"Confessions of a Tony Nominator: Two Decades of New York Theatre"
8th Annual BURIAN LECTURE
April 27, 2004
One of America’s premier theater historians, Henderson established her reputation with her first book, "The City and the Theatre: New York Playhouses from Bowling Green to Times Square" (1973). This engaging book, which will be reissued in an updated version in 2004, presents 235 years of theatre history in the Big Apple. Writing in the "New York Times," Alexander H. Cohen called the book, "some of the most fascinating summer reading for theater devotees," and exclaimed, "What a surprise awaits the reader! Something indefinably exciting is added to a theatergoer’s experience by the perspective one gains from Mrs. Henderson’s historic knowledge of the playhouses in which some of our best time is spent."
Henderson’s most recent book is "Mielziner: Master of Modern Stage Design" (2000) a chronicle of the life of Jo Mielziner, perhaps the greatest set designer of the 20th century. Mielziner reigned during Broadway’s Golden Age and was responsible for the sets of more than 260 plays, musicals, ballets, operas and motion pictures. Some of his more famous works include the original sets for "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Death of a Salesman," "Carousel," "South Pacific," and "Guys and Dolls." The book features 140 color photographs of Mielziner’s stage sets.
"Library Journal" said, "Every once in awhile a book comes along that is both beautiful and informative, and this gorgeous book on the great stage designer, Jo Mielziner, is one of them."
Henderson’s other books include "The New Amsterdam: The Biography of a Broadway Theatre" (1997), "Broadway Ballyhoo: The American Theater Seen in Posters, Photographs, Magazines, Caricatures, and Programs" (1989), and her magnum opus, "Theater in America: 250 Years of Plays, Players and Productions" (1986, revised 1996). In a "New York Times" review of "Theater in America," Mel Gussow wrote, "Enter anywhere and one is immediately immersed in tales about prominent theatrical personalities, from the Booth brothers (Edwin, Junius Brutus Jr. and John Wilkes) to R. H. Burnside, who cast elephants as well as actors in his spectacles at the Hippodrome Theater…. A valuable and relatively concise history."
Henderson has also contributed to such reference works as the "Cambridge Guide to World Theatre," the "Cambridge Guide to American Theatre," and the "Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance."
Mary C. Henderson is currently working on two new books, one about the reclamation and transformation of Forty-second Street, and one about the work of legendary theatre photographer Eileen Darby.