CTVA US Anthology - "Great Performances" (NET/PBS)(1972-79)

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 Great Performances (1972-79)

Episode Guide compiled by The Classic TV Archive

http://ctva.biz/index.htm

with contributions by: Rina Fox
references:
Library of Congress (telnet://locis.loc.gov)
Internet Movie Database (http://us.imdb.com)
UCLA Film and Television Archive

 

GREAT PERFORMANCES

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Theater In America
for PBS Broadcasting.
Executive Producer Jac Venza

1972 - 1979
 

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####### Great Performances #######

########## 1972 - 1979 ##########

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Great Performances: A TOUCH OF THE POET (150mins)

1974

Produced by David Griffiths

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Theater In America 1974

Based on the play by Eugene O'Neill

Directed by Kirk Browning

Cast:

Nancy Marchand ....... Nora Melody

Fritz Weaver  ........ Cornelius Melody

Roberta Maxwell ...... Sara Melody

Donald Moffat ........ Jamie Cregan

John Heffernan ....... Paddy O'Dowd

Carrie Nye ........... Deborah Hartford

Robert Phaelen ....... Mickey Malloy

Synopsis:

Set in a shabby tavern outside Boston in 1828, the play centers on Cornelius Melody,

a proud Irishman who clings to memories of European gentility. Like other O'Neill works

such as "A Moon for the Misbegotten" and "Long Day's Journey into Night," "A Touch of the Poet"

explores its characters' conflicts with reality and illusion, as well as their joys and sorrows in love.

*Note: Produced on Broadway in 1958 five years after Eugene O'Neill's death, A "Touch of the Poet"

was conceived as part of a nine-play chronicle spanning 175 years.

 

Great Performances: THE WIDOWING OF MRS. HOLROYD

1974

Written by D.H. Lawrence

Directed by Arvin Brown & John Desmond

Music by Arthur Rubinstein

Produced by Jac Venza

Executive Producer Jac Venza

Cast:

Geraldine Fitzgerald ..... Grandmother

Joyce Ebert .............. Mrs. Holroyd

Rex Robbins .............. Holroyd

Frank Converse ........... Blackmore

Veronica Castang ......... Laura

Roberta Maxwell .......... Clara

Emery Battis

Vicky Geyer

Timothy Ousey

William Swetland

Synopsis:

D.H. Lawrence's "The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd" is a naturalistic drama drawn from Lawrence's

memories of his parents' turbulent marriage. Set in pre-World War I England, the play centers

on the conflict between a coarse, blustering coal miner and his refined, working-class wife.

 

Great Performances: THE SEAGULL

1975

Adapted by Stark Young

Based on Anton Chekov's play

Directed by John Desmond & Nikos Psacharopoulos

Music by Girish Bhargava

Produced by David Griffiths

cast:

Lee Grant ................ Irina Arkadina

Frank Langella ........... Konstantin Treplev

Blythe Danner ............ Nina

Kevin McCarthy ........... Trigorin

Marian Mercer ............ Masha

Olympia Dukakis .......... Pauline

David Clennon ............ Medvedenko

George Ede ............... Shamrayev

William Swetland ......... Storin

Louis Zorich ............. Dorn

 

Great Performances: THE CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE

1975

Adaptation of the Ronald Ribman play

Directed by Arthur Seidelman & Ken Rockefeller

Produced by Bob Markell

Executivie Producer Jac Venza

Music by Charles Gross

Cast:

Richard Kiley ............ King Ethelred

James Broderick .......... Sussex

Larry Gates .............. Kent 

Jessie Royce Landis ...... Alfreda

Elizabeth Hubbard ........ Emma

John Horn ................ Edmund

Ernest Graves ............ Sweyn

Gilmer McCormick ......... Thulja

Michael Lombard

Howard Green

David Gwillim

Robert Gerringer

Synopsis:

The vacillating King Ethelred is drained of the decisive initiative he needs to save his throne and reputation.

With its exquisite lighting and liberal use of close shots, this production conveys the claustrophobic

miasma of fear and violence of a period when lives were undoubtedly nasty, short and brutish.

