Rubicon Theatre to Stage U.S. Debut of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
The time is 1890; the place, the Wild West. Ransome Foster, a scholar from the East in search of adventure, is beaten and left for dead on the outskirts of town. He is rescued by a grizzled gunslinger and taken to Two Trees, where he falls for a local girl. But will her love be enough to save him when Liberty Valance comes to town?
Rubicon Theatre Company's 2015-2016 season continues with the American premiere of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE by Jethro Compton. Adapted from the short story by Dorothy M. Johnson that also inspired the legendary John Ford 1962 film, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE is a classic tale of love, honor, ambition and revenge set against the backdrop of the American West.
Directed by Rubicon's Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE features Gregory Harrison, a Broadway and television veteran best known for his recurring role on "Rizzoli & Isles" and as the title character in "Trapper John, M.D."; and Jeff Kober, oft-recognized for his roles as Dodger on "China Beach" and Jacob Hale, Jr. on "Sons of Anarchy."
Director Sullivan, who has helmed more than 20 plays at Rubicon as Artistic Associate, has a close association with the genre, having grown up in the 60s and 70s on Western sets. In fact, while John Ford was shooting theTHE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE in black-and-white on the sound stages of Paramount with Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and Lee Marvin, Sullivan's father Barry Sullivan was playing frontier sheriff Pat Garrett in more than 75 episodes of "The Tall Man." He went on to play the charming and likeable villain in the Western "Seven Ways from Sundown," and the role of John Chisum in Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid."
Harrison plays Bert Barricune, the mysterious cowboy who discovers the injured Foster on the prairie and brings him to the saloon, where he is nursed back to health by the attractive and spirited saloon-owner Hallie Jackson.
Kober, who has made a career playing various "bad guy" roles, plays the venomous outlaw Liberty Valance, who represents the lawless side of the West.
Jacques Roy, whose credits include Trinity Rep and the Guerilla Shakespeare Project in New York, makes his Rubicon debut as Ransome Foster, the earnest, though perhaps misguided New Yorker, whose passion for "book learning" begins to bring civilization to the denizens of Two Trees.
Sylvie Davidson, a resident of Nashville, plays Hallie, the tough-talking saloon owner who has lost her brothers to the rough ways of the West and who becomes torn between the affections of Barricune and Foster. The versatile Davidson most recently played the title role in Emma for Book-It Repertory in Seattle, and last appeared at Rubicon in Lonesome Traveler, which transferred Off-Broadway and was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Awards.
Dorian Logan, a recent graduate of UCLA's MFA program, makes his Rubicon debut as "Reverend" Jim Mosten, an African-American man who has been a brother to Hallie and whose life is imperiled when he is taught to read by Foster.
Company member Joseph Fuqua, who has played nearly 30 roles at Rubicon including Hamlet and Henry Higgins, plays the cowardly local sheriff. Dillon Francis, whose Rubicon credits include Our Town and Defying Gravity, is the inquisitive young reporter Jake Howett. Dillon G. Artzer and Trevor Wheetman play multiple roles including mourners, students and members of Liberty's gang. Wheetman also serves as Music Director, and is writing and performing original music in this American premiere.
The design team for THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE is Rubicon Resident Artist Thomas S. Giamario (sets and lights), Alex Jaeger (costumes), Cricket S. Myers (sound), T. Theresa Scarano (set dressing and props) andDanielle White (hair and make-up). The Production Stage Manager is Linda M. Tross.
The World Premiere of the stage adaptation of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE took place at the Park Theatre in London in 2014. The show was directed by Compton. The Canadian Premiere took place earlier this season in Winnipeg.
Says Rubicon Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "We are thrilled to present the first production anywhere in the U.S. of this consummately Western story, for which we owe a great debt to Steven Schipperand the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and to Samuel French. It is perfect to produce the premiere in Ventura, which is also known as Two Trees (the name of the town in the story)."
"The play will take audiences on a breathtaking thrill ride," says Burns. "It is filled with humor, high-stakes romance, and life-and-death situations. And the characters are just delicious," she adds. "Somehow they are both archetypes and gritty, flawed, complex, real humans to whom we can relate."
