Rebecca Naomi Jones, Damon Daunno to Lead St. Ann's Warehouse's OKLAHOMA!, Adds THE B-SIDE & GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS to Season Lineup
St. Ann's Warehouse today reveal the cast and creative team for the Bard SummerScape production of Daniel Fish's reimagining of Rodgers and Hammerstein's landmark 1943 musical Oklahoma!, which kicks off the seasonon September 27, having first been staged by Bard's Fisher Center in 2015.
Tickets are now on sale for the U.S. premiere of The Jungleat St. Ann's Warehouse, which captures the vital spirits of those living in desperate conditions in a now-bulldozed migrant camp in Calais, France. The play, written by Good Chance Theatre's Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson and directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, recently opened on London's West End to overwhelming acclaim and arrives at St. Ann's Warehouse on December 4.
To round out its season, St. Ann's announces two Spring productions: The Wooster Group's The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons," A Record Album Interpretation (March 1-24, 2019), and Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, directed and adapted from the Max Porter novel by Enda Walsh, starring Cillian Murphy, and produced by Wayward Productions and Britain's celebrated Complicité (April 20 - May 12, 2019).
St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman says, "if there is an emergent theme to the season, it is one of systemic victimization of 'outsiders' and the experiences of 'vulnerable people' under stress from prejudice, violence and loss. St. Ann's agility to recreate an Afghani café in the sprawling Jungle refugee camp in Calais, as well as a social hall in the territory of Oklahoma on the verge of statehood, transports audiences into realms outside of the normal theater experience and helps to stimulate real empathy."
The Jungle, a Good Chance Theatreco-production with the National Theatre and the Young Vic, transforms St. Ann's Warehouse into a faithfully replicated restaurant in the Calais Jungle, and fiercely conjures life in the sprawling landfill-turned-refugee-camp during its final months before being bulldozed by the French government. For The Jungle, St. Ann's welcomes performers from Eastern Europe (Moldavia), Africa (Sudan, the Congo) and the Middle East (Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria) who are among the original company of 22-and include a number of actors who were once refugees, some of whom came through the Jungle in Calais. The play recalls in vivid detail how, with minimal resources in a cold, muddy and scary environment, refugees and committed volunteers built a warm, self-governing, diverse society-with restaurants, a school, church, theater, and shops-out of nothing. Following acclaimed performances at the Young Vic last year, the play recently opened at London's Playhouse Theatre, where The Telegraph deemed it "the most important play on the West End" and The Guardian described it as "one of those priceless evenings that enlarges our understanding while appealing to our emotions."
As of today, tickets for The Jungle at St. Ann's Warehouse, which starts on December 4, can be purchased at stannswarehouse.org or by phone, or in person at St. Ann's box office (718.254.8779, 45 Water Street, Brooklyn, Tuesday - Friday, 1-6:30pm), or via the TheaterMania Box Office(866.811.4111, Mon.-Fri. 9am-9pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-6pm).
The Wooster Group, who have performed nine productions at St. Ann's Warehouse, will make their first appearance in the new theater with The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons," A Record Album Interpretation.This original performance, based on a 1965 LP that features work songs, blues, and spirituals recorded live by inmates in Texas' segregated state prison farms, is created by The Wooster Group in collaboration with Eric Berryman (who performs alongside Jasper McGruder and Phillip Moore), directed by Kate Valk, and designed by Elizabeth LeCompte. The New York Times Critics Pick review of the work, which the company first staged at the Performing Garage in 2017, says: "The act of listening somehow becomes a process that extends to and heightens all the senses... Performed a cappella, the songs spin tales of mythologically mean prison guards, and loves and lives lost, and the backbreaking purgatory of unendingly repetitive physical tasks... [The performers] become conduits for the songs of prisoners who were themselves conduits for an oral tradition that stretches back to at least the early days of slavery in this country."
St. Ann's also announces the U.S. premiere of Enda Walsh's adaptation of Max Porter's Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, with Cillian Murphy, April 20 - May 12, 2019. This devastating story surrounds a father and his two sons trying to make sense of the sudden death of his wife and their mother. In their despair they are visited by Crow-antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter-who is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. The production features actor Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders, Inception, Batman Begins)in "a tour de force performance as a widower losing his mind" (The Times). Grief is co-produced by Wayward Productions in association with the UK's Complicité, St. Ann's Warehouse, the Barbican London, Cork Opera House, Edinburgh International Festival, Oxford Playhouse, and Warwick Arts Centre.
THE OKLAHOMA! CAST
St. Ann's Warehouse kicks off its 2018-2019 season with director Daniel Fish'slauded staging of Oklahoma!. Originally producedby Bard SummerScape in 2015, the production strips the musical form bare to better expose the show's jarring emotional range and its characters' every layer. Today, St. Ann's and co-producer Eva Price announce the cast and creative team, who are poised to unleash the potency ofthe 1943 classic, in a production that feels as fresh and revelatory as if it were written for today's America.
Rebecca Naomi Jones, whose performance in the new Fire in Dreamland at The Public Theater prompted The New York Times to call her "an actress of luminous intensity," plays Laurey. Damon Daunno, who as Curly "capture[d] perfectly the spunk and uncertainty of inchoate manhood" at Bard (The New York Times), will reprise the role at St. Ann's.
Two-time Tony Award nominee Mary Testa returns to the production with her "compellingly pragmatic" (The New York Times) Aunt Eller, and Patrick Vaill again plays the socially isolated and troubled farmhand, Jud Fry, having done so in 2007 workshops and again in the 2015 Bard production. Ali Stroker-who, with her "vocal powerhouse" (Variety) performance in Deaf West Theatre's Spring Awakening, became the first actress in a wheelchair in a Broadway production-plays Ado Annie. James Patrick Davis returns as Ado Annie's boyfriend Will Parker, while Michael Nathanson (of Netflix's The Punisher and HBO's The Knick) plays her competing suitor, the oily Ali Hakim, and Mitch Tebo her father, Andrew Carnes.The cast also features Mallory Portnoy, reprising the role of Gertie Cummings and others; Anthony Cason (Soho Rep.'s Is God Is) as Cord; and Will Mann as Mike. With no chorus, a seven-piece band, a theater repurposed as a community hall, and chili shared by the audience and actors at intermission, Fish's intimate production derives much of its power from its stellar cast.
Oklahoma! features music by Richard Rodgers and a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs, with original dances by Agnes De Mille. The creative team at St. Ann's Warehouse includes Daniel Fish (Director), Daniel Kluger (New Orchestrations, Arrangements & Music Supervision), John Heginbotham (New Choreography), Nathan Koci (Music Direction), Laura Jellinek (Scenic Design, based on an original concept by John Conklin), Terese Wadden (Costume Design), Scott Zielinski (Lighting Design), Drew Levy (Sound Design), and Joshua Thorson (Projection Design). This Brooklyn engagement brings audiences and artists together under the vast canopy of St. Ann's Warehouse, and marks the first performances of Fish's celebrated staging since it played to sold-out audiences at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College three years ago.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski