Oliver Herford & Celebrities of Yore

Exterior of The Players Club in New York City.  Photo taken in 2010.
The Players’ Club, #16 Gramercy Park Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Players (or the Players Club) is a private social club. It was founded in 1888 in New York City by actor Edwin Booth. Booth was often regarded as the greatest actor of his time. It was created in response to a perception that the theatre suffered due to a lack of interaction with the wider world of culture, literature, and art.

Booth purchased a mansion at 16 Gramercy Park and turned it into a social club for an eclectic range of artists of all types with the intention of integrating membership from the international theatre community . The club continues to this day.

Oliver Herford (1860 – 1935) was an English writer, humorist, artist, and illustrator. He was a longtime member of The Players.

Oliver Herford
At a dinner, Oliver Herford found himself sitting next to a very serious young woman.
“Tell me, Mr. Herford,” she said. “Have you no ambition beyond making people laugh?”
“Yes, I have,” he replied. “And someday I hope to gratify it.”
“Please tell me,” she said eagerly! “What is it?”
He said, “I want to throw an egg into an electric fan.”

Herford wrote much more than just satire, but his writing and illustration as a humorist resonate more than a century later.

An electric fan in 1899

In 1899 he published An Alphabet of Celebrities. It was formatted like a children’s primer, but the content was trendy, witty, and farcical. It is filled with comedic jabs at every notable household name of the time. This included actors, playwrights, novelists, politicians, world leaders, Biblical personas, characters in popular fiction, and many more.

The entire book is illustrations. The printing process allowed only two colors of ink and included no half-tones. He captures the likenesses of celebrities and historical figures and manages to lampoon them in every kind of comedic state.

Click on the pages in the embedded media below to review the entire book.


B is for Bernhardt, who fails to awaken Much feeling in Bismark, Barabbas, and Bacon.

Sarah Bernhardt was one of the very most prominent and renowned stage actresses of her time plus a contemporary of Herford and fellow Players Club member.
Here, she seems to be sending current & historical leaders into comas, along with a
figure from the New Testament.


I is for Ibsen reciting a play while Irving and Ingersoll hasten away.

Playwright Henrik Ibsen was another contemporary of Herford, as was Actor Sir Henry Irving and writer Robert G. Ingersoll. This book is more than a whimsical tour through the alphabet; Herford is systematically razzing everyone in his circle.
When you look up photos of these people, the caricatures are spot-on, too!

Left-to-right: Robert G. Ingersoll, Sir Henry Irving, and Henrik Ibsen

Y is for Young, the great Mormon Saint, Who thinks little Yum Yum and Yvette so quaint, He has to be instantly held in restraint.

This one might be my favorite. Yvette Guilbert (born Emma Laure Esther Guilbert ) was a French cabaret singer and actress of the Belle Époque. Yum Yum is the heroine in The Mikado operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan (originally opened in 1885). Brigham Young, of course, was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death in 1877 (not long before this publication). He had 55 wives and 56 children. Here he is so intent on pursuing Yvette and Yum Yum that he must be restrained by an unidentified police officer.

The internet makes the entire book into a rewarding scavenger hunt. Plugging each character name into a search results in (really nerdy) laughs.

I do not expect everyone who reads this to take the time to look up every character in this book.

But I know that some of you (and you already know who you are), most definitely, will.

Old World Spectacle

Our methods of producing spectacle evolve across the decades. New technology is not necessarily more miraculous than the older methods. Every era has its own special stage magic. 17th century Europe enjoyed theaters equipped with wing-and-drop scenery combined with the pole-and-chariot system.

Český Krumlov is in the southern Czech Republic. There, The Castle Theatre sits behind the moat near one wing of the castle. A Baroque theatre space with fully functioning machinery survives there today.

Baroque opera in the Castle Theatre in Cesky Krumlov (southern Czech Republic). Pole-and-chariot set change system, in support of a wing-and-drop set.

A pole-and-chariot system is a method for moving scenery. There are slots in the floor. Wall sections or other scenic elements are carried on vertical poles that extend down through the stage into a machine-room below-deck.

