Nicholas Rodriguez and More to Join Kathleen Turner in Arena Stage's MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN; Full Cast Announced!

Artistic Director Molly Smith tackles a unique, in-the-round staging of Bertolt Brecht's powerhouse anti-war play Mother Courage and Her Children at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Iconic stage and screen actress and Academy Award nominee Kathleen Turner returns to Arena Stage following her sold-out run of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins to make her professional singing debut as the tough-as-nails matriarch Mother Courage-a single mother determined to keep her family alive and her business afloat during war. Using the David Hare translation, the show fuses politics and satire to paint an unforgettable and provocative portrait of war, incorporating more than 10 pieces of original music composed in a rollicking, gypsy-punk style and performed by cast members doubling as musicians. Mother Courage and Her Children runs January 31-March 9, 2014 in the Fichandler Stage.

In a cast brimming with Arena Stage favorites, Mother Courage's children are played by Nehal Joshi (Arena's The Music Man, Oklahoma!) as youngest son Swiss Cheese, Nicholas Rodriguez (Arena's My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!) as eldest son Eilif and local talent Erin Weaver (Folger Theatre's Romeo and Juliet, Arcadia) in her Arena Stage debut as daughter Kattrin.

The cast also features D.C.-area native Rick Foucheux (Arena's Ah, Wilderness!) as The Chaplain and Meg Gillentine (Arena's Cabaret, Damn Yankees) as Yvette along with the return of Jack Willis (Broadway's Julius Caesar), who last appeared at Arena Stage in Book of Days and most recently has been a leading company member of Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as The Cook. Nathan Koci leads the ensemble as Music Coordinator along with Monalisa Arias, Lise Bruneau, Jed Feder, Rayanne Gonzales, Jacobi Howard, Dan Istrate, James Konicek, Jesse Terrill and John Leslie Wolfe.

"To stage Mother Courage and Her Children with Kathleen Turner and this host of artists is a galvanizing experience," shares Smith. "People who believe that they've seen Mother Courage before should forget everything that they've ever known about this show. We've assembled a dream team cast who, together with James Sugg's brilliant music, David Leong's imaginative movement work and Todd Rosenthal's rough and expansive use of the Fichandler, will make this an epic production. We are creating something that will be absolutely vital and exhilarating and terrifying."

Smith joins forces with Composer and Musical Supervisor James Sugg (Pig Iron Theatre Company), who has created a wild and raucous score. Building on the reality that soldiers must often carry all of their belongings with them as they travel, cast members doubling as musicians will be wearing and carrying their instruments on their backs throughout the course of the show. A sampling of the boisterous onstage band will include Foucheux on tuba, Koci on accordion and trumpet, Arias on guitar, Feder on percussion, Istrate on accordion, Konicek on trombone and Terrill on viola, among others. Movement Director David Leong has constructed playful and dark movement pieces paired with Sugg's score. Leong led a series of workshops at Arena Stage throughout the past year featuring company members and more than a dozen colleagues and former students from Virginia Commonwealth University to create a specific movement vocabulary for this production.

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