Comedy is Hard!
Buy Tickets

by Mike Reiss
Wednesday, September 24th
- Sunday, October 12th

Wed & Thurs 7:30pm / Fri & Sat 8:00pm
Wed & Sun 2:00pm

The 8:00pm performance on Saturday, 10/11 is SOLD OUT.

There are still a few tickets left for Friday, 10/10 at 8:00pm and Sunday 10/12 at 2:00pm – call the box office for availability.  860.767.7318

 

Our thanks to Outthink for producing this video clip for us!

A brand new play by Mike Reiss, the critically acclaimed writer of I’m Connecticut, will have its world premiere at the Ivoryton Playhouse.  Executive Producer:  Michael A. Dattilo.

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Micky Dolenz and Joyce DeWitt star in “Comedy is Hard!” now open.

Set in a home for retired actors, the play takes an affectionate look at the relationship and rivalry between a retired stand-up comedian and a classical actress. Hilarious and bittersweet, this play is sure to resonate with audiences of all ages.

MICKY DOLENZ (The Monkees) and JOYCE DeWITT (Three’s Company) play the lead roles in Mike Reiss’ new play Comedy Is Hard!  This world premiere is now open and runs until Sunday, October 12.  Tickets on sale now.

Generously sponsored by:

1-HCI Logo Middle_Oak2

 

 

 

 Photo courtesy of Rosemary Picarelli

joyce-dewritt-couch-photo-theater-debut-07-02-2011Joyce DeWitt* (Kay)  Miss DeWitt is widely known to audiences for her starring role as ‘Janet Wood’ in the ABC Television hit series Three’s Company. She also has an extensive background in the Theater, working both as an actress and director. Joyce has starred in numerous theatrical productions including the Canadian premier of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize winning play Dinner With Friends and Alfred Uhry’s Tony Award winning play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Other recent stage performances include the North American premier of the Australian comedy Daylight Savings, and the Broadway musical Olympus On My Mind, for which she completed the cast recording. Her other theatrical credits include starring roles in Chapter Two, Sweet Charity, Damn Yankees, Middle Of The Night, Star Spangled Girl, The Crucible, Medea, Tartuffe, A Hatful Of Rain, Desire Under The Elms, MacBeth, The Mikado, Lil’ Abner, South Pacific, The Man Who Came To Dinner, Peter Pan, Brigadoon, All The Way Home, A Month In The Country, The Tempest, The Impossible Years, Dracula: An Original Rock Musical, Stop The World I Want To Get Off and Same Time Next Year. Miss DeWitt’s versatility as a performer has led to numerous TV Specials, appearing with such wonderful talents as Greer Garson, Ann Miller, Perry Como, Bill Cosby, Anne Murray, Tony Randal, Rich Little, Cheryl Ladd, John Ritter and Steve Martin. She has also made various guest-starring appearances on popular television programs and has starred in the Television Movies, With This Ring and Spring Fling. Miss DeWitt is particularly thrilled to be appearing with Mr. Dolenz here at the Ivoryton Playhouse in the World Premier of Comedy is Hard as this is a season of ‘Premieres’ for her. She will soon be seen in the Hallmark movie My Boyfriends Dogs premiering in October, and the premiere of the film, Snapshot, in which she co-starred and received the ‘Best Picture-Social Issue’ award at the recent Manhattan Film Festival. Miss DeWitt dedicates these performances to her Father-“ the finest man I’ve ever known,”

 

Dorian Mendez (Valentina / Diane) is a native of the New London area and is a massage therapist by trade. She made her debut performance the summer of 2012 in The Crucible playing the role of Tituba and immediately followed that up with the fall production of Macbeth playing the role of Lady Macduff. Both productions were put on by Flock Theatre in New London. January 2013 she had the pleasure of performing at The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook when she was cast in Piece Of My Heart with Saybrook Stage Company. Later that year she played Nurse Ruth Kelly in Harvey, her first collaboration with Groton Regional Theater. April of 2014 she was cast as Lady Capulet in Flock Theater’s Romeo and Juliet and now she has the honor of performing at the Ivoryton Playhouse in the wonderful production of Comedy Is Hard. She hopes to continue playing and growing in her new found passion of theater!

