World Premiere of Michael Whistler's CASSE NOISETTE Opens This Week at Bridge Street Theatre

World Premiere of Michael Whistler's CASSE NOISETTE Opens This Week at Bridge Street Theatre

When Michael Whistler's "Casse Noisette (A Fairy Ballet)" opens at Catskill's intimate Bridge Street Theatre this Thursday, November 8th, it will celebrate a LOT of firsts: It will mark the first full production the play has ever received. Four members of its five-person cast will be making their Bridge Street Theatre debuts. Four of the five actors will be the first-ever residents of the theatre's brand-new upstairs artist housing. And this will be the first time the theatre has ever used a front curtain, opening and closing to reveal new wonders at each turn in the plot.

"Michael sent us the manuscript of 'Casse Noisette' immediately after we first worked with him on a production of his one-act play 'Quimper' at Stageworks Hudson in 2012, before we had a theatre of our own," says John Sowle, Artistic and Managing Director of Bridge Street Theatre and the director and designer of this world premiere. "We loved it - it's like a mash-up of Masterpiece Theatre and the plays of William Inge (whose work Michael adores). This one DEFINITELY ain't your 'traditional' Nutcracker - Michael has pretty much shaken all the candy out of it. We also saw, and were blown away, by a 2013 staged reading we attended at NYU's Tisch School for the Arts. But even after we moved into our own space in 2014, the play felt like too huge a challenge for us to take on. It's got a lot of moving parts, multiple set and costume changes, two completely different time frames operating - sometimes simultaneously - and, even at only five people, a larger cast than we can generally afford to field. We were afraid we just wouldn't be able to do it justice. Then, while we were attempting to put together our season for 2018, we re-read it, fell in love with it all over again, and decided that it was high time for us to take the leap and produce it. The heart of our mission at Bridge Street is taking risks on new and exciting work and creatively it felt like, with a show that spoke to us so deeply and directly, we either needed to put up or shut up. It's been a massive undertaking, but the play itself is magnificent, our cast is phenomenal, the show LOOKS fantastic, and hopefully by opening night, all those moving parts will have come together smoothly and our audiences will be absolutely astonished at what they're seeing on our small stage."

The play finds parallels between two gay men in very distant and very different eras. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a musical titan in late 19th-Century Russia: hugely popular, incredibly charismatic, deeply emotional. Tortured by his homosexuality, he finds release only in composing and in his love for the son of his invalid sister. Joe Jessup is a quiet, unassuming, and very private high school Earth Sciences teacher in suburban Washington state, a man who has long since resigned himself to not getting exactly what he might wish for out of life. For years, his only emotional outlet has been his love for the music of Tchaikovsky and, more recently, his furtive calls to a gay sex chatline - but merely to listen to the young man on the other end of the phone, never to speak himself. Actor Jason Guy, whom audiences may remember from his tour-de-force performance in Bridge Street's 2017 world premiere of Kieron Barry's "The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade", portrays both these characters as their worlds intertwine and each struggles to find some sort of fulfillment in his life. The cast also features Nancy O. Graham, Jason Kellerman, Serena Vesper, and Bradley Levine as a host of other characters in both the play's worlds. This World Premiere Production has been made possible in part by a generous gift from Duke Dang and Charles Rosen. The show is directed and designed by John Sowle, with costumes by Jennifer Anderson. Production Stage Manager is Julia Rothwax.

Michael Whistler's "Casse Noisette (A Fairy Ballet)" is recommended for mature audiences (ages 16 and older) and plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:00 from November 8-18, 2018 at Bridge Street Theatre, located at 44 West Bridge Street, in Catskill, NY. General Admission is $25, $10 for Students 21 and under. Discounted advance tickets are available at casse.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Tickets will also be sold at the door one half hour prior to each performance on a space available basis. "Pay What You Will" performances will be held on Thursday November 8 and Sunday November 11 ("Pay What You Will" tickets are available only at the door one-half hour prior to those performances). For further information, visit the theatre online at BridgeSt.org.

Events and performances in Bridge Street Theatre's 2018 Season are made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by Public Funds from the Greene County Legislature through the Greene County Cultural Fund, administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

Photo: Serena Vesper, Jason Guy, Jason Kellerman, Michael Whistler, Bradley Levine, John Sowle, Nancy O. Graham

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