Marsha Mason-Led WATCH ON THE RHINE Starts Tonight at Arena Stage
Four-time Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Marsha Mason, known for her performances in the films Cinderella Liberty, The Goodbye Girl, Chapter Two and Only When I Laugh, stars as Fanny Farrelly under esteemed director Jackie Maxwell, former artistic director of Canada's Shaw Festival.
Set in Washington, D.C. on the brink of U.S. involvement in World War II, Hellman's suspenseful drama was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "dramatically gripping and genuinely moving." Watch on the Rhine runs tonight, February 3, through March 5, 2017 in the Fichandler Stage.
The production features Andrew Long (Broadway's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Arena Stage's Good People) as Kurt Muller, Lise Bruneau (Broadway's The Cherry Orchard, Arena Stage's Mother Courage and Her Children) as Sara Muller, J Anthony Crane (national tour of The Lion King) as Teck De Brancovis and Thomas Keegan (Ford's Theatre's The Glass Menagerie) as David Farrelly.
The cast also includes Tyler Bowman (Signature Theatre's Freaky Friday) as Bodo Muller, Lucy Breedlove as Babette Muller, Helen Hedman (Arena Stage's Long Day's Journey into Night) as Anise, Ethan Miller (Signature Theatre's Gypsy) as Joshua Muller, Natalia Payne (The Old Globe's The Last Match) as Marthe De Brancovis, Addison Switzer as Joseph (Theater Alliance's Black Nativity) and understudies Heidi Kaplan (for Babette Muller) and Ethan Van Slyke (for Joshua and Bodo Muller).
Watch on the Rhine is the second of two full productions as part of the Lillian Hellman Festival, which continues Arena Stage's tradition of showcasing the work of American Giants in the theater (following festivals for Arthur Miller, Edward Albee and Eugene O'Neill). Earlier this season Arena Stage produced The Little Foxes, and beginning January 25, will host staged readings, film screenings and panel discussions to explore and celebrate the iconic playwright, author and political activist. Additional information on Festival programming can be found at arenastage.org/hellman-festival.
"I have wanted to celebrate Lillian Hellman for many years, but even I was surprised at the relevance of this little-known play right now," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "With the rise of fascism worldwide, I can't think of a better play than Watch on the Rhine. Lillian Hellman was tough minded and political. I can't wait for our audiences to argue and lean into what she's written and exposed. Jackie Maxwell is a fiercely intelligent director and I look forward to her take on this strong material with the excellent Marsha Mason and company."
"Theater always works best when it connects to its context, and so when Molly called me last year saying she was producing Lillian Hellman's potent play Watch on the Rhine, set in D.C. during WWII, it made absolute sense to me," says Maxwell. "I was thrilled to jump on board as director and to return to this wonderful theater. Little did we know how this exploration of America on the edge of a new world would become so amazingly apt right now and so specifically in this city. I feel a new weight of responsibility going into rehearsal in January, but also an excitement and confidence that with our brilliant cast led by Marsha Mason and a stellar creative team, we will release the clarion call of this revelatory play-truly a play for our times."
Lillian Hellman (Playwright) was an American dramatist and screenwriter. Broadway credits include Watch on the Rhine, The Autumn Garden, Toys in the Attic, Another Part of the Forest, The Children's Hour and The Little Foxes. Her screenplay adaptation of The Little Foxes, starring Bette Davis, received an Academy Award nomination in 1942. Her honors include two New York Drama Critics Circle Awards; a Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Theater from the Academy of Arts and Letters; and a National Book Award for An Unfinished Woman. As a teacher and scholar she was well-respected, and her political involvement was integral in the fight against fascism at home and abroad. Lillian will be remembered not only as an activist, playwright and memoirist, but as a woman who could overcome the hurdles of her time and succeed on her own terms.
Jackie Maxwell (Director) previously directed Arena Stage's Good People and just concluded her 14th and final season as artistic director at the Shaw Festival. In 2016, she directed Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and Annie Baker's adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Other highlights include her productions of The Divine, Juno and the Paycock, Ragtime, Come Back Little Sheba, Saint Joan, Age of Arousal, Major Barbara and Gypsy. Jackie has worked extensively as a freelance director throughout Canada and in the States and been instrumental in program creation at many Canadian theater companies, as well as being artistic director of Toronto's Factory Theatre for 12 years. She is the recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Medal and two honorary doctorates, and in 2016 was invested into the Order of Ontario.
