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Divine Rivalry Opens at Hartford Stage 2/24

The greatest unknown event of the Renaissance will unfold at Hartford Stage beginning February 24. Divine Rivalry, a world premiere play by noted political journalist Michael Kramer, tells the fascinating story of a painting competition between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelanglo, orchestrated by the nefarious Niccolo Machiavelli. Michael Wilson directs in his final directorial assignment as Hartford Stage Artistic Director. The production runs at the Tony Award-winning theatre through March 20.

Leonardo da Vinci. Michelangelo. Machiavelli. Each with a unique agenda in pursuit of personal riches, great art, and immortality through knowledge, innovation, and power. Divine Rivalry is inspired by a little known but factual meeting of the Renaissance's three greatest minds and the consequences when art is used as a tool for political and personal ambition. Production sponsor for Divine Rivalry is Bank of America. Support for Hartford Stage productions is provided by The Greater Hartford Arts Council and The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

The cast of Divine Rivalry consists of four talented actors, two returning to the theatre and two making their Hartford Stage debuts. Simon Jones (Soderini) was seen at Hartford Stage in My Fair Lady. His Broadway credits include The Real Thing, Benefactors, The School for Scandal, Getting Married, Private Lives, The Real Inspector Hound/Hamlet, The Herbal Bed, Ring Round the Moon, Waiting in the Wings and Blithe Spirit. He has done extensive TV, and is best remembered as Bridey in Brideshead Revisited and Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Aaron Krohn is making his Hartford Stage debut in the role of Michelangelo. His Broadway credits include The Farnsworth Invention, The Coast of Utopia, Julius Caesar, Henry IV, and The Invention of Love. He's been seen Off-Broadway in As You Like It, The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, The Cherry Orchard, The Glass Cage, and Echoes of the War. Scott Parkinson (Machiavelli) was seen at Hartford Stage earlier this season as Caesar in Antony & Cleopatra. He has appeared on Broadway in The Coast of Utopia and in the national tour of The 39 Steps. He has extensive Off-Broadway and regional credits. Peter Strauss (Leonardo da Vinci) is making his Hartford Stage debut. He has appeared on Broadway in Einstein and the Polar Bear and Off-Broadway inTop Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, Sabina, and Chinese Friends. He is best known for his television work in Rich Man, Poor Man Masada, The Jericho Mile (Emmy Award), Heart of Steel, Tender is the Night, Kane and Abel, Brotherhood of the Rose, Trial, Texas Justice, Joan of Arc, A Whale for the Killing, Men Don't Tell, The Yearling, and the seriesMoloney.

Michael Kramer, author of Divine Rivalry, is an award-winning journalist. As New YorkMagazine's political columnist in the 1970s and 1980s, he covered local and national politics. For a decade beginning in the late '80s, he was TIME Magazine's political columnist, covering national and foreign affairs. He was also chief political correspondent for US News & World Report and managing editor of the New York Daily News. He was the editor and publisher of More, the media magazine, and editor of Content, a short-lived magazine about the news business. He is the co-author of The Ethnic Factor, a book about minority voting patterns that became a standard text on the subject. He also co-authored "I Never Wanted to be Vice President of Anything," a political biography of Nelson Rockefeller that was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a graduate of Amherst College and the Columbia Law School.

Dramaturg D. S. Moynihan worked with Michael Wilson on his production of Zerline's Tale at Hartford Stage in 2007. She began her career in the Press/Marketing departments of Circle Rep and The Ensemble Studio Theatre, and eventually became Literary Manager of the latter, where she worked closely with writers on the creation and development of new plays. She is a former Assistant Editor of The Drama Review and has written articles, essays and criticism for several publications. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Drama from New York University and taught at Sarah Lawrence College for five years. Moynihan joined The Shubert Foundation in 1988 and currently serves as Vice President-Creative Projects of The Shubert Organization, where she has been privileged to work on such new theatre pieces as Dirty Blonde, Amour and Passing Strange.