 

Great Performances: ZALMEN OR THE MADNESS OF GOD

1975

written by Elie Wiesel

Directed by Peter Levin & Alan Schneider

Produced by Ken Campbell

Executive Producer Jac Venza

Cast:

Joseph Wiseman ........... Rabbi

Dianne Wiest ............. Nina

Robert Prosky

Richard Bauer

Gary Bayer 

Leslie Cass

Nancy Dutton 

Michael Gorrin 

Mark Hammer

Michael Haney 

John Jellison

Kenneth Kantor

Howard Witt

Glenn Taylor

Sanford Seeger

Scott Schofield

John Koch

Leib Lensky

Michael Mertz

David Reinhardsen

Synopsis:

Set in post-Stalinist Russia in a synagogue on the eve of an appearance by a Western

acting troupe, "Zalmen" has been described as a cry of anguish about the collective guilt of "the silent."

 

Great Performances: YEAR OF THE DRAGON

1975

Written by Frank Chin

Directed by Russell Treyz & Portman Paget

Produced by Matthew N. Herman

Executive Producer Jac Venza

Cast:

George Takei ............. Fred Eng

Pat Suzuki

Synopsis:

A portrait of an Asian American's furious struggle for identity, the play is a searing statement, a powerful cry.

 

Great Performances: THE RULES OF THE GAME (90mins)

1975

Produced by Ken Campbell

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Theater in America 1975

By Luigi Pirandello translation by William Murray

Directed by Stephen Porter Kirk Browning 

With:

Joan Van Ark ............. Silvia Gala

David Dukes .............. Guido Venanzi

John McMartin ............ Leone Gala

Glenn Close .............. Neighbor

Charles Kimbrough ........ Dr. Spiga

Joel Fabiani

Ellen Tovatt

George Ede

Clarence Felder

Peter Friedman

Munson Hicks

Jeanette Landis

Nicholas Hormann

Fred Morsell

Synopsis:

Luigi Pirandello's 1918 tragicomedy is set among the Italian upper class. The main characters

are an impulsive young woman, the lover she exasperates and her cynical husband. The

 husbandís apathetic attitude is that life is a game played by arbitrary rules, and his role is that

of an unemotional observer. His philosophy is severely put to the test when his wife draws him

into a duel with a nobleman who drunkenly accosted her.

 

Great Performances: THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE (120minS)

1976

Produced by Lindsay Law

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Theater In America 1976

Based on a play by William Saroyan

Directed by Jack O'Brien & Kirk Browning

Narrated by William Saroyan

Cast:

Patti LuPone ............. Kitty Duval

Gerald Gutierrez ......... Wesley

Kevin Kline .............. McCarthy

Benjamin Hendrickson ..... Nick

Richard Ooms  ............ Arab

Nicholas Survoy .......... Joe

Sam Tsoutsouvas .......... Willie

Elaine Hausman ........... Reporter

Michael Tolaydo .......... Drunkard

Norman Snow .............. Tom

Robert Bacigalupi ........ Dudley

Brooks Baldwin ........... Harry

Glynis Bell .............. Lorene

James Harper ............. Blick

Mary Lou Rosato .......... Mary

Roy K. Stevens ........... Krupp

David Schramm ............ Kit Carson

Synopsis:

William Saroyan's Pulitzer Prize-winning play revolves around the denizens of a San Francisco

bar in 1939. Lonely, lovelorn, weary or cynical, the characters drift in and out of the bar

and each other's lives, giving voice to Saroyan's philosophies as they randomly comment

about the impending world war, the beauty of art, and traditional notions of good and evil.

At least one of the relationships stands a chance of enduring: a brawny innocent named

Tom, who is falling in love with a vulnerable young prostitute named Kitty. Saroyan

himself is heard reciting the play's prologue.

