Brownbrokers

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Brownbrokers' Logo

Brownbrokers is a student-run theater group at Brown University. Together with Brown's Theatre Arts and Performance Studies faculty, Brownbrokers develops and produces a full-length, student-written musical every other year. Founded in 1935, it is one the oldest undergraduate producing bodies devoted to new student-written musical theatre, both comedic and dramatic, in the United States. The group is run by The Brownbrokers Board, an organization of self-elected students from the Brown student body. In addition to the biennial full-scale production, Brownbrokers produces smaller events such as the annual miniMUSICAL Festival[1] and staged readings of the musicals in consideration for production the following year.

History[edit]

Founded in 1935[2] Brownbrokers has been producing original student-written musicals on the Brown University Department stage for over 75 years. In 1934, a Pembroke College student and composer named Carolyn Troy '35 wrote a song titled “Patch Up Your Heart.” Wanting to produce a musical revue on the Brown and Pembroke campuses, she teamed up with friend Burton K. Shevelove '37 (Burt Shevelove) and together with a few other Brown undergraduates, they founded Brownbrokers.[3] By 1935, student interest in staging a musical revue led to the hiring of Leslie Allen Jones ’26 to organize the new endeavor. Serving both Brown and Pembroke College, the group fused the “broke” of Pembroke with “Brown” to create the Brownbrokers name.

Brownbrokers’ first production was titled Something Bruin and opened on May 10, 1935. The revue included 23 original numbers. Burt Shevelove was cast in this inaugural production. The success of Something Bruin led Sock and Buskin to provide Brownbrokers with the resources and space for an annual production. Road to Bruin and Man about Brown, the 1936 and 1937 productions respectively, parodied both life at Brown and the national politics of the day. In 1943, there was no Brownbrokers show because of World War II, but Brownbrokers returned with Scuttlebutt in 1944, a navy-themed revue.

Under the guidance of the Brownbrokers Board, the productions began to transition from themed revues to book musicals in the 1950s and 1960s.[4] Barney n’ Me and Fiddle-De-Dee, the 1956 and 1957 shows, had librettos and lyrics by Alfred Uhry ’58, future Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and Oscar Award winner. In 1958, Down to Earth was the first Brownbrokers show written entirely by students from Pembroke College. The annual productions continued with two exceptions. In 1962, Sock and Buskin instead produced William Inge's Bus Stop in the usual Brownbrokers slot. In 1974, due to a low turn out for auditions, Brownbrokers instead produced a pre-written, non-musical play titled Play it Again, Sam.[5]

In 2008, the Brownbrokers development and production process was rebuilt to operate on a biennial basis. The first production under the biennial system was Leavittsburg, OH, with book, music and lyrics by Nate Sloan ’09. Brownbrokers second production under the new system, We Can Rebuild Him by Deepali Gupta '12, received its world premiere in Providence, RI in March 2012.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Stephen Karam (Class of 2002) – A MacDowell Colony Fellow, Stephen Karam has received national recognition for his plays columbinus, Speech and Debate and Sons of the Prophet. During his time at Brown, he wrote a nationally acclaimed Brownbrokers show titled Emma, which was reprised at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C., winning the Michael Kanin Playwriting Award for Musical Theatre. Emma also received the NYMF Director's Choice Award.[8][9] In May 2011, he revisited his Brownbrokers show Emma through the New York-based company Waterwell's developmental New Works Lab.[10]

Notable past productions[edit]

Barney 'N Me (1965) Album Cover

A comprehensive timeline of past Brownbrokers productions is referenced below.[11]

