Tuesday, August 12, 2008

George Furth


Beginning his career as an actor, Furth played the odd-ball nerd with the nervous twitch on film and television in the 60s. Here he is in a typical over-the-top pose from The Monkees. He appeared in notable feature films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Shampoo, and Blazing Saddles. He found his lasting fame as a writer, penning plays and musicals throughout the 70s and 80s.

His Broadway credits include two substantial hits, and at least one substantial flop. Along with Stephen Sondheim, he created the landmark concept musical Company, for which he won the Tony. His later collaboration with Sondheim, Merrily We Roll Along, flopped heavily and closed after 16 performances.

He wrote several straight plays which made it to Broadway, most notably Twigs. A tour de force comedy in which a single actress plays a mother and her three daughters, the production was Michael Bennett's only successful direction of a non-musical play, and turned Sada Thompson, considered one of the most competent stage actresses of the period, into a Tony winner. Furth reached Broadway several more times with minor works, and penned the book for The Act for superstar Liza Minnelli's return to the Great White Way.

I've written previously about the Kennedy Center's productions of both Company and Merrily We Roll Along, and about the original cast album of Company as well. In the spirit of that groundbreaking musical, and in celebration of George Furth's contribution to the American Theater:

I'd like to propose a toast.