THE GRAND MANNER - A Warm, Amusing Remembrance of a Grand Lady of the Theater.
By Bob and Karen Isaacs
and opinions, which don’t always agree, about area professional theater.
BOB: Our favorite playwright -- A. R. "Pete" Gurney -- has a new play -- The Grand Manner-- at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. It is a very contrived work.
KAREN: It is -- but it also entertaining and it's directed by Mark Lamos, artistic director of the Westport Country Playhouse. It features four wonderful performers: Kate Burton, a favorite of ours, Bobby Steggert who is a very "hot" actor at the moment, Boyd Gaines and Brenda Wehle. Let's give you a brief idea of what it about. "In 1948, playwright A. R. Gurney, then a young boarding school students, travels to New York where he attends a performance of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, going backstage afterwards to meet the production's star, the great stage actress Katharine Cornell, who was dubbed The First lady of the American Stage." They had both come from Buffalo -- that is the connection. "The Grand Manner is a mixture of remembrance and imagination, a love letter to this fabled actress and heartfelt look back at the glorious heyday of Broadway."
BOB: He takes what happens -- which he shows you at the beginning and then reimagines it
KAREN: with Gurney taking a much more major role, getting much more involved with Katharine Cornell, her husband the director Guthrie McClintic who she always worked with, and her assistant Gertrude Macy. We learn a great deal about acting, the theater and relationships.
BOB: Bobby Steggert plays Pete Gurney as a young man.
KAREN: Kate Burton plays Katharine Cornell and Boyd Gaines plays Guthrie McClintic.
BOB: You will be wowed when Kate Burton enters -- she is in Cornell's Cleopatra costume. She really takes the center stage. Later she does Cleopatra's death scene.
KAREN: This is drawing room comedy, backstage comedy. I found interesting because it does talk about theater. I have found that many playwrights and film auteurs, as they get older, create works about what they do and the creative process.
BOB: The Grand Manner is an excellent example of this. It is based a true incident.
KAREN: Both Gurney and Cornell came from Buffalo -- she opened all her productions there and had a real fondness for the city. In reality, he meets her, has a few perfunctory words with her, and she signs his program.
BOB: This is two full acts.
KAREN: Great period costumes, and a terrific backstage green room -- probably more glamorous than it ever was.
BOB: You can get tickets through Telecharge or my visiting Lincoln Center Theater (LCT) dot org.
KAREN: It is delightful. If you love theater, you will enjoy this. It is a warm and amusing evening. Go see The Grand Manner , a new play by A. R. Gurney at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center.
This ran on WNHU- 88.7 FM and wnhu.net