Monday, April 3, 2017

Unconventional works

Stretching on Fifth Avenue. 7:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, April 3, 2017. Rainy weekend, grey and grim; in the 40s, and then Sunday the Sun came out bright and clear and temps reaching up to the low 60s.
Signs of spring in Central Park.
This year, the Park Avenue Armory is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a cultural institution (and the newest) in New York, with a mission of supporting unconventional works in the performing and visual arts that cannot be produced in a traditional proscenium theater or a concert hall or a white wall gallery. Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of the Armory describes its purpose thusly: “to enable artists to create, students to explore, and audiences to experience epic and adventurous work that cannot be done elsewhere in New York.”

Last Thursday night, I went to the Park Avenue Armory to see the opening of Eugene O’Neill’s“The Hairy Ape.” First opened on Broadway 95 years ago in 1922, I’d read it in college but had never seen a production. I could not imagine how it would be presented in a 55,000 square foot cavernous room, and where we would sit. Or why?
Carlotta Monterey and Louis Wolheim in the 1922 Broadway production of "The Hairy Ape."
One thing I was certain of, however, having attended several Armory productions/shows/concerts/performances in that massive room: it would astound. One is not allowed to photograph the performance but I did get a photo upon entering the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, and another of the cast onstage taking their bows at the end of the 90 minute (no intermission) play.

The production, directed by Richard Jones and designed by Stewart Laing, is astounding. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and there’s not a moment’s let-up in the 90 minutes of O’Neill’s epic and deeply impassioned American story. Starring Bobby Cannavale whose stunning performance matches the production’s spectacle, the entire cast also matches the star and production. A Park Avenue Armory and Old Vic London Production, “The Hairy Ape runs though Saturday, April 22, 2017.
People taking their seats before the performance. One had to cross over a three step curving platform that became the stage which revolved.
The entire cast takes their final bow to the tremendous applause for their work. Bobby Cannavale is the man in the middle with the white tee shirt.
A Life in The Theatre. Robert A. Boyar, the Dean of Broadway Insurance, died at his Manhattan home on March 16, 2017, of complications from a fall.

Mr. Boyar and his wife Margery Boyar made the slogan "the show must go on" a reality.  The Boyars were the entertainment industry's leading insurance brokers and have been at the top of the business for half a century.

Robert and Margery Boyar seated below Robert's Sardi's caricature. Photo: Martha Swope.
A native New Yorker, born in 1923, Robert Boyar grew up in the theatre. His father, Ben Boyar, was the very important General Manager for Max Gordon, the legendary producer in the 1930s and 1940s. Ben Boyar was GM of more than 42 shows from 1932 to 1962 including  Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach’s “Roberta”; Clare Boothe's “The Women,” George S. Kaufman and John P. Marquand’s “The Late George Apley,” Garson Kanin’s“Born Yesterday.”

Not surprisingly for a son an important Broadway theatre figure, young Bob Boyar wanted a show business career too. His father, however, advised against it, saying the theatre was not what it used to be, and encouraged his son to go into a "legitimate" business instead. 

A good son who took his father’s advice and got his BS from Union College in Schenectady, New York, Boyar also included his dream objectives too: he began his specialty as a theatrical insurance adviser back in 1948.  His Margery Boyar joined his office in 1973.

When Elizabeth Taylor missed eight performances of "The Little Foxes" on Broadway, the Boyars arranged for the producers to be paid $200,000.  When Miss Taylor’s ailment reoccurred in Chicago, the producers were paid a similar sum again.  When a leading lady developed a severe case of acne halfway through shooting a movie, the whole project was scrapped, but the producers were paid handsomely. 
Taylor in backstage before a perfromance of The Little Foxes.
The Boyars even insured the computer that operates the set for "Les Miserables," as well as the chandelier in "Phantom of the Opera.” One of their former Broadway star clients was a mouse.  In 1987 the Boyars' company, R. A. Boyar, Inc., was acquired by Marsh & McLennan, the world's leading insurance broker, and Mr. Boyar became a Senior Vice President until his retirement in 2003.
The barricade in the original Broadway production of "Les Miserables," 1987.
The "Phantom" chandelier.
He achieved the unique distinction of being the world's only insurance broker to have his caricature hanging on the wall at Sardi's alongside so many of the stars of productions he insured and even some on which his father had been General Manager. 

Bob and Margery's clients included Nina Lannan, Cameron Mackintosh, Richard Frankel, Roger Gindi, Robert Cole, Alan Wasser, Abbie Strassler and Manny Kladitis, to name but a few.

When still a young insurance broker Boyar developed Business Interruption Insurance for theatrical productions; it is still used to cover most companies.  He wrote the non-appearance star insurance for the underwriters at Lloyds of London which is still in use today.

Twenty years ago he and Margery were invited to write the Theatrical Production Insurance program for the Chubb Insurance Group, one of the major sources of high-grade insurance for theatrical productions to this day.

Boyar is survived by his wife Margery, two sons, Benjamin Boyar and Jonathan Guinsburg, and his brother Burt Boyar.
A special message from Laura Slatkin for all you spinners out there, and even those of us who are not but would like to do a good turn for others off the cycle:

Laura's Blue Garden candle was created in honor of her son, David, who is affected by autism.
In honor of April's Autism Awareness Month, we are holding a special spin class at Soul Cycle on April 30th to raise money for our foundation, NEXT for Autism. Our fundraising goal for this event is $20,000 and we need your help. I would greatly appreciate your support with a contribution which you are comfortable pledging — whether $25, $100, $500 or $1,000 — every dollar counts!

If you are a spin lover like me, please join us for the ride and help raise even more for NEXT for Autism. If you are not able to contribute to our fundraiser but want to join us for a fun spin, each bike is $2,000.

Please follow this link to make a donation or to register to spin. Thank you in advance for your support. Let's continue to accomplish great things together!

Contact DPC here.