Mint Theatre streams forgotten Lillian Hellman play

The ever-generous Mint Theatre is now streaming another of their successful revivals, this time of Lillian Hellman’s largely-forgotten second play, DAYS TO COME.

DAYS TO COME is a family drama set against the backdrop of labour problems and workers’ unrest in a small Ohio town which threatens to tear apart both town and family. “It’s the story of innocent people on both sides who are drawn into conflict and events far beyond their comprehension,” Hellman said in an interview before DAYS TO COME opened in 1936. “It’s the saga of a man who started something he cannot stop…”

“It’s a gripping, lucid examination of the dangerous intersection of economic, social, and personal forces.” said The New Yorker

Andrew Rodman is running the family business and failing at it. The workers are out on strike and things are getting desperate. “Papa would have known what to do,” his sister Cora nags, “and without wasting time and money.” But it’s too late, Rodman is bringing in strikebreakers, naively failing to anticipate the disastrous impact that this will have on his family and their place in the community where they have lived for generations.

Audiences had no chance to appreciate DAYS TO COME when it premiered on Broadway in 1936; it closed after a week. Hellman blamed herself for the play’s failure. “I wanted to say too much,” she wrote in a preface to the published play in 1942—while admitting that her director was confused and her cast inadequate. “On the opening night the actors moved as figures in the dream of a frightened child. It was my fault, I suppose, that it happened.” Nevertheless, “I stand firmly on the side of Days to Come.” In 1942, Hellman could afford to take responsibility for the play’s failure; she had enjoyed much success in the days after DAYS TO COME (with both THE LITTLE FOXES and WATCH ON THE RHINE). But Hellman’s play is better than she would admit.

“Days to Come … turns out to be a gripping piece of storytelling, one whose failure and subsequent obscurity make no sense at all.” The Wall Street Journal

DAYS TO COME was revived only once in New York, in 1978, by the WPA Theatre. In reviewing that production for The Nation, Harold Clurman wrote that “our knowledge of what Hellman would subsequently write reveals that Days to Come is not mainly concerned with the industrial warfare which is the ‘stuff’ of her story for the first two acts.” Hellman’s real preoccupation is “the lack of genuine values of mind or spirit” of her principle characters, the factory-owning Rodmans.

Mint Theatre’s production, running 1 hour 50 minutes, can be seen online until April 2nd. Find it here


MINT theatre streams another rediscovered classic

New York-based MINT Theatre company are generously making available to the public past productions around the world for free.

Streaming globally until March 19th is the 1931 play PHILIP GOES FORTH by Pulitzer Prize-winner George Kelly.

PHILIP GOES FORTH tells the story of a young man who rebels against his father and a career in the family business and ventures to New York to write plays. He leaves home without his father’s support or blessing, but with this warning: “Don’t imagine, whenever you get tired floating around up there in the clouds that you can drop right back into your place down here;—that isn’t the way things go—”

George Kelly was a celebrated author in the 1920s, the man who wrote the 1925 psychological drama CRAIG’S WIFE, centered around an obsessive, destructive housewife, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize. By this time, notes Foster Hirsch, “a new play (by Kelly) was as keenly anticipated as a new one by Eugene O’Neill.”

PHILIP GOES FORTH made its debut at the Biltmore Theater on Broadway in January of 1931. George Kelly’s comedy has some discouraging words for its title character—and this rubbed a few critics the wrong way. The Times’ Brooks Atkinson was especially disgruntled. “To discourage the neophytes about coming to New York and trying their fortune with the arts is to accept considerable responsibility,” Atkinson proclaimed, while missing the point of the play. Kelly was so disappointed by the lack of critical perception that he gave up writing for the theatre for the next five years.

MINT Theatre’s 2013 production—the play’s first in 82 years—finally garnered the play the critical perception it deserved.

You can find out more about the play, and stream it until March 19th, here


Watch a great Sondheim Celebration

On 3 May 2022, Cameron Mackintosh invited many of Stephen Sondheim’s old friends to join him in London’s West End at the recently renamed Sondheim Theatre, for a show to celebrate the late Stephen Sondheim’s extraordinary talents as a composer and lyricist, after Sondheim’s passing aged 91 in November 2021. 

