Rep Stage Presents AN ALMOST HOLY PICTURE, 2/2-20


Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), continues its 18th season with Heather McDonald's "An Almost Holy Picture," directed by Tony Tsendeas and featuring Michael Stebbins, Rep Stage's producing artistic director.  Freely drawn from Pamela Ward's story "The Hairy Little Girl," "An Almost Holy Picture" follows the odyssey of former minister Samuel Gentle as he travels from Massachusetts to New Mexico - and from despair to triumph - heeding a mysterious voice.  "An Almost Holy Picture" opens February 2 and runs through February 20, 2011 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the HCC campus.  For tickets and additional information, visit

A post-show reception follows the Saturday, February 5 evening performance and free post-show discussions follow the February 11 and 18 performances. 

Press performance is Saturday, February 5 at 8 p.m. For media photos and reservations, contact Mike Scrivener in the HCC Office of Public Relations and Marketing at 443-518-3133 or

Complementing "An Almost Holy Picture" will be a pre-show lecture with HCC philosophy professor Dr. Helen Mitchell on Saturday, February 19 at 12:30 p.m.  Dr. Mitchell will speak on "Pilgrimages of the Spirit."

Samuel Gentle, the groundskeeper for The Church of the Holy Comforter, has heard God's call three times. The first time was in a field while walking with his father; the second was in the aftermath of a terrible bus accident while he was minister; and the third was at the birth of his daughter, Ariel, covered all over in a white gold swirl of hair.  Samuel has heard this voice but struggles to comprehend its mystery and his own rage and bewilderment at loss.  As his daughter grows into a child of transcendent inner beauty and strength, Samuel regains his own faith and discovers what is most holy. 

"By looking back at significant events in his life, the character of Samuel Gentle comes to understand that these have much to do with who he is in the 'here and now,'" says Michael Stebbins, actor and producing artistic director.  "Samuel Gentle must reflect on and relive these events, to process through them in order to move on.  I think this is something that all of us do - sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously - and that audiences will relate to this in one way or another.  Samuel's story, though at times painful, is also cathartic and, in the end, hopeful."
"An Almost Holy Picture' traces Samuel's journey -- both physical and spiritual -- through a variety of wildernesses in search of forgiveness and redemption," adds Dr. Lisa A. Wilde, Rep Stage dramaturg.  "His solitary reflections encourage our own consideration of the sacred in our day to day lives and relationships."

Meet the Playwright:
Heather McDonald's plays include "An Almost Holy Picture," "When Grace Comes In," "Dream of a Common Language," "Available Light," "The Rivers and Ravines," "Faulkner's Bicycle" and "Rain and Darkness."  Her work been produced on Broadway and Off and at such regional theatres as Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Center Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Signature Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Actors Theatre of Louisville - Humana Festival of New Plays, The La Jolla Playhouse and internationally in Italy, Spain, Portugal, England and Mexico.  She has sold two screenplays, "Rocket 88" and "Walking After Midnight," and wrote the libretto for the opera "The End of the Affair," adapted from the novel by Graham Greene and commissioned and premiered at Houston Grand Opera.  She has also directed many productions, most recently Stephen Adly Guirgis' "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" and the premiere of "Two-Bit Taj Mahal" by Paul D'Andrea.  Her work has been honored with a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, three NEA Playwriting Fellowships, The First Prize Kesselring Award and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.  She is professor of theater at George Mason University and co-artistic director of theater of the First Amendment.

Meet the Director:
Tony Tsendeas made his Rep Stage directorial debut with 2009's "Wittenberg," which earned him a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Director.  He was the artistic director of Baltimore's internationally recognized Action Theater and has directed numerous productions for the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival ("Macbeth," "Othello," "Julius Caesar").  He has performed at Action Theatre ("American Buffalo," "The Madman and the Nun," "The Artificial Jungle"), Everyman Theatre ("The Crucible"), the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival ("Hamlet," "The Tempest"), Woolly Mammoth Theater Company ("Rocket to the Moon"), Roundhouse Theatre ("The Cherry Orchard") and Center Stage ("Mary Stuart").  Tony is a member of the theater faculty at the Baltimore School for the Arts.

