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Claudia Hommel
Cabaret Singer
Extraordinaire



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 







the GOODMAN THEATRE
World Premiere of  “HOLLYWOOD ARMS,” 
by Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett
Directed by Harold Prince
 Playing through June 1, 2002

Nanny (left, Linda Lavin) and her daughter Louise (Michele Pawk)
share a poignant moment.
Photo:  Michael Brosilow

Hollywood Arms 
review by Ed Vincent

I always liked Carol Burnett, now I like her even more.  Her life as portrayed on 
stage as Helen, is filled with events and emotions, some sweet, some sour. 
Like her real life, her history, our history, are woven with pleasant and unpleasant
passings.  Helen, the small girl, is being raised in Texas by her grandmother.
Nanny leaves Texas to live with her daughter in California.  Mom is getting most
of her funds from the state and now the state will take care of the entire family.
There are a few jobs that mom gets from time to time, writing a story here and there.
Her mother, Nanny, wonders why the part time writer doesn't get more work and
asks when she is going to get some work.  The mom says that she has been looking
here and there. Nanny comments;  "you could start with the want ads".

There is World War II, drunkenness, theft, tuberculosis, idleness, hypochondria,
and also a will to succeed and help others.  The story is spellbinding and
written by those in the know.  This is a world premiere event for the Goodman
and fitting in many ways.  Harvey Korman who worked with Carol Burnett on 
her well known television show "The Carol Burnett Show" was a graduate of the
Goodman School of Drama...small world.

Sara Niemietz, who plays the young Helen is wonderful as is her young
counter part Nicolas King who is Malcolm.  The older Helen, played by
Donna Champlin is tremendous in her portrayal.  Nanny, played by Linda
Lavin keeps the family on track.  The acting is superb, the sets are fantastic,
and you will want to see this production more than once.  I wished they had
Carol Burnett tapes, and DVDs in the lobby.

This work stands tall with the likes of "Long Day's Journey Into Night"
as Carol and her late daughter can hold their heads high with a job
very well done and due to be loved by many in the years to come.

Carrie Hamilton, a beautiful young woman filled with life and smiles
died a few months ago before this world premiere of her work with her
mother had come to the stage.  Our hearts go out to Carol Burnett and
her family.
 


Young Helen (Sara Niemietz) shows her secret hideout on
the roof to her estranged father Jody (Frank Wood)
Photo:  Michael Brosilow

Older Helen (center, Donna Champlin) reenacts a movie for
(l-r) her sister Alice (Emily Handley), her mother Louise
(Michele Pawk) 
Photo:  Michael Brosilow



WORLD PREMIERE OF “HOLLYWOOD ARMS,” 
NEW PLAY BY CARRIE HAMILTON AND CAROL BURNETT,
CONTINUES GOODMAN THEATRE 2001-2002 SEASON,
DIRECTED BY HAROLD PRINCE

The Goodman Theatre continues its 2001-2002 season in the Albert with the world
premiere of Hollywood Arms, a new play by Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett, 
beginning performances April 19 and continuing through June 1, 2002.  This 
bittersweet comedy is staged by legendary Broadway director Harold Prince,
recipient of 20 Tony Awards, and features a stellar cast of 11, including Tony 
Award-winning actors Linda Lavin and Frank Wood, Broadway veterans Donna 
Lynne Champlin and Michele Pawk, and nine-year-old newcomer Sara Niemietz. 
Exclusive Corporate Sponsor for Hollywood Arms is Marshall Field’s Project 
Imagine; Production Sponsor is the Women’s Board of the Goodman Theatre. 

Carol Burnett’s eldest daughter, writer/director Carrie Hamilton approached 
her mother with the idea to write a play based on Burnett’s best-selling memoir
One More Time, published by Random House in 1986.  Together, they developed
the first draft of the play at the Sundance Institute, and working with Mr. Prince
over the past two years, created the play that will premiere at the Goodman. 
Carrie Hamilton passed away on January 20, 2002.

Set in a less-than-glamorous Hollywood neighborhood in pre- and post-World
War II, Hollywood Arms follows Helen on her journey from child to young woman.
The cast of characters includes Helen’s grandmother Nanny, a pill-popping 
Christian Scientist who took over Helen’s upbringing after her parents divorced; 
her beautiful, often-absent mother Louise, who dreamed of becoming a famous
“interviewer to the stars” in Hollywood, only to wind up on welfare; her alcoholic 
father Jody, who turns up after drying out in a clinic, hoping to re-establish a 
relationship with his daughter; and the land of dreams Helen creates on the
roof of her rundown apartment house overlooking the Hollywood Hills. 
 

THE CAST

Harold Prince has assembled a hugely talented ensemble of actors for the 
Goodman’s production of Hollywood Arms.  Appearing in featured roles are
(listed in alphabetical order):

Donna Lynne Champlin (Adult Helen) appeared in 3hree, an evening of
one-act musicals  (one directed by Harold Prince) which recently premiered 
at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.  Her Broadway credits include
By Jeeves, James Joyce’s The Dead, and Bloomer Girl, and off-Broadway
she was seen in Very Warm for May at Carnegie Hall, Reunion, and Stars 
In Your Eyes.

