Casting & Creative Teams Announced For Five Florida Rep Productions

Casting & Creative Teams Announced For Five Florida Rep ProductionsFlorida Repertory Theatre is pleased to announce directors for its 2018-2019 Season and complete casting for five of its upcoming productions. The theatre's 21st season is set to open to previews Sept. 18 with the moving, one-woman comedy, Becoming Dr. Ruth, which kicks off a nine-show season in the theatre's two venues.

The season showcases Florida Rep's signature ensemble of artists in a variety of roles and projects and introduces a record number of Broadway and regional theatre veterans making their Florida Rep debuts. Florida Repertory Theatre's 2018-2019 Season begins the company's third decade of producing nationally-recognized, professional theatre in the Fort Myers River District, and is set to run Sept. 18, 2018 to May 5, 2019 with a line-up that includes two musicals, multiple comedies, a modern American classic, a southeastern United States premiere, and a world-premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

"We are delighted to be celebrating our third decade with this diverse section of plays and musicals," said Interim Artistic Director, Jason Parrish." It is incredibly rewarding to spend the summer months collaborating with so many skilled actors and directors in audition rooms locally, across the state, and in New York. I'm confident this season will set a high-water mark for us artistically, and I am eager to give our audiences a glimpse of the teams we're assembling."

The season opens in the ArtStage Studio Theatre with the harrowing true story of how a little girl fled the Nazis to become one of the most empowering voices of the 20th century. "Becoming Dr. Ruth" by Mark St Germain (Sept. 18 - Nov. 7) is directed by ensemble member Chris Clavelli, and stars Susan Greenhill as Dr. Ruth. Greenhill, a New York-based Broadway and regional theatre veteran is no stranger to the role and has appeared in the play at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota and at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

Chris Clavelli returns to direct the production after his work on last year's season opener, "Outside Mullingar" and a recent production at Sarasota's newest professional company, Dog Days Theatre. Clavelli leads set designer Bert Scott, costume designer Jacqueline Loy, lighting and projection designer Rob Siler, sound designer Katie Lowe, and ensemble stage manager Amy Massari.

"Steel Magnolias" by Robert Harling (Oct. 16 - Nov. 7) opens the Historic Arcade Theatre season and features three ensemble members, Rachel Burttram, Sara Morsey, and Patricia Idlette alongside three women making their Florida Rep debuts in the now iconic roles made famous by the 1989 film. Rachel Burttram is set to play beauty shop owner, Truvy Jones; Sara Morsey returns after a season away from the Rep as the acid-tongued, Ouiser Boudreaux, and Patricia Idlette will play the quick-witted, former town first lady, Clairee Belcher. Amy Tribbey joins the three as M'Lynn, Betsy Helmer as Annelle, and Alison Campbell as Shelby. Tribbey is a regional theatre veteran whose appearances include Paper Mill Playhouse, the Hangar Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, and the recent Broadway run of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," as well as a recurring role on HBO's "The Americans." Helmer's recent credits include Salt Lake City's Pioneer Theatre Company and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and Arizona-based Campbell appears after a season with Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota.

Interim Artistic Director and ensemble member, Jason Parrish will direct "Steel Magnolias," and leads a creative team that includes ensemble set and lighting designer Jim Hunter, sound designer Katie Lowe, and ensemble stage manager Janine Wochna.

The southeastern United States premiere of "Damascus," a psychological thriller by Bennett Fisher (Nov. 6 - Dec. 9), stars Darian Dauchan, Jeremiah Clapp, and Laura Shatkus - all making their Florida Rep debuts. Set mostly inside a shuttle van between the Minneapolis and Chicago airports, "Damascus" is a claustrophobic and electrifying conversation about extremism, our biases, and the line between caution and paranoia. Darian Dauchan, a Broadway, regional, and film actor, plays Hassan, the Somali American shuttle driver struggling to make ends meet. Jeremiah Clapp is a regional actor and recent Case Western Reserve/Cleveland Playhouse MFA graduate who plays the 19-year-old college student, Lloyd, who is desperate to get to Chicago in the dead of night. Laura Shatkus plays multiple characters in "Damascus," and is a Chicago native whose recent work includes the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville and TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Ensemble member, V Craig Heidenreich, directs "Damascus," and leads an expert creative team, including resident set designer Jordan Moore, ensemble costume designer Stefanie Genda, lighting and projection designer Rob Siler, sound designer Katie Lowe, and ensemble stage manager Audrey M. Brown.