A wing-and-drop set is a set made up of shaped and painted 2D elements, usually fabric. These include vertical pieces on the side and horizontal pieces across the top. Together with a backdrop, they often include forced perspective to create the illusion of a grandiose interior or exterior. By changing the elements quickly with machinery, the entire setting is changed.

Quotable Reviews

    • “I’ve knocked everything in this show except the chorus girls’ knees, and there God anticipated me.”

      – George Jean Nathan on a musical in the 1920s.

    • “It is longeth and it stinketh.”

      – Caroline Alice Lejeune on Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, (1939).

    • “A bad play saved by a bad performance.”

      – George S. Kaufman regarding Gertrude Lawrence in Skylark, (1939).

Know Your Agreements!

A scene from "Avenue Q" @ Noel Coward theatre. (recast 12-07) ©Tristram Kenton 12/07 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from “Avenue Q” @ Noel Coward theatre.
(recast 12-07)
©Tristram Kenton

When I left college, I was pretty confused. I had started out as a performance major in classical voice and I ended up with a B.A. in English. The musical theatre question “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” really applied to me. After trying out a bunch of different jobs, I found security in what most people my age are doing when they graduate: working multiple arts jobs as an independent contractor and utilizing many skills at once. I found that I was able to make money, continue performing, and feel fulfilled working with organizations that embrace youth enthusiasm and talent in the arts. However, when I found that I was unhappy with a work placement years later, I was a little stuck.

Cock Eyed Optimist

I was in a vulnerable place when I graduated, as we all are! I also didn’t have any family members who were working as independent contractors in the arts. Looking back, I wish I had looked into the law and sought advice from my college professors. I jumped right into an arts gig without really researching the non-compete agreement I was signing.

Whenever you are signing as an independent contractor, you realize that you are signing on without employee benefits. Independent contractors aren’t entitled to workman’s comp in the event of an injury, no paid vacations, no taxes taken out of your paycheck, no health care, and if you are let go you receive no funds. It’s a risky thing to go into an agreement like that and arts people have big egos! My advice to you is to care for yourself and do all the research before you say yes.

calculator-385506_1280State By State

Rules about independent contractor agreements are different depending on what state you live/work in. Besides knowing about your rights as a contractor, you should know how the department of labor has worked with other constituents like you. Research cases on broken agreements and see if those agreements are even taken seriously in your state. Sometimes independent contractors are exempt. It’s difficult to approach a new job from a legal standpoint before you even begin, but take it from a girl who’s been burned: you may thank your past self later.

What advice would you give to your past self on these issues? Let us know at @AllTicketsInc on Twitter!

Broadway Rush in October

If you’re like me and you love theatre but you don’t have the money to buy center orchestra seats, you’ve got to rush! Whenever I visit New York to see a show, I use the Playbill Rush, Lottery, and Standing Room link to see which of my top picks are offering deals. If the show I really want to see isn’t available, I’ll buy some inexpensive balcony seats and pull out the opera glasses. However, I get so frustrated when my friends go to the TKTS line and wait forever to pay more for tickets that are on this list.

The Thrill of the Chase

Broadway Rush and Lottery are not for the faint of heart. They require a lot of walking, a lot of waiting, and sometimes rejection… For rush, you have to head to the theatre before the box office opens, wait in line, and see if they have any seats available to sell in student or general rush that day. Oftentimes, rush seats are near the front and they may have chosen to sell them instead of saving them at rush prices. That is at the discretion of the box office and you won’t know until they open if those seats are available. The limit is two tickets per person.

Lottery takes place at the box office or digitally. Download the TodayTix application, submit your information (The time submissions open is up to the box office and you can also see those times on the rush website.), if you win you will be notified and each box office has different time limits to when you need to get back to them to claim your earnings.

Shows with General Rush

This is usually the route I take when I purchase tickets. I plan a route to run back and forth between theatres in case my top contenders don’t yield success. It’s like the best Broadway scavenger hunt and is a pretty fun thing to do with the right friends. Check out some of the titles for general and student rush:

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical $40 General Rush
A Bronx Tale $39 General Rush
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory $40 General Rush
Chicago $36.50 General Rush
Come From Away $38 General Rush
A Doll House: Part 2 $30 General Rush
Miss Saigon $39 General Rush
The Play That Goes Wrong $30 General Rush
Prince of Broadway $30 Student Rush & 30 Under 30 Rush
School of Rock $39 General Rush

Have you recently won Broadway lottery for a show and want to boast about it? Let us know on Twitter @AllTicketsInc!

