Music Theatre of Connecticut Opens ANCESTRAL VOICES Tonight
"Ancestral Voices" is set in playwright A.R. Gurney's hometown of Buffalo, New York in the 1940s. It is a bittersweet story, perceived through the eyes of young Eddie, whose family is turned inside out when his grandmother unexpectedly divorces his grandfather in order to marry his grandfather's best friend. Simultaneously, the outside world is undergoing temporal changes and we follow the family through the ensuing decades of war and social upheaval. As with Gurney's popular play "Love Letters," "Ancestral Voices" was written to be performed informally, with actors reading from scripts. "I wrote it about my maternal grandparents, probably because at that time I had become a grandparent myself," says playwright A.R. Gurney. "In the process, I was influenced by specific events and details from my own family, but by the time I finished the play, it contained as many differences as similarities. If I were younger, or had a cousin in Hollywood, I might have originally aimed this story for the screen. Yet when I write, I seem to do better if I have in mind the image of live actors performing in front of responsive audiences. Besides, the theatre, which is an ancient and, in some ways, an outmoded medium, seems to be the best medium for presenting the ancient and outmoded customs which were once so much a part of my life."
The cast of "Ancestral Voices" includes three Connecticut professionals. Marty Bongfeldt of Danbury was last seen at MTC MainStage's critically-acclaimed production of "Cabaret." She co-starred with Van Johnson in "Anything Goes", played Tiger Lily opposite Cathy Rigby in "Peter Pan", and is a long time member of the Theatre Artists Workshop. John Flaherty of Norwalk is making his MTC MainStage debut. Flaherty's credits include "Othello" at The Shakespeare Theatre Company, "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theatre and "The Philadelphia Story" at Hartford Stage. Other New York credits include productions at Rattlestick Theatre, The Kraine Theatre and Expanded Arts. Jo Anne Parady of Southport has appeared off-Broadway, in commercials and day time television, and played Emilia in "Othello" at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She was recently seen in "Momoirs: The Umbilical Cord Stops Here," a play that she co-wrote, at the the Zipper Theatre in NYC, and is also a long-time member of The Theatre Artists Workshop. New Yorker John Little recently appeared Off-Broadway in "The Christmas Rose" at Carnegie Hall with Jane Seymour, last season's "Poetic License" and "The Butterfly". Regional credits include "Henry IV" and "Oliver Twist" at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and numerous productions at Yale Rep, Syracuse Stage, Pioneer Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse and Goodspeed Musicals. Little recently played Bishop Norman on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." Broadway veteran Michael McGurk appeared the original cast of "The Wedding Singer" and the original revival cast of "The Music Man." Other credits include Off-Broadway's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," the first national tour of "Dr. Dolittle," in numerous regional productions at Pittsburgh CLO, Sacramento Music Circus, Goodspeed Opera House, Barrington Stage, and has twice performed on The Tony Awards.