IT ALL STARTED WITH...
Harlan Kleiman and Jon Jory, the founders of
Long Wharf Theatre. Read Betty Kubler's article
"Theatre in a Food Terminal," excerpted from the
Smith Alumnae Quarterly, Winter 1966.
C. Newton Schenck III
The first play produced by Long Wharf Theatre
was Arthur Miller's The Crucible in 1965.
Jon Jory directed.
LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
Frank Langella (right) plays the son of popular matinee idol James Tyrone
(played by Michael Higgins) in Eugene O'Neill's tale of a tormented family.
Directed by Arvin Brown.
FIRST LWT PRODUCTION TO TRANSFER TO NYC
A PLACE WITHOUT DOORS
Mildred Dunnock, who appeared in the original production of Death
of a Salesman and routinely appeared on Broadway and on screen, won
a Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of a woman who murdered her housekeeper.
A Place Without Doors, the theatre’s first transfer to New York, signaled an interest
on the part of the regional theatre in national prominence.
Emory Battis and William Swetland, who both
appeared in The Contractor, written by David
Storey and directed by Barry Davis, were two
of the theatre’s original repertory company
members. Battis, a character actor, and
Swetland, a genteel leading man, appeared in
a combined 127 productions on the Long Wharf
LWT'S FIRST BIG HIT
THE CHANGING ROOM
In the early days of Long Wharf Theatre, Artistic Director Arvin
Brown and Managing Director Edgar Rosenblum, would scout
for shows in England. The Changing Room, a Tony Award-winning
production on Broadway in 1973, was one of their early finds.
Written by David Storey and directed by Michael Rudman, this story
of a British rugby team launched the career of John Lithgow.
The Changing Room won a
NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play
and a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor
(John Lithgow) and Tony Award nominations
for Best Play, Best Director and Best Scenic Design.
John Lithgow appeared in
The Changing Room.
He would return to LWT
to act in another 5
productions, to direct
A Pagan Place and as
the star of the 2014 Gala.
THE NATIONAL HEALTH
Peter Nichols was one of Long Wharf’s most popular playwrights of the 1970s,
being produced four times. The cast of The National Health, which received two Tony
Award-nominations during its New York run, was a veritable who’s who of early repertory
company LWT. Appearing in the show were LWT veterans Emery Battis, John Braden,
Joyce Ebert, Joseph Maher, Paul Rudd, William Swetland, and Richard Venture.
Rita Moreno also starred in this story about an underfunded local hospital.
Austin Pendleton, the director of Miss Julie, starring Christopher
Walken (here with Katina Commings) in his only LWT appearance,
was an important utility man in the theatre’s first seasons. He appeared
as an actor, directed four shows, wrote one play, and adapted two others.
ATHOL FUGARD'S LONG WHARF THEATRE DEBUT
Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island marks the beginning of
a fruitful relationship between the South African playwright
and Long Wharf Theatre.
John Kani and Winston Ntshona. Directed by Athol Fugard.
Joyce Ebert, depicted here in Eugene O’Neill’s
Ah,Wilderness, was one of the most important members
of the early Long Wharf family. Ebert, the wife of Artistic
Director Arvin Brown, appeared over 80 productions,
the most of any performer in the theatre’s history. Playing roles
of all sizes and types, Ebert often appeared in several
productions each season. She died in August 1997. Interviewed
by the New York Times in 1982, she said: ''I really had a spectacular
career and it's been in a quiet way. I'm not a star and never wanted
to be one.'' She pridefully said, ''I work constantly.'' The Stage II
Green Room is dedicated in her memory.
Playwright David Rabe was working as a reporter in New Haven when he
completed Streamers, directed by Mike Nichols, which debuted at Long
Wharf Theatre before winning a Tony Award at the Public Theater in 1976.
This story of a diverse group of young soldiers preparing to ship out to Vietnam
was one of the few times that legendary producer Joe Papp shared credit
with another theatre.
THE SHADOW BOX
Clifton James, as a man with a terminal illness, dodges
discussing it with this son, played by Vincent Stewart.
The Shadow Box moved to Broadway where it won
the Tony Award for Best Play as well as the Tony for
Best Director for Gordon Davidson.
THE GIN GAME
Starring real-life partners, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn,
The Gin Game transferred to NYC and garnered a Pulitzer
Prize and a Tony Award for Best Actress for Tandy.
Breaking Ground for Stage II
Long Wharf Theatre expands for the first time in its history. Stage II’s
intention was that it would be an incubator for new work and daring
storytelling, a reputation it holds to this day. Originally conceived to be
a black box space, Stage II was reconfigured into a small proscenium house
due to the financial and practical difficulties of reinventing the room
for each different play. Shown: Founders Betty Kubler and Newt Schenck
(second and third from left) dig with Arvin Brown (far right).
LWT WINS TONY AWARD FOR OUSTANDING REGIONAL THEATRE
Edgar Rosenblum and Arvin Brown accept the award from Geraldine Fitzgerald.
THE BEACH HOUSE
This romantic comedy, starring Edward Herrmann and Swoosie Kurtz,
was performed at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY as the
artistic component of the games.
