Michael & Peter's Adventures Across The Pond
From Allison McDonough, Assistant to Managing Director Michael Maso
It is always a lonely week on my side of the office when Michael Maso is out of town, especially when I can imagine all the FANTASTIC theatre that he's seeing. A few weeks ago, Managing Director Michael Maso, Artistic Director Peter DuBois and a group of our Board Members flew "across the pond" to spend a week exploring the London theatre scene.
As I tell you more about their itinerary (which not only included some amazing theatre, but also food to die for), please imagine me becoming greener and greener with envy.
| Frances de la Tour and Linda Bassett in People. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for The Guardian
After touching down and taking a night to recover from jet lag, the group ventured to The National Theatre for the new Alan Bennett play, People, which is a provocative romp that focuses on attempts to save a crumbling stately home. "People spoil things; there are so many of them and the last thing one wants is them traipsing through one's house. But with the park a jungle and a bath on the billiard table, what is one to do? Dorothy wonders if an attic sale could be a solution."
The group returned to the National Theatre later in the week for a private meeting Sacha Milroy, who manages productions. Ms. Milroy taught our group about the physical mounting of shows from inception to running in the repertoire.
Other productions throughout the trip included Peter Nichols’s Privates on Parade, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita, an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Harold Pinter’s Old Times. The final performance was a production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Alongat the Menier Chocolate Factory (which is, in fact, a theatre – not a chocolate factory, which I suppose would have also been a fantastic conclusion to the trip!). After the show, the group met with the show’s director, Maria Friedman to discuss the show and learn more about the process of creating it.
| Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981, costume designed by Deborah Nadoolman. Lucasfilm / Paramount / The Kobal Collection
The group also took a trim to the Victoria and Albert Museum to explore the “Hollywood Costume” Exhibition, which explores the central role that costume design plays in cinema storytelling. Bringing together over 100 of the most iconic movie costumes from across a century of film-making, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the clothes worn by unforgettable characters like Dorothy Gale, Indiana Jones, Scarlett O'Hara, Jack Sparrow, Holly Golightly and Darth Vader.
In addition to the focus on performance, our travelers also took some time to look at English culture. They met with political lobbyist James Winston for an in-depth look at the UK’s relationship with the USA and the future of the UK’s Coalition Government.
Dinners locations throughout the week included The Portrait Restaurant, The Ivy and Mezzanine (the restaurant above attached to The National Theatre), though the dinner about which Michael raves is the trip to J. Sheekey on the final night of the trip (oh goodness, just looking at their menu makes me hungry!). All 22 of our travelers crammed into one table to sample the restaurant’s high-quality seafood menu.
Overall, the trip was a great success that really helped our Board Members learn more about the world of theatre and what goes into creating it. This is the third time we have sent a collection of our Board to London to help deepen their experience with theatre and the Huntington, and it looks like this is becoming an annual tradition – they keep requesting that we do it again!