NY Post

Jennifer Coolidge is going to Harvard — for Hasty Pudding honor

Jennifer Coolidge has one more trophy to add to her shelf this awards season.

The breakout “White Lotus” crowd-pleaser, 61, will receive the 2023 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year accolade from Harvard University.

On Feb. 4, the Boston native will command a parade through Harvard Square and Hasty Pudding will then host a roast of her.

“We are so excited to welcome Jennifer Coolidge back to her hometown and to Harvard, the iconic setting of ‘Legally Blonde,’ ” said Maya Dubin, Harvard’s Man and Woman of the Year coordinator, in a statement.


Arrow Street Arts will move into former Oberon space

A new arts nonprofit is coming to Harvard Square.

Moonbox Production’s Sharman Altshuler, Cambridge Community Foundation’s Geeta Pradhan, and Arrow Street Arts’ David Altshuler pose in front of the building at 2 Arrow Street. Photo courtesy of Arrow Street Arts

A welcome dose of fresh energy will be arriving in Cambridge, bringing new performance spaces to the area by the end of the year.

Arrow Street Arts, a nonprofit founded by David Altshuler last year, will be moving into the building that American Repertory Theater‘s Oberon used to occupy in Harvard Square. Oberon, an experimental and alternative theater venue, announced its closure in 2021, and Harvard University began searching for a new tenant. The space will be renovated, creating a black box theater, street-front studio, and a rotunda reception area. Altshuler said that he is excited to help artists and organizations utilize those facilities.

“Arrow Street Arts was founded specifically for this project with Harvard,” he said. “Our core belief is that art creates community and that community creates belonging.” He explained that there is a need for performance spaces, technical services, and supportive services, aiming to “help artists and communities come together.”

USA Today

‘Better Call Saul’ star Bob Odenkirk named Harvard’s 2023 Hasty Pudding Man of the Year

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Award-winning actor, writer and bestselling author Bob Odenkirk, perhaps best known as shady lawyer Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” was named 2023 Man of the Year by Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals on Thursday.

Odenkirk is scheduled to receive his Pudding Pot award at a celebratory roast Feb. 2, after which he will attend a preview of Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ 174th production, “COSMIC RELIEF!,” the group announced.

“When choosing our 2023 Man of the Year, I immediately knew we better call Bob Odenkirk,” producer Aidan Golub said in a statement. “We’re cooking up a lot of surprises to celebrate Mr. Odenkirk’s contributions to the world of comedy both in front of and behind the camera.”

‘I just went down’:Bob Odenkirk opens up about heart attack on ‘Better Call Saul’ set

Bob Odenkirk

Who has received the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award?

Last year’s recipient was Jason Bateman, and previous honorees include Bob Hope, Dustin Hoffman and Sean Connery.

In the last decade, here’s who has been honored with the Pudding’s Man of the Year Award:

  • 2022: Jason Bateman
  • 2020: Ben Platt
  • 2019: Milo Ventimiglia
  • 2018: Paul Rudd
  • 2017: Ryan Reynolds
  • 2016: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • 2015: Chris Pratt
  • 2014: Neil Patrick Harris
  • 2013: Kiefer Sutherland
  • 2012: Jason Segel 

When was the first Hasty Pudding Man of the Year awarded?

Hasty Pudding Theatricals, which dates to 1844 and calls itself the third-oldest theater group in the world, has handed out a Man of the Year Award since 1967.

The awards are given out to people who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment.

More on 2023 honoree Bob Odenkirk

Odenkirk reprised the role of Saul Goodman, aka Jimmy McGill, in “Better Call Saul,” which earned him three Critics Choice TV awards and multiple Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominations.

He is also the star and executive producer of “Lucky Hank,” adapted from the novel “Straight Man” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo, which is scheduled to premiere on AMC and AMC+ on March 19.

‘Better Call Saul’ was a love story all along: How the finale cements its greatness (Spoilers!)

Some of his other acting credits include “Nobody,” “Mr. Show with Bob and David” and “Girlfriend’s Day.”

He received two Emmy Awards for his comedic writing for “Saturday Night Live” in 1989 and for “The Ben Stiller Show” in 1993.

