Today, the great theater director Joseph Hardy is 86 years old. I originally learned who he was because when I was a kid, I was mad about You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. And Hardy directed its original Off-Broadway run. In fact, he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director for it. And he deserved it! The production was as chaotic as a production could be. When they started, they had no script. They just had a few songs by Clark Gesner and some Peanuts books. They built it from the ground up, which probably explains why it is more a review than a musical. (I also think that a great deal of credit has to go to Joe Raposo.)
Hardy also won a Tony Award for his original production of Robert Marasco’s incredibly creepy Child’s Play. Also of note, Hardy directed the original production of Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam (which also starred Allen). But he spent most of the rest of his career directing television — including the pilot of The Paper Chase television series I was talking about recently. After that, he exclusively directed television movies.
He retired from television and Broadway (as far as I can tell) in the early 1980s. But as recently as 2013, he was directing a smaller production of The Dance of Death. More recently, he’s done some work at the 59E59 theaters. And he is still a figure in the New York theater scene. He was photographed at the premiere of The Rivals last year. This last one was at The Pearl Theatre, which has 160 seats. All of it combined paints a picture of serious productions of older works. So I assume Hardy is involved with the kind of theater that he loves. And that speaks rather well of him.
Happy birthday Joseph Hardy!