"What we hope to achieve with our production," continues Burns, "is a melding of two worlds and styles. The play is set in the past and we want to be true to the time period (which will be reflected in Alex Jaeger's gorgeous costumes). But it also questions the role of the fable in forging the legends of the West and looks at current issues of integrity and ambition in politics. So we are working towards more spare, stark and sexy production values with sets and lights, and using original underscoring and some electric music in places to bridge the historical and the contemporary."
THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE opens on Sat., Mar. 5 at 7 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001 (the corner of Main and Laurel). Low-priced previews are Wed., Mar. 2 at 7 p.m., Thurs., Mar. 3 at 8 p.m. and Fri., Mar. 4 at 8 p.m. The production continues for a limited run through Sun., Mar. 20. Tickets for THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE range from $25 to $54. Tickets for students are $20, and student rush tickets are available for $15. Discounts are available for groups of 12 or more. For tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or go to www.rubicontheatre.org.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT:
Jethro Compton is a writer, director and independent theatre producer. He was born in Cornwall, England in 1988 and attended the University of York where he majored in English Literature.
As the Producer and Co-Artistic Director of Belt Up Theatre, Compton's credits include The Boy James, Outland, A Little Princess, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Metamorphosis, Tartuffe and The Trial.
Compton received a fellowship in 2010 from Stage One, an organization that facilitates and encourages the development of future commercial theatre producers. And in 2011, he became Associate Producer at Southwark Playhouse in London, a post he held for three years.
THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE is regarded as his greatest success and premiered in London at the Park Theatre in 2014.
Samuel French published Compton's trio of original Western plays (Blood Red Moon, The Clock Strikes Noonand The Rattlesnake's Kiss in The Frontier Trilogy in 2015. They premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe under his direction. Compton then made his film debut with a follow-up to The Frontier Trilogy as writer and director of "El Fuego," a micro-budget short Western produced to premiere and be freely available on Vimeo.
Compton's adaptation of Macbeth premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013 under his direction as part of the internationally acclaimed World War I triptych The Bunker Trilogy. Later that year, the play ran at Southwark Playhouse in London. And in 2014, The Bunker Trilogy was performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival (winning the Best Theatre Award). With support from the British Council, the trilogy was featured at the Seoul Performing Arts Festival in South Korea. It returns to Southern Australia for the Fringe Festival this month.
ABOUT THE CAST:
SYLVIE DAVIDSON (Hallie) returns to Rubicon having played The Lady in the World Premiere of James O'Neil'sLonesome Traveler (a role she reprised Off-Broadway). A graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, Sylvie most recently appeared in the title role of Jane Austen's Emma at Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle. Other theatre credits include The Highest Tide, Night Flight, Great Expectations and The Art of Racing in the Rain at Book-It; A Christmas Carol and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at ACT; the World Premiere of Tails of Wasps at New Century Theatre Company; Getting Near to Baby at Seattle Children's Theatre; and The Tempest, As You Like It, and Winter's Tale at Island Stage Left. Television and film credits include "Leverage: Episode 508" and "Desert Cathedral" and as composer on "Until the Well is Dry." A songwriter as well as an actor, Sylvie lives in Nashville with her husband and co-writer, Trevor Wheetman.