In 2013 Odenkirk co-wrote The New York Times bestseller “Hollywood Said No!,” a collection of unproduced screenplays, and his third book released in March 2022, a memoir entitled “Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama,” went to No. 2 on The New York Times bestseller list.

‘The ending is awesome’:Bob Odenkirk talks new book, saying goodbye to Saul Goodman

Is there a Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year award?

Yes. But the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Woman of the Year Award, which dates to 1951, has not yet been announced for 2023. 

 “Alias” star Jennifer Garner was honored with the award last February, complete with a parade in historic Harvard Square. “This is crazy. This is nuts,” Garner said at the time. 

Hasty Pudding organizers said they chose Garner based not just on her career as an actor but also because of her record as a philanthropist and entrepreneur.

More:Jennifer Garner celebrated as Hasty Pudding’s Woman of the Year

Who else has received the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year award? 

The Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year 2021 recipient was Viola Davis, and previous winners include Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Ethel Merman and Cher.

CBS News

Bob Odenkirk being honored with Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE – “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk will be honored with the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award at Harvard University next month.

The 60-year-old entertainer was selected for the annual fete in Cambridge because he has made an “indelible mark on the world as an actor, comedian, and filmmaker,” the Hasty Pudding Theatricals organization said in a statement. Odenkirk is also known for his work on “Breaking Bad” and “Mr. Show,” and won an Emmy for his writing on “Saturday Night Live.”

“When choosing our 2023 Man of the Year, I immediately knew we better call Bob Odenkirk,” producer Aidan Golub said. “We’re cooking up a lot of surprises to celebrate Mr. Odenkirk’s contributions to the world of comedy both in front of and behind the camera.”

The Hasty Pudding production put on by the third oldest theater organization in the world will include a celebratory roast in burlesque fashion. It will take place on February 2 at Farkas Hall in Harvard Square.

Previous recipients of the Man of the Year award include Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Samuel L. Jackson, Harrison Ford and last year’s honoree Jason Bateman. 

Harvard Gazette

Bob Odenkirk named Hasty’s Man of the Year

The actor, comedian, filmmaker will receive his Pudding Pot at a Feb. 2 celebratory roast

Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the U.S., has named actor, comedian, filmmaker, and author Bob Odenkirk its Man of the Year.

Odenkirk has won numerous awards for the character he originated in the television drama “Breaking Bad” and reprised in “Better Call Saul.” Recently he produced and starred in the action thriller “Nobody” and released a memoir that made The New York Times best-seller list.

“When choosing our 2023 Man of the Year, I immediately knew we better call Bob Odenkirk,” said producer Aidan Golub. “We’re cooking up a lot of surprises to celebrate Mr. Odenkirk’s contributions to the world of comedy both in front of and behind the camera.”

The Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Man and Woman of the Year Awards are presented annually to performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment.

This year’s festivities will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Farkas Hall, the Pudding’s historic home in Harvard Square. After a celebratory roast, Odenkirk will receive his Pudding Pot. A press conference will follow the roast, and Odenkirk will attend a preview of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ 174th production, “Cosmic Relief.”

The Man of the Year award was established in 1967, with past recipients including Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, and last year’s recipient, Jason Bateman, the 55th Man of the Year.

Odenkirk’s work on “Better Call Saul” (2015-2022) earned him three Critics Choice TV Awards and Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominations. For his work on “Saturday Night Live,” he garnered an Emmy award for “Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program” in 1989. He co-created and starred in “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” which ran on HBO for four years (1985-1989) and has been called “the American Monty Python.” Next he stars and executive produces the mid-life crisis tale “Lucky Hank,” headed for television in March.

“When I heard that Bob Odenkirk would be Man of the Year, I thought, ‘“Lucky Hank?” More like lucky us!’ It’s funny, get it? Because Bob Odenkirk will be our Man of the Year. Wait, this isn’t actually going in the press release, right?” said Hasty Pudding President Lyndsey Mugford.


A brand new arts nonprofit will take over the old OBERON stage

The tall front doors of 2 Arrow St. in Cambridge have been shuttered for almost three years. With little fanfare, David Altshuler unlocks the entrance and ushers me inside.

“Well, welcome to our space,” he says.

