THE STORY: In 1948, playwright A.R. Gurney, then a young boarding-school student, traveled to New York where he attended a performance of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, going backstage afterwards to meet the production's star, the great stage actress Katharine Cornell, who was dubbed "The First Lady of the American Stage" by the legendary critic Alexander Woollcott. A mix of remembrance and imagination, THE GRAND MANNER is a love letter to this fabled actress and a heartfelt look back at the glorious heyday of the Broadway theatre.
"The hidden agendas of conflicting aesthetic approaches and conflicting sexual preferences become twin eggbeaters whipping up this light, fluffy meringue of a play—which, when finally dished up, turns out to pay tribute to both the actress's old-style theatrical grandeur and the budding playwright's puckish, trickily cynical, new-style approach." —Village Voice. "…this fantasy memoir allows the author's younger, provincial self a seductive first glimpse of a world where being merely life-size isn't enough." —NY Times. "…a love letter to the theater, zeroing in on the moment when it ceded its myth-making power to the screen. Gurney also points out that icons could become imprisoned by their own image and style, and that marriages come in various shapes and forms." —NY Post. "…engaging characters and wise observances married with pure, old-fashioned charm…literate, civilized, and mature work." —BackStage.