Linda Lavin (Nanny) recently appeared in the PBS production of the play
Collected Stories by Donald Marguilies, directed by Gil Cates, who directed
Ms. Lavin in the stage version of the play at the Geffen Theatre in Los 
Angeles.  She received a 2000-2001 Tony nomination for her role as Marjorie
in the critically acclaimed Broadway production of The Tale of the Allergist’s 
Wife by Charles Bush.   She made her Broadway debut in the chorus of 
John Kander’s musical A Family Affair, staged by Mr. Prince, and worked again
with Mr. Prince in the musical It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman.” 
Her many other Broadway credits include Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound, 
for which she won a Tony Award.  She is best known for her starring role 
in “Alice,” one of television’s most popular comedies ever produced, and 
was nominated for an Emmy, won the People’s Choice award and the Golden
Globe award two years in a row for Best Actress in a comedy series.

Sara Niemietz (Young Helen) makes her professional stage debut in 
Hollywood Arms.  Born and raised in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago,
she now resides in Southern California.  Ms. Niemietz was named 
“Female Vocalist of the Year” National Champion at the NACMAI competition
in 2001, and was the “Female Entertainer of the Year” California State 
Champion at the CCMA competition that same year.  She can be seen in
March of 2002 as a guest star on the NBC series “Providence,” and in 
April on the CBS drama “First Monday.”  In July of 2001, Ms. Niemietz 
sang the National Anthem in front of almost 30,000 people to open the
San Diego Padres game in San Diego.

Michele Pawk (Louise) appeared on Broadway in Chicago, Seussical,
Cabaret (Drama Desk, Outer Critics’ Circle nomination), Triumph of
Love, Crazy For You (Drama Desk nomination), and Mail. Her off-Broadway 
credits include Reefer Madness, After the Fair, Hello Again, and Merrily 
We Roll Along.  She can be seen in the films Cradle Will Rock, Jeffrey,
The Girl in the Watermelon, and Flight of Black Angel, and has appeared
in the television series “Law & Order,” “Law & Order SUV,” “Quantum Leap,” 
“Dear John,” and “Golden Girls.”

Frank Wood (Jody) won a 1999 Tony Award and Drama League Award 
for his performance as Gene in the Broadway production of Side Man. 
His many off-Broadway and regional theater credits include Three Sisters
for East Coast Artists, Tomorrowland, King of Rats and Dark Ride at 
Soho Rep, The Seagull at Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, 
and many Gil Kofman plays at Soho Rep, Adobe Theater and Dallas 
Theater Center.  He is a former member of People’s Light and Theatre
Company and works extensively with New York City’s Fifty-Second Street
Project.  He can be seen in the films Thirteen Days starring Kevin Costner, 
and Pollock with Ed Harris.

Completing the Ensemble are (listed alphabetically):

Steve Bakunas (Policeman) appeared in the title role in Picasso at the
Lapin Agile at the Improv Asylum in Boston, and as R.P. McMurphy in 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Academy Playhouse in 
Massachusetts, where he was also seen in leading roles in Much 
Ado About Nothing and The Butcher’s Daughter. 

Patrick Clear (Bill) returns to the Goodman where he appeared in the
2001 production of A Christmas Carol and in previous productions of
Arcadia, Dancing at Lughnasa, Brutality of Fact, Miss Evers’ Boys, and
The Winter’s Tale.

Emily Graham-Handley (Alice) is a middle school student from Connecticut 
who is a member of the Musical Theatre Cabaret at Hartford Children’s Theater
and is a soloist at her church.  She is an honors student, a viola player and an
award-winning artist at her school. 

Nicolas King (Malcolm) most recently appeared on Broadway as young 
Nick Burns opposite Tom Selleck in A Thousand Clowns and was also seen 
on Broadway as Chip in Beauty and the Beast. 

Christian Kohn (Policeman) most recently appeared in the world premiere 
of The Gift Horse at the Goodman Theatre, where he was also seen in the
Next Theatre/Goodman revival of Among the Thugs.  His Court Theatre 
credits include Mary Stuart, Piano, and Twelfth Night.

Barbara E. Robertson (Dixie) was most recently seen in Hamlet at Court 
Theatre, where she was also seen in Mary Stuart, Piano, and Twelfth Night. 
Her many other Goodman credits include the American premieres of
House and Garden, the world premieres of Black Snow (Jeff Award) 
and Brutality of Fact, and the musical Pal Joey (Jeff Award).

The design team for the Goodman Theatre’s production of Hollywood 
Arms features: 
 

Walt Spangler (Set Design) 
Judy Dolan (Costume Design)
Howell Binkley (Lighting Design)
Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Sound Design)
Robert Lindsey Nassif (Original Music).


Hollywood Arms is supported in part by AT&T, the Goodman’s 2001-2002 
Sponsor of New Ventures On-Stage.

American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Goodman Theatre. 
Kraft Foods North America, Inc. is the Principal Sponsor of the free
Student Subscription Series.

The Goodman Theatre’s world premiere production of Hollywood Arms 
begins performances April 19, 2002 and continues through June 1 in the 
Albert.  The press preview is Sunday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m.; press opening 
is Monday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets for Hollywood Arms range from
$35 to $50 (see calendar below for specific dates, times and prices). 
Tickets may be purchased at the Goodman Theatre Box Office, located 
at 170 N. Dearborn Street, or may be charged by phone at (312) 443-3800.
Groups of 15 or more call (312) 443-3820.  For further ticket information,
call (312) 443-3800 or visit the website at www.goodman-theatre.org.
 
 
 







 http://www.goodman-theater.org

Directions from CTA and Parking Information

If you are coming from Oak Park and taking the CTA Green line,
round trip for two persons is only $6.00 and gets you within a block
walk to the Goodman Theatre. Exit the train at Clark and Lake Street
and walk east.  If you decide to drive you can park across the street
and pay only $13.00 for the show time, but pay first at their office and
let them know you are going to the Goodman for a show.