Cheryl Crawford, who produced four Tennessee Williams plays — Camino Real, The Rose Tattoo, Sweet Bird of Youth and Period of Adjustment — as well as the musicals One Touch of Venus, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon, will be saluted by the New York Public Library with a series of free public programs beginning Sept. 23.
Cheryl Crawford: A Tribute to the Producer in Her Centennial Year pays tribute to the late producer, who was a founder of the Group Theatre, the American Repertory Theatre and the Actors Studio. Additionally, she produced the major 1942 revival of Porgy and Bess, which earned the opera its lasting reputation.
The nearly month-long series begins Sept. 23 at 6 PM with "Cheryl Crawford Remembered," an evening featuring husband-and-wife actors Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson, who will offer reminiscences about Crawford through scenes and letters. Wallach appeared in two of Crawford's productions, The Rose Tattoo and Camino Real, and Jackson starred in her mountings of Brecht on Brecht and Oh Men! Oh Women!.
On Sept. 26, also at 6 PM, opera stars Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart will be interviewed by Janet and Martin Bookspan. Lear and Stewart appeared in the Marc Blitzstein musical Reuben Reuben, which was produced by Crawford. At 3 PM on Sept. 28, singers Leon Williams and Kimberly Jones will take part in "Porgy and Bess: The First Revival." The afternoon will include songs from the landmark Gershwin musical rendered by Williams and Jones, with Timothy Long on piano.
Estelle Parsons and Ben Gazzara will headline "Cheryl Crawford and the Actors Studio," scheduled for Sept. 30 at 6:30 PM. Parsons, the current moderator of the Actors Studio, will be interviewed by Foster Hirsch, who penned "A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio." Gazzara, who appeared in 1963's Strange Interlude — the first production of the Actors Studio — will also discuss his work at the famed Studio. The Oct. 7 evening (6 PM) features selections from Johnny Johnson, Paul Green and Kurt Weill's 1936 musical that was produced by Crawford. Original cast member Phoebe Brand will take part in the event. Dancer/choreographer Gemze de Lappe, a close associate of Agnes de Mille, will be on hand Oct. 12 (3 PM) for "Almost Like Being in Love: The Collaboration Between Cheryl Crawford and Agnes de Mille," which will concentrate on two Crawford/de Mille collaborations, Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon.
The final program in the series, scheduled for Oct. 18 at 4 PM, is titled "One Touch of Venus: Songs from Musicals Produced by Cheryl Crawford." Metropolitan Opera chorus members Constance Green, Ellen Lang and Irwin Reese will offer selections from Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, Trouble in Tahiti, One Touch of Venus, Love Life, Regina, Reuben Reuben, Jenny and Flahooley. Robert Rogers will be featured on piano.
All programs in the series will be held at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center in the Bruno Walter Auditorium, which is located at 111 Amsterdam Avenue. Although admission is free, some programs require tickets. For more information call (212) 642-0142.
—By Andrew Gans