Productions

“She’s a Bit Like a Tennessee Williams’ Character Plopped into the Wrong Play” | Amelia Broome on “Birdie” in The Little Foxes

Amelia Broome, Craig Mathers, and Anne Gottlieb in The Little Foxes. Photos by Mark S. Howard.

If Regina Giddens is the complex and compelling anti-hero at the heart of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, her sister-in-law, Birdie is her charming dramatic foil.

We sat down with Ameila Broome to learn how she brings Birdie to life in this great American hurricane of a play!

About Amelia Broome

Ameila Broome* (Birdie) has appeared at the Lyric Stage in Sweeny Todd, Rich Girl, and Kiss Me, Kate. Recent credits:  Fiddler on the RoofMaster Class (New Rep), Spring Awakening, My Old Lady (Gloucester Stage), Steel Magnolias (Next Door Theatre), Next Fall, Adding Machine: a Musical, The Light in the Piazza [IRNE Award, Best Actress], Jerry Springer-The Opera, (SpeakEasy Stage), Two Wives in India(Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), and Tea at Five (Worcester Foothills Theater). She holds an M.F.A. from Boston University and is currently on the acting faculty at Emerson College. Originally from Georgia, Ms. Broome resides in Wilmington with her husband, John Silberman.

The Little Foxes Must Close Sunday, March 17th!

Theatre Talk with Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino of The Little Foxes

The Little Foxes stars Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino sat down for an installment of Theatre Talk and were brilliant! Check out the full interview above and then see them on stage, now through March 17th!

About Michael John Ciszewski – Leo

Photo of Michael John Ciszewski

Michael John Ciszewski (Leo) is making his Lyric Stage debut. Recent credits: Peter and the Starcatcher (Hub Theatre Company of Boston), Midsummer Night’s DreamThree Sisters (Apollinaire Theatre Company), Antigone (Flat Earth Theatre), Citizens of the Empire (Boston Public Works), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Holiday Memories (New Rep). Michael trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is a proud graduate of Boston University’s B.F.A Theatre Arts program. michaeljohnciszewski.com@micjcis

About Rosa Procaccino

Photo of Rosa Procaccino

Rosa Procaccino (Alexandra) is making her Lyric Stage debut. Rosa’s New York credits include Appointment with Death (The Gallery Players), Jerry Finnegan’s Sister (Emerging Artists Festival), Express, and A Fine Line (Manhattan Repertory Theatre)A recent graduate of Northeastern University her other credits include The Glass MenagerieAfter Miss JulieAfter the EndMr. Burns, and Romeo and Juliet.

Photo of Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino speaking
Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino in The Little Foxes. Photo by Mark S. Howard.
Photo of Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino sitting down and speaking
Michael John Ciszewski, Amelia Broome, and Rosa Procaccino in The Little Foxes. Photo by Mark S. Howard.
The cast sitting in the living room talking

DigBoston Review of The Little Foxes: The Fangs That Bind

This post is excerpted from the full DigBoston review section.

★★★★★

Lillian Hellman’s thrilling 1939 play about the greed that tears apart a Southern family has been given a first-rate revival at the Lyric Stage Company in a profoundly impressive production directed by Scott Edmiston.

Anne Gottlieb is a forest fire as Regina, a woman willing to do anything—and step over anyone’s dead body—for a chunk of change. It’s a role that was originated by Tallulah Bankhead and immortalized by Bette Davis, and Gottlieb ably makes the role her own, albeit with an impressive pair of fangs.

One of the best-acted productions in recent memory, this ensemble of actors is the finest assembled in several seasons. Amelia Broome is luminous as Regina’s damaged alcoholic sister, and Cheryl D. Singleton finds unimaginable beauty in the smallest moments as Regina’s maid, Addie. Also impressive are Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino, who play two cousins at opposite ends of the morality spectrum. While Procaccino is new to me, Ciszewski is not, and he once again shows why he’s one of the most promising young actors on the Boston theater scene.

