Stage Guild's ELLING Opens Today
The Washington Stage Guild completes its Season of Dreams with the area premiere of Simon Bent's ELLING, a whimsical comedy of the power of friendship when everyday life is an adventure. Bent's London hit is based on a quartet of novels by the Norwegian writer Ingvar Ambjornsen that was the source of an Oscar-nominated film in 2002. ELLING is the story of a pair of misfits who, after rooming together for years in an institution, are offered an independent life - if they can cope with it. Elling and Kjell Bjarne must learn to deal with the world and each other's fears and quirks, and Elling's discovery of literary ambition becomes a path to a "normal" life. Along the way the two have a series of offbeat adventures as they struggle with bureaucracy, relationships, and their own demons.
"It's such a joy to introduce Washington audiences to these endearing characters who have been so heartily embraced throughout the world," says Artistic Director Bill Largess. "Ambjornsen's initial book and its sequels have made Elling and Kjell Bjarne as famous a duo as contemporary literature has produced in the rest of the world, and Bent's adaptation is a wonderful way for DC to meet them. Their journey from an asylum to their Oslo apartment is a curious, humorous, and oddly moving one, and Elling's decision to become the mysterious "Sauerkraut Poet" is as inspired as anything we've seen in this season dedicated to the imagination and its power. And we're excited to have Kasi Campbell, one of the area's most imaginative directors, to stage this lovely play - such a change from her production of last year's hit, the shocking TRYST!"
Kasi Campbell's work is well known in the Greater Washington area, having directed at the Kennedy Center, Rep Stage, Maryland Opera Studio, Theatre Alliance, WSC Avant Bard, Source Theatre, Spooky Action Theatre, National Puppetry Center, Groton Center for the Arts, University of Connecticut, Catholic University and Indiana University. Her local productions have garnered several Helen Hayes nominations including 4 for Outstanding Director (received Outstanding Director Award for The Dazzle), 2 for Outstanding Production and 2 for Outstanding Ensemble. Professional productions have included Hamlet, The Piano Teacher, Albert Herring, The Temperamentals, The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, Yellowman, Arcadia, Travels with My Aunt, Night and Day, God's Ear, The Judas Kiss, The Woman Who Amuses Herself, Tumor, In the Heart of America, Bach at Leipzig, The Seagull, The Violet Hour, Faith Healer, The Mystery of Irma Vep, The Lonesome West, The Judas Kiss, The Swan, Translations, Kimberly Akimbo, Neville's Island, Da, Jeffrey, The Road to Mecca, The Return to Morality, Ambrosio and Gianni Schicchi.
Artistic Director Bill Largess will take to the boards for this production, playing the "Sauerkraut Poet", Elling. A founding member of The Washington Stage Guild and Artistic Director since 2008, he's acted in, directed, adapted, or designed plays by Wilde, Shaw, Molnar, Beaumarchais, Jonson, Eliot, Schnitzler, and many others. Among his performances at the Guild he played the title roles in The Alchemist and The Guardsman, Archbishop Lombard in the US premiere of Brian Friel's Making History, and the solo characters in Conor McPherson's St Nicholas and his own adaptation of Dante's Inferno. He's also appeared at Rep Stage, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Everyman Theatre, Center Stage, Source Theatre Company, Bay Theatre Company, and Scena Theatre. Nationally he's acted for The Manhattan Theatre Club, The LaJolla Playhouse, The Provincetown Playhouse, and Allenberry Playhouse. His work has been nominated five times for Helen Hayes Awards, including Man & Superman and An Ideal Husband at the Stage Guild, and he's the only individual to have received the Theatre Lobby's Mary Goldwater Award twice.
The other half of this Norwegian odd couple, Kjell Bjarne, is played by James Konicek, returning to the Stage Guild after appearing in Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. His most recent DC credits include Rancho Mirage at The Olney Theatre Center, Peter Pan and Wendy at Imagination Stage (as Captain Hook, for which he was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award), and 12th Night (as Sir Andrew Aguecheek) at The Folger Shakespeare Theatre. He performs annually in A Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Jacob Marley at Ford's Theatre, where he has also appeared in the recent productions of Our Town, Fly, 1776, Parade, and Liberty Smith. He performed in The Shakespeare Theatre's productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, Edward II and Tamburlaine. Additionally James has appeared locally in Woolly Mammoth's The Vibrator Play, and Roundhouse Theatre's Pride and Prejudice and Around the World in 80 Days. He received a Helen Hayes nomination for his role as Drake in Annie at the The Olney Theatre Center.
Tricia McCauley also returning to the Stage Guild as Gunn, Reidun Nordsletten, and Johanne, after her last appearance in Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. Other Stage Guild roles include Anna Karenina (Anna), The Memory of Water (Catherine), Ill Met by Moonlight (Catherine), Major Barbara (Barbara), and even more plays by GB Shaw. She has also performed with Charter Theatre, Catalyst Theatre, Imagination Stage, Theater J, Olney Theatre, Cumberland Theatre, Scena Theatre, and in a Kennedy Center national tour.
Company member, Vincent Clark will portray Alfons, having just appeared at the Stage Guild as Lubin in Back to Methuselah, Part I. Other appearances include roles in Pygmalion, The Apple Cart, Augustus Does His Bit, Press Cuttings, Fanny's First Play, On the Rocks, Major Barbara, Too True to Be Good, Heartbreak House, Man and Superman, and John Bull's Other Island, all by G.B. Shaw. Dylan Myers is making his Stage Guild debut as Frank Asli. His other credits include Noises Off and The Pitmen Painters at 1st Stage Theatre, Henry V and The Comedy of Errors at Folger Theatre, How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at Theatre Alliance, and other roles at Constellation Theatre, Rorschach Theatre, Studio Theatre, and Chesapeake Shakespeare Co.
Kirk Kristilibas returns to design the Setting. His earlier work at the Stage Guild included the setting for Pygmalion and costumes for Tryst. Debbie Kennedy makes her Stage Guild debut as Costume Designer, with Resident Lighting Designer Marianne Meadows and Frank DiSalvo, Jr. designing Sound. Arthur Nordlie is the Stage Manager.