Rushing Could Save You Money

On December 4th in 2010, I was a freshman in college going to school in upstate New Jersey only a $25 bus ride away from the city. With my student ID in hand, I’d take the bus to Port Authority early on a Saturday, and try my luck at lottery or rush tickets. On this date, my eyes were set on seeing Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises. From 8am until the box office opened at 10, I stood in line in the cold. When I finally got in, rush wasn’t being offered that day. I bucked up after the disappointment and ended up winning lottery for the OBC of American Idiot and student rush tickets for A Little Night Music starring Bernadette Peters.

Rent, Rent Rent

The rush ticket phenomenon all started with Rent when the marketing team started offering $20 orchestra tickets to people who could get to the box offices first. Now, there is general rush, student rush, the lottery, and the digital lottery! The digital lottery wasn’t available when I lived near the city. If I lived there now, I’d be trying for lottery every weekend!

Sweat is one of the shows with a digital lottery.

Sweat is one of the shows with a digital lottery.

Digital Lottery Shows

Digital Lottery happens on a website called TodayTix. You can enter everyday to win a pair of tickets for $10-$40 each. Current shows offering the digital lottery are:

Sweat, Arthur Miller’s The Price, Cirque du Soleil: Paramour, Kid Victory, In Transit, Sweeney Todd, and If I Forget.

General Rush

General rush is what I was doing sitting outside Promises, Promises. You wait at the box office until the theatre opens to see what inexpensive seats are available. For American Idiot and A Little Night Music my seats were at the front of the theatre. When I got rush tickets for Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, I got a box seat and it was the best! Where you sit depends on the theatre and how they want to sell their last minute seats.

We hope you win lottery for your favorite show and have a lucky day of ticket buying! If you’re looking to purchase tickets for a large group, check out our website.

Taxes and the Untaxed

taxLast week, you read our article for untaxed workers in the creative sphere. As the educators making the arts possible in communities around the country, we want to make sure you’re educated in your finances. This week’s article touches on food write-offs, quarterly payments, and write-offs that you can enjoy!

FOOD

Food is expensive and you are a busy person. It’s less expensive to pre-make your lunches but there isn’t always time for that… As a creature of habit, I tend to buy my lunch from the same sandwich shop on my busiest teaching days. I keep the receipts and am able to write off 50% of the food as a deduction. If I’m feeling really generous the IRS will deduct 100% of my food expenses if I purchase food or coffee for my co-workers or employees. Food is expensive and all those receipts will take up some room but it will be worth the space.

ENJOYABLE WRITE-OFFS

As performers, we can take classes in the arts and write them off for research! I write off my monthly subscription for yoga since I use poses and breathing techniques for my students in voice classes. At the music school where I work, music teachers take lessons in other instruments and can write off the tuition costs. You can take dance classes, acting classes, zumba classes, private instrument instruction, buy new stage make-up, get a haircut for an audition but keep the evidence.

QUARTERLY PAYMENTSdollars

After you’ve finished your taxes this year and you find that you don’t have a lot of expenses to write off or receipts saved, you can work with your tax office or CPA to make payments throughout the year. Rather than having to pay one lump sum to the IRS and dreading the payment in February and March, you can relieve yourself of some stress. Ask your tax representative about this option this year. A lot of creative professionals I know do this and the continual check-in with their accounts helps them sleep better at night.

What unique item are you writing off this year? Let us know on Twitter!

Taxes and the Untaxed Creative Worker

calculator-385506_1280The Ides of March are coming and those of us whose money came to them in a “Miscellaneous Income” format are hurrying to make sure we don’t owe an arm, a leg, and our first born child. If you spent all of last year working in non-profit theatre settings and are claiming whole lot of un-taxed income, we have some good news for you. Read today’s Broadway Educator’s blog and educate yourself on your earnings.

