Michael Wilson To Direct Alley Theatre's ETHER DOME, Previews 9/9

Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd announces the cast and creative team for the world premiere of Ether Dome, the first Alley production by acclaimed playwright Elizabeth Egloff. Former Alley Theatre Associate Director Michael Wilson returns to the Alley after 13 years as Artistic Director of Hartford Stage to direct the epic production of Ether Dome, kicking off the Alley's 65th season on the Neuhaus Stage.

As part of the Hartford Heritage Project, Michael Wilson commissioned Elizabeth Egloff to write Ether Dome in 2005. Ether Dome had a workshop of scenes in progress in 2007, and again in 2008, at Hartford Stage's Brand:NEW Festival. In 2009, Ether Dome had its first reading of the full play at set designer James Youmans' studio in New York City and in 2010, a second draft of the play was read at New Dramatists. Its final workshop was at the Alley Theatre in July 2011.

"I am so excited to return to the Alley to work with the company to realize Elizabeth Egloff's ambitious new work" says director Michael Wilson. "Liz is one of the most intelligent, visionary, and theatrical writers of her generation. Her sweeping sense of history, along with her astute and shrewd observance of human behavior, combine here to create a deeply personal story that reveals a nascent and fragile United States of America at a dramatic crossroads of tradition, democracy, and innovation."

About love, deception and betrayal, Ether Dome tells the story of the discovery of anesthesia and focuses on the relationship between two of the greatest medical innovators in Western history, Horace Wells and his student, William Morton. Highlighting the inherent contradiction of profiting from people's illnesses, Ether Dome challenges our understanding of God, pain and what it means to be truly human. Recommended for mature audiences.

Elizabeth Egloff's plays The Swan, The Devils, Phaedra, and Wolf-Man have been given productions at major theatres across the United States and abroad and garnered her a wide array of prestigious awards and grants including The Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation Writer's Award, The Weissberger Prize and The Kesselring Prize. Among her numerous screen credits is the award-winning series The Reagans, Emmy-nominated for Best Screenplay.

Michael Wilson returns to the Alley to direct Ether Dome. His Alley productions have included A Christmas Carol, Angels in America, A Streetcar Named Desire and many more. Most recently, he has been the Artistic Director of Hartford Stage in Connecticut for 13 seasons. His New York productions include Dividing the Estate, The Orphans' Home Cycle, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, Enchanted April and Necessary Targets. He will also stage the Alley's Dividing the Estate in October.

Ether Dome features Alley Theatre Artists Jeffrey Bean as Dr. Charles Jackson, Elizabeth Bunch as Elizabeth Wells, James Belcher as Gardner Colton/Gilbert Abbot/R.H. Eddy, Esq./Phineas Cook, Chris Hutchison as Dr. Henry Bigelow, Melissa Pritchett as Elizabeth Whitman Morton, John Tyson as Dr. John Warren and Todd Waite as Dr. Augustus Gould/Assistant Secretary of War.

Ether Dome also features Michael Bakkensen as Dr. Horace Wells (Alley Theatre Debut), Joshua Estrada as Inman/Messenger/Eben Frost, Dylan Godwin as George Livingston (Alley's Amadeus, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, Our Town), Philip Lehl as Dr. George Hayward/Albert Tenney (Alley's The Farnsworth Invention, Rock ‘n' Roll, Eurydice), Sean Lyons as William Morton (Alley Theatre Debut), Anne Quackenbush as Mrs. Wadsworth/Miss Lanakova/Nurse/Jane White (Alley's Amadeus, Harvey, Our Town), Rebekah Stevens as Scheherazade/Young Woman in White/Ms. Mary Pierce and Adam Gibbs, Kalob Martinez, and the Company as medical students, citizens of Hartford, Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Ether Dome will feature scenic design by James Youmans (Alley Theatre Debut) and costume design by David C. Woolard (Alley's Be My Baby, The Underpants, The Carpetbagger's Children). Lighting design is by David Lander (Alley's Othello) and sound design is by Alex Neumann (Alley Theatre Debut) with original music by John Gromada (Alley's Our Town, Treasure Island, Subject to Fits).

Ether Dome, by Elizabeth Egloff and directed by Michael Wilson, begins previews Friday, September 9, opens Wednesday, September 14 and runs through Sunday, October 9, 2011 on the Neuhaus Stage.