  • 1935: Something Bruin [12] (opened May 10, 1935)
  • 1936: Road to Bruin [13]
  • 1937: Man about Brown – directed by Burt Shevelove and Harold Greenspan [14]
  • 1938: Curriculi-Curricula [15]
  • 1943: No Brownbrokers production (World War II) [16]
  • 1944: Scuttlebutt – directed by Leslie A. Jones and Janine O. Van deWater [17]
  • 1945: Souvenirs – a tenth anniversary compilation of past Brownbrokers musicals with new compositions by Frannie Patenaude, Alma Fain, Josie Truscot and Al Pomerantz [18][19]
  • 1956: Barney ’n Me – book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry '58, music by Robert Waldman
  • 1957: Fiddle-De-Dee – book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry '58 and Jack Rosenblum, music by Robert Waldman [20]
  • 1958: Down to Earth – by Nancy Worcester '58, Barbara Burgess '58 and Connie Hansen '58 [21] (first Brownbrokers show written entirely by Pembroke students) and set designed by Richard Foreman '59 [22]
  • 1968: Good Times Illustrated Weekly – book by Alfred Basile '70 and music by William Griffith '70 [23] (received Honorable First Mention in the 1967/1968 Broadcast Music, Inc. Awards) [24]
  • 1987: A Hustle Here, A Hustle There – book and lyrics by Paul Greenberg, music by David McLary (based on the Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side, with a set designed by Brian Selznick [25])
  • 2000: Emma – by Stephen Karam '02 [26] (Michael Kanin Playwriting Award for Musical Theatre and the NYMF Director's Choice Award) [27][28]
  • 2003: Transforming Jimmy Dalton – book and lyrics by Rebecca Rouse '04 and music by Brendan Padgett
  • 2004: Psyche – book and lyrics by Jed Resnick '06 and music by James Egelhofer '04 [29]
  • 2005: Moon Mary – book and lyrics by Ella Rose Chary '07 and Angie Thurston '07, music by Jon Russ '07
  • 2006: The Pursuit of History – book and lyrics by Michelle Oing '07, music and lyrics by Daniel Bowman '07
  • 2007: Elsewards – book and lyrics by Jessie Hopkins '08, music by Jerzy Fischer '08 [30]
  • 2008 / 2009: Adding Up by Sarah Kay '10 and Drew Nobile '07 and Leavittsburg, OH by Nate Slan '09 are developed
  • 2009 / 2010: Leavittsburg, OH by Nate Sloan ‘09 is produced
  • 2010 / 2011: DORIAN by David Brown '12, Lance Jabr '12 and Phoebe Nir '14 and We Can Rebuild Him by Deepali Gupta '12 are developed
  • 2011 / 2012: We Can Rebuild Him by Deepali Gupta ‘12 is produced

