MGH-Set Medical Thriller ETHER DOME Opens Tonight at the Huntington

Huntington Theatre Company continues its 2014-2015 Season with Ether Dome, "an essential story" (Hartford Courant) by Elizabeth Egloff about the advent of ether as an anesthetic and the resulting revolutionary impact on the medical profession. The provocative medical thriller's sprawling story is set primarily at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital and nearby Hartford, Connecticut, and explores the scientific discovery, personal manipulations, and deep personal cost of the groundbreaking medical achievement. Under the direction of Michael Wilson (Now or Later), the co-production with Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Hartford Stage begins at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA tonight, October 17 and continue through November 23, 2014.

Hartford Courant says, "If you like to go to the theatre to laugh at yourself a little, get shocked, feel strange sensations in your brain and emerge strangely calmed, Ether Dome is a gas!" San Diego City Beat calls Ether Dome, "a mesmerizing tale," and Examiner.com says, "Historical theatre at its best! In Wilson's visually delicious staging, one can definitively see how Dr. Horace Wells became the model of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

"Elizabeth Egloff's thrilling exploration of a revolution in modern medicine unfolds in our own backyard," says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois, "The Huntington's collaboration with MGH will illuminate a lesser-known chapter of our city's rich history. As our nation grapples with a healthcare overhaul, now is the perfect time for Elizabeth and gifted director Michael Wilson to connect the ramifications of this fascinating event to the world in which we live." Hear more from DuBois about the production at huntingtontheatre.org/peter-ether-dome.

"I am excited to return to the Huntington with Elizabeth Egloff's exhilarating play about America's greatest medical discovery -- anesthesia -- and the lives destroyed in the wake of creating a new world without pain," says director Michael Wilson. "Liz is a fiercely intelligent and deeply human writer who has woven a captivating narrative from true events. Ether Dome holds an unflinching mirror up to our ambitious American character and the ways in which class, greed, and prejudice form a twisted path to innovation."

In Ether Dome, Horace Wells, a Hartford dentist experiments with a surprising new treatment to end pain. His student and sometimes-partner introduces the technique to the surgeons at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital where epic battles for credit and between altruism and ambition ignite. As the doctors discover the transformative benefits of their new tool, they simultaneously descend into despair, and even insanity -- the story of the dentist is reputedly the inspiration behind Robert Lewis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This fascinating new play explores the ecstasy of pain, the sweetness of relief, and the hysteria that erupts when healthcare becomes big business.

The ensemble cast of sixteen includes Michael Bakkensen (Broadway's Noises Off) as Horace Wells, Greg Balla (of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at The Lyric Stage Company) as Dr. Bigelow, Ken Cheeseman (Prelude to a Kiss at the Huntington) as Dr. Gould, Richmond Hoxie (I'm Not Rappaport on Broadway) as Dr. Warren, Bill Kux (The Best Man on Broadway) as Dr. Hayward, Karen MacDonald (Good People at the Huntington) as Mrs. Wadsworth, Tom Patterson (Streamers at 440 Studios in New York) as William Morton, Amelia Pedlow (The Heir Apparent at Classic Stage Company) as Elizabeth Wells, Lee Sellars (A Time to Kill on Broadway) as Dr. Colton, Liba Vaynberg (The Golem of Havana at La MaMa) as Lizzie Morton, and William Youmans (The Farnsworth Invention on Broadway) as Dr. Jackson, as well as Matthew Barrett, Veronica Barron, Nile Hawver, Nash Hightower, and Malcolm Young.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Elizabeth Egloff's (Playwright) other plays include The Swan (title role originated by William Youmans), Wolf-Man, and Community of Heaven, as well as Peter Pan (produced at American Repertory Theater), The Devils (inspired by Dostoevsky's novel), and Phaedra. On television, her screenplay for The Reagans (starring Judy Davis and James Brolin) was nominated for an Emmy Award. Other awards include the Helen Merrill Award, Lila Wallace Foundation Writer's Award, Oppenheimer Award, and the Kesselring Prize. She has won grants from various foundations, including the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. Ms. Egloff is a member of New Dramatists and the Dramatists Guild and is a graduate of Yale Drama School. She is married to set designer James Youmans, and they are the proud parents of Will and Timur.