All That Money

The great thing about being self-employed is that you can claim a whole lot. From food you purchased on the job to all the interest you paid on your student loans…you just have to know what to hold on to! For me, I save a bunch of receipts. When I buy crafts for my acting classes, printer ink, printer paper, new headshots, Facebook ads, a new computer, a website domain, or any material that would help with the progress of myself as a business, I keep the receipt. These items are deducted from the overall amount that you earned that year.

Another thing you can deduct is your rent and utilities if you happen to be a renter. However, you need to actually have a workspace that is secluded and separate from all other areas of your home. Your office space can only be used for that, otherwise it doesn’t count. My apartment is about 650 square feet and my office is about 100 square feet of that area. That means I can claim 100/650ths or 15% of my rent as a deduction. Since I heat, use electricity, and pay for WiFi in that 15% of space, I can claim my utilities as well!

Transportationdebt-1376061_640

If you are a Broadway Educator with a vehicle that you use to get to your classes, write down your mileage! From my home to my voice studio, it is 45 miles there and back. I made the journey 4 times a week within a 16-week semester and there were two full semesters last year, as well as 9-weeks in the summer when I taught once a week. Altogether, that was over 6100 miles! The government allows you to claim 57 cents for each mile traveled. That would mean that I could claim about $3400 right there!

Where To Find a Tax Person

The best choice for creative workers to make on getting taxes done is in choosing a tax representative. You need someone who understands his/her way about self-employment. I hire a CPA who once worked with me in an Arts Admin atmosphere! Since we know each other from that office, he gave me a great deal on consultations. So you can network yourself for tax help and ask your other creative friends who they go. Networking never ends for people like us…

ONE LAST TIP: If you donated your time to any non-profit fundraisers last year, tally up the hours you think you spent. Contact an admin from the organization, ask for an official document on their letterhead with your volunteer hours, and save it with your tax info. If you had charged the organization as a performer/educator for your work, calculate how much it would have been, and deduct that from your total earnings as well!

Infiltrating the Small Screen

If you saw the Tony Awards this year, you probably remember all the awards Hamilton won as well as the hilarious video montage showing all its original actors in featured roles on Law and Order. Musical theatre stars are becoming more and more visible on the small screen after Broadway success! Here are a few accounts of the stars whose small screen ventures you should see…

The Superhero Universes

Calista Flockhart starred on Broadway in The Glass Menagerie before her big TV career!

Calista Flockhart starred on Broadway in The Glass Menagerie before her big TV career!

Living at home with my superhero obsessed boyfriend, I learn a lot about the Marvel and DC universes. Lately, he’s been watching The Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. I was surprised to see such actors as Calista Flockhart (The Glass Menagerie), Victor Garber (Godspell), Jeremy Jordan(Newsies), and Laura Benanti (She Loves Me) on these shows. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the writing style compared to the Netflix streaming ones like Daredevil, Jessica Jones , and Luke Cage but clearly these actors gain a little more financial stability by taking advantage of their SAG cards. With more money and more flexibility rather than the “eight-show-a-week” schedule, there are some positives to the job shift.

From Broadway to TV Streaming

Danielle Brooks went from the popular Orange is the New Black to being Tony-nominated for The Color Purple on Broadway

Danielle Brooks went from the popular Orange is the New Black to being Tony-nominated for The Color Purple on Broadway

One of the most notable Netflix performers to be represented on the Broadway stage is Danielle Brooks of Orange is the New Black. She went from the streaming service show to the Broadway stage and proved herself to be a great, versatile actress in The Color Purple. Season 5 of Orange is the New Black is set to be released in the summer of 2017.

Golden Globe winner, Jeffrey Tambor, is another streaming success from Broadway! His show Transparent on Amazon is about a middle-aged man who comes out as trans. The show is incredible and highly deserving of its award success. We know you have a lot of streaming shows to catch up on but…this one is the one to make time for!

Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent

Then there is Bernadette Peters whose original Broadway Sondheim roles make her a legend. The third season of her show, Mozart in the Jungle was just released on Amazon Video for Streaming members. She plays a saucy president of the fictional New York Symphony Orchestra. It will have you listening to more classical music than ever before.

