Our Theatre Heroes

July 22, 2017

Who is your theatre hero? Why? YouthPLAYS authors respond.

Kit Goldstein Grant:
Oscar Hammerstein II. Because he was brilliant in his work on developing the classic Golden Age musical form, because of his lyrical craftsmanship, because of his humor, because of his positive outlook on life and willingness to tackle issues like racism on a Broadway stage before that was a common theme, and because of his kindness toward people. Also because he had a working cattle farm and tested his songs by singing them to the cows. I find it very depressing that I will never grow up to be mentored by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Nancy Brewka-Clark:
I was lucky enough to see Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night in 2013 with Stephen Fry. Bringing Shakespeare to life without resorting to a contemporary setting and just letting the action speak as loudly as the words indicates to me that there will always be room for live theater.

Steven Stack:
Patrick Gagliano, my theatre instructor and director while I attended Newberry College and afterwards. His talent, work ethic, and views on life and coming through for people have shaped my life and teaching in the most positive ways. He taught me to love and appreciate character and play research and how to own up to all of your decisions. I am proud to consider him a friend and a colleague now.

Nina Mansfield:
Theresa Rebeck. Her plays are beautiful, and she has spoken and written very eloquently about the lack of gender parity in theater.

Barbara Lindsay:
Sir Tom Stoppard, because he got me to want to be, not just a playwright, but a knock down brilliant playwright.

Adam Goldberg:
He'd read this and get embarrassed.

Noelle Donfeld:
My theatre heroes are those folks who develop and encourage new musicals. John Sparks of Lehman Engel Musical Theatre (now New Musicals Inc.) taught me how to write, never taking a penny for himself. Stephen Schwartz shares his outstanding musical expertise with writers every year at ASCAP workshops. Musicals are expensive propositions, even in the reading stage, as musical directors are required in addition to the normal staffing. Past heroes include Denton Yockey and Casa Manana Theatre in Fort Worth, which developed my show The Revolution of Betsy Loring for its Tomorrow Project over a four-month period. Free flights and lodging were provided, along with excellent direction (Joel Ferrell) and musical direction (Elaine Davidson). Every theatre providing free space and even more for musical theatre festivals is playing a pivotal role in the advancement of musical theatre.

David Hansen:
I am a great admirer of playwright Eric Coble. We met at school, where he was pursuing a Masters in Acting. However, by the mid-90s after a few successful play scripts he made the decision not to act again, and to focus entirely on the writing.

To date he has written well over 50 works, which span from outrageous satire to extremely moving interpersonal dramas, and many extremely popular and successful adaptations. I had the pleasure and privilege to perform in a professional production of his The Velocity of Autumn which was his first Broadway premiere and is now being produced in theaters across the country and indeed around the world.

His work ethic and his output are each astonishing and admirable. So, too, is the quality of his work, which I find at turns hilarious and deeply affecting and always original. But I also have the good fortune of existing in his circle of friends. His wife Carol and his (now) adult children are wonderful people and strong contributors to our community. For the better part of ten years he has been an active member of our local school board, and an open advocate for progressive causes.

I deeply enjoy writing for the stage, but I couldn't perform that endeavor without the comfort and security of a positive home life and a strong community, and Eric has always set for me a powerful example for how best to achieve my goals, professional and personal.

Brian Armstrong:
I don't know yet. I'm still looking. I see many sources of inspiration, but I can't choose one hero.

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