SpeakEasy Stage Presents Samuel D. Hunter's THE WHALE, Now thru 4/5

SpeakEasy Stage Presents Samuel D. Hunter's THE WHALE, Now thru 4/5

From today, March 7 through April 5, 2014, SpeakEasy Stage Company will present the New England premiere of the acclaimed Off-Broadway drama THE WHALE by Samuel D. Hunter.

Winner of the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play, THE WHALE tells the story of Charlie, a morbidly obese man who hides away in his Northern Idaho apartment quietly eating himself to death in the wake of a personal tragedy. With his health quickly failing, Charlie makes one last desperate attempt to connect with his estranged daughter Ellie, a sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen whom he has not seen in 15 years. Also involved in Charlie's quest for redemption are Liz, Charlie's enabling caregiver; Elder Thomas, a Mormon on a mission; and Mary, Charlie's ex-wife.

THE WHALE was written by Samuel D. Hunter, whose play A Bright New Boise had its Boston debut last season. A native of Northern Idaho, Mr. Hunter lives in New York City and holds degrees in playwriting from New York University, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard. He has received the 2013 Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a 2012 Whiting Writers Award, the 2011 Sky Cooper Prize, and the 2008-2009 PONY Fellowship. Mr. Hunter is also a member of New Dramatists, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, a Core Member of The Playwrights' Center, a member of Partial Comfort Productions, and is currently a Resident Playwright at Arena Stage. He has three new plays set to debut nationally this season: The Few, A Great Wilderness, and Rest.

Norton Award-winner David R. Gammons will direct THE WHALE for SpeakEasy Stage. Mr. Gammons' previous directorial efforts for the company include the award-winning productions of Blackbird, Red, and The Motherf**ker with the Hat.

Boston actor, teacher, and playwright John Kuntz will play Charlie, and will share the stage with Josephine Elwood, Georgia Lyman, Maureen Keiller, and Ryan O'Connor.

The design team includes Cristina Todesco (scenic), Gail Astrid Buckley (costumes), Jeff Adelberg (lighting), David Remedios (sound), and Megan F. Kinneen (props). Christine Lomaka is the Production Stage Manager.

THE WHALE will run for five weeks, from March 7 through April 5, in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston's South End.

Ticket prices start at $25, with discounts for students, seniors, and persons age 25 and under. For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call 617.933.8600 or visit www.SpeakEasyStage.com.

THE WHALE had its world premiere production at Denver Center Theatre Company in Denver, Colorado in January 2012. The show then premiered Off-Broadway in October 2012 at Playwrights Horizons with Tony Award-winner Shuler Hensley in the lead role. THE WHALE has since been produced by Victory Gardens, South Coast Repertory, a chick & a dude productions, and Stray Cat Theatre.

THE WHALE won the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play, the 2013 Drama Desk Special Award for Significant Contribution to Theatre, and the 2013 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theater.

The play also received nominations for the 2013 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Play, the 2013 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, and the 2013 John Gassner Award for Outstanding New American Play.

SAMUEL D. HUNTER (Playwright) holds degrees in playwriting from New York University, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard. In addition to THE WHALE, his plays include A Bright New Boise (2011 Obie Award for Playwriting, 2011 Drama Desk nomination for Best Play) and the upcoming new works The Few, A Great Wilderness, and Rest. His plays have been produced by such theatres as Playwrights Horizons, South Coast Repertory, Victory Gardens, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, The Old Globe, Denver Center Theatre Company, Clubbed Thumb, and Page 73. His work has been developed at the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Seven Devils. Mr. Hunter is the winner of a 2012 Whiting Writers' Award, the 2013 Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, the 2011 Sky Cooper Prize, and the 2008-2009 PONY Fellowship. He is a member of New Dramatists, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, a Core Member of The Playwrights' Center, a member of Partial Comfort Productions, and is currently a Resident Playwright at Arena Stage. A native of Northern Idaho, Mr. Hunter now lives in New York City.

DAVID R. GAMMONS (Director) is a director, designer, visual artist, and theatre educator. David is thrilled to return to SpeakEasy Stage, where he previously directed the New England premieres of The Motherf**ker with the Hat (2013 Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Actress), Red (2012 Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Actor), and Blackbird (2009 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Actress). Other recent directing credits include Chekhov's Three Sisters (Boston College); Cherry Docs, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and My Name is Rachel Corrie (New Repertory Theatre); Adrienne Kennedy's Funnyhouse of a Negro (Brandeis Theater Company); the world premieres of The Farm by Walt McGough and The Salt Girl by John Kuntz (Boston Playwrights' Theatre); The Winter's Tale as part of the Shakespeare Exploded! Festival (American Repertory Theater); and Medea, The Hotel Nepenthe, The Duchess of Malfi, and Titus Andronicus for which he won the 2007 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director (Actors' Shakespeare Project). Mr. Gammons has proudly served as the Director of the Theatre Program at Concord Academy for the last fourteen years, where he teaches directing and oversees a company of young performers devoted to developing original experimental work for the stage. David also serves as the 2013-2014 Rev. J. Donald Monan S.J. Professor of Theatre Arts at Boston College. Mr. Gammons is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies, and a graduate of the Directing Program of the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. For more information, please visit davidrgammons.com.

