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Stephen Kunken, Grace Gummer & More Complete Casting for MTC's THE COLUMNIST


Manhattan Theatre Club has announced additional casting for the upcoming world premiere of THE COLUMNIST, by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn, directed by Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan.

Joining previously announced cast members John Lithgow, Margaret Colin, and Boyd Gaines will be Stephen Kunken (Enron, Frost/Nixon), Grace Gummer (“Smash,” Arcadia), and Brian J. Smith (MTC’s Come Back, Little Sheba; “Stargate Universe”).

In THE COLUMNIST, Kunken will play David Halberstam, the award winning journalist; Gummer will play Abigail the daughter of Susan Alsop (Colin) and stepdaughter of Joseph Alsop (Lithgow); and Smith will play Andrei, a young Russian man.

The limited engagement of THE COLUMNIST begins rehearsals today. Performances will start Wednesday, April 4 and open Wednesday, April 25 at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street).

Columnists are kings in midcentury America and Joseph Alsop (Tony and Emmy Award winner John Lithgow) wears the crown. Joe is beloved, feared and courted in equal measure by the Washington political world at whose center he sits. But as the ’60s dawn and America undergoes dizzying change, the intense political drama Joe is embroiled in becomes deeply personal as well.

David Auburn, whose Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning Proof dazzled audiences and critics alike, returns to MTC with this fascinating new work to be directed by his Proof collaborator Daniel Sullivan.

The creative team for THE COLUMNIST includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Jess Goldstein (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design), John Gromada (original music & sound design), Rocco DiSanti (projection design), and Charles G. LaPointe (hair & wig design).

THE COLUMNIST was developed with the support of Tennessee Repertory Theatre through its Ingram New Works Fellowship and Residency.

Tickets for THE COLUMNIST are available by calling Telecharge at 212-239-6200, online by visiting, or by visiting the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Box Office. Ticket prices are $57 – $116.

For more information on MTC, visit


DAVID AUBURN (Playwright). David Auburn’s plays include The New York Idea (adaptation; Atlantic Theater), Proof (Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award), An Upset and Amateurs (EST Marathons), and Skyscraper. Films include The Girl in the Park (writer/director) and The Lake House. Recent directing credits include Michael Weller’s Side Effects for MCC and A Delicate Balance for BTF. His short plays have been collected in the volume Fifth Planet and Other Plays (DPS). His work has been published in Harper’s, New England Review, and Guilt and Pleasure; and he was a contributing editor to the Oxford American Writers Thesaurus. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in New York City.

DANIEL SULLIVAN (Director). For the Public Theater, Sullivan directed All’s Well That Ends Well, The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, Twelfth Night with Anne Hathaway, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Stuff Happens, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Among his Broadway credits are Good People; Time Stands Still; Accent on Youth; The Homecoming; Prelude to a Kiss; Rabbit Hole; After the Night and the Music; Julius Caesar; Brooklyn Boy; Sight Unseen; I’m Not Rappaport; Morning’s at Seven; Proof; the 2000 production of A Moon for the Misbegotten; Ah, Wilderness!; The Sisters Rosensweig; Conversations with my Father; and The Heidi Chronicles. Among his Off-Broadway credits are The Night Watcher, Intimate Apparel, Far East, Spinning into Butter, Dinner With Friends, and The Substance of Fire. From 1981 to 1997, he served as artistic director of Seattle Repertory Theatre. Sullivan is the Swanlund Professor of Theatre at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

JOHN LITHGOW (Joseph Alsop). John Lithgow’s roots are in the theater. In 1973, he won a Tony Award three weeks after his Broadway debut, in David Storey’s The Changing Room. Since then, he has appeared on Broadway 19 more times, earning another Tony, three more Tony nominations, four Drama Desk Awards, and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Ensuing stage performances have included major roles in My Fat Friend, Trelawney of the “Wells,” Comedians, Anna Christie, Bedroom Farce, Beyond Therapy, M. Butterfly, The Front Page, Retreat from Moscow, All My Sons, the Off-Broadway premieres of Mrs. Farnsworth and Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, and the musicals Sweet Smell of Success (his second Tony), and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In 2007 he was one of the very few American actors ever invited to join The Royal Shakespeare Company, playing ‘Malvolio’ in Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2008 he devised his own one-man show Stories by Heart for The Lincoln Center Theater Company, and has been touring it around the country ever since, including a triumphant six-week run at The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

In the early 1980’s Lithgow began to make a major mark in films. At that time, he was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years, for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. In the years before and after, he has appeared in over 30 films. Notable among them have been All That Jazz, Blow Out, Twilight Zone: the Movie, Footloose, 2010, Buckaroo Banzai, Harry and the Hendersons, Memphis Belle, Raising Cain, Ricochet, Cliffhanger, Orange County, Shrek, Kinsey, and a flashy cameo in Dreamgirls. This summer, Lithgow was seen on the big screen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Fox’s prequel to Planet of the Apes.

