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Wilborn Hampton
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After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, Hampton was hired as a reporter for United Press International in Dallas. To satisfy his abiding love of the theater, he also worked in his spare time at Theatre Three, acting in several productions and writing adaptations for that company’s children’s Saturday matinee series. After working at U.P.I. for only two months, Hampton was suddenly thrust into helping cover one of the biggest news stories of the time – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Being in the very whirlwind of history was a life-changing experience for him and his fledgling acting career took a back seat to his new goal of becoming a foreign correspondent.
Two years later, Hampton was transferred to the New York headquarters of U.P.I., and later was posted to London, where he covered the outbreak of sectarian strife in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the entry of British troops there. After two years in London, he was assigned to Rome, where he spent five years, first as correspondent then as bureau chief. From Rome, he traveled frequently to the Middle East and covered three wars in that turbulent region. As a news agency reporter, he covered many different kinds of stories – diplomatic conferences, sporting events, riots, hijackings, wars, and, being based in Rome, the Vatican. After several years as a foreign correspondent, Hampton returned to New York as an editor, going out only occasionally on big stories. One of the last major stories he covered as a reporter was the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. Shortly after that, Hampton was hired by The New York Times as an editor on the paper’s foreign news desk. For the next 26 years, he worked as an editor at The Times – on the foreign desk, in the paper’s Book Review section and on the Culture News desk. During his time in that last job, he was able to return to his first love of the theater, and he began to write occasional drama reviews for the paper. Even after leaving its full-time employ, Hampton continued to write theater reviews for The Times on a free-lance basis.
About the same time, Hampton began writing Young Adult nonfiction books about some of the stories he covered as a journalist, starting with the Kennedy assassination. Since then Hampton has published three more Young Adult books on contemporary history – the meltdown at Three Mile Island, the wars in the Middle East, and the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001, as well as YA biographies of Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth and an adult trade biography of the playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote.

Entries by Wilborn Hampton

Met Opera: "Hoffmann's" Tales Fabulously Staged With a Sterling Cast

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 4:42 PM

Everybody has at least one love affair he or she would like to forget. Hoffmann, the hapless poet hero of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, has four that haunt him in Offenbach's grand final opera, which the Met returned to the stage last night with the Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo brilliantly singing...

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Met Opera: A New 'Merry Widow' With Renee Fleming In Widow's Weeds

(0) Comments | Posted January 1, 2015 | 4:52 PM

It is hard to imagine a merrier widow than Renee Fleming, and she swirls through the Metropolitan Opera's sumptuous new production of Franz Lehar's popular operetta The Merry Widow with the ease of a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it.

Joined by Kelli O'Hara,...

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Met Opera: A Masterful "Die Meistersinger" With Levine As Masterconductor

(1) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 3:36 PM

The world of grand opera is generally not known for its comedies, and few are quite as grand, funny or poignant as the Metropolitan Opera's magnificent production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg, which returned to the house last night with James Levine in the pit to draw out every nuance...

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'A Particle of Dread': Shepard's Oedipus At Cucamonga

(1) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 1:58 PM

The perils of parenthood are myriad and have been the subject of countless tragedies and comedies in the theater for over 2,500 years. Sam Shepard has explored the theme often, but rarely with such grim and cryptic result as in A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations), which opened last night...

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Met Opera: A Fun-Filled "Barbiere di Siviglia" With Leonard and Maltman

(1) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Few operas can provide an evening of such pure delight as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and few productions of Rossini's comic gem are as much fun as the one now on the boards at the Metropolitan Opera, with a smashing Isabel Leonard as Rosina and a solid Christopher Maltman as...

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"Sticks and Bones": The Way We Were During Vietnam Via Rabe

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 2:23 PM

The rage that polarized the country over the Vietnam War now, decades later, often seems a distant memory. A gripping revival of David Rabe's Sticks and Bones, led by excellent performances from Bill Pullman and Holly Hunter, jolts those passions back to life.

Under the smart direction of Scott...

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"The Real Thing": Stoppard's Love Play With McGregor and Gyllenhaal

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 12:11 PM

The course of true love never did run smooth, as one of Tom Stoppard's favorite writers once observed, but for the star-crossed adulterers in The Real Thing, his smart and funny play which opened last night in a curiously anemic and uneven revival, it seems to hit every pothole its...