 

HIRESDOLENZBLUE2Micky Dolenz* (Lou) was born into a showbiz family and was starring in his first TV series, Circus Boy, by the time he was ten.  (Micky’s prenatal work will soon be available on ultrasound). Exactly ten years later he was starring as the wacky drummer in the Emmy Award-winning show The Monkees which he describes as “a half-hour Marx Brothers musical on TV.”  The post-Monkee years found him working in the U. K. as an actor, (Harry Nilsson’s The Point) and as a director/writer/producer for the BBC, LWT and Central TV. He had the pleasure of writing/directing the West End production of, Bugsy Malone, starring a fourteen year old Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Upon his return Stateside, he vigorously pursued a career in musical theater, including: most recently Nat Tour/West End production of Hairspray essaying Wilbur Turnblad; portraying Zozer in the Nat Tour/Broadway production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida; the Goodspeed revival of Pippin (Charlemagne); and, the Nat Tour/Broadway production of Grease (Vince Fontaine) and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Pseudolus). Micky has also been a popular radio DJ (WCBS-FM in New York City); a children’s book author and “anthromythologist” (Gakky Two-Feet, G.P. Putnam & Sons);  and has most recently released the critically-acclaimed solo albums King For A Day and Remember. Micky is thrilled to be appearing in the Ivoryton Playhouse production of, Comedy Is Hard and thanks his wife, Donna, his wonderful family and friends, and especially his father for strutting through the living room in his boxer shorts singing “Some Enchanted Evening.”

 

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Michael McDermot* (Phil) studies voice with internationally known singer Ms. Marni Nixon. He also studies cello with Ms. Celeste Cumming of West Hartford CT. He was last seen here at the playhouse in, The Bells Of Dublin. Michael was also seen at The Ivoryton Playhouse in their production of, The Producers, playing Leo Bloom. Michael has also performed at Seven Angels Theater, Goodspeed Opera House, The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, and The Spirit of Broadway Theater.  Michael’s  Irish Group, “Cead Mile Failte”, meaning A Hundred Thousand Welcomes in Gaelic, will be performing starting in Oct. through March at various locations in Connecticut. Michael would like to thank the Ivoryton Playhouse staff and crew, for their continued professionalism and tireless work that they put into everything that they do for the theater. Thank you Jacqueline Hubbard for this wonderful opportunity to perform with this wonderful cast.

 

Michael_HotlowskiMichael Hotkowski (Homeless Man) is thrilled to return to both the Ivoryton Playhouse and the works of Mike Reiss for the second year in a row. A Vancouver Film School Alumni, his past stage and screen work includes Brett Cornell, The Speckled Band as Watson and of course Mike Reiss’s I’m Connecticut.

 

 

DanCoyleDan Coyle (Mr. Holroyd / Vladimir) has been in theater for over forty years and has acted with most of the community theater groups in CT.  He is pleased and excited to be back here at the Ivoryton, having performed the part of George Sillers in the production of Inherit The Wind. It is an honor to work with such a great cast, director and crew. The past two summers Dan has acted in two independent films by Big L Productions in Newington, Grandpa Is A Weirdo, in which he played Grandpa and the horror-thriller film Creepy Crawley which premiers June 19th at The Ridgefield Theater. Dan is also the producer/director /writer of the murder mystery group, Murderous Fun. He would like to dedicate his performance to his mother and father, and the students at the Arts At The Capital Theater where he works part time.

 

Executive Producer:  Michael A. Dattilo

Directed by:  Jacqueline Hubbard

Stage Manager:  James Joseph Clark*

Scenic Design:  Daniel Nischan

Lighting Design:  Marcus Abbott

Costume Design:  Leonore Crowther

Sound Design:  Jo Nazro

Projection Design:  Gaylen Ferstand

Choreography:  Todd Underwood

Hair/Wig Design: Elizabeth Cipollina

* member of Actors Equity

Photo of comedy writer and writer of I'm Connecticut Mike Reiss

Michael “Mike” L. Reiss is an American television comedy writer. He served as a show-runner, writer and producer for the animated series The Simpsons and co-created the animated series The Critic. He created and wrote the webtoon Queer Duck and has also worked on screenplays including: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Horton Hears a Who!, The Simpsons Movie and My Life in Ruins.

Reiss was born to a Jewish family in Bristol, Connecticut, United States. The middle child of five, his mother was a local journalist and his father was a doctor. He attended Memorial Boulevard Public School, Thomas Patterson School and Bristol Eastern High School and has stated that he felt like an “outsider” in these places.

