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Anna Deavere Smith, Marsha Mason, Chita Rivera and Donna McKechnie Join CLASSIC CONVERSATIONS Lineup

John Doyle engages participants in discussions reflecting on their careers to date, the challenges of the last year, and their hopes for the future of the field.

Anna Deavere Smith, Marsha Mason, Chita Rivera and Donna McKechnie Join CLASSIC CONVERSATIONS Lineup

Classic Stage Company today announced the four female theater luminaries that comprise the summer lineup for its virtual Classic Conversations series: Pulitzer Prize finalist Anna Deavere Smith (Fires in the Mirror, "Nurse Jackie"), on June 3; Academy Award nominee Marsha Mason (The Goodbye Girl, "Grace and Frankie"), on July 1; Tony Award winner Chita Rivera (West Side Story, The Visit), on August 5; and Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line, Company), on September 2. In Classic Conversations, adapted to a virtual format in response to the COVID-19 shutdown, CSC's Tony-winning artistic director, John Doyle, engages participants in discussions reflecting on their careers to date, the challenges of the last year, and their hopes for the future of the field. Episodes premiere Thursdays at 6pm on YouTube and Facebook, and available to view afterwards on these platforms and Instagram IGTV

When theaters were forced to shut down last spring, CSC quickly adapted this signature series, releasing all episodes free of charge. The first conversations, featuring members of the Assassins production with which CSC will reopen this fall, included Brandon Uranowitz; Will Swenson; Adam Chanler-Berat; Tavi Gevinson; Eddie Cooper; Ethan Slater; Steven Pasquale; Bianca Horn; Wesley Taylor; Andy Grotelueschen; Brad Giovanine, Katrina Yaukey, Whit K. Lee, and Rob Morrison; and Judy Kuhn. Then, in summer 2020, CSC produced a new lineup featuring eminent actors who have collaborated with Doyle and/or CSC on other projects: George Takei, André De Shields, Becky Ann Baker, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, and Heather Headley. In fall 2020, CSC further expanded the Classic Conversations programming to feature prominent voices across disciplines within the theater world, including Ben Brantley, Tonya Pinkins, Nataki Garrett, Rufus Norris, Marianne Elliott, Timothy Douglas, Anika Noni Rose, John Weidman, Hilton Als, and Faith Prince. Spring 2021 participants included Danielle Brooks, Chris Martin, Shaina Taub, John Turturro, Kate Hamill, Barry Edelstein, Sarah Ruhl, and Marcus Gardley, Carey Perloff, Jon Batiste, John Kander, and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Due in part to Doyle's being a fellow artist, a collaborator, and, in many cases, a friend, the series' guests have spoken with remarkable candor. And because artists and audiences have been unable to convene in-person, the conversations have been particularly poignant.

Today's Classic Conversations announcement comes on the heels of CSC's immensely successful free virtual event Tell the Story: Celebrating Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins (April 15), which featured a stellar lineup including Sondheim and Weidman; cast members of the original Off-Broadway company, the Broadway revival, and John Doyle's highly anticipated upcoming CSC production; and alumni and friends of CSC.


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