October 15, 2011 |
In Bristol Riverside Theatre's production of William Luce's Barrymore , we meet Philly's own John Barrymore, "The Great Profile" - grandfather of Drew, sibling of Lionel and Ethel - a month before his death at 60. He staggers toward the final curtain of a career whose impact on stage and both silent and talking films ( Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , Grand Hotel ) was rivaled only by the self-destructive zeal with which he pursued women and alcohol. Luce's conceit (Barrymore hopes to reprise his Richard III and rents a theater for the night to run lines before an audience)
March 6, 1997 |
John Barrymore raced recklessly through life, kicking off brilliant performances as an actor and miserable ones as a man. Some might say he got what he deserves: a scruffy hilltop in North Philadelphia and few visitors. But not everybody. "I'm appalled," said David Wren of Center City, local theater buff, newspaper reporter-turned-paralegal and fledgling novelist. "Being from Texas, I have to tell you, Lee Harvey Oswald's grave is in better shape," he said yesterday at the family plot in Mount Vernon Cemetery where Barrymore's ashes rest.
March 31, 2000 |
The three were born over the course of three years in Philadelphia. Lionel Barrymore, won the Academy Award for best actor in 1932. Ethel Barrymore won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1944. John Barrymore was acclaimed for his movie roles as a debonair leading man, but was best known for his flamboyant off-screen behavior. They celebrated the centenary of John Barrymore's birth the other night up in Broadway's Beacon Theater. I wish I had been there, because listening to John Barrymore stories is one of my two favorite pastimes.
January 10, 1997 |
It seems, on the surface, like such a good idea. But it's probably time to concede that it is not. The idea, simply, is to offer up the life and times of the great, flamboyant actor John Barrymore in a solo piece by one of our great contemporary actors - Nicol Williamson, say, or Christopher Plummer. Williamson had his crack at the project last season in a show called Jack, which he cowrote with Leslie Megahey; now Plummer takes his cuts in William Luce's Barrymore, on view through Sunday at the Playhouse Theatre.
September 19, 2000 |
In Barrymore's Ghost, John Barrymore returns from the dead to tell us about his life, and what he has to say about himself is so unrelentingly unfavorable, you wonder why he'd want anyone to know about it. Barrymore presents himself as a gifted actor who squandered his talents and sold out to Hollywood for fame and easy money. As a man, he was a rake and an out-of-control alcoholic whose several marriages were failures. Presumably, the famed thespian communicates with no one from his grave in Philadelphia's Mount Vernon Cemetery, but he's onstage at Theatre Double as conceived and performed by playwright/actor Jason Miller, whose Barrymore's Ghost is the latest in a series of one-man plays about the Great Profile.
April 11, 1991 |
In I Hate Hamlet, which opened April 8 at the Walter Kerr Theater, the jokes racket across the footlights like automatic-weapons fire - good jokes and bad jokes, old jokes and new jokes, New York jokes and California jokes, sex jokes and no-sex jokes, theater jokes and - well, more theater jokes. Many more theater jokes. Will the show play in Peoria? Shoot, it's so inbred that it could barely play the East Side. Still, Paul Rudnick's new comedy is fun while the jokes hold out, which is roughly one act. The cast is agreeable, the premise amusing.
May 25, 1992 |
The Philadelphia Drama Guild's search for a new theater site has become a search for a site for a performing-arts center that also would be home to the American Music Theatre Festival. Daniel Schay, managing director of the Drama Guild, said a joint committee of board members from the two theaters was looking into "a handful of sites" for the center, which, he said, will be located in Society Hill or elsewhere in Center City. He did not indicate when an announcement on the choice of a location would be made.
May 27, 1993 |
Five theater attractions of the summer solstice which may tickle your fancy or be otherwise worthy of your patronage: "Twist": This new musical with Broadway ambitions is based on the Charles Dickens classic "Oliver Twist" but set in 1920s New Orleans. It stars Andrea McArdle and Ron Richardson and features an integrated cast of more than 30, including Adrian Bailey, Gregg Burge, Marva Hicks, Ken Jennings and Larry Marshall. The book is by Eugene Lee, the music by Tena Clark and Gary Prim with lyrics by Clark, the choreography by Claude Thompson, the set design by David Mitchell, the costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge.
April 9, 1991 |
A funny thing happened to Paul Rudnick on the way to Broadway. He leased John Barrymore's old apartment on the top floor of a four-story house off Washington Square. When the Great Profile acquired the flat in 1918, he had supervised its transformation into an environment he called "the Alchemist's Corner. " Barrymore filled it with bric-a-brac, suggesting the den of a reclusive Medieval mystic. He smoked the walls and the furnishings to heighten the illusion of age. He lit candles in tall standards whose reflections flickered eerily in crusty Venetian mirrors.
May 10, 1992 |
Fifty years ago this month, John Barrymore, perhaps the greatest American stage actor of the century, died in a Hollywood hospital. By the end, Barrymore, whose life had begun in Philadelphia 60 years earlier, was completely debilitated by alcoholism. Long before his death, he had gravitated to films, but his acting career was a pitiful shadow of what it had been. But 20 years before his death, Barrymore's portrayal of Hamlet was the event of the Broadway season and had been universally hailed by critics as the best and most satisfying they had seen.