Interview with Mike Ellis
NamesBalanchine, George (Choreographer)Ellis, Michael (Interviewee)Hardy, Camille (Interviewer)George Balanchine Foundation (Presenter)
Dates / OriginDate Created: 2002-08-16
Table of ContentsDisc 1 (40 min.). Mike Ellis discusses being a producer for the Broadway show Courtin' time; how he became involved with the production; how lucky he felt to get George Balanchine as the choreographer; Ralph Bellamy being the first choice for the lead farmer in the production, and subsequently hiring Lloyd Nolan; Nolan getting great reviews and having good chemistry with Billie Worth; Ellis asking Alfred Drake to direct this production while in the men's room at Sardi's; Billy Worth having lunch at Sardi's and being told by Dick Rodgers that she would not be the replacement for the lead in South Pacific which is when Alfred Drake ask her to be the lead in Courtin' Time; the need to pretty up the chorus by changing the costumes; story of Balanchine playing percussion when the new number was shown to Ellis; talking about Johnny Ride the sky; Nolan losing his voice in Philadelphia with Drake then doing show in Philadelphia and Joe E. Brown being hired for the role; getting a short list of available male lead replacements; the plot and costumes for the hoedown at the end of Act I; description of the Garden party scene with a deer being painted on the backdrop by designer Ralph Alswang, who was also the architect that designed the Palace and Uris Theaters; Oklahoma being a rival for this production even though it had been playing for eight years already; Ellis didn't realize that Balanchine was very busy with opening of New York City Ballet concert also; changes being made to the show in Boston; how orchestra changes were made by hand back then; Balanchine working with Dorothea Freitag to create dance numbers; Courtin' time being important as Balanchines first experience choreographing homespun Americana dances; the union allowing a delay in the opening date with an extra tryout in Pittsburgh due to Lloyd Nolan leaving show; changing theaters due to a more ideal location in the heart of the theater district. |||| Disc 2 (41 min.). Continuing the discussion about the venue change with the new theater being about the same size but hoping to draw in more people due to location; Ellis thinking the show didn't make it because of its wholesomeness and losing its momentum due to Nolan leaving; discussion of the Johnny Ride the sky number; Ellis suggesting changes to the book; his big disaster with Betty Davis production of Two's company; discussion of the Sensible thing to do number with Balanchine making the choreography comfortable for Billy Worth; description of the Maine remember the Maine number and the Hat in hand number with Ellis reciting some of the lyrics; his overall assessment of Balanchine; Balanchine not having an assistant; Balanchine going to out of town tryouts which he didn't do with other shows; an out of town story from the show The play's the thing; Camille Hardy not finding any Pittsburgh reviews; how Alexander H. Cohen became an associate producer; Ellis being the second person to receive the Margo Jones Award in 1963 for his work at the Bucks County Playhouse; his work and selecting plays at the Bucks County Playhouse; how producers retained the rights to shows back then by it needing to run for at least 21 performances or else the rights revert back to the author; how it would be difficult to revive this production; and his thanks to Hardy and the George Balanchine Foundation.
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZIDVD 5-7312
TopicsBalanchine, GeorgeEllis, MichaelAlswang, RalphNolan, LloydDrake, Alfred, 1914-1992Brown, Joe E. (Joe Evan), 1892-1973Bucks County Playhouse (Organization)Musicals. Courtin' time
NotesVenue: Videotaped during an interview at the Balanchine Foundation, New York, N.Y., on Aug. 16, 2002.Acquisition: Gift; George Balanchine Foundation. NN-PD
Physical DescriptionVideocassetteExtent: 2 videocassette (DVCam) (81 min.) : sound, color ; 1/4 in.
Type of ResourceMoving image
IdentifiersNYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19683031Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): d4664010-f79a-0130-6999-3c075448cc4b
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