 

Great Performances: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (120mins)

1976

Produced by Ken Campbell

Associate Producer Charlene Harrington

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances: Theater In America 1976

Based on a play by William Shakespeare

Directed by William Ball & Kirk Browning  Carol Englehart

Music by Lee Hoiby

Cast:

Fredi Olster ............. Katherina

Marc Singer .............. Petruchio

Stephen St. Paul ......... Lucentio

Sandra Shotwell .......... Bianca

William Paterson ......... Baptista

Harry Hamlin ............. Mariamo

Raye Birk ................ Gremio

Ronald Boussom............ Grumio

Barbara Dirickson ........ Sugarsop

Al White ................. Nathaniel

Laird Williamson ......... Vincentio

James R. Winkler ......... Hortensio

Rick Hamilton ............ Tranio

Michael K. Hall .......... Emilio

Daniel Kern .............. Biondello

Charles Hyman ............ Camellio

Earl Boen ................ a Pedant

Daniel Zippi ............. the Tailor

Robert Ellerbee .......... the Haberdasher

Deborah May .............. a Widow

Members of the American Conservatory Theater

Synopsis:

San Francisco's prize-winning American Conservatory Theater's rowdy commedia

dell'arte production incorporates slapstick, pratfall and earthy humor into William Shakespeare's

 comedy about the two unmarried daughters of a wealthy Italian merchant. While daughter Bianca

is genteel and popular, daughter Kate is foul-tempered and strong-willed. No one dares to

marry Kate, until Petruchio arrives in Padua and tries his hand at courtship.

 

Great Performances: SEA MARKS (70mins)

1976

Produced by Ronald F. Maxwell

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances, Theater In America 1976

Based on the story by Gardner McKay

Directed by Steven Robman Ronald F. Maxwell 

Cast:

Veronica Castang ......... Timothea

George Hearn  ............ Colm Primrose

Synopsis:

The terrible beauty of a remote Irish island is the setting for a love story between a

 fisherman smitten by an English woman he has glimpsed only once at a wedding.

 Unschooled in letter-writing, he courts her by mail over the period of a year. She finds

primitive poetry in the way he writes and asks him to come to Liverpool to live with her.

There, she works at a publishing house that she interest in printing his "poems" in a slim

volume. For a moment he becomes a celebrity on the rise. But their ways of life are in

dreadful conflict and following the death of his father on their small fishing boat, he is

forced to return to the only life he can live well.

 

Great Performances: SECRET SERVICE (120mins)

1977

Produced by Ken Campbell

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Theater In America 1977

Based on a play by William Gillette

Directed by Daniel Freudenberger & Peter Levin 

Introduced by Hal Holbrook

Cast:

Meryl Streep .............. Edith Varney

John Lithgow .............. Captain Thorne

Mary Beth Hurt ............ Caroline Mitford

Jeffrey Jones ............. Sergeant Wilson

Don Scardino .............. Wilfred Varney

Louise Stubbs ............. Martha

Lenny Baker ............... Henry Dumont

Charles Kimbrough ......... Benton Arrelsford

Arthur Miller ............. Messenger B

Hansford Rowe ............. Messenger A

David Harris .............. Jonas

Roy Poole ................. Major General Randolph

Rex Robbins ............... Lt. Foray

Frederick Coffin .......... Lt. Maxwell

Alice Drummond ............ Mrs. Varney

Joe Grifasi ............... Cpl. Matson

Moultrie Patten ........... Cavalry Orderly

Synopsis:

The tale of a Union spy working to seize control of the telegraph office in Richmond,

Virginia in 1864. Posing as a wounded Confederate captain named Thorne,

the spy's false orders to a Confederate Army commander raise the suspicions of a southern agent,

 who uses a local girl in love with Thorne as his reluctant accomplice to set a trap.

 

Great Performances: THE SCHOOL OF SCANDAL (120mins)

1977

Produced by David Griffiths

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances, Theater In America 1975

Adapted by Michael Bawtree

Based on the play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Directed by Michael Langham & Nick Havinga 

Music by Stanley Silverman

Cast:

Blair Brown .............. Lady Teazle

Kenneth Welsh ............ Charles Surface 

Larry Gates .............. Sir Oliver Surface

Nicholas Kepros .......... Joseph Surface

Patricia Connolly 

Synopsis:

First performed in 1777, Richard Brinsley Sheridan's sophisticated comedy of manners

satirizes the extravagance and corruption of London society. "The School for Scandal's"

combination of elegant language and earthy comedy weaves a deliciously nasty tale of

intrigue, slander and clandestine love affairs. Blair Brown stars in this timeless, witty look at the

wages of scandal mongering and social climbing, scheming and hypocrisy.

 

Great Performances: THE ROYAL FAMILY (120mins)

1977

Produced by Ken Campbell

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances 1977

Based on the play by George S. Kaufman Edna Ferber

Directed by Kirk Browning & Ellis Rabb 

Cast:

Rosemary Harris .......... Julie Cavendish

Eva Le Gallienne ......... Fanny Cavendish

Sam Levene ............... Oscar Wolfe 

Ellis Rabb ............... Tony Cavendish

Keene Curtis ............. Herbert

Rosetta LeNoire .......... Della

John Remme ............... Joe

Mary Layne ............... Gwen

Donald Barton

Sherman Lloyd

Betty Low

David O. Petersen

Forrest Buckman

David A. Butler

Michael Cuddy

George Gitto

C. Salyk-Lynton

Mary Louise Wilson

Synopsis:

George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber collaborated on this 1927 hit comedy about an

eminent and slightly eccentric theatrical clan. A Barrymore-like brood, the Cavendishes,

 are as flamboyant offstage as they are on. Their real-life family drama occurs in a Manhattan

 apartment when the grand matriarch, Fanny Cavendish, learns that her daughter and granddaughter

may both be giving up the stage for marriage. Complicating the situation is the arrival of Fanny's

son, Tony - a matinee idol on the run from a breach-of-promise suit. Theatre legends

 Rosemary Harris, Eva Le Gallienne, Sam Levene and Ellis Rabb have great fun portraying

characters they know all to well from their years on stage.

 

Great Performances: THE TRIAL OF THE MOKE (90mins)

1978

Produced by Ken Campbell

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Theater In America 1978

By Daniel A. Stein

Directed by Stan Lathan

Cast:

Franklyn Seales .......... Lt. Henry O. Flipper

Robert Burr .............. Colonel Shafter

Alfre Woodard 

Samuel Jackson 

Howard Rollins, Jr.

Synopsis: 

"The Trial of the Moke" is based on the real life story of the humiliation and anguish suffered

by Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point. Assigned to serve at

Fort Davis, Texas in 1881, Flipper became the object of a conspiracy to rid the base of its

only black graduate. Flipper, portrayed by Franklyn Seales, was framed by white officers

who accused him of embezzling government funds. Ninety-four years later, Flipper was

vindicated only a week after "The Trial of the Moke" ended its world premiere run at the

 Milwaukee Repertory Theater in 1976. A military reburial with honors followed in 1978.

 

Great Performances: TARTUFFE (130mins)

1978

Produced by Ann Blumenthal

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances: Theater In America 1978

By Jean-Baptiste Moliere translation by Richard Wilbur

Directed by Kirk Browning

Music by John Adams

Hosted by Hal Holbrook

With:

Donald Moffat ............ Tartuffe

Victor Garber ............ Valere

Tammy Grimes ............. Elmire

Geraldine Fitzgerald ..... Madame Pernelle

Patricia Elliott ......... Dorine 

Stefan Gierasch .......... Orgon

Ray Wise ................. Damis

Johanna Leister .......... Mariane

Peter Coffield ........... Cleante

Roy Brocksmith ........... Monsieur Loyal

Ruth Livingston .......... Flipote

Jim Broaddus ............. Deputy

Synopsis: 

Tartuffe manipulates his way into the confidence and affection of Orgon, an affluent bourgeois

concerned with his own salvation, and whose wife and daughter Tartuffe attempts to seduce.

