Every day is opening night.

Music-Theatre Artists Julie Taymor & Elliot Goldenthal, Diane Paulus & Randy Weiner Return to M-TG

Rick Miramontez / Elizabeth Wagner / Jaron Caldwell
rick@oandmco.com / elizabeth@oandmco.com / jaron@oandmco.com


J U L I E    T A Y M O R    &    E L L I O T    G O L D E N T H A L
D I A N E    P A U L U S    &    R A N D Y    W E I N E R
T H O M A S    S C H U M A C H E R


New York, NY (May 2, 2012) – Music-Theatre Group (Diane Wondisford, Producing Director) has announced special interviews with Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal and Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner, to be moderated by Thomas Schumacher (Producer and President, Disney Theatrical Group). All four of these influential and essential Music-Theatre artists enjoyed seminal moments in their early careers at Music-Theatre Group.  These not-to be-missed talks will take place on Thursday, May 17th (Taymor and Goldenthal) and Thursday, June 7th (Paulus and Weiner) at the Dimenna Center for Classical Music (450 W. 37th Street between 9th and 10th) at 7:30 p.m.

“The legacy of MT-G is inextricably linked with the artists who have worked with us over the years,” said Diane Wondisford in a statement. “We couldn’t be prouder of our association with Julie, Elliot, Diane and Randy, and these talks will very much feel like a homecoming.”

Four of this country’s most daring music-theatre artists will be interviewed by Thomas Schumacher on topics ranging from their launch as collaborative artists, to making their art on Broadway, to collaborating in film, opera, and circus. Between them, Julie Taymor and Diane Paulus have three shows currently running on Broadway: The Lion King and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark (Taymor) and Porgy and Bess (Paulus) All four are alumni of Music-Theatre Group’s generative process of turning inspiration into art: Taymor & Goldenthal, Juan Darien (off-Broadway, on world tour and in 1996/7 at Lincoln Center Theater, nominated for five TONYs including Best Musical); Paulus, director of Diedre Murray and Cornelius Eady’s Running Man (finalist, 1999 Pulitzer Prize); Paulus and Weiner, Swimming With Watermelons (2000-01), Best Of Both Worlds, composed by Diedre Murray (2002-05), and Death And The Powers (finalist, 2012 Pulitzer Prize) with composer Tod Machover and librettist Robert Pinsky. Music-Theatre Group produced all of these works.

For ticket information and to purchase, go to www.musictheatregroup.org, or call Music-Theatre Group 718-797-1145, or email george@musictheatregroup.org.  Both events will benefit Music-Theatre Group, celebrating 40 years of working with exceptional creators and turning their inspiration into art.

