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Westport Country Playhouse to Open 2016 Season with ART and RED in Rep

Westport Country Playhouse will open its 2016 Season with two Tony Award-winning plays staged in repertory, "Art" and "Red," with each play alternating daily, from May 3 through May 29. "Art" by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, and "Red" by John Logan, will be directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. Each of the plays is about art: making it, owning it, the anguish of creating it, and the ache of believing in it.

"We're trying something new: two plays in repertory that have never before been programmed together," said Lamos. "Producing these two plays in rep connects and intensifies their multi-layered insights on the mysteries of art. I urge our audience to enrich their experience by seeing both."

Repertory theater is the idea on which the Playhouse was originally based. It dates back to Playhouse founder Lawrence Langner's 1931 inaugural season, when several plays alternated daily throughout the season. The repertory concept was also part of the Playhouse's 1932 and 1935 seasons, and briefly done in the mid-1960s.

In the witty comedy, "Art," Serge, a novice art collector, proudly shows off a newly acquired painting to his friends. The painting is expensive and completely white. He imagines they will stand in awe, but they have a slightly different point of view.

"'Art' explores the power of art to transform relationships," stated Lamos. "The painting is a catalyst that plunges the characters into behavioral change."

The cast of "Art" includes Sean Dugan as Yvan (Broadway's "Next Fall" - Drama Desk nom.; Off-Broadway's "Cloud Nine," "Shakespeare's R&J"; tv's "Boardwalk Empire," "Smash"); Benton Greene as Marc (Off-Broadway's "The Seven," "365 Days/365 Plays"; regional theater's "Comedy of Errors," "Romeo & Juliet"; tv's "Hostages," "Gossip Girl"); and John Skelley as Serge (WCP's "And a Nightingale Sang"; Off-Broadway's "Hamlet" in the title role, "The Changeling," "Desire"; tv's "Elementary").

In the riveting drama "Red," the famous abstract expressionist Mark Rothko paints; his assistant runs the errands; each knows his place in the world. But when the artist asks his protégée, "What do you see," it rearranges everything.

"'Red' explores a relationship between a father figure and a surrogate son, both of whom experience the need to make art in completely different ways," added Lamos. "One character is a master artist, a mentor; the other a younger artist, who is trapped in a tragic past."

The cast of "Red" includes Patrick Andrews as Ken (regional theater's "Red," "The Iceman Cometh," "American Buffalo," "The Book Thief," "The Normal Heart," "Cabaret"; tv's "Chicago Code," "Chicago Fire").

Stephen Rowe will play Mark Rothko. Rowe was in "Red" on Broadway as the understudy to Alfred Molina. His other Broadway credits are "The Cripple of Inishmaan," "That Championship Season," "Frost/Nixon," "The Goat," and "The Nerd." His television credits include "Blue Bloods" (recurring), and "Billions."

Director Mark Lamos has directed many plays at Westport Country Playhouse since 2008. His extensive New York credits include "Our Country's Good," for which he received a Tony Award nomination. A former artistic director at Hartford Stage, he earned the 1989 Tony Award for the theater's body of work. He was awarded the Connecticut Medal for the Arts as well as honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, University of Hartford, and Trinity College.

Yazmina Reza, playwright of "Art," is a French playwright and novelist, whose works, including "God of Carnage," have all been multi-award-winning, critical and popular international successes, produced worldwide, and translated into 35 languages.

John Logan, playwright of "Red," received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle and Drama League awards for "Red." He is the author of more than a dozen other plays. As a screenwriter, Logan films include "Sweeney Todd" (Golden Globe Award), "The Aviator" (Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and WGA nominations), and "Gladiator" (Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and WGA nominations).

The design team includes Allen Moyer, scenic design; Candice Donnelly, costume design; Matthew Richards, lighting design; and David Budries, sound design.

"Art" will be performed on the even-numbered days of May; "Red" on the odd-numbered days. Performance schedule is Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Special series feature Taste of Tuesday, LGBT Night OUT, Opening Night, Sunday Symposium, Open Captions, Thursday TalkBack, Together at the Table Family Dinner, Playhouse Happy Hour, and Backstage Pass.

"Art" and "Red" Production Sponsors are Barbara and John Streicker; Corporate Production Sponsor is Bank of America.

Single tickets start at $30; buy early for best prices. Discounts are available for ticket purchases to both "Art" and "Red."

Photo by Peter Chenot

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