Dig Deeper - From Stage to Screen

In 1955 William Inge's Picnic was made into a film with the same director (Joshua Logan) as the Broadway production.  Logan made the decision to bring only 3 members of the Broadway cast to reprise their roles in the film and none of the leads were recast. Although nominated for six Academy Awards, it won just two and not for Acting or Directing, but for Best Art-Direction and Best Film-Editing.

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Role Broadway Hollywood
Hal Ralph Meeker William Holden
Alan Paul Newman Cliff Robertson
Millie Kim Stanley Susan Strasberg
Madge Janice Rule Kim Novak
Rosemary Eileen Heckart Rosalind Rusell

 

Movie Trivia:  William Holden didn’t want to do the dance sequence with Kim Novak, fearing it would make him look foolish. He told co-star Cliff Robertson, “I just don’t know how to dance.” Hoping to persuade the studio to cut the dance scene, Holden insisted on being paid an $8,000 “stuntman premium.” To his surprise, the studio paid up and Holden was forced to do the scene, although he was allowed to do it under the influence of alcohol. It remains one of the most memorable scenes in the movie.

Dig Deeper - Artist to Artist Inspiration

inge_william Like many of his contemporaries, William Inge (1913 - 1973) drew inspiration as a playwright from his own life experiences.  Similar to the Picnic character Flo Owens, Inge's mother ran a boardinghouse that at one time was home for three single schoolteachers.  Inge's own personal struggle with depression and alcoholism are a recurring themes in his work.

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However, one of the most influential moments occurred in 1943 when Inge took a position as the drama and music critic for the St. Louis Times.  He travelled with a then-struggling playwright, Tennessee Williams, to review the first production of The Glass Menagerie in Chicago. “I was terrifically moved by the play,” said Inge. “I thought it was the finest (play) I had seen in many years. I went back to St. Louis and felt, ‘Well, I’ve got to write a play.’”

Within three months he had completed Farther Off From Heaven.   This was followed by a series of critical and popular Broadway sucesses:  Come Back, Little Sheba (1950), Picnic (1953), Bus Stop (1955), and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957).  Find out more about the life and work of William Inge in our Audience Guide!

Dig Deeper - It's All In the Details

Picnic opens this Friday and the set has almost literally grown overnight!  Brian Proball, set designer and Lyric Arts Production Director, shared a little of his artistic process earlier this week.  Want to know more?  Check out our Picnic Audience Guide or come to the Talkback Event after the 2pm performance on Sunday, January 19th. Cassandra:  The set design for Picnic is very ambitious – Can you describe how you, the director, and the design team approached the goal of creating onstage as realistic an environment as possible?

Brian:  A large part of that came from the playwright himself.  [Inge] provides a great description in the stage notes:

“The houses themselves are humble dwellings, built with no pretenses other than to provide shelter for the occupants, but the occupants are women who have worked very hard to keep up an appearance, so the houses, although they may need a coat of paint are kept tidy, and there are colorful slip covers on the porch furniture and lush flower beds at the edge of the porches.”

William Inge provides such wonderful sentences full of details and insight that Scott, our director and I used as a starting point.  From there we really started to talk about how the actors would interact with the world.  Some examples include a bird bath for Hal to wash his face in and green beans growing on the vine for actors to pluck and snack on during the action.

Picnic Set Sketch

 

"Picnic" Gardening Day!

Lyric Arts is getting a head start for the summer and we need your help! We are having a set dressing day for our upcoming show, "Picnic," which opens on the 10th of January. We have designed a full backyard of (sadly, fake) plants, trees and grass that we need help getting into the "ground." Luckily, this will all take place indoors so nobody will have to dig any dirt or be outside in the blustery cold! The play is set around a Labor Day celebration in Kansas, and we want to make the set look as realistically summery as possible!

Picnic Set Sketch

We will be working on the stage Saturday, December 28th from 10am to 6pm laying down astroturf on a hill, adding foliage and gardens around all edges of the stage, and making a giant pine bush out of a few artificial Christmas trees. We will also be using rubber mulch and paving stones, as well as building a prop stump. So, grab your gardening gloves and join us! We will pause around 1pm to have a picnic in the Lyric Arts lobby, and we'll provide the sandwiches.

Help us bring a beautiful, realistic set to life on the stage and then come and enjoy the show. Absolutely no experience is needed to help out, and families, friends and individuals of all ages are welcome as we celebrate summer in January! Lyric Arts is your community theater and our volunteers are what make it happen.

Cast of "Picnic" announced!

Congratulations to those cast in our upcoming production of Picnic, and a gigantic thank you to all those who auditioned. We are looking forward to seeing how this talented group of actors will bring William Inge's script to life. Picnic opens on January 10, 2014.ComingSoon_Picnic Madge Owens: Sarah Frazier

Hal Carter: Jarome Smith

Millie Owens: Nykeigh Larson

Flo Owens: Lisa Weaver

Alan Seymour: Randy Niles

Rosemary Sydney: Kate Beahen

Helen Potts: Martha Wigmore

Howard Bevens: Tony Johnson

Irma Kronkite: Michelle Storm

Christine Schoenwalder: Christy Nix

Bomber: Matt Zierden