The foyer has been stripped bare. A ladder leans against one wall, and some of the wiring is showing. Gone is the narrow hallway that once led to the nightclub in the building’s belly. Now light filters through big windows.

In its most recent incarnation, this space was OBERON, the American Repertory Theater’s beloved second stage on the edge of Harvard Square. For more than a decade, it played host to drag queens and burlesque dancers and, most famously, the Shakespeare-meets-Studio-54 extravaganza known as “The Donkey Show.”

The A.R.T. announced in 2021 that it would not renew its lease at 2 Arrow St. as it prepared to move to a new campus in Allston. Many wondered what would happen to the theater. Would Harvard University, which owns the building, sell it off? Redevelop it? Rent it out to another theater company?

Now, Altshuler and his newly-formed nonprofit, Arrow Street Arts, have big plans for the space.

Altshuler leads us through the foyer into the theater itself, which has been gutted: no more catwalk, no more bar. The floor has been ripped up to reveal smooth concrete.

The plan, helmed by Charles Rose Architects, is to transform the warehouse-like room into a black box theater — a simple, flexible space that can be converted into various staging configurations.

Altshuler shows me a set of plans for the seating. The idea is to have seats that can be hidden away or pulled out from the wall, kind of like the bleachers in a high school gym.

“It’ll be a telescopic seating system so you can actually have it be either, you know, 12 rows deep and 240 seats, or it might just be three or six rows deep,” he says, excitedly. “The audience gets sized to what’s appropriate to that show.”

In addition to the black box, Altshuler is converting an empty storefront next door into a studio that will double as a small venue — 1,100 square feet with a capacity of approximately 100. A row of picture windows at the street level will allow passers-by to see inside.

Altshuler expects to invest $2.5 million, much of it his own, into the renovations. He describes it as kind of a “blank canvas” that producers can set up in every configuration imaginable.

“The space, as envisioned, is going to be this flexible multi-art space where, sure, it could be a nightclub one night, it could also be a dance recital, or it could be a straight play, or it could be a set of performing artists,” he says.

Altshuler is an entrepreneur with a background in tech, finance and nonprofit leadership. (Not to be confused with the other Boston-based David Altshuler, a pharmaceutical executive.) But this project is driven in part by his wife, Sharman Altshuler, the founder of Moonbox Productions. The small theater company has an annual operating budget of approximately $600,000 and won numerous awards. But Altshuler says she struggled to find a consistent place to put on shows.

“For years, I’ve sort of fantasized about the idea of, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have, you know, your own space.’ And it was always like, ‘forget it,’” Altshuler says. “Financially, it just doesn’t make sense to have a physical plant as a small theater organization.”

Then she heard that Oberon was closing. She recalls having a conversation about it with her husband.

Arrow Street Arts in Cambridge will include a small performance space at 2 Arrow St. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Arrow Street Arts in Cambridge will include a small performance space at 2 Arrow St. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

“And I said, ‘It’s such a great local theater, and wouldn’t it be cool if they actually end up staying a theater, and maybe Moonbox could do something,’” she says.

Her husband took the lead on the competitive process of selling the idea to Harvard. He pitched a plan with Moonbox as a resident theater company, using the space about a third of the time. The Cambridge Community Foundation is also a partner on the project.

Harvard declined a request for an interview, but said in a statement, “Harvard ultimately chose Moonbox because we were confident they could be a long-term partner, because of their team’s track record and financial, operational and creative capacity to succeed in such a project, and because of their goals for activation, community involvement and a diversity of projects.”

The Cambridge Community Foundation is charged with helping Arrow Street Arts find other local presenters to use the space.

“The idea is that we will reach out deeply into the community,” says Cambridge Community Foundation president Geeta Pradhan. “We will bring community groups in, have conversations with them as people, you know, make sure that they know about this opportunity.”

Arrow Street Arts hopes to subsidize an affordable rental model with private events. The Cambridge Community Foundation will also administer a fund, bankrolled by Arrow Street Arts. The fund will offer grants to groups that want to use the space but can’t afford to, “so that smaller groups, particularly BIPOC organizations and theater groups, can actually, we can subsidize the cost of their ability to be able to produce here,” Pradhan says.

