Athol Fugard is a white South African playwright, director, and actor. His work as a playwright is acclaimed for exploring the social and psychological consequences of apartheid. Fugard formed an integrated theater company in the 1960s in defiance of South African norms. Many of his plays have been produced in the United States.
Michael Bennett won a Pulitzer Prize for the musical "A Chorus Line," which he conceived, choreographed, and directed. He, himself, began his career as a Broadway dancer before choreographing musicals such as "Promises, Promises," "Company," and "Follies." Bennett's latest show is "Dreamgirls."
Cy Coleman started his career as a jazz pianist and club owner before moving on to writing pop songs that were recorded by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Coleman then started composing Broadway musicals, including "Sweet Charity." Coleman now produces and owns a music publishing company.
Playwright, actor, and screenwriter Wallace Shawn wants his theater work to be shocking and confrontational, but he is best known for the 1981 film he wrote, "My Dinner with Andre." Shawn's latest play is "Aunt Dan and Lemon."
Pianist and singer Bobby Short is a master of American popular song, singing classics from the likes of Porter, the Gershwins, Berlin, and Sondheim. He has the been playing at Cafe Carlyle in New York since 1968. He reached a new generation when he was in an ad for Revlon's Charlie perfume.
Spalding Gray was already famous in experimental theater for his funny and erotically-charged monologues when he made his film debut in "The Killing Fields," about the American involvement in Cambodia. His experiences as a novice making the movie in Thailand inspired his new monologue "Swimming to Cambodia." The monologue contains stories of the real fighting in Cambodia.
John O'Neal cofounded the Free Southern Theater, a company closely aligned with the black civil rights movement. Louise Anderson is a prominent African American storyteller. They are both featured in the National Festival of Black Storytellers at Philadelphia's Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum.
British actor Jonathan Miller gave up a medical career to pursue acting. His career led him to become a television critic, director, and producer. He eventually returned to medicine, and is a practicing neurologist and medical writer.
Dean of the Yale School of Drama theater director Lloyd Richards helms the production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. He believes great plays are rare, and that the effort to discover them is worth the effort.
Wilson's latest work, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, is now in production at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. He discusses how writing dialog-heavy short fiction led him to playwriting.
Actor Joel Grey talks about the legacy of his father, comedic actor and clarinetist Mickey Katz. Grey's Jewish heritage helped him add complexity to his performance in the Broadway and film versions of Cabaret, in which he played the Master of Ceremonies.
Jack Eric Williams played one of the villains in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, and found success during a run of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. He has written a musical of his own called Mrs. Farmer's Daughter, about the life of actress Frances Farmer, which is now in production in Philadelphia.
Scholar Frank McCourt and his brother, actor Malachi McCourt, grew up poor in Ireland before finding success in the United States. Both brothers were voracious readers and were able to find success without a high school education. They wrote and perform together in a new, autobiographical play.
Philadelphia Vincent Persichetti a noted composer, especially for concert band. A new work of Persechetti, "Flower Songs," will be premiered at the Academy of Music by the Philadelphia Singers. The work includes poems by e. e. cummings. Persichetti joins the show to talk about how he knew he would be a musician by the age of three and the composer's "inner ear."
Actor, director, and choreographer Maurice Hines comes from the famous tap-dancing family. He is the founder of the company Ballet Tap U. S. A. Hines appears in the film "Cotton Club." Hines joins the show to discuss working as a child with his father and brother, Gregory, touring Europe, learning ballet at the age of 30, the difference between "up-in-the-air," and "close-to-the-floor" tap dance, break-dancing, and the great dancers of film.