Julie Taymor is an Academy Award® nominated and Tony Award® winning American director whose productions range from musicals and Shakespeare plays to classical operas and films. Taymor has been hailed as one of the most imaginative and provocative directors and designers working in the arts today.  Most recently, Taymor directed the feature film The Tempest starring Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou and Ben Whishaw. Working behind the camera with Taymor on The Tempest were Academy Award® winners Elliot Goldenthal for music, Sandy Powell for costumes, and Francoise Bonnot. Taymor also produced the feature and adapted the screenplay based on Shakespeare’s great play. Her previous credits include Across the Universe, which received a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Musical/Comedy as well as an Academy Award® for Costume Design. Featuring 35 Beatles songs, the film stars Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess, and features performances by Bono, Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek as it uses the Beatles’ catalog to tell two stories at once, one personal, the other generational. Taymor both directed and co-wrote the story for the film. Taymor also received critical acclaim for her direction of Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina in Frida, the true story of the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.  Frida garnered six Academy Award® nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Hayek, and won two Academy Awards® for make-up and original score.  Frida was also honored with four BAFTA nominations and one win, including nominations for Hayek and Molina, as well as two Golden Globe® nominations, winning the Golden Globe® for Best Original Score. In addition, the film received two Screen Actors Guild nominations. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award.  Taymor made her feature film directorial debut in 1999 with Titus. The film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus starred Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  Taymor adapted the screenplay and also produced the film which received an Academy Award® nomination for costume design. Taymor’s first film, Fools Fire, which she directed and adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, Hop-Frog was produced by American Playhouse. The hour-long film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS in March 1992. The film won the Best Drama award at the Tokyo International Electronic Cinema Festival. Taymor is most widely recognized for her production of The Lion King, which opened on Broadway in 1997. Taymor’s production continues to play nightly and has earned more than $6 billion in ticket sales to date. The Lion King has been presented in 63 cities in over a dozen countries, has been seen by more than 45 million people worldwide and has won critical acclaim, with The London Evening Standard calling it, “A beautiful dazzle of invention and imagination, the true star of The Lion King, director Julie Taymor, has dreamed up a way of bringing an entire African jungle and its menagerie of animals thrillingly to the stage: eastern and western styles meet and merge.” Taymor has the distinction of being the first woman to receive the Tony Award® for Best Direction of a Musical, which she won for The Lion King. She also received a Tony Award® for her original costume designs for the production. Taymor co-designed the masks and puppets, and wrote additional lyrics for the show.  In 2007, The Lion King was performed in Johannesburg, and had its first French language production in Paris. In 2008, Le Roi Lion was awarded Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Musical at the Molière Awards, the national theatre awards of France. Recently, Taymor directed, co-wrote the book and designed the masks for the rock musical SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark starring Reeve Carney, with music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge. Based on the Spider-Man comics created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark is one of Broadway’s four top-grossing shows of 2011. Her original music-theater work, Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass, presented at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater in association with Music-Theatre Group in 1996, received five Tony Award® nominations including Best Director. Originally produced by Music-Theatre Group in 1988, Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass was directed by Taymor, and co-written with Elliot Goldenthal. The recipient of two Obies and numerous other awards, the piece was also performed at The Edinburgh International Festival, as well as festivals in France, Jerusalem and Montreal, and also had an extended run in San Francisco. In 2000, Taymor directed Carlo Gozzi’s The Green Bird on Broadway which was first produced in 1996 by Theatre for a New Audience at The New Victory Theater and presented at the La Jolla Playhouse. Taymor’s stage production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus was produced off-Broadway by Theatre for a New Audience in 1994. Other directing credits include The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, The Transposed Heads, based on the novella by Thomas Mann, co-produced by the American Musical Theater Festival and The Lincoln Center; and Liberty’s Taken, an original musical co-created with David Suehsdorf and Elliot Goldenthal. Taymor premiered an original opera, Grendel, in 2006. A darkly comic retelling of the Beowulf tale based on the novel by James Gardner, the opera was composed by Elliot Goldenthal and co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival. The opera was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2007. Previously, Taymor directed Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman for the Los Angeles Opera in a co-production with the Houston Grand Opera. She also directed Strauss’ Salomé for the Kirov Opera in Russia, Germany, and Israel under the baton of Valery Gergiev. Taymor’s first direction of The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote), was for the Maggio Musicale in Florence, with Zubin Mehta conducting in 1993. Over a decade later, Taymor premiered The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004 which is now in repertoire there. A newly translated and abridged English version of the opera premiered at the Met in December 2006, and inaugurated a new series on PBS in 2010 entitled, Great Performances at the Met as well as launched the Met’s Live in HD series of movie-theater transmissions. Taymor’s first opera direction was of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex for the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa in 1992. The opera featured Philip Langridge as Oedipus and Jessye Norman as Jocasta. Taymor went on to direct the film adaptation of the opera Oedipus Rex, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Jury Award at the Montreal Festival of Film on Art. Broadcast internationally in 1993, the film garnered an Emmy Award® and the 1994 International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production.  