ARCADIA to Open Lantern Theatre Company's 21st Season, 9/25-11/2

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ARCADIA to Open Lantern Theatre Company's 21st Season, 9/25-11/2

Lantern Theater Company will open its 21st season with a production of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard in an extended five-week run from September 25 - November 2, 2014. To coincide with this production, the Lantern will also present In Arcadia: Celebrating Tom Stoppard's Masterpiece, a four-day festival featuring a panel discussion about the play's rich and varied themes with Stoppard expert Toby Zinman, a high tea, special performances of some of Stoppard's rarely-performed short works, and other experiential events from October 23 - 26.

Considered by many to be the legendary British playwright's best work and one of the greatest plays of the last 20 years, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia is a tale of two centuries, shifting as seamlessly between eras as it does between farcical comedy and heartbreaking romance. It is 1809 and young Thomasina Coverly is working on geometry and poetry, while her tutor Septimus Hodge is working on her mother. It is also the present day, and Hannah Jarvis and Bernard Nightingale are scholars and sleuths trying to rediscover the events we see unfold in Thomasina's world. This comedy of misunderstandings and misinterpretations is set up against a passionate quest to unravel the mysteries of history, art, science, and love. Arcadia premiered at the Royal National Theatre in 1993 and went on to win several awards, including the Tony, Drama Desk, and Olivier Awards for Best Play.

Arcadia will be directed by Lantern Associate Artistic Director Kathryn MacMillan, who has helmed a dozen Lantern productions since 2004, including recent productions of Jane Austen's Emma, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and The Liar. MacMillan notes, "As with many of the Lantern's productions, Arcadia tackles big ideas while offering audiences an accessible experience of compelling characters in an intimate space that makes the audience feel like they are a part of the play's world." Of her own experiences with the play, MacMillan said, "I read Arcadia as a student and it was no less than my first love affair with a play. Until then, I didn't know that the great ideas of science, art, and mathematics could share a world so harmoniously with boldly drawn characters, silly laughs, and heartbreaking romance. I was the dramaturg of a university production of the play. I cannot wait to revisit the script as a more mature artist and unlock its mysteries with designers and a cast."

"Arcadia is Tom Stoppard at his very best," adds Lantern Artistic Director Charles McMahon. "It explores the nature of evidence and truth in the context of modern ideas, referring to a wide array of subjects, including mathematics, physics, thermodynamics, computer algorithms, chaos theory vs. determinism, love and death, classics, landscape design, romanticism vs. classicism, poetry, Byron, 18th century periodicals, modern academia, and even South Pacific botany. The great wonder of Arcadia is the deft way in which Stoppard makes these ideas live and breathe through his compelling characters and their relationships. His curiosity and eclecticism are focused on a single point of mystery at the very center of creation, the collision between the mechanical universe and the utter unpredictability of the human heart."

Arcadia runs September 25 - November 2, 2014 (press opening: Wednesday, October 1, 7 p.m.). Tickets are $22 - $39 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. Discounts are available for seniors 65 and up, groups of 10 or more and U.S. military personnel. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only.

Arcadia features a cast of twelve, three of whom are making their Lantern debuts. In the role of the brilliant teenager Thomasina Coverly is young actress Alex Boyle, who recently graduated from Rider University on a full-tuition acting scholarship and has worked locally with Passage Theatre Company. New York-based actor Maxwell Eddy plays Thomasina's dashing tutor Septimus Hodge. Maxwell trained at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has appeared regionally at SoHo Rep, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Virginia Repertory Theatre, and Premiere Stages, among others. Also making his Lantern debut as Valentine Coverly is local actor Daniel Fredrick, who will return to the Lantern later this season in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Returning cast members include Kittson O'Neill (New Jerusalem at the Lantern; Artistic Associate at InterAct Theatre Company) as modern-day author Hannah Jarvis, Joe Guzmán (The Tragedy of Julius Caesar) as Bernard Nightingale in what will be his 11th Lantern production, Charlotte Northeast (a Barrymore nominee for her performance as Mrs. Weston/Miss Bates in last season's Emma and Artistic Associate of Philadelphia Artists' Collective) as the aristocratic Lady Croom, Mike Dees (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as butler Jellaby, Trevor William Fayle (Emma) as Gus/Augustus, Nathan Foley (Emma) as Captain Brice, Angela Smith (Emma) as Chloe Coverly, British actor Mal Whyte (Heroes, Henry V) as Richard Noakes, and Bradley K. Wrenn (The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream; recently returned from the Edinburgh Fringe as Co-Artistic Director of The Berserker Residents) as poet Ezra Chater.

The talented design team includes Meghan Jones (set design), Janus Stefenowicz (costume design), Thom Weaver (lighting design), Christopher Colucci (sound design and original music), K.O. DelMarcelle (choreography; 2014 Barrymore nominee for Emma choreography), J. Alex Cordaro (fight direction), and Marla Burkholder (dialect coaching).

Tom Stoppard has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and the stage, achieving critical acclaim and popular success with plays such as The Real Thing, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, as well as Arcadia. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil and Shakespeare in Love and has won one Academy Award and four Tony Awards. Stoppard has been a key playwright of the National Theatre in London and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. He was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom in 1997.

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