Lyric Stage's ANNA CHRISTIE Cast And Creative Team Announced
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, O'Neill's classic is a surprisingly contemporary play that crackles with fierce physicality, humor, and drama. After a 20-year separation, a coal barge captain (Lyric Stage favorite Johnny Lee Davenport) is reunited with the daughter he unknowingly abandoned to a life of hardship. When Anna falls in love with a shipwrecked sailor, her father and her suitor come to recognize their own culpability in her plight, and all three struggle in their own way for salvation. Following his acclaimed production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Scott Edmiston takes a fresh look at one of America's greatest playwrights.
The Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA 02116. TICKETS: Start at $25. Seniors - $10 off regular price. Student rush - $10. Student groups - $20. Group rates available. Box Office: 617-585-5678, website: lyricstage.com
In an era when most American plays were set in posh drawing rooms populated by wealthy white characters, O'Neill depicted a world of sea shanties, slums, and barrooms inhabited by the working class and immigrants, the outcast and oppressed, the lost and misbegotten. O'Neill offered them dignity and respect. He accepted them because he was one of them. He wrote complex female characters who were liberated beyond their time. He explored African American identity in the two groundbreaking works, The Emperor Jones (1920), which examines race-based violence, and All God's Chillun's Got Wings (1924), which portrays an interracial marriage. He refused to allow white actors in blackface in his plays and insisted on casting African American actors in the leading roles.
Anna Christie, which premiered on Broadway in 1921 and earned him the second of his four Pulitzer Prizes, can be viewed as an early feminist drama. Tales of a woman with a past were not new to the stage, but O'Neill dispelled the Victorian notion that prostitution was a result of female licentiousness. He tells Anna's story with compassion and an awareness of gender economics. Consequently the role of Anna has become a favorite of great actresses including Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullman, Natasha Richardson, and most recently Ruth Wilson. Greta Garbo chose the role for her first talking picture in 1930.
In adapting the play for 21st-century audiences, I've tried to remain true to O'Neill's themes and the unique poetry of his hardscrabble dialogue. I've removed a few superfluous sailors, a bit of period slang, and the phonetically spelled dialect (Chris was originally Swedish). It's my hope that this will intensify the conflict between the ill-fated trio of Chris, Mat, and Anna and place them center stage where their fight to find redemption remains as compelling to me as it was nearly 100 years ago.
Scott Edmiston (Director) returns to the Lyric Stage where he recently directed the award-winning productions of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2017 Elliot Norton Award) and My Fair Lady, (2016 Elliot Norton Award). Other Lyric Stage credits: Light Up the Sky, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Water by the Spoonful, Time Stands Still, My Name is Asher Lev, Miss Witherspoon, The Scene, Lobby Hero, and Private Lives. He has directed more than 60 Boston-area productions at SpeakEasy Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre, and Underground Railway Theatre, among others. Highlights include Long Day's Journey into Night, Constellations, Shakespeare in Love, The History Boys, Casa Valentina, The Light in the Piazza, Reckless, Five by Tenn, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, A Marvelous Party, and Betrayal. Six of his productions have received Elliot Norton Awards as Outstanding Production or Musical, and he has received four Norton Awards and three IRNE Awards for his direction. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State, the StageSource Theatre Hero Award, and the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. He is the author of "Acting Misbegotten: The Creative Journey to Eugene O'Neill" published in the anthology Critical Insights: Eugene O'Neill (Salem Press, 2012). Scott is a Professor of the Practice and Chair of the Department of Theatre at Northeastern University.
