You knew The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts at Lincoln Center had that great theatre collection and that special archive of shows preserved on videotape. But did you know about their theatre-oriented exhibitions?
Now through Jan. 18, 1997: The Costumes Of Barbara Matera, Ltd. Recently profiled on Channel 13's "City Arts" program, English-born costume maker Barbara Matera and her husband, Arthur, formed Barbara Matera Ltd., which designed and executed costumes for such Broadway productions as Follies, La Cage Aux Folles, Nine, City Of Angels and Jelly's Last Jam. Rather than draw sketches, Matera creates her gowns directly on the figure -- including such figures as Meryl Streep, Mickey Rooney, Rock Hudson, Jeremy Irons, Ann Miller, Mia Farrow and Mary Martin. She's also designed opera costumes for Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne and Leontyne Price. The Library's exhibition will show the transformation from concept to costumes, featuring the actual stages of construction for an elaborate Norma Desmond outfit worn by Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard. Other drawings, costumes and swatch books will be shown, as well as an industrial sewing machine.
Nov. 20-April 26, 1997: "Scenic Poet Of The Theatre." An exhibition highlighting Jo Mielziner's sketches and renderings for the theatre. Mielziner, a highly influential designer (Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Death Of A Salesman, Guys And Dolls), will be discussed by exhibition curator Mary Henderson in a free public program, Dec. 4.
Nov. 20-April 26, 1997: "From soulful ballads to biting satire, Yip Harburg wrote the lyrics for many of America's most haunting popular and theatrical songs ("April In Paris," "Brother Can You Spare A Dime," "It's Only A Paper Moon")." His are the lyrics to the classic songs in "The Wizard Of Oz" and Broadway's Finian's Rainbow. In "The Necessity Of Rainbows," the Library traces Harburg's rise from the Lower East Side to Hollywood and examines the way social concerns affected his art."
Jan. 21-April 19, 1997: An exhibit culled from the Hiram Stead Collection -- a huge trove of international theatre memorabilia, from the 18th to early 20th century. Among the gems: broadsides, correspondence, toy theatres and rarities, including an authentic invitation to the coronation of King George IV. Early 1997: The Library will host a series dedicated to film and theatre legend, Lillian Gish, featuring playwright Robert Anderson and actresses Patrice Munsel, Irene Worth and Teresa Wright.
Ongoing is the Library's Reading Room Series, which began Oct. 21 with a reading of Albert Innaurato's new play. Future readings will take place Nov. 18, Dec. 16, Jan. 13, 1997, Feb. 10, March 10, April 7 and May 12. Housing "the world's most extensive combination of circulating, reference and rare archival collections in its field," the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has such permanent research collections as the Music Division, the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, and the Billy Rose Theatre Collection.
For information on the Library's programs, most of which are free, call (212) 870-1630.
-- By David Lefkowitz