News

Fun Facts About Twelfth Night Director Paula Plum!

Paula Plum is no stranger to the Lyric Stage! You may recognize her from the multiple productions she’s worked on, but here are some fun facts you may not have known about the director of Twelfth Night:

  1. Paula has been working as an actor and director with the Lyric Stage since 1975.
  2. She is a founding member of Actor’s Shakespeare Project, which is co-producing Twelfth Night.
  3. The first show Paula acted in at the Lyric Stage was Dial M for Murder in 1975!
  4. In 2004, Paula received the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence. She has also been awarded 2 other Elliot Norton Awards, 5 IRNE awards, and numerous other honors.
  5. The first play Paula directed at the Lyric Stage was Baltimore Waltz in 1999.
  6. Paula has acted in over a dozen shows at the Lyric, including Miss WitherspoonThe Heiress, and Death of a Salesman.
  7. Paula recently played Sharon in the Lyric Stage’s production of The Roommate. She contributed many personal items to the show’s set!
  8. Paula is married to Richard Snee, who plays Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

Learn More About Paula Plum

Paula Plum (Director) is a founding member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project and has worked as an actor and director with the Lyric Stage since 1975. She has been Artistic Director of WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn since its inception in 2003, touring concerts throughout New England during the holiday season. She has directed in Paris, New York, and Boston and is the 2009 recipient of the Fox Actor Fellowship. In the last year she has directed the Leonard Bernstein Centennial Celebration for the Boston Pops and Reclaiming Lucretia for Boston Lyric Opera. Paula is the recipient of the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, five IRNE Awards, three Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Actress, and was the 2003 Distinguished Alumna of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. paulaplum.com

A Brief Synopsis of Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a tale of unrequited love, simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. Twins are separated during a shipwreck and are forced to fend for themselves in a strange land. The first twin, Viola, falls in love with Orsino, who dotes on Olivia, who falls for Viola but is idolized by Malvolio. Enter Sebastian, who is the spitting image of his twin sister… is it possible for this to all end well?  Well, it IS a comedy!

Why³ with Paula Plum

We asked all of our directors this season the question “why?” Here are the answers from the director of our upcoming show, Twelfth Night. Photo of Paula Plum by Gary Ng.

Why this play? 

Because we love love stories when they’re both comic and sad. These characters are all looking for love in the wrong places. And for me, it’s send in the clowns: the ASP company members in this play are all the clowns.

Why a co-production with Lyric Stage?

Spiro has said that the future of theatre in this city is collaboration not competition. We all benefit by sharing resources. And plus, I’ve been working at the Lyric Stage since I was 20 and I’m a founding member of ASP. It’s a perfect fit. 

Why now? 

I can’t read or think about this play without thinking that Viola is a refugee who has to disguise herself because she can’t be who she is. It’s such a contemporary theme: the immigrant/refugee who has to change their identity in order to survive.

About Director Paula Plum

Paula Plum (Director) is a founding member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project and has worked as an actor and director with the Lyric Stage since 1975. She has been Artistic Director of WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn since its inception in 2003, touring concerts throughout New England during the holiday season. She has directed in Paris, New York, and Boston and is the 2009 recipient of the Fox Actor Fellowship. In the last year she has directed the Leonard Bernstein Centennial Celebration for the Boston Pops and Reclaiming Lucretia for Boston Lyric Opera. Paula is the recipient of the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, five IRNE Awards, three Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Actress, and was the 2003 Distinguished Alumna of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. paulaplum.com

About Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a tale of unrequited love – hilarious and heartbreaking. Twins are separated during a shipwreck and are forced to fend for themselves in a strange land. The first twin, Viola, falls in love with Orsino, who dotes on Olivia, who falls for Viola but is idolized by Malvolio. Enter Sebastian, who is the spitting image of his twin sister… is it possible for this to all end well?   Well, it IS a comedy!

A co-production with Actors’ Shakespeare Project.

“If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it.”  – William Shakespeare

“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

The Little Foxes production photos

All photos by Mark S. Howard

The cast sitting in the living room talking
The cast of The Little Foxes
Amelia Broome sitting while Anne Gottlieb stands over her
Anne Gottlieb and Amelia Broome
 Amelia Broome speaking to Cheryl D. Singleton with Kinson Theodoris in the background
Kinson Theodoris, Amelia Broome, and Cheryl D. Singleton
The cast mingling in the living room
The cast of The Little Foxes
Amelia Broome, Anne Gottlieb, Remo Airaldi, Will McGarrahan speaking
Amelia Broome, Anne Gottlieb, Remo Airaldi, and Will McGarrahan
Rosa Procaccino sitting and speaking to Remo Airaldi with  Amelia Broome sitting in the background watching
Rosa Procaccino, Amelia Broome, and Remo Airaldi
Will McGarrahan sitting with Michael Ciszewski standing over him
Will McGarrahan and Michael John Ciszewki
 Craig Mathers drinking tea sitting while Cheryl D. Singleton stands near him
Craig Mathers and Cheryl D. Singleton
Amelia Broome speaking down to Craig Mathers while he is sitting and Anne Gottlieb stands by
Amelia Broome, Craig Mathers, and Anne Gottlieb
Craig Mathers, Anne Gottlieb, Remo Airaldi
Anne Gottlieb, Rosa Procaccino, Amelia Broome, Craig Mathers
Craig Mathers with Rosa Procaccino, Amelia Broome
Amelia Broome, Rosa Procaccino, Cheryl D. Singleton
Amelia Broome, Craig Mathers
Amelia Broome, Rosa Procaccino

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.