Photo Flash: 'Of Mice and Men' at Westport Country Playhouse

Westport Country Playhouse (Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe, artistic directors, Jodi Schoenbrun Carter, managing director) will stage John Steinbeck’s classic drama, “Of Mice and Men,” directed by Mark Lamos. Peformances began October 7th and will run through November 1.  Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 and the Pulitzer Prize for his 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” The production will honor the late Paul Newman, who was married to Westport's Artistic Director Joanne Woodward and who participated in many Westport Playhouse productions.

The play is based on Steinbeck's 1937 tale of two traveling companions, George and Lennie, who wander the country during the Depression, fantasizing about a better life.  George dreams of owning land, working on his ranch and being his own boss. His mentally challenged partner, Lennie, dreams simply of playing with rabbits. Having encountered problems at their last job, George and Lennie are forced to flee to a new farm for work. The two labor tirelessly at their new job, cautiously saving money to fund their far-reaching goals. When they meet an older man with a similar desire and ample savings, it seems that for once their dreams might be attainable until Lennie’s simple-minded strength gets them into trouble yet again. One of the few plays to be adapted by the novelist himself, this version is true to the book and filled with the drama that shot the story to instant acclaim.

Led by Brian Hutchison (Broadway’s “The Invention of Love” and “Proof”) as George and Mark Mineart (Broadway’s “Julius Caesar” with Denzel Washington and “Macbeth” with Kelsey Grammer) as Lennie, the ensemble cast features Mateo Gómez as The Boss, Kene Holliday as Crooks, Betsy Morgan as Curley’s Wife, Matthew Montelongo as Slim, Tommy Nohilly as Carlson, Sean Patrick Reilly as Whit, Rafael Sardina as Curley and Edward Seamon as Candy.

Director Mark Lamos is a director of plays, musicals and opera.  The New York Times called him "a poet of the theater” and his work received a chapter in “100 Great Directors,” along legendary directors of the 20th century.  Lamos spent 17 seasons as artistic director of Hartford Stage, for which he accepted the Tony Award in 1989.  During his tenure, he staged acclaimed productions of classics, new plays and musicals, many of which moved from Hartford to New York and beyond. Lamos received the Connecticut Arts Award and three honorary doctorates for his work at Hartford Stage.  He made his Broadway directing debut with a transfer of “Our Country's Good,” for which he received a Tony Award nomination.  His other Broadway credits include “Cymbeline,” “Seascape,” “The Rivals,” “The Gershwin's Fascinating Rhythm” and “The Deep Blue Sea.” Off-Broadway credits include “Tiny Alice” (Lortel Award, Drama Desk Award nomination) and “Measure for Measure” (Lortel Award).  Lamos’ opera credits include the Met, NYC Opera and PBS’s “Central Park” (Emmy Award nomination) and “Madama Butterfly” (Emmy Award win).

Author John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was born in Salinas, California, of German and Irish ancestry. During summers he worked as a hired hand on nearby ranches, nourishing his impression of the California countryside and its people. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939), “Tortilla Flat” (1935), “Of Mice and Men” (1937), “Cannery Row” (1945), “The Pearl” (1947), “East of Eden” (1952) and “Travels with Charley” (1962). In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 “...for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and a keen social perception.”

The production design team includes 2008 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winner (“South Pacific”) Michael Yeargan, scenic design; 14-time Tony Award nominee Jane Greenwood, costume design; Robert Wierzel, lighting design; Drama Desk and Obie Award winner John Gromada, sound design and composition; B.H. Barry, fight coordinator; Berloni, animal talent; Telsey + Company, casting; and Diane DiVita, production stage manager.

The performance schedule is Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.  Special series feature Previews, Opening Nights, TalkBack Thursdays, Prologue, Symposium Sundays, Backstage Pass and Open Captioning.

Celebrating its 78th season, the venerable Westport Country Playhouse (Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe, Artistic Directors; Jodi Schoenbrun Carter, Managing Director) is creating innovative new works and dynamic revivals. The Playhouse has produced more than 700 plays, 36 of which later transferred to Broadway including “Come Back, Little Sheba” with Shirley Booth; “The Trip to Bountiful” with Lillian Gish; “Butterflies Are Free” with Keir Dullea and Blythe Danner; “Absurd Person Singular” with Sandy Dennis, Geraldine Page and Tony Roberts; and “Our Town” with Paul Newman.  The list of actors, directors, and other theatre artists who have worked and continue to perform on the Playhouse’s legendary stage reads like a "Who's Who" of the American theatre.  Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse now produces year-round, welcoming 85,000 audience members annually. In addition to a full season of theatrical productions, the Playhouse presents educational programming and workshops; a children’s theatre series; symposiums; music; films; and readings of short fiction, classical works and new plays.  Westport Country Playhouse serves as a treasured home for the theatrical arts, its audiences and its artists.  For the State of Connecticut, it is a true cultural landmark. Your experience begins at www.westportplayhouse.org. The Playhouse is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

Single tickets range from $30 to $55; opening night tickets, including post-performance reception, are $65. Students and educators are eligible for 50% discounts.  Groups of 10 or more save up to 30% off the regular ticket price.  For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

For reservations or more information, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Information about the Playhouse is also available at www.westportplayhouse.org.

Photo Flash: 'Of Mice and Men' at Westport Country Playhouse
Mark Mineart and Betsy Morgan

Photo Flash: 'Of Mice and Men' at Westport Country Playhouse
Brian Hutchison and Betsy Morgan

Photo Flash: 'Of Mice and Men' at Westport Country Playhouse
Edward Seamon, Mark Mineart and Brian Hutchison

Photo Flash: 'Of Mice and Men' at Westport Country Playhouse
Mark Mineart and Brian Hutchison

Photo Flash: 'Of Mice and Men' at Westport Country Playhouse
Brian Hutchison and Mark Mineart

Photos by T. Charles Erickson

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