 

Great Performances: UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS (90mins)

1979

Produced by Phylis Geller

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances: Theater In America 1978

Written by Wendy Wasserstein

Directed by Steve Robman & Merrily Mossman 

Narrated by Alexander Scourby

Cast:

Meryl Streep ............. Leilah

Jill Eikenberry .......... Kate Quin

Swoosie Kurtz ............ Rita Altabel

Ann McDonough ............ Samantha Stewart 

Alma Cuervo .............. Holly Kaplan

Ellen Parker ............. Muffet DiNicola

Josephine Nicholas ....... Mrs. Plumm

Cynthia Herman ........... Susie Friend

Anna Levine .............. Carter
Synopsis:
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Wendy Wassersteinís first play.

 At a reunion seven years after their graduation from Mount Holyoke College, five former

classmates assess whether they have achieved their youthful goals. In a flashback,

the women, all part of a group dubbed "uncommon" - because they were expected

 to be "amazing" before they reached thirty - relive their senior year and examine

the influences that shaped them.

 

Great Performances: VERNA: USO GIRL (90mins)

1978

Produced by Jac Venza

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York: Great Performances 1978

Adapted by Albert Innaurato

Story by Paul Gallico

Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell 

With:

Sissy Spacek ............. Verna Vane

William Hurt ............. Walter

Sally Kellerman .......... Maureen

Howard Da Silva .......... Eddie

Joseph Turin ............. Pete

Vaughan Hooks ............ Sammy

Greg Enos ................ Lt. Smith

Thomas Kersey ............ Major

George Wolfert ........... Captain

Robert Roelse ............ Sergeant

Jamie Flanery ............ Driver

Louise Haraczka .......... WAC Sergeant

Synopsis:

Verna USO Girl, a kindhearted - but not particularly talented-member of a performing

 troupe in World War II Belgium. She wins the heart of an American soldier memorably

played by William Hurt. "Verna:USO Girl" takes an entertaining look at the camaraderie

between USO entertainers and combat troops.

 Adapted by Albert Innaurato from Paul Gallico's short story.

 

Great Performances: WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER, I'LL SKATE (60mins)

1979

Produced by Emile Ardolino Judy Kinberg

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York, Great Performances, Theater In America 1979

Written by Vinnette Carroll

Music by Cleavant Derricks, Clinton Derricks

Directed by Vinnette Carroll & Emile Ardolino 

Cast:

Clevant Derricks 

Lynne Thigpen 

Lynne Clifton-Allen 

Clinton Derricks-Carroll

Brenda Braxton

Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter

Reginald VelJohnson

Marilyn Winbush

Synopsis:

Vinnette Carroll's lively, spirit-lifting musical, celebrates the sheer joy - and survival -

of Black music, song and poetry since the days of America's Civil War. With utter grace

and ease, the gifted eight-member singing ensemble glides from gospel to disco

and from slave quarter sermons to contemporary black poetry. During the course of the

energetic production the cast pokes fun at many contemporary preoccupations, among

them dieting and dating. In the more tender moments, much is revealed: an actress

shares the frustrations of a black woman longing to be recognized for herself and not

simply for her "blackness"; while another actress sings the lively, yet poignant

 "Elegy For A Lady, " dedicated to Billie Holiday.

 

Great Performances: THE SORROWS OF GIN (60mins)

1979

Produced by Ann Blumenthal, Peter Weinberg

Executive Producer Jac Venza

A Presentation of Thirteen/WNET New York

By Wendy Wasserstein adapting the work of John Cheever

Directed by Jack Hofsiss

Cast:

Sigourney Weaver ......... Marcia Lawton

Edward Herrmann .......... Kip Lawton

Eileen Heckart ........... Rosemary

Mara Hobel ............... Amy Lawton

Rachel Roberts ........... Mrs. Henlein

Marcella Lowry ........... Ruby

William Prince ........... Carl

Baxter Harris ............ Bill

John Harkins ............. Trace

Charlotte Moore

Sally Jane Heit

Holland Taylor

Synopsis:

An affluent suburban couple whose empty and gin-fueled lives are observed through

 the eyes of their neglected, eight-year-old daughter in a teleplay adapted by playwright

Wendy Wasserstein from John Cheever's short story. The tension and sadness behind

 the veneer of upper-class life in Shady Hill are at the heart of this insightful drama.

 

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