“If It Was Easy” by Stewart F. Lane and Ward Morehouse III as produced at Seven Stages Theatre in Atlanta, GA has been nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association’s (ATCA) New Play Award. The ATCA New Play Award was created to honor established voices in the theater. The Seven Stages production starred Kevin Dobson (Knots Landing & Kojak) and Bonnie Comley (Nightlife TV).
Since 1974, ATCA has selected new plays produced outside New York City for citation and excerpts in BEST PLAYS, the theater yearbook started in 1920 by Burns Mantle and now edited by Otis Guernsey. Since 1986, ATCA has chosen three such plays for its annual New Play Awards, further distinguishing the top-ranked choice with a prize now worth $25,000.
from Nantucket Reviews
The cast performs with the energy, assurance, and enthusiasm that characterize director Richard Cary’s style, and they do him and the script proud. This Actors Theatre of Nantucket’s attractive venue fairly sparkles as they carry on this amusing spoof.
All in all, If It Was Easy adds up to a pleasantly frothy finale to a summer day. – Theatre Review, by Douglas K. Burch
A workplace farce by Stewart Lane and Ward Morehouse III, “If It Was Easy,” works its audience into a stupor of laughter and delight with a small but veracious ensemble of talented actors and actresses.
The characters portrayed and how the actors portray them, with such loving detail of their craft…
- “If It Was Easy” an Evening of laughs, by Caleb W. Kardell
The NY Times (By FRANK RICH, Published: November 17, 1982)
EUGENE O’NEILL’S name is dropped early and often in ”The Actors,” now at the Troupe Theater, and it doesn’t take long to see why. In this undeveloped but sporadically promising memory play, the author, Ward Morehouse 3d, has attempted to write his own variation on ”Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”
”The Actors” tells of an aspiring 26-year-old playwright who is fighting to escape his famous father’s long shadow. The father, Jack McClain, is an aging lion of the theater who abandoned his bright early promise for womanizing, booze and easy but lucrative hack work. Jack McClain is not, however, an actor like James Tyrone – he is instead, of all odd things, a theater critic.
Mr. Morehouse’s late father was also a critic, and one only hopes the portrait of Jack McClain is based on someone else. Though Jack is stage-struck, his journalistic style is more reminiscent of Walter Winchell than Alexander Woollcott. Even his love of the theater takes peculiar forms: in his pre-World War II salad days, he made love with an usherette on the stage of the Winter Garden after a performance – only to be discovered there with his pants down at the next afternoon’s matinee.
”The Actors” catches up with Jack much later, in the late 1960′s, when he’s a ”sick old man” at the tail end of his career. It’s a time when his relationships with his son, his wife and his washed-up actress of a mistress are all coming into bitter resolution. But Mr. Morehouse doesn’t get around to his family exorcism in earnest until Act II, and it proves wan once it arrives. The principal characters are extremely sketchy, as if the playwright still didn’t know quite what he felt about any of them, and their forced climactic confrontations have far more in common with daytime television than O’Neill.
Mr. Morehouse’s skills are more visible in Act I, before he zeroes in on his heavyweight central story. Most of that act consists of vignettes about the various down-and-out occupants of the play’s setting, a once-legendary but now shabby Times Square residence for theater people called The Actor’s Club. As he shows us a gallery of sunshine boys lost in their memories of past triumphs and in their futile dreams of comebacks, Mr. Morehouse demonstrates a flair for flavorful, well-paced comic dialogue and a keen command of the lore and spirit of a vanished Broadway era. The aged denizens of The Actor’s Club still believe that the world began and ended with John Barrymore and Percy Hammond; they still practice the self-destructive habit of ”always looking at life from backstage.”
In the utilitarian showcase production briskly directed by Andy Milligan, the casting is often catch-as-catch-can. Lon Freeman, as a Shakespearean actor waiting vainly for an agent’s phone call, and William Simington, as a broke and near-senile author of 1920′s drawing-room comedies, rise well above the generally rudimentary level and, unlike some of the others, fit their parts in age and temperament. In the dominant role of the tortured old critic, Lester J. Schaffner gives an uncommanding performance that could be bettered by many actors but not, to my knowledge, by any current member of the New York Drama Critics Circle Name Dropping THE ACTORS, by Ward Morehouse 3d, directed by Andy Milligan; set and lighting by Raffine. Presented by the Troupe Theater, 335 West 39th Street.
Lou Kleper ………………………….Robert Bonds
Jim O’Reilly …………………………Lon Freeman
Tom …………………………………Alex Jerome
Sue ……………………………….Rosemary Egan
Joe …………………………….Maurice Yonowsky
Jack McClain ………………….Lester J. Schaffner
Fannie ………………………………Jane Harvey
Freemont ……………………….William Simington
Jeanne McClain …………………………Che Moody
The New York Daily News
BroadwayWorld.com (April 19, 2010)
Gangplank, a searing comedy-drama by Ward Morehouse III and Mark Druck, begins a 12-performance, two week engagement at Off-Broadway’s Chernuchin Theatre, 314 West 54th Street in Manhattan, on Monday, April 19. The play, which will run through Saturday, May 1, is presented Mondays through Saturdays at 8 PM. (Critics are invited starting Wednesday, April 21.) Tickets are $20. To reserve call 212-581-3044. Mr. Druck is directing; veteran stage, TV and film actress Caitlin O’Heaney is assistant director.
Angela Bernhard Thomas and J. Everett Sherman co-star in the cast of five in this Equity Showcase production. Gangplank, which has compassion, excitement and violence, is set on former Time Magazine reporter David Montgomary’s vintage cabin cruiser, now a ramshackle nightclub and hotel moored on Lake Ontario near the Canadian border. Early on we find the half-soused yet remarkably articulate Montgomary, his piano virtuoso daughter on the brink of suicide and the woman he once loved (not) strangely reappearing after 22 years of silence.
Angela Bernhard Thomas (The Countess) is a native Texan and began acting at an early age. She has worked in commercials, theater and film. Her favorite roles include starring and featured parts in productions of Oliver Twist, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and South Pacific. She is currently co-producing and directing a documentary film on the life of inventor and artist Herman Margulies. She studies at Stella Adler in New York City.
J. Everett Sherman (David Montgomery) has appeared in productions for the Ensemble Studio Theatre, playing leads in Runway, Break and Enter and Daylight Savings; Forgive Me, Father and Judgment Day at Pulse Ensemble Theatre; and Superiority Complex at Hudson Guild Theatre.
Julia Giolzetti (Kathleen) holds a BFA in Theatre from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory. Among her New York stage credits are Dear Brutus (Wings Theatre), American Soldiers (Theater for the New City), PINK!, Henry V, The Back Line, T.A.B. (Downtown Urban Theater Festival & Manhattan Rep) and Three Sisters. In San Diego, she played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, winning the Youth Playbill Award for Best Actress Her film credits include HappyThankYouMorePlease (Sundance, this year), White Irish Drinkers, Maconheiro, Sweet Lorraine and Last Chance.
The two-act play is presented by the American Theatre of Actors (ATA), which has an honorary board including Robert DeNiro, and is directed by Mr. Druck. The ATA was founded 34 years ago by James Jennings, who continues as its President and Artistic Director.
Mr. Morehouse, a longtime theater columnist for the New York Post, New York Sun, amNewYork and others and editor of the Broadwayafterdark.com website, has had two previous Off-Broadway productions, The Actors, which ran for nine months, and If It Was Easy, which he co-wrote with Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane. He is the author of 9 books, including Discovering the Hudson, about Broadway’s landMark Hudson Theater, and Inside the Plaza.
“Mr. Morehouse demonstrates a flair for flavorful, well-paced dialogue and a keen-command of the lore and the spirit of a vanished Broadway era,” said Frank Rick in his review of The Actors in the New York Times. Mr. Morehouse’s father was the late drama critic and columnist Ward Morehouse who covered New York theater for half-a century. His mother, the late actress/publisher Joan Marlowe, co-published the Theater Information Bulletin for half a century.
Mark Druck is a playwright, novelist, screenwriter and director whose Off Off Broadway plays include Keylight, Chairman of the Board, Soho Boxes, Xrdzk, Murder in the Garden, Half A Loaf and The Most Decorated Man in Town. He has directed the musical, Bogie’s Back at the North Stage in Glen Cove, LI, as well as a number of staged readings, using his own method for ‘staging’ cast readings. He has published four novels – The Final Mission, Instant Dead, Bix & Bones and Look Who I Won in a Poker Game!
In the 1950s, Mr. Druck was a writer of screenplays and teleplays, among them the TV series The Three Musketeers and a feature film, William Tell, produced by Errol Flynn’s company. He also directed three intimate love scenes for the Indian film, New York, New York. From 1969 to 2004, he was head of Mark Druck Productions in New York, where he produced and directed industrial films, videos and TV commercials.
Savannah News Press (March 24, 1991)
The NY Times (By ALVIN KLEIN; Published: September 20, 1992) click here to view
ONE ought to get a kick out of whiling away a couple of hours with a critic who swam in the nude with George Bernard Shaw, made love to Jeanne Eagels, socialized with Eugene O’Neill, wrote a biography of George M. Cohan and lived in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, rent free.
But don’t bet on it. The reminiscences of Ward Morehouse (1899-1966) as set down by Ward Morehouse 3d and produced by the Rainbow Theater at Norwalk Community College, are less an entertaining tribute than a gaping disservice to a reportedly colorful symbol of a bygone era when 70 legitimate theaters lighted up Broadway.
Taking the form of a monologue, unremitting in its monotony and taking its title from Morehouse’s weekly newspaper column, “Broadway After Dark” is set in a room on the 10th floor of the old Astor Hotel on Broadway, where the playwright’s father lived for 14 years.
To the sound of the wrecking ball, Morehouse is made to say, more or less prophetically: “I may just go down with the hotel.” The demolition happens one year before Morehouse’s death.
With that, the playwright, who lives in Darien, sets up an obvious double-edged metaphor. It is instantly bogged down by biographical data about Morehouse’s beginnings as a stagestruck kid, directing and acting in stock in Savannah and paying his dues as an unpaid reporter in Atlanta.
Throughout, “Broadway After Dark” is grounded by less than scintillating anecdotes, the stasis of a makeshift production and flat writing: “Why do they have to tear this place down? Don’t they know what it means to me?” Morehouse asks blandly.
Even if the critic-columnist — whose “Broadway After Dark” appeared in The New York World-Telegram and The Sun in the 1950′s — were a wittily written stage character, the droopiness of Steve Shoup’s performance and a rudimentary staging by Will Lieberson would discredit him. The actor simulates swimming with Shaw and embracing Miss Eagels. Living out of a canvas bag and beat-up suitcase, the stage character gives the lie to the glamorous life supposedly now ending; one can’t believe it ever quite began.
Oddly, the implication that Morehouse, who also wrote plays and screenplays, was self-indulgent, smug and disagreeable is inescapable, but the piece is so toneless and shallow that it is hard to come away with the playwright’s truthful perception of his father.
Counterproductively, one hears Mr. Shoup dully recounting a stage character’s sense of largesse (he bought all the flowers in the shop for the third of his four wives), eccentricities (he kept a bear cub at the Plaza, one of 29 hotels where he took up residence) and worldliness (he traveled everywhere).
Yet one wonders why Morehouse urged his sister to go from Savannah to New York City, where she became a 10-cents-a-dance girl and jumped to her death. How severe was his drinking problem? What about his need to self-destruct? “I have to be a little drunk,” he says. “I like to be liked.” And was he being flippant or genuine when he accused the third of his four wives of running off with his money?
For all his hobnobbing with celebrities — Tallulah Bankhead, Maude Adams, Jane Cowl — the stage Morehouse evidently feels he must impress us with his professional critical distance. “I had to tell it the way that I saw it,” he declares. He wrote rave reviews of O’Neill’s plays, even after the playwright snubbed him. But then, his favorite onstage performance was given in 1922 by Miss Eagels in “Rain.”
As for his nomination for an all-time best entrance line, it’s the one from “The Green Pastures”: “Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah.” What is one to make of it as a playwright-son’s choice for a critic’s final exit line?