GREGORY HARRISON (Bert Barricune) has a four-decade career spanning television, film and theatre. Gregory has starred in nearly 50 movies-of-the-week, two dozen mini-series, and guested-starred on countless TV episodes beginning with "M.A.S.H." in 1975. Series leads include "Logan's Run," "Family Man," "Safe Harbor," "Falcon Crest," "Trapper John M.D.," "One Tree Hill," "Ringer" and "Reckless"; and he is currently recurring on TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles" and Hallmark's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." Feature films include "It's My Party," "North Shore," "Razorback," "Running Wild," "Air Bud II: Golden Receiver," "Love 'N Dancing," "Give 'Em Hell," "Malone," "The M Word" and the upcoming "Fair Haven" (with his daughter Lily Anne Harrison). Broadway credits include Kander and Ebb's Steel Pier, and the Broadway revival of Follies, co-starring Blythe Danner, Treat Williams, and Judith Ivey. Gregory played Billy Flynn in Chicago, both on Broadway and the National Tour. Other musical credits include roles at New Theatre, Reprise!, Paper Mill Playhouse, ACT), 5th Avenue Theatre and Maltz Jupiter Theatre. Favorite dramatic roles onstage include The Snake Can (Odyssey), Surf Report (La Jolla Playhouse), The Hasty Heart and Picnic (Ahmanson Theatre -- both taped for Showtime on Broadway); as well as Child's Play (Coast Playhouse), Top Secret: The Battle For The Pentagon Papers and The Other Place(L.A. Theatre Works); and the World Premiere of Carnal Knowledge (The Pasadena Playhouse). When not performing, Gregory splits his time between his home on the southern coast of Oregon and his cottage on the beach near Ventura, and is usually found either golfing or surfing whenever weather and waves permit.
JEFF KOBER (Liberty Valance) appeared at Rubicon in The Rainmaker, Defying Gravity, and the World Premiere of J for J (with Jenny Sullivan and John Ritter - also in L.A.). Other theatre credits include On the Money at the Victory Theatre (L.A. Times Critic's Choice), Where the Great Ones Run at Rogue Machine (L.A. Times Critic's Choice), and Flags at the Odyssey. Films include the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed "Untitled Sully Project," the soon-to-be-released "Lost Cat Corona" with Ralph Macchio, "The Guilt Trip" with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, "The River Guard," "A Man Apart," "Defining Maggie," "Hidalgo," "Tank Girl," "Lost Voyage" and "Out of Bounds"; and the award-winning short films "Lucid," "Underdogs" and "Session Man" (Academy Award). He will be seen this season recurring on the Showtime series "Shameless." He was a series regular in the Vietnam War drama "China Beach" and the now-cult horror series "Kindred: The Embraced." Jeff has had recurring roles on "The Walking Dead," "The New Girl," "Sons of Anarchy," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Dr. Vegas," "Nothing Sacred" and "Poltergeist: The Legacy." He has guest starred on "NCIS: New Orleans," "Lost," "Law and Order," "The Cleaner," "Reaper," "CSI," "ER," "24," "Burn Notice," "The Closer," and numerous others; and has appeared in the TV movies "Aces 'N' Eights," "1%," "Mending Fences," "Love's Long Journey" and "Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast," directed by Peter Weller.
JACQUES ROY (Ransome Foster) makes his Rubicon debut with this production. In New York, he is a founder and producing director of the Guerrilla Shakespeare Project. At GSP, Jacques has been seen in Julius Caesar,Measure for Measure, Two Noble Kinsmen, King John and Taming of the Shrew. Other New York credits includeFrom the Same Cloth (Fault Line Theatre), Weekend at an English Country Estate (ATEH Theater Group), A Great Place to be From (Babel Theatre Project) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Counting Squares). Jacques has been seen regionally as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival,Macbeth (Arkansas Repertory Company), Moby Dick (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Indoor/Outdoor (Trinity Rep), and As You Like It, among many others, at the Great River Shakespeare Festival. Film and TV credits include "Darwin," "All My Children" and "Stake Land." Jacques holds a BA in theatre from Macalester College and an MFA in theatre from the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium.
DILLON G ARTZER (Ensemble) joins the cast of Liberty Valance for his first Rubicon performance and West Coast stage debut. Born and raised on the prairie, Dillion received his bachelor's and master's degree from Kansas State University. He moved to New York City where he spent three years working closely with MCC Theatre, and creating original content. His most recent work includes the festival-bound short film "Home," and the webseries "Making It." Dillon spends his free time studying stage combat, reading books about old boats, and shooting photos as a freelance headshot and lifestyle photographer.
DILLON FRANCIS (Jake Dowitt) started acting at the age of nine and hasn't stopped since. He grew up at Rubicon Theatre, appearing in numerous youth productions of Shakespeare classics and occasional musicals. He appeared most recently at Rubicon as George in the company's mainstage production of Our Townbefore completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting at University of California in Santa Barbara.