JOSEPHINE ELWOOD (Ellie) is thrilled to be making her SpeakEasy debut. Recent credits include Long Ago and Far Away and The Cherry Orchard at Walking the dog Theater. She is currently pursuing a B.F.A. in Acting at Emerson College.

MAUREEN KEILLER* (Mary) SpeakEasy: Nine; The Little Dog Laughed; Almost, Maine; The Women (IRNE Award - Best Play); The Wild Party. Other credits include 33 Variations, Big River, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Elliot Norton Award and IRNE Award - Best Play), Speech and Debate (Elliot Norton Award - Best Play), Epic Proportions, Inspecting Carol (Lyric Stage); Oh God (Israeli Stage); Car Talk, The Musical!!! (Central Square Theater); The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (Boston Theatre Works); A Streetcar Named Desire (New Repertory Theatre): Anne of Green Gables (Wheelock Family Theatre); Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Lyric West). Maureen is a two time recipient of the IRNE Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Women and The Wild Party. Film and television credits include: Olive Kitteridge (HBO series); The Makeover (Hallmark/ABC Family); Fever Pitch, We Pedal Uphill, My Best Friend's Girl, and Brotherhood (Showtime series). Maureen is a member of Actors' Equity and SAG/AFTRA.

JOHN KUNTZ* (Charlie) is very happy to return to SpeakEasy, where he has appeared in Jeffrey, Fifth of July, Porcelain, Balm in Gilead, After School Special, The SantaLand Diaries, as well as the premieres of his solo shows Freaks, Party Poopers, Actorz...with a "Z", and Starfuckers. John is a founding company member of Actors' Shakespeare Project where he has appeared in Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Hotel Nepenthe, Titus Andronicus, Timon of Athens, The Tempest, King John, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, The Winter's Tale, Measure for Measure, All's Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, and Richard III. Other credits include Betty's Summer Vacation and The Hotel Nepenthe (Huntington Theatre Company); The Lily's Revenge, Copenhagen, The Communist Dracula Pageant (ART); The Mystery of Irma Vep, Fully Committed, Never the Sinner, The Baltimore Waltz, The Comedy of Errors (Lyric Stage); The Pillowman, Waiting for Godot, True West, The SantaLand Diaries, Scapin, Cabaret, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (New Rep); Mr. Marmalade (Company One); The Salt Girl, Infestation (Boston Playwrights' Theatre); Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Henry V (Commonwealth Shakespeare); Uncle Vanya (Apollinaire Theatre); The Caretaker, Hysteria, How I Got That Story, Mere Mortals (Nora Theatre Company). John is the author of 15 full-length plays, including The Hotel Nepenthe and The Salt Girl (both directed by David R. Gammons). He is the recipient of three Elliot Norton Awards, two IRNE Awards, a New York International Fringe Festival Award, and the Michael Kanin & Paula Vogel National Playwrighting Awards. He is on the faculty of The Boston Conservatory.

GEORGIA LYMAN* (Liz) happily returns to SpeakEasy where she was last seen as Crystal Allen in The Women. She most recently appeared as Kerr in Chesapeake (New Rep), for which she won the 2013 Elliot Norton Award for Best Solo Performer. A founding member of Orfeo Group, Georgia appeared as Molly in Love Song, Helena Charles in Look Back in Anger, and co-produced their award-winning production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Other credits include: John Kuntz's The Hotel Nepenthe (Actors' Shakespeare Project); afterlife: a ghost story (New Rep); The Real Inspector Hound (Publick Theatre); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Scene (Lyric Stage); White People (New Rep Downstage). Her film and TV credits include The Forger with John Travolta; The Makeover with Julia Stiles; R.I.P.D. with Kevin Bacon; three seasons as Cassie Giggs on Showtime's Brotherhood; a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU; The Town; Bride Wars; My Best Friend's Girl; The Mulberry Tree; and The Women. Georgia also recently served as the Associate Curator for the Outside the Box festival and is currently the Events Curator for Cambridge Historical Tours.

RYAN O'CONNOR (Elder Thomas) is making his SpeakEasy Stage and professional debut. He last performed at Suffolk University as Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus, also under the helm of director David R. Gammons.

For tickets or more information on THE WHALE, the public can call the BostonTheatreScene Box Office at 617.933.8600 or visit www.BostonTheatreScene.com.

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