Curtain Up: Broadway Behind the Scenes

April 14 - September 1, 2012



This exhibition emerged out of a conversation I had with Tom Viertel the summer before last. We both "do shows" -- I curate shows in a museum and he produces shows on Broadway -- and so I was certain there must be a similar process, a related approach. But aside from the same stress of fundraising and meeting tight schedules, it turns out there was not a lot in common between our two "shows." Most museum exhibitions reflect the voice and vision of a single curator. Broadway shows are intensely collaborative. There is a ongoing collaboration between several people (lighting designer, set designer, costume designer along with the director) that results in a continual re-envisioning of the show's visuals.

Curating this exhibition with Tom Viertel has been a wonderful learning opportunity. It was also an experience in which we all were placed somewhat outside of our comfort zones. Broadway designers create works of art but they don't treat their art as precious objects. Rather, their designs are working models. At the Lyman Allyn, as at every museum, we handle objects with white gloves. It was a surprise, then, when the assistant to one of the costume designers asked me if I was comfortable taking a seam ripper to the costumes we were putting on view and affixing them to the mannequins with ... duct tape. No, I responded, actually I was not comfortable with that. Graciously he agreed to make the trip to the Lyman Allyn and fit the mannequins himself.

A heartfelt thank you goes to the designers and their staffs who so generously and graciously gave their time to this exhibition: especially, William Ivey Long and Donald Sanders; Robin Wagner and David Petersen; David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group staff, Sheela Pawar, Barry Richards, and Joan MacKeith; David Gallo, Sarah Zeitler, Jan Frazier, and Steve Channon; Paul Tazewell and Rory Powers; Robert Wierzel; and Marina Draghici. I would also like to thank the producers and their staffs: Tom Viertel and Tania Senewiratne; Sue Frost and Carolyn Miller; Geoff Rich; Stephen and Ruth Hendel, and Lauren Tolly Worsham; who facilitated my contact with these very busy designers and who graciously responded to all of my requests .

Thanks go to the Lyman Allyn staff: Carolyn Grosch; Selena Capraro; Mollie Clarke; Carrie Ermler; Kathy Jacques; Susan Hendricks; Vance Grabill; Bob Hennion; Susan Kelly; Lorraine Gruber; and our volunteers: Erma Basila; Mary DePuy; Elizabeth Petersen, Victoria Bell; Greg Bowerman; Tekla Zweir; Angela Chicoski; Julia Staudinger; Tess Peckler; Sarah Knowles; Patricia Devoe; Sara Gridley; Molly Ashmore; Halle Sacca; Elizabeth Larkin; Monica Butler; Julie Lebeaux; Denny Hicks; Hank Ariail; and Robert Jerome, as well as the LAAM Board of Trustees, in particular, President Polly Merrill.

I would like to thank our collaborators: The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Preston Whiteway, Director, and Brett Elliott; The Connecticut College Theater and Art History Departments, David Jaffe and Joseph Alchermes, chairs; The Williams School, Mark Fader, Head of School; The Goodspeed Opera House, Michael Price and Dan McMahon; the Garde Arts Center, Steve and Jeanne Sigel; and Shane Quinn of Yale School of Drama.

Curtain Up: Broadway Behind the Scenes is generously supported by The Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America, Trustee; Seward and Monde, Certified Public Accountants and Consultants; TCors Attorneys, New London; Gourmet Galley; the individual contributors to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum Exhibition Fund; People's United Bank; and with support from The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Nancy Stula, Ph.D.

Director and Curator, Lyman Allyn Art Museum


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