Elizabeth Egloff (Playwright) comes to the Alley Theatre for the first time with Ether Dome, and her long-time director, Michael Wilson. Her previous plays include The Devils, an adaptation which premiered at New York Theater Workshop, directed by Garland Wright, and was the winner of the Arnold J. Weissberg Award for Best Play and received production grants from the Fund for New American Plays and AT&T; The Lost Boy, an adaptation commissioned by American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.; The Lover, which was workshopped with Michael Wilson at Portland Stage in Maine, premiered at Baltimore CenterStage and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award; Wolf-Man at Manhattan Theater Club with Patty Clarkson; The Swan at Public Theater/NYC with Frances McDormand and Peter Stormare which was the winner of the Kesselring Prize for Best New Play in New York City and subsequently has been produced around the world; and numerous short plays. In 2004, her screenplay for The Reagans with Judy Davis and James Brolin became the subject of a showdown between CBS/Showtime and the Republican National Committee, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. It was later nominated for numerous Emmy Awards and Critics Choice Awards, including Best Screenplay. Egloff has received grants from the Pew Charity Trust, the McKnight Foundation, NY State Council on the Arts, Massachusetts Artists Foundation, the Thomas J. Watson Foundation and the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. She is a recipient of the Lila Wallace - Readers Digest Writers Award, which monies she used to start a writing workshop for writers suffering from cancer and other serious chronic illnesses. Egloff graduated from Yale Drama School, is an alumna of New Dramatists and is an adjunct Professor at Vassar College where she teaches Playwriting. She is married to set designer James Youmans, and they have two sons.

Michael Wilson (Director) returns to the Alley Theatre, where he was Associate Director from 1990 to 1998 and has directed more than 20 productions, for this premiere by his long-time collaborator Elizabeth Egloff. For his premiere staging of Horton Foote's three-part, nine-hour The Orphans' Home Cycle, he received a 2010 Drama Desk Award, as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play. On Broadway, he has directed Foote's Dividing the Estate, which received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play; Matthew Barber's Enchanted April which received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play; and John Van Druten's Old Acquaintance with Roundabout Theatre Company. His Off-Broadway credits include the premieres of Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity, Eve Ensler's Necessary Targets, Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children at Lincoln Center Theatre, Tina Howe's Chasing Manet at Primary Stages, Christopher Shinn's Picked at Vineyard Theatre, and What Didn't Happen at Playwrights Horizons, as well as Tennessee Williams' The Red Devil Battery Sign and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. His Resident theatre credits include American Repertory, Goodman, Guthrie and Long Wharf Theatres, and Hartford Stage, where he was Artistic Director from 1998 to 2011. Wilson graduated a Morehead scholar in 1987 from UNC-Chapel Hill where he trained with Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd.

James Youmans' (Scenic Design) Broadway credits include West Side Story, Gypsy with Patti LuPone and Swinging on a Star. His Off-Broadway credits include Matt and Ben, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jeffrey, Sight Unseen, After-Play, The Petrified Prince directed by Harold Prince, The Swan at The Public Theater and Raised in Captivity with Nicky Silver. He has also designed Randy Newman's Faust at La Jolla Playhouse, The Bozwell Sisters at The Old Globe, the national tour of Cinderella and 1776 at the Guthrie. Upcoming productions include Creature From the Black Lagoon at Universal Studios Hollywood and New Year's Eve by Arthur Laurents at the George Street Playhouse.

David C. Woolard's (Costume Design) Broadway credits include West Side Story; Jane Fonda's clothing for 33 Variations; Dividing the Estate; The Farnsworth Invention; Old Acquaintance; Ring of Fire the music of Johnny Cash; All Shook Up; 700 Sundays with Billy Crystal; The Smell of the Kill; The Rocky Horror Show, which received a 2001 Tony nomination; Voices in the Dark; The Who's Tommy which received a 1993 Tony and Olivier Award nominations; Bells Are Ringing; Marlene; Wait Until Dark; Horton Foote's The Young Man from Atlanta; Sally Marr ... And her Escorts; Damn Yankees; and A Few Good Men. His recent credits include Orphans Home Cycle at Signature Theatre in New York City, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Any More at Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre, and the opera Death and the Powers in Monte Carlo. Selected additional credits include Lucy Simon's musical Zhivago at La Jolla Playhouse, Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children, The Stendhal Syndrome, The Day Emily Married with Estelle Parsons, The Donkey Show, Cosi Fan Tutte and Madame Mao at Santa Fe Opera, Bare, and numerous regional theatre credits including The Old Globe Theater, Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. He is currently designing Lysistrata Jones by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flynn for Broadway.