In addition to her two Tony Awards®, Taymor has also received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE Awards, the first Annual Dorothy B. Chandler Award in Theater, and the Brandeis Creative Arts Award. A major retrospective of 25 years of Taymor's work opened in the fall of 1999 at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio and toured the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.) and the Field Museum (Chicago), and was extended due to popular demand in each venue.  In September of 2009, costumes from The Lion King were requested and presented to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and they are now part of the Smithsonian collection as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, both highly esteemed honors. An illustrated book on her career, Julie Taymor: Playing With Fire, was recently expanded and revised by Harry N. Abrams.  Her book, The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway, is published by Hyperion. Taymor’s adapted screenplay for Titus is published in an illustrated book by Newmarket Press.  An illustrated book, Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo's Life and Art to Film, is available from Newmarket Press.   Harry N. Abrams also published an illustrated screenplay of Taymor’s film adaptation of The Tempest which coincided with its premiere.  A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Taymor’s interest in theatre took root early in her life where by the age of nine, she became involved with the Boston Children’s Theatre. In high school, she became fascinated by the world through her international travels which included trips to both Sri Lanka and India with the Experiment in International Living. Taymor also went to Paris to study at the L'École Internationale de Théâtre, under Jacques Lecoq, where she was introduced to mime, and studied the art under the legendary instructor. Between 1975 and 1979 Taymor travelled to Japan and Indonesia on a Watson Fellowship, where she developed a mask/dance company, Teatr Loh, consisting of Javanese, Balinese, Sundanese, French, German and American actors, musicians, dancers and puppeteers. The company toured throughout Indonesia with two original productions, Way of Snow and Tirai which was subsequently performed in the United States. Taymor is a graduate of Oberlin College where she majored in mythology and folklore, and was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Composer Elliot Goldenthal creates works for orchestra, theater, opera, ballet and film.  Most recently he scored Julie Taymor’s film version of The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren.  In 2003, he was honored with the Academy Award® and a Golden Globe Award for the score to Taymor’s film Frida.  Goldenthal was nominated for his third Grammy Award for co-producing the platinum soundtrack album for Across the Universe which featured 35 Beatles songs, he also composed the original score for the film.  In 2006, Goldenthal’s original two-act opera Grendel, directed by Taymor, premiered at the Los Angeles Opera.  The opera had its east coast debut as the centerpiece of the Lincoln Center Festival in New York, and was added to the Los Angeles Opera’s permanent repertoire.  Goldenthal was named one of the two finalists for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music for his work on Grendel.  Goldenthal’s large-scale symphonic piece, Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio, was commissioned by the Pacific Symphony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. It was released in 1996 on Sony Classical Records and featured soloist Yo-Yo Ma. Fire Water Paper debuted at the Pacific Symphony and was later performed at Carnegie Hall and at The Kennedy Center, with Seiji Ozawa conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Goldenthal was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre to compose a three-act ballet of Othello, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in May 1997. Othello was co-produced by the ABT in partnership with the San Francisco Ballet and was choreographed by Lar Lubovitch.  In June 2003, PBS’s series Great Performances broadcast a two-hour special of Othello, filmed with the San Francisco Ballet and Goldenthal’s original score was nominated for an Emmy Award.  To date, Othello has been performed at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Kennedy Center, Den Norske Opera & Ballett in Oslo and the Opéra National de Paris in Paris.  In October 2009, the Joffrey Ballet will showcase Othello in nine performances in Chicago.  Goldenthal has composed music for more than a dozen theatrical productions, including Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass, directed by Taymor and first produced by Music-Theatre Group in 1988.  Juan Darién opened the season at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in association with Music-Theatre Group in 1996, winning four Drama Desk Awards and five Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Score. His other theatrical credits include the musical The Transposed Heads (1987), based on the Thomas Mann novella, commissioned by the American Music Theater Festival and Lincoln Center Theater, and directed by Taymor.  He also scored Carlo Gozzi’s The Green Bird, as well as the Gozzi play, The King Stag, directed by Andrei Șerban and garnering international acclaim.  Among his many film scores are Heat, Titus, Batman Forever, A Time to Kill, Drugstore Cowboy, Alien3 and the Neil Jordan films Interview With the Vampire and Michael Collins, receiving Oscar® nominations for both.  Additionally, he has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards, two Tony Awards and three Chicago Film Critics Association Awards.  In 1988, he received the L.A. Film Critics Award for Best Original Score for his work on The Butcher Boy.

