Carol Burnett, Tyne Daly, Michele Pawk and More Will Be Part of Hollywood Arms Reading

News   Carol Burnett, Tyne Daly, Michele Pawk and More Will Be Part of Hollywood Arms Reading
Hollywood Arms, the autobiographical 2002 play by actress Carol Burnett and her late daughter Carrie Hamilton, will get a special concert reading at Merkin Concert Hall Sept. 21. Burnett herself will take part, along with Tony winner Tyne Daly, Tony nominee Emily Skeggs and original cast member Michele Pawk.

Burnett and Philip Himberg, artistic director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, will introduce the special concert reading, which will be directed by Mark Brokaw.

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Pawk won a Tony Award for her performance as Louise, a role inspired by Burnett's own mother, in the original Broadway production, which ran 76 performances at the Cort Theatre. The play was developed at the Sundance Festival in 1998 and played at Chicago's Goodman Theatre before Broadway.

The play was drawn from Burnett's memoir, "One More Time," and marked the return of Harold Prince as a Broadway producer/director (teaming with Arielle Tepper). A combination of the dramatic and the comedic, the play was penned by Burnett in collaboration with daughter Hamilton, who died of cancer in January 2002 before she could see it realized on Broadway.

Burnett said in a prepared statement, “This anniversary reading, with Mark Brokaw directing and Tyne Daly and Michele Pawk starring, is a rare opportunity for the play to reconnect with audiences. The support we received from Sundance Institute when we first developed Hollywood Arms was invaluable and came at a critical moment in its development.” Hollywood Arms chronicles the life of a woman named Helen in a pre- and post World War II Hollywood. Helen lives in an apartment building — the Hollywood Arms — at the foot of the Hollywood hills. The piece contains a cavalcade of characters, including a pill-popping Christian Scientist grandmother who cares for the heroine, Helen after the divorce of her parents; a wide-eyed and distant mother who longs to be a celebrity interviewer (Pawk); and a recovering drunk father who wants to be the daddy he never was.

Writer-director-actress Hamilton had started the ball rolling on the project. Hamilton was skeptical of taking on the adaptation alone. "Having only written screenplays, I didn't think I'd be up to the task," she had said. Hamilton suggested that Burnett co-write the play with her.

When Burnett sent a rough draft to "a close friend" for a personal suggestion of someone to helm the work, the friend volunteered himself. The friend was the legendary Prince.

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