Pop Culture/Theater History Reference of the Week: The Jane Fonda Workout (and of course more)

Leg warmers were also very 80s.
Leg warmers were also very 80s.

This week’s Pop Culture/Theater History Reference of the Week come from our Homeschool Enrichment program again. It’s also a little more obscure and a slight stretch (pun intended, as you’ll see) to make the connection to theater.

During warm-ups at the beginning of homeschool class, Miss Angela mentioned the Jane Fonda workout.

Jane Fonda is an actress who was born in New York in 1937. She has also been a political activist, most notably supporting civil rights and opposing the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. In 1981, she published a workout book, and a year later she made her first workout video, Jane Fonda’s Workout. (That first video was on VHS and inspired some people to buy a VCR to watch it.) Since then, Fonda has released over twenty-five workout videos, most recently in 2012.

As an actress, Jane Fonda studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York. She acted onstage a few times, including a few appearances on Broadway, but she is much more famous as a film actress. A few of Fonda’s films do have theater connections: Barefoot in the Park (1967) was originally a play by Neil Simon; A Doll’s House (1972) is a classic drama by Henrik Ibsen; 9 to 5 (1980) was later adapted into a 2009 Broadway musical; and On Golden Pond (1981) was adapted from a play by Ernest Thompson. (“The loons! The loons, Norman!”)

Jane Fonda is also famous for being part of an entertainment family. Her brother Peter (most famous for Easy Rider in 1969) and her niece Bridget (Peter’s daughter) are both actors. Perhaps best known (at least in his time) is Jane’s father Henry Fonda. Henry had a long career on the Broadway stage and on film. His last film was On Golden Pond with his daughter Jane (and also Katharine Hepburn who could fill several blog posts of her own), for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor in 1982. He had also won a Tony Award for Best Actor for appearing in Mister Roberts on Broadway in 1948. Henry Fonda died in August 1982.

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Founded in 2010 as New Britain Youth Theater and selected by Connecticut Magazine as Connecticut’s Best Children’s Theater in 2017, No Boundaries Youth Theater is a professionally-run community and educational theater for children and teens. The name change in 2018 reflects that NBYT is—and always has been—a youth theater that accepts children from all towns and communities, with all abilities, and to be involved in a variety of ways both onstage and off. NBYT produces a season of performances by and for children and young adults, provides in-school and after-school arts-integrated and arts-enrichment educational programming, and offers drama classes and individual coaching and lessons. NBYT is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and young adults by encouraging creative thinking and collaborative teamwork, fostering self-confidence and self-esteem, and developing social, emotional, and academic skills through involvement in high-quality, low-cost programs in the performing arts. NBYT operates its programs in community spaces and schools throughout Greater New Britain, and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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