Nora Theatre Co Presents Amy Merrill & Si Kahn's Silver Spoon

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The Nora Theatre Company presents the World Premiere of Cambridge playwright Amy Merrill and renowned folksinger and activist Si Kahn's romantic musical comedy, SILVER SPOON. The Nora's Associate Director, Daniel Gidron, directs the production. The press performance is May 22, 2011 at 2PM.

Can there be peace between Brooklyn and the Upper East Side? Set in the late 1960s against the background of the grape boycott led by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers of America, SILVER SPOON is about family, identity, and commitment. Polly Bullock, a young woman in her mid twenties, is living a double life. By day she is the heir to her family's Wall Street brokerage firm and the Sunshine Foods grocery chain. By night she is the editor of a radical underground newspaper and has fallen in love with Dan Horowitz, a passionate, impulsive organizer for the United Farm Workers, which is currently boycotting Sunshine Foods. The older generations are ready to pass down their hard-earned institutions, but what happens when they discover the next generation is charting a different course?

The world premiere of SILVER SPOON marks a significant milestone for The Nora Theatre Company, which undertook its longest and most involved development process in company history to bring the musical to its stage. Si Kahn and Amy Merrill have known each other for over forty years, meeting for lunch at the S&S Delicatessen when Mr. Kahn, whose home is in North Carolina, was visiting Cambridge. Eventually, conversation evolved into collaboration, and the six-year partnership that has produced SILVER SPOON.

The Nora Theatre Company presented the first ever reading of SILVER SPOON in June 2007, which included two of the cast members in this production, Rena Baskin and Peter Edmund Haydu. For the past two years, The Nora's Artistic Director, Mary C. Huntington and director Daniel Gidron have worked collaboratively with Ms. Merrill and Mr. Kahn on the development of the work. Broadway musical arranger and orchestrator Larry Hochman (The Book of Mormon and Monty Python's Spamalot) joined the project after attending a reading in New York City.

Born in St. Louis, Amy Merrill (playwright) has lived most of her life in the Boston area. She is a producer (blackbirdproductions.net) and author of several plays, many of which have been featured at the Boston Theatre Marathon and Culture Park's Short Play Festival in New Bedford. In 2005, Ms. Merrill's Driving on the Left Side, a play with original, live reggae music, premiered at the TBG Theatre in New York City. She is also Co-Curator of the Play Pen Playwrights residency at Central Square Theater, now in its second season, and is an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music. She recently served as Dramaturg and Producer for Why I Sing the Blues, a play with music and dance about Blues Great BB King, which was recently performed in the Berklee Performance Center.

Si Kahn (music and lyrics) has worked for over 45 years as a civil rights, labor and community organizer and musician. For the past 30 years he has worked as a composer, lyricist and book writer for musical theater, with past and planned productions and readings at several theatres including Goodspeed Opera House; the Berkeley and Milwaukee Reps; and the York and Amas Musical Theatre Companies in Manhattan. Musical theater work includes Some Sweet Day and Immigrant, starring six-time Grammy nominee and AFM Local 1000 President John McCutcheon. Mr. Kahn has recently been commissioned by the Bread and Roses Heritage Committee in Lawrence, MA, to write a musical in honor of the 100th anniversary of that historic "strike of the immigrants". As a performing musician he has garnered tremendous recognition. Most recently, Mr. Kahn's Courage was named the #1 CD for 2010 by the Folk Alliance. On the Folk DJ Chart for the year it was recognized as the #1 folk artist, garnering more airplay on folk radio than Bob Dylan or Pete Seeger. His musical body of work includes 15 albums of original songs, plus a collection of traditional labor, civil rights and women's songs recorded with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp. Recipient of many awards for his activism, last year, Mr. Kahn was honored by the national organization 21st Century Democrats with their Solidarity Forever award. Previous honorees have included the late Senator Paul Wellstone, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman John Lewis, Senator Al Franken, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Howard Dean, and filmmaker Michael Moore. As the founding Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership he led efforts to abolish all for-profit private prisons, jails and detention centers, including immigrant detention centers. Mr. Kahn's latest book is Creative Community Organizing: A Guide for Rabble-Rousers, Activists and Quiet Lovers of Justice (published by Berrett-Koehler, 2010), featuring forwards by Angela Davis and Jim Hightower. His previous book, The Fox in the Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy (Berrett-Koehler, 2006), is co-authored with public/feminist philosopher Elizabeth Minnich, his longtime partner and spouse.

Larry Hochman (musical arranger) has been nominated for Tony Awards for Monty Python's Spamalot (also Drama Desk nomination), Fiddler on the Roof, and A Class Act. He has received four EMMY Awards as composer of The Wonder Pets (Nickelodeon). Other Broadway credits include: The Book of Mormon, The Addams Family, The Scottsboro Boys (Drama Desk nomination), Jane Eyre, and several others. He has also worked on 28 regional and Off-Broadway including The Visit (Kander & Ebb) and 17 films including several Disney films and Marvin Hamlisch's The Informant. His orchestrations for concerts and recordings include work with Sir Paul McCartney, Hugh Jackman, Eric Idle (Not the Messiah), Mandy Patinkin, Audra McDonald, and Barry Manilow, and with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, New York Pops, San Francisco Symphony, and Boston Pops Orchestra.