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the classic by Edward Albee, reunited
Mike Nichols and Elaine May, a hit comedy team from 1959 to 1962.
The duo put their own stamp on Albee’s work, offering a level of acerbic
humor as the academic couple in the death throes of their marriage.
Nichols would go on to direct three shows at Long Wharf, including
two counted among the theatre’s finest: Streamers and The Gin Game.
Al Pacino (foreground) joins Clifton James (left) and
Thomas Waites to portray a trio of petty thieves
plotting a burglary in American Buffalo.
DID YOU KNOW?...
Actor Al Pacino has starred
in 3 Long Wharf productions
(American Buffalo, National
Anthems, and Hughie).
He also directed Hughie.
A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG
Richard Dreyfuss and Stockard Channing starred in
Peter Nichols’ story of a family struggling to care for a
child with cerebral palsy. Both Dreyfuss and Channing
made other high profile appearances at Long Wharf
Theatre—Dreyfuss in Requiem for a Heavyweight and
Channing in The Lady and the Clarinet.
Simon Gray’s tale of a group of British teachers
won an Obie Award for best ensemble and
featured a young Kelsey Grammer, better known
as Frasier Crane on Cheers.
Peter Gallagher would see Broadway glory as Sky Masterson in a popular
revival of Guys and Dolls. But before luck would be his lady, he was
negotiating English public school life in Julian Mitchell’s Another Country.
REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT
In many ways, Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight, starring John Lithgow
and Richard Dreyfuss and featuring a cast of 16 actors, is a representative example
of the success of 1980s era Long Wharf. Requiem did 102.5 percent capacity
business during a six- week run.
THE COMMON PURSUIT
Nathan Lane, an aspiring theatre critic, describes his
somewhat exaggerated social life to an old university chum
(Michael Countryman) in this American premiere of
Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit.
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Laura Wingfield (Karen Allen) and her mother
Amanda (Joanne Woodward) make a wish
on the moon in The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams.
ANOTHER MOVE TO BROADWAY AND TONY WIN!
ALL MY SONS
All My Sons is one of Long Wharf Theatre’s most decorated New York transfers.
Arthur Miller’s play won a 1987 Tony Award for best revival and received three
additional nominations. It also won an Outer Critics Award. Ralph Waite, Frances
McDormand, and Jamey Sheridan led the cast, which featured Stephen Root,
known for his performance in the cult classic Office Space.
Hal Holbrook played the Stage Manager
in Our Town in the LWT production
celebrating the 50th anniversary of the
Broadway opening of Thornton's Wilder's
A.R. Gurney’s epistolary love story becomes one of the theatre’s
biggest successes. Not only did it have a successful New York run
with a parade of noteworthy actors drawn to its simple, yet
moving style, it’s entered the theatrical bloodstream, playing all
over the world, from professional to amateur theatres.
After Long Wharf Theatre’s rise to prominence in the 1970s, the theatre began
expanding into new play development, running workshops, giving new works
with potential a place to improve. National Anthems was one of those works,
receiving a high profile workshop with Al Pacino. Dennis McIntyre’s play later
received a full production with Kevin Spacey, Tom Berenger, and Mary McDonnell.
In the 1980s Long Wharf Theatre peaked at 16,000 subscribers,
leaving the organization well poised to move into the future.
Buoyed by this tremendous level of community support,
Long Wharf Theatre continued to focus on challenging work, like
Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, while still cultivating the voices of tomorrow.
THE DAY THE BRONX DIED
Gordon Edelstein was a young up and comer when he directed The Day the
Bronx Died, the story of two friends, one black and one white, learning to deal
with a racist world. Edelstein went on to serve as associate artistic director for
five seasons before ascending to the top job in 2002.
FIRES IN THE MIRROR
Actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith plays 29 characters
in her award-winning depiction of Black-Jewish relations in
Brooklyn surrounding the 1991 Crown Heights unrest.
Amy Irving and George N. Martin.
Arthur Miller gave Long Wharf Theatre one of the final world premieres of his illustrious career.
Long Wharf is, in many ways, considered to be a playwright’s home—William Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill,
Miller, Tennessee Williams, Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, and Athol Fugard are the most produced
playwrights in the theatre’s history—and Long Wharf is known for its development
of new work as well.
MARTHA PLIMPTON STARS
IN THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Martha Plimpton returned to
LWT in the 1999-2000 season
to star in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler,
also directed by Doug Hughes.
THE GOOD PERSON OF NEW HAVEN -
LARGE COMMUNITY PROJECT OPENS
ON THE MAINSTAGE
The cast for this show numbered thirty-four actors
with twenty-four coming directly from the New Haven
community. Over 300 people auditioned to be a part
of the show.
Over the course of Long Wharf Theatre’s history, the theatre has
cultivated relationships with artists of all disciplines. These special
relationships often yield stellar work on the stage. A recent example
would be the playwright/performer Dael Orlandersmith, whose
personal and powerful brand of storytelling would be revised
in The Blue Album and Forever.
