McNenny, Sternhagen and Thomas Lead The Golden Age Reading At WCP

As a special 80th anniversary event for Westport Country Playhouse, noted actors Kathleen McNenny, Frances Sternhagen and Richard Thomas will star in a Script in Hand reading of A. R. Gurney's delightfully witty game of cat and mouse, "The Golden Age," on Monday, June 20, 7 p.m. Director is John Tillinger. Tickets to the one-night-only reading are $15. Tickets to the reading and a post-performance reception to meet the cast, playwright and director are $80 ($15 for reading; $65 donation to support the 80th Anniversary Fund).

"Our friend and local playwright A.R. Gurney and I were speaking recently and he mentioned his fascinating play 'The Golden Age,'" said Anne Keefe, Script in Hand Series curator. "He has recently revisited the script and has done some work on it, thinking to make it more of a reader's play, like his acclaimed 'Love Letters' and 'Ancestral Voices.' We agreed that it would fit perfectly into our Script in Hand Series."

"The Golden Age" tells of Isabel Hastings Hoyt, once a glittering figure in the literary salons of the '20s, who now is short of money and concerned about her granddaughter, Virginia, a twice-divorced near alcoholic. She would like to see Virginia securely married before she 'kicks the bucket.' Enter Tom, an ambitious young academic. He suspects that Isabel, a confidante of F. Scott Fitzgerald, might have been the model for Daisy in "The Great Gatsby," and that she may possess an unpublished chapter from "Gatsby" which depicts passionate lovemaking between Gatsby and Daisy. He determines to gain access to this literary treasure no matter how devious the means. A series of complex and perilous relationships develop between the three characters as the mystery begins to unfold.

Kathleen McNenny plays Virginia. Her credits at Westport Country Playhouse include "Beyond Therapy" and "The Good German" (Connecticut Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Actress). Most recently she was in "Equus" at Guild Hall playing the Magistrate opposite Alec Baldwin. Broadway credits include "Coram Boy," "The Constant Wife," "After the Fall" and "A Few Good Men." Off-Broadway, she appeared in "Gates of Gold," "Mind Game," "Comedy of Errors," "Twelfth Night" and "Winter's Tale." Regional appearances include "Twelfth Night" and "As You Like It" at Long Wharf Theatre and "Candida" at Yale Repertory Theatre. Films are "Morning Glory," "Music and Lyrics," "School of Rock" and "It Could Happen to You." She is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Drama.

Frances Sternhagen portrays Isabel. Her credits at Westport Country Playhouse include "On Golden Pond" and "All My Sons." She has received two Tony Awards for her performances in "The Good Doctor" and "The Heiress." She has been nominated five other times for her performances in "Equus," "On Golden Pond," "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window," "Angel" and "Morning's at Seven." She is also well-known for her feisty portrayal of the title character in the off-Broadway production of "Driving Miss Daisy." Television credits include "Cheers" (for which she received two Emmy Award nominations), "The Closer," "ER" and "Sex and the City."

Richard Thomas, who plays Tom, appeared in Westport Country Playhouse's "Critic's Choice" and "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" Thomas entered the public's heart starring in the Emmy Award-winning series, "The Waltons." He has continued to star in series, films, plays and over 50 movies for television. Thomas first entered Stephen King territory with his lead role in the miniseries Stephen King's "IT." He revisited this world in the 2006 miniseries "Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King". His other television movie and miniseries credits include "All Quiet on the Western Front," "The Red Badge of Courage," "Johnny Belinda," "Living Proof: The Hank Williams Story," "Hobson's Choice" and "Roots: The Next Generation." On the big screen, Thomas has appeared in such movies as "The Wonder Boys" and the Ang Lee feature "Taking Woodstock." Most recently, he was seen in the Hallmark Channel's film "Time After Time." On stage, he has been called "one of the leading classical actors of his generation," Newsday. His Broadway career began at age seven with 1958's "Sunrise at Campobello," and has continued with such shows as "Fifth of July," "The Seagull," "The Front Page," "Tiny Alice," "Peer Gynt," "Richard II," "Richard III," "Hamlet" and "The Stendhal Syndrome." Recent appearances include Broadway's "Democracy" and "Race," The Public Theater's "Timon of Athens" and the national tour of the acclaimed Broadway revival of "12 Angry Men."

