JOHNNY BASEBALL Opens Tonight at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Artistic Director Jenny Gersten announces the opening of Williamstown Theatre Festival's fifth production of the 2013 season: Johnny Baseball, the Red Sox musical, plays on the Nikos Stage from tonight, July 25 - August 3, following July 24 preview performances.
In a new production directed by Gordon Greenberg (Working, Band Geeks!), Johnny Baseball is a quintessentially American musical that unearths the source of the Curse of the Red Sox and the secret to its triumphant end off Big Papi's bat in 2004.
Packed with resonant social history, Johnny Baseball features a book by Richard Dresser (Rounding Third) with music and lyrics by brothers Robert andWillie Reale (WTF's Quark Victory), who both received Tony Award nominations for their collaboration on the musical A Year with Frog and Toad. Dresser, a long-suffering Red Sox fan, teamed up with the Reale brothers, both die-hard Yankee fans, following the 2003 Playoffs that left the Sox once again defeated, to re-examine the legendary curse in a new light.
"Johnny Baseball is a musical that celebrates America's favorite pastime, while simultaneously delving into the social injustices surrounding the sport at that time. Most of all, it's a love letter - to the game, to the fans - and the incredible score will win over baseball and theatre fans alike," said WTF Artistic Director Jenny Gersten. "What better place to put on this special show than in our corner of Red Sox Nation."
The infamous Curse is brought to life through the fortunes of three orphaned souls: Johnny O'Brien, a hard-luck right-hander on the 1919 Sox played by star of stage and screen James Snyder (Rock of Ages, She's The Man); his idol, Babe Ruth, played by Obie Award-winner Tom McGowan (WTF's A Flea in Her Ear, "Frasier"); and Daisy Wyatt, a dazzling African-American blues singer who just so happens to also be the love of Johnny's life. Daisy is played by Obie award-winning actress De'Adre Aziza, who wowed audiences in Passing Strange and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on Broadway.
The cast features WTF veteran Brooks Ashmanskas (WTF's A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Producers, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me) playing multiple roles including Harry Frazee, and Allan H. Green (Sister Act, "30 Rock") as Willie Mays, among other roles. Johnny Baseball also features Joe Cassidy (Catch Me If You Can, "Law & Order") as Fan 4, Barrow, and Mike Wolcott; Derrick Baskin (MEMPHIS) as Fan 11, Barman, Porter, and Tim Wyatt; Roger Robinson (Joe Turner's Come and Gone) as Fan 9; Kelly Karbacz as Fan 7, Showgirl, and Booster; Andrew Kober as Fan 3, Player 2, Reporter, Party Guest, French Emcee, and Crony 1; and Rebecca LaChance as Fan 6, Showgirl, Nurse, and Booster. Rounding out the cast are members of the WTF Non-Equity Company Kyle Cameron and Molliann McCulley.
The creative team includes Wendy Bobbitt-Cavett (Musical Director), Steven Gabis (Dialect Coach), Gregory Gale (Costume Design), Denis Jones(Choreographer), Jason Lyons (Lighting Design), Timothy Mackabee (Scenic Design), and Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design). Libby Unsworth is the Production Stage Manager.
As previously announced, the complete 2013 Williamstown Theatre Festival season runs from June 26 - August 18, 2013 and includes the highly anticipated World Premiere of The Bridges of Madison County, a new musical by Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman (playing August 1 - 18), as well asthe Red Sox musical Johnny Baseball by Richard Dresser (book), Robert Reale (music), and Willie Reale (lyrics), playing through August 3 on the Nikos Stage. The critically acclaimed production of George Bernard Shaw's classic Pygmalion directed by Nicholas Martin plays through July 27 on the Main Stage. Highlights of the 59th season have included the madcap revival of the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers, the revival of Tom Stoppard'sHapgood and the World Premiere of Bess Wohl's American Hero. The season has seen the return of many Williamstown veterans including Kate Burton (in Hapgood), and Robert Sean Leonard (in Pygmalion), plus Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher, who makes his directing debut at the Festival.
Tickets to Johnny Baseball are $55. Tickets for all Williamstown Theatre Festival productions can be purchased online at wtfestival.org, by phone at 413-597-3400, or in person at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance Box Office at 1000 Main St (Route 2), Williamstown, MA 02167.
Since 1955, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought America's finest actors, directors, designers, and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. Each WTF season is designed to present unique opportunities for artists and audience alike, revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of accompanying cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs. While best known for our acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to one of the nation's top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theatre artists and administrators. WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and the Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011.