PICT Theatre Opens Season with BLITHE SPIRIT Tonight
PICT Theatre's Artistic and Executive Director Alan Stanford has selected a bold assortment of classic plays for PICT's 18th season, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Each play contains its own version of wickedness, with the Noel Coward classic Blithe Spirit opening the season tonight, May 3rd (May 1 and 2 previews.)
Alan selected Blithe Spirit to launch the season with humor and broad appeal. "Noel Coward's humor and wit is as engaging today as ever, and a comedy from this era might help relieve the withdrawal symptoms for the fans of Downton Abbey."
Blithe Spirit: Not since 1971, when Helen Wayne Rauh played Madame Arcati for The Playhouse has Pittsburgh seen a professional production of Noel Coward's classic comedy Blithe Spirit. Perhaps more remarkably, Mrs. Rauh played the very same role in 1945! Written to entertain London's beleaguered audiences during World War II, this comedy tells the story of Charles Condomine, a novelist who hosts a séance with the quirky clairvoyant Madame Arcati in order to gather material for a book. Much to Charles' surprise, Madame Arcati not only successfully makes contact with his first wife, Elvira, but now Elvira won't leave him alone - and his second wife, Ruth, is none too pleased!
Mary Rawson has been cast to play the quirky Madame Arcati, the clairvoyant who unwittingly brings back the dead in Blithe Spirit. Mary earned a Performer of the Year nod from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for her portrayal of Violet Watson in August: Osage County. In addition to her many acting credits, she teaches at Point Park University, and is perhaps most famous for playing Cousin Mary Owl on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Mary will return to the PICT stage to play Miss Havisham in December's Great Expectations.
Dan Rodden, sometimes described as "Don Knotts meets Cary Grant," will make his Pittsburgh premiere as Charles Condomine, a role he played for the New American Theatre (Rockford) under the direction of Richard Raether. Other selected credits include Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps (Nebraska Repertory Theatre); Felix Unger in The Odd Couple (Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre), and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (The Shakespeare Project of Chicago).
Daina Michelle Griffith will play second wife Ruth Condomine. She was one of Pittsburgh's busiest actresses in 2013, starring in 7 mainstage productions for Quantum, The REP, No Name Players, barebones and Off the Wall, and earning a nod from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as Performer of the Year for her efforts. Most recently she appeared in Company for Pittsburgh Public Theater. She was last seen on the PICT stage in the world premiere of Martin Giles' Beautiful Dreamers in 2010.
Vera Varlamov returns to PICT to play the ghostly Elvira, having played Rachelka/Marianna in the Pittsburgh premiere of Our Class in April of 2013. Vera earned a nod as a breakout performer by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for her performances in Chekhov's Three Sisters, as well as playing two roles in two short plays for Funny Chekhov during PICT's Chekhov Celebration in 2012.
James FitzGerald, who is one of two featured artists for the PICT 2014 season, will play Dr. Bradman, an invited guest to the séance. James most recently appeared on the PICT stage as Mr. Dumby in Lady Windermere's Fan. James is a stalwart member of the PICT team, having appeared with the company since 2008. He has performed 16 seasons with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater as well as other Chicago-area theatres, and is the recipient of two of Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards. He will be appearing in all but one play during the PICT 2014 season.
Karen Baum will play Edith, the hapless maid in the Condomine household. Karen is also a featured artist for PICT during the 2014 season. She will appear in all but two plays in the PICT season and only because those two plays have no female roles. Two of her best-remembered performances would be Cordelia in King Lear and the maid in Boston Marriage. Last season with PICT, she played Woman 4, Nurse 1 and Young Girl in the Pittsburgh premiere of Don Juan Comes Back from the War.
Lissa Brennan will play Mrs. Bradman. She returns to PICT after strongly featuring in Don Juan Comes Back from the War in 2013 as Woman 1, Nurse 2, Nun 1 and Prostitute 1. Previous PICT performances include Annie in In the Next Room or the vibrator play (2012) and as a member of the chorus in Salome. Lissa has also performed with barebones, Quantum and Bricolage as well as her own company Dog & Pony Show.
Johnmichael Bohach, who also designed The Crucifer of Blood set in 2013, is the scenic designer for Blithe Spirit. Joan Markert, who designed costumes for The Crucifer of Blood and Lady Windermere's Fan. will design the costumes. Christopher Popowich will design lighting and Angela Baughman will design sound.
PICT has introduced a 2:00 pm Wednesday matinee in the final week of the run of each show to help accommodate people with alternate work schedules, retirees, college students and student groups. PICT has often provided ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation at one performance in each production. Beginning this season, the Saturday 2PM matinee for each show will include ASL interpretation to accommodate the hearing impaired. Subscriptions and single tickets are available for both.
THE REST OF THE SEASON...
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Aoife Spillane-Hinks will return to PICT to direct Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in June, with Martin Giles as Vladimir/Didi and James FitzGerald as Lucky. Although PICT produced BeckettFest in 2006, the company offered only a staged reading of Waiting for Godot. In October of that same year, Alan Stanford starred as Pozzo in the Gate Theatre Dublin's touring production at the Byham. Waiting for Godot is considered by many to be one of most influential plays ever written.
Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr
Alan Stanford will direct this beautiful dramatic comedy by one of Ireland's most notable female playwrights. The woman of the title, played by Nike Doukas, is surrounded by colorful characters including her husband (James FitzGerald), her Auntie (Sharon Brady), and her strange companion, Scarecrow (Karen Baum).
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme by Frank McGuinness
The Great War is imminent when a group of boys from Ulster begin training in the British army, preparing for the Battle of the Somme. Frank McGuinness' lyrical play captures the fierce friendship and loyalty among men who must face the wickedness and wastefulness of war. Matt Torney, who previously directed The Crucifer of Blood for PICT in 2013, returns to direct.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Double, double toil and trouble: the witches of Macbeth are just in time for Halloween in PICT's October production directed by Alan Stanford. Stay tuned for our casting release in April.
Hugh Leonard wrote this adaptation specifically for Alan Stanford to produce at the Gate Theatre Dublin, where it met with critical and commercial success. Mary Rawson will play Miss Havisham, and further exciting casting news will be available shortly.
For more information visit picttheatre.org. Subscriptions available now. Single tickets on sale April 1, 2014. By phone at 412-561-6000, online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
PICT Theatre (also known as Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre) was founded in 1996 to diversify the region's theatrical offerings by providing Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania audiences with high-quality, text-driven, affordable productions of classical theatre and the works of classical and contemporary Irish playwrights and to significantly improve employment opportunities for local talent in all facets of theatrical presentation and production. PICT is a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) affiliated with Actors' Equity Association, and a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. PICT is the Professional Theatre in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh, and performs in The Charity Randall and Henry Heymann Theatres from April through December in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh - Department of Theatre Arts.