Meet the Cast:
Michael Stebbins (Samuel Gentle) has been Rep Stage's producing artistic director since November of 2005.  As an actor, he has appeared on Rep's stages in "Fully Committed," "Stones in His Pockets," "Mrs. Warren's Profession," "The Santaland Diaries" and "Wittenberg."  At Rep Stage he has directed "A Moon for the Misbegotten," "The Santaland Diaries," "A Dickens of a Carol," "The Glass Menagerie," and "Two by J. M. Barrie: The New Word and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals."  He is the recipient of a Helen Hayes Tribute award.

Melanie Clark's (Costume Design) designs for Rep Stage include "Two by J. M. Barrie: The New Word and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals," "Travels With My Aunt," "The Glass Menagerie," "Stones in His Pockets," "Mrs. Farnsworth," "Thom Pain (based on nothing)," "Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted" and "Intelligence."  She has also designed for Olney Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Washington Shakespeare Company.

Jay Herzog (Lighting Design) designed Rep Stage's production of "Wittenberg" as well as "Ambrosio," for which he received a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lighting Design.  He is the resident lighting designer for Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.  Other area theatres where his work has been seen include Theatre J and the Woolly Mammoth Theatre.  Jay has designed light and sound for many Off-Broadway theatres in NYC and designed the lighting for the recently released DVD Christmas comedy/horror/kung fu movie "Two Front Teeth."  Jay is chair of the theatre program at Towson University and has been designing lights for theatre, film, and dance for almost 30 years.

Liza Davies (Properties Design) is a freelance scenic artist and props designer whose work was last seen at Rep Stage in "Two by J. M. Barrie: The New Word and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals," "Travels With My Aunt," "Wittenberg" and "On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning."  She is resident props designer for Everyman Theatre and has worked for the Baltimore Opera Company, Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Pumpkin Theatre, Children's Playhouse of MD, Essex and Harford Community College, Towson University, University of Baltimore and Theatre Hopkins.  Liza also teaches art at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.

James Fouchard (Set Design) returns to Rep Stage having previously designed "Travels With My Aunt."  He has created sets for over 250 productions in regional, stock, opera and educational theater.  Previous design credits include the national tours of "Can-Can" (starring Chita Rivera), "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (starring Patrick Cassidy), "The Show-Off" (starring Jean Stapleton), "42nd Street," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Phantom of the Opera," "Little Shop of Horrors," and many more.  Other designs include productions for the John F. Kennedy, Papermill Playhouse, Pittsburgh CLO, American Musical Theater, Ford's Theater, Walnut Street Theater, Peabody Conservatory, Syracuse Stage, Everyman Theatre, Theatre of the Stars, Opera Delaware, Feld Entertainment, Olney Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse and Harrah's (Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe).  His work has also been featured in gallery exhibitions at Georgetown University, the Smithsonian Institution and the Washington, D.C. Theatre Design exhibit "It's Only a Paper Moon."

Neil McFadden (Sound Design) returns to Rep Stage having designed "Travels With My Aunt," "Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted," "Faith Healer" and "Translations."  Neil's sound and lighting designs have been heard or seen in many area theatres, including Arena Stage, Studio Theatre, The Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Olney Theatre, the Washington Savoyards, Everyman Theatre and Round House Theatre (where he was the Resident Sound Designer for eleven years).  Neil received the Helen Hayes Award for his design of Round House's production of "Heathen Valley." 
About Rep StageRep Stage, a professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College, is in its 18th season. The company is a member of both League of Washington Theatres and Baltimore Theatre Alliance. Performances are made possible by Howard County Arts Council, Howard County Government, Columbia Foundation, and the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and National Endowment for the Arts, as well as through generous individual contributions. Howard Bank is the Rep Stage 2010-11 season partner.

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