Connecticut Rep Presents O BEAUTIFUL Regional Premiere, Now thru 10/14

O-BEAUTIFUL-20010101

Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present the regional premiere of Theresa Rebeck's new play O Beautiful, tonight, October 4 – 14 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, Storrs. For tickets and information, call 860-486-2113 and visit www.crt.uconn.edu.

O Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves . . . In our age of cyber-bullying and aggressive patriotism remember those lyrics – or else! Theresa Rebeck, Broadway playwright (Mauritius, Seminar, Dead Accounts), creator of the TV series Smash and Pulitzer prize finalist, pens a theatrically inventive mash up of contemporary American life and the history that got us to this politically polarized age.

Its fiercely funny story explores the lives of high school students, teachers, and their families as they cope in a world of real personal problems and extremist ideological rhetoric that gets so heated that Jesus, Saint Paul, Joan of Arc, John Adams, Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin, among others, show up to weigh in and mix it up. Alternately sweet and fiery, and as topical as tonight's newscast, O Beautiful lands the complex realities of our culture squarely on the stage deck in an electrifying blend of ancient characters, founding fathers and your neighborhood high school. Warning: This show includes political, social and religious content that some will find challenging, maybe even offensive. Don't miss it!

Lennie Ryan is a shy high-school student who, to impress a girl, decides to sing "O Beautiful" at his school's annual talent school. Unfortunately, nerves get the better of him and he makes a mess of the lyrics. Already unpopular, the other students seize the opportunity to ruthlessly and relentlessly bully him. The girl in question, Alice Fletcher, is dealing with issues of her own. She has recently become pregnant in an incident some might consider date rape, and can only find comfort and advice from Jesus, a character in the play. The story is interlaced with a "Glenn Beck" styled character conducting interviews with Founding Fathers. We see how the volatile rhetoric influences the lives of the families depicted in the story.

Director Joseph Hanreddy said, "O Beautiful is a profoundly moving and piercingly funny play about the nation's divided political heart. We are working to bring to life a play that is as current as today's headlines and featuring the unique voice and theatrical vision of one of America's leading dramatists as she joins the political conversation leading up to Election Day."

Artistic Director Vince Cardinal said, "It is a plea for civil discourse and empathy by one of our most important contemporary writers. Set in an average American suburb, the play asks, through sharp humor and electrifying theatrical invention, what happens to our teenagers as they try to find their way in a world defined by polarizing rhetoric and vitriol?"

Joseph Hanreddy (Director) has directed original and contemporary plays, as well as classics by Shakespeare, Schiller, Chekhov, Pirandello, Gogol, Oscar Wilde, John Millington Synge, Farquhar, and W.S. Gilbert as well as authoring several dramatic adaptations and acting in productions. His recent work includes directing Moliere's The Misanthrope at the Pearl Theater in New York, nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Revival and The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead for the Writer's Theater in Chicago, currently nominated for a Jeff Award and Private Lives and Macbeth for the Utah Shakespeare Festival. This year he has directed Ten Chimneys and his adaptation of A Christmas Carol at the Milwaukee Rep. and Our Country's Good for the REP/Delaware. Joe's stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (with JR Sullivan) has been performed at CRT as well as many major regional theaters in the US including the Oregon and Utah Shakespeare festivals, the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, South Coast Repertory Theater, and the Roundhouse Theater. Joe served as the artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Madison Repertory Theater. He founded the Ensemble Theater Company in Santa Barbara, CA and has taught actors, directors and designers at Northwestern University, the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware and the Milwaukee and Madison campuses of University of Wisconsin.

The Design team includes: Tim Golebiewski, Scenic Designer; Tiffany Delligatti, Costume Designer; Sean Nicholl, Lighting Designer; and Michael Freyer, Sound Designer.

The cast will feature Equity actors Kit Flanagan (Mrs. Loomis), Laurence Lau (Simon West), and David McCann (Ben Franklin). Kit Flanagan (Mrs. Loomis)

Mrs. Flanagan's credits include: Broadway Inherit the Wind with Chris Plummer and Brian Dennehy, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Tale of the Allergist's Wife and All My Sons. Off-Broadway: Kin at Playwrights Horizons, The Erotica Project at Joe's Pub and Speakeasy with W.H. Macy. Film and TV credits include: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, Dead Silence with Danny Aielo, Damages, Law & Order, Conviction and all the way back to Doogie Howser, MD.

Laurence Lau (Simon West) recently performed the role of "Philip" in the extended Off-Broadway production of Psycho Therapy at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Before that, Laurence performed the role of Ivan in a production of Art at The Barrow Group Theatre in New York City and "Alan" in God of Carnage at the Virginia Stage Company. At Theatre Aspen, he played opposite Sandy Duncan is Steven Dietz's comedy Becky's New Car. Before that he played Steve Heidebrecht in the first National Tour of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County. TV: Series Regular on All My Children (Greg Nelson), Another World (Jamie Frame), and One Life to Live (Sam Rappoport). Recurring on As The World Turns (Brian Wheatly), JAG (Dr. Gettis). Guest Spots: Law &Order, Frasier, Diagnosis Murder, Brimstone. THEATRE: Off-Broadway: The Exonerated, Scituate, Arrivals. Regional: Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Breaking Legs, The Goat Or Who Is Sylvia? He has also appeared in several independent films.

