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Stage & Screen: Awake and Sing!

11/17/2014 Coolidge Corner Theatre
7pm

Join Awake and Sing! director Melia Bensussen and Huntington Dramaturg Charles Haugland for a special screening of Sweet Smell of Success (written by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman) followed by a conversation about how Odets’ distinct vernacular informs both The Sweet Smell of Success and Awake and Sing! Part of the Stage & Screen series, a collaboration between the Huntington Theatre Company and the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

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About Sweet Smell of Success

In the swift, cynical Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Alexander Mackendrick, Burt Lancaster stars as the vicious Broadway gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker, and Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, the unprincipled press agent Hunsecker ropes into smearing the up-and-coming jazz musician romancing his beloved sister. Featuring deliciously unsavory dialogue, in an acid, brilliantly structured script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, and noirish neon cityscapes from Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe, Sweet Smell of Success is a cracklingly cruel dispatch from the kill-or-be-killed wilds of 1950s Manhattan. (Criterion Collection)

New York Times film critic A.O. Scott has described Odets’ dialogue in the film as “high-toned street vernacular that no real New Yorker has ever spoken but that every real New Yorker wishes he could."  

 

About Awake and Sing!

In a cramped Bronx apartment, a working-class Jewish family dreams of a brighter future. Matriarch Bessie Berger's fierce determination keeps her family afloat, whatever the cost. Gritty, passionate, funny, and heartbreaking, Odets' 1935 masterpiece beautifully captures both the hopes and the struggles of an unforgettable American family.

Approximate run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes including two 10-minute intermissions

"Since her gorgeous, moving production of Luck of the Irish in 2011, I've wanted to bring director Melia Bensussen back to the Huntington to mount a classic. She has a great passion for Clifford Odets' work — Awake and Sing! was Melia's childhood, she once told me. Her talent for telling intimate family stories that play out on a broad social canvas makes now the perfect opportunity for her return."— Peter DuBois
"In Awake and Sing!, Clifford Odets beautifully captures the pains and challenges of all nuclear families living in times of social struggle and economic crisis. This great American play articulates the passions and dilemmas of American society and resonates with the same issues that challenge us today as we grapple to make meaning of our lives. It's a thrill to be back at the Huntington, and I look forward to us rediscovering the beauty and poetry of Odets' voice together."— Melia Bensussen

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