David Lander's (Lighting Design) Alley Theatre credits include Othello in 2008. His Broadway credits include Master Class with Tyne Daly; Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo with Robin Williams, which received a Drama Desk Award as well as Tony and Outer Critics Nominations for Best Lighting Desig;, 33 Variations with Jane Fonda, which received Tony and Outer Critics nominations; I Am My Own Wife, which received Drama Desk and Outer Critics nominations; A Man for All Seasons; Dirty Blond; and Golden Child. Lander's Off-Broadway credits include productions at MTC, NYTW, New Group, Playwrights Horizons, Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Signature Theatre and The Vineyard Theatre, among others. His Regional credits include productions at Ahmanson Theatre, Arena Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, George Street Playhouse, Huntington Theatre, Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, St. Louis MUNY and The Old Globe among others. Lander's international credits include productions in London, Dublin, Caracas, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney and Melbourne, among others. His architectural lighting designs have appeared in Copenhagen at Tivoli Gardens, Sea World in San Diego and Orlando as well as Public Art installations in Houston, Pittsburgh, Providence, Denver and New York City. His Film credits include Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.

Alex Neumann (Sound Design) is making his Alley Theatre debut. Alex has designed for the Huntington Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, DownTown Theatre Company, Culture Project and Barrington Stage Company among others. As an Assistant Designer, Alex has worked on Broadway on Driving Miss Daisy and Next Fall, and for The Kennedy Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Public Theater, Manhattan Class Company, and Arena Stage. Recently Alex spent the summer working on The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park. Alex spent previous summers as the sound supervisor at Williamstown Theatre Festival. As a live and recording engineer Alex has worked for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Fe Opera, American Repertory Theater, Opera Boston and the Banff Centre. As a violist, Alex has recorded scores for composers John Gromada and Fitz Patton and has played in master classes with the Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird and the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra. Alex has a BA in music from the State University of New York at Potsdam and a MFA in sound design from Boston University.

John Gromada (Original Music) created original music and/or sound design for the Alley Theatre productions of Our Town, Treasure Island, Subject to Fits, A Christmas Carol, Witness for the Prosecution, Journey's End, The Pillowman, Be My Baby, Hapgood, Leading Ladies, The Greeks, The Trip to Bountiful, Proof, Angels in America, The Carptetbagger's Children, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Baltimore Waltz. His Broadway composition credits include Next Fall, Man and Boy, A Bronx Tale, Prelude to a Kiss, Dividing the Estate, Rabbit Hole, Well, Heartbreak House, A Streetcar Named Desire, Sight Unseen, Twelve Angry Men, Proof, The Retreat From Moscow, Enchanted April, Summer and Smoke, Holiday, and A Few Good Men. His Broadway sound design credits include The Homecoming, Wrong Mountain, and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992. For New York's Public Theatre he has composed scores for the Shakespeare in the Park productions of Measure for Measure, Henry, Julius Caesar, and Tartuffe, and also The Skriker, Machinal, and The Swan. Other recent New York credits include Olive and the Bitter Herbs, By The Way Meet Vera Stark, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, Shipwrecked!, Clybourne Park, The Screwtape Letters, and The Singing Forest. His new score and main theme for the series, The Interrogators can be heard on the Biography Channel. He has been awarded the Lucille Lortel Award, the Drama Desk Award, The Henry Hewes Award, an Obie Award, an NEA Opera/Music Theatre fellowship, an L.A. Drama Logue Award, thE Eddy, and the Connecticut Critics Circle Award.

Ether Dome is generously sponsored by Neuhaus Stage Season Sponsor Randall H. Jamail and Supporting Sponsor MemoriAl Hermann. The Alley Theatre is supported by the 2011-2012 season sponsor United Airlines, the official airline of the Alley Theatre.

Tickets to Ether Dome start at $25. All tickets to Ether Dome are available for purchase at www.alleytheatre.org, at the Alley Theatre Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 713.220.5700. Groups of 10 or more can receive special concierge services and select discounts by calling 713.220.5700 and asking for the group sales department.

Saturday, September 10, 2:30 p.m.
The Alley Theatre is pleased to offer open captioning for many of our productions throughout the season. To ensure that your seats will accommodate your needs, please call the box office 713.220.5700 when ordering tickets to this performance. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more.

Tuesday, September 20, 7:30 p.m.
Members of the cast return to the stage following the performance to take questions from the audience. TalkBacks are led by a member of the Alley Artistic Staff.

Related Articles View More Houston Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You