JOSEPH FUQUA (Marshal Johnson) is a Yale School of Drama graduate. Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs and 110 in the Shade at Lincoln Center. Regionally, Joseph has appeared as Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alexei in A Month in the Country at Arena Stage, Iago in Othello for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, Louis in Angels in America at Dallas Theater Center and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Mary Jo Catlett at Ensemble Theatre. On television, Joseph guest starred in "The X-Files," "The Profiler," "Brooklyn South," "The Pretender," "Chicago Hope," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Becker," and the pilot "Second Nature." Film credits include "Ed's Next Move," "David Searching," "Heyday," and as J.E.B. Stuart in "Gettysburg" opposite Martin Sheen, a role he reprised in the film "Gods and Generals." In 2000, Joseph joined Rubicon Theatre as the first company member. He has appeared in over 25 productions with Rubicon, including Hamlet (title role - Indy Award), The Boys Next Door (Indy Award), The Rainmaker (Robby Award and Rep Award), All My Sons (Ovation Award), Doubt (directed by Jenny Sullivan), Sebastian in Jim O'Neil's The Tempest, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Private Lives, Simon Stimson inOur Town, James Tyrone, Jr. in A Moon for the Misbegotten, Bruce Wagner in Conviction, and most recently as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.
DORIAN LOGAN (Jim), a native of Detroit, Michigan, makes his Rubicon debut with this production. Dorian received his BA in Theatre from Alabama State University and participated in an arts exchange program with California State University, Los Angeles. He returned to CSULA, selected as one of only 12 students for admission to the graduate program. Subsequently, Dorian received his MFA in Acting from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. Theatre credits include the role of Rudy in Cuttin' Up at The Pasadena Playhouse (NAACP Award nomination) and work with The Cleveland Playhouse. Film credits include "Street Kings," "Something Like a Business" and "What Makes Sammy Run?"
TREVOR WHEETMAN (Music Director/Composer/Musician/Ensemble) returns to the Rubicon stage having previously appeared in A Christmas Carol and Lonesome Traveler. A multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Trevor has brought his musicianship to the theatre as a music director (Lonesome Traveler at Laguna Playhouse and Off-Broadway), performer (Fire on the Mountain at Seattle Rep, Ain't Nothin' But the Blues at Portland Center Stage, and Jesus' Son at Book-It Repertory Theatre), and composer (The Glass Project at Cornish College of the Arts). His original works have also appeared on film and television. Most recently, he composed and performed the score for the short film "Drift." Trevor lives in Nashville, with his wife and co-writer, Sylvie Davidson.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
JENNY SULLIVAN (Director) recently directed the Off-Broadway production of Tom Dugan's Wiesenthal, which also moved to The Wallis Theatre in Beverly Hills and to the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC) after being developed at Rubicon and premiering at Theatre 40 (2011 Ovation nomination for direction). She also just closed the Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) run of I Am My Own Wife. Jenny has directed more than 20 productions at Rubicon, including A Moon for the Misbegotten, Our Town, Food Confessions, The Mystery of Irma Vep (2012 Ovation Nomination for Direction), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Indy Award), Hamlet (Indy Award), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Defying Gravity, Art (Indy Award), Dancing at Lughnasa (Indy Award), The Rainmaker, The Little Foxes and Old Wicked Songs. Other credits include The Dresser at RMTC; The Year of Magical Thinking and Steel Magnolias at The Laguna Playhouse; Dublin Carol (Indy Award), The Lion in Winter (Indy Award), and Tea at Five at ETC; Tenderly-The Rosemary Clooney Musical at Center Rep; Listen for Wings at Access Theatre; The Elephant Man for San Jose Rep; and six seasons of new plays at Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF). Jenny has also been privileged to direct for the Falcon Theatre, the Geffen Playhouse, and at the Canon and Coronet theatres. She directed the World Premiere of Jane Anderson's The Baby Danceat The Pasadena Playhouse, which then moved to WTF, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics' Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway. Film credits include "Access All Areas" and "The Next Best Thing" (in which she directed her father Barry). Jenny is most proud of the Rubicon World Premiere of her play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late, great John Ritter.