A.R. Gurney's THE DINING ROOM Opens at Westport Country Playhouse, 4/30

Westport Country Playhouse's five-play 2013 season will open with A.R. Gurney's "The Dining Room," a witty and heartfelt story of the American family and its vanishing traditions, directed by Mark Lamos, April 30 - May 18. This year the historic Connecticut theater celebrates its 83rd season.

"'The Dining Room' is one of my favorite plays by one of my favorite writers," said Lamos. "Its sweetly observed, occasionally tart observations of life among a dying breed known as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants has entertained smart audiences for 30 years."

Gurney's "The Dining Room" is set in the dining room of a typical well-to-do household, the place where the family assembles daily for breakfast and dinner and for any and all special occasions. The action is comprised of a mosaic of interrelated scenes-some funny, some touching, some rueful. The actors change roles, personalities, and ages as they portray a wide variety of characters, from little boys to stern grandfathers, and from giggling teenage girls to Irish housemaids. Each vignette introduces a new set of people and events. Dovetailing swiftly and smoothly, the varied scenes coalesce into a unique theatrical experience.

"It's one of Gurney's finest plays and one of his most challenging for actors and director because three men and three women play scores of characters, young and old," Lamos noted. "We've assembled a terrific cast who will bring the patriarchs, maids, brothers, sisters, wives and husbands (some cheating) and children (who either follow or break time-honored rules about manners and mores) to vivid, all-too-recognizable life."

The cast includes Heidi Armbruster (Broadway's "Time Stands Still"; Drama League Award nomination for "Tea and Sympathy"); Chris Henry Coffey (Westport Country Playhouse's "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," Long Wharf Theatre's "The Front Page," Second Stage Theatre's "Water by the Spoonful"); Keira Naughton (Westport Country Playhouse's "Morphic Resonance," Playhouse Script in Hand playreadings of "Chapter Two" and "The Philadelphia Story," and Broadway's "The Rivals," "Dance of Death," and "Three Sisters"); Jake Robards (Westport Country Playhouse's "Our Town," which transferred to Broadway, and Playhouse Script in Hand playreadings of "Golden Boy," "Dial 'M' for Murder," and "The Philadelphia Story"); Charles Socarides (Broadway's "Awake and Sing!," Off-Broadway's "Indian Blood," and Yale Repertory Theatre's "Lulu"); and Jennifer Van Dyck (Westport Country Playhouse's "A Cheever Evening," Broadway's "Hedda Gabler" and "Dancing at Lughnasa").

Director Mark Lamos has directed many plays at Westport Country Playhouse since 2008. His extensive New York credits include "Our Country's Good," for which he received a Tony Award nomination. A former artistic director at Hartford Stage, he received the 1989 Tony Award for the theater's body of work. He was awarded the Connecticut Medal for the Arts as well as honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, University of Hartford, and Trinity College.

Playwright A. R. ("Pete") Gurney has been writing plays for over fifty years. Among them are "The Cocktail Hour," "Love Letters," "Sylvia," "Far East," "Mrs. Farnsworth," "Indian Blood," and "Buffalo Gal." Last year he won a Drama Desk Award for the body of his work. Gurney is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University, and taught literature at M.I.T. for many years.

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