Nancy E. Carroll* (Marthy) returns to the Lyric Stage where she appeared in The Year of Magical Thinking and The Glass Menagerie. Broadway: Present Laughter. International: The Cripple of Inishmaan, Big Maggie (Druid Theatre, Ireland), Return of the Winemaker (Cork Arts Theatre, Ireland). Regional: Ripcord, I Was Most Alive With You, The Seagull, Good People, Luck of the Irish, Prelude to a Kiss, Brendan, She Loves Me, The Rose Tattoo, Dead End (Huntington Theatre), Rapture Blister Burn (Geffen Playhouse), Our Town, She Loves Me (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Trad, Return of the Winemaker (Tir Na), Shakespeare in Love, Mothers and Sons, Other Desert Cities, The Savannah Disputation, The Women, Company, A Man Of No Importance (Speakeasy Stage), The New Electric Ballroom, Breath of Life, Trad, Doubt, Happy Days, My Old Lady, Collected Stories (Gloucester Stage), Uncanny Valley, Secret Garden (Stoneham Theatre), The Clean House, Frozen, Sweeney Todd, Kindertransport (New Rep), Bailegangaire (Súgán Theatre), Humble Boy, Hamlet, The Winter's Tale (Publick Theatre), Auntie and Me (Merrimack Repertory), Precious Little, Buried Child, The Unexpected Man (Nora Theatre). TV and Film: Spotlight, Olive Kitteridge, Irrational Man. Elliot Norton Awards for Present Laughter, Brendan, Bailegangaire
Johnny Lee Davenport* (Chris Christopherson) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in Water by the Spoonful (2013) and Broke-ology (2011). Recent shows include Oleanna (New Rep), Fences (Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando), Bank Job (Gloucester Stage), Thurgood (New Rep), Oedipus Rex (PICT, Pittsburgh), Akeelah and the Bee (Wheelock Family Theatre), The African Company Presents Richard III, Death of a Salesman, Arcadia (APT, Spring Green, Wisconsin), and Bootycandy (SpeakEasy Stage). Awards: Boston Magazine's Best Actor, Elliot Norton Award, Best Actor for Broke-ology, two Broadway World Boston Awards, and D.C.'s Helen Hayes Award. For full career credits, please visit johnnyleedavenport.com.
Lindsey McWhorter* (Anna Christie) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously appeared in Mr. Burns and Intimate Apparel (IRNE Award - Best Actress, Midsize). Other Boston credits include: Arabian Nights (Central Square Theatre),The Farm (Boston Playwrights' Theatre), In the Next Room (SpeakEasy Stage), In the Continuum (Up You Mighty Race Theatre Company), A Midsummer Night's Dream, and As You Like It (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Other theatre credits include: To Kill a Mockingbird (Montana Repertory Theatre, National Tour), A Christmas Carol (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Seussical, and All Shook Up (Idaho Summer Repertory). She began her professional acting career in 2006 at the Hangar Theatre with Bloodline: the Children of Argos and later appeared in The Overwhelming. Lindsey has also worked with Berkshire Playwright's Lab, Double Edge Theatre Company, and Debbie Allen Dance Academy. She received her M.F.A. from Brandeis and BA from Alabama State University and is a proud member of AEA and SAG. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Lindsey grew up in Jasper, AL and currently lives in Medway, MA with her son, daughter, and husband. She gives special thanks to God and to her husband Joe, family, friends and Faith Community Church of Hopkinton for their love and support.
James R. Milord (Larry) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in last season's Barbecue. Other theatre credits include Akeelah and the Bee (Wheelock Family Theatre), Clybourne Park (Longwood Players Club), Splendor, Brothers Size Trilogy, The Good Negro, Den of Thieves, Emancipation Of Mandy and Miz Ellie, 103 Within the Veil, Clockwork Orange (Company One), Zooman and The Sign, Feathers On My Arm (Our Place Theatre), and Macbeth (Shakespeare Now). He was honored to receive Best Emerging Actor in 2010 ((David Wheeler Award). Film credits include The Brotherhood (Showtime) and a handful of industrial commercials. He currently works as a theatre educator, and continues to pursue his dreams professionally.
Dan Whelton* (Mat Burke) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously appeared in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and One Man, Two Guvnors. Other theatre credits include Million Dollar Quartet, Long Day's Journey into Night (The Majestic Theater), I Hate Hamlet (Playhouse on Park), A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theatre), Operation Epsilon (Nora Theatre, IRNE Award, Best Ensemble), I Capture The Castle (Stoneham Theatre), The History Boys (SpeakEasy Stage, IRNE Award, Best Ensemble), Take Me Out (Hartford TheatreWorks),The Learned Ladies of Park Ave (Hartford Stage), Arsenic and Old Lace, and Brighton Beach Memoirs (Ivoryton Playhouse). Film credits include Patriot's Day and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Special thanks to my lovely wife Isabelle, and to our beautiful children Lydia and Liam! Je vous aime!