesome Playground Injuries (Boise Contemporary Theater); The Little Prince, Crimes of the Heart, Amadeus, and Romeo and Juliet (PlayMakers Repertory); One Slight Hitch by Lewis Black (PATP); Cats (The Hangar), La Cage aux Folles (North Carolina Theatre). TV: Rescue Me, Person of Interest. NYU GRAD ACTING: Orpheus Descending, Angels in America: Perestroika, Macbeth, The Emperor Antony, HMATRIXH. CHOREOGRAPHER: Henry Box Brown, The Emperor Antony and HMATRIXH. EDUCATION: BFA East Carolina University, MFA NYU Grad Acting, Guthrie Experience.
JOE TIPPETT (Gabe Darcy) TACT: Debut. NY: A Thick Description Of Harry Smith, Unanswered We Ride, Fish Eye, Seven Minutes in Heaven, The Young Left. REGIONAL: Unanswered We Ride (Edinburgh); Picnic (Triad); Three Sisters, The Corn Is Green, Romeo and Juliet (Williamstown Theatre Festival).
MARGOT WHITE (Myrtle) TACT: Company Member since 2012/13. 5 productions with the company, most recently, The Matchmaker. BROADWAY/OFF-BROADWAY: Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention; Rosmersholm (The Pearl, opposite Austin Pendleton); The Traveling Lady (E.S.T, Drama Desk Nomination, Best Revival); Pericles (Red Bull); Love Goes to Press (The Mint); When They Speak of Rita (Primary Stages - world premiere, dir. Horton Foote). REGIONAL: Marshall Mason’s revival of Talley’s Folly at The McCarter with Richard Schiff; Studio Theatre/DC, A.C.T, Great Lakes, CATF, Pioneer, & STNJ. Film/TV: Law & Order; L&O: CI; Ugly Betty; Four Single Fathers; Face Time; Blue Bloods.
KAREN ZIEMBA (Gail Hosmer) TACT: Debut. BROADWAY: Lincoln Center Theatre’s Contact (Tony Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), Curtains (Outer Critics Circle Award), Steel Pier (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle noms.), Never Gonna Dance (Outer Critics Circle Award), A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Crazy For You, Chicago, And The World Goes ‘Round (Drama Desk Award), revival of I Do! I Do! (Drama Desk nom.), Heresy (The Flea Theatre), City Center Encores’ Allegro, The Pajama Game, Ziegfeld Follies Of 1936, Bye Bye Birdie; NYC Opera’s The Most Happy Fella, 110 In The Shade, Candide. REGIONAL: Sweeney Todd (Opera Theatre of St. Louis w/St. Louis Symphony); The Three Penny Opera (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Six Degrees Of Separation, The First Wives Club, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, A Room With A View (San Diego’s Old Globe); Much Ado About Nothing (The Shakespeare Theatre, D.C. and Hartford Stage); Sylvia (New Haven’s Long Wharf); Boeing Boeing (Riverside Theatre); Steel Magnolias (Cape May Stage), Shooting Star (Penguin Rep). FILM/TV: The Producers, Once More With Feeling, Scrubs, Law & Order, The Kennedy Center Honors and PBS telecasts from Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops, The East Room at The White House, and Carnegie Hall celebrating the songs of Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Alan Menken, and George & Ira Gershwin.
SCOTT ALAN EVANS (Director) is Co-Artistic & Executive Director of TACT/The Actors Company Theatre. Since 1993, TACT has unearthed and Evans has produced and/or directed over 100 forgotten or neglected plays, bringing many back to the cannon of plays produced. Evans’s recent productions; Children by A.R. Gurney and T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party were among TACT’s most successful. The Cocktail Party and was cited as one of the best revival of the season by the Wall Street Journal. For TACT, Evans adapted & directed the US premiere of NoŽl Coward’s Long Island Sound, and adapted and directed a concert versions of NoŽl Coward’s Semi-Monde (U.S. Premiere) and, more recently Broadway, by Philip Dunning and George Abbott. He conceived, co-wrote & directed the world premiere of The Triangle Factory Project. The New York Post called Triangle "the theatrical event of the season." The play has been published by Dramatists Play Services and continues to enjoy productions across the country. Evans has produced thirteen and directed seven of TACT’s productions presented at their current home at Theater Row, including Home, The Sea, The Runner Stumbles, Incident at Vichy, The Cocktail Party, Three Men on a Horse and Children. In addition to his work with TACT, Evans wrote & directed the musical, Goose! Beyond the Nursery (3 Outer Critic Circle Award nominations including Best Off-Broadway Prod.). Other recent NY Theatre: Joseph Hayden’s The Seven Last Words… (Chamber Music Society - Lincoln Center); The Constant Wife and She Stoops to Conquer (NYU Grad Acting). Mr. Evans served for 10 years as Artistic Director of the American Musicals Project, producing an annual concert series at the New-York Historical Society celebrating great musical theatre writers and featuring Broadway headliners. EDUCATION: BFA, Boston Univ., School for the Arts (magna cum laude), and a former student and assistant to Michael Howard at the Michael Howard Studios. MEMBER: SDC; Dramatist Guild.
Choreography by: VALERIE WRIGHT
Musical Direction by: JAMES CUNNINGHAM
Set design by: BRETT J. BANAKIS
Lighting design by: PAUL HACKENMULLER
Costume design by: CAMPBELL BAIRD
Sound design by: BART FASBENDER
Props by: LAUREN MADDEN
Associate Costume designer: NICOLE WEE
Production Stage Manager: JEFF MEYERS
Assistant Stage Manager: ANDREW SLATER
Techinal Director: DYLAN LUKE
Wardrode Supervisor: KATE HULTGREN
Casting Director KELLY GILLESPIE
Press by RICHARD HILLMAN PR