Center Stage Announces Cast of the Season's First Production AMADEUS, 9/10 - 10/12

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Center Stage Announces Cast of the Season's First Production AMADEUS, 9/10 - 10/12

Rehearsals begin Tuesday for Amadeus, the first show in Center Stage's 2014/15 Season. Helmed by Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, the production begins previews Sept. 10 and runs until Oct. 12.

"Amadeus is going to start our Season with brilliant style," Kwei-Armah says. "It's a rich, multi-layered drama that still has as much power as it did when it opened more than 20 years ago, and in the current culture that has everyone scrambling to distinguish themselves, the themes of mediocrity versus genius have never been more salient."

Written by famed playwright Peter Shaffer (Equus), Amadeus is a tale of confronting one's genius - or lack thereof. Antonio Salieri, Composer to the Court of Vienna, swears revenge when he is upstaged by the brilliance of a composer named Mozart. Amadeus was awarded the Best Play Tony in 1981, and the iconic 1984 film adaptation won a total of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Set Designer Timothy R. Mackabee makes his homecoming with this production, having grown up attending Center Stage productions. Mackabee and Kwei-Armah previously collaborated on The Public Theater's 2013 production of Much Ado About Nothing, and Mackabee will be the set designer for the upcoming Broadway production of The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper and Patricia Clarkson. Additionally, Choreographer Paloma McGregor, a protégé of MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and Center Stage collaborator Liz Lerman, returns after serving as associate choreographer for last season's A Civil War Christmas.

Amadeus will offer its audiences a grand pre-show experience from the moment they enter the theater. Mackabee's design will transform the Center Stage lobby into the Court of Vienna. With additional artistic elements soon to be announced, audiences will become immersed in the world of the play even before taking their seats.

"The scale of our production is notable," Managing Director Stephen Richard says. "The cast is one of the largest we've assembled in several seasons, and we will be using every entrance and exit in the Pearlstone for the first time in many years. We're also very excited about this world that Timothy and Kwame are creating for the pre-show experience, and once the start of the run approaches we look forward to unveiling the entirety of that element."

Amadeus marks the return of Baltimore Magazine's 2014 "Best Actor" Bruce Nelson. Nelson, who previously portrayed Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers and Edgar Allen Poe in The Completely Fictional - Utterly True - Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allen Poe at Center Stage, steps into the role of another historical figure, Antonio Salieri. Stanton Nash, who appeared in the Chicago production of Wicked as Boq, makes his Center Stage debut in the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Joining them as Theresa Salieri is Yvonne Erickson, who recently starred in the Rep Stage production of A Young Lady of Property.

Two members of the company make triumphant returns to Center Stage. After appearing in Bus Stop, Kayla Ferguson comes to Amadeus as Constanze Weber. Additionally, James Joseph O'Neill of King Lear and She Stoops to Conquer returns as Baron van Sweiten. Lyric soprano Natanya Washer, a presence at the Peabody Opera Theater, makes her Center Stage debut as Katerina Cavalieri. Venticello Jay Russell also comes to Center Stage for the first time after roles on television's Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos.

Four Broadway veterans join Center Stage. Kevin Orton, who portrayed one of the Venticello in the Tony-nominated 2000 Broadway revival of Amadeus, returns to the work as Emperor Joseph II. A Venticello in the Center Stage production, Lucia Spina, previously appeared in works such as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Les Miserables, Legally Blonde: The Musical and Kinky Boots. Gannon McHale of James Joyce's the Dead and Stephen Spielberg's Academy Award winning Lincoln joins as Count Von Strack. Finally, after a turn in the 2007 revival of Inherit the Wind, Steve Brady steps into the role of Count Orsini.

The company also includes an ensemble of nine actors, many of whom share connections with the Baltimore and Center Stage communities.

Amadeus, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, begins previews Wednesday, Sept. 10. The show officially opens Wednesday, Sept. 17, and closes Sunday, Oct. 12. Tickets, which are now on sale, start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033 or by visiting www.centerstage.org.

Under the leadership of playwright, actor, and director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE (Artistic Director) and national arts leader Stephen Richard (Managing Director), Center Stage is an artistically driven institution committed to engaging, entertaining, and enriching audiences through joyous and bold performance. Hailed by The Wall Street Journal as "a model of what regional theater can and should be," Center Stage has, for more than 50 years, dedicated itself to exploring new works and bringing classics to life. This rich history is marked by critically acclaimed new works that have shaped the American theater; from the Tony Award-winning The Triumph of Love to world premieres such as Miss Evers' Boys by David Feldshuh and On the Verge by Eric Overmyer. In 2013, Center Stage's unprecedented presentation of the Tony Award-winning Clybourne Park in repertory with the world premiere of Kwei-Armah's Beneatha's Place sparked dialogue, drew international media attention and became the subject of a nationally broadcast PBS documentary, "A Raisin in the Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage." With its signature focus on civic and community engagement, Center Stage, The State Theater of Maryland, enters its second 50 years with a commitment to exploring how art and entertainment communicate in the 21st century and to igniting conversation in Baltimore and beyond.

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