Stage West Opens Regional Premiere of the Olivier Award-Winning HEROES Tonight
"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Perhaps that's true for some, but not Gustave, Henri, and Philippe, who are determined to find some adventure and meaning in their final years, in Tom Stoppard's translation of Gérald Sibleyras's charming Heroes, beginning a 5-week regional premiere run at Stage West tonight, July 10.
It's 1959, and this trio of World War I veterans resides at an old soldiers' home at a country estate, where they pass the time on their favorite terrace by gossiping, joking, and bickering. But they've become increasingly fed up with the constraints of their circumstances, including some annoying fellow residents and the alarming Sister Madeleine. Feeling almost like prisoners of war, they've decided they have to make an escape. The only problem is, they can't decide where to go or how to accomplish it, given Henri's bad leg, Gustave's agoraphobia, and Philippe's tendency to fainting spells brought on by a piece of shrapnel in his head. Will they triumph over their obstacles and have a last grand adventure? Audiences are sure to enjoy their journey, no matter the destination, as we near the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War.
The Evening Standard said, "Heroes achieves a seductive fusion of the comic, sad, and absurd." The Philadelphia Weekly added "Heroes is Stoppard at his most irresistible, penned with an intoxicating combination of grace, goodwill and simplicity. "
Gérald Sibleyras was born in 1961 in Paris. His most notable work is the 2003 Heroes, (original title Le Vent des Peupliers), which has been translated and produced in countries worldwide. The play was commissioned by the Théâtre Montparnasse and received four Molière nominations including Meilleur Auteur (Best Author). His next play L'Inscription was produced in 2004 in Paris and later in Poland. La Danse de L'Albatros premiered in Paris in 2006. It was the hit of the season starring Pierre Arditi with future productions planned in Belgium, Canada and Italy. Une Heure et Demie de Retard (2005 - An Hour and a Half Late) adapted by Mel Smith, was produced in England and toured for several months. In 2003 Un Petit Jeu Sans Conséquence (Consequences) was awarded 5 Molières Awards. Focus Film is preparing a remake of the French movie. Gérald Sibleyras adapted William Nicholson's The Retreat From Moscow (La Retraite de Russie), produced in Paris in January 2007. His latest play is Le Banc, and he is currently adapting his play La Danse de L'Albatros for the screen.
Tom Stoppard was born in 1937 in Czechoslovakia. He began writing plays for radio and television during the 1960s, and in 1966, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play was produced at the National Theatre in 1967 and also on Broadway that same year, winning a Tony Award for Best Play in 1968. He won a second Tony for Travesties (1975). His more recent plays include Arcadia (1993), Hapgood (1998), the trilogy The Coast of Utopia (winner of the 2007 Tony for Best Play), and Rock n Roll (2006). He has also written screenplays for The Bourne Ultimatum, Shakespeare in Love, and a new English version of Chekov's Ivanov (2008). Knighted in 1997, Stoppard lives in London.
Director Dana Schultes has assembled a dream cast for this show. Playing the cantankerous Gustave will be Cliff Stephens, highly praised for his most recent Stage West appearance in Starbright & Vine. Stage West Co-Producer Jim Covault, just seen as Don in The Unmentionables, will play the unsteady Philippe. And David Coffee, making a radical shift from his role of Caliban in the Trinity Shakespeare Festival's The Tempest, will appear as the sentimental Henri.
Heroes will preview Thursday, July 10 at 7:30 and Friday, July 11 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, August 10. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, July 12. Ticket prices range from $28 to $32, with discounts for the preview performance, and for students, seniors, and military. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary), and the Friday Prix Fixe special (dinner and show for $39) will be available beginning July 18. Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.
Photo Credit: Buddy Myers