Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A Conversation With Edith Head
27 August 2008
This Delightful Piece Stars Susan Claassen as the great Hollywood Costume Designer Edith Head.
The performance is 85 minutes of sheer delight. Not for a moment do you think that this is not Edith Head chatting, informing and entertaining us with candour and humour. We were invited to pose some questions for Miss Head before curtain up and these were individually addressed during the performance.
Among many other features there are replicas of the famous dresses, sketches of famous artists featuring beautiful costumes and an abundance of photographs and replica OscarsTM (Miss Head was the proud possessor of eight).
You have until the 31st August to witness this extraordinary performance, GO NOW!
Catch A Conversation With Edith Head at:
THE LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE.
6, LEICESTER PLACE LONDON WC2H 7BX
0844 847 2475 (BOX OFFICE)
TICKET PRICES: £12 - £17
TUESDAY - SATURDAY 8PM
MATINEES: THURSDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY 3PM
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
REVIEWED BY: John Hutchinson (Mail Order Manager, Dress Circle)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Claassen takes on London
08/20/2008 10:27 AM
Invisible Theatre’s Susan Claassen has taken her “A Conversation With Edith Head” to a small theater close to London’s Leicester Square, in the heart of the city’s West End district.
And they like her, they really like her.
Among the reviews:
“American Susan Claassen catches Head’s darkly distinctive look remarkably, equipping it with contrasting energy, telling stories, responding to questions, switching mood or track without a split-second’s loss of pace. The show’s title is right; this soon takes on the feel of a conversation, as Claassen treats each audience member with individual attention, leaving a conviction you’ve been in Head’s presence yourself.” – Reviews Gate
“Even if you know nothing about her, you can just tell from Claassen’s high quality of acting, she is capturing Head’s essence with her every crafted move. She actually becomes her, a feat also helped by her striking resemblance to the designer. The loving way Claassen handles clothes, her biting wit and even her exaggerations of success, seems uncanny, adding to the charm.” – The Stage
“A Conversation With Edith Head is so much more than just a show for followers of fashion. It is about years gone by; a period in film history that set a trend for generations to come. Edith Head passed away in 1981 only two weeks after completing her last film, but as you leave the theatre with Glaassen (sic) still in character chatting to each and every person, one honestly does feel that they have met the truly inspirational woman that was Edith Head and what a privilege it is.” — The British Theatre Guide
Claassen brings Head back to the Old Pueblo in March.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
London audiences are swept away
by Hollywood's golden age!
"A Conversation With Edith Head is so much more than just a show for
followers of fashion. It is about years gone by; a period in film history that set a
trend for generations to come. Edith Head passed away in 1981 only two weeks
after completing her last film, but as you leave the theatre with Claassen still in
character chatting to each and every person, one honestly does feel that they
have met the truly inspirational woman that was Edith Head
and what a privilege it is."
"In one sense, she's the 'master of self promotion' and in another, she's 'the woman
who isn't there'. It's this diversity of character, aptly portrayed by Susan Claassen,
that makes A Conversation With Edith Head such lovely watching."
Our opening night was attended by some of our dearest friends in London including the fabulous Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth!
The London artistic ensemble
with David O'Brien and Christopher Arnold is amazing.
When combined with James Blair and Bella Eibensteiner,
it becomes absolutely stellar!
At each performance we are blessed with the loveliest
and most appreciative audiences from around the world!
It is hard to believe that we have only two weeks left!
If you or your friends are London bound make sure
you let us know, and stay after the show to say hello!
The Leicester Square Theatre
6 Leicester Place London WC2H 7BX
Tuesday 29 July - Sunday 31 August
Box office: 0844 847 2475
USA Press Contact
(212) 921-4344 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepting bookings now for 2009/2010!
Next USA performance is in March 2009 as part
of the Invisible Theatre 's 38th Anniversary Season!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
A CONVERSATION WITH EDITH HEAD. To 31 August. :: ReviewsGate.com :: The Theatre Reviews site that covers the UK.
A CONVERSATION WITH EDITH HEAD. To 31 August.
ReviewsGate.com :: The Theatre Reviews site that covers the UK.
Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Aug 13, 2008 - 10:07 PM
A CONVERSATION WITH EDITH HEAD
by Paddy Calistro and Susan Claassen.
Leicester Square Theatre 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BP To 31 August 2008.
Tue-Sat 8pm Sun 7pm Mat Thu, Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 2375.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 August.
Exclusive meeting with the Head of Hollywood.
