Theater: Gutsy Proles


by Marc Blitzstein

Standing behind a lectern, John Houseman delivers the prologue, and on a June night in 1937, he lived it. It is the saga of a show that very nearly did not go on.

Houseman and Orson Welles were the co-producers of Marc Blitzstein's "labor opera" initially scheduled as an entry of the WPA'S Federal Theater Project. In one of those periodic bouts of political jitters, the Maxine Elliott Theater was closed to Cradle the day before the opening. Ironically, since the show is vociferously pro-union, the musicians'...

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