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"On the Town": It's a Helluva Show

(1) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 1:48 PM

The Bronx is still up and the Battery is still down, but the rest of this delightful new Broadway revival of On the Town has been given a facelift that turns the tale of three sailors looking for a night of romance into a sexy comedy romp enlivened by some...

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Met Opera: A Fiery and Doomed "Carmen" With Rachvelishvili

(2) Comments | Posted October 10, 2014 | 2:23 PM

Few operas can match Bizet's Carmen for passion, jealousy, revenge, and ultimate tragedy, set to stirring and glorious music, and the Met Opera's sweeping production by Richard Eyre brings it all vividly to life.

Anita Rachvelishvili's sultry and earthy mezzo takes on the role of the fickle and doomed gypsy...

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"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time": Nine Red Cars

(0) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 2:43 PM

The world of autism is vastly different from any world the non-autistic can ever know. For one thing, all the signposts are written in a different language. To Christopher Boone, for example, passing nine red cars in a row means that something is Super Super Good. The Curious Incident of...

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"The Country House": Actors Acting Their Way Through Life

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 2:17 PM

Most playwrights seem to have a Chekhovian impulse they need to get out of their system, and David Margulies's new play The Country House, which opened last night on Broadway, is better than most of them.

With a top-flight cast led by a charming Blythe Danner and smooth direction from...

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"Port Authority": McPherson's Elegy on Remorse of the Past

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 2:10 PM

Just when you are tempted to think that your past is over and done with, a dim reminder will suddenly leap out of nowhere and grab you by the throat. In a beautifully acted revival of Conor McPherson's elegiac play Port Authority at the Irish Repertory Theatre, three men almost...

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"Indian Ink": Stoppard Conjures the Raj, Then and Now

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 6:59 PM

It is always a joy to spend a night at the theater with Tom Stoppard. You can count on sparkling and witty wordplay, a mystery or two to be solved, a history lesson complete with footnotes, challenging and stimulating debate, and usually a love story. In the case of Indian...

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"You Can't Take It With You": James Earl Jones Amid Mayhem

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 4:35 PM

It's hard to beat kittens and fireworks as sure-fire crowd pleasers and the new Broadway revival of You Can't Take It With You has both along with the venerable James Earl Jones at center stage to give the 1936 Kaufman and Hart comedy enough zing to shake off any cobwebs...

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Met Opera: Mozart's Sex Romp Sparkles in a New "Nozze di Figaro"

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 2:10 PM

All's well that ends well, Shakespeare observed, and the summer of the Metropolitan Opera's discontent could not have ended any better than with its smashing new production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.

Apart from the anxiety over the contract negotiations between the Met and its unions that left the...

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Met Opera: Netrebko Soars in the Hurly-Burly of Verdi's "Macbeth"

(2) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 1:30 PM

Raw lust for power dominates the Met Opera's stirring modernistic production of Verdi's Macbeth, which returned to the house last night with Anna Netrebko giving a soaring bravura performance as Lady Macbeth and Zelijko Lucic in a commanding portrayal of the doomed Scottish king.

From the opening crash of...

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'My Mañana Comes': Trouble in the Kitchen

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 11:17 AM

The plight of the struggling class, bypassed entirely by the slow economic recovery, and the inequities of our immigration laws come into sharp focus in Elizabeth Irwin's timely and ultimately provocative new play My Mañana Comes at Playwrights Realm.

The scene is the kitchen of an Upper East Side...

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'This Is Our Youth': Lonergan's Lost Kids in Lonely Anguish

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 12:38 PM

Early in Kenneth Lonergan's smart, funny, and poignant This Is Our Youth, now in a riveting and rowdy revival at Broadway's Cort Theater, Warren Straub confesses to his childhood friend and pot dealer Dennis Ziegler: "I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go." It could be...

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"The Wayside Motor Inn": A Drama for 10 Voices by Gurney

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 3:17 PM

The travelers who check in at The Wayside Motor Inn, A.R. Gurney's engrossing 1977 play, now in an absorbing revival at Signature Theater, are a disparate band, all looking for love in one way or another, but maybe in the wrong place to find it.

Inspired by Longfellow's epic The...

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"The City of Conversation": What's The Price Of Politics?

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 3:10 PM

What is the personal price of political change? In what coin is it paid? And when does it become too expensive? These are the questions that confront Hester Ferris in The City of Conversation, an ultimately evocative and absorbing new play by Anthony Giardina that you will talk about long...

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