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Case Western Reserve/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program Offers A Witty, Bubbly Production Of HAY FEVER

Case Western Reserve/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program Offers A Witty, Bubbly Production Of HAY FEVER

The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program is proud to present Noël Coward's classic comedy Hay Fever. This madcap play about a weekend with the eccentric Bliss family will star the MFA Class of 2020 and a guest performer. Director Jerrold Scott's production will take the audience back to the 1920's and remind them of the joy of life and fear of boredom. The show will run from February 27th-March 9th in Helen Theatre at Playhouse Square.

When family and invited guests descend on the country home of famous retired actress, Judith Bliss and her novelist husband, a hoped-for relaxing getaway is anything but! Mismatched romantic pairings and familial rivalries lead to an unforgettable weekend of delightful dysfunction.

Hay Fever originally opened in 1925 and is recognized as Noël Coward's first big hit. Coward, who is well known for other plays such as Present Laughter, Private Lives, and Blithe Spirit, wrote the play in three days after being inspired by meeting the unconventional actress, Laurette Taylor and her family. Hay Fever has been revived and broadcasted numerous times around the world since its opening.

"It's a play that on one hand sends a love letter to the theater and all its unique personalities, and on the other, joyfully proclaims that even the most dysfunctional group of people can still be a family," says director Jerrold Scott, Chair of CWRU Department of Theater and Katharine Bakeless Nason Professor of Theater at Case Western Reserve University.

"The Class of 2020 has had the great fortune of appearing in works that focus on strong ensemble playing and Hay Fever is no different. Noël Coward's classic comedy allows every member of the class the opportunity to explore character, period, dialect and style in a play filled with romance, intrigue and of course, humor. It's a pleasure to see the class diving into material that will delight audiences of all ages," says CWRU/CPH MFA Interim Director Don Carrier.

Hay Fever Cast

ALEX BRIGHTWELL (Richard Greatham) was born in West Virginia and raised in North Carolina. He earned his BFA from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. He was a 2018 Conservatory member at the Chautauqua Theater Company, where he played Silvius in As You Like It and Br'er Rabbit/Ratts in An Octoroon. Cleveland credits include the New Ground Theater Festival reading of Tiny Houses and the CWRU/CPH MFA productions of The Seagull and Fifth of July. He has also been seen at Yellow Tree Theater, Minnesota Jewish Theatre, Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Public Theater of Minnesota, and the Guthrie Theater.

ERIN BUNTING (The Maid) recently appeared in Little Women at the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival. Previous Cleveland Play House appearances include Heartbreak House, Present Laughter, and The Philadelphia Story. Other credits include the world premiere of Mother/Tongue by Claire Robinson May at Cleveland Public Theater, as well as Bus Stop, Treasure Island, Macbeth, and Inherit the Wind at OSTF.

CONOR CANNING (Simon Bliss) was born and raised in Alford, Massachusetts. He is a 2016 graduate of Georgetown University where he majored in Political Economy and minored in Theater and Performance Studies. During his time in the CWRU/CPH MFA program, Conor has played Medvenko in The Seagull and Jed Jenkins in Fifth of July. Other notable credits include playing Joe Cooper in Killer Joe, Stacey Kinsella in The Metal Children, and Angelo in Measure for Measure. Conor would like to thank his family for all their love and support as well as all members of the CWRU/CPH community who have offered their guidance, wisdom, and encouragement over the two years.

KASEY CONNOLLY (Jackie Coryton) came to the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program from New York City where she attended the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU. While there, she focused primarily on classical texts and performed in Hamlet; Mother Courage; and an all-female, democratically directed production of Julius Caesar. Film credits include the upcoming independent shorts Apprehending Edmund Montrell and A Way Home. kaseyconnolly.com

COMFORT DOLO (Sorel Bliss) was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and raised in friendly Fridley, Minnesota. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN with double majors in Honors Theatre and Communication Studies. Since graduating, she has been performing around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Favorite credits include: To Kill a Mockingbird (The Guthrie Theatre), TOUCH, a remake of the 1984 Emmy Award winning film project (Illusion Theatre), and various commercials ranging from the Minnesota State Lottery to hand modeling for KeyBank. Recent credits include: Sorin in The Seagull (CWRU/CPH), Naomi in Sugar (Phoenix Theatre), Carlos Sirah's The Utterances (The Playwright's Center), and Shirley in Fifth of July (CWRU/CPH debut). She is a big fan of theatre for social justice, the German language, and gummy bears!