Featuring an all-star cast including Michael Ball, Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, Petula Clark, Anna-Jane Casey, Rosalie Craig, Janie Dee, Judi Dench, Daniel Evans, Maria Friedman, Haydn Gwynne, Bonnie Langford, Damian Lewis and Julia McKenzie, amongst others.

Now available on BBCiPlayer, and running just over 2 hours, you can now enjoy this fine tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most important musical theatre talents.

Find STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S OLD FRIENDS here


Wishing You All a TAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Fayard and Harold – The Nicholas Brothers, undisputed kings of tap, in motion during a routine in STORMY WEATHER (1942).

Christmas is a time when many of us like to get out and see a show with our special friends and family, and song and dance often feature high in the sort of entertainment we seek out, to match the exuberant and cheery feelings many feel about the holiday season.

For those of you who may prefer celebrating from home, I have picked out a few things you can see online, which I think you may enjoy in this time when we relax and indulge ourselves a little.

Still on BBCiPlayer (for UK licence-holders) is the big musical ANYTHING GOES. Filmed live at the Barbican in London, this major new production of the classic musical comedy features an all-star cast led by renowned Broadway actress Sutton Foster with Cole Porter’s timeless songs and a sprinkling of dance, including a good bit of tap.

Find ANYTHING GOES here

If tap is really your thing, you’ll enjoy this rarely-seen and recently rediscovered documentary, first broadcast in the UK on Channel Four in 1983, MASTERS OF TAP- with contributions from legends such as Will Gaines, Honi Coles and Chuck Green.

Find MASTERS OF TAP here

FOSSE/VERDON was a great series about the relationship between legendary choreographer Bob Fosse and his second wife, the dynamic performer Gwen Verdon. In eight parts, and boasting great performances by Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, with a guest spot by Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s well worth your holiday time.

Find FOSSE/VERDON here

For fans of classic tap, you can’t go wrong with Ann Miller, Guinness World Record holder as the fastest tapper in history (for many years). There’s a nice new print of a long-unavailable Miller movie, TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM from 1941 currently on YouTube. It’s a very lumpy but passable musical, but definitely worth seeing for Ann’s numbers (starting at 24:15) which are delightful, especially the number she does with comedy character actor Allen Jenkins, in what I believe is his only dance routine on film – and its enormous fun! (Find it fast by going to 37:07). Foghorn-voiced Jenkins was one of the group of Irish-heritage actor/singer/dancers who worked their way up, through being chorus boys on Broadway in the 20s and then onto Hollywood in the 30s, whose number included close friends such as Pat O’Brien and James Cagney.

Find TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM here

And if you’d like to know more about my personal (and Fred Astaire’s) top tap stars, the Nicholas Brothers, you can see a great biography of them below with lots of clips of them in action. If you watch nothing else, jump to the end, at 49:43, where they project their movie routine LUCKY NUMBERS from 1936 behind them, while performing it perfectly almost 60 years later. I saw this routine live when they performed it at the all-star gala STAIRWAY TO THE STARS in November 1989 at the London Palladium, and it absolutely brought the house down. Enjoy!

Find WE SING, WE DANCE here

Happy Holidays to you all!


Free lecture – ‘Don’t Forget the Pierrots: Seaside Follies on the Prom’

On Tuesday 13th December at 7.30pm, you’re invited to a talk by Tony Lidington, author of a new book about Pierrot troupes and concert parties, hosted by the Society for Theatre Research, and available in-person and also online.

The Pierrot troupes grew from a single idea into a major international cultural industry, which boosted morale and national identity during the UK’s times of crisis. Tony Liddington will draw upon his 2022 book – “Don’t Forget The Pierrots!” The Complete History of British Pierrot Troupes & Concert Parties, which is the first scholarly exploration of this popular performance form and its heritage.

The presenter, Dr. Tony Lidington has been a showman, researcher and teacher for over 35 years. He specialises in historical popular entertainment forms and their application to contemporary contexts. Tony was awarded a doctorate for his research into itinerant British performance forms by the University of Exeter, where he now teaches. He regularly writes about the subject for academic journals and general interest magazines, as well as broadcasting on both radio and television. Tony was founder of ‘The Pierrotters’ – Britain’s last professional seaside Pierrot troupe, with whom he performed for 27 years as ‘Uncle Tacko’!

You can either attend online, from the comfort of your own home, or travel to The Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT (nearest tube Russell Square).

The event is expected to run approximately 90 minutes.

For more information, and to book, click here