Diane Paulus is the Artistic Director at the A.R.T. At the A.R.T. her recent work includes The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, a new production adapted by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and OBIE-winning composer Diedre Murray; Prometheus Bound, a new musical inspired by Aeschylus's ancient Greek tragedy, written by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) with music composed by Grammy Award-winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian; Death and The Powers: The Robots’ Opera, by Tod Machover and finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music, in collaboration with MIT Media Lab and Chicago Opera Theater; The Donkey Show a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which ran for six years Off-Broadway and toured internationally; Best of Both Worlds, and Johnny Baseball. Her other recent theater credits include The Public Theater's Tony-Award winning revival of HAIR on Broadway, and London’s West End.  Other recent work includes Kiss Me, Kate (Glimmerglass Opera) and Lost Highway (ENO co-production with the Young Vic.) As an opera director, her credits include The Magic Flute (Canadian Opera Company), Il mondo della luna at the Hayden Planetarium in New York; Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Turn Of The Screw, Cosi fan tutte, and the Monteverdi trilogy Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo at the Chicago Opera Theater.  Diane is a Professor of the Practice of Theater in Harvard University’s English Department and was recently named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Boston by Boston Magazine and is a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Boston Conservatory.

Randy Weiner is a theater producer and playwright. He is a leading impresario of non-traditional theater in New York and around the world. With partners Jonathan Hochwald and Arthur Karpati, Weiner is the producer of the Drama Desk Award winning, theatrical experience Punchdrunk's Sleep No More. With partners Simon Hammerstein and Richard Kimmel, Weiner created and continues to manage the variety theater-nightclub THE BOX in NYC and London. With his wife, Tony Award Nominated Director Diane Paulus, Weiner created The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has been produced in New York, London, Madrid, Geneva, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Seoul, and throughout the United States. For the amazing and indomitable Music-Theatre Group, Weiner collaborated with Diedre Murray and Diane Paulus to create the gospel musical The Best of Both Worlds, based on The Winter's Tale.  For MTG in association with MIT Media Lab, Weiner collaborated with Tod Machover and Robert Pinsky to create the Pulitzer Prize Finalist Robot Opera, Death And The Powers. Weiner has collaborated with Cirque Du Soleil on multiple occasions.  He is currently the dramaturge for their new touring tent show, Amaluna. Weiner is the creator and Executive Producer of OBERON, the theater-nightclub that is the second stage for American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Weiner serves on the Advisory Committee on the Arts at Harvard University and has lectured on theater arts at Harvard, Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University, and Yale University.

Since 1988, Thomas Schumacher has worked with The Walt Disney Company setting new standards of excellence in film, television and theatre.  Currently, he serves as President of Disney Theatrical Group where he oversees the development, creation and execution of all Disney live entertainment around the globe including Broadway, touring and licensed productions, as well as Disney on Ice and Disney Live! shows produced in partnership with Feld Entertainment. His Broadway, West End, touring and international production credits include Beauty and the Beast, King David, The Lion King, Der Glockner von Notre Dame, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, On the Record, High School Musical, TARZAN®, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid along with several new projects currently in development.  Disney Theatrical Group has an unprecedented global reach with over 15 Disney produced and licensed productions performing daily around the world. Intensely passionate about theatre from an early age, Schumacher recognized the impact that theatre has on the lives of young people and developed a licensing program with Music Theatre International to make select Disney theatrical titles available for performance in schools and amateur theatres throughout the world.  Schumacher’s career at Disney began in Walt Disney Feature Animation producing the animated classic The Rescuers Down Under.  He was ultimately named President and oversaw some 21 animated features including The Lion King, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Tarzan, and Lilo & Stitch, as well as working closely with Pixar on their first five films.  Prior to joining Disney, he was associate director of the 1987 Los Angeles Festival of Arts, presenting the American premiere of Cirque du Soleil and the English-language premiere of Peter Brook’s The Mahabharta. Previously, he spent five years on staff at the Mark Taper Forum, served as a line producer on the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, and served as assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Ballet.  Mr. Schumacher is the author of the book How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater as well as a member of the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Tony® Administration Committee and the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing.  He is mentor for the TDF Open Doors program and serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Music-Theatre Group has held a singular place in the lives of culture-driven New Yorkers for 40 years. Under the leadership of Producing Director Diane Wondisford, and founded by Lyn Austin (1970), M-TG blurs the lines between music, theatre and opera.  MT-G recently co-commissioned and co-produced the new opera Dark Sisters with Gotham Chamber Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia.  With music by Nico Muhly and libretto by Stephen Karam, Dark Sisters had its World Premiere at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in November, 2011. Internationally renowned for its commitment to the creation of work that embraces new art forms, M-TG has produced a stunning roster of seminal works including Dr. Selavy’s Magic Theatre (1972) by Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman; The Mother of Us All by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein, directed by Roland Gagnon (1972) and Stanley Silverman (1983); Nightclub Cantata (1977) by Elizabeth Swados; The Garden of Earthly Delights (1984) by Martha Clarke and Richard Peaslee; The Making of Americans (1985) by Al Carmines and Gertrude Stein, directed by Anne Bogart; Vienna: Lusthaus (1986) by Martha Clarke, Richard Peaslee, and Charles Mee; Juan Darien (1988) by Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal; Cinderella/Cendrillon (1988) by Jules Massenet, with additional lyrics by Eve Ensler, directed by Anne Bogart; Extraordinary Measures (1995) by Eve Ensler and William Harper, with James Lecesne; Marco Polo (1996) by Tan Dun and Paul Griffiths, directed by Martha Clarke; Running Man (1999) by Diedre Murray and Cornelius Eady, directed by Diane Paulus; and Arjuna’s Dilemma (2008) by Douglas J. Cuomo, directed by Robin Guarino.  For more information, visit www.musictheatregroup.org.



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