Reiss studied at Harvard University. Reiss has stated that, as an institution, he hates Harvard, explaining that “I had an epiphany on my third day there: This place would be just as good as a summer camp where you met other people, networked, and learned from them. I feel the education I got there was distant and useless and uncaring. I feel they sort of squandered my youth and my father’s savings.”  Reiss studied English, but disliked the course and was rejected from a creative writing class.  Reiss focused his attention on comedy, performing in talent shows and writing. In Holworthy Hall at Harvard, Reiss met fellow freshman Al Jean; they befriended one another and collaborated their writing efforts for the humor publication Harvard Lampoon.  Reiss became co-president of the Harvard Lampoon, alongside Jon Vitti.  Jeff Martin, another writer for the Lampoon, said Reiss and Jean “definitely loomed large around the magazine. They were very funny guys and unusually polished comedy writers for that age. We were never surprised that they went on to success.” Jean has also stated that the duo spent most of their time at the Lampoon, adding that “it was practically my second dorm room.”

The humor magazine National Lampoon, hired Jean and Reiss after they graduated in 1981. In the 1980s, the duo began collaborating on various television projects.  During this period Reiss and Jean worked as writers and producers on television shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1984–1986), ALF, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.

In 1989, Reiss was hired along with Jean as the first members of the original writing staff of the Fox network animated series The Simpsons. He worked on the thirteen episodes of the show’s first season (1989).  They became executive producers and show runners of The Simpsons at the start of the third season (1991).  A show runner has the ultimate responsibility of all the processes that an episode goes through before completion, including the writing, the animation, the voice acting, and the music.  The first episode Jean and Reiss produced was “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” (aired September 19, 1991), and they felt a lot of pressure on them to make it good. They were so pressured that they did six to seven rewrites of the script to make it funnier.  Jean said “one reason for doing all these rewrites is because I kept thinking ‘It’s not good enough. It’s not good enough.”  Reiss added that “we were definitely scared. We had never run anything before, and they dumped us on this.”  Jean and Reiss served as show runners until the end of the fourth season (1993). Since the show had already established itself in the first two seasons, they were able to give it more depth during their tenure. Jean believes this is one of the reasons that many fans regard season three and four as the best seasons of The Simpsons.  Sam Simon has stated “The Simpsons wouldn’t have been The Simpsons without [Reiss].” Reiss has won four Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on the show.

They left after season four to create The Critic, an animated show about film critic Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz); the show was executive produced by The Simpsons co-developer James L. Brooks.  It was first broadcast on ABC in January 1994 and was well received by critics, but did not catch on with viewers and was put on hiatus after six weeks. It returned in June 1994 and completed airing its initial production run.  For the second season of The Critic, Brooks cut a deal with the Fox network to have the series switch over.

Brooks wanted to have Sherman crossover on to The Simpsons, as a way to promote The Critic’s move to Fox. Sherman appeared in the episode “A Star is Burns”, which Reiss and Jean returned to produce. The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening was not fond of the crossover and complained publicly that it was just a thirty-minute advert for The Critic. Brooks said, “for years, Al and Mike were two guys who worked their hearts out on this show, staying up until 4 in the morning to get it right. The point is, Matt’s name has been on Mike’s and Al’s scripts and he has taken plenty of credit for a lot of their great work. In fact, he is the direct beneficiary of their work. The Critic is their shot and he should be giving them his support.” Reiss stated that he was a “little upset” by Groening’s actions and that “this taints everything at the last minute. […] This episode doesn’t say ‘Watch The Critic’ all over it.”  Jean added “What bothers me about all of this, is that now people may get the impression that this Simpsons episode is less than good. It stands on its own even if ‘The Critic’ never existed.” On Fox, The Critic was again short-lived, broadcasting ten episodes before its cancellation.  A total of 23 episodes were produced, and it returned briefly in 2000 with a series of ten internet broadcast webisodes. The series has since developed a cult following thanks to reruns on Comedy Central and its complete series release on DVD.

In 1994, Reiss and Jean signed a three-year deal with The Walt Disney Company to produce other TV shows for ABC. The duo created and executive produced Teen Angel, which was canceled in its first season in 1997. Reiss said “It was so compromised and overworked. I had 11 executives full-time telling me how to do my job.” This was the only project created under their contract which was broadcast.

The pair periodically returned to work on The Simpsons. In addition to “A Star is Burns”, they produced “‘Round Springfield” for season six; both episodes were written with the aid of their fellow writers from The Critic.  While under contract at Disney they produced two episodes of season eight: “The Springfield Files” and “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious”, and two of season nine: “Lisa’s Sax” and “Simpson Tide”. When Jean returned to The Simpsons permanently as showrunner from season thirteen, Reiss returned part-time as a consultant and producer, flying to Los Angeles one day a week to attend story meetings and contribute to the writing process. He also co-wrote the screenplay for The Simpsons Movie in 2007.

mikereiss-207x300Writer Mike Reiss will be at the Ivoryton Playhouse participating in “Talk Backs” after performances on:

Friday, September 26
Friday, October 3
Saturday, October
4
Sunday, October 5
Friday, October
10
Sunday, October 12

Very funny and very entertaining, we are thrilled that Mike can be with us to talk about writing Comedy is Hard, answer questions and meet audience members.  Join us on these dates!