Arrow Street Arts will also help raise money for the foundation’s Cultural Capital Fund, which supports creative work throughout the city.

The foundation got involved because it wanted to help address a huge problem for the arts in Cambridge: the loss of space. Pradhan points to studies from the city of Boston and the Mayor’s Arts Task Force in Cambridge that showed a dire need for rehearsal space and mid-size performance venues in the Boston area.

“Improv Boston, they lost their space. Green Street Studios lost their space. EMF building redevelopment resulted in a loss of space for musicians,” Pradhan says.

Arrow Street Arts will fill the void left by another big loss, the closure of Oberon — though Altshuler’s black box is different from its nightclub-like predecessor. It’s hard to predict if Oberon’s burlesque and circus performers will want to use the new space.

But some local producers are excited by the new design.

“The difficulty with Oberon was wing space, dressing room space. It was not an easy facility, production-wise,” says Sehnaz Dirik, the founder of Theater UnCorked, a small community theater. “The updating of the green room, the dressing rooms, all of that stuff for an actor is really important.”

Accommodating performers is a big part of the theater’s design. But Altshuler also wants to make the space super accessible. His plans include wider seats, more legroom and a perfectly smooth floor for wheelchair use. One of the most expensive renovations involves building all-gender restrooms with individual enclosed stalls.

“When an audience member or an artist comes here, do they feel welcome,” Altshuler says of the design philosophy. “Do they feel like they belong in the space?”

There’s a lot of work to do before that question can be answered. Altshuler has to hire a staff and finish the renovations. If all goes as planned, Arrow Street Arts will open fully at the end of the year.

Boston Globe

Moonbox Productions will anchor a new performance venue in Harvard Square

CAMBRIDGE — The building formerly occupied by the American Repertory Theater’s performance space Oberon has a new tenant.

Harvard University, which owns the property at 2 Arrow St., announced it has signed a long-term lease with Arrow Street Arts, Inc., a new nonprofit that plans to open a 300-seat black box theater and a smaller, street-front studio by the end of the year.

The brick building at the edge of Harvard Square will become the new home of Moonbox Productions, a lauded local theater company that has staged productions in nine different venues since its first show — “Godspell” — at the Brattle Theatre in 2011.

In addition, Arrow Street Arts and the Cambridge Community Foundation have devised a grant program to help subsidize use of the new venture by fledgling local producers and artists who, increasingly, are being priced out of smaller practice and performance spaces by the city’s rising rents.

“There’s an acute awareness of the shortage of space,” said Arrow Street Arts founder David Altshuler, a Cambridge resident and arts patron who has been a trustee of the Huntington Theatre and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. “So when Harvard said Oberon was leaving, it became obvious that this was a great chance to be able to do something really wonderful.”

But it won’t happen overnight. Pandemic-related supply-chain problems are slowing renovations, and while Moonbox is expected to account for about a quarter of the venue’s use, the rest of the programming — likely to include local producers, community groups, and corporate events — is TBD.

“We’re going to be heterogeneous,” said Altshuler, whose wife, Sharman Altshuler, is Moonbox’s producing artistic director and founder. “We come to this project with a sense of curiosity, and part of the thrill is we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like five years from now.

“But we’re excited to figure it out,” he said, adding that the 1,100-square-foot, street-front studio will open first and the 4,500-square-foot black box theater in the fall.

Oberon, which closed in December 2021, operated as ART’s secondary stage for a dozen years, hosting a variety of shows — from fringe theater and drag performances to a memorable reimagining of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and its marquee production, “The Donkey Show.” But with ART’s decision to develop a new state-of-the-art facility in Allston, the building at 2 Arrow St. became available.

In a statement, Sean Caron, Harvard’s vice president for campus services, said the university wanted a tenant who would carry on Oberon’s “legacy of contributing to the local Cambridge arts scene with inclusion and vibrancy.”

Sharman Altshuler said she’s looking forward to finally having a fixed home for her company’s shows, which have garnered some stellar reviews and six Elliot Norton Awards over the past decade. (Its 2019 production of “Parade” won three Norton Awards — outstanding musical production, outstanding musical performance by an actor, and outstanding musical direction.)

