In this week’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column, I write about two important tributes to the Great American Play. Here’s an excerpt.
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When Al Hirschfeld died in 2003, the obituary published by the New York Times, in which his pen-and-ink theatrical caricatures had run, bore the following headline: “Al Hirschfeld, 99, Dies; He Drew Broadway.” Even though he also drew movie and TV stars and pop celebrities of all kinds—the subjects of his 10,000-odd drawings, paintings and prints range from Jack Benny and Liberace to the cast of “Frasier”—it was Broadway with which Hirschfeld’s name was and is most closely linked. The vaulting, swooping energy of his caricatures, which embodied the personalities of his subjects without stooping to malice, was inimitable, and no one has been able to take his place.Hirschfeld drew Broadway for so long that it is possible to put together a nearly unlimited number of subject-specific exhibitions of his work. The latest one, “‘It Goes So Fast’: ‘Our Town’ by Al Hirschfeld,” is an online show of 10 drawings assembled by the Al Hirschfeld Foundation and curated by Howard Sherman…. Mr. Sherman is also the author of the recently published Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town’ in the 21st Century (Methuen), an important book consisting of oral histories of 12 productions of the play that have opened since 2002 and prefaced by a richly detailed 34-page overview of the original Broadway production and the play’s subsequent history up to the turn of this century….
* * *Read the whole thing here.
Go here to watch Al Hirschfeld draw Paul Newman as the Stage Manager in Our Town: