Showing posts with the label Broadway

Early Career (1931-1934)

A sixteen-year-old Orson found his way to Ireland in 1931, and wasted little time making an impression. He auditioned for for Hilton Edwards and Micheal MacLiammoir, two titans of the Dublin theatre scene, and walked away from the experience with a small role in Jew Suss. The play was written by Paul Kornfeld, and starred Betty Chancellor and in the title role, producer Hilton Edwards. Orson’s role was the Duke, who makes his entrance into the work having raped Chancellor’s character, Jew Suss’s daughter. Orson, by dictate of his general personality and constitution, approached the challenge with nothing but the utmost confidence. He gave his performance and was surprised with a thunderous ovation at the close of the play, the audience calling his name. “That was the night,” Welles would later tell biographer Barbara Leaming , “I had all the applause I needed for my life.” And if he was in need of the praise of critics, he got a heady dose of that from no less an authority

Five Kings

The end of 1938 was a chaotic time for Welles. His radio career had been jump-started by the brouhaha surrounding “The War of the Worlds” and he was producing a radio series called Campbell Playhouse. He was no stranger to juggling projects, but and had done so with great success, but his luck in this regard would run out with Five Kings. Biographer Charles Highman writes that Houseman recalls that Welles was tossing back multiple bottles of booze per night and still finding time for sexual exploits. This time these things would prove toxic, leading to sloppy rehearsals featuring a late director with a nasty headache. In fact, they opened without having a proper dress rehearsal. The play was long and unwieldy, and Welles insisted on including two intermissions. This meant it didn’t wind down until 1:00 a.m., at which time the majority of the audience had headed home. The usually effusive press didn’t fail to notice the lack of preparedness at the Feb. 24, 1939 Broadway