David McCann (Ben Franklin) Mr. McCann has appeared in theatres across the U.S., and U.K., (Globe, Shakespeare Theatre, Pioneer, New World Stages, Kansas City Rep, St. Louis Rep, Geva, Denver, Alliance, Walnut, Syracuse, Delaware, Vermont, Virginia Stage, Dorset, Olney, Wilma, Triad, Alabama/Orlando/Nebraska/Vermont Shakespeare, Meadowbrook, Actors Playhouse, EST, Ensemble, and the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican and on tour). Roles include Hamlet (3 times), Claudius (2), Prospero (2), Oberon, Feste (2), Byron, Hosanna (2), Don Pedro (2), Aunt Augusta (3), Iago, Salieri, Cauchon, Ganesha, Milo Tindle, RoBert Scott, Colm Primrose, Ross (2), Pato Dooley, Bernard Nightengale, Felix Turner (3), Judge Brack, Pastor Manders, Rev. Brown, Bajazeth, Warwick, McLeavy and the original company of John Barton's Tantalus. TV includes Sex and the City, Sopranos, As The World Turns, Law & Order, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He's a food writer, recipe developer, and playwright (Every Day with Rachael Ray, Christmas Carol, Immortal Longings, The Wake, Grand).

Will Haden (Jesus) is a 2nd year MFA actor. Credits include: CRT - The Winter's Tale (Florizel); Hope Summer Rep. - Pride and Prejudice (Mr. Darcy), An Inspector Calls (Inspector Goole); Graduate Acting Project - King Lear (Edgar); Village Playhouse - Xanadu (Sonny), Mauritius (Dennis), The Little Dog Laughed (Alex).

Olivia Saccomanno (Linda Ryan) is a 2nd year MFA actor. CRT credits include Hermione in The Winter's Tale and Goneril in the graduate acting project King Lear. Other credits include Bianca in Othello, Katharine in Love's Labour's Lost, Rita White in Educating Rita, Sister James in Doubt, Constance Tuckerman in Autumn Garden, Ismene in Antigone, and Alais Capet in The Lion in Winter. Olivia studied acting at the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia, through the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. She graduated from Willamette University with a BA in Theatre with a performance emphasis.

Hannah Kaplan (Alice Fletcher) is a senior BFA Actor. Credits Include- CRT: The Winter's Tale (Mopsa), I'm Connecticut (Virginia), Our Town (Rebecca Gibbs), Pride and Prejudice (Mary Bennet),The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Henrietta Iscariot), and the Nutmeg Summer Series production of Guys and Dolls. Other Credits include: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Miracle Worker, Blood Wedding, The Santaland Diaries, Chicago, and James and the Giant Peach. This past summer Hannah trained at the Michael Howard Studios in New York City.

Coles Prince (Lennie Ryan) is currently a Junior BFA Acting major. His CRT credits include Pirates of Penzance (Pirate/Policeman), Spring Awakening (Hanschen), Odysseus DOA (Adam), I'm Connecticut (Oklahoma/West Virginia), and Our Town (Baseball Player/Ensemble). Other credits: West Side Story (Riff), The Frogs: the Musical (Xanthias), Sweeney Todd (Tobias), The Comedy of Errors (Dromio of Syracuse), and Into the Woods (Jack).

The cast will feature MFA actors: Thomas Brazzle, Darek Burkowski, Anthony Goes, Will Haden, James Jelkin, Olivia Saccomanno , and Sarah Wintermeyer; as well as BFA actors: Whitney Andrews, Gabriel Aprea, Conor Donally, Thomas Dubinski, Julia Estrada, Kaitlyn Gorman, Will Graziano, Shane Harris, Michael Improta, Hannah Kaplan, Colleen Labella, Alejandro Lopez, Ryan Marcone, Andrea Pane, Andrianna Prast, Coles Prince, Gina Salvatore, Margaret Sulka, and Kate Zulauf.

Call 860-486-2113 for tickets or for more information. Call or visit the box office for specific show dates and times because performance schedules vary and are subject to change. Tickets available online at www.crt.uconn.edu. Note that the CRT box office is now housed in the Nafe Katter Theatre, located at 820 Bolton Road. There is short term parking on Bolton Road, in the loading zone directly in front of the theatre. CRT tickets can no longer be purchased at the Jorgensen box office. CRT's box office is open Monday-Friday, noon – 5 p.m., and will also be open one hour prior to show time at the theatre where the performance is taking place.

Weeknight evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. Weekend evening performances start at 8 p.m. Matinee performances start at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $6 - $30.

CRT is the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. CRT productions are directed, designed by, and cast with visiting professional artists, including Equity actors, faculty members, and the department's most advanced student artists. The synergy between professional and advanced student artists creates extraordinary theatre and a unique learning environment.

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