Set to play a long run in the ArtStage Studio Theatre (Dec. 18, 2018 - Feb. 24, 2019), "Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical" had its world premiere in 2015 with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Florida Rep's production reunites the original cast: Susan Haefner and Michael Marotta. A regional theatre veteran, Haefner reprises the title role for the third time in Florida Rep's production and is joined by longtime Florida Rep favorite, Michael Marotta as Bing Crosby, Jose Farrar, Frank Sinatra, her psychiatrist and even Clooney's mother and sister. New York-based Marotta has played the role multiple times and was seen most recently at Florida Rep in "Cabaret" earlier this year.

Also making her Florida Rep debut is regional and Off-Broadway director, Eleanor Holdridge. Based in Washington, DC, Holdridge has worked at major regional companies across the country and holds an MFA in directing from Yale and is Head of Directing at Catholic University of America's Department of Drama. Musical director Victoria Casella and choreographer MK Lawson join Holdridge to lead and an expert creative team, including resident set designer Jordan Moore, costume designer Charlene Gross, lighting designer Todd O. Wren, sound designer Katie Lowe, and ensemble stage manager Amy Massari.

In January, Florida Rep is set to produce August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama, "Fences." Running in the Arcade Theatre Jan. 8-30, this production will be the first time the theatre has taken on a play by Wilson, who is one of the great dramatists of the 20th century. Wilson is known for his 10-play American Century Cycle which takes an in-depth and personal look at the African American experience in each of the decades of the last century; "Fences" is his snapshot of the 1950s, and is a portrait of a man whose dream deferred has implications for his wife and sons.

Florida Rep has assembled an A-list cast of Broadway and regional actors, many of whom have appeared numerous times in "Fences" and other American Century Cycle plays. Michael Genet plays the central character, Troy Maxson, after appearing in the recent Broadway revival with Denzel Washington. Gayle Samuels is cast as Rose Maxson after her appearance earlier this year in the Broadway revival of "Children of a Lesser God." Also in the cast as Troy's longtime friend, Bono, is Harvy Blanks - one of the few actors in America who's performed in all ten American Century Cycle plays. Blanks completed the cycle in the recent Broadway production of "Jitney," the last of the ten plays to have its Broadway premiere. Also in that same production of "Jitney" was Brian D. Coats, who plays Gabriel in Florida Rep's "Fences." Daniel Morgan Shelley plays Troy's older son, Lyons, after recent appearances in Florida Rep's PlayLab Festival and major regional companies, including Geva Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Hartford Stage, and many others. Recent Emerson College graduate, Marc Alexander Pierre, makes his Florida Rep debut as Troy's youngest son, Cory. Local young actress, Johnieann Smith, appears in her second Florida Rep production after appearing in 2017's "To Kill a Mockingbird," and will be understudied by another FloridaRep rising star, JoLe Peynado.

One of the country's preeminent directors of Wilson's work, Benny Sato Ambush, directs Florida Rep's "Fences," and is joined by ensemble set designer Richard Crowell, costume designer Alexandria Vazquez, ensemble lighting designer Todd O. Wren, sound designer Katie Lowe, and ensemble stage manager Amy Massari.

Florida Rep's 2018-2019 Season also includes a world premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the Noël Coward farce, "Hay Fever," Broadway's rock 'n' roll sensation, "Million Dollar Quartet," and one of the most produced new comedies of the last year, "Native Gardens" by Karen Zacarías. Longtime Florida Rep collaborator, Mark Shanahan, will direct "Hay Fever" and his adaptation of the Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol: The Tale of Ebenezer Scrooge." Interim Artistic Director Jason Parrish will also direct "Million Dollar Quartet," and University of Dallas professor and regional director, Stefan Novinski, will make his Florida Rep debut with "Native Gardens." Casts and creative teams for these Florida Rep productions are nearing completion and will be announced later this summer.

Single tickets are available online at www.FloridaRep.org and through the box office at 239-332-4488. Tickets are at $55 and $45 for regular performances, and $35 and $25 for previews. Subscriptions start as low as $150 for six plays and offer the best seats and the most significant savings, and are available through the box office. Summer box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 AM - 1 PM.

Florida Repertory Theatre performs in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson & Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep online at FloridaRep.org, and by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.



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