Playwright A. R. ("Pete") Gurney has been writing plays for over 50 years. Westport Country Playhouse has produced many of Gurney's works including "The Dining Room," "The Cocktail Hour," "Far East," "Ancestral Voices," "The Perfect Party," "What I Did Last Summer," "The Middle Ages," "A Cheever Evening," "Love Letters," "Children" and the world premiere of "The Fourth Wall." Gurney is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University, and taught literature at M.I.T. for many years.

"The Golden Age" will be directed by John Tillinger. He directed Westport Country Playhouse's "How the Other Half Loves," "Children," "Time of My Life," "Relatively Speaking," "The Drawer Boy" and "Sylvia." He directed many Broadway plays including "Night Must Fall" with Matthew Broderick, "The Sunshine Boys" with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, "Inherit the Wind" with Charles Durning and George C. Scott (Tony Award nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award), "The Price" with Eli Wallach (Tony Award nomination) and "Loot!" with Joseph Maher (OCC Award, Tony Award nomination). His Off-Broadway directing work includes "Sylvia" with Sarah Jessica Parker, "After the Fall" with Frank Langella and Dianne Wiest, "The Lisbon Traviata" with Nathan Lane (Lortel Award), "Love Letters" with many stars including Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst (Lortel Award), "The Perfect Party" (OCC Award) and "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" (Drama Desk Award). Regionally, he directed many productions at Long Wharf Theatre, including "Arsenic and Old Lace" with JoAnne Woodward and "The Road to Mecca" with Julie Harris.

Artists are subject to change.

The Script in Hand Series is underwritten in part by Board of Trustees Sponsors Michele and Marc Flaster and through grants by the White Barn Program of the Lucille Lortel Foundation and Newman's Own Foundation. Playhouse 2011 Season Sponsor is KPMG.

Upcoming Script in Hand readings, titles to be announced, are scheduled for Mondays, November 14 and December 12. Tickets are now on sale for all Script in Hand readings.

About The Playhouse

Reimagining itself in recent years, Westport Country Playhouse is rapidly emerging as a nationally recognized professional theater. Under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management direction of Michael Ross, The Playhouse creates five live theater experiences, produced at the highest level, from April through November. Its vital mix of works---dramatic, comedic, occasionally exploratory and unusual---expands the audience's sense of what theater can be. Its productions' depth and scope display the foremost theatrical literature from the past---recent as well as distant---in addition to musicals and premieres of new plays. During the summer, The Playhouse is home to the Woodward Internship Program, renowned for the training of aspiring theater professionals. Winter at The Playhouse, from November through March, offers events outside of the main season---Family Festivities presentations, Script in Hand play readings and a Holiday Festival. In addition, businesses and organizations are encouraged to rent the handsome facility for their meetings, receptions and fundraisers.

As an historic venue, Westport Country Playhouse has had many different lives leading up to the present. Originally built in 1835 as a tannery manufacturing hatters' leathers, it became a steam-powered cider mill in 1880, later to be abandoned in the 1920s. Splendidly transformed into a theater in 1931, it initially served as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the New England straw hat circuit of summer stock theaters through the end of the 20th century.

Today, the not-for-profit Westport Country Playhouse serves as a cultural nexus for patrons, artists and students and is a treasured resource for the State of Connecticut. There are no boundaries to the creative thinking for future seasons or the kinds of audiences and excitement for theater that Westport Country Playhouse can build.
Westport Country Playhouse's five-play 2011 season: "Beyond Therapy," a wicked, and wickedly funny, look at the days and nights of the young and single, written by comic master Christopher Durang and directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, April 26 - May 14; "The Circle," the scintillating comedy of manners, written by W. Somerset Maugham and directed by Nicholas Martin, June 7 - June 25; "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," a perceptive comedy about people struggling against their limitations, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director, July 12 - July 30; "Suddenly Last Summer," the poetic, sensual and evocative drama, written by Tennessee Williams and directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, August 23 - September 10; and "Twelfth Night, or What You Will," the beguiling comedy/romance, written by William Shakespeare and directed by Mark Lamos, October 11 - November 5.

For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to The Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider's peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.theplayhouseblog.org).



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