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Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Notes on a Cowardly Lion”

Notes on a Cowardly Lion by John Lahr

Back Cover

First published in 1969, Notes on a Cowardly Lion has established itself as one of the best-ever show business biographies. Drawing on his father’s recollections and on the memories of those who worked with him, John Lahr brilliantly examines the history of modern American show business through the long and glorious career of his father–the raucous low-comic star of burlesque, vaudeville, the Broadway revue and musical, Hollywood movies, and the legitimate stage. Here in rich detail is Lahr evolving from low–dialect comic to Ziegfeld Follies sophisticate, hamming it up with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman on the set of The Wizard of Oz, and debuting Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in America, which Kenneth Tynan called “one of the most noble performances I have ever seen.” In the examination of Bert Lahr’s chronic insecurity and self-absorption, the breakdown of his first marriage, and the affectionate arm’s length he kept between himself and his adoring second family, John Lahr’s book also brings the reader closer than any other theater biography to the private torment of a great funny man.

This edition of the book includes the award-winning essay “The Lion and Me,” John Lahr’s intimate reflections on family life with his distant, brooding, but lovable father. A first-class stylist, John Lahr takes the reader beyond the magic of show business to a dazzling examination of how a performing self is constructed and staged before the paying customers. Both as theater history and biography, Lahr’s book is superb.

“A book-length love letter. To open it is to enter a life, to participate in a sensibility and, perhaps most important, to laugh. Uproariously.”

Stefan Kanfer, Life

“Endlessly fascinating, excellent. . . . A work of literature, a work of history, a subtle psychological study.”

Richard Schickel, Harper’s Magazine

“This is a biography of the late Bert Lahr, that clown-comedian who played everything from burlesque to Aristophanes and Shakespeare, by his son, who is one of that rare species, an authentic theater critic. . . . John Lahr is frank and objective about his father. He sees that Bert was wildly funny on the stage and unhappy off. He was a haphazard father, a selfish lover, a thoughtless husband (his wife cherished him), a hypochondriac and a ruthless ‘professional.’ The past becomes present in this biography so that we come to know and understand the actor as clearly as the man. The book abounds in anecdotes that smack of the footlight world and its fascinating fauna. John Lahr is an honorable as well as a talented writer on the theater.”

Harold Clurman, New York Times Book Review

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“Christmas with the Crawfords” – at Abrons Arts Center

Dec 10th thru 27th – 3 Weeks Only!

Joey Arias joins up with San Francisco’s Artfull Circle Theatre to make NYC’s Yuletide ever so gay in this all-singing, all-dancing, holiday extravaganza. Based on the infamous Christmas Eve radio broadcast from the Crawford family’s Brentwood mansion, Christmas With the Crawfords features Joan, the children, and a stellar line up of Hollywood icons in a hilarious parody of — and homage to — the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. Featuring Chris March and Sherry Vine.

Created by Richard Winchester
Written by Wayne Buidens and Mark Sargent
Directed by Donna Drake

Crawfords Cast:

Chris March – Christina Crawford / Connie Champagne – Christopher Crawford / Sherry Vine (Keith Levy) – Hedda Hopper & Baby Jane Hudson / Flotilla De Barge ( Kevin Joseph) Hattie McDaniels / Vodka Stinger (Garth Schilling) Edith Head, Laverne Andrews & Ethel Merman / Jason B. Schmidt – Patty Andrews & Gloria Swanson / Brett-Marco Glauser – Maxine Andrews & Carmen Miranda / Garritt Guadan – Liberace

 

Here are a few photographs from the show!

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2014.12.11_Crawfrds_404Curtain call for the cast!

For more information and ticket sales go here.