Divine Rivalry is directed by Michael Wilson. Now in his thirteenth season as artistic director of Hartford Stage, Mr. Wilson has produced over seventy-six MainStage productions for the theatre, Mr. Wilson has directed twenty-nine productions at Hartford Stage, including Horton Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle; and in the ten-year Tennessee Williams Marathon: The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Summer and Smoke, Camino Real, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Night of the Iguana, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur and 8 By Tenn. His other productions include premieres by Eve Ensler and David Grimm as well as David Hare's The Bay at Nice, and revivals of Long Day's Journey into Night and Macbeth. Under his leadership, Hartford Stage has focused on the development of new work-with ten Broadway or Off-Broadway transfers-and the expansion of its education and community outreach programs, which have garnered the company the Bank of America's 2007 Neighborhood Builders Award and the Hartford Courant's 2005 Tapestry Award. His other directing includes the Broadway productions of Dividing the Estate, Old Acquaintance, and Enchanted April (Outer Critics Circle nomination). Off-Broadway work includes The Orphans' Home Cycle (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), The Carpetbagger's Children, Dividing the Estate, The Day Emily Married, Chasing Manet, What Didn't Happen, Necessary Targets, Defying Gravity, and The Red Devil Battery Sign. Wilson has received the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit, Princess Grace Foundation-USA Statue, and Elliot Norton Awards; Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship; the Greater Hartford Civitan Citizen of the Year; the Connecticut Critics Circle's Tom Killen Award for Outstanding Contribution to Connecticut Theatre; the 2007 National Governors Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts; a 2007 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Hartford; and the 2008 Governor's Award for Excellence in Culture.

The design team for Divine Rivalry includes long-time Wilson collaborators Jeff Cowie (Set Design), David Woolard (Costume Design), and John Gromada (Original Music and Sound Design). Robert Weirzel is the Lighting Designer, Peter Nigrini designed the projections, and Paul Huntley is the Wig Designer. The collaboration among Wilson, Cowie, and Gromada will be the subject of a special exhibit, "Growing up in Public," that will be installed in Hartford Stage's new multi-purpose function space, room, during the run of the production.

Tickets for Divine Rivalry are $23 to $66. A limited number of $10 "Ten Spot" tickets are also available for all performances, making Hartford Stage among the most affordable entertainment options in Connecticut. Discounts are available for groups of ten or more by calling 860-520-7244. What a Rush! half-price tickets to Divine Rivalry may be purchased, subject to availability, beginning two hours before each performance in person at the box office only. Patrons must request What a Rush! tickets at the time of purchase to receive this discount. Tickets for children and students are $10 off the full price when purchased in advance. Students of Capital Community College may purchase one $10 ticket to Divine Rivalry upon presentation of their student ID at the Hartford Stage box office. All discount programs are subject to availability and cannot combined with other offers. Hartford Stage has wheelchair accessible seating, assistive listening devices and other amenities. For more information, please call the Hartford Stage box office. Hartford Stage is located at 50 Church Street in downtown Hartford with parking located in the MAT Garage, directly adjacent to the theatre. The theatre is accessible from I-84 and I-91.

Key Dates and Information
Tickets for Divine Rivalry are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 860-527-5151 or by visiting
Low-priced preview performances begin February 24 and run through March 3.

Press opening for Divine Rivalry is Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.

The production runs through March 20. Evening performances are weeknights (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) at 7:30 p.m. and weekends (Friday and Saturday) at 8:00 p.m. Matinee performances are Sundays and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. For a more specific schedule of performances, call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit

The Lunchtime FreeView for Divine Rivalry, a brief scene from the play followed by and informative and lively discussion with members of the cast and artistic staff, will be held at noon on Thursday, March 3.
The Pay What You CanSaturday matinee performance of Divine Rivalrywill be Saturday, March 5 at 2:00 p.m. Pay What You Cantickets are available two hours before the performance in person at the box office only.
Open Captioned performances of Divine Rivalry will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The Audio Described performance of Divine Rivalry will be Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m.

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