Hollye Levin, Class of 1972, an accomplished playwright, will have her third play, “A Taste of Things to Come”, debuted on Broadway in Chicago beginning in March 2018. See here for details.
It all began in the Ladue School District. Hollye attended Old Bonhomme Elementary and then West Ladue Junior High, where she was on the cheerleading squad and began to play guitar and write my own songs. Her first professional job as a guitar player was at a lounge in Euclid when she was 16.
“I got my first paid gig because the ‘regular’ guitar player had the flu, and he called me to take over a few nights,” she says. “I was nervous, thrilled, but then said, ‘I’m not ready!’ And he said, ‘If you are not ready now, you never will be!’ I got paid $60 that night, and it suddenly hit me that I might have a future as a songwriter and guitar player.”
Hollye went on to study music at UCLA and during her first year, she met a young talent agent at The William Morris Agency. She gave him her demo tape of three original songs she recorded in a tiny studio in St. Louis. The agency signed her and sent her on a cross-country tour of coffee houses and nightclubs, opening shows for other artists. She opened for acts from Jimmy Buffet to Muddy Waters, to Sonny Terry and Billy Joel. Hollye played with a standard six-string and steel body guitars, harmonica and piano.
A few years later, disco and punk dominated the music business, and it was hard to get work. That’s when Hollye decided to write her first musical, “Polo Lounge, A True Story.”
All of Hollye’s creations are based on true stories. Every scene and much of the dialogue sections in her plays are driven by her memories of living in St. Louis in the 1950s and ’60s.
“Hands down, theater is the most demanding field in the entertainment business,” Hollye says. “The more seamless the show appears, the harder it was to write. It comes down to getting every word right in the script, every syllable in each lyric and every note, to the 32nd, must be carefully thought out. Then there’s all the rewriting, forever and ever, right up until opening night.”
The Plays, Courtesy of Hollye Levin’s Official Website
The success of The Polo Lounge, A True Story, which received rave reviews at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and featured Levin’s original and clever songs and dialogue, convinced her to pursue writing full time. Her flair for comedic writing led to her second musical, Funny Business, a heartfelt look at the ups and downs of stand-up comics in search of the big break. Gordon Davidson, artistic director of The Center Theater Group, and composer/director Mel Marvin fell in love with the play and developed and presented it at The Mark Taper Forum New Works Festival. Funny Business then received a full workshop production at the Kennedy Center in Partnership with Dodger Productions. The show opened for a commercial run at the Coronet Theater in Los Angeles.
Her latest and most personal musical to date, A Taste of Things to Come is a comedic take on her midwestern childhood in the 1950s, set against the backdrop of a Betty Crocker cooking club. Imagine the poignancy and social commentary of ‘The Help,’ written with the sharp-edged humor and understated style of Nora Ephron. The play culminates in the 1960s, at the dawn of the sexual revolution. The concept, Levin says, “grew out of the crazy dysfunction of my life while growing up in a pre-women’s-lib world. I dreamed of the simplicity of a Betty Crocker life, but what I got was more Bette Davis on a bad day.” In addition to plays, Levin is a top-notch lyricist with two Gold Records to her credit, (‘By Heart’ — Jim Brickman and ‘Here In My Heart’ with record producer David Foster).
The New York Times — “Breezy… Four fabulous voices delivering the catchy songs. Floats along on a wave of silliness! The energetic performances are something to savor, and so are the harmonies. Finding four good singers isn’t hard… Finding four whose voices blend as well as the ones here is!”
Woman Around Town — “Superb… Take your mother, your daughters, your nieces, your friends! Zesty and engaging… Directed with imagination and skill!”
Says Me, Says Mom — “Very entertaining… Full of Life! The story of friendship, of secrets and the story of bonds that can never be broken. A fabulous fun time from beginning to end!”
Theatermania — “Empowering! An honest, heartfelt look at surviving when the values you held dear are torn apart in favor of new ones. A flavorsome score of tunes that expertly shift in style with the times… Bubblegum pop and doo-wop give way to a more psychedelic sound, with smart, witty lyrics throughout. It’s a message that should never be forgotten!”
Times Square Chronicles —”Catchy and fun… Will hit the audience like a bulls-eye! The cast is superb; these girls represent the best of New York!”
Phindie — Bucks County Playhouse’s world premiere of the sensational, savory new musical, A Taste of Things to Come is superbly directed and choreographed by Lorin Latarro (Broadway’s new musical Waitress). An all-female cast, and band, bring a saucy, curvy zest to this all appealing comedy, but also some serious food for thought regarding sociopolitical changes spanning over a decade, from the effects of later 1940s, when men returned from war and women rejoined the traditional role of homemaker into the 1950s, to the countercultural “swingin” ’60s… Sprinkled with furiously funny lines, steeped in talent, and infused with courageous choreography by Lorin Latorro,A Taste of Things to Come is a boldly brilliant theatrical buffet with something for everyone!
Levin currently resides in Venice, California, with her lawyer/husband, Seth Lichtenstein and daughter/soccer star, Hannah Lichtenstein.