Backroom Politics Explored in FARRAGUT NORTH at Olney, 4/27-5/22
What happens behind the closed doors of a tight presidential campaign? Farragut North, by Washington, D.C., native Beau Willimon, explores the hubris, loyalty, and lust for power that accompany the drive to win.
Farragut North plays the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab April 27 through May 22. Tickets are $26 to $54, with discounts available to groups, seniors, military, and students. Call the Box Office at 301.924.3400 or visit olneytheatre.org for tickets and information. In addition, Olney offers several special performances that include sign interpretation, audio description, and post-show discussions. Please see the Fact Sheet below for more details.
Twenty-something wunderkind press secretary Stephen Bellamy has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a close primary race for the presidency, however, Stephen's meteoric rise falls prey to backroom politics, the manipulations of veteran operatives, and the wiles of a seductive young intern.
Playwright Beau Willimon drew on his experience as a volunteer for Charles Schumer's first campaign in the Senate in 1998, and as a press aide for Howard Dean's 2004 campaign. He also worked on campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Bill Bradley. However, he is reticent to classify Farragut North as a purely political drama. In an interview with The Boston Globe, he explained: "The themes of the play can translate to any number of worlds. It could be Wall Street; it could be Hollywood; it could be a hospital or Home Depot."
Olney Theatre Center's Associate Artistic Director Clay Hopper helms this production. He most recently directed Triumph of Love on the Mainstage last season. Hopper has been directing for National Players and Summer Shakespeare Festival since 2003, including The Tempest, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Hopper explains his vision for Farragut North: "We're getting down to the essential elements of the story, without getting caught up in the details of the political milieu. The danger of doing this play, as I see it, is to turn it into a documentary about contemporary politics, when it's actually about something deeper than that. Having said that, those who are interested in what goes on during a primary campaign will find this to be a fascinating insider portrait of that world."
Danny Yoerges, making his Olney Theatre Center debut, plays the ambitious Stephen Bellamy, press secretary to Governor Morris. He has performed locally at Shakespeare Theatre Company (All's Well That Ends Well) and the Source Festival 2009 (Was). He is a company member and literary manager for No Rules Theatre Company, which recently received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. Bruce Nelson plays Paul Zara, the campaign manager for the governor. Nelson was last seen at Olney in The Underpants. His regional credits include Rep Stage (Helen Hayes Awards for The Violet Hour and The Dazzle), Everyman Theatre, Folger Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Woolly Mammoth.
The rest of the campaign team consists of Kevin Hasser in the role of Ben, deputy press secretary, and Elisabeth Ness in the role of Molly, an intern. Hasser is a National Players Tour 60 alumnus, having performed in 1984 and As You Like It, as well as Two Gentlemen of Verona. Other recent credits include All's Well that Ends Well (Shakespeare Theatre Co.); Fuddy Meers, The Prisoner of Zenda (1st Stage); and Golden Boy (Keegan Theatre). Ness most recently performed in the area in Signature Theatre's Sizzlin' Summer Cabaret, Nickelodeon's national tour of Go, Diego, Go Live!, and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Filling out the cast are Alan Wade, as the campaign manager for the opposition, Susan Lynskey as a political reporter for the New York Times, and Timothy Andres Pabon as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Wade returns to Olney, having performed in such productions as Copenhagen, Charley's Aunt, Tartuffe, Art, Holiday Memories, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Voice of the Prairie, Fallen Angels, and When We Were Married, as well as several Potomac Theatre Project plays. Lynskey's Olney credits include The Laramie Project, directed by Artistic Director Jim Petosa (Helen Hayes Award nomination); The Miser, directed by Halo Wines; and the world premiere of Coffee With Richelieu. Lynskey performs regularly at The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Round House, Studio Theatre, and others. Last seen at Olney in Stuff Happens, Pabon has performed regionally at Round House Theatre, Center Stage, Arena Stage, GALA Hispanic Theatre, and Shakespeare Theatre Company, among others.
Working with Hopper on the creative team are Cristina Todesco (Scenic Design), Ivania Stack (Costume Design), Nick Houfek (Lighting Design), GW Rodriguez (Sound Design), and Renee E. Yancey (Stage Manager).