ABOUT THE CAST:
Tyler Bowman (Bodo Muller) makes his Arena Stage debut. Represented by Linda Townsend Management, Tyler began acting at the age of six in a commercial for Capital One. Highlights of his growing career include the role of Fletcher in the world premiere of Disney's new musical Freaky Friday this past October/November (Signature Theatre), a PBS Sprout commercial at the White House with Michelle Obama as part of her Let's Move campaign and the short film Shepherd (directed by C.W. Prather), which was selected for SpookyFest DC, Grosteque-O-Vision Brazil and the Boston Underground Film Festival. In 2011, he was the Overall Male Child Model Winner at AMTC's SHINE event in Orlando, Florida. www.tylerbowman.wordpress.com
Lucy Breedlove (Babette Muller) is delighted to be making her professional debut at age 15! Her most recent regional credits include Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, Maria and Liesl in The Sound of Music, Wendy in Peter Pan, Jojo in Seussical the Musical, Gabriella in High School Musical, Tuptim in The King and I, Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Gypsy, as well as film/commercial credits. She has also performed as a featured soloist with NYC's LM Project and the U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own. Lucy would like to thank her loving parents, Graham and Kelly, for their support, G. Gardner and director Jackie Maxwell.
Lise Bruneau (Sara Muller) is delighted to return to Arena Stage after appearing in Mother Courage and Her Children and Karen Zacarias' Legacy of Light. She is just back from Broadway's The Cherry Orchard (Roundabout). D.C. appearances include Othello and The Winter's Tale (Shakespeare Theatre Company); Mikveh (Theater J, Helen Hayes nomination); and This (Round House). For Denver Center, she was Hesione in Heartbreak House (Henry Award). As a director, she's helmed Savage in Limbo (MetroStage) and the Riot Grrrls's Tempest, Oxygen, Bloody Poetry and The Devil in His Own Words, as well as seven Bootlegs (Taffety Punk). Regionally, she has appeared at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, A.C.T., Seattle Repertory, The Wilma, Berkeley Repertory and many Shakespeare festivals. Lisa trained at RADA and is proud to be a Taffety Punk.
J Anthony Crane (Teck De Brancovis) makes his Arena Stage and D.C. debut! Broadway credits include The Country House, Sight?Unseen, Butley and The Winslow Boy. Off-Broadway credits include Modern Orthodox (Dodger Stages) and The Brothers Karamazov (La MaMa). Touring/regional credits include Scar in The Lion King (first national tour); Cyrano (Theatre Works); The Music Man (Theater Under The Stars); Disgraced (Goodman, Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Mark Taper Forum); Sight Unseen (Old Globe); Spamalot (Wynn Las Vegas); Farragut North and 50 Words (CATF); Lost in Yonkers (Cleveland Play House, Paper Mill), The Glass Menagerie (Pasadena Playhouse); and Long Day's Journey Into Night, Closer and The Scarecrow (Pacific Resident Theater). TV/film credits include Chicago PD, Madam Secretary, Elementary, Ugly Betty, Judging Amy, The Practice, Frasier, CSI and USA's The Big Easy. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Helen Hedman (Anise) is delighted to return to Arena Stage, where she was previously seen in A Delicate Balance, Long Day's Journey into Night, The Women, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Additional credits include Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, The Country Wife and Camino Real (Shakespeare Theatre Company); The Year of Magical Thinking (Studio Theatre); Rapture, Blister, Burn (Round House); Sabrina Fair and A Christmas Carol (Ford's Theatre); Beaches, Show Boat, My Fair Lady and The Sex Habits of American Women (Signature Theatre); Piaf (Helen Hayes nomination), Triumph of Love and Omnium Gatherum (Olney); The Seagull and Kimberly Akimbo (Rep Stage);The Glass Menagerie and An Inspector Calls (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma); and Outside Mullingar, Pygmalion, School for Scandal and The Cripple of Inishmaan (Everyman Theatre).
Heidi Kaplan (u/s Babette Muller) is delighted to return to Arena Stage, where she last appeared as Amaryllis in The Music Man. Recent theater credits include Young Kim in Showboat (Kennedy Center's Washington National Opera), Fan in A Christmas Carol (Ford's Theatre), Gretl in The Sound of Music and Molly in the Helen Hayes Award-nominated production of Annie (Olney). Heidi recently played Gavroche in a local production of LES MISERABLES, taking particular delight in dying atop the barricades.
Thomas Keegan (David Farrelly) is pleased to be making his Arena Stage debut. He was most recently seen as Joe Pitt in Angels in America (Round House). Other D.C. credits include the world premieres of Zombie: The American and Women Laughing Along with Salad (Woolly Mammoth); The Glass Menagerie (Ford's Theatre); The Body of an American (Theater J); Dying City (Signature Theatre); and Othello and The Taming of the Shrew (Folger Theatre). Thomas has appeared on VEEP (HBO), Madam Secretary (CBS) and as Ensign Baker on TURN: Washington's Spies (AMC). This fall, Thomas can be seen as Biff in Death of a Salesman (Ford's Theatre). Twitter and Instagram: @TheThomasKeegan.