Janie E. Howland has designed the best set I’ve seen on the Lyric’s stage, and with Karen Perlow’s lighting and Dewey Dellay’s original music, this production is gloriously cinematic.

The Little Foxes is that rare classic that shows virtually no signs of age. And with this Edmiston home run, this is as close to a must-see as it gets.

THE LITTLE FOXES. THROUGH 3.17 AT THE LYRIC STAGE, 140 CLARENDON ST., BOSTON. LYRICSTAGE.COM

Winthrop Transcript Review

Run. Take the T. Drive. Call a transportation service. However you get there, don’t miss Lyric Stage Company of Greater Boston’s superb pro­duction of Lillian Hellman’s classic play, “The Little Fox­es”.  theater at its best.”

Screenshot of the review by Sheila Barth

The Life of Lillian Hellman

by Aliza Kenney

At the age of 15, Lillian Hellman stole a ring from her uncle which she pawned in order to buy books. When she confessed what she had done, her uncle said, “So you’ve got spirit after all. Most of the rest of them are made of sugar water.” This statement would go on to define Hellman’s life, and indeed, she used the line in The Little Foxes to describe her enigmatic heroine, Regina Giddens. Hellman was a fiercely unapologetic, intelligent, headstrong woman in an age when such behavior was met with shock, scorn, and condescension. She fought her whole career to be taken seriously as an artist and a public figure.

Photo of Lillian Hellman sitting in a chair in her home
UNITED STATES – APRIL 16: Author Lillian Hellman at home on Park Ave. (Photo by Dan Jancino/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

At the age of just 29, Hellman was the first woman to be admitted to the Club of American Dramatists after the huge success of her first play, The Children’s Hour. Yet much of her work, particularly The Little Foxes, has been discredited as “merely melodrama.” Some critics dismiss the dramatic plot and larger-than-life characters as too simplistic, comparing her work to the more down to earth, gritty work of her male contemporaries. They imply in their reviews that her gender limited her ability to tell complex, logical stories. But Hellman’s melodramatic style was intentional and effective. In an interview she reflected, “If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the Gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody’s mercy, then you will probably write melodrama.” Despite detractors, her melodramas were highly successful, annd earned her a place in theater history.

Photo of a younger Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman

In 1952, Hellman was called in from of the House Committee on Un-American Activities along with many artists and writers of the time. Her Communist connections and history of political leftism made her an ideal target. In fact, the themes of greed and corruption in The Little Foxes were touted as evidence of her Socialist tendencies. She agreed to testify, but only about her own activities. In a letter to the committee she said, “to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and dishonorable.” She risked imprisonment for contempt of Congress, was blacklisted, and saw her income drop from $150,000 a year to virtually nothing. Still, she stood by her actions, declaring, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” This move gained her respect and support on the left, but only served to confirm the worst assumptions of her doubters. To this day some have written her off as a “lying, Stalinist traitor.”

A screenshot of the cover of Lillian Hellman's Memoir "An Unfinished Woman" with her sitting down

Hellman was not immune to the antics that seemed to go hand in hand with literary celebrity at the time. In the same era when Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal were coming to blows in talk show green rooms and at parties, Hellman found an enemy in novelist, critic, and political activist Mary McCarthy. In 1979 during an interview on The Dick Cavett Show, McCarthy laughingly declared, “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the,’” a comment which led to a long drawn-out lawsuit between the two women, which only ended when Hellman died.) Cavett himself said, “No one was neutral about Lillian. She had a famous friendship with Dorothy Parker, yet to Jean Stafford she was ‘Old Scaly Bird.’”

The Cover of Lillian Hellman's book "Pimento"

Even when she moved on from playwriting, Hellman continued to ruffle feathers. In her later years she wrote three memoirs about different eras in her life: An Unfinished Woman, Pentimento, and Scoundrel Time. These books were even more popular than her plays, but the veracity of her stories was intensely debated. One chapter in Pentimento in particular led to a debate which haunts Hellman’s reputation to this day. It reflects on her relationship with a woman named Julia, and recounts that Hellman once smuggled $50,000 to her to be used in bribing Nazi guards to free prisoners. After the book’s release, Dr. Muriel Gardiner, a psychoanalyst who was active in the Austrian underground in World War II, suggested that her experience was the model for the Hellman story, though the two had never met. Hellman dismissed these accusations, claiming that that Gardiner “may have been the model for somebody else’s Julia, but she was certainly not the model for my Julia.”