More To Come

One of the biggest performances to come from a Broadway star is the Lifetime remake of the Bette Midler classic, Beaches. Idina Menzel (Wicked, Frozen) is the Broadway star to take on the role singing “Wind Beneath My Winds” . It’s the perfect Lifetime movie and is set to make its premiere next year.

Which of your favorite shows with Broadway stars did we miss? Let us know on our Twitter page!

Beauty and the Beast

beastBeauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie as a child. I loved the spectacle, the love story, and the elements that Disney brought to the original Grimm tale (e.g. Belle’s yellow gown, the enchanted red rose, and the musical themes). A new live-action remake is going to be released on Saint Patrick’s Day starring Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson, and Josh Gad.

Original Productions

The original film from 1991 set a precedent for other Disney films as well as other cartoon films of its time. Alan Menken wrote the music that he later extended for a stage production that opened on Broadway in April of 1994 at The Palace Theatre. With lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman and a book by Linda Woolverton, the production was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won one for Best Costume Design.

beast1The 1991 film had many stars including Paige O’Hara as Belle, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, Jesse Corti as LeFou, David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth, and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts. Angela Lansbury was recently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly about the new remake. The 91 year old actress stated her confusion at Disney’s want to redo the story:

“I don’t quite know why they’re doing it. I can’t understand what they’re going to do with it that will be better than what we’ve already done. And how they’re doing it live — it may turn out to be very entertaining and wonderful. It won’t be like the cartoon that we did, but it’s a good story — it’s one of the famous fairy stories that is known worldwide by children. Therefore, why not? I don’t blame them for doing it. But, I’m sorry, they’re not really on our territory. We did it as cartoon characters, and that is quite different from live actors.”

A Great Remake Or Just a Money-Maker

A live-action remake for Beauty and The Beast could be great. The advanced CGI for the Disney castle will definitely be remastered in a new, enchanting way. Designers already seem to be taking advantage of the authentic, Bavarian aesthetic from the original Grimm Fairytale. The filmmakers could also be adding more of our favorite songs from the live stage production, which would set the movie apart. Then, Emma Watson will once more get an opportunity to be delivered from her perpetual place as Hermione Granger. Good things could definitely come of it!

On the other hand, the merchandise for the film will earn Disney more money and the box office earnings are expected to be ridiculous. I guess we’ll just have to wait until March 17th to see if it’s all worth it!

Click here to hear the first clips of Emma Watson singing as Belle!
 

Another Star of the Stage and Screen Lost

debbieAfter the passing of Carrie Fisher, we were dismayed to learn that her mother, Debbie Reynolds, had passed. After a stroke, she was hospitalized on December 28th. News of the hospitalization spread all over the internet until the news of her death surfaced hours later. Today, we remember her triumphs onstage and off that left us singing in the rain and feeling as unsinkable as Molly Brown!

On Broadway

Reynolds’ career began in film with her break-out role as Kathy Selden in Singing in the Rain. She proved to have the charm and the chops to make it on the big screen but her musical strengths led her to the Great White Way where she starred in Irene in 1973. If you read our posting about Carrie Fisher, you’ll know that this production was also her daughter’s Broadway debut. Fisher played an ensemble member in the show that was about an Irish immigrant, Irene, who has high ambitions to hang out with high society types.

After Irene, Reynolds did a special Broadway concert review in 1976 called Debbie at the Minskoff Theatre. With a full cast of male dancers and a few back-up singers, Reynolds shared some Broadwaylore with audiences for a limited run of 14 performances. In 1977 she starred in the US tour of Annie Get Your Gun as the title character. Then in 1983 she added Woman of the Year to her resume. Reynolds always shined playing the charming and beautiful ingenue.

A Legacy to Be Remembereddebbie1

Debbie Reynolds dazzled us for about six decades. She was even memorable for younger generations with her performances in Disney Channel Original movies, voice over work, and cameos in television shows like Will and Grace. We hope we won’t have to write another one of these articles for a long time, though an actress like this is worth remembering.