Collection (1936-1985, undated) of programs (the majority published by Playbill), librettos and souvenir pamphlets documenting plays, theatrical dance and musical productions performed in New York City and Stockholm. The publications are printed in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish languages.
Albert H. Biller was born 26 June 1917; in 1936, he married Hilda Biller, who was born in 1919. During their life together, the couple traveled frequently to New York City, NY, and Stockholm, Sweden, where they attended a wide variety of musical and theatrical performances from 1936 through 1985. They recorded these travels by collecting Playbills and other items documenting each performance. Albert Biller died 23 August 1999 aged 82. The donor, Mrs. Ilene Karlson, was the Billers' daughter.
Playbill Magazine, first printed in 1884, is a magazine for theatrical shows that contain cast lists, song lists, cast photos and biographies, and a list of scenes for the particular show. Although there is a home subscription available, Playbills are usually printed for particular shows to be distributed at the door. Articles within the Playbills change monthly to reflect new shows and artists performing in plays, musicals or special attractions.
The Albert & Hilda Biller Collection is arranged in four series: Plays, Operas, Ballets, and Musicals. The collection was received in partly chronological order and partly in subject order; the processor chose to rearrange the collection in subject order with chronological subseries.
The collection consists primarily of printed materials, including 122 issues of Playbill Magazine, programs and other memorabilia from the theatrical -- mostly Broadway productions – that the Billers attended from 1936-1985. The shows represented include multiple award winning and iconic performances; such as Angela Lansbury in Mame, Mary Martin in South Pacific, Yul Brynner in The King and I, and the original cast of A Chorus Line. Among the shows represented are multiple award winning performances, including Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Hello, Dolly!, Man of La Mancha, My Fair Lady, The Nutcracker, and Porgy and Bess. Also included is a Playbill from the 1937 production of Tobacco Road autographed by Al Biletsky.
This collection also includes Operas and Ballets attended by the couple dating from the late 1930s until 1979. These include performances at the Metropolitan Opera House, The New York City Center, The Federal Theater (during the WPA Theater Project) and the Kungliga Teatern in Stockholm, Sweden. The performers include Rudolf Nureyev, George Balanchine, Margot Fonteyn, and Suzanne Farrell.
In addition to the information about the performances the collection includes a wide variety of articles on and about the Theatre world with a larger focus on Broadway. These articles include show reviews and previews, and features on specific actors, directors, dancers, and choreographers. Other articles include suggested New York eateries and shopping locations. Playbill produces a fashion supplement at the change of seasons, which are included within the Playbill at specific shows. The "Plays" series includes a menu dated 7 May 1938 from the Famous Dairy Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.
Many of the programs also include articles describing current events in the theater world, as well as contemporary advertisements for a variety of products, including automobiles, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. The publications are printed in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish languages.
The collection was acquired at the request of the School of Theatre and Dance. See the container list for further details on all materials.
Gift of Ilene Karlsson
Encoded by Mark Custer, 12/31/2007; preliminary processing & inventory by Saundra Pinkham, April 2009; revised by Jonathan Dembo, May 2009; final processing & inventory by Samantha Sheffield, 5/7/2013; revised by Jonathan Dembo, 8/23/2013.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
French; German; Italian; Spanish; Swedish