Lillian Hellman and her long time partner Dashiell Hammett sitting and drinking

        Hellman split opinion and attracted the limelight all her life. At some points, she seemed to revel in the experience, at others she seemed to have been exhausted by the whole facade. She once quoted Dashiell Hammett, her long-time lover, as telling her, “The truth is you don’t like the theater except the times when you’re in a room by yourself putting the play on paper.” Though the apparent contradictions of her life may never be explained, some insight into the truth behind the imposing figure may be found in the stories she brought to life on stage. Above all else, she certainly had spirit, in a world of people made of sugar water.

More about The Little Foxes:

Lillian Hellman’s classic drama captures the riveting story of how a family’s vicious pursuit of financial success destroys the American Dream. In the post-Civil War South, Regina Giddens and her scheming brothers, Oscar and Ben, want to partner on a business deal to exploit the poor and increase their already substantial wealth. There is only one problem: Regina’s husband, Horace, refuses to give them the funds they need — setting in motion a vicious game of duplicitous dealings that ultimately leads to death. A timely story about corrosion of the soul and corruption of the heart.

Boston and Beyond/Art & Entertainment: The Little Foxes Review

This review was originally Posted on Boston and Beyond/Art & Entertainment.

A fox hissing with a woman holding a fur scarf in the background

It has been said that, “blood is thicker than water,” but not with the seemingly genteel, Southern Hubbard family.

Craig Mathers drinking tea and Cheryl D. Singleton standing by him

States Addie, the black maid in Regina’s household,  “Well, there are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it like in the Bible with the locusts. Then there are people who stand around and watch them eat it. Sometimes I think it ain’t right to stand and watch them do it.” This is a description that aptly surrounds three members of the Hubbard family. They are siblings that include the manipulative and scheming Regina, the cruel, abusive, and arrogant Oscar, and the possessive bachelor, Benjamin. They have decided to partner together to increase their already substantial, ill-gotten wealth that was built on the backs of the negro population. Only one road block exists that prevents the three acquiring millions. Regina’s terminally ill husband, Horace, is refusing to give them the $75,000 they need to make the transaction. The Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street presents this engaging, classic, 20th century drama by the great American playwright, Lillian Hellman.  Directed by three time IRNE and four time Elliot Norton award-winner Scott Edmiston, the 150 minute story is so riveting that audience members seemed anxious to return to their seats after each intermission to continue the action filled tale that is rife with scheming, thievery, lying, murder and retribution through blackmail.

The cast sitting in the living room talking

 The production is set in an astoundingly beautiful design by four time IRNE and four time Elliot Norton award-winner Janie E. Howland**. The cast have been clothed in exquisite period costumes by IRNE award-winner Costume Designer Gail Astrid Buckley. Overhead, the lighting designs by Lighting design is by 3-time IRNE award-winner, Karen Perlow**further adds ambiance to the setting while cleverly creative and mysterious, original music by IRNE and Elliot Norton award-winner for Music and Sound Design by Dewey Dellay, provides excellent musical intro and transitions throughout the play.

Craig MAthers sitting down while Anne Gottlieb and Amelia Broome takl to him

The production features an impressive cast including IRNE and Elliot Norton award-winner Anne Gottlieb* as Regina Hubbard Giddens, the viciously ambitious sister of the Hubbard clan. IRNE award-winner Ameila Broome* performs as Oscar’s oppressed wife, Birdie;  Craig Mathers* is Horace, Regina’s ill husband.