Gregory James (David Bliss) is a Buffalo, NY native who received his B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from SUNY at Buffalo. Upon graduating he spent six years working in Los Angeles. He is a current sketch comedy writing student of Michael Busch. Stage credits include Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and Brooke in Little Women (Oberlin Summer Theater Festival), Trigorin in The Seagull, John in Fifth of July, and Billy in Cicada (CPH), and The Fate of the Date presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. LA theatre credits include Summer and Smoke, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Lend Me a Tenor with the Actors Co-Op Theatre Hollywood, and Some Girl(s) with the LA Fringe. Gregory was a founding resident member of the Whitefire Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Film credits include Jilted for Glamour Magazine, Slow Clap Comedy, and the original Actors Co-Op Series, The Fur is Gone. GregoryJamesActing.com @GregoryJamesActing

ABDUL SEIDU (Sandy Tyrell) is beaming to be acting again alongside his fellow teammates in the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA class of 2020's third production, Hay Fever. Abdul has graduated summa cum laude from Kent State University with a BA in Theatre Arts. He has recently been seen in the MFA productions of The Seagull and Fifth of July

COURTNEY STENNETT (Judith Bliss) is a native of Eagle, Idaho. She graduated with her BFA in Performance from Baylor University. Prior to making the move to Cleveland, Courtney enjoyed living and performing in Chicago. She most recently appeared onstage in the CWRU/CPH production of The Seagull as Masha. Last spring she appeared in Fifth of July as Sally Friedman, and summer 2018, internationally at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Call of the Void. Favorite recent professional credits include Agnes of God (Aleatoric Theatre), A Little Princess (Windy City Music Theatre), and Seminar (Spartan Theatre Company). Courtney is delighted and humbled to be working toward her MFA in the CWRU/CPH Acting program and thrilled to be part of this ensemble!

ELISABETH A. YANCEY (Myra Arundell) was most recently seen onstage as Nina in the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program production of The Seagull and made her Cleveland debut last spring as Gwen in Fifth of July. Internationally, Elisabeth has performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the world premiere of Call of the Void. Other favorite credits include the New Ground Theatre Festival as Marina in Cicada, Oberlin Summer Theater

Festival as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and work with Wellesley Repertory Theatre. Elisabeth holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Wellesley College, a certificate of classical acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and a certificate of literature from Cambridge University. She is delighted to join this generous ensemble once again in bringing another story to life!

HAY FEVER Creative Team

JERROLD SCOTT (Director, Chair of CWRU Department of Theater) is Katharine Bakeless Nason Professor of Theater at Case Western Reserve University where he teaches directing, classical acting, and speech and dialects, and also serves as Artistic Director of the Eldred Theater. For the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program, he has directed She Stoops to Conquer, The Philadelphia Story, Present Laughter, Heartbreak House, The Real Thing, and performed in As You Like It. Jerrold has directed 15 productions at Eldred Theater including The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Other local directing credits include A Doll's House, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Polish Joke (Beck Center for the Arts); As You Like It (Cleveland Shakespeare Festival); and A Long Day's Journey Into Night (Weathervane Playhouse in Akron). Prior to his CWRU appointment, he worked as a director, actor, and educator in Washington, DC. He has taught at George Mason University, The Catholic University of America, and served a visiting lectureship at The Ohio State University. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of South Carolina/The Shakespeare Theatre, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, and pursued further study in classical performance at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Jerrold is a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA and an associate member of SDC.

NOËL COWARD (Playwright) was born in 1899 and made his professional stage debut as Prince Mussel in The Goldfish at the age of 12. His breakthrough in playwriting was the controversial The Vortex (1924) which featured themes of drugs and adultery and made his name as both actor and playwright in the West End and on Broadway. During the frenzied 1920s and the more sedate 1930s, Coward wrote a string of successful plays, musicals and intimate revues including Fallen Angels (1925), Hay Fever (1925), Easy Virtue (1926), This Year of Grace (1928), and Bitter Sweet (1929). His professional partnership with childhood friend Gertrude Lawrence, started with Private Lives (1931), and continued with Tonight at 8.30 (1936). During World War II, he remained a successful playwright, screenwriter and director. His plays during these years included Blithe Spirit which ran for 1997 performances, outlasting the War (a West End record until The Mousetrap overtook it), This Happy Breed, and Present Laughter (both 1943). His two wartime screenplays, In Which We Serve, which he co-directed with the young David Lean, and Brief Encounter quickly became classics of British cinema. However, the post-war years were more difficult. Austerity Britain - the London critics determined - was out of tune with the brittle Coward wit. In response, Coward re-invented himself as a cabaret and TV star, particularly in America, and in 1955 he played a sell-out season in Las Vegas featuring many of his most famous songs, including Mad About the Boy, I'll See You Again, and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. In the mid-1950s he settled in Jamaica and Switzerland, and enjoyed a renaissance in the early 1960s becoming the first living playwright to be performed by the National Theatre, when he directed Hay Fever there. Late in his career he was lauded for his roles in a number of films including Our Man In Havana (1959) and his role as the iconic Mr. Bridger alongside Michael Caine in The Italian Job (1968). His final West End appearance was Song at Twilight in 1966, which he wrote and starred in. He was knighted in 1970 and died peacefully in 1973 in his beloved Jamaica.

The Design Team for Hay Fever includes: AARON BENSON (Scenic Designer), ANGELINA M. HERIN (Costume Designer), Kevin Frazier (Lighting and Sound Designer), BETH McGEE (Dialect Coach), Catherine Albers (Acting Coach). The Stage Manager for this production is JESSIE HIGGINS.

Hay Fever will take place in the Helen Theatre from February 27 - March 9, 2019. Tickets are $15. All MFA shows are half off for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid student ID, and Young Professional discounts available with YP-CPH Membership. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save at 216-400-7027.

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