For his work on television, Lithgow has been nominated for eleven Emmy Awards. He has won five of them, one for an episode of “Amazing Stories,” and three for what is perhaps his most celebrated creation. This was the loopy character of the alien ‘High Commander, Dick Solomon,’ on the hit NBC comedy series “3rd Rock from the Sun.” In that show’s six-year run, Lithgow also won the Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, The American Comedy Award, and, when it finally went off the air, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. More recently, his diabolical turn as ‘The Trinity Killer’ in a twelve-episode arc on Showtime’s “Dexter” won him his second Golden Globe and his fifth Emmy.

His other major appearances on television have included roles in “The Day After,” “Resting Place,” “Baby Girl Scott,” “My Brother’s Keeper,” TNT’s “Don Quixote,” HBO’s “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” and most recently “How I Met Your Mother,” making a long-awaited entrance as the father of Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

And then there is Lithgow’s work for children. Since 1998 he has written eight NY Times best-selling children’s picture books, including The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Marsupial Sue, Micawber, I’m a Manatee, Mahalia Mouse Goes to College, and I Got Two Dogs. In addition, he has created two Lithgow Palooza family activity books and The Poets’ Corner for Warner Books, a compilation of fifty classic poems aimed at young people, to stir an early interest in poetry. He has performed concerts for children with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore, and San Diego Symphonies, and at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. He has released three kids’ albums, Singin’ in the Bathtub, Farkle & Friends, and the Grammy-nominated The Sunny Side of the Street. These concerts and albums have included several his of own songs and rhyming narrations. Together, this prodigious work has won him two Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Awards, and four Grammy nominations.

Lithgow has even dipped his toe into the world of dance. In 2003, the noted choreographer Christopher Wheeldon invited him to collaborate on a new piece for the New York City Ballet. The result was Carnival of the Animals, a ballet for 50 dancers, with music by Camille Saint-Saens and with Lithgow’s verse narration. Lithgow himself spoke the narration from the stage. At a certain point he ducked into the wings, climbed into costume, and re-emerged to dance the role of ‘The Elephant.’ He has performed this feat over 20 times.

In September HarperCollins released Lithgow’s critically acclaimed memoir, Drama: An Actor’s Education. The book presents scenes of his early life and career that took place before he became a nationally-known star. It vividly portrays the worlds of New York, London, and American regional theater, and relives his collaborations with renowned performers and directors including Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse, Liv Ullmann, Meryl Streep, and Brian De Palma. Lithgow's ruminations on the nature of theatre, performance, and storytelling cut to the heart of why actors are driven to perform, and why people are driven to watch them do it.

John Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York, but grew up in Ohio, graduated from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, attended Harvard College, and used a Fulbright Grant to study at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. This year Lithgow was honored as a Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal recipient and was inducted into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005 he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Harvard and became the first actor in Harvard’s history to deliver the school’s Commencement Address.

Lithgow has three grown children, two grandchildren, and lives in Los Angeles and New York. He has been married for 30 years to Mary Yeager, a Professor of Economic and Business History at UCLA.

MARGARET COLIN (Susan Alsop) just finished shooting an episode of “Blue Bloods” with her decades-long co-star Tom Selleck. You will also find her in rehab with “Nurse Jackie” for two episodes this season. Her most recent films awaiting release are Backwards, an indie about crew, and Camilla Dickenson, a drama. Both of these films will find Margaret continuing to mine the riches of playing mothers, good and bad. Speaking of playing mothers, now that she has married off Blair on “Gossip Girl,” who knows what she will be up to for the rest of Season five? Just to round the year off last season, Colin played the voracious ‘Lady Croom’ in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia on Broadway at the Barrymore. Colin made her Broadway debut in Jackie, resulting in a Theatre World Award. Old Acquaintance and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg are also among her Broadway credits. She has had several nominations as a result of her work in film, television, and theater for over 30 years. She has moved back to NYC with her husband. Their two sons are in college, they hope.

