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Westport Country Playhouse Hosts Two Script in Hand Readings 10/4, 11/15

Westport Country Playhouse's popular Script in Hand Series will feature two autumn playreadings, Alan Ayckbourn's hilarious "Bedroom Farce" on Monday, October 4, 7 p.m., and Noël Coward's bittersweet "A Song at Twilight" on Monday, November 15, 7 p.m. Tickets to the one-night-only events are $15.

"Bedroom Farce" will reunite Playhouse audience favorites Geneva Carr, Carson Elrod, Cecilia Hart, Karen Walsh, James Waterston and Paxton Whitehead, who have starred in one or more of the three Ayckbourn comedies that were smash hits on The Playhouse stage, "Relatively Speaking," "Time of My Life" and "How the Other Half Loves." Mark Shanahan, another popular Playhouse regular, will also be in the cast. More casting for both readings will be announced soon.

"The possibility of getting this group of actors, who have delighted our audiences so often with their rendering of Alan Ayckbourn's whacky characters, was just too delicious to pass up," said Anne Keefe, curator of the Script in Hand Series and Playhouse artistic advisor. "And they love performing at The Playhouse as much as we love having them on our stage, so it worked out perfectly."

Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce" is about Trevor and Susannah, whose marriage is on the rocks. The pair inflicts their miseries on their nearest and dearest, three couples whose own relationships are tenuous at best. Taking place sequentially in the three beleaguered couples' bedrooms during one endless Saturday night of co-dependence and dysfunction, beds, tempers and domestic order are ruffled, leading all The Players to a hilariously touching epiphany. A long-running hit in London and New York, the London Times said the play is "as funny as anything he [Ayckbourn] has written."

Geneva Carr appeared Off-Broadway at Theater for the New City, Manhattan Theatre Club, Naked Angels and in "Betty's Summer Vacation" at Playwrights Horizons.

Carson Elrod was on Broadway in "Reckless" and "Noises Off." Off-Broadway, he received a Drama League Award nomination for "Based on a Totally True Story."

Cecilia Hart appeared on Broadway in "Design for Living," "Othello," "Dirty Linen" (Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award nomination), "The Heiress" and "Macbeth."

Mark Shanahan appeared at Westport Country Playhouse in "Around the World in 80 Days," "Tryst," "Sedition," "David Copperfield," "Journey's End" and numerous readings. New York credits include "The 39 Steps."

Karen Walsh was in Broadway's "Accent on Youth," "Pygmalion" and "Prelude to a Kiss." Off-Broadway, she appeared in "Suddenly Last Summer" at Roundabout Theatre.

James Waterston's New York theater credits include "The Importance of Being Earnest" for BAM and "As You Like It" for New York Shakespeare Festival, directed by Mark Lamos.

Paxton Whitehead was on Broadway in "Absurd Person Singular," "My Fair Lady" (Helen Hayes Award), "Noises Off" (Drama Desk Award), "Camelot" (Tony Award nomination), "Candida" and "Beyond the Fringe," among others.

Playwright Alan Ayckbourn wrote "Relatively Speaking," "How the Other Half Loves," "Absurd Person Singular," "The Norman Conquests," "Bedroom Farce," "Just Between Ourselves," "A Chorus of Disapproval," "Woman in Mind," "A Small Family Business" and "Comic Potential." His plays have been translated into 35 languages and have won numerous national and international awards - most recently the 2009 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play with "The Norman Conquests."

Noël Coward's "A Song at Twilight" is a bittersweet comedy about a cosmopolitan author caught in his declining years between two women, one being his wife of convenience for 20 years, the other, one of his former loves. There is a bit of the detective story in this, too, for the former flame produces some old love letters which she is about to turn over to a biographer. He is dead set against it, for it would compromise his impeccable reputation until she produces still another set of love letters, even more damaging, written to a male friend of his early youth. It remains for the wife of convenience to say that she has known about this all along, and to send the old flame off with an entirely different opinion. The blackmail fails, but the rue remains. Mr. Coward, Lilli Palmer and Irene Worth appeared in the London production. The play was produced in New York under the title "Noël Coward in Two Keys," and was subsequently staged at Westport Country Playhouse in 1976 with Richard Kiley, Jan Ferrand and Teresa Wright.

Noël Coward (1899 - 1973) was a dramatist, actor, writer, composer, lyricist, painter and wit. He wrote 60 produced plays, including "Hay Fever," "Private Lives," "Design for Living," "Blithe Spirit," "Present Laughter" and over 300 popular songs including, "A Room With A View," "I'll See You Again," "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "Don't Put Your Daughter On the Stage, Mrs. Worthington."
Both readings will be directed by Anne Keefe, Playhouse artistic advisor, who co-directed with JoAnne Woodward The Playhouse production of "David Copperfield." She is a former Westport Country Playhouse artistic director.

The Script in Hand Series, bringing together professional actors to read works by master playwrights, started earlier this year as a continuation of the highly successful "Funny Mondays" and "The Classical Series," produced by The Playhouse from 2005 through 2008. The Script in Hand Series is supported, in part, by the White Barn Program of the Lucille Lortel Foundation and the Newman's Own Foundation.

About The Playhouse

Westport Country Playhouse, a not-for-profit theater, serves as a treasured home for the performing arts and is a cultural landmark for Connecticut. Under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management direction of Michael Ross, The Playhouse creates quality productions of new and classic plays that enlighten, enrich and engage a diverse community of theater lovers, artists and students. The Playhouse's rich history dates back to 1931, when New York theater producer Lawrence Langner created a Broadway-quality stage within an 1830s tannery. The Playhouse quickly became an established stop on the New England "straw hat circuit" of summer stock theaters. Now celebrating its 80th season, Westport Country Playhouse has produced more than 700 plays, 36 of which later transferred to Broadway, most recently the world premiere of "Thurgood" and a revival of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" with Paul Newman, and in earlier years "Come Back, Little Sheba" with Shirley Booth, "The Trip to Bountiful" with Lillian Gish, and "Butterflies Are Free" with Keir Dullea and Blythe Danner. For its artistic excellence, The Playhouse received a 2005 Governor's Arts Award and a 2000 "Connecticut Treasure" recognition. It was also designated as an Official Project of Save America's Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is entered on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, The Playhouse transformed into a year-round, state-of-the-art producing theater, which has preserved its original charm and character. In addition to a full season of theatrical productions, The Playhouse serves as a community resource, presenting educational programming and workshops; a children's theater series; symposiums; music; films; and readings.

Westport Country Playhouse's five-play 2010 season: "She Loves Me," a romantic musical comedy, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, directed by Mark Lamos, April 20 - May 15; "Dinner with Friends," a comic drama by Donald Margulies, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, June 1 through 19; "Happy Days" by Samuel Beckett, a play of luminous beauty and rare power, directed by Mark Lamos, July 6 through July 24; "I Do! I Do," an endearing musical, with book and lyrics are by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, directed by Susan H. Schulman, August 10 through September 4; and "The Diary of Anne Frank," a timeless and powerful classic, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy Kesselman, directed by Gerald Freedman, September 28 through October 30.

For more information or ticket purchases, call the box office (M-F, 12 to 6 p.m.) at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets may be purchased online at Stay connected to The Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse) and/or follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse).

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