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Casting Announced for Once-Lost Tennessee Williams Play NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES


The cast of Raven Theatre Company's premiere of Tennessee Williams' Not About Nightingales has been announced, with Raven Founding Artistic Director Michael Menendian directing. The play's action revolves around the tyrannical prison warden Boss Whalen's inhumane treatment of the inmates in his island prison. Deciding they have had enough, and inspired by their de facto leader Butch, the inmates of Hall C fight back by waging a hunger strike. When it garners media attention, Boss Whalen responds with torture. All the while, Whalen's inmate assistant Jim and new secretary Eva struggle with the moral dilemma of either exposing the strike and losing their jobs or assisting Whalen in keeping it under wraps.

Leading the cast as Boss Whalen is Chuck Spencer, well-known to Raven audiences for many roles including Mort in The Assembled Parties, Joe Keller in All My Sons, and Willy Loman (Jeff Nominated) in Death of a Salesman. His inmate assistant Jim Allison is played by Brandon Greenhouse, who has performed at Raven as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet, and in Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, and Eclipse Theatre's Intimate Apparel. The warden's new secretary Eva Crane will be played by Sophia Menendian, returning to Raven after roles in Red Velvet and Beast on the Moon. Butch O'Fallon, the hostile prisoner who rallies his fellow inmates to stop eating in protest of their treatment, will be played by Joshua J. Volkers, whose credits include Raven's The Bird Feeder Doesn't Know and The Artistic Home's The Watch on the Rhine.

Playing Butch's right-hand man Joe is Rudy Galvan, whose recent credits include Lord of the Flies at Steppenwolf Theatre and United Flight 232 at The House Theater. Sailor Jack, an ex-navy man who slowly loses his mind, and Swifty, a former runner who struggles to adjust to prison life, will be played by Matthew Gary of Posh at Steep Theatre. The Queen, an inmate who is teased for being a sensitive man, will be played by Luke Daigle, whose recent credits include The Lisbon Traviata at Eclipse Theater and Mourning Becomes Electra at Remy Bummpo. The roles of Ollie and the prison Chaplain will be played by Tamarus Harvell. Harvell's recent credits include Raven's Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys and MPAACT Theatre's The Last Saint on Sugar Hill. Raphael Diaz will be playing Hispanic inmate Mex, and a Prison Guard. Diaz recently appeared in Griffin Theatre's Winterset. The final member of the Hall C inmates, Alberts, will be played by Juwan Lockett, whose credits include Wind and the Breeze at American Blues Theatre and Big E at Collaboraction.

Schultz, the prison's stringent head guard, will be played by Jon Beal. Beal's recent credits include The Hypocrites' All our Tragic and Cyrano at The House Theater. Kevin Patterson will be playing Mac, a prison guard and Reverend Hooker, the prison's newly hired holy man. Patterson is returning to Raven Theatre after appearing in Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys. Sailor Jack's concerned mother Mrs. Schultz and Butch's old sweetheart Goldie will be played by Raven Theatre's Co-Artistic Director JoAnn Montemurro, who most recently appeared there in The Assembled Parties and The Old Friends.

Raven Theatre Founding Artistic Director Michael Menendian will again take on a drama of biting social commentary, as he did most recently with the Jeff Award-winning Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys. He has assembled a team of Jeff-winning and -nominated designers including Ray Toler (set designer), Alaina Moore (costume designer), Diane D. Fairchild (lighting designer), Heath Hays (sound designer), Breon Arzell (step choreographer) and David Woolley (fight choreographer). John Buranosky is properties designer and Sydney Achler is scenic artist. Also on the production team are Jack Bourgeois (assistant director), Cathy Darrow (stage manager), Conor Clark (technical director), and Kelly Hovsepian (assistant stage manager).

Not About Nightingales, written in 1938, is an early Tennessee Williams play that showcases the development of his powerful voice. Deemed too controversial at the time of its writing due to the fact the play humanizes prisoners, some of which are African-American, Hispanic and homosexual, Not About Nightingales was not produced until 1998 by the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and Redgrave Moving Theatre in London before moving to the Alley Theatre in Houston later that year. In 1999, it received its Broadway debut at the Circle in the Square Theatre, where it received six Tony nominations, including Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director, and winning for Best Scenic Design.

Menendian and Raven have a long and acclaimed history of bringing the plays of Tennessee Williams to the stage, beginning with the company's very first production - 27 Wagons Full of Cotton - in 1983. Menendian's 2005 staging of A Streetcar Named Desire won the Jeff award for Outstanding Production as well as Jeff awards for his direction and scenic design. Menendian also won Jeff awards for his designs of The Night of the Iguana and The Glass Menagerie. Not About Nightingales will be the fifteenth Williams play produced at Raven in its 34-year history and the sixth personally directed by Menendian.

Tennessee Williams (playwright) was an award winning playwright, whose accolades include one Tony Award, four New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes. Often using people and situations from his own life as inspiration for his characters and plot lines, Williams tackled many controversial and personal topics including homosexuality, depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Known as a master of American drama, Williams' prolific nature led to the penning of many plays, novels, short stories and a screenplay. His best known works are The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Michael Menendian (director) is a co-founding member of Raven Theatre, where some of his previous directing credits include: Red Velvet, Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, Beast on the Moon, All My Sons, The Playboy of the Western World, A Soldier's Play, Glengarry Glen Ross, Golden Boy, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View from the Bridge, Dancing at Lughnasa, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Death of a Salesman and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He is currently directing Skin for Skin, a world premiere by Paul Pasulka, for The Agency Collective Theatre. He has earned multiple Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards for direction and design.

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