Check back here for video clips and photos.

COURANT.COM

A Monkee, A Simpson and a Famous Roomie Walk Into a Room…..
by Frank Rizzo

Micky Dolenz, Joyce DeWitt and Mike Reiss answer the question:  who is the funniest person you ever met?

http://www.courant.com/entertainment/arts-theater/hc-micky-dolenz-and-joyce-dewitt-star-in-show-by-simpsons-producer-mike-reiss-20140918-story.html?dssReturn&z=06475

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PARADE.COM

Showbiz Analysis with Three’s Company’s Joyce DeWitt
by Dr. Nancy Berk

http://parade.condenast.com/338597/nancyberk/showbiz-analysis-with-threes-companys-joyce-dewitt/#.VBN3prhmm74.twitter

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PRESS RELEASE

World Premiere of New Play
By Mike Reiss

COMEDY IS HARD!

Starring Micky Dolenz and Joyce DeWitt
Executive Producer:  Michael A. Dattilo

 

AT THE IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE

New York/Ivoryton – The world premiere of a brand new play by acclaimed writer of The Simpsons, Mike Reiss, will take place at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT. Previews begin September 24th – the play opens on September 26th and runs through October 12th. MICKY DOLENZ (of The Monkees) will star alongside JOYCE DEWITT,  veteran actress and star of the ABC television hit series Three’s Company.

Micky Dolenz plays Lou

Micky Dolenz plays Lou

Dolenz has delighted audiences with his performances on stage in the Elton John/Tim Rice production of Aida; Grease; Pippin’; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum; and, most recently Hairspray in the West End playing Wilbur Turnblad.

Said Dolenz, “The opportunity to originate this role in Mike’s new play is terrific. I am ready to un-leash my inner-comedian.”

Joyce DeWitt plays Kay

Joyce DeWitt plays Kay

Joyce DeWitt is no stranger to the hilarious writing of Mike Reiss as she starred in the world premiere of his play I’m Connecticut in 2012 at CT Repertory Theatre. DeWitt, who has performed in almost every theatrical genre from Medea to South Pacific, jumped at the chance to perform in another Mike Reiss play. “The idea of figuring out how to play this woman who goes through a deep, heart-place transformation/evolution–in the middle of a wonderfully written comedy!  With Micky Dolenz? At the beautiful, historic Ivoryton Playhouse? “Yes” was a no-brainer.”

COMEDY IS HARD is a story of friendship and friction between an aging comedian and a veteran dramatic actress in a home for retired performers.  It’s about life, love, show business, and the importance of growing old disgracefully.

DSC07173Reiss, who is writer and producer for the long running TV show, The Simpsons, also created the animated series The Critic; the webtoon Queer Duck and worked on the screenplays for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Horton Hears a Who!; The Simpsons: The Movie; and, My Life In Ruins. Ivoryton audiences turned out in droves in the June 2013 for his hilarious play, I’m Connecticut, which was a huge popular and critical success.

Comedy is Hard! opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on September 24 and runs through October 12, 2014. Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, the cast includes Michael McDermott*, Dan Coyle, Dorian Mendez and Michael Hotkowski. The set design is by Dan Nischan, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Lenore Grunko. Executive Producer is Michael A. Dattilo.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

There will be talkbacks with the writer – check our website for details. Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

 Photos courtesy of Rosemary Picarelli

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PICTURES FROM REHEARSALS FOR “COMEDY IS HARD”
Photos courtesy of Mark Mirko – courant.com

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Jacqueline Hubbard directs Micky Dolenz and Joyce DeWitt in “Comedy is Hard!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Comedy is Hard!" is written by Mike Reiss - a writer for "The Simpsons"

“Comedy is Hard!” is written by Mike Reiss – a writer for “The Simpsons”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Comedy is Hard!” runs until October 12

 

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PRESS RELEASE
June 30th, 2014

JOYCE DEWITT TO JOIN MICKY DOLENZ IN COMEDY IS HARD! PREMIERING  SEPTEMBER 24th at THE IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE

joyce-dewritt-couch-photo-theater-debut-07-02-2011FULLNew York/Ivoryton –Joyce DeWitt has just been confirmed to play opposite Micky Dolenz in  Mike Reiss’ new play Comedy Is Hard!, premiering Wednesday, September 24, at The Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Ms. DeWitt is most widely known to audiences for her starring role as “Janet Wood” in the ABC Television hit series Three’s Company but she has an extensive theatrical background, working both as actress and director in a stage career which spans over fifty years.

