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Guest Blog: 1956: IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

WHAT LERNER & LOEWE DID THAT RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN COULDN’T By Peter Filichia

Did Rodgers and Hammerstein trouble themselves to watch the 1938 film of Pygmalion? Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe obviously did – and that’s one reason why they succeeded in adapting George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play into My Fair Lady. That only happened, however, some years after Dick and Oscar had tried to musicalize the […]

THE EVER-SO-GRAND HOTEL By Peter Filichia

“The Boston Merger” turns out to have two meanings in Grand Hotel. In the 1989 musical that last month had a superb revival at Encores! General Director Preysing and his company are in financial crisis. If he can’t manage a merger with a Boston company, his board of directors and stockholders will remove him. So […]

Getting Ready for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert By Peter Filichia

What a difference from 1971. When Jesus Christ Superstar opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on October 12th of that year, dozens of Christian fundamentalists were outside brandishing their picket signs. Billy Graham said that the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice show “bordered on blasphemy and sacrilege.” Dr. William A. Marra – then the host of […]

ANITA GILLETTE LOOKS SHARP, FEELS SHARP AND LOOKS BACK By Peter Filichia

“I met my future husband over an autopsy.” Now there’s a phrase that you’d never hear in a Broadway song. But in the early ‘50s, medical stenographer Anita Luebben was assigned to a post-mortem with Dr. Ronald William Gillette. And that’s how she became Anita Gillette, whom we’ll be able to see in her one-woman […]

REMEMBERING HARVEY SCHMIDT By Peter Filichia

As my friend Josh Ellis said when he heard the news, “Roll up the Ribbons.” He was citing the penultimate song in I Do! I Do! – the 1966 musical hit about a fifty-year marriage. In it, Michael and Agnes, now senior citizens, are about to leave the only house they’ve known for the last […]

Peter Filichia is the theater critic emeritus for the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey and News 12 New Jersey.

He is a columnist each Friday for www.mtishows.com and www.kritzerland.com.

Filichia is the author of Let’s Put on a Musical, now in its third printing; Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit of the Season / The Biggest Flop of the Season and Broadway Musical MVPs 1960-2010: The Most Valuable Players of the Last 50 Seasons. His new book, Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks will be published in May, 2013 by St. Martin’s Press.

He has been a columnist for Playbill, Theater.com, Theatermania and Theater Week.

Before joining the Theatre World Awards in 1996 as host and head of the selection committee, Filichia served four terms as president of the Drama Desk. He has served on an assessment panel for the National Endowment for the Arts, and is currently critic-in-residence for the University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music and the musical theater judge for the ASCAP Awards program.