Betty Comden & Adolph Green, live and in person, will highlight the upcoming month of events at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The legendary duo will discuss "Our New York Musicals," a look at their Wonderful Town, Bells Are Ringing and On The Town, to be revived this spring when George C. Wolfe's Central Park mounting moves to Broadway.
Comden & Green's visit, Dec. 8, will be broadcast live on the Internet via http://www.nypl.org/research/lpa/programs.
"Syncopated City - The Gershwin's New York Connection" arrives Dec. 18 (5:30 PM). A narrated theatrical concert by Deena Rosenberg and other performers, City is part of the Library's "New York, New York" series (as is the Comden & Green night.)
Capping the month, Dec. 29 (6:30 PM), is "An Evening With Sean O'Casey, featuring Milo O'Shea and Kitty Sullivan accompanied by harpist Michael Levine. Material for the show has been taken from 100 letters sent by playwright O'Casey to drama critic Brooks Atkinson. O'Casey's works include Juno And The Paycock, The Plough And The Stars and Bedtime Story.
Continuing through Dec. 13 is the Library's display of designs by Rouben Ter-Arutunian. You may not know his name, but from the 1950s-80s, his sets and costumes graced dance and theatre performances across the country. He even won a Tony -- for the 1959 Gwen Verdon starrer, Redhead, though his best-known work was for George Balanchine and NYC Ballet's "Nutcracker." The New York Public Library is currently displaying 77 drawings and sketches of Ter-Arutunian's work - material acquired by the Library three years before the designer's death in 1992.
"Rouben Ter-Arutunian: A Working Collection," is housed in the Amsterdam Gallery at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. The free exibit runs Oct. 3-Dec. 13, though the "Nutcracker" material will be on view through Jan. 3, 1998.
Madeleine Nichols, Curator of the Library's Dance Collection, notes that Ter-Arutunian was also a major figure in early television design, such as his work on the 1956 broadcast of "Jack And The Beanstalk" and a 1960 Tempest (starring Roddy McDowall).
Theatre designs shown at the exhibit include work for American Shakespeare Festival mountings of The Merchant Of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing and a Katharine Hepburn-starred Twelfth Night. The whole collection features three-dimensional models, stage plans, handwritten notes, photographs, press clippings and other memorabilia.
Born in Tiflis, Russia, Ter-Arutunian (of Armenian descent) served as an apprentice ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He immigrated to the U.S. In 1951 and became a citizen five years later.
Among those who wore his costumes were Richard Burton, John Gielgud, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Lotte Lenya and Gwen Verdon (Redhead).
Coming up in 1998:
Jan. 3 & 5, 1998: A screening of MGM's On The Town, as George C. Wolfe's Central Park revival readies itself for Broadway in the spring. Following Town at NYPL will be a screening of West Side Story, directed by Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise.
Jan. 17 & 24, 1998: Broadway Then, Broadway Now: From Union Square To Times Square. Two lectuers by historian Mary C. Henderson.
Feb. 14, 1998: A lecture by producer Alexander H. Cohen titled, "Star Billing: Fifty Years Of Producing On Broadway."
March 2, 1998: An Evening With Charles Strouse, composer of >Annie, Rags and Applause.
April 4, 1998: "Anything Can Happen In New York: Politics On Broadway With Yip Harburg & Friends." A narrated theatrical concert with Deena Rosenberg & Broadway performers.
April 16, 1998: The cast-members and creators of the new musical, Ragtime.
For information on these free events, call (212) 870-1630. Tickets are not reservable; they're distributed at the Library's information desk two hours before events get under way.