Andrew Long (Kurt Muller)'s Arena Stage credits include Good People and Agamemnon and his Daughters. Other credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Broadway); The Iceman Cometh and Richard III (BAM); Richard III (Old Vic); Coriolanus, Antony & Cleopatra, The Duchess of Malfi, Richard II and Henry IV parts I & II (Shakespeare Theatre Company); Frozen (Studio Theatre); I Am My Own Wife and My Fair Lady (Signature Theatre); M. Butterfly and Gross Indecency (The Guthrie); Amadeus, Copenhagen and Enrico IV (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); Hamlet (Hartford Stage); and War Horse and Richard III (international tour). Film credits include Blue Jasmine and Now in the Wings on a World Stage. Awards include Helen Hayes Award, Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship and Will Shakespeare Award. M.F.A. Alabama Shakespeare Festival/University of Alabama.
Marsha Mason (Fanny Farrelly) received Academy Award nominations for her roles in the films The Goodbye Girl, Cinderella Liberty, Only When I Laugh and Chapter Two, in addition to two Golden Globe Awards for her film roles. On television, her credits include the wildly popular Frasier, for which she received an Emmy Award nomination, as well as recent guest appearances on Grace and Frankie, The Good Wife, Madam Secretary and a recurring role on The Middle. Broadway credits include Impressionism, Steel Magnolias, The Night of the Iguana and The Good Doctor. D.C. audiences may have previously seen her in All's Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare Theatre Company). Her directing credits include Chapter Two and Steel Magnolias.
Ethan Miller (Joshua Muller) makes his Arena Stage debut. Ethan appeared most recently as the Clown in Madeline and the Gypsies (Creative Cauldron) and previously as Miles in their original production of A Turn of the Screw, for which he received a Helen Hayes nomination. He was a Newsboy in Gypsy (Signature Theatre). Additional credits include The Wizard of Oz and Children of Eden (Young Artists of America) and Spamalot, Jr (Broadway Workshop). Ethan is a company member of Adventure Theatre's Musical Theatre Pre-Professional Program.
Natalia Payne (Marthe De Brancovis) is delighted to make her Arena Stage debut. Her stage credits include New York premieres of Edward Albee's Me, Myself & I (Playwrights Horizons); David Ives' New Jerusalem (Classic Stage Company); Jailbait (Cherry Lane Theater); Aliens with Extraordinary Skills (Women's Project Productions); and deathvariations (59E59 Theaters). Her regional theater credits include Dirt (Studio Theatre, Helen Hayes nomination); Last Match (The Old Globe); Three Sisters (Berkeley Repertory & Yale Repertory); and Memory House (The Vineyard Playhouse). Natalia has appeared on television in Law & Order: SVU, Sensitive Skin (HBO Canada), Reign, Dark Matter, Ransom, Workin' Moms, Anne of Green Gables (PBS) and in the films The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, The Word and Crazy Love. Originally from Toronto, Natalia studied acting at Yale University.
Addison Switzer (Joseph) makes his Arena Stage debut. Recent theater credits include Duke Ellington in Paul Gonsalves on the Road (Capital Fringe Festival); A Lesson from Aloes (Quotidian Theatre); Gospel at Colonus and a Helen Hayes Award-winning turn in Black Nativity (Theater Alliance); Anna Lucasta (Rep Stage); Blood Wedding (Washington Shakespeare Theater); and Waiting to be Invited and Hecubah (African Continuum Theatre). Regional credits include Jitney (Ford's Theatre) and Two Trains Running (Kennedy Center). TV credits include two seasons in the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire.
Ethan Van Slyke (u/s Joshua Muller & Bodo Muller) is honored to return to Arena Stage, where he made his debut in Oliver! A ninth grader at Freedom High School in Loudoun County, VA, Ethan's credits include Noah in Caroline or Change (Creative Cauldron), Colin in The Secret Garden (NextStop Theatre) and Gavroche in LES MISERABLES (Reston Community Players, WATCH Award nomination), as well as performances in his school, community and other professional productions. Ethan performed at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in November for the ASCAP Broadway Tomorrow Concert featuring the music of Scott Evan Davis. He dances with Encore Performers, plays piano and percussion and trains in gymnastics and basketball. Ethan would like to thank his directors, teachers, family and friends for their support!
The creative team for Watch on the Rhine includes Scenic Designer Todd Rosenthal, Costume Designer Judith Bowden, Lighting Designer Nancy Schertler, Original Music & Sound Design by David Van Tieghem, Wig Designer Anne Nesmith, Dialect Coach Mary Coy, Fight Director Robb Hunter, Stage Manager Kurt Hall and Assistant Stage Manager Rachael Albert..
Tickets for Watch on the Rhine are $40-90, subject to change and based on availability, plus applicable fees. For information on savings programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, Southwest Nights and hero's discounts, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/single-tickets/savings-programs.
Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C.
Audio-described performances: 2/11 at 2:00 p.m.
Open-captioned performances: 2/22 at 7:30 p.m. & 2/23 at 8:00 p.m.
Post-Show Conversations: Connect with our shows beyond the performance at a post-show conversation with artists and staff-February 15, February 22 and February 28 following the noon performance; February 28 following the 7:30 p.m. performance; and March 2 following the 8:00 p.m. performance.
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Director Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. Visit arenastage.org.