In those fifty years, Ms. DeWitt has starred in theatrical productions of every genre including Moliere’s Tartuffe, Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Euripides’ Medea as well as the popular comedies Sam Bobrick’s Remember Me, Neil Simons’ Star Spangled Girl, as well as the hilarious British farce Noises Off among many others.

Her long list of starring roles in musicals includes South Pacific, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, Oklahoma, Married Alive, Leader of the Pack, They’re Playing Our Song, Hats, All Shook Up, revivals of Cole Porter’s Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Mama Rose in Gypsy, and the mythical Olympus on My Mind for which she completed the cast recording – her first Broadway Album.

Reiss’ play is set in a home for retired actors and the play takes an affectionate look at the relationship and rivalry between a retired stand-up comedian and a classical actress.

Reiss, who is writer and producer for the long running TV show, The Simpsons, also created thReiss, who is writer and producer for the long running TV show, The Simpsons, also created the animated series The Critic; the webtoon Queer Duck and worked on the screenplays for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Horton Hears a Who!; The Simpsons: The Movie; and, My Life In Ruins. Ivoryton audiences turned out in droves in June 2013 for his hilarious play, I’m Connecticut, which was a huge popular and critical success.

Comedy is Hard! opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on September 24 and runs through October 12, 2014. Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, the rest of the cast is not yet announced.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Pictured: Joyce DeWitt

Members of the press are welcome at any performance.  Please call ahead for tickets.

Generously sponsored by Hamilton Connections and Middle Oak.

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PRESS RELEASE
May 27, 2014

MICKY DOLENZ TO HEADLINE IN COMEDY IS HARD!
PREMIERING  SEPTEMBER 24th AT THE IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE

HIRESDOLENZBLUENew York/Ivoryton – Actor, writer, director, performer MICKY DOLENZ (of The Monkees) has been confirmed for the lead role in Mike Reiss’ new play Comedy Is Hard!, premiering Wednesday, September 24, at The Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Dolenz, who just began a tour with The Monkees last week, has delighted audiences with his performances on stage in the Elton John/Tim Rice production of Aida; Grease; Pippin’; A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum; and, most recently Hairspray in London’s’ West End playing Wilbur Turnblad.

A renaissance-artist of the highest order, Dolenz has continued his recording career, most recently with a solo album entitled Remember, released last year. He has also participated heavily in several Broadway charities; most notably for Rockers On Broadway. In fact, he was just announced as the recipient of their annual award; to be presented in November.

Said Dolenz, “The opportunity to originate this role in Mike’s new play is terrific. I am ready to un-leash my inner-comedian.”

Reiss’ play is set in a home for retired actors and the play takes an affectionate look at the relationship and rivalry between a retired stand-up comedian and a classical actress.

Reiss, who is writer and producer for the long running TV show, The Simpsons, also created the animated series The Critic; the webtoon Queer Duck and worked on the screenplays for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Horton Hears a Who!; The Simpsons: The Movie; and, My Life In Ruins. Ivoryton audiences turned out in droves in June 2013 for his hilarious play, I’m Connecticut, which was a huge popular and critical success.

Comedy is Hard! opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on September 24 and runs through October 12, 2014. Directed by Playhouse Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard, the rest of the cast is not yet announced.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Photo by: dis COMPANY

Members of the press are welcome at any performance.  Please call ahead for tickets.

Generously sponsored by Hamilton Connections and Middle Oak.

 

Looking for something to do?  Ivoryton Playhouse was voted  Best Place to See Live Theatre by the readers of the Shoreline Times!  Come and visit Essex and see a show at this Connecticut historic treasure!

 

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Did You
Know

"Comedy is Hard!" comes from an anecdote about an actor who delivered this famously incisive line about playing comic roles while lying on his deathbed. A visitor approached the dying actor and said sympathetically, “This must be very difficult for you”. The actor lifted his head, smiled weakly, and disagreed saying “No. No. It is not too bad. Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." Sometimes attributed to Edmund Gwenn who played Santa Claus in the 1947 version of the movie "Miracle on 34th Street", this classic quote has also been attributed to Groucho Marx, Stan Laurel, Gregory Peck and Jack Lemmon.