Michael Wilson (Director) returns to the Huntington after directing the American premiere of Now or Later (2012). His Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning revival of The Trip to Bountiful (his critically acclaimed film version appeared on Lifetime in March 2014; touring production to play Boston's Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre Nov. 20 - Dec. 7), the Tony Award-nominated The Best Man, Dividing the Estate, and Enchanted April, as well as Old Acquaintance. His Off Broadway credits include plays for Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Signature Theater, Primary Stages, and the Vineyard Theatre. Internationally, he directed Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2 at the Venice Biennale. He has directed regionally at American Repertory Theater (2002 Elliot Norton Award), Alley Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, The Old Globe, and Hartford Stage, where as Artistic Director from 1998 to 2011, he oversaw the commissioning and development of many new plays, including Quiara Hudes' 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Water By the Spoonful and Elizabeth Egloff's Ether Dome. Mr. Wilson received the 2010 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his commissioning and direction of Horton Foote's three-part, nine-hour version of his epic The Orphans' Home Cycle.

The Huntington's production of Ether Dome will feature scenic design by James Youmans (The Shaughraun at the Huntington, West Side Story on Broadway); costume design by David C. Woolard (Now or Later at the Huntington, Bronx Bombers on Broadway); lighting design by David Lander (A Long and Winding Road at the Huntington and The Heiress on Broadway); and composition and sound design by John Gromada (The Cocktail Hour at the Huntington, Next Fall on Broadway, and sound design by Alex Neumann (Bus Stop at the Huntington, A Raisin in the Sun assistant on Broadway). Production stage manager is Lori Lundquist. Stage manager is Kathryn Most.

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY - Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 and 2014 by Boston magazine, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading professional theatre and one of the region's premiere cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

DETAILS:

Runs October 17 - November 23, 2014

Select Evenings: Tues. - Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. - Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm

Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm

(Days and times vary)

Press Opening: Wednesday, October 22, 7pm. RSVP online.

At South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston

Single tickets starting at $25 and FlexPasses are on sale:

  • online at huntingtontheatre.org;
  • by phone at 617 266 0800; or
  • in person at the BU Theatre Box Office, 264 Huntington Ave. and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA Box Office, 527 Tremont St. in Boston's South End.

Select discounts apply:

  • $5 off: seniors
  • $10 off: subscribers and BU community (faculty/staff/alumni)
  • $25 "35 Below" tickets for patrons 35 years old and younger (valid ID required)
  • $15 student and military tickets (valid ID required)

SPECIAL EVENTS IN CONJUNCTION WITH ETHER DOME:

POST-SHOW AUDIENCE CONVERSATIONS
After most Tues. - Fri., Sat. matinee, and Sun. matinee performances throughout the season

An opportunity for audience members to discuss what they have just seen. Led by members of the Huntington staff.

COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP RECEPTION

Sunday, October 26, 5:30pm (prior to the 7pm performance)

A pre-show reception with refreshments for members of the Community Membership program. Community Membership is an initiative designed to reduce the cost barrier of attending live theatre for those with limited income and to diversify the Huntington's audience so it looks more like the city of Boston. Members can purchase best-available tickets to any performance without restriction for just $15. Membership is free and available through partnerships with agencies and organizations that serve limited-income populations. Santander is the Lead Supporter of the Huntington's Community Membership program.

STUDENT MATINEES

Thursday, October 30 at 10am

Thursday, November 20 at 10

For students in grades 9-12. Tickets: $15. Includes pre-show in-school visit, curriculum guide, post-show Actors Forum, and Dramatic Returns card for each student. Call 617 273 1558 for more information.

ACTORS FORUM

Thursday, October 30, 10am performance (student matinee)
Wednesday, November 12, 2pm performance

Thursday, November 13, 7:30pm performance
Participating cast members answer questions from the audience.

HUMANITIES FORUM

Sunday, November 2, 2pm performance

A conversation with a medical expert moderated by a Huntington staff member. Humanities Forums are presented in conjunction with all Huntington productions to explore the historic or literary context.

BOSTON GLOBE INSIDERS NIGHT

Wednesday, November 5, 7:30pm performance

The Boston Globe "Ideas" editor Stephen Heuser will moderate a conversation with a guest to be named. Tickets to the 11/5 performance are $45 for Boston Globe subscribers who use the discount code.

Pictured: Tom Patterson, Lee Sellers, Michael Bakkensen (seated), and Amelia Pedlow. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.



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