GORDON EDELSTEIN BECOMES FOURTH
JANE ALEXANDER STARS IN O'NEILL'S
MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
LWT'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON KICKS OFF
WITH HIT GUYS AND DOLLS
With its hit production of Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls,
Long Wharf Theatre began a period where it reimagined some
of the classics of the American musical theatre. Man of La Mancha,
Carousel, and The Fantasticks were productions where the patina
of the years were burnished away, and fresh, imaginative revivals
Julia Cho’s comic, sometimes frightening story of a 14-year-old Asian-American
girl living in the desert Southwest, was a sneaky Long Wharf hit, helping to
launch the playwright’s career.
Sam Waterston took time out of his successful television career to star in Tom
Stoppard’s intellectual feast Travesties, which holds the record for being the
highest selling Long Wharf Theatre production in its history. He returned to the
LWT stage in The Old Masters by Simon Gray and Have You Seen Us? by Athol
UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL
This production of Glen Berger's play won three CT Critics
Circle Awards: Best Director for Eric Ting, Best Actor for
Mark Nelson, and Best Production of a Play.
THE BLUEST EYE
Oftentimes, two theatres will join together to create a unique
artistic vision that neither of the other would be able to accomplish
on their own. This was the case in the 2007-08 production of
The Bluest Eye, adapted from Toni Morrison’s classic novel.
Long Wharf Theatre partnered with Hartford Stage to bring
Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting's novel visual style to
life in this powerful rendering of the play.
A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS
Having seen many productions of A Christmas Carol, playwright Paula Vogel
bemoaned the lack of a quintessentially American Christmas story, so she
wrote one herself. Setting her story in the waning days of the Civil War,
Vogel used real life figures, including Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley,
and Robert E. Lee to weave a heartfelt tale of hope, redemption, and
forgiveness. A Civil War Christmas is, for many of LWT’s friends, a highlight
of their theatergoing experience.
LET ME DOWN EASY
Anna Deavere Smith's solo show focussing on health and health care
premieres at LWT.
GORDON EDELSTEIN'S THE GLASS MENAGERIE, TRANSFERS
TO NYC & WINS 3 LUCILLE LORTEL AWARDS
Erica Sullivan and John Procaccino.
John Procaccino, one of the stars of A.R Gurney’s Sylvia, directed by
Eric Ting, has become a modern day Long Wharf Theatre stalwart,
appearing in nine productions, ranging from the confused husband
in the Gurney comedy to more serious roles in Prayer for My Enemy
and Curse of the Starving Class.
Richard Maltby’s seminal musical review incorporates the music
of Fats Waller into a splendid evening of entertainment.
KRAPP'S LAST TAPE
After every performance, Long Wharf Theatre offers talkbacks with
a member of the creative team, giving audience members an
opportunity to respond to the work on stage in real time. Each evening,
after performances of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, actor Brian
Dennehy spoke with the audience, talking to them about the themes
of the play, the playwright’s genius, and the actor’s process.
INTRODUCING THE CLAIRE TOW STAGE IN THE
C. NEWTON SCHENCK III THEATRE
During the summer of 2012 the LWT mainstage received an all-around upgrade
including new comfortable seats with extra leg room, an expansive new lobby
and bar, new restrooms, and a modern lighting grid.
CLAIRE AND LEN TOW GENEROUSLY
KICK OFF MAINSTAGE RENOVATION
The renovation project cost $3.8 million,
$1.25 of which was generously donated by
The Tow Foundation. In gratitude for this gift,
Long Wharf Theatre has christened the
performance space The Claire Tow Stage
in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre.
THE MAINSTAGE DURING AND AFTER THE RENOVATION
Kristen Sieh, Erik Lochtefeld, and A.J. Shively.
Creating a new musical is one of the most complicated and
difficult processes one can attempt in the theatre. Working
alongside the Public Theater in New York, Long Wharf created
a lively story about a group of intellectuals, including WH Auden,
Carson McCullers, and Gypsy Rose Lee, who live, love, and learn
together in a small house in Brooklyn.
MY NAME IS ASHER LEV
Winner of Outer Critics Circle Award after tranfer to Off-Broadway
SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF
Satchmo at the Waldorf, the first play by Louis Armstrong scholar
Terry Teachout, finds the jazz icon after playing what would be the
final show of his life. John Douglas Thompson, in a tour de force,
Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning performance,
plays both Armstrong and his white manager, spinning the story of
their complicated relationship. The play, directed by Gordon Edelstein
and the biggest hit in Stage II history, moved to Off-Broadway for
an extended run.
Directed by Phylicia Rashad
Phil McGlaston and Esau Pritchett
August Wilson premiered much of his work across town at Yale
Repertory theatre. In 2013, Long Wharf Theatre honored that legacy by
producing a critically acclaimed production of Fences, directed by Phylicia
Rashad, a foremost interpreter of Wilson’s work. Fences was the first time
LWT produced a play of Wilson’s.
THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD
The Shadow of the Hummingbird marks the return to the stage of playwright/actor
Athol Fugard after a 15-year absence. The play, a gentle meditation on life, love,
and death, is a continuation of the fruitful artistic relationship between Fugard
and Gordon Edelstein.
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT 50 YEARS!