Lectures For Lifelong Learners!

Harriet Heithaus

Harriet Heithaus

Harriet Heithaus

Broadway Lecturer


Available for in-person lectures in:
Naples/Ft. Myers

Available via Zoom?

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Harriet Howard Heithaus became intrigued with theater from childhood, when her family took her to summer stock musicals and community theaters. She has never lost that love for an affecting melody or a gripping story. That romance did not include appearing onstage, however. She much prefers to write about it and has happily been both music and theater critic at the Naples Daily News, for which she has won a number of Florida Press Club awards, over the last 15 years. Before that, the native Buckeye has worked for newspapers in Ohio and Indiana, where she was a government and political writer who volunteered to review to rock concerts whenever possible. Everyone could see where this was leading.

Lectures include:


Great Musicals

The Top Ten Longest Running Shows in Broadway History

One measure of a show’s success is how long it runs on Broadway. Oklahoma!, which ran more than five years (2,212 performances), led the list in the 1940s. Now it ranks a mere 32nd. Today the top thirty shows are all musicals, and include popular titles such as The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and The Lion King. Do any of those crack the top ten? This hour-long discussion that examines the ten longest running shows Broadway has ever seen.

The Hamilton Phenomenon

Hamilton has been a hot ticket since it debuted in 2015. But what possessed composer-lyricist-playwright-original star Lin-Manuel Miranda to write a musical about the first Secretary of the Treasury and his Founding Father contemporaries, and set their history to a hip-hop beat? For those lucky enough – or wealthy enough – to snag seats to the show, this hour-long talk will deconstruct the musical to increase your enjoyment and appreciation of the highly acclaimed – and highly profitable – Broadway sensation.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Musicals

Ten musicals have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, from the Gershwins’ Of Thee I Sing in 1931 to Lin- Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton in 2015. Each in its own way has been “a distinguished play … dealing with American life.” This talk examines the ten shows and describes how they came to earn this highest award in the theater industry, with video clips to celebrate their highlights.

Fiddler on the Roof: From Anatevka to Around the Globe

A history of the most universally beloved musical which began under a cloud of doubt by its creative team -- the composer-lyricist team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, as well as adapter Joseph Stein -- who wondered whether this tale of a Russian dairyman and his five challenging daughters, based on the stories of Sholom Alecheim, wasn't really "too Jewish" for Broadway. In fact, it became one of Broadway's longest running musicals, translated and performed all over the globe. This talk explains how the show evolved and transcended the English language, most recently becoming a hit again off-Broadway in Yiddish.

The Icons

The Jewish Composers Of Broadway

It is true that the vast majority of the musical theater’s greatest composers have been Jewish. From Irving Berlin to George Gershwin to Richard Rodgers to Stephen Sondheim, they have shaped this uniquely American art form. This hour-long lecture surveys the evolution of the Broadway musical, with a celebration of the creative individuals who made it happen. Includes clips from: The Producers, Fiddler On The Roof, Guys & Dolls, and more!

Stephen Sondheim: Broadway’s Greatest Musical Innovator

The musical theater was often lightweight entertainment until a protegee of Oscar Hammerstein II came along to challenge our perception of what a musical could be. An ethnic clash of street gangs (West Side Story)? A jaundiced look at marriage through the eyes of a perennial bachelor (Company)? A revenge thriller of a cannibalistic barber (Sweeney Todd)? An exploration of the creative process and a 19th century pointillist painter’s obsessions (Sunday in the Park with George)? Through his intricate music and lyrics, Sondheim changed the breadth and depth of musicals, as this talk will explore, with video examples from his landmark productions.

Neil Simon: American King of Comedy

Broadway’s most popular and most financially successful playwright wrote more than 30 comedies for the stage, including Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple and his autobiographical Brighton Beach trilogy. In addition, he penned the book of a handful of Broadway musicals and the screenplay for more than 30 movies, both original stories and adaptations of his plays. This talk charts his unparalleled career, as he evolved from a gag writer to a more character-rich dramatist, illustrated with video clips from his plays and movies.

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Lord of Musical Theater

Andrew Lloyd Webber, described by The New York Times as "the most commercially successful composer in history," has written 21 musicals, from his early "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," commissioned for a children's choir but became an international hit, to "Cinderella," a current London hot ticket headed to Broadway this year. In between has been "The Phantom of the Opera," the longest running show ever on Broadway, “Cats,” “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and many more. This talk details Lord Lloyd Webber's personal and professional career, with colorful video clips of his most popular shows.

Celebrating Greatness

The Tony Awards

Since 1947, the mark of excellence on Broadway has been the Antoinette Perry Awards, and ever since they were televised in the early 1960s, the annual broadcast became the prime marketing tool of the commercial theater to the nation. Moreso than the Oscars, a Tony Award win can mean the difference between success and failure at the box office. This hour-long talk reviews the history of the Tonys, looks at the biggest winners, and identifies the correlation between Tony wins and the length of the Broadway run.

Broadway Hall of Fame Actors

A celebration of eight male performers who sang and danced their way into our hearts with memorable star turns on the Broadway stage. Career summaries of eight luminaries including Robert Preston, Richard Kiley, Zero Mostel and Joel Grey will be shared. Illustrating the talk will be video clips from the productions that showcase their unique qualities.

Broadway Hall of Fame Actresses

An affectionate look at some of the most celebrated, larger-than-life female performers whose careers were forged mainly on the Broadway stage. Eight celebrated female stars, such as Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Chita Rivera and Patti LuPone, will be profiled, with an emphasis on their most memorable shows. Includes video clips from their award-winning performances.

From Broadway to Hollywood: What’s Been Gained, What’s Been Lost

Nothing demonstrates the differences between theater and film more than the ways Broadway musicals have been adapted to the big screen. Some have seen substantial improvement (Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar, West Side Story), while others have lost their charm in the transition (A Chorus Line, Man of La Mancha, Mame). This talk considers the strengths of both media and what went wrong or right when iconic stage shows went Hollywood. With video clips to illustrate the changes these musicals went through – for better or worse.

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