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fazzalaro, Kristina. "Brownbrokers’ Mini-musicals Supersize Fun." Editorial. The Brown Daily Herald [Providence, RI] 19 Mar. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
  2. ^ Mitchell, Martha. "From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana: Dramatics." Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Brown University. Web. 28 Nov. 2011.
  3. ^ "Brownbrokers Returns to Campus: Started in 1934." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 28 Jan. 1944: 1. Web. 2 Dec. 2011
  4. ^ "Brownbrokers Choose Board." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 12 May 1961: 1. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770673496278&div=DIVL59&pid=0>.
  5. ^ Silver, Janet. "Sam Plays It Once More." Brown Daily Herald [Providence, RI] 10 May 1974: 6. http://dl.lib.brown.edu/dbdh/getpage.php?image_id=1261009365285853.jp2. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
  6. ^ ""BROWNBROKERS" PLAN FOR MUSICAL PRODUCTION." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 20 Feb. 1936: 1. Web. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770636208400&div=DIVL147&pid=0>.
  7. ^ Mitchell, Martha. "Encyclopedia Brunoniana | Dramatics ." Brown University. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2011. <http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php?serial=D0140>.
  8. ^ "Stephen Karam." Dramatic Publishing. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/AuthorBio.php?titlelink=10406>.
  9. ^ "Brown University Presents Emma." The Kennedy Center. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. <http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/artists/?entity_id=9891&source_type=B>.
  10. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Stephen Karam Musical Emma Will Get NYC Developmental Run." Playbill.com. 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. <http://www.playbill.com/news/article/150127-Stephen-Karam-Musical-Emma-Will-Get-NYC-Developmental-Run>.
  11. ^ "Timeline of Brownbrokers Productions." Web. 6 Dec. 2011. <https://sites.google.com/site/brownbrokerstimeline/>.
  12. ^ ""SOMETHIN' BRUIN"" Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 10 May 1935: 2. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770635528142&div=DIVL91&pid=0>.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Martha. "From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana: Dramatics." Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Brown University. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php?serial=D0140>.
  14. ^ ""MAN ABOUT BROWN" TO RUN FOUR CONSECUTIVE NIGHTS STARTING MAY 5." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 27 Apr. 1937: 5. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770637965123&div=DIVL168&pid=0>.
  15. ^ "Brownbrokers Choose Cast Of New Show "Curriculi-Curricula"" Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 10 Mar. 1938: 1. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770640306158&div=DIVL42&pid=0>.
  16. ^ "Board Decides to Cease Activity for Duration." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 13 Nov. 1942: 3. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770645780&div=DIVL155&pid=0>.
  17. ^ "Brownbrokers Plan Musi-comedy." Brown Herald-Record [Providence, RI] 17 Jan. 1944: 1. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/dbdh/bdh_render.php?issue=1236283084231231&div=DIVL57&pid=0>.
  18. ^ "Brownbrokers Rehearsing." Brown Herald-Record [Providence, RI] 18 May 1945: 1. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/dbdh/getpage.php?image_id=1236283484476853.jp2>.
  19. ^ Berry, Jonathan. "Brownbrokers Present Tenth Annual Show in "Souvenirs"" Brown Daily Herald [Providence, RI] 25 May 1945: 3. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/dbdh/getpage.php?image_id=123628349352743.jp2>.
  20. ^ Hunt, Judith. "Brownbrokers' New Comedy Promises Song and Romance." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 19 Mar. 1957: 1. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770663718961&div=DIVL26&pid=0>.
  21. ^ "Down to Earth." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 22 Apr. 1958: 2. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/getpage.php?image_id=1268770665962399.jp2>.
  22. ^ Ellen Shaffer. ""Down to Earth" Offers Gaiety and Diversity." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 18 Apr. 1958: 4. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=1268770665893083&div=DIVL160&pid=0>.
  23. ^ "Brownbrokers Feature Original Tragedy." Pembroke Record [Providence, RI] 7 Mar. 1969: 2. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/pebr_render.php?issue=126877068983862&div=DIVL106&pid=0>.
  24. ^ ""Good Times Illustrated Weekly" Wins Award." Brown Daily Herald [Providence, RI] 1 Nov. 1968. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pebr/getpage.php?image_id=1268770688392910.jp2>.
  25. ^ Schecter, Alison, "The Wild Side of Life." Good Clean Fun 13 November 1987 <http://dl.lib.brown.edu/pdfs/1210082694560177.pdf>.
  26. ^ Rodriguez, Bill. "Emma rewards: The Brownbrokers revisit Austen." Providence Phoenix 7 Dec. 2000: n. pag. Providence Phoenix. Web. 6 Dec. 2011.
  27. ^ "Stephen Karam." Dramatic Publishing. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/AuthorBio.php?titlelink=10406>.
  28. ^ "Brown University Presents Emma." The Kennedy Center. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. <http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/artists/?entity_id=9891&source_type=B>.
  29. ^ Sopchockchai, Jen. "Brownbrokers' 'Psyche' Worthy of the Gods." The Brown Daily Herald [Providence, RI] 3 Dec. 2004. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. <http://www.browndailyherald.com/arts-culture/brownbrokers-psyche-worthy-of-the-gods-1.1683224#.TtUq2LJCq0t>.
  30. ^ Steele, Robin. "Dark and uplifting holiday musicals offer fairy tales, Jesus." Brown Daily Herald[Providence] 3 Dec. 2007: n. pag.Brown Daily Herald. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.

External links[edit]