 Will McGarrahan sitting on the couch with Michael John Ciszewski standing by him

IRNE award-winner Remo Airaldi* is Ben;  Will McGarrahan* is Oscar; Cheryl D. Singleton* is Addie, the faithful maid; IRNE award-winner Bill Mootos*is Mr. Marshall who the trio plan to do business with; Michael John Ciszewski is Leo, Oscar’s equally conniving son; Rosa Procaccino  is Alexandra, Regina’s daughter who becomes a pawn in the plot; and Kinson Theodoris is Cal, Regina’s houseboy.

Rosa Procaccino sitting in a chair with Anne Gottlieb standing over her

Variety called The Little Foxes, “A brilliant, blistering indictment of a rapacious southern family.” To find out if money will come out on top without destroying the family you may obtain tickets by visiting www.lyricstage.com/productions/the-little-foxes/

About The Little Foxes:

Lillian Hellman’s classic drama captures the riveting story of how a family’s vicious pursuit of financial success destroys the American Dream. In the post-Civil War South, Regina Giddens and her scheming brothers, Oscar and Ben, want to partner on a business deal to exploit the poor and increase their already substantial wealth. There is only one problem: Regina’s husband, Horace, refuses to give them the funds they need — setting in motion a vicious game of duplicitous dealings that ultimately leads to death. A timely story about corrosion of the soul and corruption of the heart.

Why³ with Scott Edmiston

We asked all of our directors this season the question “why?” Here are the answers from the director of our upcoming show, The Little Foxes!

Why The Little Foxes?

“Lillian Hellman was America’s first great female playwright, a feminist pioneer, and a moral force. Her work deserves to be seen, celebrated, and reconsidered. And it’s just a damn good story.”

Why at The Lyric Stage?

“Lyric Stage audiences LOVE American classics. They GET them. They Lyric Stage has become the go-to place in Boston for new 21st-century versions of great 20th-century plays”

Why now?

The Little Foxes was written in 1939. It is a cautionary tale about the danger of allowing greedy, dishonest, self-serving businessmen to take over your country. Hmmm… I wonder if it will still be relevant today?”

More about Scott Edmiston:

Scott Edmiston (Director) returns to the Lyric Stage where he recently directed the award-winning productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2017 Elliot Norton Award) and My Fair Lady, (2016 Elliot Norton Award). Other Lyric stage credits: Light Up the Sky, Cat on a Hot Tin RoofWater by the Spoonful,Time Stands Still, My Name is Asher LevMiss WitherspoonThe Scene, Lobby Hero, and Private Lives. He has directed more than 60 Boston-area productions at SpeakEasy Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre, and Underground Railway Theatre, among others. Highlights include Long Day’s Journey into Night, Constellations, Shakespeare in Love, The History Boys, Casa Valentina, The Light in the Piazza, Reckless, Five by Tenn, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, A Marvelous Party, and Betrayal. Six of his productions have received Elliot Norton Awards as Outstanding Production or Musical, and he has received four Norton Awards and three IRNE Awards for his direction. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State, the StageSource Theatre Hero Award, and the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. He is the author of “Acting Misbegotten: The Creative Journey to Eugene O’Neill” published in the anthology Critical Insights: Eugene O’Neill (Salem Press, 2012). Scott is a Professor of the Practice and Chair of the Department of Theatre at Northeastern University.

More about The Little Foxes:

Lillian Hellman’s classic drama captures the riveting story of how a family’s vicious pursuit of financial success destroys the American Dream. In the post-Civil War South, Regina Giddens and her scheming brothers, Oscar and Ben, want to partner on a business deal to exploit the poor and increase their already substantial wealth. There is only one problem: Regina’s husband, Horace, refuses to give them the funds they need — setting in motion a vicious game of duplicitous dealings that ultimately leads to death. A timely story about corrosion of the soul and corruption of the heart.