BOYD GAINES (Stewart Alsop) most recently starred opposite James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in the Broadway and West End productions of Driving Miss Daisy. Gaines was seen previously at Lincoln Center with Kate Burton in The Grand Manner (Drama Desk nomination), and on Broadway with Patti LuPone in Gypsy for which he received his fourth Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination. Other credits include: Broadway: Pygmalion, Gypsy (City Centers Encores!), Journey’s End (Tony Nominee, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award), Twelve Angry Men, Contact (Tony Award, Lucille Lortel Awards), Cabaret, The Show Off, She Loves Me (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award), Company, The Heidi Chronicles (Tony Award). Off-Broadway: Bach at Leipzig, Major Barbara, The Shawl, Comedy of Errors, The Extra Man, The Maderati, The Winter’s Tale, Barbarians, A Month in the Country (Theatre World Award). Regional: Williamstown, Westport Playhouse, Yale Rep, Center Stage, Long Wharf, Guthrie, Kennedy Center. Film: Funny Games, Lovely by Surprise, Second Best, I’m Not Rappaport, Heartbreak Ridge, The Sure Thing, Porky’s, Fame. TV: “The Good Wife,” “Angela’s Eyes,” “The Confession,” “Piece of Cake,” “One Day at a Time,” “L.A. Law,” “Frasier,” “Law & Order.” Training: Juilliard.

STEPHEN KUNKEN (Halberstam). Broadway: High, Andy Fastow in Enron (Tony Award nomination), Rock ‘n’ Roll, Frost/Nixon (Outer Critics Circle, Drama League nominations), Festen, Proof. Off-Broadway: Rx (Primary Stages), Lost in the Stars (Encores!), Our Town (Barrow Street), Our House (Playwrights Horizons), A Very Common Procedure (MCC, Drama League nomination), Fabulation (Playwrights Horizons), The Story (Public Theater), A Dybbuk (Public Theater), Arrangements (Atlantic Theater Co.), Henry VIII (NYSF), Misalliance (Roundabout). Regional includes: Noises Off (Dorset Theater Festival), Quartermaine’s Terms (Williamstown), True West (Williamstown), Three Sisters (Williamstown), Mister Roberts (Kennedy Center), Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Television: “The Good Wife,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Unusuals,” “New Amsterdam,” all of the various series of “Law & Order,” “The Sopranos,” “Spin City.” Film: The Bay directed by Barry Levinson (2012), Price Check (Sundance 2012), Passing Harold Blumenthal (2012), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, All Good Things, Taking Woodstock, Girl in the Park, Wait ‘til This Year, Light/Sufferer, Bamboozled. Juilliard Graduate. 2004 Fox Fellowship recipient. Married to director Jenn Thompson and proud father of Naomi.

GRACE GUMMER (Abigail) made her professional acting debut in Kristjan Thor's Off-Broadway project, The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents. After starring in the TeenNick series “Gigantic,” Grace completed her run as 'Hero' in Much Ado About Nothing at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles, before debuting on Broadway as ‘Chloë Coverly’ in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia on Broadway. For her performance, Grace won a Theatre World Award. On screen, Grace has been seen in Josh Sternfeld's Meskada, and in Tom Hanks' film, Larry Crowne. She recently wrapped the Untitled Noah Baumbach Project, and has since guest starred in NBC's hit series “Smash.”

BRIAN J. SMITH (Andrei). Smith's career began almost immediately after earning his B.F.A at Julliard. He was quickly cast in diverse roles on and off Broadway in Come Back, Little Sheba; Good Boys and True, and Three Changes alongside Dylan McDermott and Maura Tierney. Inevitably, Smith made the leap from the stage to the screen. He appeared as one of the leads on the MGM series “Stargate Universe” for the SyFy Network. Smith also starred opposite Peter Gallagher in the drama The War Boys, landed a lead role in the independent thriller Red Hook, and returned to the big screen in the highly anticipated Murder on the Orient Express. Most recently he recurred on CW’s “Gossip Girl” and starred in the SyFy original film Red Faction: Origins. His next projects include the mini-series “Coma” from producer Tony Scott and “Warehouse 13” for SyFy. He's also guest-starred on the Emmy Award-winning series, “Law & Order.” He originally hails from Texas and in his spare time enjoys running.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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