Teacher turned Hollywood Costume Designer Edith Head forged her way into movies with a catalogue of designs that weren’t her own. Later in her life at Paramount and Universal Studios there’d be more questions of attribution, including the designs for Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting that won her one of eight Oscars (she spent years pushing for Costume as a category).
But, working on 1131 films from twenties silents to 1981 (when this show’s set, Edith arriving slightly late and apologetic from a ‘phone call about her final film, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid), Head could afford a controversy or two.
She was well up to putting her view, as this aptly-titled show shows. Audience questions and comments from unattributed helpers elicit responses indicating the mercurial manner of someone who could be touchy if challenged, but was discreet about the stars she’d not got on with, and generous about the ones she’d liked. Only at the end is there some sense of regret she’d always been in the shadows, the anonymous figure behind the star whose beauty she’d enhanced and glamour she’d helped create.
An array of stills across the tiny stage in the small downstairs space at the Leicester Square Theatre (just north of the square itself), are mostly of Hollywood’s glittering generations; but the occasional one shows Head in striking pose, with dark-glasses, well-aware of the industry she’s working among.
American Susan Claassen catches Head’s darkly distinctive look remarkably, equipping it with contrasting energy, telling stories, responding to questions, switching mood or track without a split-second’s loss of pace. The show’s title is right; this soon takes on the feel of a conversation, as Claassen treats each audience member with individual attention, leaving a conviction you’ve been in Head’s presence yourself.
No doubt she was a fighter – and had to be in cinematic Egoland. Twice-married, she claims 8 important men in her life, all called Oscar: her octet of Awards helped build her status with the stars. For anyone with any leaning towards the era of Hollywood glamour-fantasies, Claassen’s spot-on impersonation provides a riveting hour-and-a-half.
Edith Head: Susan Claassen.
Designers: James Blair, Susan Claassen.
Costume Re-creations: Chris Brewer, Maryann Trombino.
Wig design: Renate E Leuschner.
Voice/Movement coach: Dianne J Winslow.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The British Theatre Guide : Reviews - A Conversation with Edith Head (Leicester Square Theatre)
A Conversation With Edith Head
By Susan Claassen & Paddy Calistro
Leicester Square Theatre
Review by Rachel Sheridan (2008)
Edith Head was responsible for some of Hollywood's most infamous fashion, dressing virtually every Hollywood starlet from the late 1920s through to the early 1980s, winning eight Oscars for her work, more than any other woman has won.
Now she is in the West End for those wishing the pleasure of her company. Well, Susan Claassen is in the West End, playing Edith Head in A Conversation With Edith Head. However it is hard to tell where Susan starts and Edith ends in this utterly captivating performance.
Speaking at the time of the last film she worked on, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, this is a night of informal conversation with Ms Head as she takes you on an enchanting stroll down memory lane, bringing back to life the golden age of Hollywood.
The Leicester Square Theatre (formally The Venue) is the ideal space for this intimate occasion. Surrounded by framed photos of stars Head has worked with such as Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis, alongside sketches of her designs and mannequins modelling her creations, Claassen glides around the set with ease, as if she were in her own living room.
Whilst refusing to indulge in salacious gossip, Ms Head openly shares precious moments from Hollywood history: stories from film sets, the nature of her relationships with certain stars and the inspiration behind her designs. All the while engaging in casual chit chat with the audience, who submit questions beforehand, as if she were talking with old friends.
As she comments on certain aspects of the audience who hang on her every word, the performance is fresh and spontaneous, all the while helped along by the charming Christopher (Christopher Arnold), the host of the evening and the well planted fanatical fan who seems to know more about Edith Head's life than Head herself.
A beautifully frank portrayal of Head - she is certainly not all sweetness and light. She is sentimental, arrogant, fun, indignant, friendly and above all a self-confessed "master of self promotion". Never wanting to go unnoticed, yet in the same breath never wanting to compete with the stars she styled. At only 5"1 (and a quarter) Head is a force to be reckoned with.
A Conversation With Edith Head is so much more than just a show for followers of fashion. It is about years gone by; a period in film history that set a trend for generations to come. Edith Head passed away in 1981 only two weeks after completing her last film, but as you leave the theatre with Glaassen still in character chatting to each and every person, one honestly does feel that they have met the truly inspirational woman that was Edith Head and what a privilege it is.
Until 31st August
Monday, August 4, 2008
A Conversation With Edith Head Review 3 stars
Review of A Conversation With Edith Head
"A MUST FOR MOVIE BUFFS"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 04/08/08
Set in 1981, Susan Claassen gives a virtuoso performance of one of the most iconic figures on the Hollywood scene. Edith Head was known as Designer to the Stars until her death in 1981 after completing work on Steve Martin's film "Dead Men don't Wear Plaid", a movie which was dedicated to her memory.
