Ruth Mitchell was a stage manager, director, producer and the assistant to the acclaimed director and producer Harold Prince, working on Broadway from the late 1940s through the late 1990s. This collection consists mainly of production files, most notably scripts with extensive technical cues, for the 50 odd shows that Mitchell stage managed, assistant directed or produced. Some personal files are also included.
Biographical/historical: Ruth Mitchell was a stage manager, director, producer and the assistant to the acclaimed director and producer Harold Prince, working on Broadway from the late 1940s through the late 1990s. Born Ruth Kornfeld in Newark, New Jersey in 1919, Mitchell grew up attending Broadway shows and began her career in the theatre as a performer. She appeared in the ensemble of the musicals The Time, the Place and the Girl (1942) and Follow the Girls (1944). On her third show, Annie Get Your Gun (1946), though she appeared on stage, she found her true place backstage, as the assistant to the director, Joshua Logan. She went on to stage manage two plays directed by Logan Happy Birthday (1946) and Mister Roberts (1948). She also was stage manager on three important musicals, The King and I (1951), Pipe Dream (1955) and Bells Are Ringing (1956).
In 1957, Mitchell worked with Harold Prince for the first time when she stage managed West Side Story, which he and his partner Robert E. Griffith produced. After her next show, Gypsy (1959), Mitchell would work exclusively on Prince productions for the following 40 years until her retirement. During the 1960s she was the stage manager on such shows as Fiorello (1959), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), She Loves Me (1963), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), Cabaret (1966) and Zorba (1968).
During the 1970s, Mitchell also took on assistant directing and producing, with such shows as Company (1970), Follies (1971), The Great God Brown (1972), A Little Night Music (1973), Candide (1974) and Pacific Overtures (1976). Mitchell was Prince's assistant for On the Twentieth Century (1978), Sweeney Todd (1979), Play Memory (1984), End of the World (1984), The Phantom of the Opera (1988), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) and Show Boat (1994). She was a producer on Merrily We Roll Along (1981), A Doll's Life (1982), Grind (1985) and Roza (1987). Mitchell was involved in the early stages of Parade (1999), but failing health prevented her from working on the Broadway production.
Mitchell's career was notable not only for being involved in many of the most acclaimed musicals of the second half of the twentieth century, but for her success, as one of the only women working in a male-dominated profession. Mitchell's partner, Florence Klotz, was a costume designer who worked on many shows with Mitchell. Ruth Mitchell died on November 3, 2000 in New York.
Content: This collection consists mainly of production files, most notably scripts with extensive technical cues, for the 50 odd shows that Mitchell stage managed, assistant directed or produced, the majority of which were directed and produced by Harold Prince. Some personal files are also included.
The bulk of this collection is production files, arranged alphabetically by title. for musicals, plays and operas Mitchell worked on from the 1940s through the 1990s, including such landmark musicals as The King and I (1951), West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), Cabaret (1966), Company (1970), Sweeney Todd (1979), Evita (1979) and The Phantom of the Opera (1988). The most notable items in the production files series are Mitchell's scripts and cue books for these productions, many of which have stage directions, technical cues and notes regarding direction, which will be an increasingly valuable resource for researchers. Other production files include general items pertaining to the productions, such as photographs, programs, souvenir books, press coverage, background research, contact sheets, rehearsal schedules, sheet music, agreements, lists of investors and correspondence. In her frequent roles as stage manager, assistant director and assistant to the director, Mitchell kept many technical files, including stage manager's notes, costume designs, lighting plots, set designs and plots, prop lists and hair and costume bibles.
There is a small series of personal files, arranges alphabetically by subject, including personal material and professional activities not associated with particular productions. Personal Files consist of address books, appointment books, awards and biographies of Mitchell and frequent collaborators Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim. There are also items from Mitchell's childhood and youth, such as school projects, poems and scrapbooks. Personal photographs include a family collection dating back to 1887. Later photos have casual snapshots of Mitchell as an adult with various friends and head-shots of Mitchell, her partner, Florence Klotz and other friends and colleagues. Also here are Mitchell's correspondence with former New York Mayor John V. Lindsay, and materials pertaining to his campaigns. Other items include general theatre industry files, which pertain mostly to the New York theatrical unions.
This collection has a substantial audio/visual component. There are over 100 items in a variety of formats such as VHS and Betamax videocassettes. audiocassettes, reel to reels and long-playing records. These are recordings of live performances, readings and demos of new works, documentaries, award shows and press reel footage. Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access. Inquiries regarding audio materials in the collection may be directed to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at firstname.lastname@example.org.