Lillian Hellman’s Regina Giddens: The Theatre’s Original “Nasty Woman”

June 19, 2017

Written by Sarah Rebell

When I set out to write a piece on The Little Foxes, I headed right to the Drama Book Shop in New York City, to browse and research all things Lillian Hellman. Shockingly, there were no biographies of her in stock or on order. She was not even included in the Drama Book Shop’s most basic book series outlining the lives of accomplished American playwrights. I perused Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores with large theatre sections, but all to no avail. The most recent Hellman biography (less than five years old and provocatively titled A Difficult Woman) was even hard to obtain on Amazon; I had to purchase it through a third party seller. Not only are Hellman biographies in short supply, so too are Hellman revivals. Her plays have only been brought back to Broadway six times total, as opposed to the 25 Broadway revivals for Arthur Miller, or the 31 Broadway revivals for Tennessee Williams. To this day, she has never won a Best Play or Best Revival of a Play Tony Award. The sixth and current Hellman revival is of her most acclaimed play, The Little Foxes, which is about the unconventional Southern matriarch Regina Giddens, who manipulates her brothers’ moneymaking scheme with grit, ambition, and business acumen.

Click Here to Read Full Article

Why³ with Director A. Nora Long | The Wolves

We sat down with Director A. Nora Long to learn what makes The Wolves one of the most impressive new plays in recent years!

Why is this play important?

There are few groups as universally-maligned as teenage girls. The vast majority of our pop culture representations portray them as vain, shallow, cruel, and vapid. Delappe affords us a nuanced, funny, thoughtful insight into the lives of young women, as they wrestle through the rather fraught process of growing-up, focusing on their humanity, in all its wonders and flaws, and their athleticism. Make no mistake, this is a play about a team of competitive athletes. These players are seeking immediate victories but also future security and college scholarships. Like soldiers preparing for battle, we see our heroes in moments of vulnerability and triumph, brash confidence and blistering defeat. And they keep coming back each Saturday for another shot at glory. It is a story of perseverance in the face of adversity, a celebration of the human spirit, and a showcase of the extraordinary abilities of the body.  In short, it is a great fucking play.

Why is the Lyric Stage the right fit for this play?

Young women are, by far, the largest demographic in the local casting pool. After spending years seeing thousands of brilliant actors for the odd part as the girlfriend, the daughter, or the broad in the tower, finding a beautiful story that plays to our community’s strengths was an obvious fit for Lyric Stage’s long-standing commitment to local artists. Lyric audiences have always prized rich, character-driven stories that offer them a unique perspective on the world. The Wolves is an astonishing play that does all that and more. Also, where else can you get the feeling of sitting pitch-side at the City Sports Dome indoor soccer field arena?

Why is this play important to do now?

It’s always the right time to do great plays, but as the national conversation seeks to be more inclusive of the experiences of under-represented groups, a play about young women as human beings and athletes feels particularly of the moment. If the future is female, have no doubt, the future is coming.

About The Wolves

January 11 – February 3, 2019

Left quad. Right quad. Lunge. A girls’ indoor soccer team warms up. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. As the author says, “I wanted to see a portrait of teenage girls as human beings – as complicated, nuanced, very idiosyncratic people, athletes and daughters and students and scholars and people who are trying actively to figure out who they are in this changing world around them.” 

The Wolves was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play.”   – The New York Times

Special Event: Ode to Hayes

On Sunday December 9th and 23rd, Castle of our Skins, a concert and educational series that is dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music, will present a tribute to Roland Hayes here at Lyric Stage. 

The celebration will include spiritual and art songs that were championed by Hayes and world premiere work that was created with youth in Boston. A reception will also follow.

The event will take place from 1:00-1:30 on both days and tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children under 12.

About Breath & Imagination

Before there was Marian Anderson, there was Roland Hayes – one of the first world-renowned African-American classical vocalists.  Breath & Imagination is a play with music that chronicles the amazing journey of this pioneer from the plantation in Georgia to singing before kings and queens in Europe.   At the heart of the story is Roland’s loving, complex relationship with his mother – his Angel Mo’. Employing spirituals and classical music, Breath & Imagination is an inspirational exploration of one man’s determination to be an artist despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

A co-production with The Front Porch Arts Collective.

A winning, inspirational story of a man who found his freedom in song.” – WBUR, The ARTery