Moonbox Productions won three Elliot Norton Awards for its staging of  "Parade" in 2019.

Lately, Moonbox has been mounting its shows at the Boston Center for the Arts, but in 2019 and 2021 the company staged “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the former site of the mom-and-pop candy shop Hidden Sweets in Harvard Square.

“The big difference for us is that by being the resident company here, we’ll have a lot more control over our schedule,” Sharman Altshuler said. “So we can plan not just the season ahead, but a couple of seasons ahead. At the BCA, we’re one of many companies, so we have to work our way around.”

Sharman Altshuler, who worked as a veterinarian for several years before indulging her interest in theater, added that Moonbox’s tradition of partnering with nonprofits will continue at the new place. Since the first performance of “Godspell,” when members of the anti-gang-violence program StreetSafe Boston spoke from the stage before the show, Moonbox has made showcasing the work of nonprofits part of its mission.

Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation, said the closing of Green Street Studios and the EMF building, where dozens of musicians once rehearsed, has hurt the city’s arts scene. But, she said, the investment being made by Arrow Street Arts — about $2.5 million has been raised for renovations — and her foundation’s commitment to help subsidize artists who might not otherwise be able to get their foot in the door, is positive.

“It’s a really exciting start of something,” Pradhan said.


Foo Fighters, The Lumineers and Paramore to Headline Boston Calling

This is the Foos’ first major concert announcement since the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins.

Foo Fighters hinted on New Year’s Eve that they’ll “soon” return to the stage, following the death last year of longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins. Now, we have at least one venue. The Dave Grohl-led band are set to headline the opening night of Boston Calling, Live Nation’s three-day festival in Harvard Square, on May 26.

Boston Calling is the Foos’ first major performance to be announced since Hawkins’ death last March in Bogota, Colombia. The Lumineers, the alt-folk hit makers from Denver, will headline Saturday night while alt-rock darlings Paramore, poised to release their sixth studio album, This is Why, will close out the festival with a set on Sunday, May 28.

These renowned acts will top a rock-heavy lineup of over 50 performers, including 20 artists with local ties. Rounding out the weekend are a slate of artists ranging from breakout stars to heavy hitters, including seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, playing her first show in Boston since 2012, influential art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the pounding hard rock of Queens of the Stone Age. Joining these acts are The NationalNoah KahanBleachersNiall HoranThe Flaming LipsKing Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Mt. Joy, Maren Morris, and many more.

The weekend also offers festivalgoers the chance to hear new sounds, a Boston Calling hallmark since the festival’s 2013 debut. Look for Chelsea Cutler, LÉON, Fletcher, 070 Shake, Teddy Swims, Joy Oladokun, The Linda Lindas, The Beaches, Brutus, Genesis Owusu and The Aces, to name a few.

New to the fest this year is the GA+ experience. General Admission pass-holders can step up their experience and add the GA+ upgrade to their ticket to gain unlimited access to the event’s Thomas Tew VIP Reserve Lounge, an oasis within the grounds including access to a cash bar featuring craft cocktails, plus an expanded beer & wine menu and complimentary water and soft drinks. 

Specially priced presale 3-Day general admission, GA+, VIP, and platinum tickets, as well as single day GA, GA+, VIP and platinum tickets are on sale this Thursday, Jan. 12 at 10:00am ET. More information can be found here.

Boston Globe

Plans for a new Comedy Studio in Harvard Square hit some snags

CAMBRIDGE — Rick Jenkins expected the Comedy Studio to be back in business by now, but the hassles and high cost of reopening the celebrated club have been no joke.

Faced with increased construction costs, COVID-related ventilation requirements, and supply-chain snafus, Jenkins was forced to postpone the Comedy Studio’s return to Harvard Square and to seek donations to bridge a $100,000 shortfall.

“Everything is just more expensive than we anticipated,” said Jenkins.

For two decades starting in 1996, the Comedy Studio occupied an attic space above the Hong Kong Restaurant in Harvard Square, establishing itself as a destination for comics and audiences alike. Eugene Mirman, Gary Gulman, Sam Jay, Jen Kirkman, Mike Birbiglia, Ali Wong, Anthony Jeselnik, and Sarah Silverman are just a few of the funny folks who worked there.