During her long career she received eight Oscars - more than any other woman in history and was nominated for 35 more. For forty four years she worked at Paramount creating garments for stars like Mae West, Bette Davies, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich and Barbara Stanwyck. She was also one of Hitchcock's favourite designers.
The set is a fascinating array of signed photographs and glamorous costumes and Claassen wears a neat grey suit and the signature bangs and glasses of her idol. This is an honest, totally believable acting performance. The audience is encouraged to take part, to ask questions to which she replies in an occasionally acerbic or dismissive way and she barks questions back at them like the schoolmistress Edith once was.
Head's beginning was a fraud. She worked as a French teacher, taking Art lessons in her spare time. When Paramount studios advertised for someone to work in the costume department, she stole designs from some of the other students and presenting them as her own, got the job. This set up a pattern in her life. Although she was a hugely talented designer in her own right, she accepted the Oscar for Sabrina, even though it should have gone to Givenchy who was responsible for the whole of Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe. Givenchy is dismissed with scorn - he never stuck up for himself so her claim on the Oscar was valid, she seems to say. Actually, this was sheer greed on her part because she had eight of them on her mantelshelf!
She gossips about her stars. Gives away secrets about their figure faults - and how she managed make them look perfect. Her admiration for her "ladies" borders on idolatry - and the feelings were mutual.
She adores Marlene. "If you want the most elegant female in the world, you put Dietrich into a tailored suit, the plainer the suit, the more elegant she looked." She speaks warmly of most of them, although she almost spits every time she mentions the name Claudette Colbert.
The show is packed with anecdotes which are amusing and indicative of the romantic fantasy that was early Hollywood. In B Westerns her demure gingham gowns were turned down by the producers. Low neck dresses were more attractive to the director and despite Indian ambushes, wheels falling off wagons etc, the dresses stayed pristine - clean and starched and the necklines never got displaced.
Towards the end of the show someone asks:"Have you any regrets?". She gives him a Bette Davies look and snaps "I never dressed Marilyn Monroe or the Chicago white sox"
A must for movie buffs.
Event Venues & Times
Showing until 31/08/08 Studio Space at Leicester Square Thea... 5 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BP
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Published Friday 1 August 2008 at 16:55 by Emma Barnett
In one sense she is the "master of self promotion" and in another, she's "the woman who isn't there". It's this diversity of character aptly portrayed by Susan Claassen, that makes A Conversation with Edith Head such lovely watching.
Head, arguably the greatest ever costume designer to the stars, has come to London in the shape of Claassen. In her time, this small, determined power-force, won eight Oscars, had a career spanning 58 years first at Paramount and then Universal, and dressed all the greats, from Mae West to Grace Kelly. She died at the age of 83 in 1981.
It was supposedly after watching a TV biography of Head, Claassen knew she could play her and promptly with Paddy Calistro, co-author of Head's posthumous autobiography, joined forces to write this script
And she was right. Set in 1981 while working on Steve Martin's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, you are welcomed as an audience who has come armed with questions and a burning curiosity about Head's world. Even if you know nothing about her or the stars she clothed, you can just tell from Claassen's high quality of acting, she is capturing Head's essence with her every crafted move. She actually becomes her, a feat helped also by the fact she bears a strong resemblance to Head. The loving way Claassen handles clothes, her biting wit when answering the planted questions from the floor, and even her exaggerations of success, seems uncanny and adds to the charm of this show.
The set is stunning - littered with mannequins, autographed photographs of Hollywood stars and of course, her treasured Oscars.
It is, however, a show with quite limited appeal. You either need to know about Head or really want to know about her. You can't recommended this play to just anyone because it really is like an evening with Head and therefore not something everyone would sign up for.
Mae West once said to Head, "When you find your magic, stick with it". Head certainly found hers, but the realisation that she only ever threw her magic on to others and spent her life in someone else's shadow, is one realisation too many by the end of the show, which Claassen portrays with aplomb.
Co-authors, Claassen and Calistro, do assume a certain audience, but if you fit the bill, you're in for a great evening of old-school glamour and wonderful recollections.
Studio Space, Leicester Square Theatre, London, July 29-August 31
Paddy Calistro, Susan Claassen
Anthony Field, John C Causebrook, Elizabeth Lomas
Anthony Field Associates Ltd
Susan Claassen, Christopher Arnold