For this World Premiere musical, The Nora Theatre Company has put together an experienced design team including Eric Levenson (set), Gail Astrid Buckley (costumes), and John R. Malinowski (lighting). Cynthia T. Davis is the Properties Coordinator. Tori Woodhouse is the Production Stage Manager.

The cast of SILVER SPOON combines veteran Boston actors with new faces. Rena Baskin (Marilyn Horowitz) and Peter Edmund Haydu (Freddy Bullock) have been involved with the development of the piece since 2007. Newer faces both to Boston and to The Nora Theatre Company, Kara Manson (Polly Bullock) and Edward T. Joy (Dan Horowitz) round out the cast as the young love interests.

Peter Edmund Haydu has appeared in productions at the Charles Playhouse, The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, American Stage Festival, Foothills Theatre, New Repertory Theatre, and Stoneham Theatre. He has appeared in more productions playing several different characters in A Christmas Carol than he can count. He has also appeared in the Boston, Detroit, and Philadelphia companies of Little Shop of Horrors. His voice has been heard on several Public Radio shows, CBS News, and regularly on PBS including Vietnam, A Television History, Nova, and Frontline.

Rena Baskin returns to the stage after taking time off for her family. She has performed with Boston Theatre Works, Gloucester Stage Company, Publick Theatre Boston, The Nora Theatre Company, Wheelock Family Theatre, and Boston Playwrights' Theatre, as well as venues in New Hampshire and Off-Broadway.

Kara Manson received a 2010 IRNE Award nomination for her work as Claire in Proof with Independent Drama Society. She recently appeared with Bad Habit Productions as Louann in Book of Days. She previously appeared in The Nora Theatre Company's staged reading of Lyralen Kaye's Vessel of Glass as part of its New Plays at the Nora series. She has also appeared with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Now, and Company One.

Edward T. Joy makes his debut with The Nora Theatre Company in Silver Spoon. Regional credits include The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (The Theater Barn), and Sex, Relationships and Sometimes Love (45th Street Theater). He is a recipient of the Drama Desk Scholarship Award for Excellence in Performance, and has choreographed tap pieces for The Boston Conservatory and the LaGuardia Arts Tap Troupe.

Daniel Gidron (director), The Nora Theatre Company's Associate Director, directed The Caretaker and The Lady With All The Answers for the company at Central Square Theater last season. This season, he directed The Nora's hit, Hysteria. An IRNE Award nominee for Best Director, Drama, Small Theater for the company's 2007 production of Buried Child, he has directed 20 productions for The Nora, including The Unexpected Man, How I Got That Story, and The Cherry Orchard in a World Premiere translation by George Malko, among others. He has also directed for many other companies such as The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Shakespeare & Company, Tremont Theatre, Opera Boston, and La Mama ETC. In Israel, where he was born, he has directed at Habimah National Theater, Haifa Municipal Theatre, Arab Theatre, Beit Lessin, Dror Theatre and Beersheva Municipal Theatre. He has taught at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Brandeis University. He currently teaches at UMass Boston.

Rodney Allan Bush (music director) is a 2011 graduate of Berklee College of Music. He is a staff accompanist at The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music. Music directing credits include Ragtime, Songs For A New World, Berklee Salutes American Music Theatre (A Review), and An Evening of Frank Loesser (A Review) at Berklee College of Music; and The Fantastiks and Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Boston Conservatory. He has composed and arranged music for various big bands and served as assistant conductor for the Berklee Music Theatre Orchestra and the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra.

Conversations with special guests, local academics, and the actors will follow select performances (see list below).

Date Time Talk-in-the-Box Series_________________________
Saturday, May 21
Pre-Show
SubText: Your stories, Real or Imagined
Storytelling inspired by the themes of SILVER SPOON

Sunday, May 22
Post-show
Sunday Soiree: Congratulate the cast at a complimentary reception.

Thursday, May 26
Post-show
Artists & Audiences: Join the cast in a post-performance talkback

Thursday, June 2
Post-show
Central Salon: This is your theater - join the conversation with Central Square Theater leadership, with complimentary wine and cheese.

Thursday, June 9
Post-show
Scholar Social: Renowned academics illuminate ideas raised by the production in dialogue with the audience.

SILVER SPOON plays at Central Square Theater, 450 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, Thursday, May 19 through Sunday, June 19. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, with matinees on Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets are priced at $40, $30 for seniors (ages 60+), $25 for students (college ID), $15 for youth (12-18); tickets are purchased by calling (866) 811-4111, online at www.centralsquaretheater.org, or at the CST box office. For box office hours, group discounts, and more info call (617) 576-9278 x210.


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